“Sophie’s Choice Band:” Vespiquen for the new Standard Format

The release of Guardians Rising means my comfort deck (Darkrai) is longer viable. Field Blower is a huge problem because the deck’s strategy revolves around Fighting Fury Belt and Exp. Share. Choice Band presents an even bigger issue because Darkrais can now be knocked out in one hit easily. Darkrai could come back with a new set next year, but at the moment it is a dead archetype.

Because of this, I have the much-welcomed task of finding a new deck for Seattle & Madison Regionals. The set seems to benefit Vespiquen because of new cards like Rescue Stretcher, Field Blower, Choice Band, Tapu Lele, and Lycanroc GX. That’s five new options for the deck, which certainly means the way this deck is built and the strategy surrounding it needs to change significantly. These additions certainly are making Vespiquen top-tier again. After playing the wonky this that I used at Anaheim Regionals, I am psyched to be using the deck again with an equally unique list.

In this article, I will cover multiple ways to build Vespiquen in the new format. I start with the list I am currently using and why I chose that variant. Then I move to an alternative version that focuses on Drampa GX and Ninetales (as I advocate below), and finally I cover an updated version of my old Vespiquen/Herdier list. Frankly I am very unsure of which variant will end up being the best option for Seattle. All three variants seem great!


In my list I have decided to opt for a variant that uses Lycanroc GX and Zoroark. However, there are still many options for Vespiquen from the new set. Some other new cards that could be used with Vespiquen are:

  • Garbodor
  • Trevenant
  • Salazzle
  • Alolan Vulpix (Vulpix has an attack with no energy cost that searches for two Pokemon!)
  • Ninetales GX
  • Machoke
  • Bewear
  • Drampa GX

Many of these options have very convincing reasons to use them. Drampa GX for example is a great counter to Decidueye/Vileplume decks, and Vespiquen tends to have a hard time against Deci/Plume, so playing two or three Drampa could potentially turn a bad matchup into a favorable one. He also has a strong GX attack if used at the correct time (Shuffle in and draw 10 cards!). Machoke has a similar appeal because it prevents Feather Arrow from hitting benched Pokemon. Play both and you will not struggle with Decidueye.

All of these other options have strong effects that are worth looking into if you have not already. Vespiquen has a great knack for taking advantage of evolutions that you would normally not see in any other top-tier deck.

Why Lycanroc?

I chose the Lycanroc variant because I believe it gives me the best chance against non-GX, non-EX decks. Garbodor, Raichu, and Vespiquen all seem like prime choices at the moment and Lycanroc is the best way to give yourself an edge against them. Lycanroc can also be helpful against Decidueye because it allows you to drag up Decidueye that have no energy attached to them. In my last article I said that Lysandre is the best counter to Deci/Plume (not Hex) and Lycanroc’s Bloodthirsty Eye’s has the same effect. If you’d like to read about how this strategy works and why it is effective, feel free to read over the end section of my “Tri, Tri-again article,” where I cover the Darkrai VS Decidueye matchup.

Lycanroc seems like my best bet at beating Decidueye and other one-prize attacker decks, which is why I am playing it currently. Although, Drampa GX and Alolan Ninetales also look very strong.

My Current List

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