CAP2 Report: The Essence of Necturna

By Birkal. Art by Birkal.
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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.

What she was supposed to do

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:

Concept: Sketch Artist

Description: A Pokémon that learns Sketch, once, and everything that goes along with that.

In terms of uniqueness, I think that few existing Pokémon can match DPP Smeargle, an otherwise laughably worthless Pokémon trolling OU with access to every trick in the book (or at least 4 of them) but also affecting the metagame greatly by becoming a top threat in the lead metagame. This Pokémon will borrow some of that uniqueness by learning the move Sketch and thus having access to ONE surprise/strategic/gutshot bonus move to supplement its pre-existing movepool. Being otherwise competently built (read: usable stats), this Poke could be a top threat or specialist for reasons we can't even predict yet.

Questions To Be Answered:

The key here is that we have a lot of freedom to construct a unique Pokemon while staying within the confines of the concept. Typing, stats, abilities, and even most of the movepool are completely fair game so long as the Poke learns Sketch only once along the way and that we keep that in mind during previous steps. Now, this doesn't mean the CAP process will be directionless; Rising Dusk is pretty well organized and good at keeping discussions focused, and the concept itself has firm grounding in Smeargle's precedent. What's really being studied with this concept is movepool diversity and effectiveness, so it should have the most effect on the movepool process, where movepool creators will have to carefully balance their Sketchmon's actual movepool with the possibility of adding any one other move to the list. In terms of the metagame, there is no doubt in my mind that throwing a wildcard like this into the mix will strongly affect the metagame.

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.

What she did

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 Necturna
Necturna @ Life Orb
Ability: Forewarn
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
Ability: Forewarn
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.

The Verdict

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:


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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