Death, Taxes, and Vespiquen

My Top 2 Decks for Richmond and Top 5 Cards from Cosmic Eclipse

Hello again SixPrizes readers, I hope everyone is having a good Tuesday. This is dawn of the final few days before the first Expanded Regionals in months and registration numbers were revealed this morning showing that only 314 Masters have registered for the Richmond Regional Championships. That’s not a good sign for an East Coast Regional, which events have typically averaged around 600 Masters in the modern era.

Why is Expanded not an appealing format to many players? The simple reason is the ample amount of degenerate combos that exist, which has led to a lengthy ban list (that won’t go into effect until November 15th, after Richmond and Portland). The barrier to entry is another reason that the format is disliked; staple Trainers can be expensive (e.g., Dark Patch has spiked to $10–$15), making any deck quite pricey for a newer player to assemble and try their hand at playing one of these Expanded Regionals.

That all being said, I love playing Expanded. The variety and depth of cards lets me be as creative as I want—or, at the end, lock in my favorite deck, Vespiquen. The HP numbers in Expanded have gone up by a lot, and 270 is a very hard number to hit, but my trusty Bee can get there and trade favorably.

Turbo Dark

I recently attended an Expanded Cup with Turbo Dark (my top choice for Expanded, at the time), but after a disappointing 2-3 finish I had to reevaluate what went wrong. My losses did not come down to my own mistakes but the limitations of what I could do with my deck, which unfortunately was not much considering the one-dimensionality of Turbo Dark. Here is the list that I (1) had been working on until this past weekend and (2) have chosen to shelve for something more my style.

The List

Pokémon (12)

3 Darkrai-GX

2 Greninja & Zoroark-GX

2 Darkrai-EX LTR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Mew FCO

Trainer (36)

2 Guzma

2 Professor Sycamore

1 Colress

1 Koga’s Trap

1 N

1 Pokémon Ranger


4 Battle Compressor

4 Dark Patch

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Hypnotoxic Laser


2 Choice Band


1 Computer Search


3 Sky Field

Energy (12)

12 D Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12

* 3 Darkrai-GX BUS 88
* 2 Greninja & Zoroark-GX UNB 107
* 2 Darkrai-EX LTR 88
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Mew FCO 29

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 2 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 N DEX 96
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 2 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Max Elixir BKP 102
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 4 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 3 Sky Field ROS 89
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Koga’s Trap UNB 211

##Energy - 12

* 12 D Energy XYEnergy 1

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

Cup Recap

R1: Green’s Blacephalon … W
R2: Night March … L
R3: Mew Box … W
R4: Mirror … L
R5: Raticate … L

Final: 2-3, 12th place

The deck is incredibly powerful when it sets up and can overwhelm anything in Expanded, but the deck has one game plan and that can be severely limiting for a player like myself who has played the game for so long and understands the format relatively well. My Round 1 was a terrible matchup, but I was able to capitalize on a large blunder by my opponent that allowed me to run away with a game I shouldn’t have won. The third game of the day I had also gotten lucky to win, and that’s a not how I want to be feeling about a deck I bring to a Regional-level event.

I’ll go over some of the cards in the deck and what I felt could have made the deck stronger.

Key Cards

3 Darkrai-GX

The reason for 3 Darkrai-GX was simple in my mind: the burst damage potential with 1 extra Energy could be the difference in Knocking Out a Mewtwo & Mew-GX or opposing Greninja & Zoroark-GX, so I wanted to make sure I had options available to me. Having 1 Prized also feels relatively bad because Dead End-GX is such a good attack to reset the game while not missing tempo.

2 Shaymin-EX ROS, 1 Dedenne-GX, 1 Tapu Lele-GX

The idea behind 4 consistency Pokémon was that I could dig as deep as I would need to on my big set-up turn. The Tapu Lele-GX is in the deck to have an answer to Wobbuffet PHF and be able to play the game.

Multiple times in the tournament I felt like a 3rd Shaymin EX or a 2nd Dedenne-GX was absolutely vital. I kept thinking to myself, “If I could Ultra Ball for either of those two right now, I could set up a checkmate board.” Cutting the 4th Compressor for one of these two cards could be the difference-maker in an all-in deck like this one.

1 Koga’s Trap, 1 Pokémon Ranger

I couldn’t figure out what to play for my 60th slot at this League Cup. I had originally planned on playing Marshadow-GX, but that card quickly fell out of favor in my testing. I had hit some unexpected traffic on the way to the Cup, so I grabbed an idea I had in my head and threw it in with little to no testing, and that idea was the Koga’s Trap. It won me my 3rd round, but I felt like I would have won anyway, so it is a card that can be removed in favor of anything else.

The Pokémon Ranger has become invaluable in my testing because Jolteon-EX, Altaria-GX, and our old friend Seismitoad-EX have been terrorizing some of my games. One turn of breaking the lock is all Turbo Dark needs to take over the whole game from there.

If Richmond Regionals was tomorrow, I would not be piloting Turbo Dark—not because it isn’t a strong deck, but because it doesn’t allow me to unlock my full abilities as a player. This was my top pick for nearly a month, which should speak volumes on the strength of the deck.

What is my actual top pick right now? You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve been working on Vespiquen whenever I’ve had a chance. I threw together a rag-tag concept list and took it to Origins, back in June, for the Expanded League Cups to have some fun, but I ended up conceding to a friend who needed the Points for their Worlds invite and went out to enjoy the game fair. Grant Manley took the list (with 2 Klefki STS because he couldn’t find 2 more Unown AOR) to the finals of the Cup, which was impressive in its own right.

What’s more lethal than a weapon in the hands of a master? Alex Schemanske and his Primal Groudon, Peter Kica and his Night March, Jose Marrero and his Rayquaza-GX. Rarely do these players completely flub an event with their pet deck that they’ve been playing for years now.

Long Live Our Noble Vespiquen

I know, I know, how do we always end up here? Comfort and experience with a deck sometimes can get you where you need to be in a major event and for me nothing feels as good as playing Vespiquen to an event. My list has been tweaked and tinkered to my play style and has a few cheeky additions, but bear with me as we explain them all. If Richmond was tomorrow, this would be what I would sleeve up and rock to the event.

The List

Pokémon (27)

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

2 Eevee UPR 105

2 Flareon PLF

1 Bronzor TEU

1 Bronzong FCO

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Mew-EX

4 Unown AOR

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Marshadow SLG

1 Sudowoodo BKP

1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainer (27)

3 Professor Juniper

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Teammates


4 Battle Compressor

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Special Charge

1 Rescue Stretcher


2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone


1 Computer Search


1 Parallel City

1 Power Plant

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless Energy

2 Counter Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 27

* 4 Combee AOR 9
* 4 Vespiquen AOR 10
* 2 Eevee UPR 105
* 2 Flareon PLF 12
* 1 Bronzor TEU 100
* 1 Bronzong FCO 61
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Mew-EX DRX 46
* 4 Unown AOR 30
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Sudowoodo BKP 67
* 1 Exeggcute PLF 4

##Trainer Cards - 27

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 2 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Teammates PRC 160
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Parallel City BKT 145
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 Ultra Ball FCO 113
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 N DEX 96
* 1 Power Plant UNB 183

##Energy - 6

* 4 Double Colorless Energy SUM 136
* 2 Counter Energy CIN 100

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

The certainty that all of my Vespiquen lists will have a 4-4 line of the Queen is 100%; the other friends she commands are the real fun of the deck.

Key Cards

1 Sudowoodo BKP

A familiar friend for anyone who saw my list from Daytona Regionals last spring. I found a lot of use for this card coupled with Counter Energy, especially in the ZoroGarb matchup to sneak a little further ahead. If Zoroark decks choose to play Oricorio GRI 56, then the matchup is already unfavored for Vespiquen, so Sudowoodo is a card that regains tempo without activating their crucial Oricorio chain. Zoroark Control variants are a lost cause for this deck anyway, so I would choose not to focus on that matchup and move forward accordingly.

2 Shaymin-EX ROS, 1 Dedenne-GX, 1 Tapu Lele-GX, 1 Marshadow SLG, 1 Oranguru SUM

In addition to the 4 Unown AOR that the deck sports, you have all these wonderful consistency cards that help at any stage of the game.

  • The EX/GX split should look familiar from my Turbo Dark list and I believe that this is the correct split for most attacking decks in the format because of how powerful each of these individual options are.
  • Marshadow SLG provides (A) an early option for disruption coupled with Power Plant or (B) even just another hand refresh when you can’t afford to discard valuable resources from your hand.
  • Oranguru SUM has been a lifesaver in multiple situations and I can’t imagine this deck without him; in fact, I would love more copies of the card but room is scarce.

1-1 Bronzong FCO

I thought about simply not including this card and disrespecting Archie’s Blastoise, but I have now realized this to be a poor idea. I had intended on playing Machoke GRI to deal with the Mew Box variant that has Giratina LOT spam available to it, but without Bronzong FCO, a turn 1 Cross Division-GX will almost certainly be game-losing for the Bee player. It was the only way I was winning games as Archie’s against Vespiquen in my personal testing, and eliminating that win condition (or forcing Archie’s to Guzma the Bronzong) can buy you the time you need to win the game.

1 Parallel City, 1 Power Plant

My Stadium count shifts slightly from event to event, but Parallel City has been a staple in all of my lists because it can wipe my own Bench and make my opponent play the full 6-Prize game. Power Plant is an incredibly powerful Stadium and has proven so since its release. Marshadow SLG with Power Plant can be game ending, or even a late-game N to 2 and a Power Plant can just stop your opponent from playing the game entirely.

1 Computer Search, 0 Dowsing Machine

With all these fun one of cards, it begs the question of every Expanded Regional, which ACE SPEC do I bring with me? Both are incredibly powerful and I might be leaning toward Computer Search due to my personal bias, but with Dedenne-GX and more consistency cards for the early game, Dowsing Machine might finally have its time to shine. Reusing Power Plant or the Rescue Stretcher can be game-changing to say the least. Your first early turns would suffer with the Dowsing as opposed to the Computer Search, but I think the sacrifice may be worth it.

Vespiquen has favorable matchups against a majority of the TAG TEAM decks and probably struggles against Night March and any of the Control and Item lock decks that exist in the format. How much Control do you expect is the real question, and for me I expect enough to change the tournament, but never enough to scare me off of Vespiquen.

My 2nd choice behind Vespiquen is Night March for similar reasons of familiarity and it being my play style more than anything.

Cosmic Eclipse: Top 5 Cards


If you aren’t headed to Richmond or Portland in the next two weeks, we have that trio of Standard events coming up with Cosmic Eclipse and I want to highlight the five cards that stand out to me right off the bat.

5. Magneton CEC

ebay.comFor some reason people haven’t been discussing this card too much, but when I read this card I thought it was bonkers. You give up 1 Prize to grab 3 Supporters, and this card can evolve from Ditto p? One of those Supporters can be Lt. Surge’s Strategy (Major Bob as they call him in France and Germany) and the other two can be the exact two you would like to use with Surge? This smells like the beginnings of a combo Control-oriented deck, and for someone like me who doesn’t play Control decks very often, this card instills pure fear in me. Players who are better than me will break this card into some incredible combo and I’ll be on the receiving end at a Regionals or, worse, LAIC 🇧🇷.

4. Mimikyu CEC 97

This little guy can put a damper on your day with his Power Plant Ability. The caveat? Your Pokémon must have a damage counter on it for its Ability to be shut off. (Where’s Fresh Water Set when we need it?) A deck like Malamar that can easily spread damage, or anything that can play a Shrine of Punishment or two, can slow down the powerful GX decks like Mew Box and PikaRom pretty easily. The card isn’t broken by any means, but it is good enough to see play and change how the game is played a little bit.

3. Reshiram & Zekrom-GX

This card boasts incredibly powerful synergy by attacking for a R and a L. It can use some of the strongest cards in the format like Welder and Tapu Koko p in the same deck. Fabled Flarebolts can 1HKO almost anything in UPR–CEC, and this is the only real powerhouse card we’ve seen that can even remotely rival Mewtwo & Mew-GX. This is the first deck I’ll be working on because of how powerful it can potentially be.

2. Tag Call

ebay.comAnother incredible consistency card introduced to a format with few options available to us. Being able to grab 2 TAG TEAM cards ensures a Pokémon and a Supporter whenever you find this card. Our current pool of TAG TEAM Supporters leaves something to be desired, but given a set or two, we could have some incredibly game-changing cards that would make this card an auto-include in most decks.

1. Great Catcher

I think this is the best card to come out in this set purely because it is a reliable 1-cardgust effect on some of the most powerful cards in the game. Being able to reliably use Great Catcher into Flare Blitz-GX turn 2 should be incredibly easy for a deck like Mew Box and creates another power spike in the game. That being said, Custom Catcher should still be played in decks that need to deal with Malamar and Mew UNB for example. The cards are similar but not entirely interchangeable.


That wraps up my thoughts on the Expanded format right now, pre-bans. You’ll catch me at Richmond (I’ll be taking a pass from Portland), LAIC, Daytona 🇺🇸, and San Diego 🇺🇸 will be my home stretch before I start my big boy job. As always, it was a pleasure and I hope to catch you guys at any of the events coming up!

<3 Rahul

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Reader Interactions

4 replies

  1. Dylan Lochte Peacock

    I highly prefer expanded over standard due to variance. Many players do not enjoy playing vs control decks or such, but you can find similar outcomes in standard due to your opponent ripping beast rings or weldering out the first ko and there is not much you can do about it. I find expanded is a better format because of the amount of potential responses you can give your opponent after a strong turn of events. I also feel like the expanded format requires a higher skill cap to play. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

  2. PsyPreston

    Hey Rahul! Is there anything you would cut or change going into the Portland meta? I’m going and I am completely lost so any direction would be amazing.

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