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"What's the Buzz?" - A Look at Vespiquen

An look at the new Vespiquen deck along with a working list and some tips for playing it correctly.

08/25/2015 by Pikachu's Hideout

1.  Introduction

Of all the new decks to come out of Ancient Origins, none have received as much attention and interest as Vespiquen/Eeveelutions (also known as "Beeveelutions," if you're into that sort of thing).  In a strategy reminiscent of the familiar Flareon PLF decks, this deck focuses on Vespiquen AOR 10 and its "Bee Revenge" attack, which does 20 damage plus 10 more for each Pokémon in the discard pile, all for two Colorless Energy.  In addition, the new Ancient Origins Jolteon, Flareon, and Vaporeon add their types to Vespiquen's Grass type, giving it excellent type coverage.  With its ability to hit huge amounts of damage with a non-EX Pokémon, it's easy to see why there's so much hype surrounding this deck.

However, a lot of players seem to be having trouble building an effective list for the deck and as a result, are having trouble realizing this deck's potential.  That's where this article comes in.  The following list has been carefully developed for the past few weeks, and though there's definitely room for improvement, particularly as the metagame reveals itself, it should serve as a very solid basis for testing.  This article will first introduce the list, then go over the motivations behind the card counts and the notable omissions, before concluding with some other possible additions and tips for playing the deck.

2.  The list

3.  Card choices

4-4 Vespiquen: This should be self-explanatory, but for some reason, a few people have been questioning this count.  Vespiquen is this deck's sole attacker and given that you might lose one early to a bad Sycamore, you want to max out on it.

4 Unown: This card is one of the best additions to this deck.  As long as Silent Lab isn't in play, Unown can be Benched and then sent to the discard pile via its Farewell Letter Ability, replacing itself with a new card from the deck and increasing Vespiquen's damage output.  One of the big advantages of Unown is that it's always live.  If you have a single Ultra Ball and two Pokémon in hand, you can Ultra Ball away those Pokémon, search an Unown, and discard it via Farewell Letter, effectively getting a "free" Pokémon discard and thinning your deck by two cards instead of one.  It's a fantastic inclusion, significantly increasing Vespiquen's speed and consistency.

4 EeveeThis decision might be a bit controversial, since a lot of lists run relatively thin Eeveelution lines.  The motivation behind this count is twofold.  First, Eeveelutions can come in big in a lot of matchups.  Against Mega Rayquaza or Mega Sceptile, for instance, you want that Jolteon or Flareon (respectively) in play right away to abuse their Abilities and exploit the opponent's Weakness.  Maxing out on Eevee goes along way toward making sure you can get both an Eevee and at least a couple Combee into play on turn one.

The second advantage is that Eevee is actually an ideal starter.  Given Combee's low 40 HP, it's not ideal to start with it.  If your first Combee is Knocked Out before Evolving, it only takes one Prizes Combee and you're suddenly at risk of running out of momentum prematurely.  Starting Eevee (or Unown, for that matter) is far easier to deal with.  The deck can afford to sacrifice one should your opponent get the turn-one KO and if they don't, you need only to Evolve into a Jolteon to get free Retreat.  This deck runs no Switch effects, so managing your Retreating is a big part of playing it optimally.  The Eevee count could be trimmed down to three, but for starters, four works well.

2 Jolteon: As mentioned, this card serves two purposes: making Jolteon Lightning-type to exploit Weakness (noteable against Pokémon like Mega Rayquaza-EX and Yveltal-EX) and gaining free Retreat to get out of a rare Eevee start.  The deck runs two to avoid running into trouble by Prizing a lone copy.  In addition, the deck needs Pokémon to fuel Bee Revenge anyway, so why not?

2 Flareon: Flareon makes Vespiquen a Fire-type, giving it an advantage over Grass Pokémon like Mega Sceptile-EX and Metal Pokémon like Aegislash-EX.  In addition, as a Fire-type, Vespiquen can utilize Blacksmith.  More on that shortly.

3 Shaymin-EX: Of course, it's now widely accepted that Shaymin is the best Pokémon in XY-on, so it's likely an obvious inclusion.  Though the list runs three, note that you almost never want to Bench more than two (and usually, you just want one).  The reason the deck runs so many is, once again, bulking up the Pokémon count for Bee Revenge.  Running three lets you use one while leaving a couple more in reserve, just in case.  The deck doesn't run four because it's not an optimal starter.

1-1 Ninetales: This is largely a reaction to Mega Pokémon.  With Ninetales, you can lock Faded Town in play, quickly wearing down opposing Megas.  It's primarily here to deal with matchups where Weakness isn't a factor, like Mega Manectric, Mega Tyranitar, or Mega Rayquaza (either Dragon or Colorless variants which run Altaria).  Getting Ninetales into play typically has a huge impact on those matchups, since it ensures a lot of extra damage even if they quickly Lysandre and KO the Ninetales.  Be aware, however, that your opponent could use Hex Maniac to shut off Ninetales' Barrier Shrine Ability to play down their own Stadium, locking theirs in place once your Ability returns.

1 Bunnelby: This is the worst card in the deck.  Its Retreat Cost of 2 is a hindrance if you're forced to start with it and if you're ever in a situation where you have to Rototiller, you're likely sacrificing a ton of momentum.  However, it's still included, largely as a concession to bad Sycamores discarding important resources like DCE or VS Seeker.  Better to have it and not need it, etc, etc.

4 Professor Sycamore: Your deck wants to thin the deck and discard Pokémon. Professor Sycamore thins the deck and discards cards.  Four should be self-explanatory.  Plus, there's the matter of there being no good draw Supporters in XY-on...

2 Lysandre: This card opens up aggressive plays, taking KOs on a Pokémon your opponent is powering up on the Bench or grabbing a Shaymin for your last two Prizes.  Having two copies instead of one eases pressure on your VS Seekers and gives you insurance against bad Prizes.

1 Blacksmith: With Flareon in play, Vespiquen becomes a Fire-type and consequently, it can abuse this Supporter.  Using Blacksmith to power up a Vespiquen allows you to keep attacks coming even when you can't get a DCE and gives Vespiquen a way to damage Aegislash-EX.  Remember that you can use Battle Compressor to dump Blacksmith and two Fire Energy and use VS Seeker to recover the Blacksmith, making it relatively easy to use this card.

4 VS Seeker: If you've bribed the Head Judge, by all means, run a couple more!  Otherwise, be happy with the four you're allotted.  It's the best Item in the format.

4 Battle Compressor: For some reason, there seems to be some confusion about how many of this card to run.  Let's be perfectly clear here: Battle Compressor is the reason this deck works.  It is the most important card in the deck.  You want to open with it every game and draw into it as often as possible.  Run four or don't run this deck.

Remember that you don't just need to discard Pokémon with it.  For example, if you open with a dead hand, you can Battle Compressor away a Professor Sycamore, making every VS Seeker in your deck an out to Sycamore and greatly decreasing your chances of drawing dead.  In addition, it gives you easier access to Lysandre and makes your Blacksmith combo viable.  Seriously, run four.

4 Ultra Ball: This card searches a Pokémon and lets you discard Pokémon.  Those are things this deck wants to do a lot of.  (It also searches Shaymin-EX.)

3 Trainers' Mail: This card lets you dig a little deeper for Battle Compressors or your the Trainers you run in lower counts.

2 Muscle Band: This deck wasn't running Muscle Band for the longest time, but it proved too important to omit.  This card compensates for Prized Battle Compressors and makes for faster, more aggressive starts, making it much easier to get a turn-two OHKO on a Pokémon-EX.  With all the thinning this deck does with Battle Compressor and with the help of Trainers' Mail, it's generally pretty feasible to draw into one by turn two.

1 Sacred Ash: This card lets you retrieve discarded Combee and Vespiquen to keep attacks coming through the whole game, but it also has another benefit.  With this card, you can afford to make more aggressive pushes early on, willingly dumping important Pokémon to score an early KO since you'll have an opportunity to recover them later.  Indirectly, this card facilitates more explosive plays.

2 Faded Town: Since Silent Lab can shut this deck down so hard, having a couple counter-Stadiums helps a lot, and this is far and away the best Stadium for the deck.  If a Mega Pokémon is in play, this card is effectively a second Muscle Band, helping you score a KO even when you fall just a little short on discarded Pokémon.  In addition, if your opponent is unable to immediately counter this Stadium, the damage quickly compounds.  Don't forget that damage is incurred after each player's turn, allowing you to sometimes set up multiple Knock Outs at once with the help of Lysandre.

4 Double Coloress Energy: The only thing better than getting a one-hit KO on a huge Pokémon-EX for just two Energy attachments is getting that same KO for just one attachment.

3 Fire Energy: Fire Energy is here as an outlet to power up Vespiquen when you can't get at a DCE (or don't want to use one, in the case of Aegislash).  It's also here to help manually Retreat a Pokémon in a pinch.  We use Fire because of the aforementioned Blacksmith combo.

4.  Notable omissions

Let's address some of the cards common to a lot of Vespiquen lists that didn't quite make the cut here.

Eevee FFI: Contrary to popular belief, Energy Evolution is not a very helpful Ability for this deck.  Since you never really want to attack with an Eeveelution, it's not ideal to attach Energy to Eevee at all.  In addition, you rarely even have the opportunity to do so since you will likely need to attach a DCE to a fresh Vespiquen every turn.  If you ever have both an extra attachment and a Basic Energy in hand, that Energy is better spent on a Vespiquen.  All in all, having an extra 10 HP is likely to be more valuable than a suboptimal Ability.

Vaporeon AOR: Water is just not a relevant Weakness right now.  No doubt this card will have its day at some point, but right now, it's just unnecessary.

Slurpuff PHF: Back in the day (BCR-PHF), Flareon decks typically ran a 2-2 Slurpuff line and got a lot of value out of the card.  However, it's just not what it used to be.  For one, we don't have Float Stone anymore, so it's no longer viable to promote Slurpuff after each KO to get a big Tasting for two more cards, and when Slurpuff is only netting you one card per turn, it's not as compelling.  Besides, we have a lot more drawpower now in the form of Shaymin-EX and Unown.  At this point, it's just better to use those slots for more useful Pokémon.

Swampert PRC: With this card (alongside Archie's Ace in the Hole), you can stack your deck every turn, drawing that card right away with Unown or Shaymin, to ensure you never miss a crucial DCE or Vespiquen.  In theory it's good, but in practice, the card is just a win-more.  With all the deck thinning and inherent drawpower, it's rarely necessary to have that extra search.  In addition, Swampert's Retreat Cost of 3 is a liability, forcing you to run a couple Switch effects to prevent it from being locked Active.  The potential is there, but it's just not good enough.

Raichu XY: Jolteon gives you a Lightning-type Vespiquen and Bee Revenge has a much higher damage cap than Circle Circuit.  Given that Raichu also requires a precious DCE, it just doesn't bring any extra value to the deck.

Lugia-EX: This deck's one advantage is a beneficial Prize trade.  Introducing an EX attacker into the mix weakens that advantage (and adds another bad opening Pokémon as well).  Just because the deck runs DCE doesn't mean it needs a Lugia.

Professor Birch's Observations: Honestly, this card just isn't good enough.  The only advantage it provided was having a draw Supporter for the situations where you couldn't afford to discard your hand, but this deck now runs enough insurance against bad discards that Birch doesn't matter.

Shauna: Birch is suboptimal for this deck and Shauna is a worse Birch, so...yeah.

Pokémon Fan Club: This card is just too slow.  You'll get enough Pokémon into play just by playing a Sycamore instead.

Hex Maniac: At the moment, there just aren't enough Abilities that Vespiquen cares about shutting off.  For the most part, as long as you're allowed to play, you just outpace opponents in the KO race.  Who cares about shutting down Metal Links when you're taking two Prizes for every one of theirs?  The one argument that can be made for this card right now is Vileplume, but that's probably a matchup you won't win regardless.  Until the metagame is fleshed out, this tech doesn't earn its keep, but be sure to remember it down the line.

Switch/Escape Rope: These cards are only valuable in the earliest turns of the game, to move a bad starter out of the Active position.  However, it's difficult to find room for more than one or two copies and the cards quickly lose value as the game goes on.  Vespiquen and Jolteon both have no Retreat Cost, so the deck almost always has a Pokémon to promote after a KO and in the later turns, if your opponent is using Lysandre to drag one of your Benched Pokémon Active and not Knocking Out that Pokémon, they're probably not winning the game anyway.  Since their value is limited and they're not searchable, they're probably not worth running.

Forest of Giant Plants: This certainly isn't a bad card in the deck, but it's definitely the inferior Stadium.  Getting a turn-one Bee Revenge is nice in theory, but you rarely want to put a Vespiquen and a DCE into harm's way before you're ready to take an OHKO.  In addition, it's easy enough to keep Combee coming each turn that it will rarely be necessary to Bench one and Evolve it the same turn. As long as Megas are good, Faded Town is the play.

5.  Possible inclusions

Though these cards didn't make the list, they're still good choices if you can find a couple extra slots in the deck.

Druddigon FLF: This card is a great tech against other aggressive non-EX decks like Night March, Raichu, and the Vespiquen mirror.  Revenge is an OHKO out of nowhere on a lot of low-HP attacker, making Druddigon a great way to keep up on the KO exchanges even without a Vespiquen handy.  Remember that Blacksmith can be used to power up Vespiquen too, making it easier to justify burning a DCE on Druddigon.

Ace Trainer: There will certainly be games in which Vespiquen gets a slow start, and in those games, Ace Trainer can be a big way to shift the momentum in your favor.  It may not always come up, but when it does, it can help you mount big comebacks.

Teammates: Ideally, this deck forces the opponent to Knock Out a full six Pokémon to win, giving you six different opportunities to abuse Teammates.  Even resolving it once or twice in a game can be a big deal, giving you the perfect pair of cards to keep the game in your favor, and Battle Compressor alongside VS Seeker helps you search it out as needed.

AZ: This card gives you a semi-searchable switching outlet as well as a way to scoop up a Benched Shaymin, removing it from harm's way and allowing you to discard it for Bee Revenge.

Acro Bike: This card can be run either as a substitute for Trainers' Mail or as a complement, in place of some Supporters.  It's a great and proven card for accelerating a deck, so it's worth testing here.

Level Ball: Almost every Pokémon in this deck has at most 90 HP, making Level Ball a free search effect for most of the deck.  The deck can function fine with just four Ultra Ball, but Level Ball is a solid card that can speed things up just a bit more.

6.  Tips and tricks

Let's wrap up this article with a few helpful recommendations for playing this deck optimally.

  1. You rarely want to start with Combee given its low HP.  Given the choice between Combee and a one-Retreat Pokémon, choose the other Pokémon.  The general exception is Shaymin-EX, who you don't want to Bench recklessly.

  2. On the other hand, if you know for sure that your opponent can't OHKO a Combee (for example, maybe they're playing Primal Kyogre, which generally doesn't attack on turn one), there's no fear in starting with it.

  3. If you didn't start Vespiquen, try to get a Fire Energy onto your Active Pokémon and pass with it Active.  That way, whether the opponent KOs it or not, you'll still be able to get Vespiquen Active on your next turn.  If you attach a DCE to Combee instead, you'll be set back quite a bit if they play an Enhanced Hammer or worse, Lysandre and KO Combee.  On the other hand, if you attach a Fire to Combee and they fail to KO your Pokémon, you'll be unable to get a turn-two Bee Revenge.

  4. Your first Battle Compressor targets shoud be whichever Eeveelution you don't need for your matchup, followed by the Ninetales line (if you won't need it).  In matchups where Eevee is important, try to avoid discarding necessary Eeveelutions until you have the second copy in play.  Don't be afraid to discard Unown either!

  5. Speaking of Unown, there's no need to use Farewell Letter right away.  If you have enough Pokémon in the discard already, save the Unown on the Bench for an extra draw in the event of an Ace Trainer putting your hand down to three.

  6. If you have Battle Compressor and Trainers' Mail in your opening hand, play Battle Compressor first.  Thin the deck of Pokémon so you have a better chance of seeing good Items off of Trainers' Mail.

  7. You don't need to play down every Trainers' Mail.  If you don't need any particular Item, just hold onto it.  It might be more useful as Ultra Ball fodder than as a draw card.

  8. Don't forget Vespiquen's first attack!  Though Intelligence Gathering isn't an ideal play, it's better than drawing dead.

  9. If you have to use Sacred Ash but don't want to get back too many Pokémon, use Unown as filler Pokémon since they're very easy to discard once you draw them.

  10. Unless you're quite sure your opponent doesn't run Enhanced Hammer, hold your DCE until you're ready to attack.  However, if you have the opportunity to drop a Fire onto a Vespiquen, be sure to do so.

  11. Never forget: it's "Vespiquen" not "Vespiqueen"!

7.  Conclusion

That's all there is to say about Vespiquen for now.  Hopefully this article gave you some insight into building and playing the deck.  If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.  Until next time, have fun with Vespiquen!

60cards Staff

[+10] okko


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