Toucannon asks:

You’ve often been asked abregout the type balance in the games, but I was wondering: if you’ve ever played the Pokemon TCG, do you think that the balance of the types shown there would be more akin to what a realistic balance between the types should be like? After all, each type tend to be competitive there while still retaining their uniqueness (even more so, in case like Grass or Electric), and it encourages mono-type lineups by making them easier to run, while multi-type are more versatile but harder to run.

Hmm.

So, I am on the record as thinking that seven or eight types is a better number than seventeen or eighteen, because it lets you develop each one a bit more in terms of identity and philosophy.  I don’t know if the TCG… actually does that, because it’s kind of shackled to the video games and the type system that exists there, but in principle you could do that.  Like, if you’re going to have only seven types in your base game then I don’t think two of those should be Fire and Lightning, because those each correspond with only a single video game type, one of which isn’t even very common.  But you kind of have to, because those types’ elemental powers give them very firm and narrow identities, and so you transfer them one-to-one into the TCG and wind up constricting them quite severely.  That’s why so many of the early Delta-Species Pokémon are Fire or Lightning; you needed Pokémon who could go in a mono-Fire deck but weren’t weak to Water, and previously there were almost none of those.  Meanwhile, no one knows what to do with Poison; those Pokémon used to be part of Grass, then for quite a long time they were in Psychic for some reason (because… purple?), now apparently they’re Dark?  Which kind of brings us full-circle to the beta of Gold and Silver when Umbreon was drafted as a Poison-type, and no one ever thought to get rid of the Pokédex lines about Umbreon having poisonous sweat, but that’s neither here nor there.

I suspect the Pokémon TCG would be a better game if it didn’t have to care about the video games or its own status as, essentially, merch for another series that doesn’t pay much attention to it. Put a pin in that and come back to it if I ever start writing about the TCG regularly.

I’m also not super-hyped about Pokémon having, at most, one weakness and one resistance, or about weaknesses and resistances being triggered by the Pokémon’s type and not by a move’s type.  This is partially dictated by the TCG encouraging decks with a small number of types, but that wouldn’t actually transfer to the video games unless you came up with something analogous to energy cards, which… well, you could; that might be interesting and it would provide a rationale for so many important characters being type specialists.  What would that mechanic actually be, though, and how would it be justified?

So I guess my answer is that it depends on the details of exactly what you mean and how you would apply the TCG mechanics to something that is not a card game.

Maybe I expect too much from people who submit questions to me here.

Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

Imagine Game Freak gave us a new set of starters in a future generation, but instead of the traditional Grass-Fire-Water scheme, it’s a trio of types that have zero interaction with one another; say, Dark, Poison, and Flying. I can only imagine how the fanbase would react upon the initial announcement…

…BUT, upon reaching their fully-evolved forms, they adopt secondary types that are – you guessed it – Grass, Fire, and Water to become Dark/Grass, Poison/Fire, and Flying/Water, thereby simultaneously doing something new with the starters while still adhering to the tried-and-tested formula (and yes, I did choose those three types specifically so that each starter would have a double weakness, and not to each other). Obviously Game Freak shouldn’t announce the final forms prior to the games’ release to maximize that surprise factor. What do you think? Sound like a fun idea?

Honestly I think the initial fanbase reaction would be positive, because “a new starter type trio, even if it makes no sense” tends to get brought up a lot as a fun way to shake up the formula (if anything I suspect some people would be disappointed by the eventual return to Grass/Fire/Water, but whatever; you can’t please everyone).  I’m… sceptical; like, of all the things you could do to change Pokémon’s formula, “change the types of the starters” seems like maybe the tamest.

Continue reading “Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Who would you like to go with?
– Help Stacey find a Bug Pokémon that’s rare in Kanto.

Once everything is settled, Ellis has elected to follow Dane and look for battles with wild Pokémon while doing general exploration, and you have volunteered to search out some unusual Bug Pokémon with Stacey. Rather than join either pair, Abner decides to stay at the group’s base camp so he can try his experimental evolution ideas on his own.  Sticking to the ground, you can see tell-tale signs that the vegetation has been invigorated by the presence of wild Grass Pokémon, and occasionally you spot intriguing blackened marks near the base of tree trunks that look to you like electrical burns.  If you want to find different Bug-types, though, you suspect you’ll need to get off the ground and into the treetops.  You’re not much of a climber, and Stacey is only a little better, but using Scallion’s Vine Whips and Aura’s String Shot, you’re able to create makeshift ropes and nets that help you up into the highest trees without breaking your fragile child necks.  Of course, you make an awful racket in the process, and you can tell there are Pokémon fleeing just out of your sight, but once you get used to what you’re doing, you can move from one treetop to the next with surprising ease, thanks to the interlaced branches of Viridian Forest’s dense canopy.  You suggest focusing on trees with sweet berries and listening carefully for the low-pitched hum of Bug Pokémon wings; Stacey catches on pretty quickly and leads the way.  After half an hour picking your way through the upper levels of the forest, you stumble into a tree filled with red, black-spotted beetle Pokémon, which you vaguely recognise as Ledyba.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen”

Thoughts on the recent Pokémon Direct

If you’re interested to get my thoughts and reactions on the Pokémon Direct broadcast from a couple of days ago, which announced two upcoming downloadable expansions to Sword and Shield, I just wrote something on it for PokéJungle, which you can find here: https://pokejungle.net/2020/01/11/in-depth-breakdown-of-pokemon-direct-and-what-it-revealed-about-sword-shield-dlc/. I will say that I wrote this in Denver airport, near the end of a 36-hour-long Saturday, as I was beginning to hear colours, so if I have missed something you’d like to know my opinions on, do bring it up in the comments on this post. Please also be aware, however, that I now intend to sleep for approximately seventeen days.

Chairman Rose

Chairman Rose.

Today we’re going to be looking at another pivotal character of Pokémon: Sword and Shield: Chairman Rose, the… [SPOILERS… obviously???] main antagonist of the game’s climax.  Even more so than Lusamine, Rose spends a lot of the game being obviously suspicious but never actually doing anything untoward that we can see, until suddenly he flips out and does something completely ludicrous that I am probably going to spend the entire duration of generation VIII trying to puzzle out.  Exactly what he does is swathed in some weird deep-lore $#!t that I don’t think we have the full picture of, even from our vantage point at the end of the game, and anyway I’m going to talk more about it when I cover Sonia’s storyline, and eventually when I review the relevant legendary Pokémon.  For Rose, I think it’s more important that we look at who he is and what his motivations are.

So what’s Rose’s deal?

Continue reading “Chairman Rose”

State of the Blog: 2019

sweet bird jesus christ, now what

oh, yeah, um… happy… new thing or whatever to all my readers who use the Gregorian calendar

So, we made it through 2019… seems like the world might end soon, so I’m looking forward to finding a new planet to terrorise and conquer… although frankly when I sold my soul to Dark Forces from Parts Unknown I was promised a much better return on investment than this. Still, I think it was a pretty good blog year, all things considered. We finished generation VII (…mostly… I think I actually will try to get some short pieces done on some of the major human characters I missed out – Hau, Lillie, Gladion – and I want to come back to Alolan forms when I do the Galarian ones), we saw and discussed Detective Pikachu, we started a new interactive/collaborative(?)/choose-your-own-adventure-ish story, A Pokémon Trainer Is You!, I started writing for fansite PokéJungle (and, by the way, if you don’t pay attention to my Twitter – well, first of-ly, good for you, Twitter is the path to hell, but secondwise, my latest piece there is up, looking at my favourite new Pokédex entries for pre-gen VIII Pokémon in Sword and Shield), I made this extremely ridiculous cake, we endured the hype period of the new games and even survived the games themselves, and I wrote my first big article on them – a character study of Marnie, Piers and Team Yell. The next one, on Chairman Rose, is finished and awaiting editorial approval, so it should be up later this week.

I also started a Patreon page! And people actually gave me money, which is bonkers; I mean, I’m not exactly going to become a full-time Internet Pokémon Personality any time soon, but I now get more than enough donations to cover the cost of hosting this thing on WordPress, so I’m not actively losing money out of it. Thank you, as always, to my mysterious benefactors, the patrons: Don’t Call Me Bradley, Leo M.R., James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe. If you want to support what I do (…whatever you think that is, exactly), consider joining their ranks for as little as a dollar per month. And even if you don’t, thank you for reading, commenting and submitting questions – this blog is an objectively terrible use of my time in several ways, but I kind of love that there seem to be hundreds of people all over the world who seem to enjoy it, which is honestly a bigger audience than I’m ever likely to get for anything I publish in my real-life academic career.

As for upcoming Things, let’s see… I think my next article is going to cover Hop, and hopefully be a bit shorter and less complex than what I’ve written for Team Yell and Chairman Rose (we’ll see how that turns out…). I probably need to skip this week’s episode of A Pokémon Trainer Is You, because I’m flying back to the US this weekend and… well, things are a bit hectic. It’ll be back next week, though (with the polls running on US Eastern time again). Topics of upcoming reader questions include rebalancing types to work more like the TCG, a new take on the Grass-Water-Fire starter triangle, how I would design a Pokémon gym, and how on earth Ghost Pokémon are supposed to work. For the whole year… well, I want to try to review all the Pokémon of generation VIII this year, but given how long and detailed my reviews are these days, I’d be satisfied with getting through, like, half of them; that should leave me with plenty of time to finish the lot before those BASTARDS who CONTROL MY LIFE announce generation IX.

well… here goes nothing

happy 2020, b!tches

Larry asks:

Hey, just something that’s been, pun very intended, bugging me- Paras and Parasect. We all know their deal, their horrible, horrible deal. But it’s weird, innit?

Why would a Paras let itself evolve, let its trainer do that to it? How come the Parasect *seems* to maintain all emotional bonds? (Saying that based on friendship/affection remaining.) If the Paras’ soul really gets sucked, and it’s a known fact, why isn’t it even frowned upon to evolve Paras?

This seems like one of the more trustworthy dex entries, the damp habitat thing seems realistic, Parasect’s eyes are too barren for comfort, but I can’t quite make up my mind.

This is on my mind specifically because now I’m playing soulsilver with a Paras, and I’m not sure if I can forgive myself if I evolve him. Thoughts?

(PS: I know there’s an anime episode about a girl who wants to evolve her Paras, but I couldn’t find your review, if there is one. All I know is that in the ep there doesn’t seem to be any drama OR soulsucking?)

So, Parasect is… a tricky one.  Just to get us all on the same page, here are (by my reckoning) all the relevant examples of how the Pokédex talks about Parasect and its mushrooms:

  • The mushrooms have “taken over” the host bug.
  • Staying in dark and damp places is “the preference not of the bug, but of the big mushrooms.”
  • The mushroom “extracts” nutrients from the bug until “nothing’s left.”
  • The mushroom “controls” the bug.  Notably, Ultra Moon also says this about Paras.
  • “The bug is mostly dead, with the mushroom on its back having become the main body. If the mushroom comes off, the bug stops moving.”
  • The mushroom “appears to do all the thinking.”
Continue reading “Larry asks:”