POKEMON TEAM REPORT: 23rd place at Madison, WI

A couple weeks ago, I attended the Play Pokemon Madison Regional in Wisconsin. Generally, on the competitive Pokémon site I frequent, Nugget Bridge, the players who top cut (generally top 16 or top 8 depending on the regional) will write a report about their team. I got 23rd place at this regional, and while I don’t think this team deserves a spot as an article on Nugget Bridge, I do want to try and write one to help myself write a good report once I do top cut or win an event. So, without further adieu, let’s begin!

Since the beginning of Pokémon XY, I had been fascinated with Mega Ampharos and Gourgeist, and so had been playing a team centered around them. My team did well, but it had some really bad match ups against Azumarill, Mega Gengar, Mega Venusaur, and Malamar. I kept losing, and got so frustrated that I made a team made to beat everything I was losing to that consisted of Gourgeist, Mega Ampharos, Rotom-Heat, Gardevoir, Scrafty, and Scizor. After a couple modifications, my team was complete and ready for regionals!

The Team:

 

rotom-heat
 

 

Rotom-Swag (Rotom-Heat) @ Safety Goggles

Ability: Levitate

EVs: 252 HP / 16 Def / 180 SAtk / 16 SDef / 44 Spd

Modest Nature

– Overheat

– Thunderbolt

– Protect

– Will-O-Wisp

Almost every team has a Rotom. Whether you chose Heat or Wash was up to your team, but I’m not a huge fan of Wash and I think with the rising usage of Mega Venusaur it’s becoming harder to use the washing machine, so I chose Rotom-Heat. Rotom-Heat was my primary answer to Amoonguss, Ferrothorn, Venusaur, Bisharp, and Mawile. With Safety Goggles, Rotom is unaffected by spore and powder moves, the most notable being Spore, Sleep Powder, and Rage Powder. Being able to bypass Amoonguss’ Rage Powder was super clutch in practice, although in the actual tournament I only played one Amoonguss. The spread had two goals: One Hit KO (OHKO) Ray Rizzo’s Mega Mawile 100 percent of the time, and outspeed Rotom that were speed creeping standard bulky Rotom by 1 point. I dumped 252 into HP to complement Rotom’s natural bulk, and then split the remaining 32 EV’s in both defenses just because. Rotom was really clutch, able to live a good chunk of hits even with no Sitrus Berry or Leftovers, and was a great switch-in on Fairiy-types.

 

ampharos

——>        ampharos-mega

Swagaros (Ampharos) (F) @ Ampharosite

Ability: Static

EVs: 188 HP / 136 Def / 28 SAtk / 156 SDef

Quiet Nature

IVs: 0 Spd

– Dragon Pulse

– Power Gem

– Thunderbolt

– Protect

My main Pokémon. Mega Ampharos, in my opinion, is a sleeper mega. He has a monstrous 165 base Special Attack with a good offensive typing in Electric and Dragon.  Many brush him off as bad, but I think it’s because everyone’s using him the wrong way. Everyone seems to go to speed control or Cotton Guard, but I think that’s the wrong way to go. Mega Ampharos excels at something no other Pokémon in the current meta can excel at: beating some very common Pokemon 1-on-1: Aegislash, Mega Charizard Y, Rotom Heat and Wash, Talonflame, Amoonguss without Sludge Bomb, Mega Charizard X, Mega Manectric, Azumarill, Timid Salamence, and Garchomp. On top of taking a hit (or more) from every single one of these Pokemon and OHKO’ing or 2HKO’ing them back, he’s one of the slowest Pokémon in the format, so he also functions as a Trick Room counter like Amoonguss. I brought Mega Ampharos to nearly every single game because he always had a purpose. It’s not a Pokémon you should be building a team around, because it takes too much set up. Just rely on its bulk and strong power to sweep once its checks and counters are gone.

This specific spread was made to live a Timid Choice Scarf Salamence Draco Meteor 100 percent of the time, and to live Adamant Azumarill’s Play Rough 15/16 times. 28 Special Attack EV’s ensures the OHKO on 252 HP Azumarill, all dragons. Power Gem, while some might think is a “bad” move on Mega Ampharos, is the only way to 2HKO bulky Rotom-Heat and to ensure the OHKO on bulky Mega Charizard Y.

 

scrafty

 

 

 

Swagty (Scrafty) (M) @ Assault Vest

Ability: Intimidate

EVs: 252 HP / 220 Atk / 36 Def

Brave Nature

IVs: 0 Spd

– Crunch

– Drain Punch

– Fake Out

– Stone Edge

At this point, I knew I wanted a physical attacker that had Intimidate and Fake Out. Hitmontop isn’t legal in VGC 2014, so Scrafty was the natural choice. I decided that Scrafty was bulky enough that it didn’t need Detect, and I wasn’t too afraid of Talonflame or Liepard and Meowstic-M for Quick Guard, so I knew I would be running three attacks and Fake Out. I had heard that Matt Sybeldon (bearsfan092) had run Assault Vest on it and I wanted to give it a try. With that 1.5x boost to his special attack, Scrafty was able to take Draco Meteors like a champ, and was a fantastic switch-in to Special Tyranitar, able to sponge any attacks from it and recovering the damage with Drain Punch. Scrafty is the slowest possible for a couple reasons: 1) Trick Room, and 2) to beat Aegislash who thought they were safe. Almost every Aegislash I faced fell to my Scrafty because my opponent thought my Scrafty would be faster, and I ended up OHKO’ing their Blade Forme Aegislash with Crunch.

The HP and Defense Evs were to survive a Choice Banded Adamant Talonflame Brave Bird after an Intimidate and OHKO back with Stone Edge. Stone Edge also gave me another option against Mega Charizard Y, which cannot OHKO Scrafty with an Assault Vest. The 220 Atk is to ensure a OHKO on 4HP Mega Gengar, which gave my team problems otherwise.

 

gardevoir

 

 

 

 

Swagevoir (Gardevoir) (M) @ Choice Specs

Ability: Trace

EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 164 SAtk / 4 SDef / 88 Spd

Modest Nature

– Dazzling Gleam

– Moonblast

– Psychic

– Shadow Ball

Gardevoir was my primary answer to Mega Venusaur and dragons. 164 Special Attack with Choice Specs survives all but the bulkiest Mega Venusaur, and it survived a Modest 252 SAtk Mega Venusaur Sludge Bomb. It also outsped standard bulky Rotom by 1 point. Having Dazzling Gleam and Moonblast was a simple matter: sometimes the situation called for Dazzling Gleam, and sometimes it called for Moonblast’s extra power. Trace was an amazing ability, often winning me games simply because I Trace’d Lightning Rod, Levitate, Intimidate, or Parental Bond (which is ridiculously powerful with Moonblast). I brought Gardevoir to nearly every game and it was never dead weight, despite being really frail.

 

mawile——–> mawile-mega

Mawswag (Mawile) (M) @ Mawilite

Ability: Intimidate

EVs: 252 HP / 52 Atk / 24 Def / 180 SDef

Careful Nature

– Iron Head

– Play Rough

– Sucker Punch

– Protect

My second Mega. Scizor used to be in this slot until my good friend Greyson Garren (GreySong) suggested I try Mega Mawile, and after testing it I knew I was going to use it. Mega Mawile was my second Intimidator and my 3rd way to deal with Dragons, as well as a way to deal with Gardevoir. I basically copied Ray Rizzo’s spread because I got him really late and didn’t have time to make a different spread, but it worked out for me splendidly. I only brought Mega Mawile once, but when I did, he did a ton of work.

Choosing between Ampahros and Mawile was actually really easy. I used Ampharos for more common teams, while Mawile was able to rip through Pokemon I didn’t really know enough about, or when there was a Kangaskhan and not a lot of Pokemon that could stop Mawile. All in all, they performed the same role for me – eliminate a threat for the rest of my team. And to that end, they both worked out because they cover a lot of the same Pokemon, yet offer different utility when it came to speed control and maintaining a lead.

 

meowstic

Meowswag (Meowstic) (M) @ Sitrus Berry

Ability: Prankster

EVs: 252 HP / 92 Def / 44 SAtk / 116 SDef / 4 Spd

Bold Nature

– Fake Out

– Psychic

– Safeguard

– Trick Room

I added Meowstic the morning of the tournament. This was a Gourgeist with Safeguard, but I was, for some reason, really afraid of Khan Artist (Mega Kangaskhan + Smeargle lead). So, I took an old Meowstic from my box, gave it Fake Out, and presto, I had some kind of way to deal with Khan Artist. The idea was to send out Meowstic + Scrafty and double Fake Out Turn 1, then Safeguard Turn 2. Psychic was because I had EV’s in Special Attack and didn’t have time to change it, otherwise it would’ve been Charm or Light Screen, and Trick Room was just in case I felt I needed it. I only used Trick Room once, and it only helped me to solidify a win. Still, it was nice to have. This particular Meowstic spread and nature survives a Mega Kangaskhan Return + a turn of sand, and is 3HKO’d by Modest Rotom Thunderbolt. The rest was dumped into Special Attack because I forgot why. I made that spread a long time ago.

Meowstic was more dead weight than anything because I didn’t face a single Smeargle. It set up Safeguard or Trick Room and then died when I actually brought it.

Lead Combinations:

I generally had my leads tailored to the team I was facing, but I had a few favorite and dedicated lead combinations. I didn’t use all of these, but these were the ones I came up with.

Ampharos + Gardevoir:

I would lead this if I felt that nothing could outright threaten the two, or if I wanted to bait my opponent into thinking I was running a Trick Room Gardevoir. This was my primary high-offense team, despite both being special attackers.

Gardevoir/Ampharos + Scrafty:

This was my “bait Aegislash to KO him” lead combo. Gardevoir is such a well-known threat that Aegislash try and KO it, thinking they’ll live the Crunch from Scrafty, only to have my Scrafty move last and get the OHKO. Conversely, I could Fake Out Aegislash’s partner and KO Aegislash with Ampharos if it decided to attack.

Scrafty + Meowstic:

I never used this lead, but in theory this lead was for Khan Artist. Double Fake Out and Fake Out + Safeguard if I predicted a Mega Kangaskhan Power-up Punch.

Scrafty + Rotom-Heat:

My anti-Aegislash, anti-Mega Kangaskhan leads. These two dealt with both Pokémon relatively well, Rotom-Heat having the Will-o-Wisp and Scrafty with Intimidate + Fake Out Support.

Scrafty + Mawile:

Double Intimidate lead. Also my way of drawing out Gardevoir/Dragons and punishing my opponent for leading with them.

That’s the team! Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be writing a real report for a top cut or win I have in a future event. I’ll be doing what’s known as a war story, which is where I’ll write about the trip and every battle during the event if that happens!

Just Sayin’

Pokémon VGC 2014 Rules Announced!

If you’re a competitive Pokémon player, I’m sure you’ve heard the news: the official Video Game Championship (VGC) ruleset for 2014 was announced by The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) about a week ago. I’m here to give you my opinion on the format. I will be taking directly from the official document (link will be provided at the bottom).

——

9.      Sanctioned Format

Pokémon Organized Play supports one format for sanctioned play: Standard. Sanctioned events are listed on the POP website, and the results are reported to POP after the event concludes.

9.1. Standard Format

The Standard format is the standard tournament format for Play! Pokémon video game events. This format will be used at all premier events unless specified otherwise. The Standard format for the 2014 season will use the following restrictions:

· Only Pokémon X and Pokémon Y Game Cards or downloadable versions are permitted for use.

· Players may use Pokémon from the Central Kalos Pokédex from #001 to #150, Coastal Kalos Pokédex from #001 to #153, or Mountain Kalos Pokédex from #001 to #147.

· Pokémon must be placed in the Battle Box.

· Pokémon are allowed to Mega Evolve.

· Pokémon above Level 50 are permitted, but they are auto-leveled down to 50 for the duration of battle.

· Players may use Pokémon with Hidden Abilities.

· Players may use items that have been officially released via Pokémon X, Pokémon Y, the Pokémon Global Link, or an official event or promotion.

——

9.2. Kalos Native

Pokémon used in the Standard Format must be native to the Kalos region in Pokémon X or Pokémon Y. A native Pokémon is a Pokémon that is hatched or caught in Pokémon X or Pokémon Y. Pokémon that have been transferred to Pokémon X or Pokémon Y via Pokémon Bank or Poké Transporter are not native.

So this right here is the “big” news. Rumors had been flying around about the rules being Kalos Dex only, and here it is: Kalos Dex only. What does this mean? A lot of Pokémon in the Friend Safari are NOT allowed. While this may seem confusing and frustrating to those who want to use Togekiss or Breloom, I’m okay with this. I don’t enjoy that they’re restricting Pokemon, but I get it – they don’t want any Pokémon RNG’d from older gens in, and so they’re eliminating that possibility entirely by simply banning them from play.

One interesting thing about this group of Pokémon is the lack of legendaries. Many teams used at least one or two legendary Pokémon from trios because they were very strong, and others would use those such as Heatran, Cresselia, Latios, etc… because of how well they played. In fact, Latios’ Dragon Gem Draco Meteor was THE special move to EV around in 5th gen.

This sudden lack of those legendaries means two things: 1) Casuals who hate it when people use those legendaries may actually decide to play competitively, and 2) the metagame will definitely be shaken up a little. I don’t think it’s going to be a crazy shake-up, but there will be Pokémon that will replace Cresselia, Thundurus, Heatran, Terrakion, etc…

One thing to note: You can breed egg moves from Pokémon transferred from 5th gen to 6th gen Pokémon and have it be legal, so that’s a plus!

——

4. Time Limits
Tournament staff is responsible for running a timely event. To assist in this effort, POP has established guidelines for time limits during various portions of the event. Players may take notes at any time during their match but
must begin each match with a blank sheet.

4.1. Pre-game Time Limit

Players will have 90 seconds to view their opponent’s team and select their Pokémon.

4.2. Mid-game Time Limit

Any mid-game effects, such as selecting a move or retreating Pokémon, are to take place within the 45 seconds allocated per turn.

4.3. Match Time Limits

Single-game matches will be 15 minutes. For best-of-three matches, each game in the match will be 15 minutes.

This is the part I’m not super-fond of. I take a long time to decide my moves. You have to think about a lot more than just the turn you’re about to play. Reducing the time from 60 to 45 hits hard – I’ve already had quite a few moments where my turn was decided by the game for me because I took longer than 45 seconds. That’s the only part that I don’t like – 90 seconds for team preview has always been enough for me, and 15 minutes I’m indifferent about.

——

Those are the two BIG sections I wanted to talk about. If you’d like to see the full rules document, CLICK HERE.

If you want a list of all legal Pokémon in the Kalos Dex, CLICK HERE.

Just Sayin’.

REVIEW: Pokemon X/Y

I apologize for my three week’s of a missed post – I’ve been swamped with schoolwork and playing the game I will be reviewing for this post: Pokemon X!

Pokemon X and Pokemon Y came out a couple weeks ago, and it’s been everywhere. So why is it so popular? I think it’s because of the new Mega Evolutions and the 3D battle environment, but there’s a lot more to the game that’s changed that I want to review, so let’s dive in!

Let’s get the main story out of the way. It’s yet another “You’re the greatest” story where all you do is win and save the world from some dude who wants to make the world “beautiful” blah blah blah. The story doesn’t really interest me, as none of the games really have. This has been the formula for the Pokemon franchise since the very first game. The only games in the main franchise (I’m excluding Coliseum and XD: Gale of Darkness, both of which I enjoyed) that’ve tried to really have a story are Black/White and Black2/White2, and even then, those didn’t impress me, although it was cool to see the game try to have a real plot.

The game looks very pretty. Definitely the best-looking Pokemon game to-date. The battles are fun to watch, the move animations are very cool and hit a chord (for me, at least) of a time when I played the hell out of Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Stadium 2. Where Black/White and Black2/White2 attempted to merge more 3D into the world, X/Y adds onto it splendidly. The france-esque style is really cool. Love the themed cities.

The music is pretty forgetful save for a few towns, cities, and the INCREDIBLE gym leader music. One of my favorite gym leader themes in the entire series.

Onto the great stuff: NEW TYPE, PIKACHU TALKS, MEGA EVOLUTIONS, AND MORE!

Pikachu actually talks like he did in Pokemon Yellow, my all-time favorite game in the series. If they had shown that in a commercial or something I would’ve been sold right there.

There’s a new type: Fairy. This type is probably the best type in the game, resisting Dark, Bug, and Fighting, being immune to Dragon, and only being resisted by Steel, Poison, and FIre. It’s super-effective against Fighting, Dark, and Dragon. It’s incredible, and with this new type comes some old Pokemon with new flavors, like Mawhile, The Raltz evolutionary line (excluding Gallade), the Marill evolutionary line, and Jiggly/Wigglytuff. It’s cool to see a new type come in, for both casual and competitive players, but as a competitive player I think it’s great to see something shake up the type chart.

While there were only 66 (Or 69, I can’t remember) new Pokemon added to the game, there’s also the additions of Mega Evolutions, special evolutions that certain Pokemon can reach if they hold their respective mega stone. These Pokemon are more powerful and many of them look really cool and give some otherwise unnoticed Pokemon a re-entry into the series, like Pinsir and Kangaskhan. Old favorites like Gyarados, Alakazam, and Gengar were also given Mega Evolutions, and of course, the game’s mascot mega, Mewtwo, is there. Some Pokemon, like Charizard, have two separate mega evolutions. It’s cool, although I’m hoping more are released as DLC like event Torchic with access to the mega stone that transforms Blaziken into Mega Blaziken.

Also, the ability to style your character with clothes and hair styles is a really nice change. When you play a lot of Pokemon, you see a lot of the same avatar. It’s nice that you can put your own flair to your avatar. Also, nicknames appear when doing local battles, which is a really nice addition because some people (like me) put a lot of thought into their nicknames, and to let other people see it is awesome. On the nickname note, the filter is really strict. Sometimes you’ll find a name isn’t accepted because you’re accidentally using a word that is bad in another country, which means it isn’t allowed, but that’s a small price to pay for being able to show off your nicknames!

And probably one of the best additions to the game is Wonder Trade, an online trading service like the GTS (where you could trade with people from around the world), but instead of requesting and offering Pokemon, you pick a Pokemon to offer, and the game randomly selects someone else on Wonder Trade and trades the Pokemon they offered with yours. That’s it. Random trading, and it’s addicting. You can burn quite some time just by Wonder Trading, and sometimes you get some really cool Pokemon. I got a Jolly Charmander out of it just a few days ago.

On the competitive side, it’s very clear that Game Freak and TCPI are trying for competitive growth. It’s been a very gradual increase in helping out competitive players as the competitive side has grown, and now it’s coming out in full force with Super Training, a feature that allows you to make your Pokemon stronger with a kind of fun little mini game, and lets people who have no idea what the term “EV Training” means still have good Pokemon. It’s clear that more competition is wanted, and from what I’ve heard and experienced talking to more casual players, Super Training is pulling off its job very well.

Pokemon X/Y have a lot to offer to new and old players. As one of the Red/Blue/Yellow players, this game is refreshing. Everything is very polished, mechanics have been changed (for the better), and it was just fun the whole way through. I haven’t found myself enjoying an in-game Pokemon experience this much since Heart Gold/Soul Silver, so kudos to X/Y!

The only flaw (and this is a minor flaw) is that the game is way too easy thanks to Exp. Share being reverted back to Gen 1/2. This means that, instead of your Pokemon holding items, it’s an item you turn on and off that gives experience to your whole team. Combine this with you basically getting a team for free (two of which are Lucario and a Kanto starter with their respective Mega Stone), and the game becomes incredibly easy. My entire team was level 80 against the Champion’s level 63 Pokemon at the end. Not challenging at all.

If you’re at all interested in Pokemon, get this game. You won’t regret it!!

Just sayin’.

P.S.: Holding your DS upside down is not a good way to evolve a Pokemon, but that’s how you evolve one.

P.S.S.: If you ever see someone named SwagTrain, that’s me!

Madison Pokémon Regional Recap

Wow, what a weekend!

The weekend began Saturday, when I was picked up by friends Adib and Kamaal and promptly headed for Madison. We had been invited to a small cookout/get together by someone I had met a month ago, Zach, and we stopped there to have some ridiculously good food and awesome conversation with the guys I met. It was a ton of fun, and we even got some multi battles (where Adib’s Honchcrow KO’d 4 of the opposing team’s mons) in alongside Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, which were a lot of fun as well.

Mark my words, Kamaal, I’m going to take revenge for that 0-death you had on me!!

The next day was the tournament, which was at one of the nicest venues I’ve ever been to. I wish Smash tournaments were this organized, because besides one little hiccup where someone didn’t get a bye first round, the entire tournament ran incredibly smooth. Swiss rounds (which are simply one round sets) finished very quickly, and it just seemed really organized. Kudos to TCPI for running such a smooth event. I got home before 8 PM, which was awesome considering the tournament had started only 10 hours prior.

I did better than I expected, reaching my goal of going positive in Swiss rounds. I went 4-3, losing to some good players and losing only one match to hax, whereas a lot of my friends had hax play a big role in their wins and losses. I had very little hax in my matches. I guess the RNG gods decided to not mess with me.

I am definitely going to try and practice, however, as I had no time to practice before going in. I’ll definitely be practicing for Nationals with a new idea I came up with on the drive back.

Also, because I absolutely have to, I have to relate to you all a few key moments of my first match. You see, I went up against a guy with a Pachirisu (a very, very weak Pokémon), and a Smeargle. I led Scrafty/Volcarona, and set up a Quiver Dance on Volcarona, which led to it being Toxic’d by Pachirisu. Pachirisu then used Attract on my Scrafty, resulting in it being immobilized by love twice (the most hax I had in a game, by the way), and when he sent out the Smeargle, he used Sketch (which copies a move) onto Scrafty, copying Fake Out (which only works the first turn your mon is out on the field) and used it, resulting in it failing. By the end of the game, my Volcarona had 4 HP left because the only damage that was done to it was through Toxic’s increasing poison.

All in all, the tournament was incredibly fun. I can’t wait to go to Nationals!

Also, shouts out to Espeon for not being dead weight in any match I brought her to.

Just Sayin’