Gloomy Ticks and Oddish Lamps — All About Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March

Hello PokeBeach readers. My name is Eric Gansman and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to provide content for you all to read. Since this is my first article, I think it would be prudent for me to share a little bit about myself and why you should bother listening to what I have to say. I have been playing the Pokemon TCG since 2011, but did not start playing extremely competitively until 2013. Since the beginning of 2015, I have had the following tournament finishes: two Top 8 Regional Championships (finishing in 2nd and 7th), one Top 16 Regional Championship, one Top 8 State Championship, and most recently, one Top 128 at the U.S. National Championships. These placings netted me enough points to compete in the World Championships in August. I am also a member of Team Hovercats, one of the oldest and most prestigious Pokemon teams in North America, with members such as 2015 World Champion Jacob Van Wagner, 2012 Worlds Finalist Harrison Leven, and 2013 Worlds Top 4 finisher Dustin Zimmerman, among many others.

Now that I’ve gotten my introduction out of the way, let’s talk about what everyone is here for, Pokemon. The World Championships are just around the corner, and the number one question on every competitors mind is “What is the play for Worlds?” Luckily, that’s what I am here for! In this article I will discuss what I believe are the two strongest decks for Worlds, Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March. Hopefully, after reading my article, you will have a much better understanding of both of these decks, and why I believe they are such good plays for Worlds. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the first deck: Vespiquen / Vileplume.

Vespiquen / Vileplume

After Night March’s dominating performance at Nationals, it is the de facto deck to beat heading into Worlds. While many decks have the capability of beating Night March, Vespiquen / Vileplume has one of, if not the best, Night March matchups in the format. When building a deck, it is important to go over the pros and cons of each marginal card choice. By constantly scrutinizing your lists, you can create optimal lists much more efficiently than through hundreds of testing games. With that said, let’s look at my current Vespiquen / Vileplume list and discuss why each marginal card deserves to be included in the list.

Pokemon (27)

3x Vileplume (AOR #3)3x Gloom (AOR #2)4x Oddish (AOR #1)4x Shaymin-EX (RSK #106)4x Vespiquen (AOR #10)4x Combee (AOR #9)3x Unown (AOR #30)2x Bunnelby (PRC #121)

Trainers (29)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x Lysandre (FLF #104)2x AZ (PHF #117)4x Ultra Ball (PLF #122)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)3x Acro Bike (PRC #122)3x Float Stone (PLF #99)3x Trainers' Mail (AOR #100)1x Revitalizer (GEN #70)4x Forest of Giant Plants (AOR #74)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (FAC #114)

This list is based off Fred Hoban’s Top 8 U.S. Nationals deck list. I believe his list is extremely good and have only tweaked it in order to increase the consistency slightly. Let’s discuss some of the more questionable inclusions, as well as the changes I made from his deck list to mine.

Card Explanations

Three Professor Sycamore, Three Unown

In Fred’s U.S. Nationals list, he opted to play a full four Unown and only two Professor Sycamore. When playing Vespiquen / Vileplume in both testing and at U.S. Nationals, I found myself stuck with many dead hands once I dropped Vileplume. By adding a third Professor Sycamore, this helps alleviate this concern, giving you more consistent draw throughout the game. While the fourth Unown would be nice to have, I never found myself struggling to put enough Pokemon in my discard pile, and the draw from it is basically irrelevant. While adding a third Professor Sycamore does give the deck one more potential “dead” card turn one (if you already have another Professor Sycamore in hand), the positives far outweigh the negatives in this situation, so it was an easy change for me to make.

Three Float Stone, One Revitalizer

The only other change I made from Fred’s list is I upped the Float Stone count by one by cutting one Revitalizer. Just from watching Fred’s Top 8 match against Paul Johnston, I think this change is pretty self explanatory. Paul was able to Lysandre up Fred’s Vileplume and eventually decked Fred out both games since Fred was unable to attach a Float Stone to the Vileplume. By adding a third Float Stone, I’m increasing my chances of attaching a Float Stone to a Vileplume before it evolves, taking away any potential Lysandre stalling plays the opponent could make. Having a third Float Stone is also a more useful card overall than the second Revitalizer, as it allows you to bench Shaymin-EX more freely on turn one without needing to worry about using a Double Colorless Energy to either Sky Return or Retreat. I never found more than one Revitalizer necessary in Vespiquen / Vileplume, because if the situation where the second Revitalizer is useful ever occurs (during the late game when your opponent has Knocked Out your Vileplume), you’ve probably lost that game anyways. Revitalizer helps early game to make Battle Compressor even more of a live card than it already was by giving you an instant OddishGloom, VileplumeCombee, or Vespiquen from your deck, but any count of Revitalizer above one is superfluous and unnecessary.

Two Bunnelby

At U.S. Nationals, I only played one Bunnelby in my Vespiquen / Vileplume list, and I found myself in many situations where I was wishing I had a second Bunnelby. In almost every single game, Bunnelby was used to recycle cards discarded early to get Vileplume online that I needed to close out the game, whether that be Double Colorless Energy, Lysandre, AZ, or anything else. By playing two copies of Bunnelby, you aren’t forced to bench it immediately in fear of discarding your only out to recycling resources, as well as giving yourself a higher chance of drawing into it when you need it (since you can’t search for it with Item cards under Vileplume lock). This is something obvious that I wish I saw before I submitted my decklist for Nationals, and I was happy to adopt this from Fred’s list.

No Jolteon-EX

One notable card exclusion that I believe deserves a mention is not playing Jolteon-EX or Lightning Energy in my list. While others have advocated for this version of the deck, and I even played Jolteon-EX in Vespiquen / Vileplume at U.S. Nationals, I do not believe Jolteon-EX merits inclusion in Vespiquen / Vileplume anymore. While playing the deck at U.S. Nationals, I found myself dead drawing way more than Vespiquen / Vileplume should be, as it is one of the more consistent decks in the format. I missed a few crucial Vileplume locks because I ran Jolteon-EX instead of more consistency cards, which likely cost me a chance at making day two at Nationals. While Jolteon-EX is still very strong when coupled with Item-lock (forcing your opponent to have the Pokémon Ranger in hand the precise turn they need it instead of being able to fish it out with VS Seeker), I personally don’t agree with giving up consistency for a deck that’s whole strategy is reliant on getting Item-lock up as soon as possible.

Now that we’ve gone through the marginal card choices, let’s go over this version’s matchups versus three of the top decks heading into Worlds: Night March, Trevenant BREAK, and Water Box.


Night March

As stated above, Vespiquen / Vileplume has one of, if not the best, Night March matchup in the format. With a list geared towards the turn one Item-lock, Night March is really going to struggle beating Vespiquen / Vileplume unless it opens the game with either a Hex Maniac plus a ton of Items or a Professor Sycamore discarding multiple Night Marchers. This matchup is relatively straightforward, as you should prioritize getting Vileplume out over setting up multiple Vespiquen early. There are two ways Vespiquen / Vileplume can lose to Night March and both can be avoided with careful play. The first is by stranding a Vileplume in the Active. This can be avoided with either getting a Float Stone down on your Oddish or Gloom before you play Vileplume, or by conserving your AZ. The other way Vespiquen / Vileplume can lose is by over-benching Shaymin-EX. While you should absolutely play as many Shaymin-EX as needed to get the turn one Item-lock online, do everything in your power to get as many off your field as you can. Night March will have a difficult time trading with your Vespiquen due to having less ways to recycle Double Colorless Energy under Item-lock, so they need to take extra Prizes in whatever way they can. Every opportunity you get to Sky Return a Joltik, do it, it conserves your Double Colorless Energy, as well as takes away one of their biggest win conditions. Overall, this matchup is very strong for Vespiquen / Vileplume if played right.

Water Box

This matchup is pretty straightforward: get your Vespiquen attacking as soon as possible. Both Seismitoad-EX and Manaphy-EX are weak to Grass, so unless you have a really poor start, this matchup should be easy. Going first, be sure to prioritize setting up a Vileplume with at least three Combee on the Bench. Going second, prioritize attacking with Vespiquen turn one over getting a Vileplume out, as a turn one Knock Out is more disruptive than Vileplume. You only need 10 Pokemon in the discard to one shot all of their attackers, so the Pokemon you should prefer to discard are three Oddish, two Gloom, two Vileplume, and three Unown. However, while this matchup is one of Vespiquen / Vileplume‘s easier ones, be sure to manage your Double Colorless Energy. Many of the best Water Box lists, including Russell LaParre’s 10th place U.S. Nationals list, have been opting to play both Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic recently. Thus, make sure that all of your Double Colorless Energy are used for attacking. Never have more than one Double Colorless Energy in play if you can help it. 


This is probably Vespiquen / Vileplume‘s hardest matchup, especially so if the Trevenant deck plays Wobbuffet. In this matchup, you should forego trying to set up Vileplume unless you can get an Oddish with a Float Stone down before they set up their Item-lock, as otherwise Vileplume just becomes a liability to be Lysandre‘d up while they Silent Fear your Bench. Ideally, you can just Sky Return the entire game, but with Red Card and Head Ringer now staples in Trevenant, this strategy becomes much harder to pull off. If you do happen to go first, try to get 11 Pokemon in the discard so you can Bee Revenge for 130 into a Sky Return Knock Out on a Trevenant BREAK.

Night March

Now that we’ve finished discussing Vespiquen / Vileplume, let’s take a look at the the deck that has defined the 2015-2016 season: Night March. While Nick Robinson piloted Night March / Vespiquen to a Nationals win (be sure to check out his article detailing his Nationals run here), I believe straight Night March is the best version of the deck for the new format. The reason Night March / Vespiquen was the superior choice for Nationals over straight Night March was how popular Water Box was, as Vespiquen turned this matchup from a slightly unfavorable one into a very strong matchup. However, because Night March / Vespiquen did so well at Nationals, plus Pokémon Ranger being released for Worlds, I believe that Water Box is not as strong of a deck as it was going into Nationals, making straight Night March the superior deck, as it has better matchups versus every other deck. Straight Night March also has a favorable matchup versus Night March / Vespiquen, as it has a lot more options for the mirror match it can play because it isn’t devoting nine or more spaces to Vespiquen and Unown. Now that I’ve explained my reasoning as to why I think straight Night March, let’s take a look at my current list.

Pokemon (16)

4x Joltik (PHF #26)4x Pumpkaboo (PHF #44)4x Lampent (PHF #42)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Mew (FAC #29)

Trainers (40)

4x Professor Sycamore (STS #114)2x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)2x Lysandre (FLF #104)1x N (NVI #101)1x Pokémon Ranger (STS #113)1x Teammates (PRC #160)4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)3x Trainers' Mail (AOR #100)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Startling Megaphone (FLF #97)1x Escape Rope (PLS #120)1x Captivating Poké Puff (STS #99)1x Target Whistle (PHF #106)1x Pokémon Catcher (KSS #36)3x Dimension Valley (PHF #93)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (XY #130)

While my list may look pretty standard, it has a few key quirks that I believe make it the best possible version of the deck. Let’s go through these quirks now.

Card Explanations

Two Hex Maniac

With Trevenant BREAK and Vespiquen / Vileplume shaping up to be two of the more popularly played decks at Worlds, adding another copy of Hex Maniac was an easy decision for me. Against Item-lock decks, Night March really just needs one turn of Items to “go off” and set up enough to win the game. Playing a second copy gives you more chances to hit Hex Maniac early on, and it also allows you to use it a second time later on to access Items again, which is usually enough to seal up the game. Two Hex Maniac also greatly improves Night March’s Greninja BREAK matchup, as you have to chain Hex Maniac in the late game in order to prevent Greninja BREAK from taking multiple Knock Outs per turn and making up their Prize deficit.

One Captivating Poke Puff, One Pokemon Catcher, One Target Whistle

These three cards right here are what I believe make Night March the best deck in the format, as Night March / Vespiquen would not have the space to run these cards due to the space needed for the Vespiquen line. Being able to control your opponent’s Bench via their discard pile and their hand is absolutely devastating: once your opponent plays a Shaymin-EX down, you can almost always map out your Prizes right there and feel very comfortable with your board position. An underrated use of Captivating Poké Puff is that you can disrupt your opponent’s set up early in the game with it as well. If you’re able to use it going first and catch your opponent with no Supporter in hand along with a Shaymin-EX, you can cripple them from the onset of the game and put yourself in a dominant position. However, even though controlling your opponent’s Bench is extremely strong in its own right, Pokemon Catcher and two copies of Lysandre really make Target Whistle and Captivating Poké Puff shine. Being able to pick and choose what threat you want to Knock Out at almost any time is absurd. Add to this that Night Marchers only gives up one Prize, and you’ll almost always pull ahead in the Prize-trade.

Now that we’ve discussed my list’s specialties, let’s go over four of Night March’s most prominent matchups and how to play them.



Unfortunately, there really isn’t that much to explain about this matchup: whoever goes first has an enormous advantage in the game. The more turns Night March has to use its Items, the better off it will be. However, there still are many minute plays you can make to increase your chances of winning, regardless of who goes first. As the Night March player, be sure to be extremely cautious with your resources. Even though you might not be able to use your Item cards that turn, don’t needlessly chuck them away with Professor Sycamore if you don’t have to. Sometimes, it’s better to sit on a hand full of Items, since you’re only a Hex Maniac away from having an extremely explosive turn. Pumpkaboo should be your primary attacker in this matchup, as you do not need to worry about having Dimension Valley bumped from play and it does not die to Shaymin-EX‘s Sky Return. One Item card you should try to prioritize on the first turn is Fighting Fury Belt. It’s useful on both Joltik, preventing Sky Return Knock Outs, and Pumpkaboo, preventing Tree Slam Knock Outs. The 10 added damage it gives is also very important, as it allows you to OHKO a Trevenant with one less Night Marcher in the discard, which can sometimes be difficult to get in the discard before being Item-locked. All in all, play this matchup very patiently, and snipe as many Shaymin-EX as you can to stay ahead in the Prize-trade.

Vespiquen / Vileplume

Although I’ve already discussed this matchup from Vespiquen / Vileplume‘s point of view, I still believe it is important to understand matchups from both sides, as it gives you a deeper understanding of the matchup. Knowing what your opponent is aiming to do against your deck is also extremely important, as you can play with that in mind in order to prevent them from pulling off their optimal strategy. My little spiel about knowing matchups deeply is finished, so let’s get right into this matchup.

While this matchup definitely favors Vespiquen / Vileplume, two Hex Maniac really makes a difference here. Going first, Hex Maniac is amazing at stopping their Set Ups, and since their deck is extremely reliant on Shaymin-EX draw, you can almost always buy yourself at least one more turn of Items. If you’re able to do this, Night March becomes the heavy favorite, as it really does not need much setup to be able to Knock Out everything in Vespiquen / Vileplume. As long as you hold on to your second Hex Maniac until late game when you have multiple Puzzle of Time in hand to recover Double Colorless Energy, this matchup becomes very favorable. However, this is only if Night March gets to go first. If Night March loses the coin flip, it plays very similarly to how it would play against Trevenant BREAK: play patiently, save your Hex Maniac for turns you can go off, take as many Shaymin-EX Knock Outs as you can and get your Fighting Fury Belt onto your Joltik whenever you can. Joltik will be your main attacker in this matchup to take advantage of Shaymin-EX‘s Lightning Weakness and because Vespiquen / Vileplume runs a full four copies of Forest of Giant Plants, meaning you will almost always lose the Stadium-war, which makes Pumpkaboo more of a risk to attack with. With one Hex Maniac, I’d estimate this matchup to be about 35-65 in Vespiquen / Vileplume‘s favor; with two Hex Maniac, I’d say it’s 50-50, if not slightly in Night March’s favor. I can’t stress this enough: two Hex Maniac may not be standard, but it’s so impactful in almost every matchup that Night March traditionally struggles with. If you decide to play Night March, make sure to have two Hex Maniac in your deck.

Night March

Usually, I wouldn’t discuss mirror matchups in this format, as many of them are very stale and come down to the coin flip. However, the Night March matchup definitely has some skill elements in it that can swing the matchup one way or another. Let’s go over those now so you can consistently win your Night March mirror matchups.

First off, Pumpkaboo should be your main attacker. You don’t need to worry about Dimension Valley ever being bumped from play, so the extra HP it has over Joltik helps it survive Sky Returns, as well as Muscle Banded Gnaw attacks from Joltik, if the opponent runs both Basic Energy and Muscle Band. Next, be very careful when using your Shaymin-EX. One of the best ways to gain an advantage in the mirror match is to swing the Prize-trade in your favor, and Shaymin-EX offers two free Prizes every time you use it. Only use Set Up if you truly need to draw more cards, or if you can clear it from your board and take a Sky Return Knock Out the same turn. Be wary of discarding your Shaymin-EX needlessly as well, as they can just become an easy Target Whistle target. Next, similarly to the Vespiquen / Vileplume matchup, a turn one Hex Maniac can be very key in preventing your opponent from having an explosive turn one, usually giving you a significant edge in board position. While playing Shaymin-EX  down is a very difficult decision to make as just discussed, most players will still opt to use one Shaymin-EX on the first turn, which Hex Maniac cripples. Finally, your most important resources in this matchup are your Puzzle of Time and Double Colorless Energy. Never play down a Double Colorless Energy unless you are taking a Knock Out with it or would otherwise discard it with a Professor Sycamore. Every Double Colorless Energy needs to take a Knock Out, as this is a one Prize-trade matchup (unless you can take advantage of your opponent’s Shaymin-EX). In summary: be very careful with your Double Colorless Energy, Puzzle of Time and Shaymin-EX drops, Hex Maniac turn one is extremely strong, and focus on attacking with Pumpkaboo.

Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade

Originally, I was only planning on writing about the three biggest matchups for both the decks I discussed, but after playtesting this matchup extensively with my good friend Travis Nunlist, I decided to include this matchup as well, as I believe it is the most skill intensive and fun matchup to play in the current format. First, the most important part of this matchup is actually the coin flip: always choose to go second in this matchup. In a matchup that comes down to trading one Prize attackers, getting the first attack off is way more important than going first. Because this is a one Prize-trade matchup, be sure to use your Captivating Poké Puff and Target Whistle as often as you can to force Shaymin-EX onto the field, as this will be key to getting ahead in the trade. However, be wary of using your Bench manipulation cards without having the means to Knock Out a Shaymin-EX in the same turn, as they can Sky Return into a Fright Night Yveltal, which is one of the strongest plays they can make. Joltik should be your main attacker as it isn’t reliant on Dimension Valley and hits for Weakness against most of their attackers, however a Fighting Fury Belted Pumpkaboo can be very difficult for them to Knock Out in one hit. If one of your Night Marchers is ever able to survive more than one turn and take multiple Knock Outs, you’ll have put yourself in a very strong position. The rest of this matchup is pretty straight forward, but if there’s one thing I must stress about this matchup, it is that you should always choose to go second. Most people (including myself) will always choose to go first regardless of the matchup, but this can sometimes lull you into a trap if not recognized. While going first usually is better, knowing which matchups are more favorable going second is a very rare skill in today’s game, and hopefully this is something you can take from my article.


Thank you so much for reading my first article for PokeBeach! I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to write for this site and I hope to be able to impart more of my knowledge throughout the rest of the year. My next article will be about how decks change with the rotation so if there’s something you would like me to talk about let me know here. If you see me at the Pokemon World Championships, feel free to come up to me and talk to me about anything. Whether it be about my article or anything else; I like to consider myself a very approachable figure and love meeting new people in the community.

Until next time,

Eric Gansman