Monday, 27 February 2017

Last Rites of Freezing Beauty

Alola friends. I did end up doing some more work on the team I released a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I came to conclusions that are strongly suggesting me to...let it go, and move on. But, more on those thoughts at the end of the post. A quick word about the results obtained with it: I won a week in NPA with it and scrubbed out at a Premier Challenge because I evaluated situations wrongly and, in turn, made awful plays. For full details about how the team came to be as well as details on unchanged sets, I recommend also reading the previous post. Let's go.

The Team

We remember, the team originally was slow as fuck. The first change I made (and soon after reverted) did nothing to solve that -- rather, it made the issue even more apparent. Most of my losses were to my mons just being outsped and unable to remove weakened targets. It became so obvious that I would really want Extreme Speed on Arcanine at the very least. That alone would require me to change a few other things as well though, because the original Arcanine had some important jobs that shouldn't just get lost only because I wanted priority. With all of that in mind, I ended up taking some inspiration from the Japanese gods of Battle Spot.

Reverence (Arcanine) (F) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 140 Atk / 164 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Flare Blitz
- Extreme Speed
- Wild Charge
- Snarl

This Arcanine is, as we would put it in Germany, my "Mädchen für alles". Poor Fire dog has way too many things to do, it's far from healthy. I arrived at Assault Vest because I wanted every single one of those moves. It meant the inability to Protect, so it was quite an ordeal to keep it alive for Celesteela endgames or against aggressive Kartanas sometimes. So yeah, not my favorite set, but it's just the only thing that made sense.

The Blade (Kartana) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 68 HP / 108 Atk / 4 Def / 76 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Leaf Blade
- Smart Strike
- Sacred Sword
- Razor Leaf

Good old Scartana. You were calling it a meme a lot, but I always knew it never was a meme to begin with. With this defensive typing and these offensive stats, I am actually surprised that it took so long for this Item choice to actually get results. You can take a hit no problem, maybe even two if they are weak enough, and while you're doing that, you're sniping dangerous targets one by one. It harmonizes very well with Arcanine's Extreme Speed for lethal double-targets from full health. Razor Leaf is for Eevee and some endgames, defensive investment is for Kokochomp and Speed ties are still annoying. Did you know that Adamant Kartana and Timid Lele have a Speed tie on full investment? Obviously I went for max Speed because I also wanted to have decent odds of moving first against other Scarftanas, which sometimes came back to haunt me as I lost Speed ties or they were just Jolly.

Sancta Terra (Garchomp) (M) @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Earthquake
- Poison Jab
- Fire Fang
- Protect

As I already mentioned in the other report, the team didn't support Swords Dance very well, so it made sense to just change it to a more standard Garchomp. No regrets there, did its job perfectly fine and I ended up clicking Poison Jab more than I missed the ability to use Swords Dance.

The other three slots remained unchanged, so here they are again without dedicated comments:

Last Crusade (Tapu Fini) @ Leftovers
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Def / 60 SpA / 4 SpD / 108 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Muddy Water
- Moonblast
- Calm Mind
- Protect

Never Enough (Snorlax) (M) @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Gluttony
Level: 50
Happiness: 0
EVs: 20 HP / 236 Atk / 252 Def
Brave Nature
IVs: 3 Spe
- Frustration
- High Horsepower
- Curse
- Recycle

Cassandra (Ninetales-Alola) (F) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Blizzard
- Icy Wind
- Aurora Veil
- Protect

Overall, my changes did the team some much needed favors. It finally got some traces of speed to work with, but at the same time, the slow mode got more efficient as well. That became most visible in my usage of Snorlax: I had only brought it for Trick Room matchups before, but now I can also bring it against Tailwind, multi Tapus and other super fast stuff more easily, as it is so much better protected with the new A and K sets. Yet still...other problems remained.


The changes did a fine job at addressing those individual threats I listed last time, but some inherent flaws of this whole AFK concept are still there and not likely to go away. It's like this: for one slot that beats threat X, you typically have two slots that can't touch the same X, or are slow to do so. Arcanine itself is a very good example for this problem, and using something like Ninetales together with it doesn't help in these situations. Well, but then again, it's not the first archetype in history that has this problem; it has appeared many times in the past and tournaments have been won in spite of them.

That's where my own preferred playstyle comes in, it's just not quite like that. I like my neutral STAB coverage and my safe leads, and AFK with Ninetales fails to give me either of them. While I could very well play the team more, being a mere casual and with Ninetales (♥) as my favorite Pokémon of Alola, I also still enjoy winning as much as ever, and I just know deep in my heart that winning might be easier for me in other ways yet to be explored. This team still seems good enough to win, but it requires a level of perfection in my playing that is too hard to uphold.

And that will be it for now. If you still have more faith in the core than I do and wanna give it a go, I updated the Pastebin to have the improved team. Alola!

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