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).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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The Battle Subway (and why its rules should be changed)

After making my Pokémon Black team for ACen and not using it, I decided to do the next best thing: enter it into the Battle Subway, which I apparently had not ever done except with friends. This is because I abhor the Battle Frontier/Subway for a few reasons: you can only use 3 Pokémon in singles and 4 Pokémon in doubles, the Species Clause is in effect, and  the Item Clause is in effect. For those not familiar with the terms, they’re term used in competitive Pokémon; Item Clause prevents any two Pokémon from holding the same item, Species Clause prevents the same type of Pokémon (two Pikachu, for example) from being entered, and all Pokémon are set to level 50.

I think those four limits should be lifted in light of teams of x (where x can be 1-6 in singles and 2-6 in doubles) number of Pokémon being entered, no Item Clause and Species Clause in effect, and Pokémon are the level of the highest of your team. Why? I think it would make the Battle Subway more accessible and more fun to partake in, plus it gears itself toward competitive players, which the games have slowly been aiming towards since Generation 3 (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) with the introduction of the Battle Frontier in Emerald.

The limit on Pokémon being removed and replaced with a system where your opponent’s number of Pokémon equal yours would be an awesome idea – who wouldn’t want to take their prized Pokémon and see how far they last in singles, or take their favorite team and see how far they last in doubles? Battles would be quick and fast, where on the flip side going for higher numbers of Pokémon means the battles would be slower, but you get to use your whole team, which, in my mind, is way more rewarding to win with a limited number of your team, especially if you’re a competitive player and your team needs its other teammates to perform well. And if your team is 3 Pokémon, then more power to you – go and use those three in the Battle Subway. I would very much prefer to use my team of six.

I lost to a Dragonite the 30th battle of the Super Single Train because it 2 Hit KO’d (2HKO’d) my Slowbro, One Hit KO’d (OHKO’d) my Blissey, and then OHKO’d my Espeon with Outrage. If I had my Hippowdon and Aron/Sigilyph on my team, I could’ve easily dealt with Dragonite either with Hippowdon or Aron/Sigilyph, and it’s frustrating that I know my team would be able to take him and lose because I was limited to 3 Pokémon. Once I lost, I tried again and went up against a Mixed Sweeping Poliwrath whom I couldn’t take down after 3 Work Ups because I had no fast, hard-hitting Pokémon (I had chosen Slowbro, Blissey, and Tyranitar). I was swept by him, knowing I could’ve beaten him with Espeon or Aron/Sigilyph. It’s worse that I couldn’t put Leftovers on my Slowbro, so let’s talk about the Item Clause.

Let me put this out there – I HATE the Item Clause. Whoever thought of the Item Clause is dumb, because they probably thought people were going to use 6 Bright Powder or Leftovers, and while I understand Bright Powder, in competitive play an item like Bright Powder and moves like Double Team are banned, but that’s not the point; the point is that Bright Powder and Leftovers aren’t that good. You can’t just slap Bright Powder or Leftovers on a Pokémon and they suddenly become godlike. Yeah, you’ll miss a couple more moves against a Pokémon with Bright Powder, but that shouldn’t warrant the Item Clause, because I think anyone who slaps 6 Bright Powder onto their team is bad and will probably lose within the 20th battle anyway. A more stylized and thought-out item spread will do better. It should be any Pokémon can use any item they want, and if it happens to be 6 Leftovers or 6 Bright Powder, then so be it!

And for those who would argue that the Item Clause “forces you to be creative with items”, it also forces you to lose because some Pokémon work well with a certain item, and another may also work well with that item, and when two of your team uses the same item and the rest use different ones, I would hardly call that being uncreative. It’s a stupid rule and I don’t think it should even exist within any kind of battling in the games or in competitive play.

Speaking of Clauses, let’s talk about the Species Clause. I don’t know why the Species Clause is in effect, but I know I’d love to go into the Battle Subway with 6 Pikachu and see how far I get! That’d be fun to try, but I’ll never get to because the Species Clause is in effect. I also have a fun team that I call “The Ice Cream Team”, which is composed of Abomasnow, Heatran, and 4 Vanilluxe. It’s a really fun team to play with even though it’s really bad, but I bet I could make it to at least 40 battles in Super Singles. This isn’t really that big of a deal to me, but I’d definitely be playing Pokémon more if I could do this on the Battle Subway. It’d be fun to do! Most competitive scenes have the Species Clause in effect anyway, I’d just like to try out my fun teams sometimes and a Battle Subway without the SPecies Clause would allow me to do that.

The last thing I think needs to be changed are the forced levels. No matter what, all Pokémon are forced to be at level 50. I understand the logic behind this – there shouldn’t be any Pokémon at a different level because it would provide a disadvantage to the player. For those, like me, who use weird strategies (I use a level 1 Aron), however, I need that level cap to be gone, so there should be three options – one where every Pokémon is set to 50, one where every Pokémon is set to 100, or one where the level of the opponent’s Pokémon is that of the highest-leveled Pokémon on your team (so if your highest is 85, every Pokémon on the opponent’s team would be 85, and your Pokémon would all be at their respective levels, whatever they may be). This allows for level 50 play, level 100 play, and play where someone (like me) who uses a weird strategy that employs low-level Pokémon can utilize that strategy.

The Battle Subway is actually pretty limited in terms of what you can do with your teams when playing. If these four limitations were lifted then I think a lot more players would find themselves enjoying the Battle Subway more. It’d be more competitive, more fun, and I know I’d find myself coming back again and again to play it.

As a side note, the Infrared battles should also have those three level options, too, because it also sets every Pokémon to 50.

Just sayin’.