Thursday, 3 March 2016

[VG] Team Building Goals, 2016 Edition

Hello friends. As I start writing this, I don't even have too much of an idea yet where this is gonna be going in some aspects. Anyway, two months and a few into the format, we have all had our fair share of experience with it and some teams. Looking at my own experience, I can only say that some things will always be the same, haha. So this will be just some informal article about what I personally look for in my teams and why I want it like that. This is in no way the holy grail to the metagame or something, just personal observations, opinions and preferences.

Flashback: 2015 and Earlier

The thing that most of you might still remember is that dreaded quicksand team that I really enjoyed a lot. And it wasn't even the first team of its kind, in a way, that I used in my life. There are common attributes about this and other teams that I -- consciously or subconsciously -- seek to recreate in the present, because I simply feel best when I have them at my service. (And because of the nature of's basically impossible to recreate the exact same feel. We can only get remotely close (yeah, I just said that, huh). More on that later.)

The main things to notice are the wide distribution of damage potential coupled with useful bulk on literally every mon. Salamence, Tyranitar and Rotom are the driving force and very "complete" all by themselves. They are joined by Excadrill or Aegislash for specific matchups, obviously good attackers as well and even the seemingly frail Excadrill isn't frail at all -- it has quite a solid HP stat and the typing is amazing for the sake of actually taking a hit without the need of a Focus Sash. Finally, Amoonguss is pretty worthless in terms of damage output but instead is quite a potent and aggressive supporter. Adding all of that together, the team can put out constant pressure without being too worried of severe retaliation a lot of the time -- and that's what I like!

Back into the Present

Blissful were the days when there were barely any big attackers beyond the Megas. Now basically everything that can do meaningful damage while also taking meaningful damage is a Mega or appeared on some game's cover (RIP Zygarde, notice how I'm not talking about you!). It's the format of extremes if we ever had one, way more so than 2010. Extremes are the polar opposites of balances. I have legitimate trouble with that but I have to deal with it anyway. Welcome to the world of ridiculous attackers, ridiculous supporters and a type-chart gone down the shitter.

In a nutshell, we'll just not be having any of what I was doing before. (You may be relieved now!) We have some archetypes that have options to be not completely of another world, and that's cool enough for the time being. I'll just walk through them a bit.

Groudon, Xerneas and the Big Six

Well, as you may have noticed, I used mostly a bunch of variations on this stuff by now. If it's an option for the future will remain unanswered for a while, but that's somewhat of a different topic. So what do we have here: Groudon, Xerneas, Kangaskhan, Salamence, Talonflame, Smeargle. Smeargle takes Amoonguss's role of the dedicated support slot, even bringing both redirection and Sleep back, go figure. Talonflame looks like Aegislash's weird flying brother, coming with another "Guard" move, weird stats, pretty nice neutral coverage with a single and strong primary attack and a nifty to way to either force or deny Speed control, good defensive typing for what it's worth included. And the other four are just the generic bulky attackers, with Salamences actually reappearing and being, in fact, mostly the same as before. It looks like it absolutely makes sense that I used this team a lot, but still...switching capabilities are limited despite the similar layout. With the sand team, I was able to align to or sometimes even force a slower pace of play easily, yet with the big-6 we absolutely have to be aggressive or we will just get wrecked.


I'm afraid I can't help you a whole lot with this, for I only played Rayogre once -- that was in the first week and it went to hell. Hell knows when I'll touch that duo again. Would be wise to do so eventually, but you know...time is a limited resource when there's also other things you want to do!

Anyway, from what I'm gathering so far and to put it way too bluntly, Rayogre does not equal Rayogre does not equal Rayogre. This is just a duo and the surroundings can look very different. The first kind is the support-heavy one, that one I do absolutely despise. Unfortunately, it comes somewhat naturally, because really, when you have a fucking Kyogre, there just is no fucking other attacker to match that; even Rayquaza sometimes looks like a baby compared to the ogre's obscene damage output. And yeah, that's fucking Rayquaza, which is otherwise an amazing attacker as well, the best single-target glass cannon you will ever find. might think so. Having watched various Regionals streams, I came to the conclusion that it's likely better to use Focus Sash than any item boosting damage. That thing brings Rayquaza from...consistent 2HKO power to still consistent 2HKO power, better at locking up games, independently from what kind of Rayogre build you may be running. Anyway, the support-heavy Rayogre is what it is: you have this duo for dishing out damage and almost everyone else in the team just sit there doing little in terms of bringing games to a conclusion.

And then there's this other kind of Rayogre that does come closer to me ideals: focus on solid attacking power everywhere. You know, instead of the passive shit like Follow Me Fairies, Crobat, Cresselia, Smeargle and all that, you can also add the 2014 special with mons like Kangaskhan, Talonflame and Aegislash all together even. Boom, now we're talking! I'm absolutely not opposed to checking builds like that out, just...the time, I'm lacking the time!

Finally, we have this weird little thing that is the choice of Mega Evolution. Back in that very early Rayogre team, it feels like I was a while ahead of time, for I did run Kangaskhan in that and brought Kang and Ray together a lot, deciding on the fly which one to beef up. It's a cool thing to do. However, we also learned that foregoing Mega Rayquaza can be harmful at times. Even more than damage output, you'll actually lose Speed and that can bite you a lot. Kyogre completely relies on Speed control to do its thing, Kangaskhan only ties other Kangaskhans at best and plain Rayquaza is just somewhere between them -- a feature of little use. You'd really like Rayquaza to be faster a lot...and that makes filling the other 2 slots obviously trickier. A plain Kangaskhan can't do much beyond clicking Fake Out with a cool Ability and then cannon fodder, and it gets worse when you think of the Rayquaza/Mawile combination that has seen some success as well.

Double Primal

Ugh. I can't bring myself to enjoy double Primals as long as I'm still playing Bo1. Rely on Speed control, hardcore edition. And even then, you can still get completely fucked by other Primals because they just so happen to have exactly that Speed that you didn't want to see in that specific moment. Bo1 is the bane of this archetype's existence, Bo3 may totally save it. We have to expect it to do some work at Worlds and (hopefully globally Bo3) Nats, but for our beloved Bo1 Regionals I feel like it's an ordeal to run as long as you don't have absolutely clear-cut plans for any expectable situation.

Anyway, this reliance on Speed control tends to also compromise the team's layout. There'll likely be a Trick Room setter, and that will probably be either of those stupid non-attackers Cresselia and Bronzong that are hard to get off the field when you don't actually want them anymore. Or any Tailwind mode, common as well, just even harder to pull off in the first place with many other Tailwind setups bringing those faster-than-90 mons with them. That being said, double Primals are runnable both with high or low support. High support brings more control that can only challengingly be made proper use of and low support gives up too much control for my liking.

Zero Primal

Haven't seen much of that so far, but it exists and it's absolutely scary to play against. It's something to have on the map, and not having to deal with weather wars at all is quite a nice way to make sure your attackers can always do their jobs no matter what. I really don't enjoy Primals too much for all the catches they bring.

Wolfey's Team!?

Now that's been interesting. It's basically a modification of the Ho-Ogre archetype that was running around for just a little bit till everyone started to respect the Ho-Oh and all went to shit from there. Now it's the Dialga over the Ho-Oh and the rest is pretty much the same. Is it better than its predecessor? Absolutely. Is it what I'm looking for? Maybe. I'm giving it like 20% chance. The team is still a bit slow and passive, I have trouble with that as usual. And it is, just like its predecessor, destroyed in its very foundations by double Primals...and dealing with Smeargle is still relying on RNG a lot, with no ways to shut it down quickly, let alone reliably. What will actually happen now very likely is that people will copy the team a lot, realize it's way too hard to play for them, and abandon it again.

I have no conclusion to make here except that there are options. I'll continue on my quest to find something that may by some magic miracle reconcile me with the format, but we all know that saving the world may be an easier task than that, haha.

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