Prepare for Trouble, and, as always, make it Double, Puclonians! I was not kidding when I said last week June is bringing with it a flood of fantastic Writing Staff birthdays. Yesterday was Scron’s birthday and this Friday is Lord Jushiro’s! Two PUCL birthdays in one week: that really IS Double Trouble!
Of course, that means we are in store this week for yet another special “Celebrate” edition of Double Trouble, paying tribute to the PUCL staff and their hard work on behalf of the community around the time of their birthday. As is the tradition, I asked Lord Jushiro what some of his favorite Pokémon were to be the subject of this article, because when it’s your birthday, it is all about you.
Mega Manectric is not just a Pokémon Lord Jushiro likes, it also happens to be his favorite Mega Evolution in the TCG at the moment (and it makes my beloved Yveltal EX retreat in fear)! Things are going pretty well for Manectric and its Mega Evolution in the VGC these days as well. Manectric really seems to be experiencing a renaissance with it being so viable in multiple, drastically different formats thanks to its Mega Evolution! In the VGC specifically, prior to being graced with a Mega Evolution, Manectric had no noteworthy accomplishments in the format. But, after becoming one of the lucky ones to receive a Mega Evolution, that changed. It also helped that the first VGC format Mega Manectric was available in had a narrower pool of viable Pokémon to pick from, weeding out some of its competition. Under these ideal conditions, Mega Manectric went from being a typically outclassed Electric type be winning tournaments and appearing on half-a-dozen teams at the VGC 2014 VGC World Championships! With its Mega Evolution putting a lot more eyes on what Manectric was capable of, it even started seeing success on certain teams WITHOUT holding its Mega Stone, its newfound popularity enabling people to look more closely at what Manectric could actually do than ever before and realize it held niches that no one had noticed before because no one was using it!
What made Mega Manectric one of the more standout Mega Evolutions at the dawn of Gen VI, specifically for the VGC, was, probably more than anything else, receiving one of the best Abilities you can have for a Doubles format: Intimidate. I can never praise Intimidate enough. It really is that good. Its Mega Evolutions stat boost allocation was also virtually perfect, giving it a more meaningful offensive presence and just enough bulk, especially with its new Intimidate Ability, to hopefully take a hit. It also had FABULOUS Fire+Ice+Electric coverage for an Electric type with HP Ice and access to both Flamethrower and Overheat (Overheat synergizing so well with Volt Switch so you could get more Intimidates off was the Cherubi on top). Keep in mind 2014 was a year without access to move tutors, so Zapdos did not have access to Heat Wave, usually a staple for the Thunder Bird. This made Mega Manectric’s coverage all the more covetable at the time. The last thing that really propelled Manectric forward was actually something it had without the Mega Evolution: Lightning Rod, a (highly valuable) passive form of redirection. Nothing like using an Electric-weak attacker that cannot be hit by Electric type attacks if you bring Manectric out at the right time. Players would often keep Manectric from Mega Evolving so it could provide Lightning Rod redirection support until it was no longer needed, and a few started using Manectric without a Mega Evolution altogether just for the utility provided by Lightning Rod! Gen VI has been quite the perfect storm for it.
If you are interested in using Manectric, in spite of having such a high Special Attack and Speed stat, its nature may matter more than you think. A Timid nature is necessary to outspeed Garchomp (as well as the plethora of 100 Base Speed Pokémon running max speed with a boosting nature) on the first turn of a battle when you are just Mega Evolving, but the OHKO with HP Ice comes down to a dice roll. A Modest nature largely addressed the dice roll, but is also outsped by the standard Garchomp set the first turn Manectric is out. With Garchomp being far less common this year than last and Choice Scarf Landorus-T replacing it, the choice arguably matters a good deal less in VGC 2015, however. The moveset is almost always Protect/HP Ice/Fire Attack/Electric Attack, the Electric attack almost always being Volt Switch since it synergizes so well with Intimidate, but sometimes stronger Electric moves are selected instead. Sometimes two Electric type moves are chosen at the cost of something else. It is not an especially common move choice, but Manectric also has access to Snarl, which also pairs excellently with its Intimidate. Of course, if you are just using Manectric for the redirection it offers without any intention of Mega Evolving it, you can probably scrap Volt Switch, but also need to see if it serves your specific team better than Raichu does (Raichu is more support-oriented, Manectric is more offensive).
Gengar, another of Lord Jushiro’s favorite Pokémon, has also experienced a sort of renaissance in popularity as of Generation VI, also having been graced with the good fortune of a Mega Evolution which wields the horrifyingly potent Shadow Tag as its Ability! It also happens to be the OTHER Mega Evolution EX of Phantom Forces. I smell a connection. As of Gen VI’s first VGC World Championships, Gengar has made quite a name for itself it never had previously in the VGC. Nearly a dozen people took it to the World Championships on their teams (many without Gengarite as the held item, mind you!) and Gengar even achieved the highest honour of winning the VGC World Championships in the Senior Division on Nikolai Zielinski’s team! That’s right. Gengar currently holds a World Championship title.
Which brings up a notable point: although Gengar has grown in prominence and popularity to levels previously never seen for it in previous generations, it is not JUST receiving a Mega Evolution that has caused Gengar to gain so much popularity. It is just as much, if not more, a matter of how the metagame has changed in the VGC more broadly. Quite notably, Gengar happens to handle what is still the single most common Pokémon in the VGC extremely well: Mega Kangaskhan. With the standard Mega Kang set featuring Protect/Fake Out, Return/Double Edge, Power Up Punch, and Sucker Punch, Gengar is conveniently immune to most of those moves moves and can get around the last with its own movepool offering tools such as Will-o-Wisp, Substitute, and Disable. Another large factor that has further facilitated Gengar’s newfound success is its Poison typing being much more valuable these days thanks to the introduction and prominence of Fairy Types, and as the strongest Special Attacking Poison Type, Gengar’s Sludge Bomb can be quite the asset against them. Its Ghost Typing no longer being resisted by Steel does not hurt either (why hello there, Mega Metagross!). And its 110 Base Speed stat in its normal form and 130 Speed for its Mega Evolution are also in fantastic speed tiers to reach this generation, outpacing a huge slew of common threats. Gengar may be experiencing new heights of popularity and success, but it is definitely not all a consequence of its Mega Evolution (which has also helped).
If you are looking to use Gengar in the VGC, you really need to know what you want to accomplish because the Mega Evolution plays substantially differently from regular Gengar. Either way, Timid is probably the desired nature, as both forms highly value their Speed stat to act as quickly as possible, with over 90% of Gengar being Timid. Mega Gengar typically is the starting point for the teams it finds itself on, with the team exploiting Shadow Tag in various ways, be it by simply neutering threats to your sweeper that cannot switch out or more complex combinations such as Encore+Disable with Whimsicott and the like, or even functioning as an essential component of Perish Trap teams. It can also function quite well on teams with two Mega Evolutions, more than capable of contributing to a team even without Mega Evolving. If you are interested in regular Gengar, Gengar offers speedy offense and support, and most frequently holds a Focus Sash given its frailty when not holding Gengarite. Even with knowing whether you want to use the Mega Stone or not, Gengar also suffers from the dreaded 4-moveslot syndrome, given that Protect is as ubiquitous as it is (and all the more valuable given Gengar’s frailty), having two solid STAB options, and a myriad of support and utility moves including: Substitute, Will-o-Wisp, Taunt, Disable, Perish Song, Destiny Bond, and even Trick Room (someone used it at Worlds last year VERY successfully), so know specifically what you want Gengar to accomplish for your team with its high speed.
Everyone has a favorite Eeveelution, and Lord Jushiro’s also happens to be his favorite Pokémon overall! Jolteon is also the third, really fast and strong Special Attacker in this article (coincidence, or part of a systematic pattern, Jushiro?). Jolteon’s biggest strength has always been that it is really, REALLY fast with that 130 Base Speed. Unfortunately it has a lot of competition in the category of really fast Special Attacking Electric type. Even looking at those without immunities to Ground attacks (which are the most common in the VGC), if faces direct competition with Raikou, occasionally used to set up Screens and Snarl but with much more bulk than Jolteon has to work with. If you expand the competition, Thundurus-I has Prankster to bypass speed completely for support moves, and if you just wanted a fast Special Attacking Electric Type, Mega Manectric is even faster! Unsurprisingly, with this competition in mind, Jolteon has unforunately not seen notable success in the VGC thus far.
All hope is not lost, however! If one was truly commited to using Jolteon, even if for the sake of simply using favorites rather than what may be most effective, Jolteon does happen to have enough of a unique combination of assets that it can technically accomplish things no other Pokémon can. To begin with, Jolteon does not require a Mega Stone to have its 130 Base Speed stat and can technically hit harder than Mega Manectric with a power boosting item such as a Life Orb or Choice Specs, so if you wanted to have the hardest hitting, fastest possible Electric type WITHOUT using a Mega Stone, Jolteon would fit the description better than anyone else (a Thundurus-T with the same item would hit a good deal harder, but would not have the same speed). Similarly, while the likes of Thundurus-I and Raikou both tend to be picked first for fast support Electric types, Jolteon has moves they lack, such as Charm, Tickle, VERY notably Helping Hand (although speed is quite irrelevant with that one given its priority bracket), and Fake Tears, allowing it to do things its more popular Electric Type peers cannot.
The odds are currently stacked against Jolteon in the VGC, but future generations always have the capacity to change a Pokémon’s circumstances completely. And Jolteon does have enough distinct things going for it that a successful VGC team for which Jolteon was an essential member could hypothetically exist (and for many of the writers’ favorites – mine included – that is enough). And whether it sees much success in the VGC or not, as one of the original three Eeveelutions, Jolteon will always be awesome. And that Speed Stat!
Happy Birthday, Lord Jushiro! And thank you for all of the awesome work that you have contributed to our PUCL community (and as a fellow writer, I know it IS work)! For anyone that has not read Lord Jushiro’s Breaking Card series, read it immediately. It is simultaneously insightful and hilarious and a must-read for any Puclonian interested in learning about the the Pokémon TCG, and Lord Jushiro is an excellent resource for TCG knowledge.
Until next week, Puclonians! Looks like I’m blasting off again!