So you took the Red Pill.

So if you're here, you're into Pokemon pretty deep. You all have an understanding of all the rules and systems that underpin battling in a Pokemon video game: IVs, EVs, Natures etc.

I'm a Gen 1'er and have played every game since. I became aware of competitive battling community toward the end of gen 3 when i wondered why I couldn't win at the Battle Frontier; and began to look at my Level 100 Charizard that had a special attack stat barely over 200 a little differently. The realisation that all that hard work was essentially a waste of time hit me hard. By the time Gen 4 was in full swing I had a Smogon account, and was fully immersed in the wider understanding we all share. Then Platinum came around, which was the first Pokemon game that was released Post-Rabbit Hole. Instead of wasting my time with loser Pokemon I caught in the game, I pre-bred a bunch of guys and traded them over; knowing that Post-E4 i could EV train them and they would be competitive assets. I never finished that run through, because it felt completely soulless.

Learning from this mistake, I decided to play Heart Gold as it was intended to be played - what I will refer to as a 'pure' run. I had fun - nostalgia is a powerful thing - but I can't help but be sad when I look at the team I used for that run through. Black was a similar situation, and the excitement of all of these new Pokemon was enough to push me through the creeping guilt of wasted EV points.

I now stare down the barrel of my Black 2 run through, eagerly awaiting the English language release.

As far as I see it I have three options:

  • Play the game 'pure' as it was intended to be played.
  • Breed six eggs from the Pokemon available in a normal run through of Black 2, and trade them over as soon as I am capable, in order to play through with Pokemon that will have competitive utility.
  • Breed six eggs of any Pokemon I like - because why force myself to use Pokemon I don't like, and trade them over as soon as I am capable, in order to play through with Pokemon that will have competitive utility.

I don't know which way I will go, and I will probably regret whatever choice I make. This in itself leads to a deeper question - am I just chasing a feeling of nostalgia that is no longer accessible to me.

I wish I could go back to not knowing. No laddering session, no successful RNG or interesting theorymon discussion comes close to the happiness I garnered from being 8, hitting new game, hearing those first few tones of music. When I'm honest, everything I do with Pokemon now is attempting to recreate that feeling. Sometimes I wish I didn't understand that the Brave Latias I spent several weekends chasing around Sapphire at the age of 11 is useless.

Don't get me wrong, I have some wonderful Pokemon memories post-competitive enlightenment. Evenings spent with buddies using our first competitive teams on the random search function of PBR come to mind, amongst others. But it still can't quite compare to those simpler gaming sessions of old.

Apologies for this long rant, but it's something I have been considering for some time. I half expect this for no one to reply to this, but just in case...

Points of discussion:

  • How do you play Pokemon games now you understand about all the underlying systems? Is there any merit in playing the way I am considering with a bred team?
  • Why do you play Pokemon? Do you ever come close to recreating that initial buzz that got you into Pokemon in the first place?
  • Would you go back to ignorant bliss if you could?
  • Are there any of you out there who have always known, who never had that simpler experience?
I like knowing, knowledge is my boon. But I like to make my in-game and battlers separate. I've done egg-bred runs before (Including a random egg shuffle where a bunch of people swapped eggs around) and sometimes it has its own way of spicing things. Probably wouldn't have used choice specs Tropius when beating up Platinum's E4 if it weren't for that.

There's also using stuff that's not competitive utility, grab stuff you like but sucks in a competitive standpoint. I plan on doing that with a flying monotype run at some point (Chatot and Emolga among the ranks, aw yeah)

With all of that said, I'd probably suggest your first playthrough be pure. Just so it feels completely fresh. And keep them separate from your competitively-trained teams. You may not have that nostalgia, but instead you have a different fresh experience coming from it. That's what keeps me playing, anyhow.
I've never been bothered by such a thing. In-game and competitive are two completly different things to me. I don't care about IVs, EVs or even Natures when playing through the game, and only take them into account when playing/building teams competitvly.


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Like the last two here, I usually tend to keep my competitive and in-game stuff separate. Usually, when I get a new Pokemon game, I'll play through it as it was intended, then after the post game I'll start worrying about getting competitive Pokemon and such. After all, it's not that hard getting competitive Pokemon for me anymore with my knowledge of RNG abuse and fast EV training, so I just don't worry about it when playing. Sure it's never quite the same as when I was a kid and was playing my Red Version, the first game I personally owned. But I realize that chasing that exact feeling will only lead to dissapointment because you can't recreate that stuff. Instead it's better to persue new experiences and challenges.

In addition, to keep myself occupied I'll frequently put my own spins on Pokemon games I've already beaten with self imposed challenges like Nuzlocke, Scramble and Gauntlet challenges, again looking for new experiences. It also gives me the opportunity apply all the things I've learned in order to overcome the new challenges I put on myself, which is a cool way to bridge the experiences.

I think the real key to just stop chasing the past and look towards creating new experiences. Nostalgia is a thing precisely because we can't completely recreate the exact same feeling we had years ago. Instead of dwelling on it and regretting it, it's better to look for new ways to experience that feeling.

So no, I'd never give up my understanding and go back to a blank slate because this understanding is leading to brand new experiences. Why relive the same thing twice when you can experience so many new things instead?
Seriously who cares, in-game is soooo easy and breeding specifically to try and beat the game is not necessary at all. Honestly just having a team of 6 alone is probably overkill, I'm used to reaching the end game with four battlers and two permanent HM slaves.

RPGs are notorious for being the slowest games in existence, and slowness + ease = unenjoyable. I try at least to make the game a little challenging.

Also I do think that my knowledge of the mechanics makes the in-game significantly easier.
IVs and EVs don't really bother me. In-game is not a competitive setting, therefore I don't go into it with a competitive mindset. Natures do bother me though, as do abilities when there's a big enough disparity. I try for at least neutral nature, and usually I end up catching several of the pokemon I want to use and picking out the best, when it's not too much of a hassle. There's no way I'm going to be able to keep track of IVs and EVs, but a Quiet or Modest nature on a physical sweeper is always going to bother me, because I can so easily see it.
[*]How do you play Pokemon games now you understand about all the underlying systems? Is there any merit in playing the way I am considering with a bred team?

I'm playing how it should be played. I decide on my 4 team members (usually normal/flying, steel, dragon and ice) before starting and use them when I can. This can lead to some interesting challenges too (lol doing Watson with a Swellow).

[*]Why do you play Pokemon? Do you ever come close to recreating that initial buzz that got you into Pokemon in the first place?

Because I enjoy it. These games have huge replay value as you can simply use a different team every time. Initial buzz? Only when a new pokemon game gets released.

[*]Would you go back to ignorant bliss if you could?

I always tend to have more fun playing games when I'm a complete noob. Boredom tends to come with knowledge. So yeah, I probably would, but that's kind of impossible :)
How I play is simple: Turn the game on and play how it's supposed to be!
I pick a started (usually Grass) and just go from there till I beat the E4. Only after that is when I start EV training Pokemon for the Battle Subway/Frontier.

There are three kinds of Pokemon in my boxes:
-The ones you USE for story mode (don't care for EVs, maybe get a better nature, like Rash Abra instead of Brave Abra, maybe use some random Protien-like item if they're lying around)
-The ones you CATCH that are used later (to breed better Pokemon, transfer moves, anything you catch really...)
-The ones you use for the battle facilities.

The first kind, the ones I use, end up being 1 starter + 3 monsters I like + 2 slaves.
They usually end up in a box somwhere comemorating their victories ^_^


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You'll drive yourself insane if you play through the game trying to create a competitive team along the way. Competitive moves like Stealth Rock, Rapid Spin, etc. are trash in-game, while at the same time you have to suck it up and put Cut and Fly on something. Not to mention specifically EV training, praying for good IVs and natures... It's not worth it.

Just play the game for fun. As other have suggested, challenges like Nuzlocke, Scramble, monotype, speedruns, etc. are all great ways to enjoy the game if it's growing stale. Once you've cleared through everything, then you can worry about RNG abuse and EV training.

As for going back to the original feeling... The games are all too similar to get that original mysticism back. However, each generation is different enough to create a new, enjoyable experience. The fact that I had an amazing time playing Blue as a kid didn't make it any less fun to play through White over a decade later ^.^
In game is fun, but I like to play in game competitive with good attacks, good nature/ability. IV / EV ... ? No, too hard ...

Jellicent > I love your avatar :D


Although this is not overwhelmingly relevant,

For the sake of time (VGC's start is literally one week after release), I've been considering "cheating" through bw2 with an imported Cleffa. Cleffa seems like the optimal Pokemon for an ingame run - with Magic Guard Double Edge (granted, getting this is a pain in the first place and it only has Magic Guard as a Clefairy due to being made before the ability's existence) + Life Orb + traded experience boost, it seems like an interesting idea to just solo the game with it + a few HM slaves (transfer over a Smeargle with surf/fly/strength/waterfall too!).

However, I can't help but dislike the idea of cheesing my first english run of a Pokemon game that way (and am, to be honest, also considering cheesing it far more honorably with a magnemite).

Anyway, I have actually used legitimate competitive Pokemon ingame before. I EV trained a Skarmory for use in my Soulsilver that had a set of Drill Peck/Spikes/Roost/empty slot (that's where Roar goes but I stuck Fly there for obvious reasons) and I was pretty happy with it ingame. It was far from overpowered.


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Points of discussion:

  • How do you play Pokemon games now you understand about all the underlying systems? Is there any merit in playing the way I am considering with a bred team?
  • Why do you play Pokemon? Do you ever come close to recreating that initial buzz that got you into Pokemon in the first place?
  • Would you go back to ignorant bliss if you could?
  • Are there any of you out there who have always known, who never had that simpler experience?
1. Honestly, the only thing I care about for an ingame team is type synergy and natures. I tend to play with pre-bred teams now because I want the enjoyment of training different stuff in every play through. As you can tell by my sig I'm a far way to training everything during a play through!

2. The only game for me which came close to making me "nostalgia up" were the remakes of Gold and Silver. I generally get super into the story of whatever game I'm playing... Like, N's view of the world is pretty much a totally new thing for Pokémon.

3. Not at all. The knowledge I have now is always put to good use during play throughs. Like in Gen 5 you don't need HM's so you can train pretty much whatever you want and not have a problem with needing a Cut here or a Surf there.

4. I came from the original games. So no, I didn't know about any of the complicated stuff until at least 3rd Gen when natures were introduced.

I have a lot of fun just playing the game with new teams all the time. Trading eggs over and going from there. It's genuinely interesting to find out how good certain Pokémon are ingame. Like, I found Emolga to be good during BW, but Swanna/Starmie and some other things just generally weren't very good.
The answer is to play RBY. The EV system in that game means that you never waste stat exp as all stats can be maxed out, and the box trick allows you to keep boosting stats even after your pokemon reaches level 100. You also have glitching to do all this a lot quicker. This way, your in-game pokemon can double up as your competitive pokemon. You also don't have to worry about getting the right ability and natures.


I'm guessing you're not interested in RBY though. As others have said, just play through BW keeping your in-game and competitive pokemon separate.
For me, it feels like I've taken a bite of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and as punishment, I've been cast out of paradise. Try as I might, I can't seem to rekindle the joy I felt when I originally played through RBY/GSC/RSE. Perhaps it is just my own neuroses, but I can't seem to let little things like natures/abilities go—sometimes I even go so far as catching tons of Pokemon in search of one with a good nature AND IVs. Lately, I've taken to forcing myself never to look at the summary screen: it prevents me from getting annoyed at natures/abilities and allows me to play the game as I did when I was a child: completely ignorantly. For me, Pokemon has a special place in my life: it was the foundation for my first friendship in elementary school and has provided me with hours of entertainment, both directly and indirectly, throughout grade school and college. Without it, I definitely wouldn't be here on Smogon today and I would not have met my IRC friends. :) Although, to be honest, I would definitely take the blue pill if such a thing existed.

Sorry if I got a bit English-majory at the beginning. :nerd: Excellent thread!
I think you're worrying a tad too much here.

I've always known from the beginning that not all Pokemon are created equal. You just have to catch two Rattata and see that one has a higher attack stat and the other has higher speed or notice on a second playthrough that "wow last time I played, my Cyndaquil knocked out Falkner's Pidgey in two hits, but this time it takes three despite being at the exact same level!" I didn't know exactly how exactly they differed, but I knew there was variation in them.

If you try to create a competitive team ingame while going through the main quest, chances are you're not going to have a fun time. I tried that once in Emerald and NEVER AGAIN. Running through the grass for hours in the first area trying to find 252 rare wild mons that give you EVs in attack while you have to try several times to escape from the really common mon that gives you EVs in defense instead is not fun. And you won't take on your first gym leader for hours because his mons give the wrong kinds of EVs. Just wait until later when you can get to that patch of grass in the fifth city that buries you in attack giving mons and oh hey you can just fly to the eighth city afterwards to get your speed EVs.

If you try to give yourself six mons for competitive play right in the beginning, chances are you're going to get frustrated or the worst thing happens - you mess up your EV training and now, metagame wise, your mon is ruined. Hope you saved recently or didn't save not realizing you accidentally have given your Slowbro speed EVs. Going through the game normally may not be optimal competitively, but trying to train a metagame team while going through the main quest is a waste of your time and more importantly, not fun. And if there's one thing your game should not be, it's not fun.

Seriously, don't try to make a competitive team until postgame where you have access to all the resources the game has to offer. Items, (POWER ITEMS. VITAMINS. RUNNING SHOES AND BIKE FOR EGG HATCHING) optimal EV training spots, a high level team to help out your new, freshly hatched perfect IV mon, high level enemies for easy someone who spent a lot of time making catching, breeding, and raising competitive Pokemon for cartridge play (and I totally intend to get back into it sometime), with everything that opens up to you postgame, you can have a mon ready for wi-fi battles in like, half an hour as opposed to for-friggin'-ever if you try to do it as you go through the main storyline. I've always thought of my ingame team as the old guard, training up the rookies who will eventually surpass them and go on to do greater things.

I'm kind of silly like that.

I personally treat Pokemon's ingame and the metagame as two separate things. Ingame is truly a different beast. While you probably can't ever have that true sense of ignorance that comes from not knowing about things like IVs, natures, and EVs once you find out about them, it's not impossible to have an enjoyable casual playthrough of the game. There's a certain charm in your ingame team - they're not perfect, but they got the job done. If you have friends who play Pokemon as well, chances are you've got at least one who doesn't really understand how all this stuff works, and it's not very fun curbstomping them when you have a team that outclasses theirs in every single way. Don't think of yourself as wasting EVs - after all, it's not like there's only a finite amount of EVs available in the game.

As for what you should do for Black 2, I personally find a pure run, just catching what you find and going from there, would be the most fun for a first playthrough. It's not like you can only play the game once and you're done forever! If you want to import a metagame viable team, go ahead, but don't worry that your Ferroseed is getting special attack EVs - you can erase them later with berries and retrain again in a small amount of time.
Unless I am speed-running, I am terribly OCD about in-game IVs (EVs not so much because they can be fixed later). I used to soft reset/catch boxes of wild pokemon for at least an optimal nature and above average IVs. More recently, I had friends hack me perfect EV trained level 1 pokemon for me to beat the game with; because throwing time at a random number generator conflicts with real life. Therefore, Pokecheck is the best thing ever for me, but too bad there isn't an EV trained petilil that I can find.
In-game teams are more about the friendship aspect of Pokemon, having fun, catching 'em all and becoming the best trainer in the region. Competition teams are more about getting glory for yourself with complex strategies, EVs and natures and all that, not so much about having trusty creatures with strong moves and poor stats. I wouldn't say I keep them separate, I use my in-game team to help out the EV training and raising of my competitive team, so that I don't lose that original fun. It's interesting to have my starter fighting alongside my competitive Pokemon, like they're learning from the veterans. The games were invented for fun in the first place, after all.
I really wish I could go back to the way it was when I first played Pokemon, but I just can't. I just don't get that same feeling.
Competitive knowledge has certainly changed the way I play. Like many of you have said, stuff like natures and abilities bother me, but I don't give a crap about EVs and IVs in-game. Because of my new knowledge, I tend to use strategies against tough Gym Leaders, for example. And most of my in-game companions aren't forgotten--I tend to use my starter or MVP to help train my competitive mons.
I've used bred teams before, and it's just not the same experience. It isn't fun at all. If you're gonna play Pokemon, play it as it's meant to be played.
I'm hoping I can get the same feeling back as when I first played Pokemon with the US release of BW2, but I have a nagging feeling that I won't. Honestly, I wouldn't go back to the way it was, but I really do wish I could feel as I did as I first hit 'New Game'.
Having multiple cartridges means that I can usually separate any competitive projects away from the the in-game teams and themed runs that I do in general across many cartridges. Obviously therefore I know with each cartridge what sort of gameplay I'm setting.

I think you need to put aside any major competitive conceptions where you can and run through the new game in a pure manner. I fully intend come the launch of BW2 to run a fire-monotype run on the challenge mode to try and ratchet up the interest factor for myself, but obviously everyone else is entitled to their own experience. Like many people, knowing the competitive standpoint does make you prone to being more selective on team members, and I've had occasions where I've caught a few of a particular party member to get a decent nature. I don't think it's wrong to be selective of your party members, but major points such as EV training need to be left on the sidelines for in-game purposes because they will slow you down and make the game more of a grind than it should. EVs can be easily fixed come the end of the game, especially as you have access to Join Avenue that has useful competitive stalls for doing this.

I'll never regain the buzz of playing without hindrance, but I try to challenge myself on other accounts to make up for it. Whilst I learnt the competitive knowledge near the end of Generation 3 (culminating in one Glalie for my efforts), it was not until Generation 5 and the ease of RNGing that I seriously had issues with competitive knowledge impacting my playing experience.


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As stated elsewhere in this topic, playing the way the game sets up is the most enjoyable.

Trading over a Gible, Deino or Larvitar as soon as you start the game is tempting, but it gets boring as they evolve and lolstomp their way though any opposition, and the rest of your team lags behind them when it comes to Exp. Similarly, only playing with "OU or better" Pokémon doesn't tend to be as fun. Some will always outperform the others, some will underperform. If you only raise "good" Pokémon, you won't be forced to use the entirety of your team as much. It becomes a matter of using the Pokémon at the lowest level, because every 'mon on your team can comfortably take on every opponent the story throws at you. It gets boring rather quick.

In-game, you see the contrasts in Pokémon better. Without Sunflora, you can't say "Sceptile is terrible". Hadn't there been Luvdisc around, we'd have laughed hard at Slowking or something. The terrible Pokémon you see (and use) in-game helps you realize how awesome the good ones are.

In-game playing also allows some often overlooked Pokémon to shine. Ampharos gets its time in the limelight in HG/SS (at least it did in GSC, where everybody and their little brother trained one). Pokémon like Zubat, Spearow and Geodude are staples of many in-game teams. Sandile and its evolutions tear up BW. With the right amount of luck cathing it, Entei can be a powerhouse on your team. So can almost any other Pokémon with good IVs.

The downside to the competitive mindset appears sooner or later, though. In my case, it's postgame. When the Elite Four patch up their beaten Pokémon, the region is fully explored, legendaries caught and every sidequest done. Now what? A newbie player will enjoy exploring more Pokémon. Catch some in the post-game areas, or trade some others over from other games and train them, to see what exciting new moves they might learn. Us competitive players won't get as much fun with that. If you want "value for your time", you have to grind painfully for EVs, reset for Natures and IVs, before super-levelling it against powerful trainers. If you just walk around beating random opponents with your Pokémon, they will feel "wasted" for you. As a kid, I enjoyed scraping together a team of rookie Pokémon, going to the first town and redo my adventure through the use of VS seeker. Later on, it just feels like throwing away perfectly good Pokémon, wasting their potential. On the other hand, proper breeding, EV-ing and all that jazz feels like creating Pokémon on an assembly line. Yes, they might be good and all that, but not particularly fun after a few runs. Your bred-and-raised super Pokémon feel soulless, as you don't put them through any challenges. You grind, gain, box and repeat. I'd rather punch some numbers into PS, you get the same result (or better) without the tedious grinding. Then I can spend my in-game time having fun without considering competitivity.
Unless I am speed-running, I am terribly OCD about in-game IVs (EVs not so much because they can be fixed later). I used to soft reset/catch boxes of wild pokemon for at least an optimal nature and above average IVs. More recently, I had friends hack me perfect EV trained level 1 pokemon for me to beat the game with; because throwing time at a random number generator conflicts with real life. Therefore, Pokecheck is the best thing ever for me, but too bad there isn't an EV trained petilil that I can find.
I generally do this last part for myself now, too - especially in the gen 5 era because I'm competent with abusing the RNG. Usually, I lay off the fully EV trained part, though, because you really crush the game when all you're doing is level grinding a competitively bred and trained monster... It gets very, very boring one shot-ing everything... perfect IVs and favorable nature is already more than enough. But yeah, I'm OCD ever since traveling through the wormhole...

To respond more to the original post:

No, I don't regret knowing the ins and outs of Pokemon. I started playing this game when Blue version was all the rage and gameboys/trading cards were getting banned from middle school. In a way, I've evolved along with the game. The progression from gen 1 to gen 5 mirrors my own involvement and awareness. RBY is very simple compared to today's game. Likewise, I was blissfully unaware that a competitive community existed. Gen 2 introduced a lot of changes that laid the groundwork for future generations. I first learned the competitive ins and outs during GSC and it set up my increased interest in person vs person battling in gen 3. And so on... you get the idea.

To me, that was the natural progression. You either get more obsessed, more involved or you casually play the game and then drop off. With GBU and wifi battles as an option, it's tough to really argue there's a happy middle ground if you're competitive like me and always have to win. I wouldn't undo it because that's just how it goes.

For a new game, the way I always play it is what we're calling "pure" - though, as mentioned above, I will manipulate the RNG and/or hunt down beneficial IVs/natures.

I imported the Japanese version of White 2 at release so I can tell you my opinion of how to go about it: play it out of the box. It's arguably the best in-game Pokemon experience of them all with the features and available team options along the way. It's enjoyable enough that worrying about perfect competitive pokemon would ruin it a bit, IMO.

Also, I wouldn't want to trade over something like Gible or Larvitar to start a game... slow growth rate, yuck!


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I've only attempted to get optimal IVs when doing in-game runs on roms (namely ADV), since it's easy enough to look in the memory viewer, copy paste your initial seed into rng reporter, and get a decent IV starter. I've done this with Treeko and it's proven very effective. Another time, I did it in FireRed with Charmander and EV trained outside of viridian city (Attack/Speed with Mankey) on 600% speed for about an hour. It was a pain but I believe I had a Level 30 Charmeleon before Brock. That's the only time I've been crazy enough to EV train an in-game Pokemon, it's not worth it overall besides OHKOing everything with Slash and only using Charizard the whole time.


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  • How do you play Pokemon games now you understand about all the underlying systems? Is there any merit in playing the way I am considering with a bred team?
Playing a standard in-game run through, knowing about the inner mechanics has not really affected me that much, though on occasion, I have actually EV Trained an in-game Pokemon on a couple of occasions - I even EV Trained two Pokemon in a HG Scramble Run once...Though the problem with EV Training an ingame mon is that it is it worth the time? The answer will likely be probably not. Unless you get something like Pokerus or a random shiny out of it like I did in the aforementioned Scramble in the case of the former, it is not really worth the time you waste - It generally tends to sap the fun of the game.

Rambling aside, generally, the point of in-game runs is to have fun. There is usually no point in wasting your time on EV Training a Pokemon. Trying to get good IV's on an ingame Pokemon is even worse imo as far as time-wasting is concerned (Unless you can RNG Abuse). Personally, only focus on EV's & whatnot after you have beaten the main game.

Personally, about your in-game run, it is your choice, but trying to EV/IV Train in-game Pokemon is not fun.

  • Why do you play Pokemon? Do you ever come close to recreating that initial buzz that got you into Pokemon in the first place?
As a user playing since Gen I, Pokemon has been part of my life for so long that it is fairly hard to give it up. The initial buzz you get from a new Pokemon Game is really good, but it will never top the initial buzz you get from the first time you played a Pokemon Game.

  • Would you go back to ignorant bliss if you could?
No. Knowing about the underlying mechanics significantly improves your ability to play in-game effectively, imo. Though once you know about the mechanics, it is hard to forget them. Personally, it is better to not go back.

  • Are there any of you out there who have always known, who never had that simpler experience?
No one else I know has any idea about EV's & whatnot, so...Also, I never knew about EV's & whatnot until Diamond/Pearl...