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Defensive / "Stall" play, and why it's the best

Discussion in 'Stark Mountain' started by david stone, Jun 18, 2008.

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  1. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    I've noticed a lot of people act as though anything that promotes stall is horrible, and that defensive play is automatically not fun, so I figured I would post why I prefer slower play.

    There is one primary reason for this. The earlier you are in the battle, the less information you have, both about the opponent's team and about how they play. This lack of information means that you are limited in your use of prediction and long-term thinking. Instead, you are forced to guess. Guessing wrong with an offensive team often means you lose. Stall teams have a bit more "wiggle room" for wrong guesses, meaning the game stretches out a little longer so you can maximize the portion of each play that is prediction as opposed to guessing.

    Contrary to what many believe, there is prediction involved in using a stall team. This is especially true in stall vs. offensive, at least as long as the stall team is good. If your team consists mostly of Pokemon who just sit there walling stuff without really doing anything (non-Calm Mind Cresselia, for instance), then yes, prediction isn't going to help much. However, when you are setting up Spikes, Stealth Rock, and Toxic Spikes, you need to get as many free turns as possible.

    If they have Heracross, for instance, it would be great to have it be heads-up against your full HP Skarmory. That way, Heracross couldn't safely stay in and Close Combat, giving you a turn to use Spikes without losing any HP. Moreover, when the game has lasted a little bit, you can start to get a feel for how the opponent plays, so you'll know whether he's willing to take that risk of Brave Bird and stay in and Close Combat you. This means you may switch your Skarmory into Heatran, knowing that he's already seen your Blissey and wants to bring in some sort of physical attacker to take advantage of Blissey. This kind of play will usually mean you lose Skarmory if you haven't gotten a good read on your opponent, and it's difficult (often impossible) to get a good read before you've played them for a few turns.

    In the fairly classic Hippowdon vs. Roosting Zapdos match-up, things are also interesting. You obviously want to EQ on their Roost, and Ice Fang / Slack Off otherwise. If you don't have Ice Fang, then Roar is still a good choice as long as you have Stealth Rock down. You might even want to throw in things like a switch to Blissey / Tentacruel / Spiritomb when Zapdos uses Hidden Power so that you can waste its PP. However, for something like a switch to Tentacruel vs. Zapdos to not be suicide, you have to have enough information about their play style to reliably know they aren't going to use Thunderbolt.

    In stall vs. stall, yes, prediction is minimized, but prediction is not the only form of in-battle skill (as opposed to the pre-battle skill, team building). Stall vs. stall is probably the highest form of long-term thinking. You need to think several turns ahead to be able to do any damage to them, otherwise you'll be getting worn down just as much as they are. In Skarmory vs. Skarmory, for instance, you have to decide whether it's worth it to set another layer of Spikes or Whirlwind in hopes of weakening his Tentacruel (I'm assuming both teams are my stall team here for simplicity).

    However, prediction still comes into play. The best example of prediction + long-term thinking is Tentacruel vs. Skarmory, with a Wish Pokemon on Tentacruel's team (probably Jirachi now that Blissey can't Wish). You have to decide whether it's worth it for your Skarmory to possibly lose some HP to Tentacruel's Surf to hurt it with Brave Bird. You have to predict when their Wisher is going to stay in (and not Whirlwind) and when they are going to try to switch to Tentacruel (and thus Whirlwind, unless they are weak, in which case you Brave Bird). The most interesting long-term thinking is the decision on whether to sacrifice Tentacruel to take down Skarmory, or vice-versa. This is essentially a question of which will be more harmful to your opponent in the long run: Spikes or Toxic Spikes.

    I hope these examples show that the stall game is far more nuanced than "OK, he brought in Special Attacker X, time to switch to my special wall.". But to get back to my original point, I feel that stall is what allows this situations to really come to light. Early on in the game, you simply don't have enough information about your opponent and their team to make accurate judgments on what they can do / will do. Drawing out the game a little gives a larger pool of information to maximize skill and minimize 'luck' (I consider a situation of blindly guessing what the opponent will do luck).
  2. imperfectluck

    imperfectluck
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    Another element of stall is that stall teams tend not to need rely on moves with shaky accuracy to get the job done, which provides "consistency" to winning. On the other hand, since stall teams are doing less attacking, they become more prone to getting critical hitted.
  3. Shiny Crobat

    Shiny Crobat

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    I agree stall game is more nuanced. But I still don't see why stall game is better in any way.

    "OK, he brought in Special Attacker X, time to switch to my special wall." Let's say this process repeats itself just once and the next time special attacker X is brought out, you can 1) give yourself a free turn to bring your Spikes user in, 2) bring out your Physical sweeper (or mixed sweeper), or 3) repeat the same process again.

    I do agree stall game is less simple than this, but I can't see how it's better.
  4. Aldaron

    Aldaron All da lil birdies chirpin
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    Isn't extending the game length and therefore increasing the chance for your stall Pokemon to be hit with a critical hit also increasing luck?

    You talk about how stall minimizes luck, but I think it only does so in terms of the prediction and guessing game. Increasing the game length increases the chance that your stall Pokemon will be critical hitted in that game.
  5. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    For purposes of this thread, I'm using "luck" to be everything that the player (that is to say, just "me", not both players) cannot control and cannot know.

    At the very first turn, the only information you have about that player is their lead Pokemon. You can also have aggregate statistics from previous matches with other people, but you have no knowledge of how well they correlate to this particular battler. This means the rest of their team is, to a large degree, shrouded in mystery, and thus attempting to play based on this information is inherently based on some measure of luck (you can't control their team, and you can't yet know what it is).

    As the game goes on, you gain more information both about the members of their team and about how they play. You can slowly control this (waste their PP to remove moves as options, kill Pokemon to remove those, as well as condition them to play a certain way) and slowly gain information on it, thus decreasing the element of luck present in the battle as far as prediction and long-term thinking are concerned.

    I'm not saying, therefore, that after the first turn of switching into Blissey vs. Heatran, you automatically know what's going to happen next. What I am saying is that you have more information the second time they bring out Heatran than you did the first time, and are thus more capable of making an informed decision.

    Yes, getting hit more increases the chances of a critical hit, thus increasing the effect of luck in that sense. However, consider something like a CB Tyranitar. If I can predict your Stone Edge, then it really doesn't matter whether you get two CHes in a row, Hippowdon can take it and then Slack Off. If you are Crunching, it's safe to go to Skarmory and Roost off any damage you may do. Yes, you could still possibly do something like CH + Def down repeatedly, but I find that the element of luck (structural luck, in this case) that increases due to this is generally smaller than the element of luck (player luck) that is decreased by gaining more information (and some degree of control with conditioning) that is a result of the game going on longer.
  6. Seven Deadly Sins

    Seven Deadly Sins ~hallelujah~
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    Gambler's Fallacy sucks, unfortunately. No matter how many times you flip that coin and it comes up heads, the chance for it to come up heads again is only 1/2. Likewise, the number of non-crits in a row has no bearing on the chance that the next move will be a critical hit.
  7. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    That's not what I'm saying. The chances of any given hit being a CH is still 6.25% for most moves, but the chance of at least one hit being a CH (or two hits in a row, depending on the power of the move relative to my defenses) increases.
  8. Tangerine

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    There's also the factor of being frozen, etc.

    The reason I dislike the concept of stall teams is that if I get outpredicted once, that means that I'm in serious trouble since that would mean that I have to predict a lot more to get that Pokemon in order to heal, if I even have that opportunity at all. This is pretty much the main reason I have never tried it (this is my pure theorymon approach so feel free to tell me otherwise) The main argument against stall is that "Stuff in D/P hurt things way too hard" - and I can see this being true.

    So I'm just wondering how one would deal with that case of misprediction (Lets say, Mispredicting a CBHera so now your Hippo is below 30% health)?

    At least if you put in some offense in your team, you have the option of revenge killing - it just seems hard to pull off in a pure stall team. I normally play a team that is dedicated to stalling out offense as I whittle down the defenses and eliminate certain things, and then bring out the sweepers. It seems to have the same advantages as "stall", except it seems to get the job done faster and more effectively IMO.
  9. Gemerl

    Gemerl

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    Essentially, he's saying that the longer the match goes, the more hits there are that are thrown out. Since more attacks are being used, and landing, there are more chances for a CH to occur.

    Anyways, I don't see why people hate stall teams so much. I rather like playing defensively, and the amount of turns it can buy does in fact allow you to acquire more info about the opponents team, allowing for you to make them move how you wish, so you can effectively deal with them.

    People have this strange misconception that stall teams have no sort of purpose outside of indirect damage and 'possible' annoying... and this misconception I find that people have bugs me.
  10. Calciphoce

    Calciphoce

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    I've never liked stall teams and facing them can be boring. I know that there are reasons why it is better and whatnot, but considering the main reason I play competitive OU to such a large extent is that I enjoy the pace of the game to not be that of a frozen snail. That's not to say that I have a team of 6 sweepers like Jesiah did (does?), but rather that if I were to play in such a slow paced match I might lose the very reason why I play the game in the first place.
  11. Cynthia

    Cynthia

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    Yes, many people don't seem to realize that the more hits that they take the better chance that something is going to be hit by a critical hit, which can obviusly screw up an entire team's strategy. The odds of a critical really are not that low, it's bound to happen eventually.

    I personally avoid playing stall teams because I find them dull to play and the matches take too long.
  12. astrohawke

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    I actually enjoy using a more balanced team consisting of 2-3 sweepers and 3-4 walls. This usually provides me with a defensive core with which to take hits and wear my opponents down enough for my sweepers to finish them off.

    I actually dislike both full on stall and full on offense. It's not that stall is boring, it's more that it's relatively easy to break stall because you don't have the means to come back from a misprediction or from bad luck. If you're using 6 walls, your team is slow. This means that if something goes wrong and your counter is dead, it's very easy to be swept because your pokemon are just too slow to stop it. Which is why I always like to have a fast sweeper for revenge killing. It usually prevents that free sweep for your opponent.

    On the other hand, while offensive teams offer a fast paced game, more often than not I find that there isn't as much strategy involved. A lot of the time, after I've killed something and they send in their next attacker, I find that I don't have anything that can switch into it effectively. It then usually becomes a game of I use a pokemon until it dies and move on to the next one because that's it only way it can get in safely. It's not the case with every game but a lot of them turn out like that (which is what makes them fast really: less switching around). And yes, I do try to use resistances but if stall teams can't cover every single pokemon, offensive teams cover them even less and there are always going to be pokemon you can't really switch into.

    I usually don't feel that comfortable using offensive teams because I rely on that defensive core to take hits for me in between bringing my sweepers in. Also along the lines of what Obi has said, sometimes that lack of knowledge about your opponents team really screws over offensive teams. Let's say for instance I'm using 6 pokemon that use their resistances to switch in. Say I have a toxicroak that can switch into water attacks but I've already brought it out and attacked with it. It's killed some things and then died. But that was before I realized they had a rain dance sweeper and now I've lost my only good switch in leading to the situation above of having to let 1 pokemon die to bring in another.
  13. Sixonesix

    Sixonesix
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    I dislike playing an all stall game (as I dislike playing an all-offensive game). Normally, I want to have a lead that can wreak havoc, switch to a defensive pokemon and stall until I get an opening to switch in something dangerous like Garchomp or Jirachi.
  14. Kietharr

    Kietharr

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    Stall teams only win against full offense teams or if you let them psyche you out. Stalling is a mindgame in itself because a prolonged battle can really start to get boring. When people are bored, winning and losing become less and less important while ending things quickly either way seems appealing. This causes people to make mistakes. Full offense teams lose to a well built stall team the great majority of the time. This is because offensive teams need to control the pace of battle to win, and will die to sandstorm, spikes, SR, or toxic spikes/toxic easily because they will generally lack recovery of any sort.

    There is no best tactic, there are tactics that will counter other tactics. Stall is generally a very reliable and difficult to counter tactic simply because the person on pure defense letting his ss/spikes/sr/ect whittle you down can focus wholly on survival while the offensive player must juggle survival and attempting to break a strong defense.
  15. Aeroblacktyl

    Aeroblacktyl The pizza doesn't scream in the oven! LOL!
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    Yeah right, it all depends on who it is. You can't say that a stall team will win against an offensive team or vice versa. I can't even argue this because I know I can win with either team against either team, then what can I say about that? And if you really want to get into it, now instead of playing Pokemon paper-rock-scissors, we're playing team paper-rock-scissors. Stall team beats offensive team, offensive team beats gimmick team, gimmick team beats stall team. Of course I don't believe this so whatever.
  16. TVboyCanti

    TVboyCanti

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    I love stall, it makes pokemon like Gallade and Breloom all the more useful.

    DP has been a very healthy enviroment for stall imo, DPs walls make ADVs walls look pretty tame. Bronzong, Hippowdon, Cresselia, Gliscor all have defenses and typing that would have made them invulnerable in ADV, and make them very popular in DP. The thing that decides whether you use a team of six walls is playing style. Personally, given the choice of winning 50% of my battles in 10 minutes, 75% of my battles in 30 minutes, and 100% of my battles in 2 hours, I would definitely take the middle path and not even bother with the latter.
  17. Darth Meanie

    Darth Meanie

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    I have been using an effective stall team to great affect.
    Zapdos (subroost/boltbeam)
    Spiritomb (restalk/statusabsorber/rapidspinstopper)
    Wobbuffet (takes out trouble pokemon/supports tentacruel)
    Tentacruel (toxicspikes/rapidspin/specialattacker)
    Jirachi(Wish/Uturn/Reflect/wobbyandtentacruel support)
    Deoxys-E(Wall/Sweeper/Taunter/Revenge Killer) (I love deoxys E)

    Deoxys E with 252 HP Evs and Night Shade is very underestimated. The set I use lets me taunt gyaradoses (and others), revenge kill low HP pokes, and cause general havok.

    The key to stall as far as I see is team support, scouting, and having a deoxys-e. Can't tell you what trouble hes gotten me out of.

    @TVBoy: Which is why you carry a sleeptalker to switch too like spiritomb that totally wrecks your pokes!
  18. garo

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    of course that stall game requires prediction, strategy and ability, especially with the highly offensive environment of DP that brings a lot of high power moves not existing in the past. i played with both stall and fully ofensive teams and as obi says with a stall team your worries are less than with an offensive team in the first turns, of course that stall teams make battles last longer and that´s what annoys most people, I indeed love offensive play and find boring stall wars but i understand that stall is part of the game and sometimes you need stall to win.
  19. Odinwolf

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    I don't think that stall is necessarily the "better" way to play. I think it more comes down to preference and decision-making. We have clearly seen teams of more than just the stall variety do incredibly well in tournaments and on the ladders, so even if Obi or certain players do particularly well with those teams, it doesn't necessarily mean they are superior.

    An offensive team is about exerting your will and implementing your game plan against the opponent. If you hit hard enough that one missed prediction can dent the opponent's big walls and hurt their game plan, then you can begin to take control of the match. Since a stalling opponent is already dragging the match out, the offensive team is being given all the same information that the stall team is getting about the opposing side, but also happens to be hitting harder and threatening to crit at any moment.

    For that matter, what has been demonstrated to be the top strategy right now is using Wobb to take down walls and set up sweepers and then just hitting hard until things die. TAY got to the top of the ladder doing this and I'm certain he went through lots of stall teams along the way. Perhaps his opponents were not as wise and wily as Obi, but it would be ignorant to say he didn't go through some great players to get to the top.

    Stall teams give you lots of information with which to make good decisions and that's a good thing for patient and methodical battlers like Obi. But there are other options that can be equally effective by taking a different route to victory.

    To Seven Deadly Sins: This is not the gambler's fallacy. You should look things up before you try to apply them in an argument. The Gambler's Fallacy has to do with an expectation that you are "due" to win since you have repeated a gamble or an action over and over again. It's the assumption that the outcome of any one particular event has to do with the proceeding events, as if they were related.

    In the case of the crits, we are talking basic statistics. If you flip a coin once, the chances of you hitting tails is 50%. No matter how many times you flip the coin, the chances of you hitting tails is still 50%, but the chances of you getting tails AT LEAST ONCE in the entire sequence of coin flips is pretty high. So even though the chances of getting a crit are the same for each instance of an attack, the more often you attack, the more "coin flips" you get towards getting a crit at least one time.
  20. RaikouLover

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    I will try to keep my post as educated as possible.

    I respect stall I guess, but in my honest opinion it takes the "fun" out of the game. By fun I mean the objective in team-building of having a plan and seeing that plan executed to have a hard earned win, based on you predicting and defeating your opponents using the right selection of attacks and switches. Stall lacks that IMO. I have saved several logs, where I battled stall teams with offensive teams, and whether or not I won or lost, I was only attacked in each battle about 5-10 times, 1 of which was always a forry explosion. The rest of the battle on my opponents side was spiking, and 80% of the time was subroosting, wish protecting, or recovering. While there is nothing wrong with this, ever since I started playing pokemon, the simplistic objective of the game is always "kill your enemy." Where as stalling does in the end hope to achieve this, my personal preference is that it is not appealing to spend a long time in every battle just recovering turn after turn. From the standpoint of battling against a stall team, its incredibly annoying to face stall teams because they never seem to execute any sort of complex strategy.

    I will never forget playing against a stall team, and trapping a Blissey with Dugtrio on a successful prediction. I proceeded to use Earthquake, which did on average 55% damage, while the Blissey recovered 16 straight times and lived to tell the tail, despite the critcal hit odds in my favor. My opponent snickered at me, and my gameplan was horribly ruined by a guy who got lucky and never attacked... meh.
  21. Taylor

    Taylor stardust infinite
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    So? A player using a stall team must also predict correctly and switch to his benifit.

    Don't think that because you have a stall team you instantly have the advantage. When you're using a defensively-based team, you must still execute the correct moves yourself, otherwise you will suffer the consequenses also.

    A stall team is created with the exact principles.
  22. animenagai

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    thank you obi for posting this. there is definitely strategy playing stall and playing against stall. first of all you think it's that easy making a good stall team? pretty hard to have all the threats covered. with that difficulty in mind, how does a stall team undermine 'the objective in team-building of having a plan and seeing that plan executed'? ridiculous.

    surely, when you're building a regular team, your pokes may come as you go through your threat list and from your pokes comes your team type. however, when you're making a stall team, you pretty much have to decide that before you choose any of your pokemon.
  23. wDro

    wDro

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    I play pokemon for fun but I rarely have fun playing against a stall team, even if I win. I usually play pokemon (shoddy mostly) when I'm taking a break from my study/homework. I obviously don't want to sit for 30 minutes in a match and end up feeling a waste of time playing instead of studying =P

    I don't know how much satisfaction stall fans get from playing the same match for 30+ min. For me I don't get much satisfaction out of it. On the other hand, I want to play with many different people and have a (general) feel of how different people play. I certainly don't want to face a stall team on wifi. I admire your patience but I have got many other things to do too.

    And yes, I'm quite superficial in this aspect :) stall matches are quite boring to watch (at least for me). I know this has nothing to do with competitive play but just imagine how quickly the pokemon anime will die if characters in the show use stall teams. (How do stall teams even work in "real life" ie. the anime)
  24. Seven Deadly Sins

    Seven Deadly Sins ~hallelujah~
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    If in a match I see someone with Celebi, Skarmory, Bliss, and Suicune on the same team, I'll just leave. It's entirely possible to win such a battle, but it's boring as hell, and I could play three or four matches in the space of one match against a stall team. This doesn't go to the efficacy of a Stall team (it might actually show that they'll rack up wins against impatient people), only that it's just no fun to play a stall team.
  25. AJC

    AJC

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    personally i wouldn't use such a team because such teams are even more vunerable to wubby due to the lack of offense to make wub not set up losing more than 2 of your team
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