jeffthelinguist asks:

Maybe this answer exists somewhere online and I’m dumb, but… what benefit does Sudowoodo have using mimicry to appear as a tree? It seems like that is a poor choice for a rock type given it’s weak to water (which intelligent creatures will naturally pour on it).

uh

well, it

um

I suppose my first instinct is to say that, on an evolutionary timescale, creatures who see plants and immediately think to pour water on them are probably a recent enough arrival in the world that they wouldn’t have had much impact on Sudowoodo’s physiology or evolved instinctive behaviour yet.  But we don’t really know that’s true; there are Pokémon that modify and curate their environments; there are even Pokémon that tend gardens.  The Pokédex says that Sudowoodo looks like a tree to avoid predators, and that does make sense to me; I have no problem with that.  So I suppose the best answer is probably that looking like a tree does work really well for its intended purpose – well enough that it’s worth accepting the unfortunate side effect of sometimes having water poured on you.

Tapu Wooloo asks:

Would it be possible for Pokemon to retire the concept of “fainting”? Originally, Game Freak wasn’t even sure what fainting even meant–when you tried to send out a fainted Pokemon it said “there’s no will left to fight,” and in the early anime trainers simply withdrew a Pokemon when it clearly couldn’t fight anymore. So what if “[Pokemon] fainted” could be replaced with “[Pokemon] gave in” or something?

I’m not sure that it matters, particularly?  I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with changing it, but “fainted” isn’t a terrible word for what they use it to mean, and the condition itself is simple enough – the Pokémon can’t battle, full stop – that I don’t think it’s all that important to have precise language for describing it.  You could do away with the entire concept, and replace it with a range of more specific ways a Pokémon can be debilitated, each caused by particular attack types, requiring specialised forms of care and having different lingering effects after the Pokémon is healed.  I think you could build an interesting system out of that, although it wouldn’t be a very good fit with Pokémon’s general direction over the last several generations; it’s more of a “darker and grittier” mechanic.  If it’s just changing the name to slightly better reflect what we already imagine is happening, I could happily go either way.

Patchface asks:

Who would win in a fight to the death, all the Gen 5 Pokemon you allowed to live, or all the Gen 5 Pokemon you condemned to die?

Well, in general one of the criteria I used for letting them live or die was whether they were actually any good, so… well, the ones who lived get most of the legendaries, all three starters, Hydreigon, Excadrill and Volcarona… and the ones who died get, like… fµ¢£in’… Watchog and Emolga and $#!t.  I mean, it’s not all bad, they get Bisharp, and Bisharp is legitimately a lot better now than it was in generation V, but still… I dunno if I see it working for them.

Leo M.R. asks:

I watched a Pokémon video on YouTube where the guy pointed out that, for all the hype Mega Evolutions got prior to the release of XY, you actually only ever fight three Mega Evolutions throughout the course of the main story: Korrina’s Mega Lucario, Lysandre’s Mega Gyarados, and Diantha’s Mega Gardevoir. He argued that 1) the first one doesn’t even count because it was just a Mega Lucario battle, and 2) this is a big reason why XY felt too easy, especially since you can Mega Evolve after the third Gym. He suggested that, since you fight Lysandre before the final Gym, Wulfric and the Elite Four should all have been given Mega Evolutions, something the anime actually does (sans Drasna). It’s an excellent point and I… don’t know why Game Freak didn’t do this in the first place, now that I think about it. The final rival battle at Victory Road should probably also have given them their eventual Mega Absol, if Wulfric should have a Mega. What do you think?

…huh

Y’know, I never really thought about that – when I played X for the first time, I never used Mega Evolution unless my opponent did as well, because it seemed “unfair,” so I guess I just wasn’t thinking about it very hard.  But yeah, considering that Mega Evolution is generation VI’s flagship mechanic, it’s… not actually in there very much.  Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are kinda light on it as well, at least in the main story; there’s… what, Archie/Maxie, Wally and Steven?  But then there are a lot more in the postgame: May/Brendan, Matt/Courtney, Zinnia and all of the Hoenn Elite Four.  X and Y don’t really have that.  This seems doubly weird considering how much work must have gone into designing the Mega Evolutions.  Wouldn’t you want to show them off?  I can see a perspective where finding all the Mega Evolutions is mainly meant as an end-game side-quest for the player, a little challenge for the 100%-completionists, but a) the Pokédex already provides plenty of that, and b) it would make a lot more sense if Pokémon had, like, Final Fantasy-style “bonus bosses” where you really needed the right Mega Evolution to win.

Continue reading “Leo M.R. asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXII: Come into Our Parlour

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

How do you deal with the poachers?
– Use your Bug Pokémon to create snares and set up an ambush.

If you get into a fight, which Pokémon will you use?
– Scallion, the Bulbasaur
– Nancy the Negator, the Minun

[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Nancy can cheer for our other Pokémon from the sidelines, so let’s have Scallion take point.]

You think about the problem for a minute.  Yeah, all things considered, Dane has a point; the five of you with all your Pokémon probably could take these clowns with a good battle plan, even if they do turn out to be a bit stronger than you individually.  But why risk it?  You all have Bug Pokémon that can spin silk (except maybe Ellis?  You glance at him questioningly and he confirms that, yes, his Beedrill is still young enough to remember String Shot) – you can use them to create nets and webs, string them up between the trees, then lure the poachers into a trap.  With any luck, you won’t even have to fight.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXII: Come into Our Parlour”

Regional Variant Pokémon: Galarian Meowth and Farfetch’d

Let’s do some more Galarian forms!  Today I want to look at the two “warrior” regional variant Pokémon of Galar: Galarian Meowth and Farfetch’d, and their evolved forms Perrserker and Sirfetch’d.  Like many of the Alolan forms we’ve already talked about, these forms are to some extent less about “adaptation” and more about regional culture, history and folklore.  Let’s get into how they use those things…

Meowth and Perrserker

Galarian Meowth

This is Meowth’s second regional alternate form, and where Alolan Meowth is refined, elegant, royal, accustomed to luxuries, Galarian Meowth is… not that.  It and its evolved form, Perrserker, are shaggy and wild with prominent teeth, claws and horns.  Kantonian and Alolan Meowth and Persian are associated with gold, coins, gems, wealth and good fortune in finance, because of their links to Japan’s lucky “beckoning cat” figurines, or maneki-neko.  Galarian Meowth and Perserker are Steel-types, and their coins aren’t gold, but black iron – transformed by “living with a savage, seafaring people.”  A savage, seafaring people, in a region based on England, can only be a reference to the Vikings – the Scandinavian raiders who plagued the coast of Great Britain throughout the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, and even ruled most of northern and eastern England for a while under a regime known as the Danelaw.  They’re particularly famed for their elite warriors known as berserkers (hence Perr-serker) – literally “bear-shirts,” perhaps because they wore bearskins into battle.  It’s a little unclear exactly what these guys’ deal was; they may have had something to do with some ancient Germanic animal cult and channelled animal spirits in battle to fight more effectively, and also they may have used some kind of psychoactive mushroom or herb to “enhance” their abilities.  Animalistic and more than a little crazy, is the general vibe.

Continue reading “Regional Variant Pokémon: Galarian Meowth and Farfetch’d”

Osprey asks:

The most important Pokemon move, in terms of its centralizing impact on the competitive metagame (at least in singles), is probably Stealth Rock. Having a Stealth Rock setter on your team is essentially mandatory in serious competitive singles play, and Pokemon like Volcarona and Charizard are singlehandedly dropped several tiers of competitive viability by their 4x weakness to Stealth Rock.

On the one hand, it does seem useful to have some way to check endless switching. But on the other hand, this one single move being Rock type has a really unfortunate impact on the competitive metagame for those of us who favor types that happen to be weak to Rock. The changes to Defog in Gen VI seem to have been intended at least partly as a SR nerf, so Game Freak seems at least somewhat inclined to agree, but several generations later, the impact of Stealth Rock is still enormous.

In your view, is this something that needs fixing? If so, how would you fix it? Remove type advantage/disadvantage from Stealth Rock damage? Add other mutually-exclusive entry hazards of other types (“Stealth Ice???”), forcing teams to decide which they’ll run in a way similar to Terrain? Other ideas?

So, mutually exclusive entry hazards of different types have been my go-to solution for this in the past, but I think there’s several things you could do – some of which Game Freak has done.  You mentioned Defog, which I kind of like, since it’s a much more widely available counter to entry hazards, but comes at a cost that Rapid Spin doesn’t have (clearing your own hazards as well), and there’s also the new Heavy-Duty Boots item in Sword and Shield that just makes a Pokémon straight-up immune.  Those are both a little blunt for my liking, though; they hit all entry hazards, when we really just want to hit Stealth Rock.  I remember Smogon’s very first Create-A-Pokémon, Syclant, was a Bug/Ice-type with an ability that made it immune to Rock-type damage on the turn it switched in, which is an interesting response, but more a cool toy for that Pokémon in particular than a real nerf to Stealth Rock.  You could just reduce Stealth Rock’s damage directly, but honestly its neutral damage output is probably fine; you could take away its ability to do more or less damage based on the target’s weakness or resistance to Rock, but that’s the most interesting thing about the move.  That’s why I like the idea of having several competing options for that slot, with different type properties; it actually introduces an additional interesting decision (which one is most helpful for your team composition?), while also reducing the victimisation of Pokémon who are weak to Rock attacks in particular.  On the other hand, it’s clunky – why are these moves mutually exclusive, when Spikes and Toxic Spikes aren’t?  And what’s the best way of communicating that to a new player?  My latest idea is to have Stealth Rock actually wear out over time; it can do a total of eight (or twelve, or some other number) “ticks” of damage, each of which is equal to 1/8 of the target’s health (Stealth Rock’s standard neutral damage).  Pokémon with a Rock weakness still take a lot more damage, but they also wear the rocks out faster, which turns an unfair-feeling punishment into an additional strategic calculation.  It’s another thing players then have to keep track of during battles, but you could probably add a counter or something to the battle UI (which has already been picking up some useful extra functions over the last few generations).

AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

Pokedex entries are psuedo-scientific at best but locomotion is a sorely abused biological concept in a lot of Pokémon designs. Other than Garchomp flying around at “jet plane” speeds*, what are some the most egregious examples in your opinion? For me, the two other worst offenders are A) Escavalier, which somehow “fl[ies] around at high speed” – I like to pretend it actually hovers on rapidly flapping insect wings, too fast for human eyes to see – and B) the Diving Pokémon Lugia – I cannot explain how a benthic organism can use those same large flippers to break the surface and move its body through the air using anything other than “psychic force propulsion”.

*in my mind, Garchomp has a modified swim bladder that has evolved allowing it to float in the lighter-than-water fluid that is air, but I still can’t imagine how Garchomp achieves lift to propel itself through the air.

Escavalier always really bothered me too, just because of how slow the damn thing actually is in the game; you see the same kind of thing with Donphan, Vikavolt, probably some others (EDIT: however, see here on what “speed” and other stats actually mean).  Honestly, I don’t even care that it doesn’t have wings, because I can totally imagine it just, like, levitating on magnetism or something – although of course the bastard thing doesn’t learn Magnet Rise either.  Speaking of Magnet Rise, though, Jim the Editor found a fantastic one, which is that Electrode can apparently become so bloated with electricity that it floats and drifts along on the wind.

All that said, though, off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that tops Garchomp being able to fly – and I will note here that it can’t actually learn Fly, which would have been a very easy move to give it in a practical sense, and not a serious game balance threat.  That’s actually what bugs me here, the lack of consistency, that Garchomp in the game doesn’t do anything that makes it seem like it should be able to fly.  ‘cause, like… the physics of flight clearly don’t work for a whole lot of Pokémon; I don’t really believe Charizard could fly with wings that size, and Dragonite sure as hell couldn’t.  But Charizard’s clearly a traditional European dragon, and they’re supposed to fly whether the physics works or not, and Dragonite’s all mystical and sacred and stuff.  Likewise, I’m not bothered by just about anything Lugia does because Lugia clearly is extremely magic.  There’s realism, and there’s verisimilitude, y’know?