One of the best cards that is being gotten rid of in the Standard Format rotation is Battle Compressor. This is a card that had a big impact on how we play Pokemon, giving us easy access to 1-of tech Supporter cards with VS Seeker, allowing us to quickly discard Energy to accelerate with cards like Dark Patch and Bronzong PHF, discard dead resources from our deck to protect us from bad late game N’s, and probably most intimidating, it gave an engine to decks that do more damage for each number of a specific type of card in the discard pile. Not only did it provide these decks an engine, it was the most powerful engine and deck type in the game.
While Battle Compressor is gone, cards allowing us to build these types of decks still exist, notably Vespiquen AOR, who this article is all about. With Battle Compressor’s rotation, many players have written off Vespiquen as being dead, but early testing of the new Standard format is showing that it might be too early to leave the bee hive, the exterminator isn’t coming until October after all.
In this article I will be covering a Vespiquen deck without Battle Compressor that you can use for any of your upcoming League Challenges and League Cups. This deck has tested to be one of the best decks in the new Standard format and is a deck I would highly recommend. It takes a little bit longer to get going, but by the time you’re down to your final few prizes you will be swinging for 200+ damage just like the good old days of using Battle Compressor.
Pokemon – 26
4 Combee AOR
Trainers – 30
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
1 Forest of Giant Plants
Energy – 4
4 Double Colorless
4-4 Vespiquen AOR – Hi, I’m Vespiquen Ancient Origins. You might remember me from such high tier decks as Vespiquen/Vileplume, Night March/Vespiquen, and Vespiquen/Flareon. This card is the entire reason we’re here. It’s our main attacker and it gains power as the game goes on as more and more Pokemon hit the discard pile. While it takes a little bit longer to start swinging at full power without Battle Compressor, it still gets there fairly quickly and is just as scary as it’s ever been, easily swinging 220-250 damage by the end of the game.
3-2-1 Zoroark BREAK – This is our alternate attacker, and it’s not all that important to the deck outside of finding its way into the discard pile. I will cover some alternate options for this space later on, but ultimately I believe Zoroark to be the best of a selection of bad candidates for an alternate attacker. Zoroark creates awkward game situations for opponents as it forces them to question lots of their decisions on whether to bench something or not. If they bench Pokemon freely, then Zoroark’s Mind Jack gets stronger. If they choose not to bench Pokemon for fear of the Mind Jack attack, they make themselves more vulnerable to late game N’s as keeping those Pokemon in deck decreases their probability of drawing something useful like a Supporter card of their own or a VS Seeker.
The Zoroark BREAK is in the deck only for the HP boost it provides. There are situations against Pokemon like Giratina EX or Yanmega BREAK where you can take advantage in the prize race by denying them a knockout that they otherwise would have taken if you didn’t BREAK evolve.
4 Unown AOR – Gives you extra draw power with its Farewell Letter Ability and helps power up Bee Revenge by discarding itself.
4 Klefki STS – Another Pokemon that is able to discard itself to power up Bee Revenge, although this one comes with a one turn delay, unless you attach it to an Unown or attach it to another Klefki. For those not yet familiar with Klefki, it has an Ability called Wonder Lock which allows you to attach Klefki as a Pokemon Tool Card (discarding all cards attached to Klefki) if Klefki is on your bench. The effect Klefki has as a Pokemon Tool is to prevent damage from Mega Evolution Pokemon and then it discards itself at the end of the turn. This lets Klefki serve a dual purpose in this deck, both buying you extra turns against Mega Pokemon decks while also powering up your Bee Revenge.
4 Shaymin EX – The only reason to not run a full set of Shaymin EX in this deck is if you wanted to create room for additional alternate attackers, but as mentioned in the Zoroark breakdown, the alternate attacker candidates are mostly bad so that isn’t something we should be considering at this point in time. By playing 4 Shaymin EX, our deck is going to be inherently more consistent than other Vespiquen variants not playing 4 Shaymin EX. As you’re playing Vespiquen, extra copies don’t go to waste as you simply send them to the discard with Ultra Ball or Professor Sycamore to power up your Bee Revenge.
While I do play 4 Shaymin EX in here, when playing the deck my goal is to try not to play down any Shaymin EX throughout the game as it is a two prize knockout that helps take away some of the advantage created by being a one prize attacker deck. The only times I want to play down my Shaymin EX are when using it to draw would create such a game state advantage that my opponent wouldn’t be able to come back if I took that advantage or on the final turn of the game to draw into all necessary resources to take my last prize. Other than that, the only time I play down a Shaymin EX is if it’s necessary for me to continue my draw to find a needed resource.
Now having said that, many players would still opt to cut down on the Shaymin EX, but this is the wrong decision. You still want to max it out so they’re consistently available when you do need them and really, there isn’t anything that’s really worth it to run over Shaymin EX. I’d start cutting down on the Zoroark line before I would start thinking about cutting down on any of the consistency lines. Cool techs aren’t very cool when you can’t use them or they don’t have much impact because your deck isn’t consistent at its main strategy.
4 Professor Sycamore – Best draw Supporter in the game so it gets maxed out at four. We can use Professor Sycamore to discard Pokemon from our hand to power up our Bee Revenge.
2 N – There are a lot of situations where I wish one of these N were a Teammates or Shauna, but I think it’s highly important to run two N in here to make it more probable that you see it early in the game so that you actually have it available as a disruption option off your VS Seekers. If you only play 1 copy, there are too many games that you lose because you prized it or couldn’t draw into it and needed to disrupt the opponent. This is something I’ve picked up on more as I’ve played more Standard format games, so in my Standard M Gardevoir EX deck, I would do something like cut a Mega Turbo to fit a 2nd N into that list to give me better access to it.
2 Lysandre – I always love having multiple Lysandre in Vespiquen variants (non-Vileplume ones at least) to make sure you see it early and often. It usually takes a little time for Vespiquen to get to that OHKO anything power level, so in the early game, using Lysandre on Shaymin EX is one of the strongest plays that you can make, as it lets you take two prizes early and start running ahead in the prize race. This becomes even more important as we will see more Mega Pokemon decks in the new Standard format, and being able to Lysandre the EX’s that haven’t yet evolved on the bench can be your means for taking prizes during the middle of the game prior to being able to OHKO anything.
1 Pokemon Ranger – I’m not a very big fan of this card, but it’s your only out for attaching Double Colorless Energy after getting hit by Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel, as well as an option to allow you to knockout a Glaceon EX. It’s also useful for knocking out Jirachi immediately after it uses Stardust on you.
4 VS Seeker – Staple, lets you re-use your Supporter cards.
4 Ultra Ball – A standard inclusion in almost every deck. Very important for discarding Pokemon to power up Bee Revenge.
4 Acro Bike – This provides us another option for drawing cards as well as another option for discarding Pokemon to power up Bee Revenge. As we’re packing lots of recovery from the discard, there is almost never a very painful discard off Acro Bike for this deck.
2 Trainers’ Mail – These are just space fillers that add a little bit of consistency to the deck. I feel in the first 58 cards the deck has everything it needs to function, so Trainers’ Mail provides a filler card that helps increase the consistency a little bit. You could add some type of tech Pokemon here, but you would be choosing to do so at the cost of your consistency.
2 Revitalizer – Vespiquen is the best attacker in the deck, and really the only one you want to use consistently. By playing two copies of Revitalizer we open ourselves up to being able to attack with 5 or 6 Vespiquen in a game, which is very very powerful.
2 Special Charge – The deck only plays 4 Double Colorless Energy so being able to get them back to ensure you can attack for the entirety of the game is great. With two Special Charge, as long as we don’t misplay, there is almost never a game where Energy resources become an issue.
2 Float Stone – This is what you use to retreat without spending your Energy attachment for the turn to retreat on something without free retreat. You could play Escape Rope in this slot as well, but I think Float Stone is too good for long term game stability in a format where it can’t be easily removed from your Pokemon.
1 Forest of Giant Plants – This lets us evolve into Vespiquen immediately after playing down a Combee. This works great with Revitalizer where we can just take an entire Vespiquen line out of the discard pile and play it back down immediately. As we only have one copy of this card in the deck, sometimes it can be in your best interest to hold onto the card until you feel that you can optimally use it to good effect.
A lot of players that have seen the deck claim that it needs Parallel City, but this is false. When playing this deck there are rarely situations where there’d even be a Pokemon to discard with Parallel City. I think in most of the situations that they are finding themselves wanting Parallel City to discard Pokemon those are typically Pokemon that should have never been played down to the bench in the first place. You would also be flirting with danger by playing only a single copy of Parallel City in this deck without an alternate Stadium or Delinquent. Parallel City is pretty popular in a lot of decks right now, and if you play a lone copy Parallel City, you may find yourself locked into doing 20 less damage for the rest of the game by your opponent’s Parallel City.
4 Double Colorless Energy – The fuel for your Bee Revenge. With Special Charge there is no longer much reason to worry about running out of these.
Strategy Points to Consider
This type of deck takes a little bit getting used to because it’s a lot slower than the Vespiquen variants that most players are used to from last season, so it’s something that you have to play around with for a bit to learn the finer points of the deck. There are a lot more decisions about when and where to play cards for this variant of Vespiquen than the variants we saw last season, so there’s a higher skill floor needed for Vespiquen in the new Standard than there was last year. I don’t think this deck should be too difficult to figure out how to play properly for people with lots of experience with Vespiquen or the old Flareon decks. However, for people newly acquainted to this style of deck, it might take a decent amount of games to figure out how to play properly.
When playing this deck you should keep the primary deck strategy in mind, and that is to put Pokemon in your discard pile to power up Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge. Almost everything you do in a game should be based around making your Bee Revenge stronger and stronger to the point that it can knockout anything in your opponent’s deck.
However, there are some very defined small strategies that can help you get more wins with this deck, and these are as follows:
One of the methods the deck has for getting Klefki into the discard pile immediately is a method that we can call Key Chaining. This is where we create a chain of action where we repeatedly attach Klefki to another Klefki using its Wonderlock Ability. When we then use the Wonderlock Ability with a Klefki that already has a Klefki attached to it, the original Klefki is discarded. We break the chain of events by attaching the final Klefki to an Unown and using Farewell Letter to immediately discard it. You can discard all of your Klefki in a single turn using this method, providing a 40 damage boost to your Bee Revenge.
In most matchups you will want to key chain as many Klefki as you can, however against Mega Pokemon decks it can often be more useful to just play them down to prevent damage from a Mega Pokemon’s attack. You also have to avoid getting too fancy with this. If you can discard a Klefki with an Ultra Ball or Professor Sycamore, then it is best to do it with that instead of using the key chain method against non-Mega decks.
Try not to play down your Shaymin EX
With the exception of Vespiquen/Vileplume variants, this is already something you should be trying to do with any other Vespiquen variant. Shaymin EX is more useful in your discard pile powering your Bee Revenge by an extra 10 damage than it is sitting on your bench. Additionally, Shaymin EX is a two prize liability and having them on your bench when you didn’t need to play them down is a good way to lose games you shouldn’t have. Sometimes you will have to play them down as it’s your only option to draw cards, but if you don’t need to play them down, you shouldn’t.
Sky Return Often
In the early game, prior to being able to attack for big damage, your best move is often to spend the early game using Sky Return to clear your field of Shaymin EX, forcing your opponent to take six knockouts to win the game. This is especially powerful against Mega Pokemon decks where you can promote something with a Klefki attached to it out of the Sky Return.
There are also lots of situations where Sky Return is going to be your optimal attack. There are a lot of situations in the mid game where you can’t OHKO an opponent’s Active Pokemon, either because it’s a Mega Pokemon or has Fighting Fury Belt attached. Some players may rush to just swing into it with Bee Revenge, but you can often setup a 2HKO with Sky Return on these Pokemon. This allows you to conserve the Double Colorless Energy, and potentially your attacker as well, allowing you to promote something like a Klefki or Unown into the active position to be knocked out by your opponent, which is far less damaging to your board state and resource pool than losing both a Vespiquen and a Double Colorless Energy would be.
This deck takes a few turns to fully get going, so in the early game if you can’t Lysandre for easy prizes on stuff like Shaymin EX, then your best option is often to Sky Return to setup your knockouts.
Alternative Pokemon Options
While the above list is my personal 60 card deck list, there are other options for the deck that you could choose to play that could be solid depending on how the meta game develops.
Zebstrika BPT – This is a popular inclusion in the deck for now, but I don’t think it’s particularly useful as M Rayquaza EX is already a very easy matchup. Being able to take a guaranteed knockout on Shaymin EX is nice, but Vespiquen already does this, and Zoroark will be able to also do so in most situations. Once Karen comes out and M Rayquaza EX is able to improve its matchup against this deck then maybe Zebstrika is worth putting in, but for now, I don’t think it does enough to warrant inclusion. Against anything that doesn’t have Fighting Resistance its attack is nearly useless.
Raichu XY – This is your best bet for a Pokemon inclusion aimed at guaranteeing a OHKO on Shaymin EX, as it not only does that but also is able to easily do 100 damage, which is a solid damage number for setting up 2HKO’s on EX’s and knocking out Stage 1 and pre-evolution Basic Pokemon. Ultimately I went with Zoroark because it has higher upside, but Raichu tested decently as well.
Yanmega BREAK – While I think Yanmega BREAK is a solid card, this variant isn’t really built in a way that would support Yanmega well and I’m not sure that Yanmega will actually be a good card for the upcoming meta. There are far less low HP Pokemon being played for it to prey upon, and Garbodor is looking to be fairly popular, and Yanmega would quickly become useless against any deck running Garbodor.
Garbodor BPT – Speaking of Garbodor, it is a potential inclusion in this deck, as you already play Float Stone. The only reason I would choose to make room for Garbodor is if Greninja BREAK decks got popular. Garbodor doesn’t actually combo too well with this deck since you have your own Abilities that you use, and I think keeping our own Abilities alive is far better than shutting off our opponent’s Abilities. Additionally, the most significant Abilities being used are Hoopa EX’s Scoundrel Ring and Shaymin EX’s Set Up, and having your opponent play down easy to knockout bench sitting EX’s is good for you, so you don’t want to do anything that would make them not want to do that.
There are other Abilities like Volcanion EX’s Steam Up that you could stop, but stopping Abilities against decks that are already favorable matchups isn’t worth it.
Vileplume AOR – Felt this is worth mentioning, because people would ask. Unfortunately, I don’t really think this works with Vespiquen without Battle Compressor in the format. The deck was already walking a fine line between success and imminent disaster, and not being able to discard Pokemon from your deck means you won’t get enough damage output and that you will also encounter many more dead hands than you previously did.
I feel as though none of the alternative attacking options for Vespiquen are very strong at the moment, and this is why I chose to build my list with an emphasis on attacking with Vespiquen as much as possible. As new sets are released we will need to be on the look out for new cards to combo with Vespiquen, as it would be nice to have a better early game attacking option in the deck.
The Karen Problem
While I think this is one of the top decks in the format at the moment, it won’t be by the time Orlando Regional Championship comes around because Karen will be legal by then…except it might still be one of the best decks? It’s really hard to tell at this point how Karen will actually affect the deck, but it might not actually end up hurting the deck as much as people might think.
Karen will be released in the Rayquaza vs. Keldeo Battle Arena Deck that releases on September 21st. This will make it legal on October 7th, prior to the first Standard Regional Championship in Orlando.
How does Karen impact this deck? My initial reaction is that I think it’s really hurtful to Standard format Vespiquen decks. While you win most of your matchups with the deck right now, a lot of the matchups go down to the final prize with Vespiquen just barely edging out the other deck. If you add Karen, these close matchups that Vespiquen edges out wins in would most likely be flipped.
However, in terms of actual tournament play, Karen might not actually hurt this deck. For the most part, Karen is a bad card. For most decks, putting Pokemon from the discard pile into your deck to be drawn into again, especially off of late game N’s, is bad. There are a few decks like M Rayquaza EX, Rainbow Road, and M Gardevoir EX where this isn’t the case, but those decks are the minority. This means for most decks, Karen’s primary purpose would be to counter decks such as Vespiquen and Night March.
If Vespiquen decks aren’t projected to be played, then for most decks, there won’t be a good reason to play Karen, and therefore players don’t play it to try to gain an advantage over the decks they do expect to play against. And then, if no one is playing Karen outside of a small set of decks that will probably make up no more than 1/4 of the meta game, then suddenly Vespiquen becomes a great play again.
The deck doesn’t really have many tough matchups right now. Most of the Mega Pokemon decks are very easy to beat, with M Scizor EX/Garbodor being the closest, but still favorable. You are able to out trade the majority of EX decks like Volcanion EX and Zygarde EX, while being more consistent than a non-EX deck like Rainbow Road, which is also overly reliant on playing down EX Pokemon. The only matchups that have given me a significant amount of difficulty are the Giratina EX decks, that is Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX and Darkrai EX/Giratina EX, and even those are just slightly unfavorable at the worst.
As of this moment, Vespiquen is still a Tier 1 deck and possibly the very best deck that the Standard format has to offer. When Karen comes out, this probably changes, but until then I think Vespiquen is a terrific play for any League Challenge or League Cup tournaments you might have to play in. After that, its future is very foggy. The deck will always be inherently strong, it will most likely be a matter of figuring out how many players are playing Karen on a given day, creating a situation where there will be tournaments where it’s a great play and other tournament’s where it’s a bad play.
Featured Image Credit: kgym on Deviant Art