Just Add Cacti: A VGC RMT The Team: Team Building: Not much happened in this phase, except for me swapping out Landorus-T for Landorus. While it is useful to have Intimidate on a team, I realized that my crippling lack of Special Attackers would make my team shake in its boots every time it saw a Hitmontop. Garchomp was also subsequently swapped out for Scizor. I wasn’t going to have two 4x Ice weaknesses on my team. Preface: Yes, it is December, but the new Nintendo Winter tourney goes by close to VGC rules. So, I decided to draw this team up. The basic concept of this team, as it is a VGC team, is to show lots of threats and combinations in team preview and be able to make choices based upon what I need to counter. This is my first real RMT (a quick look in my user history will reveal what happened with my last one). So, let’s get into the individual analysis! H.I.P.P.O Hippowdon @ Sitrus Berry Nature: Relaxed 252 HP/252 Def/4 Atk Ability: Sand Stream Earthquake/Stealth Rock/Slack Off/Whirlwind The more I use it, the more I am beginning to prefer Hippowdon over T-Tar. It’s slower than Ninetales, Politoed, and Tyranitar (although outslowing T-Tar isn't an issue because both bring sandstorm), meaning it’s basically guaranteed to get its weather up first. After I get rocks up, I either EQ or use Whirlwind to get rid of any Pokemon with a Stealth Rock weakness or set-up style. Basically, this thing is physically bulky as hell, and can take punishment as easily as it can dish it out. Slack Off can be used to ensure longevity or as a scouting tool. While not as famous as its rock monster brethren, Hippowdon is still fantastic in its own right. VampireBat Gliscor @ Toxic Orb Nature: Impish 252 HP/184 Def /72 Spe Ability: Toxic Heal Protect/Substitute/Earthquake/Toxic I absolutely love Gliscor as a Toxic staller. If there isn’t a weather war I need to win, I lead with Hippowdon and Gliscor and just stall the shit out of people. While VGC battles often have an up-tempo, offensive style, my ability to change the tempo with Gliscor plays to my advantage. Low PP moves can be stalled out, and Toxic damage puts Pokes such as Tornadus or Thundurus in a bad position. Get stalled out by Gliscor, or take half damage from the next switch in because of Stealth Rock. Poison Heal also allows Gliscor to switch into status moves with impunity. Is that Rotom-W over there about to Will-O-Wisp my Terrakion? Just switch in that Gliscor and steal a turn. While Gliscor’s low SpD puts it in danger of Ice Beams, all one has to do is scout with Protect and switch in either Terrakion or Scizor. And if Sandstorm is up, Hydro Pumps from Politoed and Rotom don’t OHKO, and in fact, sometimes don’t 2HKO (depending on max/min damage and EV investment). Overall, this crazy-eyed winged monster is my favorite Pokemon non-competitively, and is also a fantastic SubStall user. DOMMAGE Terrakion @ Choice Band Nature: Adamant EVs: 4 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe Ability: Justified X-Scissor/Stone Edge/Earthquake/Sacred Sword Wow, what is there to say about this guy? CB Terrakion jacks up anything in its way. X-Scissor is effective against Cresselia, and Stone Edge messes up Thundurus, Tornadus, and Gyarados, and hurts anything that doesn’t resist it. Before you flip out about Sacred Sword—yeah, CC has more BP, but I like to have a little more survivability for the end of battles. It’s just a personal preference; both moves would work equally well. The SpD boost in sandsorm allows Terrakion to take Hydro Pumps as a 2HKO and Surfs as a 3HKO. CB Terrak is a monster, and deserves a spot on this team. IT Guy Scizor @ Steel Gem Nature: Adamant EVs: 252 HP/40 Atk /216 SpD Ability: Technician Swords Dance/Bullet Punch/Bug Bite/Roost I was a little tentative about using Scizor for this team. Admittedly, it’s much better suited for 6v6 style play, but it’s important to have an Ice resist, or else I will fail egregiously. But in any case, Scizor is a beast. After an SD, it can take out almost anything that threatens it with a +2 Steel Gem Boosted STAB 80 BP Bullet Punch. Bug Bite deals with Latios, and the odd Trick Room Reuniclus. This set is nice because it lets switch into most Special attacks, or set up an SD without fearing getting destroyed on the set-up turn. Terrakion gets destroyed by a Bullet Punch, and Cresselia should cower from a +2 Bug Bite. Steel Gem isn’t my #1 item for Scizor, but item clause kind of forces my hand on that one. It’s Fine! Landorus @ Life Orb Nature: Timid EVs: 252 SpA/4 SpD/252 Spe Ability: Sheer Force Earth Power/HP Ice/Psychic/Focus Blast Lord of the Land, Landorus, is ready to bring some pain from the special side with this set. Base 115 SpA isn’t too shabby, and it seemed a logical choice to help counter opposing Gliscors and assorted dragon types. Also, all attacks do 160%, due to the combination of Life Orb and Sheer Force. Earth Power is a no-brainer, as is HP Ice for the aforementioned reasons. Focus Blast is on to counter steel-types. I chose Psychic over Rock Polish simply to add coverage. Psychic allows Landorus to OHKO Conkeldurr and Hitmontop, which are always difficult to deal with (Hitmontop especially). Overall, Landorus’ Life Orb negation abilities and good speed make it a fun Pokemon to use, and a difficult one to counter. Big Three Dugtrio @ Focus Sash Nature: Jolly EVs: 4 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe Ability: Arena Trap Reversal/Sucker Punch/ Earthquake/Stealth Rock Dugtrio is a pretty cool Pokemon. It’s made a name for itself trapping Heatrans in OU, and it has a clever application in VGC weather wars. Simply lead with your weather starter and Dugtrio, and switch out your weather starter into anything that can tank the attack you expect to come. In my case, I would switch out my Hippowdon into my Scizor or Gliscor (depending on whether or not I’m expecting an Ice Beam or need to avoid an EQ from Dugtrio). Arena Trap will keep opponents from switching out to preserve their chosen form of precipitation. Then, simply kill off the opposing weather starter with Duggy over here and voila! Guaranteed weather. Unfortunately, this thing doesn’t survive long; so take advantage of its properties quickly for best effect. How to Set this Team Up Against…. -Weather: Hippowdon/Dugtrio. Use the aforementioned Arena Trap strategy to kill off the opponent’s weather starter while getting Sandstorm up. -Trick Room: Scizor/Hippowdon. As the team’s two slowest Pokemon, they can come in against a TR team and mess things up. Scizor gets priority Bullet Punch, which after a SD and Steel Gem boost is guaranteed to OHKO Reuniclus and 2HKOs Dusclops. Hippowdon can also Whirlwind out a TR user, creating a pretty solid counterattack against these types of teams. -Goodstuffs: Situational. Depending on what they’re bringing, one should probably just choose to take advantage of type, uh, advantages. Hippowdon is always nice to get up weather, but a Gliscor/Scizor lead can be just effective to Toxic and set up a Swords Dance, respectively. Threats: -Hitmontop and Thundurus: As this is a largely physical team, Intimidate can wreck any usefulness of Pokemon such as Dugtrio, Scizor, and Terrakion (in certain cases). I have had success just going with the Hippowdon/Gliscor stall strategy, but for a more aggressive counter, it works to lead with Landorus and Hippowdon. Landorus can Psychic Hitmontop while Hippowdon sets up rocks, and then HP Ice works on Thundurus. Unfortunately, Thundurus often carries HP Ice itself, and that often OHKOs Landorus as Thundurus will outspeed. If one suspects that, simply lead with Scizor instead of Landorus and SD to +1 after Intimidate. Priority +1 Steel Gem STAB Bullet Punch will deal massive damage to Thundurus. -Cresselia: Cresselia is dangerous because it often packs Ice Beam or Icy Wind, which destroys much of my team. Use Terrakion to counter with a CB X-Scissor, and prevent yourself from major damage from it if the sandstorm is up. Also, +2 Technician STAB Bug Bite from Scizor deals a shit-ton of damage if you can set up a SD without being hit by T-Wave. Toxic Stall from Gliscor can often help if Cresselia isn’t packing a Lum Berry. There are probably more, but that’s all I’ve seen so far. If you have one please leave a comment. Closing Comments: Wow, that was a lot of fun to make! The team has been fun to play with so far. I really do want to make it the best possible, so please give your honest opinion in the comments. As this is my first true RMT, I do appreciate tips and tricks of the craft, or just anything I can do better. Thank you for your time in reading this and giving suggestions!