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The Element of Surprise

Discussion in 'Stark Mountain' started by david stone, Apr 7, 2008.

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  1. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    I was going back and reading this thread: What is the best set for a Pokemon? and as I read the responses, I felt I didn't fully address this idea of "The Element of Surprise". I'm pretty sure when I made that thread, I wasn't really playing DP, and as such, I didn't see all of those comments (I didn't read Stark much, or as it was called back then, Uncharted Territory), so I'd like to take this time to address those.

    I'll admit that I didn't take into account the "element of surprise" in my opening post, but I find this to be mostly overrated. This is especially true when most of the Pokemon who are outclassed at anything they might want to do are generally weaker Pokemon, meaning you can't do as much with the surprise. If you guess wrong on what set Salamence or Tyranitar have, you may lose the match. If Flareon uses Flamethrower instead of Fire Blast, it's not likely to have any long-term effect.

    My other problem with it is a more personal problem. It is impossible for me to have any real surprise. Allow me to explain with a sweeping generality:

    You make an awesome team that includes a surprising moveset on a Pokemon, and this surprise is basically that your Pokemon is a weaker version of another Pokemon, but you figure it's worth the loss in power because it can buy you a turn or two, and turns have value, too.

    The problem is that you are predicating your team on one of two assumptions.

    The first and most common assumption is that your team actually sucks. The reason I say this is because you are assuming your team won't be successful enough to be noticed (thus ruining the surprise). This is my personal objection to "the element of surprise" as a serious battler. I average a large number of spectators per battle, and thus after a couple of battles, I have to act under the assumption that the general outline of my team is well known. This means that I have to use teams that work in such a way that even if my opponent knows exactly what my team is capable of doing, they cannot stop it. Essentially, I have to beat the engineer armed with a handgun by using a tank. He may know exactly how my tank works, but is unable to penetrate the armor with his handgun and quickly dies to my own larger artillery.

    The other possible assumption is a bit more defensible, and that is relying on the element of surprise with the full knowledge that the team will only be used for a short number of battles (small enough that no one battler will have gathered the relevant information from the previous battles, and the metagame will not have shifted around it). This is part of what my JAA strategy was. I realized that yes, it's counterable by people who know what's coming, but if they don't know, it's almost a guaranteed win, and even if they do know, it's not like I lose for sure. I made the calculation that it was incredibly unlikely for anyone to be expecting that strategy, and it payed off. This is why I always have to laugh when people say that it wouldn't have worked at nationals. If I had gone, I would have used an entirely different team, because a large part of its effectiveness was removed simply by winning with it.

    For most people, however, they don't want to have to make a new team every week (assuming they get successful enough with their first few teams to start drawing attention). This means that either their team will rapidly lose effectiveness as people quickly adapt, or nobody adapts because nobody needs to (in which case the team starts out horrible instead of ending up horrible).
  2. Blissey_ODonnell

    Blissey_ODonnell

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    I agree that the element of surprise can be over-rated. People were even discussing a DP Druidcruel, if you can believe it.

    On the other hand, the element of surprise may just win you the battle. I know that recently, in my tournament match with LonelyNess, I used a lesser-seen set that picked off his counter, and from there I swept easily. Using Scarf Jirachi may seem like lame bullshit until it OHKOes your Gengar with Psychic before it can put it to sleep, even if it is essentially worthless after it takes out a single Pokemon.
  3. goofball

    goofball
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    I agree that the whole "surprise idea" really doesn't work well after a certain period of time. While it will work in the beginning, however, with each battle it will "lose effectiveness" as players tend to catch on and realize what you are running and will adapt to the set. Which is why you see some of the more solid built teams aren't running any surprise movesets. They're built to win over a long period of time and as Obi said they can still win even with your opponent having knowledge of your team beforehand. For example, lets take "Obi's famous stall team" obviously we know he is running a stall based team and with X Y Z pokemon, however, even with this knowledge can my team beat his team(assuming it would be based on only "paper knowledge" not taking into account of either player).


    yeah........w/e @__@ lol more horrible post by me ^_^
  4. TUskate

    TUskate

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    That right there is my biggest problem with creating "surprising" sets. You blow your load all over your counter, possibly defeating it, and what are you left with? A gimmicky set that is less effective then the standard and poses little threat/benefits your team. Why use the element of surprise on your counter when you could just build a team to open up the opponent for a sweep with the standard set?

    I guess the exposure factor is way more important when talking about Shoddy v. Wifi. The standard non-Youtubin' Wifi battler really doesn't have to worry about exposure issues, while the high-ranked shoddy battler doesn't. Obi this is probably a huge problem for you but, not so much for anyone under the top 30 on Shoddy.
  5. Blissey_ODonnell

    Blissey_ODonnell

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    So you're saying the alternative to designing a surprise set to beat its counter is designing your entire team to beat the counter, with the latter being the preferable option? I don't understand it.
  6. TUskate

    TUskate

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    No no no. I wouldn't design an entire team to beat a counter! Your kind of missing my point. If your team allowed you to beat a counter. I'm trying to think of a stupid random example...say X pokemon is walled by Dusknoir. If a poke lays down some toxic spikes early on, Dusknoir can't reliably counter pokemon X anymore because the poison will hurt it's ability to take hits. Once Dusknoir has been removed...pokemon X is open to sweep.

    This is also assuming pokemon X with a gimmicky set would beat it's counter and then be without a purpose.
  7. picklesword

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    Element of surprise is one of the best stradegies as it will catch off an opponent. Whether it is counter blissey, or choice band snorlax, a good moveset should be able to throw their team off and not recover. I have been testing with scarf milotic lately, and the surprise factor is what makes it good, otherwise, its a terrible set that is easily countered. Unorthidox Sets is what makes the difference between someone who can look at the stradegy dex and people who can make their own movesets for pokemon.
  8. Blissey_ODonnell

    Blissey_ODonnell

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    What you don't seem to realize is that after pokemon X uses gimmicky set and beats Dusknoir, pokemon Y could be open to sweep, which is what I was trying to get at in my original post. So we were really arguing the same argument, in a way... This is confusing.
  9. Cynthia

    Cynthia

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    Scarf Miltoic really can be rather useful, though I've learned that people usually suspect something's up and autoswitch to Blissey.

    Surprise sets can be useful as long as they aren't horribly gimmicky.With the right items and EV's Pokemon can do a lot of different things, though I would shy away from things like SpecsGliscor and CBBlissey.
  10. TUskate

    TUskate

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    Ah I see, we do seem to be arguing the same point.

    So, Azelf explodes on a Bliss, removing the only special walling obstacle, for a Gengar sweep. That would be your example.

    My example is just a random function your team happens to do that allows a sweep from a more standard set. Spreading around paralysis that allows a standard Marowak to clean house, stuff like that.
  11. Aeroblacktyl

    Aeroblacktyl The pizza doesn't scream in the oven! LOL!
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    Here's the real element of surprise, they using a team that your team is weak to since there is no one team that covers everything.

    "Element of surprise" is also under the assumption people actually use counters to a certain Poke, cause various all offensive teams and other fast paced teams work on their own terms and generally revenge kill, not based around taking hits from certain threats.
  12. Warthog

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    I based most of my RSE teams on the element of surprise. I would think of different ideas to counter the "metagame" (there was never a metagame in RSE imo) and I would catch players off guard. In DP I haven't discovered any surprise elements because I'm still learning it but definitely is underrated imho especially in tournaments or even in some competitive matches since it would be the deciding factor in a win or loss. Because remember: people are out there to counter the standard pokemon and moves because they wont take those factors into consideration, most of the time.
  13. animenagai

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    i think the element of surprise is great as long as you're not sacrificing the specs of your pokemon. you need to make those elements of surprise pay off. for example, putting fire blast on tyranitar is unexpected and it could OHKO forretresses. that i think is fine. a defensive infernape? not so much.
  14. garo

    garo

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    well... as obi said in his post, surprise movesets can be used pretty well in tournaments, lets say: you had designed a very good surprise team, but you know that it will be useless after a few battles, so then you enter a tournament, there you can use your surprise movesets and maybe win, later your movesets will be known and maybe ineffective, but at least you won a tournament and you will be proud of yourself lol.

    PD: warthog your avatar is really cool lol.
  15. TheMaskedNitpicker

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    Obi, it's good to have your opinion on surprise sets, but you yourself admit that you are a special case. How effective the element of surprise is for a player depends on which play environment is used and on who they are.

    First, though, let's back up for a moment. It seems to me that in this thread, you're mostly discussing 'surprise' sets that basically make your Pokémon a weaker version of another Pokémon. If all you're arguing is that this is generally ill-advised, you'll get no argument from me. If you're arguing that all unorthodox sets that may surprise the opponent are a bad idea, I can't say I agree with you. If you're arguing that the only kind of set that can surprise the opponent is a set that would work better on another Pokémon (which I assume you're not), then that's just silly.

    I'm not getting a clear signal from you which of the above you believe. On the one hand, you say this:
    Here you seem to assume that all surprise sets are just sets that could be done better by another Pokémon. Later in the same post, however, you talk about your JAA strategy, which worked very well at the time for which there were no Pokémon better suited for the job. Could you please be a bit more specific about which point(s) you are trying to make?
  16. the_artic_one

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    I agree with Obi, let me show you why.

    This is the Absol build I use on shoddy as a lead:

    Absol @ focus sash
    Adamant 252atk 252hp
    Magic coat
    Snatch
    Pursuit
    Suckerpunch

    Pretty fun set to use, just predict what their lead is going to do (This is surprisingly easy) and use the appropriate move to shut them down (MC for status, snatch for statup, suckerpunch for attack, pursuit for switch).

    Now, in for the next season of my school's semesterly draft tournament, I managed to draft Absol. Will I be using this set? Hell no.

    The success of this set relies on one factor, me being able to predict my opponents moves. The reason this won't work in a tournament is that people will figure out what my Absol does and counter it by behaving unpredicably (This is especially true in our tournament because we have to fight each of our opponents multiple times).

    I'd much rather have a predictable Absol that would work the same every time against every opponent. Otherwise, I'd be wasting a draft pick I could have used for something else (though there wasn't much left in the pool when I picked Absol but that's beside the point).
  17. TheMaskedNitpicker

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    Even after the surprise factor has worn off, moves like Magic Coat and Sucker Punch continue to be useful. Just because a set requires good prediction doesn't mean it's ineffective after the first time you use it. I've found that few opponents truly 'act unpredictably'. They try to out-predict me, and sometimes they succeed, but they don't act randomly. Prediction is what Pokémon is all about. If you want more reliability in a set, that's completely understandable and oftentimes desirable. However, that doesn't mean that prediction-heavy sets are useless in a setting where your opponent already knows your moveset.
  18. Kindred

    Kindred

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    Or- if you're a known battler with a known team- switch movesets every so and so many battles. Use two teams with similar pokemon, but just slightly different movesets, and remain unpredictable.
  19. cim

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    The problem is that the element of surprise is temporary. Any viable surprise is inevitably used and known by everyone, leaving only crappy surprises like Choice Specs Gyarados (which by the way blows utter dick, can't even OHKO Vaporeon with Thunderbolt) and such. The element of surprise should be used with VIABLE sets, if one uses the element as an excuse for Choice Specs Flygon or CB Omastar, one is going to inevitably fail.

    The key to exploiting the much overrated surprise factor is to ensure that the "shock effect" of the surprise is enough to sweep or at least cripple a good team.
  20. Dr.Traveler

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    I agree in principle.

    However, I'd add there's always room to pick up a surprise 4th move if it doesn't hurt the Pokemon's main purpose for being on the team. The right Hidden Power, Support Move, etc, can make what would normally be a counter much less effective against you.

    One tactic I use quite a bit is to Explode Gengar when Blissey comes in. Blissey is a standard switch in to Gengar and exploding means I cripple Blissey for the rest of my team. If they dont' switch into Blissey then I'm still ok... Gengar has fabulous coverage on 3 moves, good speed, and can explode at some later time to help finish off a potentially troublesome pokemon.

    EDIT IN: I'd also add that some Pokemon have VASTLY different "standard" sets that you can abuse. For example, Specszard and Bellyzard. Both are good, and as most people expect Bellyzard Specszard has the extra advantage that you'll catch players off balance quite often.

    And if they don't, that's ok too. Specszard is more than capable of laying down smack as a special attacker.
  21. Dragontamer

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    I somewhat agree. I only have one objection.

    In theory, if you have near identical teams, or at least, similar opening games, then your opponent has a 50/50 chance of guessing your team. This offers an "element of surprise" somewhat, but it is only worth it if your 2nd team is actually a team worth using. Even if your opponent knows both teams... he'll never be able to predict which say... Walrein you have.

    I've never seen it pulled off for real... and I started working on one (Encore Walrein vs Stallrein) but I never found a Walrein that was as useful as Stallrein. (Even when Encore Walrein was useful, it felt like Stallrein was better >_>)

    Just a thought. And aside from this theoretical case that has never happened, I completely agree with you.
  22. the_artic_one

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    Yeah but surprise is what makes the predictions so reliable. Gyarados leads never even think to taunt an Absol, they always assume it can't threaten them and get their DD's snatched. The set is not useless if they know it but it ends up coming down to luck more or less.
  23. DFang

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    I think surprise/unorthodox sets and the ability to use them with so many different pokemon is part of what makes the metagame great.

    You may have people that take the most broken OU pokes and use the standard set and win without any effort until a veteran uses a good counter that requires skill.

    The creativity involved in a surprise set helps keep things interesting by lowering the amount of predictability.

    I may be off the mark, but didn't chain-chomp start off as a surprise set? Now that's one of the listed standards.

    Surprise sets help explore the full potential of pokemon with a lot of versatility than just the obvious.

    6 months ago I would have said a special-based Toxicroak and one without Sucker Punch was useless. If I didn't try something new, I never would have realized how well a Nasty Plot Toxicroak deals with OU and Uber teams ever BETTER than the standard. The same could be said for any number of others.
  24. Rhykune

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    Depends on how it is being used. If it is something like a Hidden Power Ice Heracross, it isn't good, but if it actually has merits over the norm like Choice Band Togekiss, it can be potent.
  25. iruchii

    iruchii

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    I'm a UU [NU even] player, and in that enviroment, I can say that the Surprise Element is much more important than in OU gameplay for two reasons: first, most Pokémon there haven't been completely explored. And second, not many people know how to deal with them.

    I think that it's important to always have a surprise factor in your team- bet it an UU/NU Pokémon, an unusual move, or even a weird berry. In my opinion, Pokémon is about three things: Prediction, research and surprise.

    Actually, four things: can't forget mathematics. Stupid EVs.

    I have killed over half a dozen Gliscors with that, haha.
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