Digidestined asks:

We all know that if you were in pokemon, you would be a grass and psychic trainer with an ace Vileplume, but what would be your digimon partner if you were a digidestined? Keep in mind even neglectful or neutral tamers have bonds on par with ash and Pikachu, so add in the digimon’s personality to compliment your own if you can.

so… I know this is a bit of a cop-out, but there is a Digimon that is a literal kiwi, and it’s in a line of plant-type Digimon, and I always thought as a kid “yes, that one.”  I dunno if any of those Digimon have ever had enough screentime to have an established personality.  In the games Kiwimon is usually the champion-level form of Floramon (Digimon evolution is a lot less fixed than Pokémon evolution and most Digimon have multiple documented paths across various games – I think Kiwimon’s ultimate form can be either Blossommon or Deramon, both of which I like), but from what I can remember, when both of those Digimon appear in the anime they’re two different individuals and have radically different personalities. Floramon is kinda ditzy and fun-loving, whereas Kiwimon is very taciturn and stoic. So honestly I think there is room to just say that individual Digimon of the same species can have totally different personalities, and mine would be something that drives me up the wall in exactly the right way to make me improve myself somehow.

a people asks:

Do you think the people of the pokemon universe consider Yveltal and other destructive pokemon evil? Affection for legendary pokemon works the same way it does for others, should we have to earn their trust in a different way? And they still do things like play minigames with you and make cute faces when you pet them. Why?

I don’t get the impression they do.  They might be scared of certain Pokémon that have dangerous powers or that humans don’t know much about, but I’m trying my hardest to think of anyone who says a Pokémon is “evil” and I’m really not coming up with much (not counting phenomena like the Shadow Pokémon from Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Go, who have been transformed by an external force and can be “purified” to return them to their peaceful natural state).  Individual Pokémon can certainly be evil, like the Malamar from the X and Y anime or Meowth from Team Rocket (maybe Meowth is debateable as he has several redeeming qualities, but he certainly self-identifies as “evil”), but species of Pokémon aren’t inherently evil.   When Yveltal appears in the games, it’s a pawn of Lysandre, and in the Diancie movie, it’s treated as extremely dangerous but not really malevolent, more like a living natural disaster than a villain.  Tyranitar and Hydreigon are much the same, destructive forces of nature more than evil beings.  Mewtwo is, I think, intended to be more complex than just outright “evil”; Necrozma is destructive because it’s diminished and broken; most Dark Pokémon that are mischievous or violent are treated as being dangerous in an animalistic way.

The only ones I can come up with, the only Pokémon that I think are ever implied to be by nature actively and deliberately malicious, are a few of the Ghost Pokémon that literally represent “evil spirits” – Banette and Spiritomb and the like.  And even then, the inspirations behind Spiritomb’s design imply the possibility of redemption: the 108 demons of Water Margin become heroes; the 108 temptations that lie between mortals and Nirvana can be overcome.  For Spiritomb, the same has to be possible.  We’re told by the Ultra Moon Pokédex that Banette’s curse can be broken by treating it with kindness.  And I suspect that this should be the default assumption – that even when Pokémon are violent or destructive or malevolent in nature, there is a way in.  And that way in commonly involves macarons, doughnuts and/or curry.

I think fundamentally, Pokémon are animals, and Pokémon the series takes the view that humans have a responsibility to be the enlightened stewards of the natural world.  We’re supposed to show them the difference between right and wrong (or, in some cases, accept that they are beyond our understanding of right and wrong).  What we’re not in a position to do – what I don’t believe the series ever endorses us in doing – is judge them.

Except for Drapion; Drapion’s a piece of $#!t

Anon asks:

If you were transported to the pokemon world but as a pokemon, which one would you be (barring legendaries and mythicals) also, keep in mind, this isn’t about which one is your favorite, it is about which one has the best chance for survival based in different criteria.

For survival?

Well, that’s easy.  Carbink.

I mean, yeah, you’re rubbish at fighting, truly bottom-tier ludicrously bad.  On the other hand, you basically don’t age, you’re composed primarily of diamonds and, consequently, you’re thoroughly inedible, impervious to most environmental hazards and, for all intents and purposes, indestructible.  There are Carbink out there that are almost a billion years old – not the species, but individual CarbinkIn Kalos, mind you, which means they’ve slept through Yveltal’s tantrums before.  Time itself can’t kill these little fµ¢£wits, and it has tried.

Leo M.R. asks:

I think the execution of Solar Power is bizarre. It’s understandably given to various Pokémon who are supposed to draw power from the sun (e.g. Sunflora or Heliolisk) but the HP loss means that these Pokémon would actually be *harmed* from being in intense sunlight. Sure, they get that Sp. Atk boost but is it worth the drawback? The current mechanics of Solar Power would actually incentivize them to not be in the sun, unless they’re feeling particularly suicidal and want to go out in a solar blaze of glory. I wonder two things:

1) Must there even *be* a drawback to Solar Power? Other weather-dependent Abilities don’t have drawbacks (compare Chlorophyll, which just freely doubles your Speed); I feel like Solar Power giving Pokémon a free Sp. Atk boost wouldn’t break the game; 2) If there *must* be a drawback, why not have it so that it increases your Sp. Atk in sunlight but decreases it in rain/any other weather condition? Making a Solar Power Pokémon wholly dependent on the weather – their own preferred weather – makes more sense to me than the current ‘they lose an eighth of their health every turn even though it’s their preferred weather’ thing.

I dunno if I’m with you on this.  There’s not no precedent to the way Solar Power works – it’s unlike the other weather abilities, sure, but its drawback is pretty similar to the way a Life Orb functions.  You get more power, you lose health every turn.  Solar Power seems worse: it takes more of your HP (1/8 per turn rather than 1/10), only benefits special attacks and doesn’t work without the weather support, but its bonus is larger (50% rather than 30%).  I think the trade-off is more interesting than a pure buff, although there’s certainly an argument that Solar Power isn’t strong enough to make up for the damage it does to you.  I would also suggest that thematically it makes sense for the Pokémon that get it; Charizard is all about burning up in a blaze of glory and Mega Houndoom has a certain self-destructive cast to it, while for Grass Pokémon like Sunflora and Tropius, their weakness to Fire attacks has always made fighting under the sun a bit of a double-edged sword.  Actually, it really reminds me of the energy-burning effects that Charizard and other Fire Pokémon tend to have in the TCG, where you have ridiculous power on tap, but you have to win quickly and efficiently because you’re destroying so much of your own resources. It’s like the sheer CELESTIAL POWER of the BLAZING SUN is too great for your mortal body to contain and it will BURN YOU FROM THE INSIDE if you try to channel it for too long.

Chlorophyll and Solar Power aren’t really comparable, in my opinion, because speed works differently to all the other stats; once you’re 1 point faster than the competition, you already have everything you’re going to get out of extra speed.  Extra special attack only stops being useful when you’re already powerful enough to one-shot everything that matters, which is a much higher threshold.  The other consideration is that most Pokémon with Chlorophyll are pretty slow to begin with (the major exceptions being Jumpluff, who can’t actually do anything, and Whimsicott, who gets more out of Prankster anyway); the ability bumps them up to merely “acceptable.”  Apart from Tropius, all the Pokémon that get Solar Power have quite high special attack stats already.  They still aren’t very good, but it’s not specifically a lack of power that lets them down, so I’m not convinced that buffs to Solar Power would change their fortunes.  Sunflora and Tropius are bad because they’re slow and have garbage movepools; Heliolisk’s problems are that it’s ludicrously fragile and it can’t figure out which weather condition it wants to synergise with; Charizard historically has mostly been fµ¢£ed over by its double weakness to Stealth Rock, but hey, at least we have Heavy Duty Boots now.  Dynamax that $#!t, you can really easily set up your own weather support with Max Flare and go to town.

I’m also… honestly not even sure Solar Power is a bad ability? Like, a 50% buff to special attack, on top of any bonuses your moves already get from bright sunlight, really is quite a lot! It’s a bigger bonus than Sand Force, which is the only other ability that gives you extra damage from weather. I think the only reason we don’t see more of it is because most of the Pokémon that get it are so terrible. I mean… Sunflora? I’m not even sure Wonder Guard would make Sunflora good. Tropius is less awful but still pretty ineffectual; Heliolisk has pretty nice stats for a weather-based sweeper but also has basically no Fire attacks and is better under rain with Dry Skin (despite being a Pokémon with a solar energy theme and the Greek word for “sun” in its name). The only Pokémon you’d ever really expect to see succeeding with Solar Power is Charizard, and that genuinely kinda works, even with Charizard’s iffy special movepool and the Stealth Rock weakness that makes it nearly impossible to take a Life Orb (or really any item other than Heavy Duty Boots).

what was the question?

yeah, no, I think Solar Power is actually fine

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIX: Down the Rabbit Hole

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Where do you want to go?
– Follow Jane’s lead

What about Miguel?
– Persuade him to join you

There’s really no question here – even after hearing the transmissions he picked up, you’re not convinced that Miguel’s rambling about “the Enemy” represent an urgent threat.  It’s just a bunch of code words and static; you have no reason to think it’s connected to the mysteries you’re here to investigate.  Jane… well, you don’t know what she’s found, but she clearly thinks it’s worth investigating, and as a Pokémon trainer you feel like you have to trust your Pokémon’s instincts.  Besides, the palaeontologists probably have Blue and Squirtle with them.  They can handle anything that comes up, right?

…you promise yourself you’ll be quick.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIX: Down the Rabbit Hole”

Osprey asks:

What are your opinions on the current state of the monarchy? (Of the Commonwealth, I mean. Although, feel free to share your opinions about the Galarian monarchy as well…)

uh

to be honest I don’t really give a $#!t one way or another, and I especially don’t give a shit about Henry and Maggie or whatever their names are

Like, theoretically the Queen of England is my head of state here in New Zealand, but her power is even more vestigial and ceremonial than it is in the UK; nothing she decides actually affects anything.  I reckon when Lizzie 2 eventually kicks the bucket (which feels right now like it could happen pretty soon, given the recent death of Phil the Greek, but bear in mind that her mum lived to 101; I think Lizzie might just never die), the existential horror of King Charlie 3 will probably jolt people out of complacency a bit, but actually doing anything about it constitutionally just seems like so much of a hassle.  I mean, we’d have to change the curtains, and take down a bunch of plaques, and figure out what the hell the Governor General actually does so we can make someone else do it, and who has time for that $#!t?  At the very least, I think people probably won’t be terribly keen to put Charlie 3 on our coins and $20 note in Lizzie’s place, so I think that practice will most likely end with her death.  Something that possibly isn’t immediately apparent to non-Commonwealth people is that, even though the British monarchy basically does nothing, Lizzie is kind of a cultural landmark in her permanence and omnipresence.  We’ve technically had the same head of state since my grandparents (three of whom are now dead) were teenagers.  I think people are a lot more attached to her personally than to the monarchy as a concept now.  There’s this old joke about Oprah being the “queen of America” but I think it’s actually kind of a useful way of thinking about it: imagine if Oprah died, but she had a dramatically less charismatic son who’d once been recorded in a phone conversation daydreaming about what it would be like to live as his girlfriend’s tampon, and everyone in the United States was supposed to just treat him as “the new Oprah” and let him run the talk show and the book club, et cetera, et cetera, and everyone had to pretend he was just as good.  Even if you don’t give a $#!t about Oprah, something about that situation might seem a little off to you.

In some ways it would make a lot of sense to declare New Zealand a Republic with no constitutional ties to the UK; the trouble I have with that – and this is sort of specific to New Zealand – is that quite a few of our big political issues still hang off the Treaty of Waitangi, which is an agreement between the native Māori tribes and the British Crown, and… look, it’s a long story that probably isn’t worth getting into here.  The point is that I suspect there are a lot of people in this country who would like to use a clean-slate Republic of New Zealand to declare that the new government no longer has to honour any of the Crown’s previous commitments and obligations to our indigenous population under the Treaty, and I don’t like that notion one bit (not that the Crown ever has honoured them, mind you, but it’s the principle of the thing).  But then again, it’s… complicated.  We do also, like, have a king, here in New Zealand; we have the Māori King, Te Wherowhero VII.  We could totally replace the impotent ceremonial colonist monarchy with an impotent ceremonial indigenous monarchy.  I’m sure that wouldn’t be controversial at all (not least because the Kīngitanga movement is a development of the colonial period, not a traditional political structure, and doesn’t represent all Māori; Ngāpuhi in particular hate the Kīngitanga).

The other thing is that people in New Zealand just… reflexively don’t like having strong opinions about anything.  We had a referendum a couple of years ago to change the flag to something without a Union Jack on it, but the main finding of that whole exercise was that no one really cares what the flag looks like and none of us can think of anything worth replacing it with.  Which, with a rather elegant cyclicality, brings me back to my original point: I don’t give a $#!t

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do for the night?
– Stay with Miguel

You decide, on balance, that the risks of descending the mountain at night, or even just sending Aura, are probably not worth the benefits of warning Ellie and Mal about your new intel – such as it is.  You’re still maybe 50/50 that Miguel is just a paranoid lunatic who’s picked up some unusual static on the radio and interpreted it as an “enemy” code, and you kind of want to keep your eye on him, just in case he is somehow responsible for the strange thefts at the camp.  Besides, you think Blue will probably be back with the palaeontologists by now.  Personally I think you’re overrating Blue’s sense of duty there, but I suppose it’s possible he’s decided to mooch off their supplies in exchange for providing some kind of half-hearted protection.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox”

The Dag asks:

Which of the 7 Ancient Wonders would you pick to see in its prime?

Oh, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, easy.  That’s the one we know the least about.  The Pyramids are still there (albeit past their glory days); we have bits of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Pharos lighthouse was still there for most of the Middle Ages and we have the foundations; we can make a lot of educated guesses about the Colossus of Rhodes and Pheidias’ chryselephantine statue of Zeus because we have so much other Greek sculpture (I think we have some artistic depictions of the statue of Zeus too?  The Byzantines hung onto it for a while after the Pagan temples at Olympia were shut down).  For the Hanging Gardens, we literally have nothing to go on but second- and third-hand written descriptions.  To be honest, we’re not even completely certain they were in Babylon – a good chunk of Babylon has been excavated and there’s no sign of them, and I don’t think they’re mentioned in any known Babylonian cuneiform texts.  I’ve seen it argued that they were actually in Nineveh (near modern Mosul), the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which was kinda like… Babylon 2.0 for a while (that could conceivably have caused our Greek sources to get a little muddled).  Or perhaps they were just the rooftop gardens of the royal palace, and the Greeks got a little carried away in describing them.

But despite everything we don’t know, I think they must have been pretty special.  Building a rooftop garden, the size of a palace, in Baghdad, full of plants that don’t naturally grow there, with pre-industrial technology, shows a damned impressive command of irrigation and water management.  And besides that, what we’re describing is basically a botanical garden, a place you can go to see exotic plants that require special care.  To my mind, that’s a special moment in the history of science as well as engineering and culture, one that shows a real interest in understanding and controlling the variety and beauty of the natural world.  The Greeks saw elaborate gardens full of exotic plants as major distinctive features of Babylonian and Persian culture, and even though they sometimes looked down on their eastern neighbours for being “soft” or “effeminate,” they couldn’t deny the beauty and grandeur of their cultural achievements (our word “paradise” comes, through Greek, from the Persian word for garden).  The inclusion of the Hanging Gardens in the traditional “seven wonders” attests to that (although, admittedly, that list is mostly just one dude’s… like, opinion, man – honestly, what gets to be a “wonder” is a pretty interesting topic in itself).

Leo M.R. asks:

In many ways I think Glacia from RSE and Flint from DP are polar opposites, pun semi-intended. Not only are their personalities the reverse of each other (Glacia is cool, elegant, and reserved; Flint is passionate, boisterous, and a little unhinged), their situations are also reversed (Glacia is an Ice-type specialist in a hot region; Flint is a Fire-type specialist in a cold region). Despite all that, they’re both penultimate Elite Four members with only two fully-evolved Pokémon of their chosen type specialties available in their respective regions (Glalie and Walrein for Glacia; Rapidash and Infernape for Flint), and yet they have the complete opposite approaches to team-building. My question is: whose approach do you think worked better? Glacia’s “Imma stock my team full of repeats if it means sticking to my type specialty!” approach or Flint’s, um, imaginative “these things are hot!” approach?

Obviously this doesn’t apply to Glacia from ORAS – where she gets to add a Froslass at least – and Flint from Platinum (and hopefully BDSP as well).

Bonus question: if Glacia from RSE were to do a Flint and fill her team with a Glalie, a Walrein, and three other non-Ice Pokémon, what do you reckon those three other Pokémon would be?

I suppose I prefer Flint in theory and Glacia in practice.  I like Pokémon teams that give a character a little bit of flexibility in responding to threats against their specialty type while still feeling thematic.  Flint’s Diamond and Pearl team is just so… all over the place.  Drifblim for hot air, Steelix for hot rock in the Earth’s mantle, Lopunny… is vaguely feminine in design and therefore “hot”?  Glacia’s team composition is boring, but her duplicate Pokémon still manage to have slightly different movesets and do slightly different jobs (as do Phoebe’s duplicate Banette and Dusclops, in the same Elite Four lineup) while contributing to a fairly coherent overall strategy (at least by the standards of generation III AI trainers).

For alternative Pokémon on Glacia’s team… well, let’s assume we have to pick Pokémon that are both among the 200 in the Ruby and Sapphire Hoenn ‘dex and able to learn at least one Ice attack.  Let’s also try not to load her up with just Water Pokémon; that’s just the easy way out of this kind of problem for Ice-type trainers.  Glacia has this vaguely Nordic look to her, she’s from another region that’s far away from Hoenn and much colder (she claims that Hoenn’s heat is good for training Ice Pokémon), her slogan is “flaming passion in icy cold” and she’s very serious, but also very elegant and poised.  Her existing team uses Hail in combination with defensive and disruptive effects like Attract, Encore, Light Screen and Body Slam paralysis to wear opponents down.  I think the Pokémon that most immediately jumps to mind as a possibility for her is Gorebyss, who signifies Hoenn’s tropical climate, is beautiful but deadly, and has access to moves like Confuse Ray and Amnesia that fit Glacia’s battle style, as well as Ice Beam.  Nothing else sticks out to me as such an obviously good fit, but I’d like to offer for consideration an Ice Beam Altaria (elegant, aloof, can paralyse with Dragonbreath) and Ice Punch Alakazam (poised and focused, can capitalise on the chip damage inflicted by Glacia’s other Pokémon; bonus points for giving it Ice Punch and Fire Punch).  Neither of those Pokémon can learn Hail, so we pretty much have to give it to Gorebyss, but I think I’m okay with that.  It’s just a shame Castform is so terrible or we could use that as an extra pseudo-Ice-type – then again, Phoebe does have a Sableye (in the pre-Mega Evolution days, mind you) so this Elite Four wasn’t above scraping the barrel a little.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting https://www.patreon.com/pokemaniacal and signing up!]

whatever asks:

How tf is phione a legendary but not Volcarona, Rotom or Spiritomb????

Well, there is no real definition of what a legendary Pokémon is, other than “the ones we say are legendary Pokémon.”  It seems to me like the distinction has two parts.  There’s a real-world reason, related to how you, the player, go about obtaining the Pokémon practically, and there’s an in-universe reason, roughly related to how well-known the Pokémon is.

Continue reading “whatever asks:”