Sam 3.0 searches for the ultimate PokĂ©mon team.
The title of this feature is â€śPokĂ©mon Dream Team,â€ť â€“ but that is something of a misnomer. The way people approach these games is as unique and varied as fingerprints, so there really is no perfect team. Perfectionâ€¦ perfection is relative. So, â€śdream teamâ€ť has become less about perfection and more about the team by which Pokemaniacs fight and faint by.
I talked to a number of PokĂ©mon players, each at differing levels of the Fanboy ladder. A few I spoke to play PokĂ©mon more or less every day, constantly fiddling with their teams, evolving PokĂ©mon, messing with battle tactics and enjoying the massive worlds out there. Others havenâ€™t played since the days of the Gameboy Color, but still remember which PokĂ©mon they liked to have in their party.
Without wishing to overstate it all too much, the approach to playing PokĂ©mon is quite a personal thing. The more generations we see, the more options there are for how you play. Some are totally hung up on contests, glamming up their Budews and Machops to win the crowdâ€™s favour. Some quest to not only catch em all, but to evolve em all, too. But being that the central point of the last few weeksâ€™ research was to discover the best team formation, thatâ€™s where weâ€™ll start.
Among casual players, itâ€™s common to see legendary bird PokĂ©mon appear in dream team lists. Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres were on around half of the lists I called in to get a feel for how players are arranging their parties. The reason for this is pretty clear â€“ the stats of these PokĂ©mon are sky-high when you catch them, and catching them is a nightmare to begin with. Once youâ€™ve gone to all the trouble of snapping these suckers up, itâ€™s no wonder you want to bust them out and bring the pain.
Three legendary birds, above, appeared on one list a player gave me as â€śthe practicalâ€ť. The list was rounded out with another legendary â€“ Mewtwo, a Jigglypuff that has been taught the few Grass type moves it is able to learn and a Magnezone (evolved from Magnemite). His other dream team was â€śthe aestheticâ€ť â€“ an all Eevee evolution extravaganza. Based on exactly what, I donâ€™t know, but he believed this line up to have some kind of magic pulling power with the ladies.
Articuno appears to be the most popular legendary bird â€“ another list I saw went Mewtwo, Snorlax, Articuno, Gyrados, Charizard, and Butterfree. And Mewtwo appeared on this playerâ€™s alternative list, also â€“ three times. Rounding out a Mewtwo, Mewtwo, Mewtwo-led pack was Articuno, Snorlax and another Snorlax. This shows fairly well how players can get a bit obsessive with how they arrange their teams.
Just as they commonly listed legendaries among their dream team, casual players were also able to give more definite answers about which PokĂ©mon were their favourites. When I went to ask a few die-hard PokĂ©mon fanatics about their dream team, I was met with far more information about their general approach to the game than which specific PokĂ©mon they liked to cart around.
A couple of guys jumped at the chance to talk about what was one of their favourite subjects, and I wound up with lengthy dissertations about how they put together their teams and their philosophies about the game as a whole. Hey â€“ they basically wrote this feature for me.
Sean, a battler from offshore, said he likes to stock his teams with â€śsweepersâ€ť. The hardcore among you will be familiar with what a sweeper is, but for those in the dark, a sweeper is a PokĂ©mon whose move set is designed primarily for attack â€“ they are usually speedy so they can get the first hit and often they are Fighting types. That said, Sean highlighted the importance of mixing it up. He also mentioned using â€śtoxic-tanks,â€ť â€“ tanks being PokĂ©mon that are supposed to be able to take a hit (high defensive stats) and toxic PokĂ©mon being those with poison abilities.
Sean likes to theme his PokĂ©mon teams, giving them names like Uber team (a team of hardy legendaries), Diamond team (the team he used to complete the story mode in PokĂ©mon Diamond), the Urban team (comprised of PokĂ©mon from the Urban areas of LeafGreen) and as a bit of a twist, the Canadian team. This last one is made up of PokĂ©mon based on animals youâ€™d find in Canada â€“ Bibarel (beaver), Noctowl (owl), Relicanth (salmon).
Another experienced PokĂ©mon trainer is Jay, who laid out his ideal move set. He believes itâ€™s important to spread your PokĂ©monâ€™s moves so itâ€™s well rounded. Move one for Jay is a strong generic physical attack, often with an added effect such as Body Slam, which has a 25% chance of causing paralysis. Move 2 is of the same type as the PokĂ©mon, so it deals 1.5 times the damage. Move 3 is one thatâ€™s strong against that PokĂ©monâ€™s weakness â€“ for example, Jayâ€™s Golems often pack Fire Blast, to take down Grass types which would ordinarily pose a great risk for Rock types. And rounding out the set is a status ailment move. Itâ€™s important not to double up on your PokĂ©monâ€™s innate ability here, though. Pikachuâ€™s Static will paralyze a PokĂ©mon that comes into contact with it, so thereâ€™s no use giving Pikachu a move like Thunder Wave, which has the same effect. That slot is better used for something else.
My own way of playing hasnâ€™t had nearly as much thought put into it. While I appreciate the subtleties of these battle strategies, I like to play a simpler game, and tend to look at PokĂ©mon as a game of collection and discovery, rather than strategy. While I love the battle aspect, what drives me is the quest for more PokĂ©mon, more items, and the next stage in a PokĂ©monâ€™s evolution or their move set.
I have always been a fan of Bug types simply because they evolve early, and nothing pleases me more than being given a mysterious egg on my adventure. Catching rare PokĂ©mon is always a thrill, and trying out different items, stat boosts and, in the later versions, berries and Poffins on my PokĂ©mon provides hours of extra gameplay.
The reason that PokĂ©mon will last as one of gamingâ€™s most durable franchises is that everyone gets something different out of it. The crux of each and every one is the same: become the most powerful trainer in your region, but players will always find their own way outside of the linear control the developers have built in. With the advent of Wi-Fi gaming, and the ability to trade and battle all over the world, PokĂ©mon is only gaining momentum. Thereâ€™s no slowing down.
As for that elusive perfect team, well, I wish I had the answer. In putting together the voices of those I spoke to, I have realised that my own strategy is a trifle simple and might need revisiting. Whatâ€™s that?
Just use Surf.
Thanks to all who took the time to give me their PokĂ©mon insights. Special thanks to Sean, Jay, Rick and Damien.