“The Great Unown:” Building Vespiquen For the Sun & Moon Format

Vespiquen is one of the few decks that has been a very hard puzzle to crack – not only for me, but for anybody who plays it. With the current Standard format, there are a vast number of options to take up the Pokemon line in the deck. If you disagree, you most likely have not spent any significant amount of time testing and/or building a list.

When Georgia Regionals concluded Vespiquen to be a top contender once again, I was surprised not only by the list that Dylan Bryan used to take 2nd place, but by the result. Why would Vespiquen do well right now? Silent Lab is prominent, Giant Water Shuriken one-shots half of the Basics, Volcanion hits it for weakness, and (most importantly) Battle Compressor is rotated.

I was perplexed by a 1-1 Garbodor line with a 3-2 Octillery line, and even more confused by three VS Seeker, one Stadium, one Lucky Helmet, and one Float Stone. As I tested Vespiquen more, I started to realize that Vespiquen is a completely counter-intuitive deck. At the time I believed that Dylan had concocted yet another kooky list that only he could pilot well. Four weeks later, I look at my current list and see cards that are in no other top-tier deck, and counts that are considered forbidden by the vast majority of players. Vespiquen is weird, and that is why it has taken up most of my testing over the last four weeks, and that is why I will be playing it for Anaheim Regionals in a week.

In this piece, I will go over all of the most updated information I have on Vespiquen. In an article I posted sometime last month, I covered a list that I was confident in at the time. I felt like I had spent enough time, and tested adequately enough to know how the deck should be played. My testing was giving great results, and I was reaching the desired level of consistency. I’m not saying that the list I posted was bad then – it was pretty good – but now the way you can build Vespiquen with Sun and Moon is far better. Specific cards that came out in the set have buffed the deck’s usage exponentially.

This piece will be somewhat similar to the one I made when I covered Darkrai. I will cover my list, the cards you should not play in the deck, potential additions, matchups, and the deck’s strategies.

I’ll start with a skeleton, because I want to give the non-Stage 2 members something to read, and because it’s no fun to throw my list at you right off the bat.

Vespi Skelli

Pokémon – 27 Trainers – 22 Energy – 4
4 Combee AOR 4 Professor Sycamore 4 Ultra Ball 4 Double Colorless
4 Vespiquen AOR10 2 N 3 VS Seeker
4 Unown AOR 2 Lysandre 2 Special Charage
1 Shaymin EX 1 Revitalizer
14 (Other Pokemon) 1 Buddy-Buddy Rescue
7 Open Spots 3 (Stadiums)

There is more space to work with in this deck than any other choice in Standard. The part that I find so enjoyable is that there are many viable options for that open Pokemon line-up. Just think about how many options there actually are! Sure, any deck has space where you can put anything in, but can you put a full Gallade line in a deck and make it function? Probably not. But Vespiquen can! Vespiquen can play quite literally any Pokemon that attacks for Double Colorless Energy, and there will be some merit to any of them.

For example, the Gallade idea really isn’t that bad. There are many reasons to play Gallade, with Umbreon GX and Tauros GX having weakness to it. Premonition has great synergy with the deck, since you play four Unown. (I doubt most of you need me to explain that combination.) Gallade is also a strong late-game card because it can give you the correct card on top of your deck to seal up the game.

You will find that this is the case for many evolution lines. Vespiquen is rare because it is the only deck that can comfortably fit a full evolution line, giving the builder the choice between tons of Pokemon that they thought they would never use. The result is a bevy of lists that are all very different, yet viable. I am astonished by the lack of lists in the public. There are so many possibilities, yet I have only see two variants recently: Passimian  and Dylan’s version. Over the course of using this deck, I have tried out just about all of the Pokemon line-up choices that I or most other people consider to be viable.

Before I get into the list that I am currently using, let me give you an example of how to take a different route from the one that most of us are used to seeing.

Vespiquen Gallade

Pokémon – 28 Trainers – 28 Energy – 4
4 Combee AOR 4 Professor Sycamore 4 Ultra Ball 4 Double Colorless
4 Vespiquen AOR10 2 N 3 VS Seeker
4 Unown AOR 2 Lysandre 2 Paint Roller
4 Shaymin EX ROS 2 Trainers’ Mail
3 Gallade BKT 2 Special Charge
2 Kirlia BKT 2 Rare Candy
3 Ralts BKT 1 Buddy-Buddy Rescue
3 Klefki STS 1 Revitalizer
1 Rattata
2 Parallel City
1 Sky Field

Not-so-shockingly, I decided to go with the example I just used. I put this monster together at 2 AM after being up for about 20 hours. I had played eight games straight against Israel’s Yveltal/Umbreon list from some1’sPC, losing every game. I was fed up with taking that loss, and made the decision to never take another loss to the deck. My reasoning was that I was beating every top-tier deck other than Yveltal, so why not just devote the deck to something that ruins it. This is faulty logic, and by 2:20 I was asleep.

With that being said, this actually isn’t bad. The Paint Rollers might seem odd, but that actually isn’t one of my ideas deep into the night; the Paint Rollers have been in the deck for all four weeks of testing, and there is no way I’m cutting them.

Paint Roller is by far the number one most underrated card in Vespiquen.

I’ll cover this card in (probably too much) depth in the list description. Amazing addition to the deck that solved many of Bees’ problems.

I am showing that list here to show that there are many viable options that players will not consider. I did choose Gallade for this example, but I could have chosen the version I built with 3 Lugia EX, or the 4 Shaymin with 3-2 Octillery version, or the Gumshoos GX variant. There are many options – just open your binder!

I currently play the variant that takes advantage of Herdier and Zoroark. I believe that this is the best way to play the deck, but with the huge number of options, and new ideas being presented daily, I would not be surprised if I changed variants. Still, Herdier is the only variant I have found that can actually beat decks with Umbreon consistently. This is the sixty that I’m looking at to the left of me.

Vespiquen Herdier Zoroark

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6 thoughts on ““The Great Unown:” Building Vespiquen For the Sun & Moon Format

    1. I agree, Decidueye does seem tough. I’m just not sure what it will be played with at the moment. I don’t think it will be seen in large numbers until a strong partner is established.

  1. Seeing so much hype about Vileplume making a return, thoughts on play style against item lock?

    1. Well to be quite frank, there isn’t a much you can do against item lock other than go first. If you can use your items, go crazy. You want to get enough Pokemon discarded and put yourself in a position where you can be item locked on the following turn, and not have much of a problem. Item lock is definitely a problem for Vespiquen, but I don’t think it will see much play. Wait until the results of San Jose regionals come out, and then decide how much of a threat it really is.

  2. Hey, really cool seeing your list in action at Anaheim! Was stoked to see that you were playing what you advertised, which isn’t something a lot of writers can say right now. My question is about the lack of Float Stones – did you ever miss them? My logic was that Zoroark would Stand In and replace whatever the active was if it didn’t get knocked out, but how do you manage the late-game where they Lysandre something unfavorable (i.e. Oranguru) and you need the energy attachment for the attack?

    1. Thanks Brandon! I do my best to always post the list I will play at a major event before I play. Float Stones were never a problem actually. In the late game if they Lysandre something, I can simply attach a double Colorless to retreat that Pokemon. Nothing has a retreat cost higher than two, so you could say that my Special Charges and Double Colorless are my switching cards. I think many people forget that if your opponent Lysandre’s something, they are not discarding your Double Colorless from play like they would if they had knocked out the Pokemon. Because of this, you can easily just use that extra DCE to retreat, and then one-shot something.

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