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Hello, everyone! Black and White has been released and it's finally time for me to either gloat over my ingenious predictive ability or eat a fat plate of 100 Base HP Honchkrow. I'll be covering an exhaustive amount of new material for everything in the games, but in truth I'll only be scratching the surface. So sit back, relax, grab a drink, and revel with me in all the wonders of this brand new generation of Pokemon.
What I should have done is guessed that Thrash and Petal Dance were getting the Outrage treatment. Both of them have been bumped up to 120 Base Power, but have retained their physical or special nature. There's still little reason to use either of them. Maybe CB Dodrio or Specs Venusaur.
The most important news regarding existing move changes is probably Selfdestruct and Explosion. They no longer halve the opponent's defense, so they are down to 200 and 250 Base Power instead of the 400 and 500 we have been accustomed to since GSC. Looks like it'll take more than a mere Explosion to down a rogue Blissey now. Don't you just love how Game Freak mollycoddles the blob? It's so sweet.
Well, I got the Speed + Accuracy boosting Dragon Dance half right. Claw Sharpen is a TM that boost Attack and Accuracy, and there is a new attack named Coil for "serpent" Pokemon that boosts Attack, Defense, and Accuracy one stage. Most of the serpentine Pokemon are still too mediocre to use it, but the final Grass starter Jaroda and the Levitating Electric-typed eel Shibirudon should be able to make good use of it.
Don't be concerned that there isn't enough cloning going around though. Cloned new moves in Generation V include Mountain Storm/Ice Breath, 40 BP Fighting/Ice moves that always score a critical hit, Purgatory, which is a Fire-typed special DynamicPunch that always inflicts a burn, and Overhead Throw/Dragon Tail, which are Fighting/Dragon typed moves with 60 Base Power, 90 Accuracy, and a Whirlwind-like effect.
Additionally, many of the typed multi-hit moves like Bullet Seed and Icicle Spear have been brought to parity with the originals, Rock Blast and Bone Rush. Arguably they are better now since Bullet Seed and Icicle Spear have 100 Accuracy and 30 PP whereas their older counterparts have 90 accuracy and 10 PP. There are also a slew of low-powered Speed lowering moves taking after Icy Wind and Rock Tomb, which include the physical Ground-typed Level Ground and Fighting-typed Ankle Sweep.
Growth now has a TM clone in Cheer Up. Both the moves now raise both Attack and Special Attack. This is a change from Growth's effect in Generation IV, where it only raised Special Attack. All in all a solid effect for mixed attackers. The distribution is good too, as every Grass type learns Growth while every Normal type and Fighting type learns Cheer Up.
Last but not least, there is now two stat-boosting move arguably more broken than Dragon Dance. What sort of terrifying creatures have access to the first of these deadly new moves? Ask Bart Simpson: "No one suspects the Butterfly". Butterfly Dance raises Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed. Special Attack and Speed would be enough for anyone, but the additional defensive boost makes it even easier to pull off a second dance. Also consider that most of its users have either extensive special movepools, powerful abilities like Tinted Lens and Chlorophyll, and/or extremely disruptive attacks like Sleep Powder that make it even easier to use Butterfly Dance reliably. Some of them even have Baton Pass!
The second outrageous new boosting move is possessed by an even more innocuous group of Pokemon: shellfish. You may never look at seafood the same way again. Shell Break lowers Defense and Special Defense by one stage in exchange for boosting Attack, Special Attack, and Speed by two stages. Moreover because these threats are slow and generally defensive, it is incredibly difficult to exploit Shell Break's drawback the turn it is used. The majority of Shell Break's possessors are still pretty slow—Torkoal and Magcargo in particular get almost no mileage out of it—but most of the rest hover at enough Speed that they can beat out Base 110 Pokemon or better after a Shell Break. The scariest user is perhaps Cloyster, who in addition to a respectable 70 Base Speed still has a relatively immense defense score afterward, and new toys like a 125 Base Power Skill Link Icicle Spear and 90 Accuracya and a 125 Base Power Skill Link Rock Blast. Cloyster also recieved Hydro Pump this generation. You brought a Vacuum Wave user with you, right? Although it's slower than Cloyster, Huntail may have found a new niche as well to seperate it from Gorebyss, as now its more balanced mixed attacking stats and movepool can be put to good use. Iwaparesu is perhaps the strongest candidate of all, as it has sandstorm immunity and Sturdy to survive at least one assault from full health.
Yeah, this one was the least likely. The good news (or bad news depending on your vantage point), is that there are a whole slew of new or updated abilities that serve to give type immunity. Lightningrod, Storm Drain, and Herbivore now give immunities to Electric, Water, and Grass attacks while also raising an offensive stat (Special Attack, Special Attack, and Attack respectively) upon hit. The new item Balloon gives an immunity to Ground but dissapears upon taking damage from a direct attack. Traditional immunity abilities are also now more commonplace because of the "Dream World". If you've ever wondered why your Grass-types don't just absorb water attacks, wonder no more. On a more relevant competitive note, both Zapdos and Raikou gain abilities that make them immune to Electric attacks. If you hit Zapdos with one though, its Special Attack raises. Cheerio!
Fortunately, Game Freak didn’t take to the idea of combining item effects. In fact, the new items are actually fairly tame all things considered. Most of them actually take after existing abilities. Rugged Helmet, for example, causes the opponent to take 1/6th recoil damage. This is even more than the ability Rough Skin or its new clone, Iron Barbs. The previously mentioned Balloon, serves as an immunity item. Then there are cassettes for Genosekuto, although they are basically Arcues plates except they are terrible, since they don’t even boost damage. Unless it’s vital for your Steel/Bug war machine to use up an item and moveslot for an 85 BP Water Attack, Game Freak may have just used 8-tracks for all the relevancy they have. Here’s hoping in Gen VI Genosekuto upgrades to DVD. .
Well, abilities can't quite be bred in the abstract, but you can breed the new "Dream World" abilities so long as your female carries one, meaning any Generation V Egg Move and Ability combination is legal. This is great news for some Pokemon, Blaziken being the most immediate example. Blaziken gets the amazing "Dream World" Ability, Speed Boost. One of its new Egg Moves is Baton Pass. In short, not only will Blaziken be an amazingly scary sweeper in its own right, at any point in time it can merely Baton Pass out whatever speed boosts it has gotten along with any of its other boosts. Considering Blaziken learns Claw Sharpen, Bulk Up, Agility, Cheer Up, and Swords Dance, this is quite a long list indeed.
Every other choke point is disheartening but foreseeable. There are a few changes that get discovered in every generation that change how a specific move or moves are used. Most of the mechanics of damage dealing moves are worked out; it's usually the oddballs that end up changing here or there.New Pokemon:
The three genies are definitely darker and edgier than the vanilla birds/beasts/pixes paradigm seen in the past. The golems (Regirock, Regice, Registeel) were conceptually darker than most of the others, but nothing quite says "badass" like three angry Djinns. Even the other set of legendaries (which forms a quartet instead of a trio) are a step above, utilizing the Chinese Quilin (or Japanese Kirin) in various variants.
Sazando is the 600 Dragon, par for the course, although Sazando has some serious flaws, being unable to boost its speed and having the Achilles Heel of 98 Speed to contend with. It is in many ways set up to be a beefier, mightier Flygon, but its lack of resistances to common battles conditions (Stealth Rock, sandstorm) and susceptibility to Thunder Wave means Flygon will remain a master of the scouting niche. Still, its breaking power is roughly equivalent to Salamence and it can actually use both of its STABs to inflict damage. Garchomp still trolls the speed of every other Dragon and its typing puts it more in competition with Flygon, but nonetheless it's a crowded field.
Nattorei is our "Exploding Whale" so to speak, as it possesses both Selfdestruct and Explosion via level-up. This Grass/Steel Pokemon has a unique ability in Iron Barbs, which is basically a rough skin clone. It also has excellent mixed defenses and much like Forretress it can lay hazards. Unlike Forretress, Nattorei cannot Rapid Spin, but nonetheless it will be a formidable defensive force in the metagame. Honorary mention goes out to Dasutodasu, which learns Explosion naturally but must get Selfdestruct from Egg Moves. Dasutodasu is probably more interesting as an example here though: it is the living incarnation of an overstuffed garbage bag. Gross!
Emonga is our Superfluous Electric Rodent. It is very amusing in its distinctive features, however. With 103 Speed it can troll even Garchomp, and unlike its other rodent brethren this mouse is Electric/Flying. Unfortunately that puts it in direct competition with Zapdos and one of the new legendary Djinns, Borutorusu. The saddest commentary about this flying squirrel though is that it doesn't even have Super Fang to one up them. At least there's Encore.
I sort of messed up on the Birds, Bees, and Rats prediction. There is indeed a bird and there are indeed starter bugs, but who could suspect a region full of wild, rabid... Yorkshire Terriers? Isshu is based on New York City I guess, so fair game. Granted the little scouting mole and its outsized evolution are a more common variant of pest, but you're still spending most of your early trainer time being attacked by little yippy dogs. That being said, the Yorkie might end up finally breaking the stigma on early Normal-types much like Staraptor did for early birds in Sinnoh. That's the only example of an early bird that hasn't fallen prey to "why not Dodrio instead?" thus far.
Fossil Fuel for this generation is the wonderfully rendered (at least in my opinion) Abagoora and Aakeosu. Of the dual fossils (e.g. not Aerodactyl) Aakeosu is actually the fastest created, and Abagoora the slowest. Interestingly, Abagoora can make itself faster after Rock Polish or Shell Break (a most absurd move that reduces Defense and Special Defense to sharply raise Attack, Special Attack, and Speed) if it runs maximum speed and a boosting nature. Another funny flavor note is that Aakeosu's National Dex Number, 567, is the same as its Base Stat Total. Unlike Abagoora who receives three excellent abilities in Solid Rock, Sturdy (which now acts as Focus Sash: The Ability), and Swift Swim through the "Dream World", Aakeosu is stuck with Faint Hearted, which cuts its Attack in half if it is below 50% HP. Nonetheless, Aakeosu is a fearsome offensive force, with 140 Base Attack, 112 Base Special Attack, and 110 Speed.
In the same vein, Abagoora has many of the tools to be an effective defensive force between its aforementioned abilities and a new attack, Boiling Water, an 80 BP special Water-type attack with a 30% burn chance. As they are both Rock-types in the fossil tradition, both receive a Special Defense boost in Sandstorm. The pair will be very interesting additions to the Generation V metagame.
Now for the bad news (for me at least). The starters for this generation are an enigma as far as where they will place. Unlike most of the Water-type starter Pokemon, Daikenki is pretty vanilla. It has fairly average stats all around, a few tricks here and there, but not a lot to distinguish itself. It gets a lot of cool moves, but they aren't necessarily synergistic. Its biggest competition will be Empoleon, which can do many of the same things but has the additional Steel typing to help out its defense.
Jaroda is built in a very interesting way. Its 113 Base Speed and Glare (now with 90% accuracy) lets it get the drop on many opponents with a SubSeed strategy, and it's built with defense in mind given its 75/95/95 Defenses. It gets a lot of boosting moves, including Swords Dance, Growth, Calm Mind, and Coil (one stage boost to Attack, Defense, and Accuracy). However, its actual offensive movepool is incredibly shallow. Additionally, it has a Dream World ability Contrarian that reverses stat boosts (up boosts lower stats, down boosts increase them) and access to Leaf Storm. As cool as getting +2 Special Attack from Leaf Storm is, the full extent of Jaroda's usable special movepool is Leaf Storm, Hidden Power, and Wring Out/Hyper Beam (along with other grass moves like Giga Drain). It should still work given a set of Leaf Storm / Hidden Power Rock / Wring Out / filler, but it's not winning coverage awards, and the reason you wouldn't run Hidden Power Ice is that this generation Game Freak decided it'd be cool to double the number of Steel/Bug Pokemon available to the metagame. HP Fire opens you up to Dragons too much.
Emboar is going to have difficulty rising above Blaziken and Infernape, however it does have a few tools at its disposal. Of the three it makes the best use of Nitro Charge against switchins, since it has reasonable bulk and with a speed Boosting nature can outrun Base 120's after one use. 110/65/65 Defenses are passable at least, somewhat short of Machamp, and Fire/Fighting is undersold as a defensive typing since its previous incarnations are all heavily offensive-minded. It's Dream World ability gives it a considerable power boost, increasing the Base Power of its Flare Blitz, Head Smash, and Wild Bolt attacks to 144, 180, and 108 respectively. Emboar's movepool is quite diverse, though it lacks a solid Fighting STAB without a drawback. In the end Emboar has the most immediate physical power and strongest coverage attacks of the three Fire/Fighting starters, and it has a more rounded special movepool, possessing Grass Knot and Boiling Water.
So to boil this all down, Jaroda and Emboar are probably in metagame limbo until it resolves while Daikenki will struggle mightily to earn a place over its many Water-type alternatives.
Four Stages was a very sketchy rumor at the time and not really worth devoting a whole paragraph to. Suffice it to say the three stage formula is a paradigm Game Freak is unlikely to shift from. To close this out, I must say it will be refreshing to play a game without half of your forced encounters being 90 Base Speed Pokemon with Confuse Ray. The Geodude/Zubat/Tentacool annoyance complex has finally been broken!
As a final note I'd like to say it's always fun to speculate about a new game and then plumb its depths, even if a lot of your speculation is proven wrong. Generation V looks like it is going to have a very rich, very diverse metagame where the unique characteristics of each Pokemon will be considered. I've only touched on the so very little that was relevant to my predictions. Go out there and find strategies and new favorites of your own. Until next time, remember the ancient wisdom of Seven Deadly Sins:
"Game Freak hates you and everything you stand for." ~SDS in Smogcast #1
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