TheFluff

Hello, my dear PUCLonians, and welcome back, finally, to The Fluff! I apologize for making my schedule fuzzy rather than fluffy, and skipping a week. Real life and all that. I have now been out of the UUTC for a while; in fact, I believe we are all just waiting to see who, among SentientPokéBall and TheLoanRanger, will be our 2017 champion! As they are the two people who beat me in the tournament, I am especially curious to see their tactics clash against each other.

As for myself, I got what I think is an extremely respectable fourth place, which I’m obviously super satisfied with. Luck did play a factor but… well, let me tell you more about it, starting from the beginning

The Squad

TheFluffiestWhimsicott copy

As you can see, my roster was essentially “stuff from Gen VII that Whimsicott loves or is curious about using, plus Whimsicott and a Mandibuzz”. Whimsicott was kind of a must for me, of course…

You absolute, filthy liar.

What?

You did not bring me into battle a single time!

Well, to be honest, Whimsicott, darling… you were kind of terrible in this meta.

WHAT?!?

Everyone and their brother is preparing for the Tapus, and that meant a billion Steel types and a billion strong Poison-type moves going around. I didn’t have time to catch all my Tapus myself, so Nature Power shenanigans were off the table… you were way safer on the bench. Plus with Paralysis nerfed and without a couple of important Egg moves on hand, the set I gave Alolan Fluff-you was… kinda bad? I’m so sorry.

You’d better be.

As for the Mandibuzz, it was my one concession to the desperate need for a Defogger that made sense on my team (my Kartana could not run the move). Luckily Scron came through with a trade for a lovely, ready-to-train Vullaby, which joined the other Scron-made member of my team (the nickname was Scron’s Waifu and you get no points for guessing who that was).

The Mandibuzz set was also not so great for my needs, I belatedly realized. Since my team’s main issue were obviously Steel types, followed by Poison types, carrying Toxic made Mandibuzz, while delectably bulky, a ton of feathery dead weight. Although Lady Luck did tank a +2 All-Out Pummeling from a Kartana, at one point, with only 8 Defense EVs, so… kudos, Lady Luck. I know the Kartana wasn’t max Attack, but you’re still amazing. As for Toxapex, she was a fantastic pivot and Hazer, of course, but the abundance of Tapu Lele and too-strong Ground type moves around made me reticent to bring her too often.

You left her in the box with me. You know I’m scared of her!

Oh, Whimsicott, shush. She’s a darling.

My setup sweepers were tiny, frail and almost impossible to use, but that did not stop me from bringing one pretty much every battle. Momiji the Ribombee got in a couple of good hits before my opponents got more stacked with Steel types, at which point I tried to let Hokulele have some fun, even though Minior does not mix with a path strewn with Mega Metagross all over the place. Hint: in spite of great Aurora Veil support from Ninetales, it didn’t go too well, although at one point only a Waterfall flinch stopped my little star from cleaning up an entire team.

Ninetales herself was the first Patreon gift Pokémon, lovingly provided by Shamu and Thatch, and she was always, always the prettiest thing on the field. I changed Elsa’s set around a bit, since this wasn’t a hail team, and Aurora Veil got me an incredible win against Shamu, so I can’t complain about her, despite, of course, her struggles in the aforementioned Metagross fest going around.

Raichu without Electric Terrain needed a fashionable Scarf to get around, which made her extremely cute but extremely hard to use. Flan Pancake witnessed first-hand how specially bulky and horribly strong Alolan Muk is, and I think she’s still a bit traumatized by it, poor thing.

Oh, she was. We had to spend plenty of time chilling on Poké Pelago together, but she’s now feeling much better. The only problem is she loves using me as a pillow when she sunbathes, so she now looks almost like she’s shiny, and I have static electricity all through my fluff. So annoying!

Alolan Muk is the reason I’m thinking about changing a couple of sets now that the tournament is over, because two of my MVPs are just barely slower than it and they suffer greatly for that. Space Oddity the Araquanid was another great pivot, and scared a lot of stuff with Liquidation (Water Bubble is a crazy good ability). Leech life and Lunge, while maybe redundant, both did some work as well, and the bulk was awesome. Nani the Alolan Marowak was more of a lovely heavy hitter that I had to keep healthy at all costs, because it could tank some unexpected hits and KO back, which was super precious in many, many occasions. Also, a word of advice: don’t bring a Magearna without Shadow Ball to an Alolan Marowak fight. Just don’t. Poor Magearna.

My other MVP was definitely Kartana, whose snowballing ability brought back several matches I should have just outright lost. The little origami samurai is indeed a beast in all senses, and it won a speed tie I didn’t even notice was there to allow me to beat the great R. Sigma. I love you, Paper Cut!.

Grass types rule! Finally.

Finally.

Speaking of Luck…

hax_battles

As much as I’d like to boast about my improved battling skills, luck was definitely a factor in me getting so far in the tournament. I mentioned the speed tie with R. Sigma; I also only beat The British Gent because he got a low damage roll against me, and there were several other occasions in which Arceus and Lord Helix poked the RNG in my direction. I did, of course, also get very unlucky at times, getting critted and flinched and paralyzed and whatnot, but I don’t feel that led to either of my losses, so I’d count luck as being on my side in this one.

I’ve thought about whether I should feel bad about winning two matches on essentially a coin flip, but I’ve realized if my opponents had won, it would still have been a coin flip for them. That’s just how Pokémon is sometimes, and if I’m OK with accepting that if I lose, I should be OK accepting if if I win, no?

You’re just happy you won so many matches, admit it.

Well, of course I am. You know I take these tournaments way too seriously.

I wish I didn’t know! You’re a sorry spectacle when you battle. You tense up, you stare at the screen like a madwoman, you scribble in your little notebook… you look slightly insane, you know that, right?

I know! I just… every time I tell myself I should take it less seriously, I get swept up again. I just love Pokémon battles a tad too much, I guess. But all that focus did bring some fruits, so I think I can presume to give a few tips here, if anyone wants them.

A couple of things I think I did right

nailed-it

Obviously, in a format like the UUTC, where you know each week there’s only ten possible Pokémon for you to face, but sets are fixed and thus need to be relatively versatile, prep work goes a long way.

In the days leading up to the match, I’d input my sets in Showdown’s calculator and run the numbers: could my Marowak live an Earthquake from Mega Metagross? Could my Ninetales OHKO an offensive Minior with Blizzard? Could anything on my team live a Return from Mega Pinsir? (I HATE Mega Pinsir.)

That makes two of us, dear.

Knowing the calcs for most probable sets, or even for more extreme ones, allowed me to use my chess pieces more carefully, and I realized I was finally (sometimes) thinking in the way I think I should: identifying which Pokémon I needed to deal with one of my opponent’s Pokémon and trying to preserve it or put it in a positionin which it could do just that. This may seem obvious to you, but it took me years to fully integrate this reasoning into my battling, so let me pat myself on the head a bit, all right?

There, there, little girl.

Thanks, Whimsicott. And that notebook you mentioned was actually a very valuable resource that I think should be featured in every battle (just check out any VGC tournament and tell me if you see anyone without one). Even if Singles is best of 1, noting down the sets of your opponent’s Pokémon helps a lot, because there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of in a battle, and your memory, even if it’s not as bad as mine, is bound to slip up sooner or later. While the game now lets you check out your opponent’s current team during the battle, noting their six down and crossing them out as they go is faster to look at… and also rather satisfying.

A couple of things I know I did wrong

Greninja-ko-Kalos

While I did join the UUTC mostly to have fun and meet a few of you lovely folks, I did, as I mentioned, find myself very involved with wanting to do well. Not so much in the tournament itself, but in each individual battle: having a really great and close battle is the best fun possible, and I wanted that experience for both the players involved.

So my fisrt obstacle was, obviously, my team: so many common types and weaknesses really set me back. Just look: four of my Pokémon are weak to Steel (including both of my setup “sweepers”, and those quotes are there for poor Ribombee, who didn’t have a decent Hidden Power and thus couldn’t sweep his way out of a wet paper bag), all my three pivots are weak to Electric, and SIX OUT OF TEN are weak to Rock.

Wow, that’s BAD.

Yeah. The rush to get Pokémon ready in time also meant my sets were often suboptimal, but typing was probably my main problem. No matter how much I love taking Karen’s words to heart, using ALL your favorite Pokémon together will probably suck for you.

Another problem I had was initially underestimating some Pokémon. My research into sets only started after a couple of battles, so I wasn’t aware of what Dhelmise could do, or how not-so-slow Alolan Muk was. This kind of thing, of course, is fixed by the advice we got in our most recent PUCL episode: just play a lot of Pokémon, and you’ll learn the meta and the common sets going around, including the strengths and weaknesses of the Pokémon involved.

That advice also helps with my other problem, which wa that my prediction game was often not on point.

Honestly, knowing you, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

Yeah, I have both an avoidance of committed decisions and, entirely across the spectrum, a penchant for thinking crazy surprise moves will bring me victory (there’s a reason my fellow D&D players are so often frustrated with me). So I often chose safe or middle-ground plays, only to then go and completely overpredict at the wrong moment. This, I feel, is probably only fixed by practice, but maybe taking notice of it and trying to regulate your prediction style could be the key to victory (especially if you manage to manipulate it to surprise your opponent).

The need for prediction, though, was eased when I had a clear battle plan, as I did against Shamu. After the match, he let me know he had been playing around one of my Pokémon, which he was very worried about, and that just let the rest of my team slowly but steadily run through his… but only because I knew when I had to let my own Pokémon go down. This is something I really struggle with, and it did cause me trouble sometimes, so: know when to sacrifice something, after you’ve made sure there’s nothing else you need it for. I once kept my Minior around just as death fodder and it saved me.

Conclusion

Well, my UUTC was longer than I had expected, but this article is giving it a run for its money. I think Whimsicott might be about to fall asleep.

Wha… No, I’m… awake… zzz…

Yeah, thought so. If you made it this far, thank you! Did you take part in the UUTC? What was your favorite match? Will you miss the pre-Bank meta? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

The Fluffiest Whimsicott