Regular Bidoof asks:

What are some of your favorite underrated/overlooked pokemon?

Well, I suppose it depends on what we mean by underrated or overlooked… some Pokémon are “overlooked” in that they’ve never been competitively viable, but nonetheless have a sort of cult following, like Dunsparce, whom your mega-evolved counterpart asked about recently, and if allowed, Dunsparce would definitely go on my list.  Pokémon that are genuinely overlooked in that they have no fans whatsoever, I mostly kind of think deserve it, like Qwilfish.  For some reason I’m very fond of Delibird, who is legitimately terrible, but I don’t know whether there’s a fan following for Delibird.  Carbink may not qualify as overlooked because of its link to Diancie, but I do have a weird soft spot for Carbink because I have a pet theory that it’s the oldest of all Pokémon (I reject Mew’s claim on the position, in what I realise is a conflict with established lore).  Druddigon is, frankly, my spirit Pokémon, because I too aspire to live in a dark cave and hate everybody, and Druddigon has definitely never had the competitive spotlight and I don’t think has ever been especially popular, so I think “overlooked” is justifiable here.  And lastly, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume, who… isn’t really overlooked or underrated, I don’t think, but has never been, like, top-tier super popular either.

Tony the Tiger asks:

You like old stuff, right? What are your thoughts on fossil pokemon?

In general archaeologists take pains to point out that we do not study fossils (it’s a surprisingly common mistake).  Not all “old stuff” is similarly old (unless you listen to certain ill-advised religious sects); I deal in the hundreds/thousands of years range, not millions/tens of millions.  Fossils are about as much my professional area of expertise as the moons of Jupiter are an airline pilot’s.

…as it happens, though, I am independently a layman dinosaur nerd with a basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, and I was a sufficiently weird kid that, when I started school, I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a palaeontologist.  So LET’S TALK FOSSILS.

Continue reading “Tony the Tiger asks:”

Anonymous asks:

You know what, there’s kind of a missed opportunity with Diancie. Think about it, Diancie is, canonically, a mutated Carbink, yet Carbink is not related to how it’s obtained at all. I mean, how hard would it have been to have an event-distributed item that somehow evolves Carbink into Diancie? We have a Mythical Pokemon that hatches from an egg for pete’s sake, why not have a Mythological Pokemon that evolves from a regular Pokemon?

I can’t speak for Game Freak’s decision-making process, but that direction is obvious enough and uncomplicated enough that I am inclined to think they probably have some reason for not taking it – most likely because Diancie is portrayed (e.g. in the movie in which she stars) as a special Carbink, with powers to which other Carbink cannot aspire.  You might liken it to the rarity of a perfect natural diamond – you can cut and polish diamonds to make them nicer, but ultimately there are some flaws and inclusions that will be impossible to remove, and Diancie needs to be a perfect diamond.

Anonymous asks:

Do you think pokemon are carbon based life forms? I’m aware that it’s a make believe world with screwy physics but I just want to prentend we can apply some sort of logic to the world.

…yeeeeees?  I mean, most of them?  Like, there are a lot of them where that seems like a sensible assumption, but then there are also ones like Geodude that should perhaps be silicon-based, or ones like Bronzor that ought to be metallic, and then there’s Carbink who is carbon-based but in a very different way to what we’re used to.  I’ve given up on thinking that “Pokémon” is a biological category that implies common ancestry, so I’m okay with some of them being carbon-based and others not.

Carbink and Diancie

Carbink.

I’ve decided to do Carbink and Diancie together because, although not actually related by evolution in the normal sense, they are apparently part of the same species: according to the Pokédex, Diancie actually develop from Carbink who possess an incredibly rare mutation.  This mutation is impossible to predict or influence, so there’s no way to evolve a Carbink or breed a Diancie in the game, but take Game Freak’s word for it, that’s where Diancie comes from.  For this reason – and also because there’s, uh… actually a whole lot I don’t know about Diancie – today we’re going to cover both of them, and the relationship between them, which is sort of interesting in itself.  Here we go!

Carbink are incredibly ancient Pokémon.  Like Roggenrola, they are born and grow deep inside the earth, belonging to an ecosystem that is utterly alien to the humans and Pokémon of the surface world.  Like the diamonds (which, of course, are made of carbon) that dominate their bodies, Carbink are formed in conditions of extreme heat and pressure; they’re genderless, so presumably they don’t breed, but just grow spontaneously from diamond ore somehow.  Some Carbink have supposedly spent hundreds of millions of years in hibernation, awoken only by human mining activity – meaning that some individual Carbink are older than entire species of fossil Pokémon like Rampardos and Tyrantrum, and that their own species has remained almost entirely unchanged this whole time.  I once made the suggestion that maybe the reason all fossil Pokémon are Rock-types is because Pokémon originally evolved from rocks, and at the time I was being entirely tongue-in-cheek, but every now and then I do notice something that makes me think “oh, gods above, what if I was actually right?”  The realisation that possibly the oldest surviving species in the known world is basically a sentient diamond definitely makes today one of those times (it bears mentioning, though, that if any Pokémon were going to survive that long, of course it would be a Rock-type).  It’s entirely possible – if speculative – that Carbink are the original (non-legendary) Pokémon.  Most natural diamonds in the real world are over a billion years old, and a similar age for some Carbink doesn’t seem out of the question.  The other Pokémon you might suspect of being similarly ancient, Pokémon like Geodude and Roggenrola, are gendered; they reproduce – or at least, they can reproduce – by normal breeding, if anything about Pokémon breeding can be called ‘normal,’ so I’d presume their species are the end results of long-term evolutionary developments, in a way that Carbink apparently isn’t.  Forget Mew (my thoughts on her can be found elsewhere), here’s your ancestor Pokémon, or something like it, anyway: unimaginably ancient, with an extremely simple body structure, barely organic, born spontaneously from abiotic physical processes, and apparently incapable of ageing.

You know, I’m sort of used to regarding Rock as one of the more mundane elements, but when you stop to think about them, Rock Pokémon are weird.

 Diancie.

I remember being sure, when I first met Carbink on X, “this thing isn’t done evolving,” and being quite surprised when I realised that there was no empty space for an evolution in my Pokédex.  I now feel rather vindicated by the fact that, although Carbink don’t really evolve, as such, they do transform occasionally into a much more powerful Pokémon: Diancie, a pink diamond Pokémon with incredible powers.  Diancie can create diamonds at will by extracting carbon from the carbon dioxide in the air and condensing it – interesting, given the stuff I was just saying about Carbink, since this is basically a brute-force method of carbon fixation; Diancie does with raw magical power what plants and Grass Pokémon do by the more elegant and sophisticated biochemistry of photosynthesis.  That’s another point that I can semi-reasonably twist towards my interpretation of Carbink and Diancie as extremely basic ancestral forms of life.  Diancie features prominently in the movie Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, which was released in Japan earlier this year but has yet to make an appearance in English, as well as in a little anime short released ahead of the movie to introduce her character, entitled Diancie, Princess of the Ore Country.  I’ve only seen a little teaser from the movie, but from what I can gather, the gist of it is as follows.  Diancie is a kind and fun-loving, if somewhat capricious, Pokémon who is doted on by a community of Carbink, who call her their “princess” (Diancie and the Carbink can all speak telepathically) and believe that she has an important destiny.  Their home is protected by the magic of a huge pink diamond, which is nearing the end of its ‘life,’ and apparently Diancie is supposed to create a new one for them, but she, despite her best efforts, just can’t do it.  At his wits’ end, the eldest Carbink sends her on a quest to find Xerneas, who had once saved him and countless other Pokémon from a terrible, probably Yveltal-related destruction when he was young.  Presumably we can count on Ash to pull some kind of super friendship bull$#!t to help Diancie realise that the magic was inside her all along or whatever.  What we see here, then, is that Diancie are special Carbink who are revered for their extraordinary powers, and are believed to be destined to help and protect their communities.  As such, they are treated as royalty and waited on hand and foot – and not without good reason.  With her power to create diamonds, literally from thin air, Diancie could easily have some important role in creating new Carbink, ensuring the long-term survival of the community like the queen of an ant colony or a beehive.

In terms of its stats, Carbink has a similar shape to Shuckle, though not quite as extreme: all defence, all the time.  Its poor HP means that it can’t really make the best possible use of its titanic defence and special defence stats, but with appropriate training it can be pretty damn solid, and Rock/Fairy is a decent defensive combination too, netting it useful resistances to Dark, Fire and Flying attacks, as well as Dragon immunity.  The difficulty with Carbink is that it can’t do anything to hurt its opponents – not just through direct damage, but through… well, anything, really.  Other than Toxic, it doesn’t have any particularly interesting moves that weaken, restrict or disable.  Granted, Carbink’s not the worstPokémon ever to use Toxic, but Toxic-stalling itself simply isn’t a very effective way of killing things at the best of times.  For team support, you can use Reflect, Light Screen, Stealth Rock and Trick Room, all of which are available to plenty of Pokémon who are also actually good at other things.  You can try a Calm Mind set with Moonblast, Power Gem (which X and Y powered up into near-relevance) and Psychic.  I don’t really know why you would try that.  Carbink’s special attack is so abysmal that it takes one Calm Mind just to catch up with the likes of Aromatisse and Aurorus, who are not all that spectacular themselves, and it will still be horribly slow unless you want to tempt fate by using Rock Polish as well.  But you can.  You can also try ditching Power Gem and Psychic for Rest and Sleep Talk, which are Carbink’s only option for healing.  Rest + Sleep Talk + boosting technique + attack is a perfectly legitimate thing to do; it has been since at least generation III and possibly even II.  I don’t think I would go so far as to say that Carbink is good at it, but it’s marginally less bad than it is at most other things.  Carbink has two abilities, Clear Body (immunity to stat reduction) and Sturdy (immunity to being one-shot), and I think probably the one to go with is Clear Body, because one of Carbink’s few virtues is that only the strongest of super-effective attacks are likely to one-shot the damn thing anyway.

Diancie is another story entirely.

 Diancie's mega form.

When you look at how Carbink handles in battle, it seems a lot like it’s really just supposed to be an accessory to Diancie.  She has the same HP, defence, special defence and speed stats, but much better attack and special attack, allowing her to actually fight back against her enemies.  Diancie is a bit odd – she looks like she’s supposed to be a special attacker, and her main Fairy attack, Moonblast, is special, but her offensive stats are actually balanced, and her signature move, Diamond Storm, is physical.  She also doesn’t get Power Gem, which is doubly weird because (apart from the addition of Diamond Storm), her level-up list is otherwise identical to Carbink’s.  She just swaps Power Gem for Trick Room, which seems like a questionable choice, flavour-wise, for a gem Pokémon, but I suppose Diancie herself is slow enough to benefit from it, and tough enough to work as a supporter.  Anyway.  Anything Carbink can do, Diancie can do better.  Her main niche seems to be as a sort of mixed physical/special tank thing; she still doesn’t have any way to heal herself aside from Rest, which is unfortunate.  Diamond Storm is a big selling point for her, though – aside from being an awesome name for an attack, it’s a Rock-type move just as powerful as Stone Edge but much more accurate, and can raise her defence when she uses it.  What’s not to like?  As legendary Pokémon go, Diancie actually isn’t that great – she just inherits too much of Carbink’s terribleness, including awful speed and a fairly limited movepool.  However, she is also set to get a mega evolution with the release of Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, which will flip her around completely; Mega Diancie has weaker defences, but is also much faster and more powerful, and gets the ridiculously awesome Magic Bounce ability, which reflects status attacks back on their user.  I am also given to understand that she will receive Earth Power in those games, probably from a move tutor, and I’m not sure how we know that – I think by ripping into the coding of the demo that was released earlier this week – but the internet has spoken.  In any case, her movepool could certainly use the upgrade.  With the kind of power Mega Diancie would wield – in combination with the fact that she can act as a very different sort of Pokémon with more defence-focused abilities until the moment you choose to mega evolve her – I can easily see her keeping up with the rest of the mega-evolved crowd.

The fact that gems and crystals apparently fall under the Rock element has been apparent since Power Gem was introduced as the only special Rock attack in Diamond and Pearl, but the closest thing to a crystal Pokémon we’ve had so far is Gigalith, whose crystal formations promise much and achieve little (they’re supposed to be used for powerful solar energy attacks, which is something Gigalith is extremely bad at).  It really is about time we had Pokémon like Carbink and Diancie.  I’m a little disappointed that Carbink is so bad – it kinda gets screwed over in the same way as Phione did, although at least Carbink isn’t going to have to deal with Nintendo banning it from tournaments as though it’s some overpowered monstrosity, like they routinely do to her.  Besides, Carbink and Diancie gave me an opportunity for egregiously bizarre and groundless speculation – and isn’t that what this blog is really all about?