Prepare for Trouble, and make it a (VGC) 2016 Double, PUCL! It is time for the first installment of Double Trouble of the year! And let me start by giving a special thanks to Locke for providing Double Trouble with a new beautiful and amazing banner! Or is that.. a spacial thanks? Palkia pun! It is the start of 2016 and I am making bad jokes! The future is bright.
VGC 16 is finally upon us! And it has been no secret that the rules in place for VGC 16 are a callback all the way to the rules of VGC 10, with the reintroduction of more powerful, “restricted” Legendary Pokémon into the format once more. And even though a LOT of things have changed in the six years since VGC 10, many lessons can be gleaned from revisiting what trends and strategies thrived in VGC 10 and applied to VGC 16.
And one strategy that was highly successful in VGC 10 (and EVERY year in the VGC – but that is beside the point) was Trick Room. No surprise there, but a Trick Room team did take the World Championship title all the way back in VGC 10 (Ray Rizzo’s first World Championship win), and while Trick Room does really well every year, it does not win the whole thing every year.
But in years like this one and VGC 10 with even stronger Legendary Pokémon available, there are distinct considerations to be made. Such as if any of the restricted Pokémon can sweep or set up Trick Room. And the one restricted Pokémon that was most notable for frequently setting up Trick Room back in VGC 10 was none other than the temporal master itself: Dialga!
When you think of Pokémon that setup Trick Room, there are basically just two types that overwhelmingly come to mind: Psychic and Ghost. In years with restricted Pokémon allowed, that changes slightly. Rather fittingly, Dialga and Palkia both learn Trick Room and provide the format with a couple of Trick Room setters that not only come with their obligatory Legendary stats, but have typings that do not include Psychic or Ghost in them! Back in VGC 10, Dialga specifically saw much of its use in that year’s format as a one of the most common and consistent Trick Room Pokémon, with a typing sporting FAR more resistances than Psychic or Ghost types tend to have to brag about. On top of its impressive 100/120/100 backed by its great typing, the standard restricted Legendary offensive stat of 150 meant it could be trusted to get the Trick Room off AND blast things to shreds afterwards.
Dialga is not seeing that same success or level of use this year, however. At least not yet (and the format IS still very young). With teams being permitted just two restricted Legends, and there now being Pokémon like the Primals and Xerneas available, the trio also being trailed behind by Mega Rayquaza to form the four most common of the restricted additions, a lot of the other restricted Pokémon have trouble finding a space available for them on many teams. This includes Dialga.
But even if Dialga could readily be added onto teams, it also would not be as good this year as it was back in VGC 10, due to its Ground type weakness coupled with Primal Groudon being one of the most omnipresent and metagame-defining Pokémon in the VGC. This in mind, the master of space has replaced the master time as the go-to restricted Trick Room setter. Palkia is now being seen using Trick Room! Now, you might be thinking “why? It has worse bulk AND its faster, which is bad for Trick Room.”
True. At first glance, just looking at their stat distributions Dialga makes for a better Trick Room setter than Palkia. But when you look to their different secondary typing and you remember that Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre completely dominate this year’s format, Palkia makes more sense. Palkia is quadruple resistant to both Water and Fire, letting it stomach the Primals’ weather-boosted attacks MUCH more comfortably than Dialga. Palkia also is not weak to Primal Groudon’s STAB Ground attacks like Dialga is. For these reasons, Palkia is stealing Dialga’s Trick Room spotlight this year (Cresselia’s still the Trick Room star, of course).
And a Trick Room team archetype of a Primal Groudon/Palkia/Smeargle/Mega Mawile core has emerged as noteworthy enough to be something to consider when teambuilding. On it, Palkia not only sets up Trick Room, but can use Gravity to allow Primal Groudon to nail ANY opponent with its Precipice Blades, Ground type immunities be damned to the very same earth Groudon commands! Of course, it also certainly does not hurt that Palkia also has a 150 base Special Attack to… REND things with when not busy providing valuable support! Palkia’s strong match-up against Primal Kyogre also means Palkia has a partnered Primal Groudon’s back (say that five times fast) for working to win the weather war.
Palkia may not be one of the big game-changers of VGC 16 the way Xerneas and the Primals are, but it IS one of the restricted Pokémon outside of the main four seeing use (and success) at all, and one whose usage benefits from the popularity of two of the main four! Good on you, Palkia, and welcome to VGC 16!
Until next time, PUCL! Looks like I’m caught in a Spacial Rend!