What’s up, Cut or Tap? It’s been a while, and I’m excited to be writing for y’all today about a super awesome Expanded format deck, Zoroark-GX / Vespiquen. I had been thinking about the deck for a while until my Team DDG teammate, Chris Siakala, started to hype the deck. He’d been poking around with a list for a while and having all kinds of great results. The biggest draw to this deck is that Vespiquen solves many of the inherent problems that a Zoroark-GX deck can face. For example, think of a game where your opponent might play a Parallel City with the Bench limiting side facing you. If you previously had a Sky Field out and a full eight-Pokemon Bench, you’re going to have to discard a lot of critters! That said, you’ll be looking at a newly-minted discard pile chock-full of firepower for Vespiquen.
No matter which way you look at it, this deck has an offensive angle on you. If you want to counter Vespiquen, then you have to worry about Zoroark-GX. If you focus on countering Zoroark-GX, then you have to worry more about Vespiquen. It’s an impossible puzzle to crack, and speaking of puzzles, this deck even has room for Puzzle of Time to pull off trick plays and recover from a Karen if your opponent plays it.
Two hard-hitting Pokemon in the same deck is always a strong combination, one that will win you games at any level of play. I love Vespiquen, so pairing it with Zoroark-GX is a no-brainer. I’ve been testing this deck a lot, and I think it’s one of the best decks for the upcoming Dallas, Texas Regional Championship. With the proper techs, I think it can run the table and get you into day two. Let’s start by looking at my list, based on Siakala’s!
|Pokémon – 26||Trainers – 30||Energy – 4|
|4||Zorua||DEX 70||2||Professor Sycamore||1||Field Blower||4||Double Colorless Energy|
|3||Zoroark-GX||SLG 53||1||N||1||Computer Search|
|1||Zoroark||BKT 91||1||Guzma||3||Sky Field|
|3||Combee||AOR 9||4||Ultra Ball|
|2||Tapu Lele-GX||GRI 60||4||Puzzle of Time|
|2||Shaymin-EX||ROS 77||3||VS Seeker|
|1||Sudowoodo||GRI 66||3||Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear|
|1||Oricorio||GRI 56||2||Choice Band|
|1||Kecleon||PLF 94||1||Special Charge|
|1||Exeggcute||PLF 4||1||Pokemon Communcation|
4 Zorua DEX 70, 3 Zoroark-GX SLG 53 and 1 Zoroark BKT 91
Zorua with Paralyzing Gaze is the optimal Zorua in the Expanded format. While most decks do play an out to Paralysis, if you’re attacking with a Zorua, you’re likely in a rough spot. The option to Paralyze an opponent can be an amazing option to have access to, especially when you’re trying to catch up or stave off a loss. I used the attack to draw a tie at the San Jose, California Regional Championships against Travis Nunlist. While that can be cheesy, it’s something you want to have access to in the clutch. Three Zoroark-GX is all you need, as you’re going to want to have access to another Zorua to potentially evolve into Zoroark with Mind Jack, the other card on this list. I like the option of Mind Jack in the mirror match and against decks like Night March where the more non-EX/GX attackers you can get, the better.
4 Unown AOR 30
Farewell Letter has always been a staple component to Flareon and Vespiquen decks. Getting extra Pokemon in the discard pile for no cost is something you don’t want to miss out on. I love the extra consistency that the card brings to an already consistent deck, too. Drawing extra cards is no small bonus, and in fact, it’s super nice when you’re normally accustomed to having to play down the Pokemon-EX/GX Shaymin-EX to draw more cards instead of just getting to use a non-EX/GX to do the same thing.
3 Vespiquen AOR 10 and 3 Combee AOR 9
This is still a Zoroark-GX deck, and that’s why you’re aren’t going to need a full set of Vespiquen, and to the same regard, Flareon won’t be needed at all. Bee Revenge is going to be useful in certain spots and in other situations you’ll want to just do some Riotous Beating attacks or just a Mind Jack. Think of Vespiquen as your late game attacker to finish things off and supplement the already powerful Zoroark-GX offensive. The type advantage of Vespiquen can be useful against Lycanroc-GX and Seismitoad-EX, as well. Just having more non-EX/GX Pokemon to trade with against decks like Night March is generally useful.
2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60 and 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
Consistency is king. Having a 2-2 split of these guys is optimal in this deck. Tapu Lele-GX is nice to find certain Supporters early and doesn’t come with as risky of a tag as the lower HP of Shaymin-EX does, but Set Up is still irreplaceable when you want to extend a turn. You can discard either of these at some point in a game to get some more Pokemon in your discard pile to boost Bee Revenge, too.
1 Sudowoodo GRI 66, 1 Oricorio GRI 56 and 1 Kecleon PLF 94
Tech Pokemon are far and few between for this deck. You need to pick the proper ones to see extended success. Sudowoodo is a must to hinder other Zoroark-GX decks, Oricorio is amazing against Night March and random mirror matches, and finally, Kecleon is a surprise tech for other Zoroark-GX decks and other matchups where you can copy your opponent’s Active attacker for a Double Colorless Energy. At best, these Pokemon help in the mirror match, and at worst, they just get dumped with Battle Compressor to boost the damage output of Vespiquen.
1 Exeggcute PLF 4
Propagation is too good to pass up on with Zoroark-GX and Trade in a deck. Not only that, but it makes your Computer Search and Ultra Ball much easier to play, and is an immediate Battle Compressor target.
2 Professor Sycamore and 1 N
A low Supporter count like this can seem risky, but with so much Ability-based draw and so many outs to draw on the first turn, it’s less and less important. Once you set up, you’re not going to need Supporters like these as often, but you’ll want them in the early game, still. Professor Sycamore is the “thickest” Supporter count in this deck, since it gets priority with one of the stipulations of playing Vespiquen being to get a lot of Pokemon in your discard pile. I haven’t had any issues with this count.
One’s all you need! Guzma is better than Lysandre in this deck since you have Vespiquen with free Retreat and you do have a copy of Float Stone as well. If you need to, you can even use Zoroark with Stand In to put it up and then Guzma into the Pokemon of your choosing. Puzzle of Time and VS Seeker can retrieve your only Guzma if you need more uses of it.
The disruption of Ghetsis is way too good not to be utilizing in the Expanded format. It’s nearly just as good as an N in many cases. I’d always like to have a split of Ghetsis and N if given the option. Lastly, you can sometimes cheese first-turn wins if your opponent has a hand full of Items, too, so that’s always a consideration.
With Sky Field in any deck, you should be playing at least a single copy of Colress. The power of drawing tons of cards is too strong to pass up, and it can present some amazing opportunities with combo plays with Puzzle of Time. I love this inclusion and would play more if Professor Sycamore wasn’t so good in this deck inherently.
4 Ultra Ball
You’ll want this a lot if you want to have a strong setup each and every game.
4 Puzzle of Time
Puzzle of Time shouldn’t be thrown into just anything, but it’s an amazing addition to any Zoroark-GX deck and allows you to play thinner counts of many important cards like Battle Compressor and VS Seeker. I love the versatility of Puzzle of Time and you’ll be glad you played it when you win multiple games because of it.
3 VS Seeker
I’ve gone to as few as two VS Seeker in many Zoroark-GX decks and stand by it. This deck still wants three at least since Battle Compressor with a VS Seeker in hand doubles for a draw Supporter in a bind. Also, since you’ll be playing a very thin lineup of Supporters, you’ll want the extra outs more often than not.
3 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear
You can afford to cut a single copy of Battle Compressor in this deck since Vespiquen is more of an aside as opposed to being your main attacker. With Puzzle of Time, you can reboot if you encounter a Karen or something else that prevents you from otherwise getting the Pokemon you need in your discard pile to hit the numbers you’re looking for.
2 Choice Band and 1 Float Stone
I like this Tool count in every Zoroark-GX deck. I think it’s optimal and all you need. Choice Band can always be recovered with Puzzle of Time, and playing one Float Stone as opposed to two is very minute when it comes to odds. You’re usually going to let one of your opponent get knocked out to begin with, and from there you’ll be able to put up whatever you want anyways.
1 Special Charge
In a deck only playing four Double Colorless Energy, you’re almost always going to want a Special Charge. This deck is no different, and I think it’s really nice to have access to. It can save you from having to use a double Puzzle of Time play to retrieve an Energy card, which allows you to pick more useful cards, obviously.
1 Pokemon Communication
This neat inclusion improves your odds of having a nice opening hand since it can always find you a Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX. I love Pokemon Communication in any deck with over twenty Pokemon and I think it’s a great conclusion for extra consistency. It can even find you more Zoroark-GX to continue your setup and make sure things run smoothly. Lastly, you can even use it to put a Pokemon you don’t want to discard with a Professor Sycamore back into your deck before discarding it!
1 Field Blower
At least one copy of Field Blower needs to be in every Zoroark-GX deck. Sometimes you want to discard your own Sky Field to stop your opponent from overextending, or to remove some of your Pokemon-EX/GX from play. Field Blower is nice for those times that you don’t want to play a Sky Field yourself but want to remove your opponent’s gym instead. Against anything with Garbotoxin Garbodor, you’ll be thanking yourself for playing the copy of the card and you might find yourself needing to discard a Fighting Fury Belt at some point, too, to pick up a big Knockout. Play this card!
1 Computer Search
Early game consistency is crucial, especially since this deck already plays Puzzle of Time to pick things up in the late game. I’m biased to Computer Search for that reason, as Dowsing Machine can really hinder your setup if you draw it in the early game and wish it was a way to hit a draw Supporter or something else to keep things rolling.
3 Sky Field
Puzzle of Time can get you a fourth Sky Field if you want it, and I’ve never had a problem with just three copies. This count is perfect, as you’re not going to want to draw into a hand clumped with Stadium cards in the beginning of the game and need to discard them. I’ve never wanted more than this.
4 Double Colorless Energy
This is a no-brainer. You could consider using Counter Energy in this deck as well as a Sudowoodo, but that’s something for another section.
Ditto BCR 108
Want a “fifth” Zorua or a “fourth” Combee? Ditto is your card! Transform can turn it into any Basic Pokemon, and as long as Ditto has been in play for a turn, that new Pokemon can Evolve right away! It’s a super cool placeholder, and it might trip some opponent’s up as they’ll have to guess what it might turn into.
Zoroark BLW 71
Foul Play is an incredible attack, but I only have found it to be useful against Lycanroc-GX variants of Zoroark-GX, which you already have a decent matchup against because of Vespiquen. That being said, I think this card is mainly a waste of space, so I wouldn’t play it. It’s not as good against Sableye to copy Junk Hunt as you might think either, since the Sableye player can shuffle your hand away with N and then punish your Double Colorless Energy that you invested on the Zoroark. I think the best strategy against that deck is to just attack again and again, so wasting an attachment for a turn with no offensive gain seems foolish to say the least.
Special Energy hate is picking up a lot of hype lately, and I even faced a Noivern-GX recently at an Expanded League Cup! Giratina-EX, Mismagius and Noivern-GX can all lock Special Energy cards, the cards that this deck relies on to even attack! Having an out to that predicament can be pretty swell, so I’d consider playing this card if that hype even holds steady or just increases. Having an out to Seismitoad-EX and Quaking Punch is strong as well, since you’ll be able to play your Items again and keep buzzing through your deck.
This tech has use in just about any matchup where your opponent might find a Basic Pokemon-EX/GX in his or her discard pile. Putting that back on your opponent’s Bench is pretty cool, and can get you ahead on Prizes in the end. I like this card if you’re struggling with Gardevoir-GX decks, since putting your opponent’s Tapu Lele-GX back on the Bench is super awesome to take easier Knockouts than going in on a Gardevoir-GX for what will be less than a Knockout in most cases.
As I mentioned briefly before, Counter Energy is sick to stick on a Sudowoodo or other similar tech. Depending on what matchup you want to beat, there are a slew of options that you could play to couple with Counter Energy. Entei with Combat Blaze and Sudowoodo with Watch and Learn are just a couple that are amazing. If there’s a certain type you’re having problems with, a Counter Energy or two and a tech could be your answer! Plays like this are simple to access with large access to your deck with Zoroark-GX and Colress. If you still are having issues pulling it off, then you could play a Teammates.
Fighting / Variants: Slightly Unfavorable
This matchup depends on how your opponent is playing his or her deck. Wide Lens can be super annoying, and would warrant the inclusion of a Mr. Mime in this deck to prevent extra damage to your Benched Pokemon. If your opponent can eliminate your Zoroark-GX, then you might struggle to take one-hit Knockouts immediately with Vespiquen. If you can go for the usual Zoroark-GX one-hit Knockout strategy to start things off and then move into using Vespiquen, you’ll be fine to pick up the win. A Garbodor-based version of a Fighting deck, though, can be a disaster, and you’d want a second Field Blower if you’re super scared about that!
Garbodor / Golisopod-GX: Slightly Favorable
As with any Garbodor matchup, you’re going to be favored. The early pressure of Riotous Beating will be too much for your opponent to overcome and in the late game you should be swinging for one-hit Knockouts (even if your opponent plays Sudowoodo) with your Vespiquen.
Garbodor / Necrozma-GX: Slightly Favorable
This deck is pretty much dead, so I won’t comment on it much, but the same premise as with Golisopod-GX applies. Necrozma-GX won’t be a huge factor if you stagger your Pokemon-EX/GX (Zoroark-GX, namely). You should be able to just trade Prizes more efficiently and win outright. Just remember to limit your Items!
Garbodor / Sableye: Even
This matchup is difficult. From the onset, remember that each of your Energy cards has a lot of value. Using Puzzle of Time to retrieve your Special Charge and a Double Colorless will be the way to go if you’re looking to get the maximum copies of Double Colorless Energy in a game. Field Blower can remove a Life Dew from Sableye and earn you Prizes, so Puzzle of Time plays for Field Blower can be strong too. You should be able to take all your Prizes in a good game as long as your opponent doesn’t get carried away with Team Rocket’s Handiwork and nail some important cards with a discard.
Garbodor / Seismitoad-EX: Slightly Favorable
Vespiquen really shores up this matchup. You’ll want to focus on Vespiquen early and dump as many Pokemon as you can. While Karen and Quaking Punch still remain a threat, if you can take an early enough lead you should be able to snowball things for a win into the late game.
Gardevoir-GX: Slightly Favorable
Starting off, you’ll want to pick off Ralts and Kirlia before they become Gallade or Gardevoir-GX because they are much easier Prizes to take. Always target your opponent’s Octillery, if he or she plays it, to slow down his or her setup. If you slowly but surely work your way towards one-hit Knockouts with Vespiquen in the late game, you can catch up a lot of the slack. Just be mindful of Oricorio and be wary of Karen plays, too. Quaking Punch is a threat with Seismitoad-EX in some Gardevoir-GX decks, too. Zoroark-GX is a strong answer to that and a Seismitoad-EX play would probably be ill-advised since it would become easy Prizes for you in no time.
Giratina-EX / Darkrai-EX: Unfavorable
This matchup is a wash without Pokemon Ranger. If you want to beat it, play one. Otherwise, try getting as many Double Colorless Energy down as soon as you can. Ghetsis on your first turn playing first could cheese a win, too.
Giratina-EX / Seismitoad-EX: Unfavorable
The exact same concept applies as the aforementioned matchup. This will be extremely hard to win without Pokemon Ranger. Play one if you want the win.
Greninja BREAK: Favorable
Greninja BREAK is easy prey to a quick setup with a Vespiquen. With most Greninja BREAK lists not playing Bursting Balloon, you’ll be able to pick off Greninja after Greninja with Bee Revenge with relative ease. Saving your Puzzle of Time for more Vespiquen lines will be advisable once Giant Water Shuriken drops start coming down. In a matchup like this, always try to use Guzma around frog pieces that have a Splash Energy attached to avoid your opponent getting back a “free” frog.
Gyarados: Slightly Favorable
I genuinely think Gyarados is a bad deck and that just about anything can beat it. If you just trade Prizes evenly with your Zoroark with Mind Jack and your Vespiquen, you should win. Since you play Unown, it’ll be easier for you to avoid playing down unnecessary Pokemon-EX/GX, unlike your opponent. If you target Octillery early, it will be even easier. Using Oricorio whenever you can to knock out Magikarp can be amazing, also.
Trevenant BREAK: Slightly Favorable
Go for Knockouts with Zoroark-GX as soon as you can. Save your Guzma for a non-Trevenant Pokemon at some point in the game for a turn of retrieving Energy with Puzzle of Time and/or Special Charge. Pressure is everything in this game and you’ll want to get on top quickly. Be wary of Enhanced Hammer, as most lists are playing three, or even four.
Wailord-EX: Highly Favorable
Wailord-EX gets wrecked in this matchup because of its Grass Weakness. Even with Wishiwashi-GX as an option, you can dump even more Pokemon to reach the Knockout with your Vespiquen. This is your best matchup.
Zoroark-GX / Golisopod: Slightly Favorable
Most Zoroark-GX matchups are slightly favorable. You have a bit of an edge because of Vespiquen and your innate ability to knock things out in one hit in the late game. Grab your Sudowoodo as soon as you can in any of these matchups and target your opponent’s Alolan Grimer or Alolan Muk if you see one.
Zoroark-GX / Lonzo: Slightly Favorable
The same exact premise lies here. Target those Alolan blobs of sludge and get Sudowoodo down. In the late game you can reliably use Vespiquen to sweep. Your opponent’s “Night March” counter will likely be Seismitoad-EX and Karen, so you can score some easy Prizes on the Seismitoad-EX if your opponent decides to use that same strategy against your Vespiquen package.
Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX: Slightly Favorable
Whenever a Lycanroc-GX hits the board you want to take it down with Vespiquen. These Zoroark-GX matchups are a big Prize trade, and you should have the advantage with your Weakness prowess.
Zoroark-GX / Night March: Even
Oricorio will go deep in the late game as long as you can maintain an even Prize exchange in the early game with your non-EX/GX attackers. Taking down any Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX you see is advisable too to get ahead further on Prizes. Try to limit your own Pokemon-EX/GX for the same reason.
Zoroark-GX / Seismitoad-EX: Favorable
Your opponent’s main attacker is Seismitoad-EX, and you have Vespiquen. If you’re scared of the Item lock, play a Pokemon Ranger. Getting out as many Zoroark-GX as you can as soon as possible is a good idea because then you’ll more easily draw out of a Quaking Punch lock. If the ball starts rolling for you, and it likely will, you shouldn’t slow down unless something unfortunate happens. Vespiquen can chain together some big Knockouts and while your opponent can use Karen, he or she will need that Karen, a Seismitoad-EX and a Double Colorless Energy to keep the pressure up. That’s super hard to do under offensive pressure.
Zoroark-GX / Vespiquen: Even
The mirror match likely won’t be very popular. As with any other Zoroark-GX mirror match, a Sudowoodo and a Counter Energy package could be a good idea to get ahead, so keep that in mind! This matchup again is just more of a Prize trade, and you’ll want to get ahead and stay ahead. Your opponent probably won’t have a counter to Sudowoodo, so you’ll be thriving on two-hit Knockouts for most of the game. In the end, you can try some Oricorio shenanigans or use your own Vespiquen to take some game-winning two-Prize Knockouts. As always, be conscious of the Pokemon-EX/GX that you Bench yourself, too.
Looking at matchups, this deck is very well poised for upcoming Expanded format tournaments, especially Dallas, Texas Regionals. To improve upon a few matchups, you could add in Pokemon Ranger to alleviate that Special Energy-hate death sentence. The only other random consideration I haven’t mentioned yet is the possibility of playing Flareon instead of Vespiquen as a counter to Golisopod-GX. I wouldn’t recommend this, though, since many more decks are playing Grass-weak Pokemon (Lycanroc-GX and Seismitoad-EX, for example), which makes it better overall.
If this deck has a weakness, it’s Oricorio. It can be difficult to play around, but it’s doable. Putting in some games against an opponent that you know is playing an Oricorio can be super helpful and benefit you in tournament play. You want to play every match like your opponent has something up his or her sleeve to counter you, so don’t get too greedy with your Bee Revenge damage output.
I like this deck a lot since I’m a big Vespiquen fan myself. Reviving the deck has been a hard task, but I think this archetype can compete with the best of them and is well poised for a deep Dallas, Texas run. Try it out for yourself if you like the idea. Good luck at any future events y’all, and thanks for reading!