Sunday, 12 February 2017

Captain Dreykopff's Treasures, Piece 2: Go Fast

Alola friends. Sorry for the delay, but hey, still less than a month! This will be the second out of 3 games featuring StarKO's team, and as promised last time, we shall have a look at the same Premier Challenge's final today. The last one, coming up in 1.5 weeks as currently planned, will be a Battle Spot game. Anyway, let's go.

The Matchup

The opponent is Driss A. (@KuzioVGC), local player without any big results who has been improving throughout the last year. Just like the other, this also happens to be a rematch from Swiss. I won that one in two games mostly just by being faster, getting more hits in and stuff, but I did also get a bit of help from the RNG just when it seemed like there was a chance I could lose a game in this matchup. So, if he plays just as well next time, you know, it might get interesting. On the other hand, I still go into the matchup knowing the basics of his team, so I'll be fully aware what to watch out for. It definitely was my desired matchup for the final -- the other would have involved the infamous Marowak/Celesteela combination together with the usual stuff, and I really didn't feel like facing Marowak again just two hours after having learned that it can tank a Dazzling Gleam + Shattered Psyche double-target. Another thing to note is that Driss told me that he didn't feel like RK9/Lele was the right way to lead against my team, whereas Toby led exactly that against me in every game we played. But even then...the leads he brought in Swiss were Gigalith/Gastrodon and Arcanine/Gastrodon. Are those even better? Seems questionable.

Oh yeah, the team preview. My team is still the same as last time, Driss's is Kartana, Tapu Lele, Gigalith, Gastrodon, Salamence and Arcanine, and we are watching game 1.

The Game


There, the inspiration! He's trying it this time, but yeah, it plays right into my Psychium Z. Also, there is no way whatsoever that Kokochu wouldn't both move first against his team, unless Kartana reveals Choice Scarf or something like that. Not that big of an achievement to be frank, like the whole AFK archetype right now is outsped by that duo if nothing's Scarfed. Kokochu is dumb.

I don't remember if I knew Lele's Item at this point, but let's assume I didn't. In that case, the most important bits of information at this point are that it has Thunderbolt and it isn't Choiced.

Turn 1 (0:32)

The obvious question is: Do I Z-Psychic the shit out of this dog right now or do I delay it a turn? As you're seeing, I end up delaying it and it's been a fine decision...until that Moonblast crit hits. My position is still manageable because I have Gyarados, but it was meant to be so much better. Chances are I can't afford a mistake now, if this game is to win.

So, the Lele Item... At this point, we very well can see that it looks like it's Assault Vest. But since everything was new to everyone when we played, I knew jack about my Lele damage rolls, so it certainly didn't dawn on me after this turn. All I remember about it is that I only thought of it once I learned that Dazzling Gleam was the last move -- don't remember if I learned that from our gameplay or from between-rounds talk earlier.

Psychic Terrain: 4 turns left

Turn 2 (1:19)

Aw shucks. I so knew that Gastrodon would come in, how often have I even seen this in those days!? But as I said last turn, no mistakes allowed. If I Leaf Blade Lele and it attacks, I lose the game. I'm a mon behind and with little momentum going into the turn, so I have to go strengthen my position. It just so happens that the safest and most obvious play is exactly what rebuilds momentum for me.

Okay. Extreme Speed isn't a possibility because of Psychic Terrain (and Flamethrower usually is a good giveaway that it's not on the set anyway), so I now threaten two possible knockouts, but only one at a time.

Psychic Terrain: 3 turns left

Turn 3 (1:59)

Ah dang, it wasn't quite this wonderfully aggressive play that I liked to remember, but it's close enough. The problem with Waterfall + Leaf Blade would be Gastrodon clicking Protect, but I don't know if it has Protect or not -- and if I find it out right here, again, I lose. Kartana needs to be conserved at all costs, it likely is my only way to beat Gastrodon. Possibilities of Waterfall + Protect: kill Arcanine or lose a turn but not the game. Anyway, just as I wanted, he switches Gastrodon out and in comes another mon threatened by Gyarados, so this is excellent for me. And it looks cool.

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't click Hydro Vortex here, but let's talk about it for the sake of argument and getting better. To me it seems like I was on the naïve desire to conserve it for a turn when Gastrodon definitely couldn't draw it. (And Raichu was, you know, not around anymore, so no conflicts there.) If Gastrodon switched out here, it would be certain that I wouldn't get rid of it for a moderately long time to come, and if it stayed in, I did nothing in this turn to kill it. (And Kartana, again, wasn't allowed to take another hit.) Now, it did play out perfectly fine without the Hydro Vortex in this case and there was nothing whatsoever for Kartana to fear, but that can't be generalized. However, I feel like we can never be too sure about our Arcanine calcs, and so Arcanine surviving the +/-0 Attack Waterfall could entail Gyarados getting Burned, thus no more threatening the Salamence. So yeah, if those rolls had gone right and he got the read at the same time, the game also wouldn't have looked very winnable for me anymore. Close calls.

Psychic Terrain: 2 turns left

Turn 4 (2:35)

And now we're wrapping up. He can only kill one of my mons in this turn, and the one he chooses to leave alive will likely win together with Koko. I'm still not completely sure about Gastrodon honestly, but Gyarados is full and with the option of boosting its Ice Fang. Other than that, I really didn't know if Lele would survive the Smart Strike or not, but I had no safe Protect and doubling into it makes no sense in this position.

Here's the interesting part: With everything we know now, he had a play available to get me into trouble. Dazzling Gleam with switch back into Gastro brings me a mon behind again, and one I potentially might be unable to recover from. Hard to tell without actually playing it out, because Gastrodon endgames just tend to be really difficult to plan out turn-by-turn when the Grass move is gone.

Turn 5 (3:15)

Nothing else to say here, that was the game.


Game 2 started up with the same leads -- this time I nailed Arcanine on the spot and Raichu lived through the turn to tell the tale. I now also definintely knew Lele's Item, and I used that fact to let Raichu and Kartana just tear through his whole team while Gastrodon sat there doing insignificant things until all its friends were dead.

After the tournament, I told him that I thought his best play could have been to force me into the Kartana mirror. I can see why it's unpleasant to do that with all the ways I have to outspeed Kartana, but really, the team as is is horribly fucking weak to Kartana. There is a promise that it will get ugly if both Trainers bring Kartana, and you really can't tell for whom in advance. It's better than just accepting defeat anyway, and without his Kartana being a factor, I really was in firm control of things as long as I wouldn't fall behind in mons for no gain.

Bonus: A Few Words on the Team

So, the time before Bank arrived I spent mostly sponging mons and teams from friends. This Desert Surge team was not only the most successful originally, but also the one I personally enjoyed to play the most out of them. For the longest time, I didn't even realize why -- I just read the report, tried it out and the rest is history.

For the longest time, anyway. Just a while after the fact, I realized that I should know perfectly well why I liked this team more than others: it bears an unusual amount of similarities to my beloved quicksand team (can't link latest version right now because RIP Nugget Bridge; but there's some other versions here on this blog, if you care about what I liked 2 formats ago). There's the extreme Speeds on both ends, there's the multi-target damage, there's obviously the strong Rock Slide clicker with Sand Stream as Ability, lol, and maybe some more, you get the point. However, there's also enough differences that do worry me: there is way too little bulk overall and there is no redirection. Games often start with some kind of Raichu lead, where I always have to play a guessing game on turn 1, and if that goes badly, it might cost me the game in the long run, you know. The Electrics and Sash Kartana are mostly useless for defensive switching, Gyarados is useful for it but can't quite do it alone, Gigalith can't Protect and Porygon is an essay of its own.

Without that insight, I was just aware of the team's problems but had no ideas for possible solutions. But with the insight described, lo and behold, I found some inspiration right from myself as to how I could possibly improve the team. Spoilers: I haven't done it in a serious way yet, just did some casual moveset chances but left team preview intact when the actual plan is to, in fact, replace mons. One of those rather trivial changes I made was to use Ray's Koko, for example -- the bulky Specs one. While I already had liked the idea by itself, I noticed upon closer inspection that this Koko is in fact very similar to the Specs Rotom I invented myself at the end of 2015 down to the very stats. Rotom is medium-fast, Levitates and gets Hydro Pump. Koko is very fast, unfortunately has inferior typing and fortunately brings Electric Terrain into the equation, for self-boosts and other nice things. If it weren't for Kartana existing, this would be my favorite Koko set no problem, but you know, Kartana does exist and is annoying as fuck, so it's challenging to use any Koko that doesn't have Life Orb + Hidden Power Fire unless the team turns out to be super strong at hating on Kartana. -- Yeah, not the case with Gyarados, Gigalith, Raichu and all those.

It's a point on my list of things to do. Haven't done yet as of writing. Maybe we will see the team back in changed form (for real), maybe I'll just fail and you'll hear nothing of it. Next Treasure, anyway, will be a game from Battle Spot featuring the team with minor changes, and the ones after that will likely feature Ninetales/AFK. Alola!

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