Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How does this even work?

No, seriously, I want you to explain this to me. "Amiibos learn from you." SUUUUUURE.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Should Intimidate be nerfed in doubles and triples?

Yesterday I mentioned that all eight quarterfinalists in the VGC's Masters division packed a Landorus-T (along with seven Seniors and five Juniors), and how it was a telltale sign of an unhealthy metagame. I'd like to point out one of the more perverse effects of that superdominance, which stems from Intimidate. If you look at all the top threats in the VGC meta, you'll find only two strictly physical Pokémon: Mega Kangaskhan and Landorus-T itself. The rest, aside from the odd pure physical Salamence, is either mixed or special. From Heatran to Gardevoir to Amoonguss to Sylveon to Rotom-W to Milotic to Aegislash (and then some), it's all about those special attacks. And for good reason - Landorus-T's ubiquity (and the fact that it's almost NEVER one of the two Pokémon that are left out), and its tendency to switch in and out repeatedly, means physical attackers are almost always doomed to perform at -1, meaning only those few that can still deal solid damage under those conditions are worth using. Which basically means Mega Kangaskhan and Landorus-T. Even other titans like Tyranitar, Terrakion or Conkeldurr have a bit of a hard time, which is just silly. It's not like they don't hit like trucks, right? Well, that's what happens in a virtually permanent -1 environment. Smogon's VGC ladder has more detailed data as well as skill-based weighting, and according to those stats almost half of all the teams pack Landorus-T. That's WAAAAAY too much.

So, just how amazing is Intimidate? Well, you just have to take a look at the weird stuff people do to keep it around. Every now and then, you might run into a mixed or even special Landorus-T. Now, common sense would dictate that if you're going to do that, you'd run the Incarnate form instead because it deals such crazy amounts of damage, right? Well, nope. It's worth giving up on that extra damage because Intimidate is just that good. (That, and Landorus-I can't flinch opponents with Rock Slide, which is part of the appeal.) There's also this really silly thing Salamence users can do to preserve their Intimidate. Usually, when a Pokémon gains a speed boost upon going mega (such as with Salamence), common sense dictates you'd use Protect on the first turn since the speed boost doesn't apply on the mega evolution turn, right? Well, here you can have Salamence protect but NOT mega evolve, just in case you want to switch out so you can re-use Intimidate later. Getting in your mega evolution safely is less important than preserving Intimidate, because it's just that good.

So here's what I think should be done. Intimidate should be nerfed so that instead of affecting all targets in range, it only affects one of them at random. I think it'd be a lot more fair, considering that unlike multi-target moves and the likes of Reflect or Light Screen, the effect of Intimidate isn't lowered at all when hitting multiple targets (because mathematically speaking, it can't be). Of course there's the issue of Mega Kangaskhan being even better as a result, but I think it's safe to assume Parental Bond is going to get a pretty big nerf when gen 7 comes around, considering Mega Kangaskhan is so much better than every other mega in doubles, and is still part of that group of horribly broken megas in singles. That, and since it's the only thing that gets it, it won't nerf other things that might've enjoyed that big boost. Though another thing to consider is that if Parental Bond gets nerfed, there might be less of a need for Intimidate spam, and thus less Landorus-Ts everywhere - but that's just pure theorymon, who knows what'd happen in practice.

So in a perfect world, both Intimidate and Parental Bond would be better off being nerfed in my opinion. Any thoughts on that?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

[Karenite rage intensifies]

Last year a Pachirisu drove its team to the world championship, but we sure as hell didn't get a repeat of that this year. Champion Shoma Honami brought the five most popular Pokémon in the VGC meta, as well as the very popular Cresselia (#11 on Showdown's VGC ladder), so the title was taken by one of the most bog standard, vanilla teams possible.

Worse, looking at the teams of the eight players that made the single elimination round in the Masters division, there was barely any variety whatsoever in teams. These eight teams combined together featured eight Landorus-Ts, six Kangaskhans, six Amoongusses, six Heatrans, five Cresselias and four Thundurus-Is. That's almost three quarters of the entire pool covered by just these six Pokémon. I don't care what anyone says, that is NOT the sign of a healthy metagame, and Smogon's VGC ladder stats corroborate that, proving that their way of doing things, although controversial, is the right thing to do. By the way, of the six Pokémon listed above, only Kangaskhan and Amoonguss were allowed last year, hence why everything felt so samey this year - most of the gamebreakers were legendaries that weren't in the Kalos Dex.

On another subject entirely, word on the street is that the odds of getting Pokémiles out of the Pikachu Cup aren't so good, because it appears non-Smogonites really got into the Pikachu spirit. Even though it rarely gets anything done because Raichu (among others) is just so much better. Apparently Electric moves are also a lot more used than they honestly should, so it seems like the level of play is surprisingly low. I mean, Electric moves in a metagame flooded with Motor Drive / Lightning Rod / Volt Absorb users, and where most of the rest resists them? The hell? First-hand accounts suggest Pikachu itself got more and more rare the higher you got on the ladder, so clearly we know the scrubaroonis are to blame if Pokémiles aren't what we're getting. I'm looking forward to comparing the official stats with Smogon's, because we're going to see some drastic differences.

Speaking of the Pikachu Cup, have a look at this Showdown replay, and be sure to pay special attention to the chat. I'm gonna start a petition to have the opposing player pictured in the dictionary next to the word "scrub".

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A rundown of the Electivire... I mean Pikachu Cup

I don't know if any of you are intending to participate in that thing, but regardless, here's a nice read on what you could potentially expect to face there. And looking at it, it's amazing just how much Pikachu sucks in this. It has no niche whatsoever, with only Plusle and Rotom-S having less of a point. Emolga's one of the most dangerous Pokémon around. Minun has a niche. Eelektrik has a niche. Dedenne has a niche. So would Electabuzz if this was a simulator thing. Pikachu... just rolls over and dies. It's pretty telling that Raichu's whole point in this tournament is playing a support role with Fake Out, Helping Hand, Encore and Knock Off, despite its defenses being shit (and by that I mean it still looks like Lugia next to Pikachu).

Hope you like Pokémiles!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Emolga 2 stronk, nerf pls

The Pikachu Cup is approaching pretty quickly, and the Smogon ladder gives potential entrants the opportunity to try out their teams. And it seems like the combination this whole thing may revolve around is an Electivire + Emolga lead pairing. Tailwind with Emolga, and go buck wild with Electivire's Earthquake. It's kind of amusing how this is supposed to be all about Pikachu, and it's another useless Electric rodent that gets the spotlight. Maybe this is going to be the thing that finally makes the powers that be realize Pikachu sucks so badly it doesn't even get used in its own tournament?

Anyway, one potential counter to the aforementioned pairing is Luxray + Rotom. We all know Intimidate is all kinds of broken in doubles, so mini-Electivire is another Pokémon that should never be used that snags the spotlight from Pikachu here. -1 Electivire is a LOT easier to handle, and a nice trick Rotom has is Snatch, to steal the opponent's Tailwind. Other fun stuff includes Soak Lanturn paired with either a Discharge user to heal Lanturn or, my personal favorite, Mega Ampharos to bypass Lightning Rod and Motor Drive with Mold Breaker. Oh, and you know the rule of thumb that Hyper Beam sucks and it should never be used ever? Well, Heliolisk likes running both it and Hyper Voice. The weird part thing is, it makes sense, because the only immune Pokémon is Rotom-N, which no one will ever use, and the only resist is Magnezone (or Magneton if you really want to go that way for whatever reason).

I'm just looking forward to seeing all the crazy stuff that people will bring there. Pretty sure Endeavor Pikachu won't be a thing, though. Between the apparent dominance of Electivire and Emolga, and Ampharos being by far and away the most useful mega out of those eligible (all TWO of them), not to mention the other neat stuff I mentioned, a Light Ball will reasonably be the best we can hope for.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A useful MD2 life hack

Unfortunately this only works in Sky, but nowadays there's no reason to play anything else, so here goes.

You know how annoying it is, during these stretches of multiple dungeons without going back to town, to fill up your entire inventory AND storage, so you miss out on some items? Well, here's a little trick so you can at least sell stuff and deposit money in the bank to prevent that from happening. First, if you're not at a Kangaskhan stone between dungeons (halfway points in dungeons like Steam Cave or Sealed Ruins don't count), reach the next one. Then, deposit the stuff you want to sell, and save. After that, you want to go to the special episodes and start either episode 1 or 3 (the latter has a bit less dialogue at the beginning, so I recommend that if it's available). Since the inventory and bank are shared between the main game and the special episodes, you can then have Bidoof or Sunflora withdraw what you just put in storage, then sell those items at Kecleon's, and finally deposit the money in the bank. Unfortunately you don't have access to Wynaut's shop, so no recycling into lottery tickets for you, but it's better than losing out on those items altogether.

Edit: Picking episode 1 is also a good choice despite having more dialogue, since you get a free Reviver Seed if you talk to Marowak.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today's "What The Fuck"

Ladies and gentlemen, the most inaccurate briefing in the world.

So Spring Cave is close to a hot spring, so there should be lots of Fire-types. Makes sense, right? Now let's see what's actually in Spring Cave. Cubone, Baltoy, Snubbull, Meditite, Trapinch, Haunter, Wormadam-G, Aron, Cacnea, Onix, Beldum, Paras, Zubat, Cranidos and Ekans. Not a single Fire-type in there. Sure, you run into two Slugmas, but those are only in a cutscene. For the rest, if anything Sunflora has a big advantage with all the Rock- and Ground-types around. (Which does not prevent this episode from being really, REALLY hard, for the record. The few Poison-types there are can potentially OHKO you unless you're at full health, and Sunflora is just so weak.)

Chatot needs to lose his job over this. I'm paying so much money to the guild, they SHOULD be able to afford a better head of intelligence, right? Not that Wigglytuff is any better. Dungeon's (allegedly) full of Fire- and Poison-types? LET'S SEND IN A GRASS-TYPE! I don't care how competent Sunflora is, that's some Ash Ketchum-level shit right there. It's only a marginally better idea than President Donald Trump, and that scares me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The true meaning of "indifference"

More info's come out about MD4 in the last few days, and the only thing I can muster for most of it is a resounding "meh". I mean, we already know it's going to be better than Gates to Infinity, but that was just baaaaad, so the bar is being set low. I'm honestly having trouble getting excited for this, because the more time passes, the more it seems to me like much of the stuff that made MD2 so great is stuff we're not getting back, making this Gates to Infinity with hunger, all Pokémon, and a few improvements here and there. Oh, and an apparent heavy reliance on fanservice, what with some continents being shaped like in the older MD games and NPCs dropping names from said games (a Kecleon is shown reminiscing about Marill and Azurill from Treasure Town in a screenshot, for instance). And I may have mentioned this before, but regular attacks still being capped at 5 damage, forcing you to use your moves, seriously screws over the exploration aspect of this game. Sure, you can rank up your moves and get more PP (along with power and accuracy), but that creates other balance problems that led to MD3 being referred to by some as "baby's first roguelike".

But of course, I'm probably alone in this and everyone else is shivering in anticipation. Right?

Edit: Just so you know, since I didn't mention it, the regular attack turning to shit is the thing I consider to be the single worst change in MD3. Worse than the Pokémon selection, worse than the starter selection, worse than no hunger, worse than the inability to take on more than one mission at a time, worse than the loss of IQ and everything related, worse than the miserable money cap, worse than EVERYTHING. And they brought it back. I'm willing to keep up on this game at release, but they better pull a whole bunch of rabbits out of that hat to make up for that.