Tribulations of Great Pokémon 6
by, 27th December 2011 at 09:14 AM (465 Views)
We’re back to Generation 1, and five new great Pokémon that I haven’t covered will be covered. I decided that instead of writing about a Pokémon again, I will just edit the entries on Alakazam and Gengar. These series of articles will detail on each Pokémon’s qualities that make them great in competitive battling as well as the difficulties they experience in raising them, because if you play in battle simulators, you may not know how difficult it can be to raise them. I added the verdict scores, so that it is hopefully easier to view my opinion on the Pokémon, where "+" means the Pokémon has performance bias while "-" means the Pokémon has a tribulation bias. Our five Pokémon today are...
Ninetales is a curious case of being an average Pokémon who is propelled to greatness because of just the right ability. This is actually the case of a few Pokémon in Generation 5, like Politoed and Sableye. Thanks to the advent of Dream World, Ninetales finally got some popularity, because from there, she got Drought. This ability is potent, because on entrance, Sun will be the weather for the remainder of the battle unless another weather starter changes it. This gives way to the playstyle of Sun in Standard Play, and now Chlorophyll Pokémon can make a splash there. In the Sun, there is a good synergy between Fire-types and Grass-types, for the former can take advantage of the Sun (like Victini, Darmanitan and Fire counterpart Arcanine) and the latter can dissuade most weather starters and types the Fire-types are weak to. It allows some Water-weak Pokémon to survive longer, like Donphan. It’s also a good idea to bring a strong Dragon or Ice-type Pokémon to dissuade Dragons from spoiling the fun in the Sun.
Of course, Ninetales has some merits outside Drought. It can use SolarBeam since it provides its own Drought, although it needs to be wary of other weather changers, so a nice surprise you can do is to set up Sunny Day if you sense those Pokémon coming, so that the weather will still be in your favour and you can blast something with SolarBeam. Ninetales also has Nasty Plot, which is great with Special attacks like Flamethrower, Energy Ball and Hidden Power. You can perform support too, which can be viewed as the most preferred way to use Ninetales. Some of the options to do this include Disable, Will-O-Wisp, Hypnosis and Fire Spin.
Of all the weather starters, Ninetales is the hardest to maintain. The first issue is her Rock weakness, meaning that Stealth Rock will be a huge problem. This is where a Rapid Spin Pokémon comes in handy, so you can resort to Donphan or Forretress to allow Ninetales to switch in safely. The second issue is having disadvantageous matchups with Rain and Sand, because their weather starters have ways to deal with Ninetales due to their type advantage (I hope we have a Grass-type Drought Pokémon next Generation). Beyond the weather starters, Ninetales must be wary of Special walls and Dragons, because of their durability. Latias and Latios are especially notable because of their high Speed and Special Defence and they don’t mind the Burn because they are Special-oriented.
Ninetales doesn’t have a lot of tribulations, compared to its counterpart Arcanine. There is a reason for this, but this is not the blog to explain this. Anyway, Vulpix, Ninetales pre-evolution is a version exclusive in Kanto and Johto, so you need the particular version to obtain Ninetales. Vulpix is also found in Hoenn and Unova, whereas trading is required to get Growlithe. However, this tribulation is minor, because the Ninetales obtained this way has Flash Fire, which is not the ability you want because Drought is a lot more beneficial, since it not only powers ups her Fire attacks, it mitigates her Water weakness.
Evolving through a Fire Stone has its problems too. You will likely be in Unova if you want a Drought Ninetales, so you don’t have a reliable source of Fire Stones like Kanto. The only way to get an unlimited supply of them is to search the dust clouds in caves for one, but this is not a guaranteed search, so you might as well use one of the Fire Stones you found throughout your journey (or Dream World if you’re lucky). The only moves that you might want to keep in mind before evolution are Fire Spin (14), Extrasensory (51), Imprison (21) and Grudge (47). If you don’t need them, you can just evolve Vulpix with the Fire Stone.
The biggest tribulation of all is getting a Drought Vulpix. Located in Pleasant Forest, you can only find one if you accumulated 10,000 points into your account. Win the Sky Race minigame and you can get one, and hopefully it’s a female one so that you can get your precious Egg Moves on this Pokémon, like Disable and Heat Wave. Dark Pulse is the only move that you cannot normally get on Ninetales (it’s a Generation 4 TM), so if you fancy that move, you can make an effort to get one with it.
In conclusion, Ninetales is balanced, because in addition to her benefits and drawbacks it has in competitive battling, raising one has reasonable challenges, especially one with Drought. The support that Ninetales provide for a myriad of Pokémon is massive, because with her, Pokémon like Venusaur, Shiftry and Lilligant makes the team successful because of what they can do.
Verdict: Balanced (±0)
Starmie is a time-tested Pokémon. To an average Pokémon fan, this is very surprising because it looks just as ordinary as other Pokémon. Starmie certainly proves to perform well according to the experience of competitive players, so let’s see its merits.
The first thing about Starmie that you might immediately see is its Speed. It has a high Speed that is very much unrivalled by many Pokémon, which is a key trait that allows it to be a common sight in Standard Play. Its movepool doesn’t disappoint, because it has enough offensive coverage and a wide assortment of support moves.
Starmie’s Speed and mediocre bulk means that it works well as a Pokémon with Recover, because if a Pokémon fails to be threatening offensively, it can just stall out that attacker. As a Rapid Spinner, Starmie is useful because it is fast, so it can manage to remove those entry hazards faster than most (Excadrill in Sand is faster). If it receives a status ailment from Toxic Spikes, it can recover from Poison anyway. Starmie is also quite threatening offensively, as it possesses the necessary Special attacks to make an impact. Chief among them are Surf/Hydro Pump, Thunderbolt/Thunder and Ice Beam/Blizzard. Even Psyshock deserves merit, because Blissey will not be able to take those hits (but Chansey can). This will make Starmie compatible with Rain and Hail, and more importantly, Gravity, which it can learn. That’s not forgetting its ability to use Life Orb well, because the increase of power is much welcomed. With Choice Specs, it can play the “Trick” game, because if a potential counter gets in, Starmie can just pop that item to something that can’t use it well. If it wants to, it can set up Light Screen and Reflect, or perhaps increase its defences with Cosmic Power.
Of course, Starmie has drawbacks. A faster Pokémon can very well make Starmie’s life hard if they have a powerful move to hit it with, so for example, Alakazam can slam Starmie with a powerful Shadow Ball and Jolteon can hurt it with a swift Thunderbolt. Even Dark-types can be a real pain if they possess a powerful attack, especially Pursuit and Sucker Punch. Tyranitar is chief among them for its powerful Pursuit, and with a Choice Scarf, Starmie will not escape unharmed (not to mention, Tyranitar is quite bulky). Weavile is a better example because it is faster than Starmie in addition to its Dark-type. Spiritomb is interesting in that it blocks Rapid Spin as well, so if it can avoid Starmie’s powerful attacks, it will do well with disposing Starmie. A very durable Special wall can be a stop to Starmie’s sweeping plans, like Pokémon like Porygon2 and Chansey. Lanturn is a much better example because it is durable on the Special side and provides a scare with its Electric STAB.
The first of Starmie’s tribulations are its level-up growth rate and evolution method. Starmie is a great Pokémon in many ways, so naturally it is supposed to level up slowly as well. This can be a problem in-game because you will need to dedicate some time into grinding to catch up on levels. Another thing is that because Staryu evolves with a Water Stone, you can expect Starmie to lack level-up moves. The thing is, Starmie’s moves are pretty much what you already need (Rapid Spin and Recover are there, for crying out loud), so the only reasons to level up Staryu to a high level are Cosmic Power, Reflect Type and Hydro Pump (especially this move). This would mean that the only reason to stave off evolution is pretty much for an offensive Starmie. That’s to say that you can use the same Starmie in each passing Generation because its main moves are TMs. Water Stones are hard to come by except for Kanto, so you may want to use it sparingly.
Then, there are those moves. As stated, Hydro Pump is hard to get because it’s a high-levelled Staryu-only move. Thunderbolt and Ice Beam were moves that you need to pay with Game Corner currency, making them a lot harder to get in those days, although these days you just need to teach it the reusable TMs (Reflect and Light Screen are expensive TMs, though), which is where many of Starmie’s great moves come from. The real tough ones to get are the Move Tutor moves (especially Trick and Gravity, and possibly Icy Wind), because of their foreign currency that you need to collect.
Staryu is also considered a late find in-game, because in most cases, you have to use your Super Rod to fish out these Pokémon, despite their widespread inhabitation. Even in areas where you find by surfing, you may also find it hard because it’s rarer to find them through surfing than fishing. When you do find them, you have to take into account their abilities, because you can’t test their abilities before catching them, unlike Chinchou (you can just use Thunder Wave to test for Volt Absorb). This applies for breeding too.
So in the end, do I find Starmie to be a balanced Pokémon? Because Starmie is pretty much the same Pokémon throughout the ages, you don’t need to train for another Starmie, so once you are in a new Generation, you can bring the same Starmie and it will still be useful. Starmie’s versatility and power seems a little unbalanced for the effort to train it, in my opinion.
Verdict: Somewhat Balanced (+2)
Tauros was one of the stars in competitive battling back in Generation 1. Thanks to his great Speed and good Attack, this is not surprising. Of course, there’s more than that, right? You see, in Generation 1, Hyper Beam was a Physical attack, and that, combined with Tauros’ good Attack and Normal STAB, is sure to severely hurt the opponent. You may have thought that Hyper Beam would leave the user at a disadvantage because it gives the opponent a free turn, but not in Generation 1. Why? Due to the way the battle mechanics worked at that time, Hyper Beam is as good as any other attack if it manages to knock out an opponent. The combined power of Tauros’ good Attack and high Speed (makes critical hits more powerful on slower opponents) makes Tauros a force to reckon with. With a powerful offensive movepool, Tauros can dispatch those who try to stop him, like Earthquake for Gengar (because it didn’t have Levitate yet), Blizzard for Golem and Thunderbolt for Cloyster and Starmie.
Tauros’ days as a force to be reckoned with are pretty much over from that day on. This can be attributed to a few reasons. Hyper Beam works correctly this time (because you need to charge when the attack hits now), so Tauros can’t use Hyper Beam to intimidate anybody, so you need Double-Edge (a recoil move) for offense. The introduction of Steel-types also makes it harder for Tauros because that’s one extra type to resist Normal attacks. Rock, Steel and Ghost-types that are not weak to Ground attacks will prevent Tauros from further harming anyone, and the list of Pokémon with this characteristic isn’t small. We have Ferrothorn, Forretress, Rhyperior, Steelix and Cofagrigus, for example. It didn’t help that Tauros’ Special Attack becomes very low ever since the Special stat split. The existence of Choice Scarf means that he may experience some surprise attacks from normally slower opponents. Last but not least, Fighting attacks become quite powerful as of late, and Tauros definitely doesn’t want to take those attacks.
Of course, that’s not to say Tauros doesn’t have improvements over the years. Tauros’ Physical movepool is expanding, so along the way he has Stone Edge, Zen Headbutt, Wild Charge and Iron Tail. He also gained handy abilities that are very good. We have Intimidate, weakening a potentially threatening Physical attacker; Anger Point, very useful to be comboed with Frost Breath by Sneasel or Weavile (because they have very low Special Attack themselves); and Sheer Force to boost some of Tauros’ strong attacks, especially Rock Climb, Zen Headbutt and Rock Slide. His great Speed is still a valuable asset, because not many Pokémon matches his Speed.
That’s enough of explaining Tauros’ greatness. Now for the tribulations. The first difficulty with Tauros is catching the Pokémon. In Kanto, you get to meet them in Safari Zone. However, chances of meeting a Tauros are slim, and with only limited movement around the safari, you might not meet one on your first trip (ironically, it is implied to be common in the anime because Ash caught 30 of them on his first and only trip at the Safari Zone). This is no better in Johto because you have a 1 in 20 chance to meet one, although the remakes added a route with an easier time meeting them.
Tauros is also a male-only Pokémon. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? It means that Tauros can’t acquire Egg Moves, a curse that plagues all the male-only Pokémon. Since Tauros is already powerful as he is, this is not that bad, but the major problem with this is the Dream World. Since abilities can only be bred through female Pokémon, you have to pretty much catch a Tauros with Sheer Force from the Dream World. If you also want one with Rock Climb, you must also resort in the Dream World and hope that the Tauros has that move, since that is a HM from the past Generation, meaning no importable Rock Climb (getting one with optimal IVs is probably worse).
Like a typical powerful Pokémon, Tauros is cursed as being part of the Slow Experience Group Pokémon. This is made worse in-game-wise because in the places you meet Tauros the first time, it will definitely be underleveled compared to the rest of the Pokémon in an average team so far. This obviously means Tauros has to play catch up with the rest of the team. The only move you would care about for Tauros as far as level-up moves go will be Zen Headbutt. It’s unfortunate that Tauros doesn’t have Double-Edge as a level-up move, because this move can only be tutored back in Generation 3, which means you need to have someone who still has a copy of Emerald to get it, and this is an uncommon sight these days. This will in turn mean that this move is only compatible with Intimidate, so keep in mind this legal combination.
Tauros is certainly an example on a very good Pokémon that got worse because of its environment, but at least it had its time as a powerful Pokémon, because a lot of Pokémon aren’t as lucky, for they wish they can be very powerful at one point in history. Tauros is still a good Pokémon in certain ways, so his tribulations is still justified because breeding and levelling up are easier these days with people willing to provide the service for you. Is Tauros balanced? Yes, although the performance is slightly lower compared to training difficulty.
Verdict: Almost Balanced (-1)
Snorlax used to be a mainstay in Standard Play, but its days as being a common sight may be over. There is something new in each passing Generation that threatens Snorlax, but that doesn’t mean Snorlax is bad. In fact, even now, Snorlax has certain qualities that make it a great Pokémon.
In the first Generation, Snorlax proves to be quite bulky with its very high HP, and this works well with its Normal STAB, as it can unleash powerful Hyper Beam attacks like Tauros, or perhaps Self Destruct to take down a problematic Pokémon one-on-one, like Chansey. It can also utilise an Amnesia set to boost its Special stat so that its Special offense and durability will be heightened. The Amnesia idea can be dropped in the second Generation because it doesn’t increase Special Attack, and besides, Snorlax’s Special Attack is low. However, that Generation made Snorlax a lot more threatening, because it gains the powerful move Curse. Snorlax is one of the best users of this move because it has great Special Defence, and in later Generations, abilities that work well with its Curse (Thick Fat for more resistances and Immunity so you can’t get Toxic Poison). With Rest, Snorlax can last a pretty long time on the field, and Sleep Talk lets it do something (if Rest is chosen as the move in Generation 2 with this move, the Pokémon will fully recover!). It’s just a matter of choosing the right attacks from then on. In Generation 4, it has a lot more options to consider for a Physical attack, as well as Whirlwind to blow away certain threats.
One huge disadvantage Snorlax has to deal with is certainly Fighting-types. This is especially the case in Generation 4, and a really critical case in Generation 5, because that’s the Generation when great Fighting-types are introduced, and Snorlax will be in trouble if this Fighting-type can boost too. We have Conkeldurr and Scrafty, for example, who are pretty much going to make Snorlax a disadvantage in this situation. Fighting-types that specialise in hitting hard right off the bat like Machamp and Terrakion will be great obstacles. Of course, that’s not forgetting the Ghost-types, provided they can do something nasty like Will-O-Wisp, or worse: Ghost Curse (even worse if Snorlax is the last one because Rest will be worthless). Sableye is worse because it can Taunt Snorlax and Burn it, and Snorlax just have no effective way in dealing with it.
In terms of tribulations, Snorlax’s is on par with pseudo-legendaries. First of all, like them, it is somewhat tedious to train, as it levels up slow, which is worse because Snorlax is really slow (so it’s hard to run away from battles you don’t want to battle. Another thing it shares with pseudo-legendaries is the huge amount of steps you need to take to hatch a Snorlax egg (or Munchlax, if you fancy Self Destruct or Zen Headbutt). It will be very unfortunate of you if you want the Egg Move combination of Double-Edge and Curse, because the only parent with this combination is Aron, another hard-to-raise Pokémon (you need to breed Curse on Aron first, so that’s even more work!). However, it will be a lot easier if you just want Curse, because more Pokémon provide it, like Turtwig and Slowpoke. The third thing that Snorlax has in common with pseudo-legendaries is its rarity. We will get to that in a while.
Yes, Snorlax is definitely a rarity. You only meet one or two in your journey, so you have to make them count. Unfortunately, you also need music from a PokéFlute, which you will not get until later. When you do find Snorlax, you have the challenge of catching it. With a catch rate of 25, this will not be easy. However, this is not what makes Snorlax really troublesome. What is bothersome is what Snorlax learns at the level you meet it at. It is guaranteed that Snorlax has Rest, so a likely scenario is that after whittling down its HP, Snorlax will just recover off the damage you dealt to it. This makes Taunt useful to have. Snorlax has a high male ratio, so passing Curse to Snorlax offspring will not be as easy as you think. The developers clearly want you to work hard to get that move.
If you can’t get Snorlax (Kanto is the only place you meet this Pokémon), you can always try your hand at capturing Munchlax. Unfortunately, Munchlax proves to be harder to catch than Snorlax, despite its higher catch rate. This is primarily because of the measures you need to go through to get one. In Sinnoh, honey trees are a troublesome way to obtain Pokémon, as you need to slather honey on a tree. The tree that yields Munchlax is based on player data, so finding which tree a Munchlax appears can be troublesome. Of course, it’s better to hit all possible targets at once to increase chances. When you found the tree with Munchlax, there’s the problem of the 1% chance the Munchlax appearing. It’s a very good idea to save before finding out what Pokémon you will be facing, because an untimely Metronome can be bad for you. It’s a bit easier to get Munchlax in Unova, but you need to trade a Cinccino, a Pokémon who either require evolution by the very rare Shiny Stone or is found in rustling grass (also very rare). When you caught a Munchlax, you just need to raise a lot of its happiness before evolving, and that can be quite troublesome indeed. It is little wonder players commonly opt to get Snorlax because at least it is a guaranteed catch.
Yep, Snorlax is one troublesome Pokémon to obtain, but does it mean the work you put into it will pay off? Of course it is. Snorlax may have been slow, but at least it is quite durable and can hold its weight, so by planning ahead and raising it properly, you have a very powerful Pokémon in your hands. The only big problem is that Munchlax is too hard to get, but since you can get this Pokémon very early, it might as well be to prevent players from getting Snorlax too early.
Verdict: Almost Balanced (-1)
What makes Dragonite a great Pokémon, you ask? As a pseudo-legendary, Dragonite has a large movepool and great stats, making it reasonable bulky and has great attacking stats. It does have an average Speed, so it can be patched up with either Dragon Dance or Agility. Dragonite also has great offensive coverage, which is easy for Dragons since Steel-types only resist Dragon, and Dragonite has the attacks for them (Superpower, Fire Punch, Flamethrower, Earthquake). Dragonite also makes a reasonable attacker in rain, thanks to the ability to learn both Thunder and Hurricane, both fully accurate in rain and powerful, and both of them are great attacking types. The true greatness about Dragonite is Multiscale, allowing Dragonite the power of survivability at full health, allowing it to survive an attack while it sets up, which is a handy advantage, since Dragonite also possesses Roost as a level-up move (great because Roost is not a TM anymore). Sun teams generally dislike Dragonite because it normally resists their common moves (particularly Fire, Grass and Ground) and it can be hard to take down. A strong priority attack (ExtremeSpeed) and power to remove an opponent (Dragon Tail) wraps up Dragonite’s greatness.
Dragonite is a special case because it gets better every Generation, so that means Dragonite wasn’t initially as great as it is now. This is because at first, Dragonite didn’t have any Dragon-type moves to use, since Dragon Rage is Attack-independent, always doing 40 damage every time, which is pretty low at Level 100. Not only that, Flying was a pretty weak attacking type. Outrage was eventually introduced, but it was a Special attack and didn’t have enough power. The fact that Dragonite has very little viable Physical moves didn’t help at all (Earthquake was only added in Dragonite’s movepool in Generation 3!). While Dragonite can attack on the Special side, there simply were better options to use them, like Starmie who is faster and has Water STAB. It didn’t help matters that Dragonite has a huge Ice weakness, and Ice is a great attacking type for all ages. And then, Generation 4 split moves into Physical and Special attacks independent of its type. This gives Dragonite a better chance at attacking since some of Dragonite’s options became Physical. Dragonite needed something more: something that can differentiate itself from the generally superior Salamence, who has more power and speed. ExtremeSpeed was there, that’s for sure, but something greater is needed. In Generation 5, Dragonite’s got it: the exclusive ability Multiscale! The runner-up upgrade is Hurricane.
So, Dragonite is great and all, but how is it challenging to raise one? First of all, Dragonite has a high level requirement when it comes to evolution. Dratini evolves into Dragonair at Level 30, which is a reasonable level, but for Dragonair to evolve into Dragonite, you need to reach Level 55! While Dragonair has an admittedly more useful ability, its stats are only average. At that level, you cannot bring Dragonite to certain competitions, because some of them require a level of 50 at most, like the Level 50 challenge at Battle Tower. Eventually there is a Level 50 Dragonite in an event, but remember that this variant doesn’t have any other nature apart from Mild. The real pickle is Dragonite’s experience growth rate. For your information, Dragonite’s level up rate is slower than an average Pokémon, so it takes a lot of experience to get to higher levels, making it an impractical choice for in-game teams.
Dragonite also has a high move requirement to hatch a Dratini, requiring over 10,000 steps to get it. While Dragonite didn’t have many significant Egg Moves, it’s still something you may need to face, since in addition to this, you will also have to train a Dratini from scratch. Of course, there’s breeding for the right Nature and IVs, but the main reason you want to breed them is for their new move ExtremeSpeed. This is important because the only way to get a Multiscale Dragonite with ExtremeSpeed is to breed it. Since new abilities will be chosen at random when hatched, this is something to keep in mind, because you may not have the right combination on the first try. Did I mention that if you want an Extremespeed Dratini, you have to forgo other Egg Moves that this family cannot learn naturally (like Haze)?
Dragonite is also not an easy Pokémon to obtain. So far, Dragonite is a rare find at Dragonspiral Tower, but at least Dragonair and Dratini are more common. Dratini is one of the Pokémon you can get in a Game Corner and some other places as well. This family has the same Catch Rate, but they are low enough to be a good challenge to catch. But Dragonite’s true source of greatness is ExtremeSpeed and Multiscale, so of course you want to get them instead. ExtremeSpeed is listed first, since you need it to get the combination of ExtremeSpeed and Multiscale. In order to get an ExtremeSpeed Dratini, you need to correctly answer the Dragon Master’s quiz, otherwise the Dratini you will be given will have Leer instead of the prized move. Since you can only get one-of-a-kind this way, you have to be careful of this one. In the case you didn’t get a male variant (because they are the one that pass moves), you can keep breeding until you get a male one, but in this case, better to soft reset to get a male one than to keep breeding for eggs that has a chance to hatch into one with a Nature you don’t want. As for the Multiscale variant, you need to go to the Dream World to get one. That sounds easy enough, but you need to get to Sparkling Sea and 10,000 points to get it, meaning some grinding is required. Not only that, only females can pass the new ability, so that means you need to get a female Dratini with Marvel Scale if you want to get a Dragonite with ExtremeSpeed and Multiscale! That’s a lot of work!
So these are the challenges you basically need to overcome in order to get the best Dragonite. In that case, is Dragonite balanced? Certainly. Dragonite isn’t special on its own, which can explain why it is relatively easy to get those without the aforementioned traits. However, the best traits Dragonite possess are tougher to get, so the reward to achieve this status makes is all the sweeter. I can safely say that Dragonite is a balanced Pokémon.
Verdict: Balanced (±0)
This is it for the second round of Generation 1’s great Pokémon. As I go through this, I am actually unsure on whether I should eventually go through every Pokémon, because this will be a very long trip. However, for now, you can vote for up to five Pokémon in Generation 2 that are great in competitive battling. I hope you enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have writing them.
Thanks for reading.
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