Introduction to Wi-Fi in the 5th Generation
Battling on Wi-Fi and Pokemon Online are two completely different things. While simulator battles can be watched by many spectators at a time and usage statistics are collected rapidly through automated processes, Wi-Fi battles are strictly one-on-one, with solid evidence of victories and losses restricted to battle videos. Luckily, since the implementation of Platinum's Vs. Recorder, battles can be more easily shared. Still, the tedium of watching an entire battle as opposed to the easy reading and documenting of a battle log is obvious.
Additionally, it is important to note that arranging Wi-Fi battles can be extremely difficult in comparison with battles on Pokemon Online. One must arrange battles in the Battles subforum of Wi-Fi. However, on Pokemon Online, rated matches are automatically arranged, and during peak hours, there are usually hundreds of users on at one time, meaning that a game can begin within seconds of clicking "Find Battle." Also, clauses are enforced for each tier, so cheating is hardly an issue.
Due to various factors, battling over Wi-Fi takes much longer than an average simulator battle. Stall is often overlooked when battling on Wi-Fi, for obvious reasons. Between sandstorm or hail damage, Leech Seed, burn, and poison animation, the Pokemon's bouncing animation upon Leftovers recovery every single turn (often on both sides), slow health bar animation, the sparkling animation for shiny Pokemon, and some very long attack animation, the time piles up quickly. Matches can last for over an hour, and some battle videos must be sped up greatly and, in rare but extreme cases, split into two parts to fit on a video sharing site such as YouTube. This is not to say that stall is not a viable strategy; a patient player may opt to run a full stall team in order to put pressure on their opponent, possibly forcing them to forfeit the match. Make sure you have a power outlet and a charger handy in case your battery starts to die!
Simulators, however, do not suffer from these restrictions. Messages for residual damage, recovery, and field effects are sent from the battle server immediately in just a few lines of text, while the HP bar depletes at exceptional rates. Using a battle log instead of a battle video makes it much easier to analyze battles, see what mistakes you made, and how you can possibly fix them in future battles. Due to these benefits, stall play becomes more acceptable and is very common in today's metagame.
Raising competitively viable Pokemon is a lot more difficult than slapping a Lucky Egg onto said Pokemon and grinding them up to Level 100. Luckily, the RNG in Black and White is easier than ever to manipulate, so obtaining flawless Pokemon is not difficult; however, leveling up and obtaining EVs for your Pokemon is a lengthy process in itself. Furthermore, you may be required to chain breed certain egg moves for your Pokemon, increasing the length of the process by large amounts of time.
Since obtaining just one Pokemon for your team is a lengthy process, some players may be unwilling to keep up with every new strategy that arises in the metagame. As such, you should expect to see common sets such as Air Balloon Excadrill, Quiver Dance Volcarona, and Calm Mind Reuniclus over more experimental sets.
Finally, you must have unlimited access to common hold items such as Air Balloon, Eviolite, Leftovers, Life Orb, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Choice Scarf, as well as evolution items such as the evolutionary stones, Metal Coat, and Upgrade. It is also highly recommended to have every Power item (or at least the Macho Brace) and the Pokerus to make EV training as quick and painless as possible. Luckily, Game Freak threw us a bone this generation by giving us reusable TMs. Many excellent TMs such as the elemental beams, Earthquake, Shadow Ball, and Trick Room are easily obtainable in-game.
Everyone knows that event Pokemon are difficult to come by. NYPC event Pokemon such as Wish Chansey are extremely rare, and obtaining one with respectable stats is all but impossible. Dragonite with Heal Bell and Zapdos with Baton Pass are exclusive to Pokemon XD, the latter being almost impossible to predict due to a forced save after you capture it. Chansey, Registeel, and Deoxys (particularly Deoxys-D) can only learn Seismic Toss by a move tutor in Emerald, while only Jirachi obtained from the rare and rather expensive Pokemon Colosseum bonus disc can learn Body Slam from a move tutor in FireRed and LeafGreen. Even current day retail event Pokemon are difficult to obtain for those who do not have GameStop, Toys"R"Us, or similar event locations within driving distance of their homes.
By this point, you might be thinking, "why would I play Wi-Fi anyway?" Do not let the points stated above dissuade you. Wi-Fi has a huge following on Smogon. In fact, there is an entire forum dedicated to it, and Wi-Fi tournaments are held regularly. There are certainly many reasons for Wi-Fi's popularity.
While obtaining legendaries with useful IV and Hidden Power spreads was difficult in the past, RNG abuse has made this task rather trivial. While this is still inefficient on a 3rd generation cartridge, the release of Platinum and HGSS enabled players to catch 3rd generation legendaries. Since the RNG in the 4th generation games is so easy to manipulate, it is possible to obtain viable Hidden Power spreads. This is particularly useful for Zapdos, Heatran, and Raikou, all of which appreciate the coverage granted by Hidden Power Grass or Ice. If you amass a collection of flawless Pokemon in high demand, you may wish to start a trade thread in the Wi-Fi subforum. The more you have to offer, the easier it will be for you to obtain a Pokemon that you don't have the time to catch or raise in the future.
The fascination with shiny Pokemon has never stopped since their introduction in GSC. The fact that they have a 1 in 8192 chance of popping up gives them an air of mystery. Clicking the shiny check box on Pokemon Online is one thing—actually obtaining a shiny Pokemon for yourself is very time consuming, even with RNG abuse. Despite the fact that the only difference between shinies and their common counterparts lies in their sprite pallet, these Pokemon are highly sought-after and are very popular in trade threads.
Lastly, a common trend among Wi-Fi players is the use of special Pokeballs over the standard Pokeball obtained from breeding, typically to match color schemes with the Pokemon or for other aesthetic reasons. Especially popular is the use of Dream Balls, which demonstrates the extreme patience it takes to obtain a flawless Dream World Pokemon directly from the Entralink.
However, there are some disadvantages to this. Using these special Pokeballs gives away a certain amount of information to your opponent. First, your opponent will know that your Pokemon does not contain any egg moves. This is not of concern to all male or genderless Pokemon, but a Dream Ball is still a dead giveaway that your Pokemon is carrying its Dream World ability and possibly Dream World exclusive moves.
With the arrival of Black and White, Game Freak gave us a long-awaited random matchup system, as well as new battle features such as the strange but fun Rotation Battles and Wonder Launcher. While a random matchup ladder is supported on the Smogon University Pokemon Online server, it is largely ignored in favor of the OU, UU, Ubers, and Little Cup metagames. Because of this, you are more likely to find random matches on Wi-Fi. The Rotation Battles and Wonder Launcher are not programmed into Pokemon Online, so these are also exclusive to Wi-Fi players.
Finally, the VGC events held by Nintendo once a year are possibly the greatest way to utilize your Wi-Fi skills. When these events roll around, the Wi-Fi forum booms with trade and practice battle activities. If you give yourself the time to RNG and raise Pokemon for others, you should expect great things in return. Additionally, your Pokemon's stats can make or break a match, so it is absolutely necessary to have perfect IVs for any Pokemon you plan on using in the VGCs.
As you have learned, Wi-Fi is a great way to use your in-game experience to its fullest potential. However, this guide would not be complete without some warnings about the use of the Wi-Fi forum. First, do not trade hacked Pokemon. Do not trade hacked Pokemon. Do not trade hacked Pokemon. There is nothing more humiliating for a player who shows up to a VGC event only to have their Pokemon fail hack checks. If you are caught trading hacked Pokemon, you will be added to the black list immediately.
Conversely, you must be wary of who you are trading with. Make sure your partner is using legal spreads—for example, if you see something suspicious such as a Hasty Mewtwo with 31 IVs in all six stats and Selfdestruct, you should not trade with that player. This has changed in the fifth generation, where the IVs of a Pokemon are not related to its PID, but for previous generations, use X-Act's IV to PID calculator for suspicious non-bred Pokemon. If you spot something wrong, report it to a Wi-Fi moderator.
Make sure you check the black list for every trade request you get. You are allowed to refuse service to any user for any reason whatsoever, so use your best judgment at all times. In battling, the use of "legal hacks" is fairly common, but it is courteous (and required) to let your opponent know beforehand.
Next, you must never purposefully disconnect during a Wi-Fi battle. It is very difficult to arrange a match in the first place, so to disconnect while you are losing a battle shows poor sportsmanship, and does not help the would-be winner's record. This is different than leaving a battle on a simulator, since the rating system considers the forfeiting player the loser. As with trading, please be wary of who you are battling with at all times. There is a separate black list for battlers who disconnect, so be sure to check it before any battle. In either case, if you believe you have been wronged, try to sort it out with the user you are corresponding with. If the problem escalates to levels beyond your control, contact a Wi-Fi moderator immediately to report what is going on.
The Wi-Fi forum may be large, but the community is tight-knit. As your activity in Wi-Fi increases, people will know your name, and with it, associate your reputation. If you make a bad trade or purposely disconnect from a battle, your name will be tarnished, especially when you end up on the black list. However, if you follow the rules, you will become a trusted member of the Wi-Fi community, and most importantly, by following the rules, you enhance the Wi-Fi experience for yourself and others.
Now that you have read about the many differences between the Wi-Fi and Pokemon Online formats, hopefully you are prepared to dive into the truly unique experience that is Wi-Fi!