Expanding on Vileplume/Vespiquen

vileplume_by_omnitelik-d6lyvbvAs we move towards Regional Championships, more and more City Championships have begun shifting over to the Expanded format to get players prepared for Regional Championships. With two Expanded City Championships on schedule for this past weekend, I decided to give my Vileplume/Vespiquen deck a go in the Expanded format.

The deck stays structurally the same when shifting over to the Expanded format, but it does gain some nice new options that can help the deck in Expanded, as well as many new threats to shut the deck down. In this article I will cover my experiences at Expanded tournaments with the deck this past weekend, and discuss its place in the Expanded format.

If you want to read about the deck in the Standard format, check out the following article: Pollinating Vileplume – Using Vespiquen/Vileplume at the Chicago Marathon.

Tournament #1 – St. Peters, Missouri

Here is the list I used for this tournament:

Pokemon – 29

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
4 Oddish AOR
4 Gloom AOR
3 Vileplume AOR
2 Unown AOR
2 Mew EX
1 Jirachi EX
3 Shaymin EX
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Bunnelby PRC

Trainers – 27

3 Professor Juniper

1 Computer Search
3 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
4 Acro Bike
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Battle Compressor
2 Float Stone

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Here is how my tournament played out:

R1 – Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX – Win
R2 – Night March – Win
R3 – Seismitoad EX/Empoleon BKT – Win
R4 – Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX – ID
R5 – M Manectric EX/Raikou BKT – ID
———————————————-
Top 8 – M Manectric EX/Aegislash EX/Bronzong PHF

All of my Swiss games were fairly one sided. I forewent Vileplume in the first game and just went for the favorable prize exchange against an EX heavy deck, taking a turn 1 knockout on a Seismitoad EX and carrying that early lead through to the end of the game. In my second and third rounds, I went first and got a turn 1 Vileplume for easy wins. From there I could just ID. I got downpaired in round 4, but after I won the coin flip, he agreed to ID the round and test his luck at winning in the fifth round.

aegislash-ex-phantom-forces-phf-65-312x441Unfortunately as the #1 seed headed into Top 8 I drew the one random deck with Aegislash EX. With no counter, there wasn’t anything I could do and I lost fairly badly.

Tournament #2 – Bridgeton, Missouri

Taking in the first tournament of the weekend, I made a few changes to the list. Here is the list I played for the second tournament of the weekend:

Pokemon – 29

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
4 Oddish AOR
4 Gloom AOR
3 Vileplume AOR
3 Unown AOR
1 Mew EX
4 Shaymin EX
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Toxicroak EX

Trainers – 27

3 Professor Juniper

1 Computer Search
3 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
4 Acro Bike
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Battle Compressor
2 Float Stone

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

This tournament ended up being smaller as a group of players traveled out of town to try to chase down an easier tournament. This ended up making it so that we only had a Top 4, which means that you have to play out the entire tournament and ID’s become a non-factor, but if you do make top cut, you save yourself a game you need to win there.

Here is how my tournament played out:

R1 – Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF – Win
R2 – M Manectric EX/Raikou BKT – Win
R3 – Vespiquen AOR/Flareon PLF – Loss
R4 – Vespiquen AOR/Flareon PLF – Win
R5 – Vespiquen AOR/Flareon PLF – Win
———————————————-
Top 4 – M Manectric EX/Raikou BKT

vileplume-ancient-origins-aor-3-312x441Swiss was fairly easy. I was able to ride turn 1 Vileplume going first for wins in rounds 1, 4, and 5. Against the M Manectric EX deck, I used Intelligence Gathering on the first turn, and followed it up with a Bee Revenge for 200+ damage on a M Manectric EX and benched him, as he didn’t get another Pokemon down. The one loss against the Vespiquen was probably bad variance, as I got Vileplume before my opponent played a draw supporter and he managed to play a Supporter nearly every turn of the game after that, while not discarding any important resources along the way.

In Top 4, in the first game I got ahead in the prize exchange to the point where I would win the game if I could string together attacks every turn of the game. Unfortunately, my last two DCE ended up as the bottom two cards on my deck, so I wasn’t able to pull off the win. This is one of the negative aspects of the deck, once you have Vileplume out, unless your opponent plays an N, Ghetsis, or Judge against you, your deck order is set, and of course you won’t know what that deck order is either, so you end up hoping for the right top decks.

In the second game, I had to forgo Vileplume on turn 1, because I attached a Double Colorless Energy to my Shaymin EX before doing a deck search and prized both Float Stone. Then on turn 2, I attached a DCE to Gloom to retreat, evolved into Vileplume, and used Sky Return. My opponent then Lysandre’d the Vileplume, so I scooped.

m-manectric-ex-phantom-forces-phf-24-312x441The M Manectric EX matchup can be tough anyhow, as they have a lot of HP, and they can accelerate Energy when they get a M Manectric EX setup. If you go first and get Vileplume, they will struggle, but when they go first, they can get Spirit Links down and make their hand right for their first turn under the lock to make the most of the matchup. Additionally, every Lysandre they get can easily turn into two prizes as Manectric EX and M Manectric EX easily KO a Shaymin EX. You will generally rely on getting 2HKO’s on them, so they can create positive prize exchanges for themselves if they draw well enough.

Mew EX can help some in this matchup, as Turbo Bolt isn’t enough to knockout the 120 HP Mew EX, but they can use Overrun some of the time to minimize the turn advantage that Mew could potentially provide.

New Cards For Expanded

mew-ex-dragons-exalted-drx-120Mew EX – This is probably my favorite addition to the deck for Expanded format. As the deck will usually only use 4 attackers, Mew EX giving up two prizes has very little impact on games. At 120 HP, Mew EX can survive a few attacks (such as Turbo Bolt, two Energy Evil Ball, Y-Cyclone, etc.) that Vespiquen cannot which could allow you to get more attacks per an attacker.

Mew EX can let you throw more of your Vespiquen line in the discard pile, as you will need less Vespiquen to attack in a game, especially in the variant that I used the first tournament with two Mew EX. I found that the deck was able to work better without having to resort to using Bunnelby as Mew EX let you get four attackers for a game much easier than you could in Standard, where you often would have to use Bunnelby to get back parts of the Vespiquen line so you could have more attackers in a game. I found that in Expanded, if i was at the point where I had to use Rototiller to try to patch together a win, I was probably already in a position where I was going to lose the game.

One of the nice things about Mew EX is that you could use your opponent’s attacks. You could use Star Dust to counteract your opponent’s own Jirachi (especially since Jirachi is mostly played in decks that are heavily reliant on DCE themselves). Additionally, against something like Vespiquen/Flareon, after you are out of Vespiquen yourself, you can copy their Bee Revenge or Vengeance to attack with.

Lastly, Mew EX was a nice option to have against decks playing Parallel City. Vespiquen could sometimes miss damage numbers from the -20 effect of Parallel City, but Mew EX could be used to get around this as it isn’t a type that is affected by Parallel City’s damage reduction.

exeggcute-plasma-freeze-plf-4Exeggcute PLF – As you’re playing four Battle Compressor, this is a natural fit in the deck. Having the Exeggcute’s Propogation Ability at your disposal allows you to get more use out of your hands that have cards like Ultra Ball in them.

Computer Search – There is no reason not to play an Ace Spec when playing Expanded, so cutting an Ultra Ball for a Computer Search is a simple change to make to the deck. Computer Search can act as that fourth Ultra Ball when you need it to, or you can use it to get any other card in your deck, making it much stronger than the fourth Ultra Ball.

Jirachi EX – I put Jirachi EX in the deck so that I could turn my Level Balls into an out for the Professor Juniper. I ended up cutting Jirachi EX for the second tournament because drawing more cards from your deck has more impact on your games than having more consistency outs, as the deck is already quite consistent as is. Additionally, not being able to remove a Jirachi EX from the field like you can a Shaymin EX with Sky Return means you have to use a DCE to retreat it if it gets Lysandre, or let it sit there and get knocked out.

toxicroak-ex-flashfire-flf-102-ptcgo-1-312x441Toxicroak EX – This served as a counter to random Aegislash EX’s. I don’t think it can do enough against full fledged Metal decks, but in the few games I tested the night before against some decks where Aegislash EX was thrown into counter, Toxicroak EX was able to remove the Aegislash EX threat most of the of the time. Under Vileplume lock, your opponent won’t really be able to get Aegislash EX out of the Active without wasting a bunch of Energy to do so, and in three turns, Toxicroak’s accelerated Poison damage will KO the Aegislash EX.

I didn’t expect any dedicated Metal decks, so in the decks that I expected to play Aegislash EX (primarily the M Manectric EX I played in Top 8 the day before, and random inclusions in Vespiquen), those decks struggled to get the necessary Energy to do 120 damage. I could use Mew EX to copy Triple Poison, and then use Sky Return with Mew EX and Shaymin EX’s while I waited for the Poison to knock it out.

Toxicroak EX is also effective for knocking out smaller stuff early game and it could work as a late game bail out play when you need something bulkier that can take a hit, while putting out damage on your opponent.

red-card-xy-124No Red Card – I ended up not playing Red Card in either version. When playing the deck in Standard, I found Red Card to have very little effect on most of my game outcomes. I don’t think the card is impactful enough to warrant play. If your opponent starts a single Pokemon, it is a -2 card effect, which is quite strong. However, when they start 2 Pokemon, it only has a -1 effect, and if they start three Pokemon it has zero net effect.  If they start four or more Pokemon (or go first) it will typically have a positive net effect on the opponent. If you didn’t play it before you evolved into Vileplume, then you have another dead card in your deck.

Town Map – I didn’t end up playing it in either list, but Town Map could be good in the deck. If you play it before you evolve into Vileplume, you can draw your prize cards in the right order for maximum effectiveness.

New Threats

archeops-noble-victories-nvi-67-312x429One of the uglier facts of the current Pokemon formats is that going first provides a major advantage for the player that is lucky enough to win the coin flip. If your opponent goes first and uses Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick to put an Archeops onto their bench, you effectively lose the game. If your opponent goes first and plays Ghetsis, if you don’t have a Shaymin EX in hand, you are instantly in top deck mode and could lose the game very quickly if you don’t draw a card to get your draw going.

While Hex Maniac is available to slow the deck down in Standard is well, it is much more potent in the Expanded format as your opponent can play Jirachi EX for easy access to Hex Maniac.

While all of these things are very strong against of the deck, I would argue that none of them are enough of a deterrent to not play the deck if you feel like it is the best play. These are all based on your opponent going first. Decks that make use of Archeops and Ghetsis on the first turn of the game will typically also be decks that are also very weak against a turn 1 Vileplume. That means if you win the coin flip, you will be the player with a big advantage, essentially making these matchups about 50/50.

Matchups

The deck matches up fairly well with the decks that make up the top end of the Expanded format. The top decks, Yveltal, Vespiquen, Seismitoad/Crobat, Blastoise, Seismitoad/Giratina, Sableye/Garbodor, and Night March are all reliant on lots of Items to get going, so they all struggle greatly against turn 1 Item Lock.

As a result, these matchups become essentially 50/50 or better, as if you go first, you will win most of the time against all of these decks. Additionally, three of the decks are reliant on Grass weak attackers.

ghetsis-plasma-freeze-plf-101However, most of the decks have solid counter plays on their first turn of the game. Yveltal and Night March decks can play Archeops on the first turn of the game to win the matchup, in addition to a turn one Ghetsis, which will win the matchup most of the time. Seismitoad/Crobat, Seismitoad/Giratina, and Sableye/Garbodor join them as decks that can also play Ghetsis with some ease on turn 1.

If Sableye/Garbodor goes first, it can get a Float Stone on Trubbish and then evolve into Garbodor on turn 2 to get rid of the Item Lock. Seismitoad/Giratina could power up a Giratina EX and shutdown your Energy attachments.

With this deck, a lot of matchups can come down to whether you win the coin flip or not. If you win the coin flip, these decks will be unable to make their counter plays. If you don’t, they can make strong counter plays to beat you.

Conclusion

Overall the deck worked very well in its conversion over to the Expanded formats. Over the course of the weekend I was able to nab Top 4 and Top 8 finishes with the deck. Shoutouts to Jando Luna and Squeaky Marking for also piloting the deck in Expanded this weekend to 2nd place finishes, and Edan Lewis for piloting it to a Top 8 finish.

Featured Image Credits: Omnitelik on Deviant Art

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