I suppose it’s time for you to make a choice. St. Louis is in two days, and there are more options than ever before. I cannot tell you which is the best choice, but I can show you my Expanded Vespiquen list, which is the best thing since sliced bread.
My articles that cover one deck in detail seem to be the most well-received, so this piece will do just that. I’m going to follow the same general format that I used for my Standard Vespiquen article, and the Standard Darkrai article: tons of deck list discussion, matchups explained, and overall strategy & theory.
After Anaheim Regionals, one might expect me to be a little salty, considering I was 7-0-0 for Day 1, and then ended up 11th by hitting a couple auto-losses in Day 2. While disappointing, the event was evidence of my most recent hypothesis:
95% of competitive Pokemon is skill
This is a pretty bold statement, and I think that most players will disagree with me. If you aren’t on board, think about this: if you played perfectly while using the best deck list possible, with the best meta-call, and perfect theory, wouldn’t you make top cut 19/20 tournaments? This is hard to conceptualize for many, because it is impossible to play this well.
How is this related to Vespiquen, you may ask?
I was 7-0-0 at the tournament during Day 1, as I was playing very well. My opinion of my own play is obviously biased, but I did notice that, as I became a little more sleepy and less precise, my win ratio dropped. As you can imagine, by Round 8 of using Vespiquen, I was zonked. I was still on my high horse about pretty much getting VIP seating at Table 1, and got a little cocky.
In Round 8, I played my first game worse than any other game throughout the day, and ended with a tie. I was lucky; Azul dead-drew during Game 2. I should have realized after this that I was too tired to play out another game. In Round 9 I decided to go against logic and reason, and declined Laurence’s ID offer. Stupid. I played quickly in an attempt to get my blood pumping a little bit, and ended up misplaying multiple times. What was destined to be an undefeated Day 1 record landed me in 3rd seed with one fewer match point.
The bottom line is that I would have gotten different matchups during the second day of the tournament, and chances suggest I would not have played my two auto-losses if it were the case.
I believe there are specific decks that provide you more utility, based on your skill level. What this means is that the 95% stat above is adjusted by which deck you choose to play; and very significantly. I believe Vespiquen to be a deck that rewards good players for playing well. This is not a profound concept – many have covered this idea before. Yet, good players use decks that do not take advantage of their abilities, and opt to play decks that reward luck.
A good example of a deck like this would be Vileplume variants. Vileplume decks are inherently inconsistent, due to the fact that you will not get the first turn item lock often, and you will not go first in every match. This is exactly why Vileplume is seldom played by the game’s top performers. This is also why many players will disagree with my 95% statistic.
On the other end of the spectrum is what Israel Sosa likes to pilot. The reason why Israel can win three Regionals in a season is because he is using a deck that lets him take advantage of his skill set. I promise you that if Israel was playing a deck as inconsistent as ‘Plume, that he would not have won three Regionals.
Currently in Expanded, Vespiquen rewards skill more than any other top deck.
I might comment that I believe this is true for Standard as well, but I won’t get into that for this article. I do believe that Yveltal Maxie’s is close, in terms of rewards for playing well, but it does not take the number one spot due to the lack of deck list variation between players. I made this point in the last Bees article, but Vespiquen has more spots that can be changed than any other deck, in either format. This trait introduces a level of skill that is not incorporated as much for Yveltal lists.
Even though Israel has made significant changes to the way the deck is played, these adjustments for Yveltal are minimal (1-3 cards changed). Not to minimize the importance of Israel’s innovation, but Vespiquen lists are often very different from one another. This point is going to be apparent, once you see my list.
Please do not interpret what I am pointing out as me trying to call myself a better deck-builder than Israel. That is not at all what I am saying. What I am saying is that Vespiquen is a great choice for great players because it not only allows them to take advantage of in-game skill, but also use make full use of deck-building skill. This is my main argument for why Vespiquen is a great choice for Expanded at the moment. The deck allows great players to do well without leaving much up to chance.
However, this fact (well actually it’s just my opinion) leaves the player with a heap of responsibility. “You mean that my tournament result is actually going to rely that heavily on my play, and deck building??” Yes, and that is a very scary proposition for most players. You are not allowed the excuse of “just drawing bad” when you have control over the number of consistency cards, as well as your plays to increase your chances of drawing well.
If you agree with what I have said thus far, then you may not be the person to play Vespiquen. Say you don’t think your skill is enough to get you the Regionals win. In that case you should not play bees. In fact, I would argue that tons of players should be using these luck-based deck (like Vileplume) simply because they have a better chance of winning when playing them. If you are playing a skill-based deck, and you are not as skilled as someone else, my theory implies you will not win the event. If you are playing a luck-based deck, and are not as skilled, your chances of winning are significantly higher. These decks that reward luck are generally considered unhealthy for the format, and are usually complained about more than anything else. And rightfully so.
My point here is not that you should be playing luck-based decks if you are not the best player at the tournament. Another point is that if you do want to become a great player, or at least get rewarded for your practice, you should be playing Bees, or another deck that rewards effort. And on the other hand, if you do not plan to practice and you are not confident in your ability, you should probably play Trevenant for an Expanded tournament. (But please do not, because you are making the competitive tournaments worse for everyone…)
If you are that player who is driven to play well, and spend time on testing a deck A LOT, then check out this Vespiquen list.