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"What's the buzz?" Part Two: Further Reflections on Vespiquen

Another examination of the Vespiquen deck, with an updated list for Standard as well as discussion of the deck's place in the Expanded format.

10/02/2015 by Pikachu's Hideout

Hello, 60cards readers, and welcome to another article on Vespiquen!  The last article focused exclusively on Vespiquen in the Standard format.  While this article will still be discussing that format, it will also focus extensively on the Expanded format.  If you're looking for a good deck for League Challenges or trying to figure out how to make Vespiquen work for the upcoming Regional Championships, look no further!

Vespiquen in Standard

Some people have been losing faith in the Queen Bee lately.  The biggest complaint is that the deck just has too hard a time hitting for big KOs.  Though Vespiquen is far from perfect (especially in Standard, where it doesn't have the same toolbox at its disposal as in Expanded), a major issue is that people just aren't playing optimal lists.  However, the list presented in the last article wasn't quite perfect either.  With that in mind, let's get into a much improved list.

The core of this deck is unchanged from the first draft; certainly nobody needs to read about why the list is running four Combee or three Shaymin-EX.  The big change is that the deck has been optimized for a faster damage output.  The Pokémon count has been increased from last time, allowing the deck more options to discard with Battle Compressor and allowing Bee Revenge to hit bigger numbers more quickly.  In addition, a third Muscle Band has been worked in, as getting it early goes a long way toward getting fast KOs.  In exchange, the Faded Towns have been dropped.  Vespiquen doesn't particularly care about Stadium wars since it's a fast, aggressive deck that focuses on damage rather than disruption.  The only Stadium that could be a concern is Silent Lab, which isn't widely in favor right now.  And though Faded Town does help quite a bit against Mega Evolutions, they don't currently occupy enough of the metagame to justify the inclusion.

The new Pokémon go a long way toward dealing with this deck's shortcomings.  Bronzong is very useful here; its Metal Links both reduces the pressure on your Double Colorless Energy and gives the deck a way to effectively play around threats like Aegislash-EX and Giratina-EX.  You'll typically only want one in play at a time, as you'll likely need the other as Battle Compressor fodder, but having just one in play allows you to attach an Energy to your Active Vespiquen and Metal Links onto a Benched one, establishing a follow-up attacker for your next turn.  Previously Blacksmith served as the deck's Energy-acceleration strategy, but Bronzong has the advantage of being slightly easier to set up, and it leaves your Supporter use for the turn free.

Bronzong also puts in work against other non-EX decks like Night March, Raichu, and the mirror.  Those matches are determined either by who Benches more Pokémon-EX or who misses an attack first.  Getting Bronzong into play ensures that you'll usually have Energy to keep attacking and the Sacred Ash will get you extra copies of Vespiquen as well.  In addition, these are the matchups in which getting both Bronzong into play is quite valuable, since you won't need nearly as big a Bee Revenge to KO a Joltik or an opposing Vespiquen.

Bronzong effectively bypasses the need for the largely subpar Bunnelby.  Though Rototiller can get back key resources like VS Seeker or Vespiquen, its primary use is a failsafe for when you run out of DCE.  The downsides to Bunnelby were that it took up an Energy attachment and an attack for the turn, and it had a clumsy Retreat Cost of two, so starting with it was usually a big momentum-killer.  Bronzong solves two of those problems handily.  Unfortunately, its Retreat Cost is even higher than Bunnelby's.  Though you won't ever have to start with Bronzong, your opponent could attempt to Lysandre it to stall you out.  This necessitates the inclusion of an AZ as a semi-searchable switching effect.  The bonus is that AZ can also pick up Shaymin-EX and force your opponent to take their Prizes the hard way.

A neat tech at the moment is the Ariados line.  Ariados' Poisonous Nest Ability allows you to Poison your opponent's Active Pokémon.  This is exclusively a counter to Focus Sash, but having such a counter is quite relevant right now, as the Mienshao deck seems to be picking up in popularity.  With an Ariados in play, your Bee Revenge will leave their Fighting Pokémon with 10 HP left after Focus Sash kicks in, and Poison will finish the job.  That matchup will still be a war of attrition, but the combination of Bronzong for Energy-recovery and Ariados to break Focus Sash makes it very winnable.  Just remember that Ariados is only here to break Focus Sash.  Though it may seem tempting to use it for extra damage, remember that the 10 extra damage from Poison is still inferior to the 20 extra damage Bee Revenge will deal if you just discard Spinarak and Ariados instead.

And things brings up an important point for playing Vespiquen: the primary purpose for every Pokémon in this deck is fueling Bee Revenge.  Don't be afraid to discard a Pokémon for damage just because its effect might come up later.  If it's turn three and you still don't have an Eevee in play, just discard some Eeveelutions!  If you're already pretty much set up, dump a couple Shaymin!  If you're 20 short of a big KO and you're still on your first DCE, you probably won't need Bronzong!  You can even discard parts of your Vespiquen line if you're desperate for damage!  That's why Sacred Ash remains in the deck.  Above all else, Vespiquen is an aggressive deck that aims to OHKO.  Don't get so wrapped up in auxiliary effects that you neglect to further your primary gameplan.

This list is currently running a copy of Professor Birch's Observations.  The last article dismissed the card as mediocre and honestly, that hasn't really changed.  That said, there are still some niche situations where the card has merit.  Though the combo of Bronzong and Sacred Ash generally makes discarding important cards manageable, hands containing double Vespiquen and Sacred Ash are still pretty backbreaking to Sycamore away, so having the option to Battle Compressor Birch to VS Seeker for it can be a major asset.  Of course, situations like this may not fully justify the use of the card, so it could easily be swapped out for something like an Ace Trainer or Teammates.

Another choice in this list is Trainers' Mail over Acro Bike.  Though this choice is slightly due to the fear of discarding resources, it's more due to the fact that getting Battle Compressor as quickly as possible is crucial.  Once a few Compressors have been played, the rest of the game tends to fall into place, so the fact that Trainers' Mail lets you see twice as many cards as Acro Bike justifies its continued inclusion here.  

Play around with this list and adjust it to suit your needs.  Though it should adhere to the same basic skeleton (at least 25 Pokémon, four Battle Compressor, etc.) a lot of the choices are somewhat metagame dependent and can easily be changed.  Vespiquen is a flexible deck, so don't restrict yourself to just one way of thinking about it.

An aside on Night March/Vespiquen

One strategy that has been catching on recently is pairing Vespiquen with the Night March Pokémon.  Players seem to like this strategy and people are beginning to believe that this is the optimal way to run Vespiquen.  They are wrong.  Certainly this variant has more early-game power, but that is solely due to the Night Marchers.  The idea is that Night March will do the heavy lifing early in the game and once all the Night Marchers are gone, Vespiquen comes in to clean up.  The problem is that even with twelve Night Marchers discarded (and this assumes none are stuck in the Prizes), Vespiquen's Bee Revenge caps out at a substandard 140.  This requires you to devote more resources to discarding more Pokémon just to bring Vespiquen into the OHKO range.

Here's the thing: the strength of Night March is its speed while Vespiquen's strength is in its versatility.  Throwing Vespiquen into Night March only dilutes the core Night March engine, which can get along perfectly fine on its own.  Rather than relying on getting a Stage 1 into play and getting more Pokémon discarded so Vespiquen can continue the stream of KOs after the Night Marchers are all gone, just run a couple copies of Revive to get a Pumpkaboo or Joltik back!  One Revive and you have an attacker on the Bench, all set to swing for an easy 180+ damage.

On the other hand, Vespiquen has to run a bunch of Pokémon for Bee Revenge to work properly and the best way to take advantage of this is by running a toolbox of different Pokémon so Vespiquen has answers to a bunch of different situations.  Take another look at the list above.  It's running Eeveelutions to quickly exploit Weakness, Bronzong for Energy acceleration, and Ariados to counter Focus Sash.  These are options that you forfeit when you decide to clog up the deck with Night Marchers instead, and doing so is especially lackluster because having these superfluous attackers doesn't change the fact that you only have four DCE.  In short, Night March/Vespiquen clogs Night March with unnecessary cards and dilutes Vespiquen with attackers that do nothing new for the deck and that can't possibly all be powered up in a game anyway.

It's easy to see why players like Night March/Vespiquen, though.  After finding themselves underwhelmed with their initial Vespiquen experiences, the harder-hitting Night March version just felt like a more effective deck.  However, this preference is definitely due more to the Night March aspect of the deck than the Vespiquen and those players would be better off just playing Night March.  In fact, in the current Standard format, Night March is honestly just the better deck overall, so going into a blind metagame, it's definitely the better deck to go with.

The future of Vespiquen in Standard

So why play Vespiquen at all?  Well, again, Vespiquen is a very versatile deck that can run a variety of different cards to suit its needs.  As more sets enter into the XY-on format, Vespiquen's options will increase.  Each time a new set is leaked, take a good look at the Pokémon to see if any of them could add a new dimension to this deck.  The more cards Vespiquen can viably run, the more powerful it becomes.  Here's a quick look at some other cards you could consider adding into your Vespiquen deck.

Swellow ROS 72: Δ Plus is just a powerful Ancient Trait and anytime you have the ability to work it into your deck, it's worth at least considering.  Swellow is a pretty boring Pokémon, but it could still put in work in a Vespiquen deck.  The card brings two distinct benefits.  First, its Peck can hit up to 50 damage (with a Muscle Band_ on turn two, allowing it to OHKO low-HP Basics and jump ahead in the Prize race.  This can be valuable against Night March and Vespiquen mirrors.  Second, though you should try your best to avoid this situation, sometimes you're forced to attack a big Pokémon and fall just a bit short of an OHKO.  In those situations, Swellow can swoop in next turn to finish the job and net you an extra Prize to smooth over the inconvenience.  The best part is, you can safely Bench a Taillow whenever you want without devoting an Energy attachment to it.  If the opponent decides to Lysandre it and get rid of it, they've ignored your Vespiquen and your Energy in play.

Ditto XY40: Ditto's Metamorphosis Gene Ability makes it reminiscent of Kecleon PLF, which saw some play toward the end of last season.  Ditto can copy attacks like Emerald Break against Mega Rayquaza and Bee Revenge in the mirror match, allowing you to trade a Basic for a Pokémon that took more time to set up.  Though Ditto does violate the "one-Retreat Basic" rule that the above list was built on, its Stick On attack can get a "free" second Energy attachment from the discard so it can Retreat on the next turn, making up for the setback of starting with it.  As an added bonus, it does 10 damage, which very well could mean the difference between a KO and disappointment.

Mr. Mime (BREAKthrough): This new Mr. Mime has the Bench Barrier Ability just like its Plasma Freeze predecessor.  Should Bench damage become a threat in the future, Mr. Mime is a card worth considering.

Float Stone: This card was a staple in Flareon decks in the past and since it's getting a reprint in BREAKthrough, it can put in work for Vespiquen as well.  This card can easily take the place of AZ because, although it's not searchable, it's generally fairly reasonable to draw into it by the time you have a Bronzong up and running.  Once you've drawn it, you won't have to worry about Lysandre-stall plays (short of something like a Megaphone or Xerosic coming down first) and you'll have a nice, free Retreater to promote each time your Active is Knocked Out.  Remember that if you draw it too early, you can always put it on a Shaymin-EX and Sky Return it back to your hand later on.

Dodrio (BREAKthrough): With its Retreat Aid Ability, this Dodrio decreases your Active Pokémon's Retreat Cost by two.  A thin Dodrio line could also work as a replacement for AZ and Float Stone.  Although it takes more effort to get Dodrio into play (and it doesn't fully eliminate Bronzong's heavy Retreat Cost), Dodrio has the benefit of inflating your Pokémon count a little more, which means a bigger Bee Revenge.

Super Rod: This could take the place of Sacred Ash.  Though recovering Energy isn't as useful with Bronzong around, the fact that you don't have to put a full five Pokémon back into the deck makes Super Rod somewhat appealing.  On the other hand, Super Rod doesn't allow you as much recovery potential either, so you'll get at most one more Vespiquen out of it.  Still, it will be nice to have the option and it's a card worth considering.

Giovanni's Scheme: This is another Supporter that could fill Birch's slot.  Though using a Supporter to draw up to five cards in hand isn't fantastic, it certainly is functional and the fact that it can also be used for an extra burst of damage might be enough to push it over the top.

Octillery (BREAKthrough): Though drawing until you have five cards in hand isn't great for a Supporter, it can work very well as an Ability!  Should you want more Pokémon-based draw power in this deck, Octillery is an excellent choice.  (Of course, with Float Stone coming back, Slurpuff has more merit as well.)

Bridgette: Yet another interesting tech Supporter, Bridgette can give the deck a strong turn one by getting multiple Combee and a Bronzor into play, and if you need drawpower instead, you can use it to grab a Shaymin-EX or just multiple Unown.  Another Supporter that's at least worth trying out.

Parallel City: This might be getting a little too spooky, but Parallel City can be used to restrict the size of your own Bench to three, allowing you to discard Shaymin to remove the easy Prizes from play and fuel Bee Revenge.  As an added bonus, it can even reduce the damage dealt by your opponent's Pokémon, though that's not likely to be relevant with Vespiquen's low HP.

Gallade (BREAKthrough): This seems like a very impressive card and one that could easily justify the integration of Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick into the deck.  Gallade brings both consistency and early pressure to this deck.  With its Ability Premonition, you're allowed to rearrange the top five cards of your deck, which is especially useful right before using Set Up or Farewell Letter.  In addition, its attack does 130 damage if you've played a Supporter during the turn—and all for one DCE.  Typically it's not ideal to devote a DCE to an attacker that won't be taking OHKOs, but Gallade's bulky 150 HP allows it to take a hit before going down, giving you plenty of return for your investment.  Given how easily Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick fits into the Vespiquen engine already, this card could be a perfect addition.

Vespiquen in Expanded

Though Vespiquen doesn't have enough tricks at its disposable in Standard to have any clear-cut advantages over Night March, it fares much better in Expanded due to two factors.  The first, obviously, is the much deeper card pool.  Again, Vespiquen gets more powerful the more options it has and Expanded is certainly full of good cards Vespiquen can use.  Foremost among them is Vespiquen's ancestor, good ol' Flareon PLF.  Vespiquen can add Flareon into the mix to give itself plenty of attackers, making Pokémon recovery unnecessary.  This strategy already proved successful in the recent Arena Cup and it's a frontrunner for the upcoming North American Regional Champions.  Of course, Vespiquen gains plenty of other options from Expanded as well, which will be explored shortly.

The other advantage Vespiquen has is in its typing.  Since Seismitoad is a much more prominent threat in Expanded, the enthusiasm with which Vespiquen picks off Toads is very welcome.  Although Vespiquen still struggles against Night March, its strong Seismitoad game gives it a solid advantage over Night March in tournaments.  Vespiquen has enough options at its disposal to raise it to the highest tier in the metagame.  Of course, there is one major problem the deck still faces.

Managing the Archeops issue

Archeops NVI may very well be the most hyped Pokémon going into the first week of North American Regionals and its popularity makes life very difficult for the Vespiquen player.  With its ability to completely block Evolutions from coming into play from the hand, Archeops can singlehandedly lock Vespiquen out of the game as early as turn one thanks to Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick.  Without an answer to Ancient Power, it will be very difficult for a Vespiquen player to succeed in an Archeops metagame.  Fortunately, Vespiquen has access to several cards that can smooth over this issue.

Hex Maniac: This is easily the most popular Archeops counter being proposed and for good reason.  A well-timed Hex Maniac will allow the Vespiquen player to shut off Archeops and get multiple Evolutions into play, putting Vespiquen right back into the game.  In addition, Hex Maniac is a solid disruptive Supporter to slow down opponents' setups in the early game, giving Vespiquen the option to stun the opponent long enough to overrun them.  In addition, a well-time late-game Hex Maniac can shut down Abilities like Deluge to swing the match solidly into Vespiquen's favor.  The versatility of this card goes well beyond countering Archeops, making it a solid play overall.

Wobbuffet PHF: When Wobbuffet is Active, its Bide Barricade shuts off all non-Psychic Abilities, including Ancient Power.  With a copy or two of Wobbuffet in the deck, the Vespiquen player can Evolve behind it and promote it each time a Vespiquen goes down to Evolve again.  Though running Wobbuffet would require a couple copies of Float Stone in the deck, it has a distinct advantage over Hex Maniac in that it doesn't eat up your Supporter for the turn, so you can easily promote Wobbuffet and use Juniper to dig for your next Vespiquen.  The downside is that Bide Barricade shuts down a fair portion of your own deck too, and opening Wobbuffet can be a problem since the deck relies pretty heavily on Shaymin to get running in the early game.

Wally: Like Hex Maniac, Wally serves as a Supporter-out to Archeops.  The difference is that Hex Maniac requires you to have an Evolution in hand while Wally lets you grab one from the deck.  On the other hand, the card is much less versatile than Hex Maniac and is largely useless outside of the Archeops matchup (although it does have an additional niche against Item-lock).

Evosoda: Like Wally, Evosoda bypasses Ancient Power by Evolving directly from the deck.  The advantage is that it's an Item, so you can use a Supporter to help you dig for it, but the disadvantage is that you can't search it like you can a Supporter, forcing you to run multiple copies in an already-tight list just to see it consistently.

Of course, an alternate solution to the Archeops problem is to just wait until it goes away on its own.  Though Archeops is a very powerful card, capable of shutting down entire decks singlehandedly, it doesn't do anything if the bulk of the field consists of hard-hitting Basic Pokémon.  Archeops is probably the sort of card that will wax and wane in relevance throughout the season.  If it makes a strong showing one week, the following week will probably see an upswing in fast, all-Basic decks that have an edge on the Archeops decks and Archeops will die down, leaving an opening for Evolution decks to resurge until Archeops makes a comeback.  If the metagame proves to follow this pattern, then there will be openings for Vespiquen to enter a tournament heedless of Archeops and make a deep run.

A closer look at Expanded Vespiquen

Should you choose to sweep all Archeops concerns under the rug and play Vespiquen for Week 1 of Regionals, this list should prove to be a solid starting point and a reasonable response to the expected metagame.

Probably the most glaringly obvious thing here is that this list is absolutely overflowing with Pokémon.  This gives it plenty of options and plenty of Battle Compressor targets, but it can also lead to somewhat cloggy hands earlier in the game.  This isn't a gamebreaking issue, as the deck still starts to flow very smoothly once the first Battle Compressor shows up, but if it proves to be an issue, there are some adjustments that can be made for just a little more speed.  Before getting into that, let's take a look at why the deck is running these counts in the first place.

4-4 Vespiquen: Though the deck now has access to Flareon, which has 100 HP over Vespiquen's 90, Vespiquen is still the preferred attacker in this deck.  The HP difference is marginal and that's more than made up for with Vespiquen's free Retreat and Grass typing, giving the deck resilience to Seismitoad.

4 Eevee PLF 90: Since the deck is relying heavily on Flareon as well as Vespiquen, it makes sense to run a thick line of Eevee.  Although the deck could get by with three copies instead, a fourth is nice insurance, especially if one Eevee needs to be Evolved into Jolteon.  The motivation for this particular Eevee is largely its 60 HP, but Signs of Evolution can occasionally be useful.  If you start Eevee, Signs of Evolution can get you both Flareon and Jolteon and next turn you'll be able to Evolve your Eevee if it survived or just discard those extra Eeveelutions to fuel your other attackers.  It's an attack that won't come up once, but in the rare situations where Eevee has to attack, searching a couple Pokémon seems more useful than attacking for 10 damage.

3 Flareon PLF: Space is honestly too tight for a fourth copy, but regardless, between Vespiquen and Flareon, you have seven attackers, which is usually enough to get the job done.  As this particular list doesn't run Blacksmith, Flareon has no significant advantage over Vespiquen aside from slightly more HP, but it's still nice to have a few extra attackers to overcome bad discards or to endure non-EX wars.

1 Jolteon AOR: Yveltal is definitely one of the decks to beat going into Regionals right now.  With four Eevee in the deck, it's pretty reasonable to get a turn-two Jolteon, allowing Flareon or Vespiquen to quickly threaten Yveltal-EX.  As an added bonus, Jolteon puts in a fair amount of work against any random Mega Rayquaza that should pop up.  It's not a staple for the deck, but it's certainly a good call at the moment.

2-2 Eelektrik: At the moment, Ability-based Energy acceleration still feels preferable to Blacksmith as it leaves more VS Seekers available for crucial Lysandre plays.  (Should Ability-lock become more prevalent, that might change.)  Getting just one Eelektrik in play helps to keep the attackers flowing throughout the whole game.  You almost never want two in play and the line could be trimmed down to 2-1 or even 1-1, but Eelektrik is so crucial to the flow of this deck that it's staying at 2-2 at the moment.  Of course, Eelektrik is superior to Bronzong in Expanded because of its lower Retreat Cost.

3 Shaymin-EX: This card just helps the deck run more smoothly.  In Expanded, Vespiquen has access to Jirachi-EX as well, which serves a similar purpose but has the advantage bailing out a hand that's to cloggy to get a decent Set Up.  This particular list runs a pretty simple Supporter line, so it's running Jirachi.  Though Shaymin isn't as versatile, it's a far better starter since Sky Return is a actually a legitimate attack.

2 Audino BCR: Audino is an out to Hypnotoxic Laser and Deck and Cover, both of which are currently very real threats in Expanded.  Even a single well-timed Busybody to break a lock can sometimes be enough to win the game.  The issue is that Hypnotoxic Laser and Deck and Cover are frequently paired with Item-lock (Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant, respectively), so it's generally not possible to just search for Audino.  Ideally by the time Audino is needed in a match, the deck will have been thinned enough that a Juniper can dig one out, but an argument can be made for running three.

1 Exeggcute PLF: Repeated uses of Propagation to help fuel Ultra Balls can conserve a lot of resources over the course of a game and can enable plays that might otherwise be out of reach (for instance, playing Ultra Ball and Computer Search from the same hand).  Just don't get so caught up in Propagation that you forget to discard other Pokémon that you don't want.

3 Professor Juniper/1 N: This is a pretty stable Supporter count.  Juniper does most of the heavy lifting in the deck, but N is here both as a strong turn-one Supporter that conserves resources (it's everything Professor Birch's Observations wishes it was) and as late-game disruption.  N to one still wins games.

2 Lysandre: You can maybe get by with one, but the second copy goes a long way.

4 Battle Compressor/Ultra Ball/VS Seeker: These are all staples and have all been explained in the last article.  The rationale behind these counts hasn't changed with the transition to Expanded.

3 Silver Bangle: This card goes a long way toward hitting crucial KOs earlier and it's especially useful agianst Megas.  Although it puts in a lot of work in the early turns, as the game goes on and more of your attackers are Knocked Out, it becomes largely unnecessary.  This is a count that can maybe go down to two, although the card is too useful to omit entirely.

1 Float Stone: This card is largely here to give the deck a free-Retreat Pokémon to promote between turns.  Ideally it gets attached to Eelektrik to avoid Lysandre-stall plays, but since Eelektrik has a Retreat Cost of two, that's not as big a threat as it is for Bronzong.  Unless you opt to run multiple high-Retreat Pokémon, just one Float Stone works fine.

1 Computer Search: This has been the typical go-to Supporter for the deck and it's still a great card now, able to discard Pokémon and grab a crucial Battle Compressor or DCE.  It's a safe and reliable choice, but there are other viable options to consider.

4 Double Colorless Energy/3 Lightning Energy: Four Double Colorless Energy is obviously essential.  Three Lightning Energy is the bare minimum for this deck, but it works fine when Battle Compressor can discard it and Eelektrik can reuse it.  You only ever need two Lightning Energy in play at a time anyway.

Additional options in Expanded

Ditto BCR: Ditto was a great card in the old Flareon decks, providing additional outs to turn-one Eevee thanks to its Transform Ability.  This role has largely been replaced by the inclusion of Vespiquen, giving the deck a full eight Basics that can Evolve into attackers, but Ditto is still there for you if you need it.

Jirachi-EX: This is a great consistency Pokémon, either in place of or in addition to Shaymin-EX.  Should you opt for more tech Supporters, Jirachi quickly earns its keep in the deck.  If you're particularly concerned about an Ability like Ancient Power or Forest's Curse, you could run a 2/2 split of Shaymin and Jirachi to have additional outs to helpful Supporters like Hex Maniac and Lysandre.

Wobbuffet PHF: As noted above, adding a Wobbuffet or two can help a lot against Archeops decks.  If you go this route, you'll probably want a second Float Stone, though.

Vaporeon AOR: At the moment, this Pokémon is pretty much exclusively good against Landorus-EX.  Water simply isn't a relevant Weakness right now and even Landorus isn't prevalent enough to justify Vaporeon's inclusion.  Still, it's a card to keep in mind as more and more Pokémon-EX are released.  Eventually, Vaporeon's time may come.

Espeon DEX: This provides a harder counter to Accelgor than Audino, but at the cost of Audino's wider utility.  Going into an undefined metagame, two or three Audino is definitely the safer call, but if you have reason to expect to face multiple Accelgor decks throughout the tournament, an Espeon could go a long way.

Accelgor DEX: This is taking the deck in a different direction and would have to come at the expense of your Flareon line, but Tobias Thesing proved that Accelgor is a perfectly viable partner for Vespiquen, adding some disruption to Vespiquen's aggression.

Empoleon DEX: Should you opt out of the Energy-acceleration opportunities that come with Lightning (or Fire) Energy, running a few Basic Water and Empoleon is a very solid idea.  Diving Draw lets you see a couple extra cards each turn and it fuels your attacks by giving you an additional discard outlet (remember that you can always just discard Exeggcute for a "free" Diving Draw).  In addition, Attack Command is a very useful attack, typically dealing over 100 damage at once without using a DCE.  Even without Water Energy, Empoleon is probably your best bet if you want a Pokémon that provides a little more draw support.

Colress: Speaking of draw Support, Colress is probably your best option for Supporter-draw after Juniper and N.  With so many Pokémon in the deck, Benches fill up quickly and a Colress for a nice pile of cards is a very real possibility.

Hex Maniac: Beyond simply countering Archeops, Hex Maniac is one of the most versatile and powerful cards in the game right now.  A Hex Maniac coupled with a big KO can sometimes end games on its own and the card is relatively easy to access thanks to Battle Compressor (and can be even more so with the inclusion of a Jirachi-EX).

Blacksmith: This is the alternative Energy-acceleration option for this deck.  The advantage is that its less space-intensive than Eelektrik, giving you room for more support Pokémon.  However, it's less reliable to use and puts more pressure on your limited supply of VS Seekers.  It's still a solid card, though, and if Hex Maniac or Garbodor become popular, it becomes the ideal form of acceleration.

Teammates: This card is often just not necessary.  The deck runs fairly thick counts of everything important and after the first few turns, you can typically just draw whichever cards you need off a Juniper.  However, when all you need is one key card for your turn and you can't afford to whiff, Teammates provides some much-needed security.

Life Dew: This is the other major ACE SPEC worth considering.  Night March and Vespiquen are both popular decks going into Regionals and it's quite possible that you'll face multiple matches that devolve into non-EX arms races.  Life Dew can provide quite the edge in those scenarios and in general, it's never a bad card to have.  As long as it sticks, your opponent will likely have to deal with a zero-Prize Vespiquen at some point in the match and that can be enough to get you ahead in the Prize exchange.  It's worth noting that just running this card vastly increases the value of Teammates as Teammates is one of the only options to search Life Dew.

Startling Megaphone: On the other hand, if Life Dew really catches on, then just running it yourself might not be enough.  You're going to need a way to counter your opponent's copy as well.  Startling Megaphone can render opposing Life Dews useless and it also counters Focus Sash.  It's not really worth running unless there is a prevalence of Life Dew and Focus Sash in the metagame, but keep this tech in mind.

Trainers' Mail: This card can give the deck a nice bit of extra speed.  If you find the deck just a bit too cloggy with so many Pokémon, squeezing in even just a couple copies can go a long way.

Level Ball: This is another card that can give the deck a bit of a consistency boost.  Level Ball can search most of the Pokémon in your deck, letting you set up just a bit faster.  If you opt to run a copy or two of this card, it's highly recommended that you also run a Jirachi-EX, as including it turns Level Ball into a Supporter-out.

Cofagrigus PLF 56: This is a surprisingly effective tech.  Six Feet Under Knocks Out Cofagrigus and then allows you to place three damage counters anywhere on your opponent's field.  Not only does this help to fuel your attacks, but it also can break up to three Focus Sashes at once.  It's particularly useful alongside Life Dew, to avoid giving up a free Prize with Six Feet Under.

At risk of sounding repetitive, the major strength of Vespiquen is its flexibility.  Pore over the existing card pool each time a new set comes out.  You may stumble upon a marginalized card that happens to fit perfectly here.  Remember that Ditto and Audino were often relegated to bulk before Flareon became popular!

Conclusion

Vespiquen isn't an easy deck to build and it isn't an easy deck to play, but don't get discouraged.  It's a deck with a ton of potential that's only going to grow as more cards are released.  For those of you who were losing faith, try messing with these lists and give the deck another shot.  Best of luck to all of you who will be playing Vespiquen at Regionals in the coming weeks.  Win one for the Queen Bee!

Thanks once again for reading.  See you next time!

-60cards staff

[+10] okko


 

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