Monday, September 20, 2010

Generation 5 Discussion: Part 1

So, if you haven't seen it yet, the full pokedex for Black and White has been leaked here. Obviously, since we're still early, without held items, no idea where the metagame will go, abilities still unknown, etc., it's impossible to fully predict what will happen. Plus, with everything that isn't blatantly uber starting off in OU (sorry guys, no Mewtwo), this generation is going to be hectic, and Garchomp is going to want it's bitches back. But, yeah, let's go for an analysis anyway, because I have nothing better to do with my time. This'll probably end up posted a while from when I first started writing it, because there's a lot I have to go through, so feel proud you're so worthy of my time, blog reader. Course, if it's up earlier, there'll probably be a part 2, since there's no way I can finish it so quickly.

So, anyway, from the top:

Ability: Victory Heart
BST: 600
HP: 100
Attack: 100
Defense: 100
Sp. Attack: 100
Sp. Defense: 100
Speed: 100
Since this gen wants to be different, the first pokemon in the pokedex is the base 100 in everything fairy, Victini. Obviously it's stats are effective, as proven by all the others before it, but the typing is quite interesting. It doesn't really provide many useful resistances, and gives it weakness to dark, water, rock, ground and ghost, since fire and psychic don't really cover each other at all. It does give a neutrality to Bug that Psychic otherwise wouldn't have, but I can't see the typing being fantastic. Offensively, psychic also isn't too useful, due to not hitting much at all for super-effective and hitting dark for nothing, but fire is at least somewhat useful. It'll probably all come down to a) how many steels there are, and the importance of SR in the metagame and b) what Victory Star does, since, for all I know, it could double it's stats in everything. Nonetheless, not too much to say, since you've all seen this spread before.

Ability: Overgrow
BST: 528
HP: 75
Attack: 75
Defense: 95
Sp. Attack: 75
Sp. Defense: 95
Speed: 113
Onto the starters, we get to start with the final, suitably royal evolution of Smugleaf. Unfortunately, though it looks like it should be, it's not the Grass/Dragon everyone wanted, and is just pure grass. At least it's not grass/poison, though, blech. Base 75 offensive, while terrible, isn't exactly fantastic, so you're probably going to want to slap a Choice Band/Specs on it if you want to sweep with this thing. It's speed is fairly nice, at 113, allowing it to outspeed non-Scarfed Gengars, Latias (since she'll start off OU) and Infernapes, though without a good movepool I can't really see what you'd do to Infernape. All in all, it's a slightly more bulky, for a less damaging Sceptile, so I can't really see it doing much without a good defensive movepool, and even then, Venusaur probably will do it better. It all depends on how important speed is this generation.

Ability: Blaze
BST: 528
HP: 110
Attack: 123
Defense: 65
Sp. Attack: 100
Sp. Defense: 65
Speed: 65

Don't you just hate it when there's a wall up in your grill, blocking your shit? Fear not, Enbuoo is here to punch a hole in them all. While those defenses are fairly flimsy, 110 HP is probably enough to make up for it, and those two attack stats are phenomenal on a starter. Slap a choice scarf on it, let it hit Blaze activation and your Fire Blast will be making chumps out of anything. Obviously, fire/fighting has been done a bit in the starters before, but this creates a nice little continuum to pick from. Stupidly fast, but fragile and not as strong (Inferape, probably still better), stupidly strong, but slow (Ganondorf in fire form) and the middle ground (lolBlaziken). In the end, Infernape will still probably be most used, but I can't see this thing not being used while Choice Scarf exists, especially if it gets Fire Blast and Close Combat.

Ability: Torrent
BST: 528
HP: 95
Attack: 100
Defense: 85
Sp. Attack: 108
Sp. Defense: 70
Speed: 70

So, last of the starters is Wotter's final evolution, and it's got a rather well-rounded stat base. Water has never really had a good mixed sweeper (except Kingdra) before, so, depending on movepool, this guy could do it. Torrent is a fairly boring ability to talk about, since it's not really something you can abuse on most pokemon, but a mixed water sweeper with Waterfall and Surf, hiding behind subs and nomnoming a Liechi Berry, could be something that can properly abuse it. It doesn't really outrun much, though, and I'm not sure if it's other stats are good enough to get over that. After all, with Swampert and Gyarados out there, water isn't exactly lacking good Pokemon. 

Ability: Sand Throw/Intimidate
HP: 85
Attack: 100
Defense: 90
Sp. Attack: 45
Sp. Defense: 90
Speed: 80

Even though he looks awesome, the main reason I've got him here is because he has Sand Throw (doubles speed in a Sandstorm), which could give him a spot on Sandstorm teams down the track. His stats aren't too bad, but Normal isn't really the best offensive or defensive type, so they generally need better than average stats (i.e. Snorlax and Blissey) combined with a good movepool to be useful, so, we'll see how life ends up going for him later. 

Ability: Gluttony
HP: 75
Attack: 98
Defense: 63
Sp. Attack: 98
Sp. Defense: 63
Speed: 101

First of the monkey trio is Yanakki, and really, I only need to talk about him because the other three are exactly the same except for the typing. Being grass, he's probably inferior to Hiyakki, since Water is the best type (as we all know), but better than Baokki because he's not weak to Stealth Rock (and realistically, SR isn't going anywhere). The stat distribution is fairly frail, so he will probably die to most sweepers from a neutral hit, but it's quite fast with a good offensive distribution, so he can pretty easily wallbreak, movepool pending. Gluttony isn't doing him any favours as an ability, though, being one of the few things always worse than starter abilities. Dream World gets him Overgrow, but then he loses access to egg moves. So, he has a lot of potential, like the other two, but we'll have to see where it takes him.

Ability: Forewarn/Synchronize
HP: 116
Attack: 55
Defense: 85
Sp. Attack: 107
Sp. Defence: 95
Speed: 29

Mushana, everyone's favourite pink blob, is here pretty much because I love Synchronize. It's such a fun ability. You can cause so much havoc with it in the right situation. Nonetheless, Mushana isn't really a pokemon you want status to hit. With it's better than average HP, defense and special defense combination, it's suited to wall, but Psychic is a rather mediocre defensive type. With the right movepool, of course, with it's great special attack it could be a nice RestTalker, but I can't see it being very useful otherwise. Synchronize could be hilarious fun on a status absorber like a resttalker, though, so fingers crossed for the little blob.

Ability: Pigeon Heart/Super Luck
HP: 80
Attack: 105
Defense: 80
Sp. Attack: 65
Sp. Defense: 55
Speed: 93

Yeah, you've all seen this stat distribution before, and it's still nothing special, but I couldn't resist uploading the sprite because it looked so silly. So, yeah, nothing special, there's probably better, but if there isn't, it's not so much better that no one's going to notice.

Ability: Lightningrod/Motor Drive
HP: 75
Attack: 100
Defense: 63
Sp. Attack: 80
Sp. Defence: 63
Speed: 116

With the changes to Lightningrod, this zebra will now be absorbing electric attacks regardless of what you do, it just depends what stat gets buffed. Given it's already good speed, it probably doesn't need the Motor Drive boost, but given it's Sp. Attack is inferior to attack, the Lightningrod boost probably won't be relevant all the time, so you'll run Motor Drive anyway. Also, this will, as always, be paired with Gyarados, without question, at least by scrubs. This thing could have the worst movepool in the world, and they'd still do it. Anyway, this isn't really anything new, it's specially inferior to Jolteon, probably mixed inferior to Electivire unless it has a great movepool, moving on.

Ability: Sturdy (!)
HP: 85
Attack: 135
Defense: 105
Sp. Attack: 60
Sp. Defence: 70
Speed: 25

Just to make sure everyone is on the same level here, Sturdy is now a free Focus Sash. That's right, free. You get to have a Sash and Leftovers. This guy, in addition, learns Stealth Rock, Stone Edge and Explosion all via leveling up. If he doesn't herald the return of the bulky lead, then they're never coming back. Really, though, even if he doesn't find a spot as a bulky lead (which he will, unless Metagross is the undisputed best lead ever now for whatever reason), then he'll find a spot on Sandstorm teams, where his Sp. Defense is buffed into 'I'm pretty amazing' tier. I'll definitely be giving this guy a try after Pokemon Online/Shoddy gets updated.

Ability: Sand Throw/Sand Strength
HP: 110
Attack: 135
Defense: 60
Sp. Attack: 50
Sp. Defense: 65
Speed: 88

Really, that typing and those abilities should be a pretty large yell: this guy's meant to go with Sandstorm. You can either run him regularly, with the Swords Dance he learns via leveling, and have Sand Throw let him outrun anything of his choice, or Scarf him and Sand Strength (buffs the strength of rock, ground and steel moves in a Sandstorm) his Earthquake to stupid levels. He probably won't be too intricate of a pokemon, since his purpose is obvious: point him at the opponent during a sandstorm, and run. 

Ability: Guts/Encourage
HP: 105
Attack: 140
Defense: 95
Sp. Attack: 55
Sp. Defense: 65
Speed: 45

This guy is one of those guys in the horrible range of 'even if you pass me speed, I'm still slow'. While this has been done before with Rhyperior, it hasn't really been done with a fighting type, nor a Pokemon with actually useful abilities before: Guts to ward off status, Encourage to just buff your damage output. Like the above pokemon, Roopushin is probably going to end up straight forward: you haven't got time to do anything tricky, so just punch a hole in the opponent. Unfortunately, however, he'll probably end up like Rhyperior: relegated to UU since he's not fast enough to compete in OU. He isn't weak to Bullet Punch, EQ or Close Combat, though, so he could make his way into the edge of OU, but I doubt it.

Ability: Swift Swim/Poison Touch
HP: 105
Attack: 85
Defense: 75
Sp. Attack: 85
Defense: 75
Speed: 74

The main thing this guy has going for him is Swift Swim, as it allows to him to do different things to Swampert, who causes every other water/ground pokemon to die. His attack stats, while kinda medicore, allow him to be a mixed and semi-bulky sweeper for rain teams, though, really, I'm not too sure they need another one when they've already got Kingdra. So, he's probably redundant, but he does look pretty cool.

Ability: Guts/Inner Focus
HP: 120
Attack: 100
Defense: 85
Sp. Attack: 30
Sp. Defense: 85
Speed: 45

The more bulky and slower of the new fighting pair, Nageki is clearly meant to absorb attacks and then dish back damage. Guts probably limits his lifespan too much while active to be useful, so I'd probably use Inner Focus on him, assuming Togekiss and Jirachi remain used. While I don't like him as much as his brother, Dageki, I can still see how'd he have a place on a team, but really, he seems inferior to both Roopushin and Dageki in various ways, so let's move on.

Ability: Sturdy/Inner Focus
HP: 75
Attack: 125
Defense: 75
Sp. Attack: 30
Sp. Defense: 75
Speed: 85

Given that he has better attack and speed, I prefer Dageki to Nageki. In addition, his lessened bulk is covered by Sturdy, giving him a Focus Sash even if he's got a Choice. Once again, movepool pending, but given his free Sash and/or Inner Focus, he could make quite the anti-lead. While, out of the current leads, he'd lose to Azelf, he would quite decisively beat all the other regular leads, and has a good shot against most of the anti-leads. If he's got Fake Out, or a good dark priority move, I'm definitely giving him a shot on my team as an anti-lead. 

Ability: Chlorophyll/Own Tempo
HP: 70
Attack: 60
Defense: 75
Sp. Attack: 110
Sp. Defense: 75
Speed: 90

I didn't really like the other grass one at all, and cbf'd doing it, so I skipped to this much more useful one. Base speed 90 and Sp. Attack 110 is really not too shabby, especially on a grass type, which hasn't really seen such usefulness before, but combined with Chlorophyll, it's a pretty amazing special sweeper during Sunny Day. Firing off Solar Beams in one turn buffed by that defense is really quite good, and, if I decide to run a Sunny Day team (which I inevitably will), this'll definitely have a shot on my team. The only downside is the whole 'it's weak to fire which is buffed in Sun' thing, which is really the weakness of all Sun teams, but I'm sure HP-Water or something can help there.

Ability: Overconfidence (formerly known as Earthquake Spiral)/Intimidate
HP: 95
Attack: 117
Defense: 70
Sp. Attack: 65
Sp. Defense: 70
Speed: 92

The awesome crocodile's full form is way more awesome than most people were expecting, really. Overconfidence/Earthquake Spiral (I'll keep calling it that, even though it's apparently not it's name) can be quite the ability if the user is right, and I think this guy is the right user. Ground/Dark is a good offensive combination, hitting lots for at least neutral, and if it lands even one kill, Earthquake Spiral can push it's attack into stupid regions. If you don't want to risk it, though, it's other ability is Intimidate. Yeah, you're not really pressed for choice with this guy. Oh, and he learns both Earthquake and Crunch via leveling up, in case you were worried he'd have a mediocre option for STAB.

Ability: Encourage
HP: 105
Attack: 140
Defense: 55
Sp. Attack: 30
Sp. Defense: 55
Speed: 90

Kinda what Flareon wants to be, Hihidaruma is a pretty good physical fire sweeper. It's low defences are kinda counteracted by it's high HP, but dayum, that attack and that speed isn't something you often seen outside of a psuedo-legendary, as proven by the two big slow fighting guys above. Encourage combines with the attack stat to make it into a destructive engine that I really can't fathom not being used. Course, SR weakness is bad on something so kinda-fragile, but it's not a huge thing unless you're 4x weak to Rock. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pokemon Through the Generations

The opening sprites are appropriate for several reasons. First of all, Snorlax is omnipresent in the Pokemon generations: he was there in gen 1 and has been constantly blocking paths at least once a generation (admittedly, only thanks to the remakes). Further, Snorlax is my favourite pokemon, because he's so big and cute and daww :3, and also a total engine of destruction. The fact he's so incredibly powerful has led to him being commonly used by top players in every generation so far, which leads into this article quite well: a quick history of competitive Pokemon trends.

Generation 1 is by far the most signature generation of Pokemon, and is known by people who don't play Pokemon to be 'the best generation and all other generations suck shit'. While it probably is the best in terms of actual pokemon, it was really rather bad as a game in hindsight, comparatively to the other games. It had quite a few flaws that made it really interesting competitively, though, if a bit stale and slow. First of all, there was no Special Attack or Special Defense: just Special. This led to Alakazam being a bit less frail than he is today, and more of an unstoppable special tank of death. Amnesia was also an amazing ability, causing Slowbro to steam roll teams by becoming both a tank and sweeper at the same rate as Swords Dance does only sweeping. In the end, this ended up rather silly, and made Alakazam and Slowbro infinitely more effective than they are today. How the mighty fall.

Of course, while this was a flaw with every generation up until 4th, special and physical were defined by types rather than moves, i.e. normal was always physical. This really isn't too bad, but combined with the infamous Hyper Beam glitch (if a pokemon is fainted by Hyper Beam, the pokemon that used it doesn't need to recharge), this made Snorlax and Tauros both insane physical sweepers. An amazingly strong STAB physical move, even if it has to be the last hit? Yes, please. You basically had to pick between speed or health, which isn't too bad of a choice, really. 

My most favourite thing ever, though, is the ultimate stall machine this engine introduced, and it really wouldn't be what you'd expect: Dragonite with Agility. Once it gets an agility off, it outruns everything legal that hasn't also been boosted. From there, it paralyzes you and then Wraps you. In Gen 1, if the opposing pokemon uses Wrap and outruns you, you can't move, leading Dragonite to agonizingly slowly kill anything short of Gengar. Which, incidentally, leads to Gengar being OU, despite being hit by Earthquake from Tauros and Snorlax for excessive amounts of damage on its pitiful health and defence.

Alot changed from Gen 1 to Gen 2 with the special split to special attack and special defence, as this ruined Amnesia. Really, nobody cares too much about buffing your special defence, it's kinda pointless. Slowbro's usefulness was also lowered due to not being an engine of special destruction. Mewtwo and Mew were joined by Ho-oh and Lugia in their beloved Ubers tier, and the Hyper Beam glitch went away, putting the move we all know and love in its current place of useless. Course, held items were also invented, and Leftovers found its way on pretty much every pokemon ever, doing its little bit to keep you alive.

The most famous local change to come out of Gen 2 in the long run is the amazing move, Curse. On most pokemon, Curse is rather mediocre, since most sweepers aren't bulky enough in both defences to waste their speed. However, one pokemon is amazing enough in both defences and physical attack, yet with such terrible speed that it's worth spending on attack and defence: Snorlax. Snorlax, armed with Curse, quickly devoured the Gen 2 metagame, becoming more than just a good physical sweeper like it was in Gen 1, and became an infamous set up sweeper that would quickly win the game if you let it get away from you without a phazer, and so, late game, Curselax would devour teams. This, incidentally, was when I got into Pokemon competitively, and was amazed my favourite pokemon could be so good. This was also the only period of time where Wobbuffet was actively rediculed as being bad, so, keep that in mind: there actually was time when it was bad. 

All in all, Gen 2 was much like Gen 1 without special sweepers also being special tanks. A few pokemon that had their special stats become worthless with the split (Lapras comes to mind) become quickly useless, and wished Gen 1 would come back. Tyranitar, Suicune and Umbreon made an impact as generally useful pokemon, and Misdreavus became a gimmick, with its Mean Look/Perish Song laughing at teams not designed to handle it. As gimmicky as it was, it was really quite effective. Shadow Ball also came into existance, giving Gengar something to hit Psychic types with for stupid damage now that Alakazam wasn't a tank, and everything was right in the world.

Course, then Gen 3 came along, introducing abilities to shake things up. Tyranitar, Gengar, Dugtrio, Weezing and Vaporeon instantly gained a ton, suddenly becoming much better at what they wanted to do. Weezing and Gengar finally got to laugh at Earthquake destroying them, letting Gengar sweep more effectively and Weezing actually act as a physical wall. Seriously, nobody wants a physical wall weak to EQ that isn't Steel, it's just stupid. Sand Stream made Tyranitar more of a special wall by accidentally buffing its special defence stat due to it being a rock-type, Dugtrio became an awesome revenge killer via Arena Trap and Vaporeon's Water Absorb made it into a great switch in.

Of course, this new generation offered up a ton of powerhouses. Swampert, who still stands up today due to it having higher base stats than every other starter for no good reason in addition to great typing, and Blaziken overshadowed their poor grass-starter brother, while the psuedo-legendaries, Salamence and Metagross made a large impression as well, due to their amazing physical sweeping ability. The metagame, by this point, had evolved into slow tanks denting the others as much as possible, as shown by (a fact most people forget) Slaking actually being used a lot. Spikes were rampant, and SkarmBliss reigned the defensive combination world. Heracross took over Snorlax's spot as most used physical sweeper (though Snorlax was still no slouch), and the mighty Reversalcross, a set that aimed to use STAB Reversal and Heracross' amazing base attack to destroy the opposing teams ended up with Heracross banned in Japan. Unfortunately, it was beaten the post as the first non-legendary banned, as Wobbuffet and Wynaut had already gained Shadow Tag and Encore, laughing its uncounterable way to banned tier by annihilating teams by itself. 

Choice Band was responsible for most of this, as it pivoted the metagame towards physical (due to a lack of Choice Specs at this point), and it presented a metagame run by sheer power (due to a lack of Choice Scarf at this point). Heracross' absurd damage was made possible by this, and there wasn't really much that could counter it at higher speeds without having to use Agility to get it up to those high speeds first. 

Though there's not much to say about it, and it was down the low end of OU, Ludicolo gets an honourable mention here as an awesome pokemon introduced here. Rain Dance was more prevalent due to lack of abuse for Sandstorm (i.e. no Gliscor or Garchomp to Sand Hax it up), and Ludicolo/Kingdra made for a great sweeping base, due to Ludicolo's good base stats and typing, combined with Swift Swim. Course, that's what it does these days. Back then, it did its infamous stalling set much more effectively due to the slow pace of the metagame, and Rain Dish + Toxic + Leech Seed made it pretty much a repeat of Gen 1 Dragonite in terms of killing pace, and denying moves. 

And now we make it to Gen 4. When the Generation first came out, I can still remember the cries of overpowered for Rampardos due to its high attack. It turned out to be near useless due to its low speed and defence. Tangrowth held its own in OU for awhile as a solid counter to Gyarados, before eventually falling (though it still does counter Gyarados pretty well). Azelf lead the way for the pixies, Garchomp became God, and slowly but surely, the metagame was completely redefined from what it was in Gen 3. While strength was more important than speed before, speed became so much more important. Fast sweepers like Azelf and Infernape were able to do damage to the slower ones (like Heracross) more so than before, and priority became more apparent (thanks mainly to Extremespeed on Lucario, really). Garchomp slowly but surely took over the metagame, ending up in a whopping 81% of all ladder battles in the month it was banned, with only really Gengar to rival it (thanks, in part, to it being able to outrun Garchomp and also thanks to Hypnosis for lead Gengar). Platinum hammered this home, granting the most used pokemon in current standard the move that would eventually become this blog's name: Bullet Punch. Scizor, armed with Bullet Punch and Choice Band, redefined what priority could do, and the metagame ended up looking nothing like the last. Champions like Heracross and Snorlax cling on barely at the bottom of usage, while Scizor, as a relative newcomer to usefulness, having only just found Technician as well, reigned supreme. 

While it was the death of some old titans, like Alakazam, Dugtrio and Rhydon (newly evolved into Rhyperior), some old battleaxes still remain at the top, like Gyarados, Tyranitar and Gengar. Skarmory still holds its title as the entry hazard go-to guy, and Blissey still absorbs special like its nobody's business. In the same boat as Scizor, Tentacruel also found its way in competitive use, due to its neutrality to common water counter move, Grass Knot, and ability to set up the new Toxic Spikes, which could quickly derail a Stall team's capabilities.

All in all, my favourite generation for competition has to be the current one. But, I've always really thought that about the current generation at any one time, so I'm really looking forward to what Gen 5 has to offer. Hopefully, the starters will be useful, and the changes to Sturdy (making it act like a Focus Sash in addition to disabling OHKO moves), adding abilities to the old starters/eeveelutions/etc. will shake up the metagame in a way that makes it much more interesting. And yeah, I know I skimmed over some points, there'd be way too much to talk about if I talked in full about every generation. 

Mata ne,