Yesterday, The Pokemon Company released the official rules for this season’s Video Game Championship, setting my mind to planning my first competitive team in half a decade.
Most of the rules were expected: We will still be using 2 on 2 battles; Pokemon will be level 50; and mega-evolutions are clear for takeoff. What came as a surprise was the ruling that only Pokemon from the Coastal, Central, or Mountain Kalos Pokédex will be allowed.
I knew this generation was going to shake up the metagame, but I didn’t expect it use Earthquake on the whole thing! This means loads of staple Pokemon will be out of the picture for at least a whole year. And frankly, I’m excited about it.
Sure, plenty of fans are going to be upset about not being able to use certain Pokemon (cough, cough, Blaziken!). But it’s because there are so many species that have spent years in the spotlight that this change is so interesting. It leaves room for new Pokemon to shine.
Collectible card games have struggled with this same issue over time. No matter how many cards you print, inevitably a handful of top strategies rise to the top and dominate a competitive scene. How games like Magic: The Gathering have handled it for the past 20 years is by annually changing the format to include new cards while phasing out certain older cards (until they are eventually reprinted). And when Wizards of the Coast changes the format, they meticulously look at what options will be available to ensure a healthy metagame. I am confident Game Freak and The Pokemon Company have done the same here.
And it’s not like the options have been limited that much at all. I noted early on in the adventure how so many different Pokemon from just about every generation were around every tuft of grass. You can see for yourself by looking at this list of Kalos Pokemon.
So now that the rules are laid out, and with 8 badges under my belt, it’s time to start planning my actual competitive team.
Planning is really the hardest part, especially with so many untested Pokemon out there and not even strategy entries on Smogon for most of them. But based on past experience, I know some of the most successful teams in the past were based around weather effects. So I’m going to take a similar approach and make a team based on terrain.
Terrain feels like this generation’s weather effects. But unlike weather effects, there are no hold items to prolong the duration of terrains. Nor are there Pokemon that can summon terrain merely by switching in. So it’s possible this whole strategy won’t be ready for prime-time until the next games come out with these supplements.
The terrain I’m most familiar with is Grassy Terrain, and it presents a variety of options to take advantage of. Not only does it have the obvious healing effect (for both teams), it also powers up Grass attacks by 50%. Gogoat’s Hidden Ability, Grass Pelt, also takes advantage of Grassy Terrain by boosting its defense stat. I think Secret Power will be pretty nice as well, as it has a 30% chance of causing sleep in this terrain.
The biggest choice I have to make for now is which Pokemon (or two) do I pick that know Grassy Terrain. The best choices I see so far are Executor, Venusaur and Flogres, but I’m open to other ideas. I also need to consider who can best take advantage of this kind of strategy, and who will I need to best cover my weaknesses. And most importantly, who will be my mega-evolution?
All of this is likely to change as I actually put my team down on paper, but your feedback can have a great influence on this trainer’s course of action. I’m admittedly inexperienced in this field, so feel free to point out all my horrible mistakes in the comments below!