Putting the Salazzle Dazzle on Vespiquen/Flareon in Daytona

In the lead up to this past weekend’s Expanded Regional Championship in Daytona Beach, it had become clear to me that I wouldn’t have much time at all to prepare for the tournament because of a heavy work schedule the past few weeks. As a result of this, I decided it was best for me to play something that I was very familiar with to minimize misplaying as I wouldn’t have time to figure something new out.

As a result, the two decks that I had in mind as potential plays were Turbo Darkrai and Vespiquen/Flareon, two decks that I have solid experience with at this point. I ended up settling on playing Vespiquen for the simple reason that it was the more fun option between the two and I already had used Turbo Darkrai at Fort Wayne and didn’t really feel like playing it for another Regional. I ended up packing both decks with me, bringing Turbo Darkrai to play in the League Cup if I didn’t make Day 2.

I thought Vespiquen/Flareon had the potential to be a strong play for this weekend. It would theoretical be able to trade well against decks like Turbo Darkrai and Gardevoir GX because of its non-EX status. It also could go toe to toe with Night March because of its shared non-EX status. It also hit lots of relevant Pokemon for Weakness, being able to easily OHKO popular Pokemon such as Seismitoad EX, Golisopod GX, Turtonator GX, and Volcanion EX because the deck can hit them for Weakness.

One of the things I love best about Vespiquen as a deck is that because of the nature of the Bee Revenge and Vengeance attacks, you are free too heavily tech your deck against the meta. Even though your tech may not matter in lots of matchups in regards to the purpose it was put in the deck, these cards are still useful in every matchup by fueling your Bee Revenge or Vengeance damage when they’re sent to the discard pile.

Despite how different the deck can be from format to format, I still use the same blue print for the deck that I used when I played it in the 2015-2016 season.

In this article I will go over my build of Vespiquen for Daytona and then wrap it up by briefly going over the League Cup I played in at the Regional Championship, the first of its kind in North America.

Decklist

Pokemon – 28

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
4 Eevee SUM
4 Flareon PLF
1 Vaporeon AOR
4 Unown AOR
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Oricorio GRI 56
1 Salandit GRI
1 Salazzle GX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers – 

3 Professor Juniper
1 N
1 Colress
2 Guzma
1 Blacksmith

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Choice Band

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Fire

I actually wrote about Vespiquen/Flareon at the beginning of the season in August, prior to the Fort Wayne Regional Championship. The list in that article is very similar in its core to this list, but it played a different array of tech cards which aimed to counter a Trevenant heavy meta.

That list, unfortunately, loses very hard to a Karen. Most of my opponents in Fort Wayne were playing Karen in their lists, so I knew headed into this tournament that I would need to have ways to overcome Karen, so I geared some of my tech space towards dealing with Karen. I am very skeptical of Karen actually countering Night March successfully, but lots of players seem to think it does so they play it in their decks.

Here is a run down on the changes that I’ve made in this list of the deck.

Vaporeon AOR

At the Fort Wayne Regional Championship, Sam Chen made the finals of the tournament with Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX. The deck also won the Bilbao Special Event in Spain the weekend prior to this event. In the run up to the event, there was a strong belief among a lot of players that this was the best deck of the Expanded format, so it was safe to assume that this deck would be popular so it was worth teching for.

Vaporeon turns every Stage 1 into a Water type Pokemon, which allows you to attack with Vespiquen and Flareon and hit Turtonator GX and Volcanion EX for weakness.

Oricorio GRI 56

I think the Night March matchup tends to be a little bit favorable for Vespiquen for a few reasons.

  1. Vespiquen is less likely to open an EX Pokemon.
  2. Vespiquen can use Shaymin EX to OHKO Joltik (one of Night March’s main attackers), clearing itself off the field if you had to play one down, or allowing you to play one down to get additional draw in a turn and then instantly clear it. This also conserves your Double Colorless Energy making it easier to find later in the game.
  3. Vespiquen is less likely to have to play down EX’s in a game. This is true both on turn 1 where you can use Tropical Beach to aide your setup and later in the game, where you can lay Unown onto your bench to give you a fairly reliable way to draw out of late game N’s while not having to resort to playing Shaymin EX or Tapu Lele GX.

However, the matchup is still very close, and sometimes early game variance can sink you in the matchup. Oricorio was an insurance police to make up for any bad variance to make the Night March matchup a more favorable. To make things even better, when Dimension Valley is in play, Oricorio can even attack for free.

Putting Oricorio into the deck gives me a strong advantage in the matchup. Either my opponent plays conservatively with their Pokemon making it more likely for them to brick against my late game N’s, or they play Pokemon into the discard pile more liberally which opens up the potential for a devastating Supernatural Dance.

Best case scenario, Oricorio provides a two prize turn. Worst case scenario, Oricorio delivers a one prize turn while allowing you to conserve one of your Double Colorless Energy.

Theoretically, Night March players could start playing Oricorio as well and use that to swing the matchup into their favor as well…although Oricorio in Night March doesn’t seem to be a thing yet.

1-1 Salazzle GX

With the rise of Night March, its counters are out in full force. Vespiquen gets hit as collateral damage from the response to Night March’s success. One of the counter cards that players use to try to thwart Night March is Karen, which shuffles all Pokemon from both players’ discard piles back into their deck, completely resetting all the work that you’ve done to power up your Bee Revenge and Vengeance attacks (and the Night March attack in Night March’s case). As Vespiquen needs more Pokemon in the discard pile to do big damage, it is hurt much more from this card than Night March is.

I included Salazzle GX in this deck as a counter to Karen. You can generally get your first four prizes in a game with no issue, but after the 2nd or 3rd Karen in a game, it can be difficult to close out the game. This is where Salazzle GX comes in. It can hit for 200 damage (230 with Choice Band) after you’ve taken 4 prize cards with its Diabolical Claws attack, meaning that it will OHKO pretty much everything in this situation. Diabolical Claws costs [R][R], so you can power it up with Blacksmith.

One cool thing you can do once you know your opponent plays Karen is to discard the Salazzle GX with Battle Compressor to boost your attack damage and play only the Salandit onto your bench. Either your opponent plays Karen and puts Salazzle GX back into your deck or they don’t and you just run through them with Vespiquen and Flareon.

Some may be thinking that it would then be difficult to find it at the correct moment if you made this play, but it’s actually easy to find it because your opponent can’t Karen and N you in the same turn. Therefore if you play Colress or Professor Sycamore and draw lots of resources, take a knockout, adding 1-2 more cards to your hand, you will have ample resources to work with in case your opponent uses Karen against you. If they N you instead you just keep on going with Vespiquen and Flareon.

Dowsing Machine

I switched my previously preferred Ace Spec, Computer Search, to Dowsing Machine so that I would have a potential 5th Battle Compressor, giving me additional firepower and routes to overcome opponent’s Karen’s. While the utility of being able to find a Double Colorless or Tropical Beach with Computer Search is somewhat missed, Dowsing Machine was also very cool for its own reasons, in particular as giving me essentially a 5th VS Seeker, which proved strong throughout the day.

After having played both in tournaments, I think they both are about equally strong in the deck, each giving you their own unique advantages.

Choice Band

This became a routine inclusion in Standard Vespiquen towards the end of last season, and I finally was able to make the room for a couple of these by cutting down on Pokemon and other Tool cards.

Choice Band is a solid card against both counters. Against Karen, it allows you to have less Pokemon in your discard pile, making it easier to rebuild for knockout numbers after you get hit with a Karen. Against Oricorio, it lets you reach for higher knockout numbers while keeping less Pokemon in the discard pile out of choice to avoid being hit harder than you need to be by Supernatural Dance. Every damage counter can matter in these games.

No Float Stone

I had previously cut down to one Float Stone in my last list, and after playing a few games with one still, I decided to get rid of it altogether in favor of a 2nd Choice Band.

The biggest reason that you had to play Float Stone was to retreat your Wobbuffet. In previous formats, it was essential to promote a Wobbuffet into the active position to shutoff Archeops’ Ancient Power Ability so you could evolve your Pokemon, and then since Wobbuffet had two retreat cost you needed Float Stone to retreat it out of the Active Position.

With Wobbuffet no longer needed in the deck because of Archeops’ ban, there is no longer much of a need for Float Stone. All of your Basic Pokemon have 1 retreat costs, so you can retreat them for a single Fire Energy. Your evolved Pokemon all have two retreat cost, but you rarely find yourself in a situation where these get put active when you don’t want them to. And if your opponent tries to stall something active, Guzma can be used to switch your active Pokemon out of the active position, assuming your opponent has a benched Pokemon.

Tournament Breakdown

Round 1 – Sam Parkman – Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX with Karen – Win (1-0-0)
Round 2 – Chris Bianchi – Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX with Karen – Win (2-0-0)
Round 3 – Stephen Hunter – Turbo Darkrai with Oricorio – Win (3-0-0)
Round 4 – Kevin Velez – Turbo Darkrai with Karen – Win (4-0-0)
Round 5 – Aaron Tarbell – Golisopod GX/Zoroark with Oricorio – Win (5-0-0)
Round 6 – Jimmy Pendarvis – Sableye/Garbodor – Loss (5-1-0)
Round 7 – Brad Curcio – Garbodor/Necrozma GX with Oricorio – Loss (5-2-0)
Round 8 – Frankie Durso – Turbo Darkrai with Oricorio – Tie (5-2-1)
Round 9 – Joey Nawal – Archie’s Blastoise (2x Articuno) – Win (6-2-1)

My tournament started out very favorable for me, as I got to play against Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX both of the first two rounds. With Vaporeon AOR in the deck I hit pretty much all of their Pokemon for Weakness (except Tapu Lele GX or Ho-Oh GX if they play it), and even after a Karen it is easy to build back up into OHKO numbers.

Prior to the tournament I thought that Turbo Darkrai would be an easy matchup. Most of the talk ahead of the tournament was that Turbo Darkrai has such a bad Night March matchup because of Marshadow GX that it wasn’t worth teching for, so I thought any Turbo Darkrai decks I played would not be playing any type of counter card. This couldn’t have been more wrong, as all three of my opponents played some type of counter card, which makes the matchup for Vespiquen very close.

I was able to overcome 2/3, but ended up in a tie in my round 8 match. I was very close to winning this match 2-0, just needing to get a Vespiquen and Double Colorless Energy to Bee Revenge for the win in game 2. I ended up getting the Ultra Ball for a Vespiquen, but didn’t get the DCE. I’m not sure how game 3 would have played out if time wasn’t called, but it looked like it was going to be a very close finish.

I don’t have a hard read on the Golisopod GX/Zoroark matchup yet because of the way my games played out against it. In game 1, I ended up winning on the second turn of the game as Aaron couldn’t get a 2nd benched Pokemon. The strategy they use against you of course is to not use Golisopod GX, but use their other attackers in the matchup. So what had been Golisopod GX/Zoroark, turned into Tapu Koko/Zoroark/Oricorio. In game 2, Aaron had to bench his Oricorio or otherwise discard it, and after drawing into his Rescue Stretchers early in the game he didn’t have an option to re-use Oricorio, so I was able to use Guzma to eliminate the Oricorio threat from the game. From there it was just a matter of knocking out a bunch of low HP Pokemon.

I think the matchup is probably a little bit favorable for Vespiquen still as you don’t need many Pokemon in the discard pile and they’re playing a bunch of dead cards in their deck for the matchup (The Golisopod GX line and Acerola), so they have a lot of garbage they can draw into off of late game N’s, making it a little more likely that they brick than the average deck against Vespiquen. However, I think the matchup probably plays out pretty closely most of the time.

The Sableye/Garbodor matchup is pretty unfavorable, but Guzma makes it a lot better matchup for decks like Vespiquen than it used to be because you won’t get anything locked active that you can’t get out of the active, while also acting as a way to get around Life Dew. My strategy was to try to rush it down, and then try to use Guzma to work around Life Dew, while using N to remove Puzzle of Time from my opponent’s hand after they Junk Hunt them back in.

Things didn’t go too well though. This deck is very difficult to beat when you have a very limited Energy supply, and then when you run out of your DCE you’re reliant on a Supporter to power up your Pokemon. Needing to Blacksmith to power up an attacker made this matchup very difficult as that meant I couldn’t use a Guzma in the same turn to get around Life Dew. I think the Blacksmith build is especially bad against Sableye/Garbodor as well. If I were playing cards like Special Charge and Field Blower I may have had a better shot in the matchup.

My match against Brad went very poorly. In his deck he was using Oricorio as his counter, and with Dimension Valley it can attack for free. However, what makes it especially difficult is that he also played Mew, which allowed him to copy Oricorio’s Supernatural Dance. This was very big, as it meant that I had to use a Guzma to knockout the Oricorio, which meant that I couldn’t use N to disrupt him. Additionally, even if I used Guzma it most likely wouldn’t matter as he could then just Rescue Stretcher it back. Being able to attack for free with either Mew or Oricorio allowed him to use his Energy to power up other attackers such as Garbodors.

I think Machoke needs to go into Vespiquen if it hopes to compete well in this matchup.

My last matchup of the day was Archie’s Blastoise, which I was able to take down 2-1. This is a very high variance matchup that comes down to how well your opponent flips on Articuno along as whether they get out the Archie’s. In game 1, Joey never got Blastoise onto the field so I took an easy win. In games 2 and 3 he did, which made it much closer. In game 2, I missed the OHKO on an Articuno by 10 damage which allowed him to run through me with Articuno very well. In game 3, he flipped poorly on Articuno which allowed me to take control of the game.

In the end I finished 6-2-1, which placed me at 37th place in the tournament as the 19 pointer with the highest resistance.

League Cup with Turbo Darkrai

I just want to briefly go over this, as it’s very cool. Daytona was the first Regional Championship in North America that had a League Cup on the Sunday. Typically, Regional Championships will have a League Challenge on Sundays. With League Challenges essentially being useless under the current invite structure it would be cool to see all future Regional Championships have a League Cup on Sunday as it gives players something meaningful to do on the Sunday.

This Regional only had a League Cup because one that was cancelled because of the hurricanes had to be re-scheduled. As of right now, League Cups aren’t part of all Regional Championships, but I hope to see this change in the near future.

For this tournament, I decided to play Turbo Darkrai. I played a list similar to my Fort Wayne Regional Championship list, with a few changes.

Pokemon – 11

3 Darkrai EX BKP
1 Darkrai EX DEX
2 Darkrai GX
1 Yveltal XY
1 Hoopa EX
3 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Sycamore
1 N
2 Colress
2 Guzma
1 Hex Maniac

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Max Elixir
4 Dark Patch
2 Battle Compressor
2 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Choice Band

2 Sky Field
1 Parallel City

Energy – 13

13 Darkness

I ended up taking out one of the Sky Field for a 13th Darkness Energy to give me slightly better Max Elixir probabilities and to raise my damage cap. I also replaced Fighting Fury Belt with Choice Band to reach for higher damage numbers, which can be helpful for knocking out high HP Pokemon like Gardevoir.

Both changes seemed fine. I’m not sure whether any Pokemon Tool is actually needed in this deck after trying out both Fighting Fury Belt and Choice Band. I could see myself taking Tool cards out of the deck completely in the future. The two changes I would be eyeing with that change are a 3rd Darkrai GX and a Ghetsis.

Here is how my tournament played out:

Round 1 – Bryan Kennedy – Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX – Win (1-0-0)
Round 2 – Rafael Perez – Passimian/Mew – Loss (1-1-0)
Round 3 – Andrew Smith – Water Toolbox – Win (2-1-0)
Round 4 – Caleb Gedemer – Garbodor – Win (3-1-0)
Round 5 – Rodney Charles – Turbo Darkrai – Win (4-1-0)
Round 6 – Andrew Krekeler – Dusknoir/Spread – ID (4-1-1)
Round 7 – Benjamin Ruiz-Yi – Night March – Win (5-1-1)

I don’t think there’s too much to read into this tournament as it was a best of 1 tournament, so variance was out in full force. For example, my game against Caleb involved him using a Ghetsis turn 1 and passing, followed by me donking his lone Trubbish with Dark Pulse. There’s not much to read into a match like that when it’s only one game.

I ended up ID’ing with Andrew Krekeler, another St. Louis player, in round 6. We both would still need one more win to make top cut either way, so this allowed us to push it back to the 7th round and not knock one of us out. Andrew would go on to win the tournament.

I ended up bubbling into 10th place and missing cut at 5-1-1. I didn’t expect there to be a 5-1-1 bubble as we weren’t very far north of the trigger for the 7th round, but I also haven’t played in a best of 1 League Cup in more than a year so I’m out of touch with how records progress at this small of a tournament in best of 1. The other thing that worked against this is that both me and Andrew were down paired into 4-2 players in the last round instead of getting up paired into 5-1 players. If both of us had been up paired the final round, there would not have been a bubble.

The Top 16 League Cup finish replaces my Top 8 League Challenge finish, giving me a Top 8 and Top 16 League Cup finish for 45 points on the quarter from League Cups. I now have 80 championship points from Regional Championships, which gives me a combined 125 Championship Points on the season, putting me ahead of the 100 pt/quarter pace that I need for a World Championship invite. I think this will be my last League Cup for the quarter as there aren’t any more local League Cups for me left this quarter.

2 thoughts on “Putting the Salazzle Dazzle on Vespiquen/Flareon in Daytona

  1. Found it interesting that you’ll would take out the machoke. He seems pretty vital at times, especially since your running something that needs to evolve into a bunch of stage 1s, and with the low hp of combee and the popularity of Tapu koko, trev., and the potential of something like bats to come back, seems risky.

    Another trick I found to be cute when facing karen is honestly just playing a copy of Brigette. With that and your ability to grab any evolution basic you’ll need for the next turn, and the ability to potentially avoid item lock and still get out giratina promo, mr.mine if you go that route, and the funniest, 3 unown.

    But that is in fact a slower play that may not be completely worth the already super tight deck space.

    I can see this deck evolving into a zoroark gx/ evolutions deck , potentially cutting down or cutting out the bees in favor of hitting zoroark gx as flareon as your main attackers, using vaporeon and jolteon to cover the weaknesses needed, maybe you add AOR flareon to add fire to zoroark typing and blacksmith the energy. Who knows.

    This might be better as it’s own archetype with sky field but it’s something I feel will greatly shift the meta altogether soon.

    Thanks for the article! From an aspiring flareon/bees enthusiast.

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