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Tomohawk is the most recently created Pokemon by the Create-A-Pokemon (CAP) project. Tomohawk is the first Pokemon output by the CAP project for the fifth generation, and what a first Pokemon it was. In the voting stages for the Topic Leader (TL), a lot of emphasis was given to the tumultuous metagame shifts of BW OU, and so the TL was chosen such that he would be able to handle the shifting metagame with gusto. reachzero, a frequent player of BW OU, was chosen as our TL, and immediately a massive competitive focus was given to our CAP, more so than usual. Unlike some past CAPs, where much focus was given to analyzing interesting concepts, this focus was totally focused upon merging into the BW OU metagame and giving an already restless metagame something to chew on while not changing the game too much. The goal was to inject a Pokemon into the game without making too much of a paradigm shift, and see how that concept operated.
Tomohawk was built on a concept that no one really understood that well. It's something that competitive Pokemon players talk about a lot, but when confronted about what it means, usually can't muster an adequate response. Korski was the one that supplied this CAP's concept, and that concept is as follows:
The concept was momentum. Everyone knows that when your Scizor scores a U-turn against a switch-in, it maintains momentum. Everyone knows that when you limit your opponent's options against you, you are gaining momentum. But virtually no one knew how you could build a Pokemon so that it's sole purpose was to steal and gain momentum for you at any point in the game. Since so few people understood what exactly momentum was, a huge discussion took place with the TL and ATL at the head, trying to wrap the public's mind around the concept and get them acquainted with the idea that killing your opponent's entire team wasn't the kind of momentum that we wanted. Similarly, we didn't want a generic U-turn spammer, since that merely preserves momentum, it doesn't gain more for you. For what we had set out to create, we needed something that could come in on a swath of the metagame, threaten it out with its options, achieve something for your team, and do so reliably throughout the match.
And so we set out to create the beast that ended up being Tomohawk. Through much discussion, we decided that Tomohawk should be threatened by many of the special sweeping attacking types and many of the popular special sweepers of the game. Tomohawk should then have a typing appropriate for switching into and threatening the many physical attackers of the tier, so that it has numerous opportunities to come in on the likes of Garchomp, Excadrill, Landorus, Terrakion, and so forth. With that in mind, let's see what Tomohawk actually did..
Tomohawk worked and worked well. When it entered into the metagame, it operated as intended. Tomohawk's ability to use Rapid Spin made it excel at stealing momentum immediately against teams that used the ever-popular Ferrothorn or Skarmory. Access to Intimidate and Taunt let it come in and pretty much do whatever it wanted against the Pokemon it checked without issue. Pokemon like Reuniclus, Thundurus, and Tornadus would switch into Tomohawk reliably, either letting the player score a KO with a sneak attack, set up his or her strategy and get out to a check, or double switch to gain and keep momentum. For all intents and purposes, Tomohawk was a success, and the people rejoiced. The most popular Tomohawk set for the playtest used both Taunt and Roost to keep itself healthy and shut its opponents down, while it smashed its enemies with a combination of either Aura Sphere and Hurricane or Aura Sphere and Air Slash. A second popular set that really put a spin on momentum grabber was the Toxic stalling set, where Tomohawk would poison vulnerable Pokemon and stall them out with ease, or hit the Pokemon immune to Toxic hard with its STAB attacks. Coupled with Prankster, Tomohawk could nearly always go first and keep itself healthy with Roost, protected with Substitute, or poisoning the entire team with Toxic. Below, the leftmost set is the typical TauntRoost bulky attacker set, while the rightmost set is the Toxic stalling set. Both of these achieved the goal of the concept expertly.
|Tomohawk @ Leftovers
Ability: Intimidate / Prankster
EVs: 252 HP / 24 SpA / 232 Spe
Modest nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Aura Sphere
- Air Slash / Hurricane
- Taunt / Rapid Spin / Hidden Power Ice
|Tomohawk @ Leftovers
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spe
Bold nature (+Def, -Atk)
- Aura Sphere / Air Slash / Taunt
Tomohawk also had some other interesting options that players abused, such as a Baton Pass set that prioritized passing away very bulky Substitutes to other Pokemon, like Thundurus, that appreciate the coverage turn to set up a Nasty Plot. All of these things secured momentum for the team on a whim, which was really cool to see play out on the ladder. My personal experience showed the greatest success with the bulky attacker set, while I also personally used the Toxic stalling set to great success too.
One of the options that Tomohawk had that some people felt made it not fit the concept was the move Hurricane. Hurricane with STAB made Tomohawk a potent threat on a team with Drizzle Politoed, especially combined with a powerful secondary STAB in Fighting that something like Tornadus lacks. Still, in practice, the threat of the Choice Specs sweeper Tomohawk was alleviated by how opposing rain threats destroyed it. Opposing Tornadus were not only faster, but stronger. Similarly, Thundurus and rain-boosted Water-type attacks simply ripped through Tomohawk and didn't give it a chance to switch in. Tomohawk, in terms of the weather war, paired best with Tyranitar, since it neutralized opposing sand-based physical threats. Ultimately, despite the threat of strong-arm Tomohawk, it just didn't pan out as well in practice against opponent's of equal skill. Of course, sometimes it was nice to back Tomohawk up with rain on a new alt to shred some newcomers, but that's beside the point, right?
To all the nay-sayers I say: Tomohawk succeeded. Some people would say that achieving a momentum concept is in itself suspect since any good Pokemon achieves momentum, but we not only achieved momentum with Tomohawk, we achieved the right kind of momentum that we set out to achieve. We focused on offensive momentum that wasn't all about just murdering Pokemon, but getting in, doing a job, and getting out. Tomohawk did just that. In order to really analyze what about the concept succeeded through Tomohawk, let's answer those lovely questions provided to us by the concept itself.
It's interesting that sometimes in a concept, the success of the concept isn't necessarily in creating a Pokemon that has all of the desired qualities, but through the creation of the Pokemon teaching the player base what exactly it is the concept is even about in the first place. Tomohawk helped players understand that momentum isn't just about KOing Pokemon or spamming U-turn, but achieving temporary strategies successfully that play into your grand strategy of cornering the opponent, limiting their options, and ultimately breaking their 6 Pokemon. Discussions were had along the way that helped users grasp the concept of momentum, and through those discussions I can say that the above questions were answered. Because I know you're dying for a straight answer, I'll give you one: momentum is an abstract concept that, when possessed, literally means that you have more options available to you than your opponent, and ultimately will lead to your victory if you can maintain it throughout the battle. Giving yourself the cards that let you beat your opponent is what it's all about.
Even through the rain-based teams that abused Tomohawk to sweep, we found that every type of team uses momentum differently. Whether it be that you need Tomohawk to check opposing physical threats and then smash switch-ins, stall through defensive walls with Toxic, or generally harass an opposing balanced team with a combination of Taunt and strong attacking options, it had the options necessary to pull off the momentum-grabber role. And let's not forget Rapid Spin, no; Rapid Spin during the playtest led many a team to victory thanks to the ultimate of momentum-grabbing moves' removing an opponent's hard-placed Spikes or Stealth Rock. These are the strategies that our CAP could use to secure momentum, and through using Tomohawk, we now better understand how other Pokemon can use these strategies to build momentum.
It turned out in our case that the traditional role that Tomohawk would best fit into is bulky special attacker, or tank. Sort of like a retooled DPP Swampert, Tomohawk had options to get in, execute its strategy, and be a general annoyance and cornerstone to the team that an opponent would have to get by in order to be able to gain their own momentum. Also, we can now say that Tomohawk doesn't have to have a billion options in order to fit into a variety of teams. I want to say that having Prankster helped Tomohawk a lot and gave it necessary options in order to be able to successfully corner an opponent. A one-dimensional Pokemon is not very good at scoring momentum; it's quite the opposite, in-fact, it cedes a lot of momentum. (Just take a look at Gliscor!)
This is probably my favorite of all of the questions. How did the metagame react? I want to say that, like all threats, Pokemon raised and fell in usage to beat the addition of a new one. Defensive teams did have to adjust their archetype in order to be able to punch through a bulky Toxic-stalling Tomohawk, and offensive teams often had to switch more in order to keep their sweepers safe until a Tomohawk had been removed. This isn't really a surprise in hindsight, but before the playtest, few people could really pinpoint exactly how the metagame would react. Like I always say, now we know the rest of the story.
Since I played such a big role in Tomohawk's creation as ATL, I'm sure you're expecting me by now to pat all of CAP on the back for such a successful CAP. Well, I won't do quite that, but if you asked me if I felt that Tomohawk succeeded at its goal, I would say that it had. I know that I, personally, understand competitive Pokemon's version of momentum a lot better than I did at the outset of this CAP, and I know that others in the community feel the same way. Not all CAPs are successful, and yeah, a few of our past creations are amusingly erroneous in how we went about creating them to fit their concepts. That said, it's all a learning process, and so long as we remember that it's all about the process and not necessarily the result, you'll see what I mean when I say that CAP did a good job here.
Hopefully the next CAP is as successful as this past one was, and I hope, now that you've read a bit about the learning process, you'll think of participating in it! If you ever want to learn more about the process, the CAP site is a good place to start, and when the next one begins, it'll be posted and detailed in the CAP forum. I know that the CAP site isn't really updated, but that is unavoidable given how busy everyone has been with everything else in Smogon. It'll be updated in due time. Either way, I hope to see you in the CAP forum for the next CAP when it kicks off!
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