Experts' corner

Ryan Sabelhaus

"Enter...the Danger ZONE" - Magnezone/Raikou and Vespiquen/Eeveelutions

Ryan takes a look at two popular deck choices for upcoming City Championships, which are Magnezone/Raikou/Pikachu-EX and Vespiquen/Eeveelutions.

12/02/2015 by Ryan Sabelhaus


Hello again, 60cards readers! The first weekend of City Championships has begun and there seems to be a lot of diversity in deck choices being played. So far, I've seen many strong finishes from decks like Tyrantrum/Bronzong, Night March, Vespiquen, Yveltal/Zoroark, and Magnezone/Raikou. Since I can't cover all of these decks in one article, I'll go with two of my favorite choices from this list, Magnezone/Raikou and Vespiquen/Eeveelutions. Vespiquen is a strong contender that needs no introduction, but has to use a slightly different strategy to adapt in the Standard metagame.

I feel inclined to talk about Magnezone/Raikou, as it is a strong contender that can keep up with many decks in the current Standard format, along with just being a refreshing look at a deck centered around evolving into a Stage 2 Pokémon. With such a power creep in Pokémon nowadays, it's always nice to see that Stage 2 Pokémon can still survive and even flourish. Also, with so many strong finishes from Yveltal/Zoroark decks over the past couple of days, Lightning-based decks become an even better option. Don't be surprised to see more Magnezone/Raikou decks coming out in the upcoming weekends as a counter for Yveltal/Zoroark.

After talking about each deck that I've been testing with, I'll go over the reasoning behind some card inclusions and discuss the strategy behind it's success. Let's get into the article!


One of my favorite decks at the moment has to be Magnezone/Raikou with Pikachu-EX as the cleanup attacker. It certainly isn't the most played deck at City Championships, but there is no doubting the synergy between Magnezone, Raikou, and Pikachu-EX. Magnezone allows players to utilize the ability to play down multiple Energy cards every turn, which has been abused in the past by Blastoise and Emboar decks (both of which have won the Pokémon World Championships in the Masters division). Blastoise utilized the attacking power of Keldeo-EX during its World Championship victory last year, which has been reincarnated in the form of Raikou. Raikou can hit for huge amounts of damage with enough Energy and can create positive exchanges with Pokémon-EX. With the ability to draw two Prize cards on high-HP Pokémon, along with only giving up one Prize when Knocked Out, Magnezone/Raikou will slowly steal the game away from an opponent.

The initial Magnezone list that I began testing with came from my good friend Russell LaParre. He used a larger Octillery line and abused the ability to constantly refill a hand up to five cards. With such a large amount of cards being drawn, Energy cards and useful trainers will be more readily accessible. I've decided to go with a smaller Octillery line and a higher number of attackers, which includes a fourth Raikou to help against quicker and more aggressive decks that don't have many Pokemon-EX (Night March, Vespiquen, etc.) Let's talk about the reasoning behind some of my counts and card inclusions.

3-0-3 Magnezone line:

There are plenty of other Magnezone decks that have four Magnemite and a copy of Magneton to help with the setup process. I haven't had any trouble getting out the turn-two Magnezone, especially with four copies of Trainer's Mail, four copies of Ultra Ball, four copies of Rare Candy, and three copies of Brigette. The only possible changes to these numbers would be the addition of more Magnemite, which I didn't find necessary.

4 Raikou, 2 Pikachu-EX:

I couldn't think of a reason to not include four copies of Raikou. Here's my reasoning behind this:

1. Raikou is your main attacker throughout the game
2. Raikou is a mandatory attacker while facing any aggressive decks that can knock out Pokémon-EX with ease
3. Raikou is your best starter in every matchup
4. Raikou has a very small retreat cost of just one Energy, which makes it easy to bring out Pikachu-EX if necessary

While some of you may argue these points, this is just the way I view the deck. I mainly attack with Raikou and abuse its attacking strength to get positive Prize exchanges with opposing Pokémon-EX. I've also seen that other Magnezone decks only play one Pikachu-EX. I tried the deck with only one Pikachu-EX and felt the need to include another copy to avoid it being Prized. Pikachu-EX is needed in matchups that involve Mega Pokemon-EX, as getting that many Energy on a Raikou is very difficult and wasteful in most cases.

4 Trainers' Mail, 4 Ultra Ball, 0 Level Ball:

With a deck that revolves around getting out a Stage 2 Pokémon, there needs to be plenty of consistency cards to help with the setup process. A high amount of Trainers' Mail can help to almost assure getting out two Magnemite on the first turn, which can be done through a single copy of Brigette or through using multiple Ultra Ball. Trainers' Mail can also help to get out a Rare Candy when in need, which is most common on the second turn of the game. I see almost no downside to playing a large amount of Trainers' Mail and have seen the huge upside during my copious amounts of testing.

Using four Ultra Ball almost seems to be a no-brainer, but there are plenty of Magnezone lists using Level Ball to help get out Magnemite. With my list abusing a higher count of Brigette, there is almost no need for Level Ball, which can just be changed to an Ultra Ball to get out Magnezone. The most important reasoning behind playing four Ultra Ball is to lower the hand size and get rid of excess cards to utilize the Ability of Octillery as much as possible. Constantly refilling the hand up to five cards is a very key concept behind the success of this deck.


I am always going to have fondness towards Vespiquen, especially after my Top 8 finish at Fort Wayne Regionals. I was able to truly see the power behind Vespiquen-based decks, along with seeing which cards were most vital to the success of the deck. From my experience with Vespiquen, I formed this list for the Standard format and have been seeing positive results in testing. The deck is powerful, fast, consistent, and can deal with almost any deck in the current format.

From the Expanded list, we've lost the option of playing Life Dew. The main loss from the Expanded format would be the secondary main attacker in Plasma Flareon, which can't be replaced in the Standard format. The only option is to add accessory Pokémon to help accentuate the power of Vespiquen. This was done through the Eeveelutions line, which are used to counter Yveltal-EX decks and to help with Blacksmith synergy. Every Vespiquen list is basically different from one another, as there is plenty of room for innovation, so let's go over some my card choices and inclusions.

4 Eevee, 2 Flareon, 1 Jolteon:

The Jolteon is mainly just used against Darkness-based decks with Yveltal-EX, but is most commonly just thrown away with Battle Compressors to help damage output for Vespiquen. The two Flareon are needed to help get Fire Energy out of the discard pile with the use of Blacksmith, which becomes necessary when a player is out of Double Colorless Energy. Getting Fire Energy to attack through Blacksmith is also a great strategy against opposing Giratina-EX, which stops us from dropping Special Energy cards. Although most other Vespiquen decks don't play such a high amount of Eevee, I found it was much easier to get out the Flareon line when I had four of them. There certainly isn't a need for all four of the Eevee, which makes them easily thrown away with Battle Compressors during the late game.

1-1 Ariados Line:

Through testing with many friends, I became especially scared playing against Lucario-EX/Crobat. This deck focuses on taking one-hit-KOs, which can't be done with a Focus Sash on a Lucario-EX. If an opposing Pokémon has a Focus Sash and forces us to attack twice in order to take Prizes, Vespiquen misses out on the ability to exchange favorably on Prizes and can lose very easily. With an Ariados on the bench, Vespiquen can hit for the big amounts of damage to activate the Focus Sash and the opposing Pokémon will be Knocked Out through Poison. The "name of the game" with this deck is to just keep up on favorable Prize exchanges, which Ariados helps us to do.

1 Entei, 1 Jirachi, 1 Bunnelby:

As I said earlier in the article, there are almost no Vespiquen lists that are exactly the same, as there is such a high amount of room for innovations. These three spots in the deck are those spots for innovation, which I've teched to help against certain matchups. Different cards can be added in to help against many different options that are played in your specific areas.

The Entei is mainly used against aggressive decks such as Night March and opposing Vespiquen. This non-EX attacker allows us to save a Vespiquen and attack through only the use of a Blacksmith, which helps to save resources. The Jirachi is a new addition to help against nearly every deck in the format, but it's mainly for Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX. Through discarding a Special Energy and becoming immune for a turn, Jirachi helps to gain a huge advantage against Seismitoad-EX decks and can also slow down a Giratina-EX from attacking every turn. The Bunnelby isn't added in for any certain matchups, but can act as a safety net when it comes to discarding resources. This shifty bunny can also steal some games away when an opponent goes through their deck too quickly and doesn't have many cards left.

2 Lysandre, 1 AZ, 1 Shauna:

The Expanded version of Vespiquen that I played in Fort Wayne actually only played one Lysandre, but had Town Map as a way of finding that singular copy to abuse in the late game. For the Standard and updated version, I've chosen to play two Lysandre simply for the reason of having plenty of extra space. There were one or two games during that Regionals in which I Prized Lysandre and couldn't win because of that, which led me to add in a second copy for the Standard list. The single copy of AZ is used to pick up Shaymin-EX, which may have been used for early aggression. Stopping an opponent from taking two Prize cards on a Shaymin-EX can help with Prize exchange, which is all we should be worried about with such a powerful deck. The copy of Shauna has also been played as a Judge in other Vespiquen lists, but I wanted the safety of drawing a fifth card. This is simply a preference call, which I chose to be a Shauna.


Hopefully these decks can help everyone in some way towards preparation for City Championships. There are going to be plenty of Cities coming around the corner, so make sure to test every option and find a way to get those Championship Points. This is a big time of the year in the Pokémon community and I love to see the innovative ideas that people utilize. If you are hopeful to get in the Pokémon World Championships, now would be the time to buckle down and find the will to win.

Good luck to everyone that is competing in their City Championships in the upcoming months. I can't wait to see everybody during the yearly City Championship marathons, especially the Georgia marathon, which I'll be attending. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to leave me a comment or message me. Thanks for reading!

-Ryan Sabelhaus <3

[+6] okko


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