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Necturna, the Essence Pokémon, is the latest creation to arise from the Create-A-Pokémon (CAP) project. Preceded by Tomohawk in early 2011, she is the second Pokémon to be created within the CAP subforum for the fifth generation of Pokémon, as the world of Create-A-Pokémon had been on standby due to technical issues with Pokémon Online. But thanks to the combined efforts of CAP moderator Theorymon and programmer aesoft, we were able to get CAP 2 started with the promise of a simulator that will support created Pokémon. Our Policy Review Committee (PRC) was assembled shortly afterwards, where they voted for Rising_Dusk to take lead the project as our Topic Leader (TL). Dusk's roots in the Create-A-Pokémon project are deep; he has written numerous analyses and was the Assistant Topic Leader (ATL) of CAP 1. He decided to choose DarkSlay as the ATL for CAP 2. With all of the necessary leadership positions in place, CAP 2 was finally ready to begin.
The participants of the CAP project chose quite a unique concept. Korski, who also created the winning submission for CAP 1, came up with a concept titled "Sketch Artist". Although it's a simple concept to explain, it is one that we as a community knew would lead to incredible amounts of discussion. Korski's concept is as follows:
As you can see, we chose one of the most interesting concepts of any Pokémon created here on Smogon. The general idea of the concept is that we would create a Pokémon that could learn Sketch, but only once; she would need to rely on the rest of her movepool for other attacks. Korski's excellent submission went on to inspire a host of questions and speculations. Discussions went wild with CAP participants dreaming of which move would be the best move to Sketch. Moves such as Spore, Shell Smash, Quiver Dance, Shift Gear, and V-create quickly took the bulk of attention. As we began to work on CAP 2, the looming thought of whether or not we would make a "broken" Pokémon hung over us.
From Ability Discussion to Movepool Submissions, we fought to create a Pokémon that would have viable access to as many Sketch moves as possible. We desired to prevent moves such as Shell Smash from becoming the only successful sets within OU; we hoped that moves such as Blue Flare, Rapid Spin, and Spikes could also be sketched. For these reasons, CAP 2's stats ended up being quite defensive, with a bias in her Attack stat to discourage the overuse of Tail Glow. We also decided to not give CAP 2 a competitive ability; we feared that doing so would perhaps sway battlers as to which move to sketch. Her movepool also ended up being very small with a few key moves to encourage defensive and supportive sets: Toxic Spikes, Calm Mind, and Horn Leech evidenced this. With all of the preparations and precautions we had made, every CAP participant waited in anticipation to see whether or not our creation had truly balanced the boundless potential of Sketch.
With the conclusion of Necturna's creation, the CAP community was launched into the playtest period. Rising_Dusk chose capefeather, one of CAP's excellent community members, to face him in the inaugural battle, which can be watched here. The wild variety of sets that Necturna could potentially use made teambuilding difficult for playtesters; how could they stop a Pokémon with Sketch from sweeping their team? Thankfully, Pokémon such as Heatran, Skarmory, and Jirachi served as excellent counters that could absorb the vast majority of attacks that Necturna could be running. Tyranitar also made its presence known on the playtest ladder with its Sand Stream ability, along with its super effective STAB Pursuit.
As one would expect, Necturna has the ability to run a vast array of sets thanks to her singular access to Sketch. That, combined with our specific goal of making many sketched moves viable, led to the creation of many great sets. This beauty was further augmented by the fact that Necturna could run defensive sets just as well as offensive sets. Below are two sets that showcase the sheer variety of effective sets that Necturna can utilize.
|Necturna @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Lonely nature (+Atk, -Def)
- Shell Smash
- Power Whip
- Shadow Claw
- Hidden Power Ground / Hidden Power Fire
|Necturna @ Leftovers
EVs: 252 HP / 248 SpD / 8 Spe
Careful nature (+SpD, -SpA)
- Shadow Claw
- Rapid Spin
- Toxic Spikes
- Pain Split
The first set hinges on the power of Shell Smash to pose an offensive presence in the OU metagame. Necturna's base 120 Attack stat makes her a fearsome wielder of STAB Power Whip and Shadow Claw, especially after the Shell Smash boost, while her base 81 Speed stat allows her to outspeed threats such as Choice Scarf Terrakion after a Shell Smash boost. The luxury of Shell Smash is that Necturna is also able to go mixed and run Hidden Power as a viable coverage move to break through her counters; Hidden Power Ground enables Necturna to beat Heatran, while Hidden Power Fire lets her break through Skarmory. With access to Leaf Storm and Shadow Ball, Necturna also has the ability to run a specially based set that utilizes either Quiver Dance or Tail Glow as her boosting moves. The presence of Calm Mind in Necturna's movepool also allows her to pick some interesting moves, such as Blue Flare, as her sketched move.
The second set is proof that Necturna can also run defensively minded sets if one should so desire. This particular set utilizes Rapid Spin as Necturna's sketched move to make her a useful spinner in a tier lacking a truly reliable way to remove entry hazards. Thanks to her Ghost typing, Necturna has the unique capability of spinblocking, which allows her to keep up hazards on the opponent's side of the field. Access to Toxic Spikes also lets her set up on hazard setters as well. Additionally, in combination with her mediocre base 64 HP stat, Pain Split gives defensive variants of Necturna a recovery option. If you examine Necturna's movepool, you'll notice a lack of Leech Seed; CAP participants deemed that it would unfairly make Necturna the most powerful SubSeeder in the metagame. Other successful sets on the ladder included sketched moves such as Spikes, Recover (or Roost if you are feeling sassy, or Milk Drink if you are feeling awesome), and Spore.
So the question stands: did we as a CAP community succeed? In my humble opinion, we did indeed triumph in the end. Although I personally had some reservations along the way, I am proud of what we have accomplished. The amount of Sketch moves that Necturna can utilize is simply astonishing. Furthermore, we didn't create a Pokémon that is completely broken; there are some solid counters to CAP 2, especially after her set is identified. Let's review the questions asked in our CAP 2 concept to see what all we learned:
During the playtest, it was incredibly common to find multiple counters to Necturna stacked on one team. Since most did not lead with her, many matches turned into a scouting session. "Which move did Necturna Sketch?" was certainly a question on the forefront of everyone's mind. No one wanted to ditch their Skarmory only to find that it was the only Pokémon stopping Necturna from sweeping their team. As a result, moves such as Substitute, Protect, and U-turn became incredibly popular. Indeed, one of the key aspects of winning a match against Necturna is to identify which move she sketched, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
There are certainly some moves that are better sketched on Necturna than others, that much is for sure—but don't worry Skill Swap Necturna, I won't ever let you go. However, there are a surprising amount of moves that Necturna can viably sketch. Sketching Swords Dance or Belly Drum, for example, was a strategy that worked well due to her great Attack stat, access to priority STAB Shadow Sneak, and overall bulk. At the end of the playtest, we discovered that Necturna has a plethora of "best" sets that she could use effectively. I am sure that Necturna's analysis will be monstrous in size; keep on the lookout for when that goes up!
Yes, Necturna's success does often lie in how long she can keep her Sketch move hidden from the battlefield. Moves such as Quiver Dance were best saved until the end so that Necturna could perform a surprise sweep, for example. Rapid Spin, likewise, was best saved until the opponent figured that he or she had set up their hazards adequately on a team with no spinner and sacrificed their hazard layer as a result. Although it certainly wasn't necessary for Necturna to hide her sketched move, keeping it a secret for as long as possible often had extra benefits.
The Create-A-Pokémon Project had a field day when we first read Korski's concept submission. How could we possibly make a Pokémon with access to Sketch with competitive stats (i.e. not Smeargle) not broken within the OU metagame? We took many efforts to prevent Necturna from becoming too powerful; for example, we decided as a community not to give Necturna a competitive ability. At the time, both Limber and Immunity seemed to be popular choices. However, the community came to embrace the idea that, due to her access to Sketch, CAP 2 didn't need a competitive ability to be strong. We also took care in the Movepool Submission stage to prevent Necturna from receiving too many powerful moves; the omission of moves such as Leech Seed and good coverage moves are examples of our unwavering effort to prevent her from becoming "broken".
As you are now aware, we as a CAP community tried out best to create a plethora of options for Necturna to Sketch. While her offensive sets are powerful and effective, her defensive sets are just as successful in battle. Her Ghost typing grants her immunity to a few attacking types, while her overall bulk prevents her from being KOed easily. These key facts, in addition to her ability to block Rapid Spin, made Necturna a great utility addition to any defensively minded team. With CAP 2 in the mix of OU, battlers were no longer forced to rely on Jellicent and Gengar to block spinners from removing their precious entry hazards. Necturna sets that ran Recover also helped defensive teams by providing some key resistances, while being able to set up entry hazards in the form of Toxic Spikes. If you're hungry for a further analysis of how well Necturna can function on a stall-based team, then I recommend that you glance over Rising_Dusk's RMT: Stall Survives. Overall, CAP 2 can certainly be used to patch holes in defensive teams; thanks to Sketch, she is very versatile.
Despite the Create-A-Pokémon's hiatus from Pokémon-building for a significant portion of 2011, we managed to make a roaring comeback as a community by creating a Pokémon unlike anything we've ever seen in a Pokémon metagame. Not only did we succeed in making a Pokémon that had access to Sketch and usable stats, but we also prevented her from being too powerful for the OU metagame. By choosing Sketch Artist as our concept, we were tasked with walking on a delicate tightrope that could have resulted in us easily plummeting to failure. But thanks to our intricate discussions and careful planning phases, we were able to defy the odds and create a Pokémon with Sketch that can thrive and survive within the OU metagame without dominating all who opposed it. Well done, CAP community.
So where do we go from here? Well, with Pokémon Showdown! as CAP's playtest home, we shouldn't have many technical issues that prevent us from starting CAP 3. Until then, we as a community have voted that Necturna will have one pre-evolution! At this very moment, there is still polling going on for how she will turn out. The beautiful thing about the Create-A-Pokémon project is that it is open for anyone with a Smogon account to participate in. If you don't yet have an account, I highly recommend that you sign up and join us; we have a blast! You'll probably want to get educated about the CAP process, however. You might consider meandering over to the CAP site to get some general knowledge on what we do. Be careful though, it's a bit outdated at the moment—we here at Smogon are busy people. Once you're feeling ready, head on over to the CAP forum and join us in having fun as a community. If you're someone who lurks the CAP forums frequently, then why not join us? The Create-A-Pokémon Project is always looking for new members and participants. Who knows, perhaps you will contribute towards us hitting another "home run" of a Create-A-Pokémon in the future! I can't wait to see you on the flip side.
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