Congratulations! You beat Pokémon X or Y! You’ve watched the credits roll and arrived back at your house with a nagging thought entering the back of your mind: “now what?” With the online battling in this generation being very well implemented, maybe it’s time to give the competitive scene a try. While Pokémon on its face is a rather simple RPG where you catch a team of pokémon, level them up and defeat in game trainers, the online battle scene is quite a bit different. Understanding all the intricacies to the online and competitive battle scene in Pokémon can be tough especially when you don’t know where to start. Luckily, we here at Hardcore Gamer will do our best to help you the reader with the basics of the kinds of things that it takes to make sure your Pokemon are as battle ready as they can be.
With hundreds of pokémon to choose from choosing your team is no small task. Especially so when you will only be able to choose three at one time. This article is meant to help with your pokémon selection and “training” process and is meant to be an entry level guide only. Think of it as an introduction to try and help ease pyou into understanding the stat numbers that you can find at sites like smogon.com and serebii.net, and terms like “EV”, “move pool” and how to make the most of them. With that being said probably the first thing that you will want to do to before you add any pokémon to your team is to look at three things: Base Stats, Move pool, and Typing. Typing can be summed up in one sentence; try not to carry too many pokémon with the same weakness on one team. Now let’s take a look at the other two considerations.
These are essentially the make or break point of the viablilty of a pokémon. Base stats are not the actual numbers that you see in the stats screen for yhe summary of your pokémon but are rather a point of reference for each pokémon. Using these stats tiers have been worked out over the generations, which can help be a quick reference on where your chosen pokémon generally stands among the overall populous, and while some pokémon may be able to squeeze into a higher tier such as from underused to overused, there is also a lot of pokemon that require too much help to really be useful against other stronger pokémon. Now I’m not here to call your favorite pokémon mean names and say it’s useless. Pokemon that are weak in some areas stat wise can be covered for, but there comes a point when the stats are just too low to be useful. The easy way to find out what your chosen pokémon’s base stats are is by looking them up at sites like smogon.com, serebii.net, and bulbapedia.
A good rule of thumb for interpreting base stat numbers is that 100 is the “middle of the road”. Above 100 is good, while below can be interpreted as a weakness or something that may require compensation or planning around. For example let’s take a look at Conkeldurr. At base 45 speed its terribly slow, but it makes up for this lack of speed in two ways; good bulk with with a nice 105 base HP (which is important for “bulk) stat and at 95 base defense it’s close enough to 100 to call it good, and a priority attack. “Priority” attacks move before other moves regardless of speed stat, so when Conkeldurr unleashes a mach punch its terrible base 45 speed is a non issue. Conkeldurr can also dish out the pain with a monstrous base 140 attack stat. So Conkeldurr is able to take physical hits, but its special defense is a lowly base 65, so if you want to hit Conkeldurr you want it to be a special attack.
The other thing to keep in mind when looking at base stats is what the intention of the pokémon is. Is it speedy with good attack but poor defenses? Then its most likely a good candidate for a “sweeper”. Is it slow, but has good HP and defense and special defense? Then it’s more of a wall or stall pokémon. Some pokémon may have a great base stat like say Kingler with a great 130 base attack, but with only a base 75 speed Kingler will get probably get mowed down before it can attack, unless a good strategy is in place to make up for that lack of speed. Base stats also makes a big difference in your over all team building. Want to build a team of fast sweepers, or bulky stallers? There are a lot of different strategies out there and the only way to really understand what you’re going to face is to get out there and hit it head on. Pay attention to what is popular and adapt; if you want. Or you can just train up a team of your favorite pokémon and go at it. Even if you do that knowing the base stats of the pokémon on your team will go a long way in helping them achieve their best.
Move pool is a term used to refer to the moves that is available to your chosen pokémon. Some have good movepools that helps them hit a lot of different types for either super effective or neutral damage. Trying to hit as many different types for super effective damage as you can is the goal, but depending on what pokémon you chose that can be easy or difficult. So you let’s say you just love Torkoal. Torkoal is tops in your book, and you don’t care what anybody says you’re using it in your team. Ok cool, so let’s take a look; Base 140 defense, nice, paired with base 70 hp, not too shabby. Abysmal speed, but no big deal he’s got bulk and you just hope he doesn’t get hit on his weaker special defense, which it absolutely would, and being fire type doesn’t help it, but just for the sake of demonstration let’s just say it’s something that you can work around all that. The next step is to look at how it’s going to hurt its adversaries. With equal base attack stats at 85 its really up to the trainer which style attack they want to emphasize (through Effort Value training) or you can run a “mixed set” and run both physical and special attack moveset. Using Serebii.net we can see that Torkoal’s movepool is pretty shallow. Most of its moves are rock, ground and fire, which isn’t terrible. You also have access to a steel move Gyro Ball which would be great considering Torkoals terrible speed, but the best coverage would come from its fire, grass, ground, rock moveset (easy way to calculate type coverage is here). The problem then is Torkoals only grass move is Solar Beam which takes a turn to charge up leaving Torkoal a sitting duck.
Now compare Torkoals relatively shallow move pool to say a Pokemon like Nidoking with a deep move pool that gives it a lot of options. It has access to many different types of moves meaning it can help fill a coverage gap that you may have with your other pokémon. Lack an Ice move? Nidoking would have you covered. Need a good strong bug move? Got that too. Electric, ground… well you get the idea. So while move pool is not the sole deciding factor in using a pokémon it does affect how well a certain pokémon may or may not fit into your overall strategy.
Ok, so you have your team picked out. There are two last considerations you want to make before you waltz onto wifi with your carefully selected teams. Well actually three, but more on that in a bit. First is your pokémons “nature” and effort value training. The latter has actually been made much simpler with not only a minigame to build them up (with a handy little visual guide of how much a pokémon has invested in a stat), but also horde battles are also a good way to build up EV’s quickly, especially with the hold items you can get in the post game that help “build stats”. When building EVs through battles it’s important to know what EV’s you are getting from the wild pokemon you are battling. This can be found at serebii under that pokémons pokédex entry or at bulbapedia when you search that specific pokémon. Also keep in mind that EV’s are also passed with the exp share item meaning even level 1 pokemon can be EV trained through battles.
When EV training a pokémon its best to focus on two stats, usually speed and an attack stat for sweepers or intended sweepers, and HP and a defense stat (or both) for bulky pokémon. There are all sorts of ways to distribute your EV’s, and you can try out what you think will work or you can check out sites like Smogon.com’s strategy pokédex or Serebii.net’s pokémon of the week to see EV spreads that have been extensively play tested and found to usually be the most ideal way to apply them to your specific pokémon. 252 is the max EV’s you can put into a stat, with every 4 EV’s translating into 1 actual stat number, and 510 is the most EV’s you can put into one pokémon. So spend those EV’s wisely, but keep an eye out for the reset bags in the super training. They will help you experiment with EV spreads and reset them to zero if you don’t like how you distributed them. This generation has made EV training a snap compared to the last generations, so definitely take advantage of it.
Finally we will take a look at natures. Have you ever brought up your pokémons stat screen and noticed that one of the stats may have a slight redness to its name, and another stat may have a slight blue tint to its name? That’s the pokémon’s nature at work. Natures enhance one stat at the expense of another. The stat with the red is the enhanced stat and the weakened stat is the blue tinted one. This can be greatly used to your advantage as every pokémon generally has one stat that it doesn’t necessarily need. Garchomp for instance doesn’t need good special attack, so you would want it to have a Adamant nature which boosts attack stat at the expense of special attack, or jolly which boosts speed at the expense of, again, special attack. Feel free to experiment with different natures, but you can also look at the pokémon profiled in depth at smogon and serebii they will give you suggested natures for each pokémon.
Unfortunately, usually the only way to get ideally natured pokémon is luck of the draw. You can catch a whole bunch of the same pokémon, or breed your pokémon at the daycare to get it. If you don’t have both genders of a pokémon, you can always use a ditto in its place. Normally, this would be where serious pokémon trainers would bring up IV’s. But seeing as this is only meant to be a entry level guide I will only say that IV breeding is very time consuming and is really best left for after getting a really good feel for how battles go when taking on the competition in the Wi-Fi battles.
Hopefully you will be able to build up any team you want using this guide and take them out for the big time. The best way to get into the battling scene is just use who you want, and hone your team from there. Some of the more “serious” pokémon sites can be pretty harsh to some of the “weaker” pokémon, and take the game down to a level where it turns into just number calculations. Don’t worry about all that (unless that’s your thing), and remember nothing is a hard and fast rule. Just use the information they give to build the team that you want and have fun with it. You might start to feel a bit like Gary Oak, but it can be very addictive once you fully get into it.