Breeding Pokémon for VCG

Being horrendously ill this past week I didn’t manage to make the local league challenge on Saturday and instead have been playing through Ultra Sun at breakneck speed to get to the new endgame stuff and get my breeding setup re-established.

I already have a living Pokédex so didn’t have to scour the place for each new creature. In essence this meant that I only had 2 Ultra Beasts to catch and add to my ‘dex and trade with Catherine for the Ultra Moon exclusive  (Stakataka). I made the mistake before of not planning out my UB and Legendary Pokémon acquisitions in Sun so wasn’t going to repeat that this time! With most of the 2017 VGC teams running at least one Tapu (Usually Koko but Lele and Fini also featured), having the wrong nature can lock you out of being able to compete.

So in a change to your regularly scheduled TCG blog post I’m going to cover how to optimise and breed Pokémon in your US/UM (or even Sun/Moon) playthrough so that you at least have the option of playing VCG at a competitive level. Worst case scenario is that you’ll crush your friends!

Principia Pokémonica

Before we even look at capturing or breeding Pokémon, we need to look at what properties of those creatures we want to control. Generally speaking they are:

  • The Creature type – EG: Mewtwo, Buzzwole, Arcanine, Pikachu etc.
  • The Nature – EG: Modest, Bold, Hardy, Jolly etc CRITICAL to your Pokémon
  • Ability – EG: Flash Fire or Intimidate for Arcanine (or perhaps a hidden ability?)
  • The IVs – Thankfully they are entirely controllable via hyper-training so not as critical as it used to be though a good IV spread is usually desirable.
  • The Moveset – 100% controllable. The only complication is if you need egg moves which requires a bit more planning.
  • The EVs – 100% controllable. And re-settable if you mess up!

Firstly you’ll need to find a set of Pokémon to make your team with. I’m not at all versed in VGC competitively so I would defer to the Official Pokémon Website or even sites like Smogon. Just make sure that you’re finding builds for Pokémon valid for the format/meta that you want to play in. Smogon has it’s own metagame, banlist and way of organising battles which is beyond my experience to critically evaluate. Suffice to say, just because a Pokémon is good in OU or Uber tier doesn’t mean it will work the same in the official Pokémon 2v2 VCG2017/18 format.

eggFor non-unique Pokémon we’re going to be breeding strong Pokémon of the species that we want. For unique Pokémon you’re going to have to find our where you can catch them (Ultra Wormholes for example) and then make sure we get the right Nature by synchronising. (more on that later)

Preparing to Breed

Getting to the Battle Tree after finishing the main story is a good milestone since it means that you can unlock the IV judge function as long as you’ve hatched 20 eggs. Since we’re going to be breeding this shouldn’t be a problem – you can speed up hatching with the Roto-Hatch power and by having a Pokémon with the Flame Body ability (Magmar or Slugma). There’s also loads of videos on Youtube about how to hatch eggs quickly and covering the basics of breeding too. If you’re not breeding Egg Moves then you can simply pop in a Ditto so that you don’t have to worry about species compatibility.

At this stage it’s worth mentioning that it helps if you have the Poké Pelago reasonably developed to help train EVs later. A healthy supply of the EV reducing berries (Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa & Tamato) wouldn’t go amiss. The other option is to have the EV Enhancing Items (Power Anklet, Power Lens etc) and beat up some low level Pokémon to harvest EVs. I mention this now because assembling the pieces is the hard part, once you have the system setup it is easy to maintain and quick to generate the Pokémon you want via breeding.

Breeding for Nature

The Nature is the hardest variable to control. However it is still largely controllable to an extent. If you’re breeding you can breed lots of eggs, hatch until you get the Pokémon with the right nature and then give that one an Everstone (you can find these in the cave treasure hunt on the Poké Pelago). Then reintroduce it to the Ditto, now all the eggs will have that nature. Then continue to breed until you get good IVs and the right Ability.

For catching uniques/wild Pokémon you can have a synchroniser. The easiest one to use is an Abra. Get one Abra and breed a couple of dozen  eggs (don’t use an Everstone – you want a variety of Natures), hatch and release the ones without the Synchronise ability. By having an Abra with Synchronise as the first Pokémon in your team all wild Pokémon have 50% of being the same nature. Generally you’ll want at least an Adamant, Modest, Jolly, and Timid synchroniser depending on the specific Legendaries that you’re hunting, with Careful and Impish occasionally being useful too.

Save before encountering the Legendary, swap the synchroniser to the first party slot and then catch the Pokémon. Check out it’s nature on the summary screen; if its the correct nature great – BUT DON’T SAVE, if it is not of the correct nature then soft reset (L+R+Select+Start) and re-catch.

Head to the Poké-Centre and use the Judge function to check the IVs of the Pokémon. If you’re happy, THEN SAVE – but remember that you can Hyper-train to artificially increase IVs to 31 if you have an otherwise perfect Pokémon.

Breeding for Abilities

If a Pokémon has 2 abilities (eg Abra can have Synchronise or Inner Focus) then each egg has a 50% chance of one or the other. However if one of the parents has a Hidden Ability (Abra’s Hidden Ability is Magic Guard) then there is approx 20% chance that one of the offspring will have the Hidden Ability, I think this increases if the HA parent is the mother. There isn’t much way to change this other than breeding enough so that you get an egg with the right ability so it’s just a matter of playing the odds and hatching eggs. With the hot spring in the Pelago as well as the Roto-Hatch power hatching eggs isn’t that tedious.

Breeding for IVs

Individual Values – essentially a +0 to +31 modifier on the stat in question when the Pokémon is at level 100. If you have unlocked the Judge function you can get a breakdown that looks like the following:IV Hexagraph

You can see that the Sp.Atk, Sp.Def & Defense are ‘best’ (31), Attack is ‘no good’ (0)and  HP is ‘very good’ (~30) while speed is ‘pretty good’ (20~30).

Additionally note that Attack is blue and Defense is red meaning that it has a Bold nature (+Def, -Atk) giving it approx +10% better Defense at the cost of 10% Attack.

However assuming everything else was fine but that Defense wasn’t good, you could level the Pokémon to 100 and then use a bottlecap to Hyper-Train upgrading the IV to 31. However unlike natural IVs, hyper-trained IVs do not have a chance to be passed on through breeding.

Breeding for IVs is another topic entirely, this post is just a summary of the whole process to get you started. Suffice to say that you will probably want to do it, and I’d even argue that it’s worth getting the setup established before you start breeding since it will save you time in the long run. However it is rather lengthy and involves chain-SOSing dittos for about 30 chains as well as preparing the Pokémon you need to sustain such a chain (A Smeargle with false swipe, icicle spear, recover, recycle and a leppa berry) Again google and youtube are your friends here!

Moves & Egg-Moves

The Moveset is the second easiest variable – you get moves by either levelling up, TM, tutoring (in USUM) or by breeding. If you are dealing with a Legendary Pokémon (that can’t breed) or you don’t need egg moves then this is simply a matter of levelling up using a TM, or finding the correct Move Tutor.

The complication arises if you need to chain-breed egg moves. However it is likely that other people have had to go through the same process so a quick internet search is always worth doing.

An example is breeding the move Spikes onto an Omanyte. You need to have a Male Klefki with the move Spikes and then breed it with a Female Shellder/Cloyster to produce Shellder offspring with the Spikes move. Then take a Male Shellder with the egg-move of Spikes and breed it in turn with a Female Omanyte/Omastar to get Omanyte offspring with Spikes.

EVs

Effort Values – These are a set of values for each of the 6 abilities (Hitpoints, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed) that range from 0 to 252. The sum of all 6 EVs cannot exceed 510 so at best you can have 252+252+6. For every 4 EVs in a statistic, the Pokémon’s overall statistic increases by +1. So by investing 252EVs in Hitpoints, the Pokémons Hitpoint total would increase by 63 (252/4=+63).

While that might seem complicated it’s a lot simpler in practice as long as you have an idea of what sort of configuration of EVs you would like.

A particular configuration of EVs is often referred to as a ‘spread’ (as in how you have spread out the 510 points among the 6 attributes). Highly common is a maximum Speed (252) and Attack or Special Attack (252)investment with the remaining 6 points (of which only 4 will count) plugged into a defensive stat.

However other builds including a Bulky HP (252) and split Defence/Special Defense (128/128) exist. Smogon’s pages on various Pokémon are quite good for these.

By pressing ‘Y’ on the summary screen a breakdown akin to the diagram on the right will be shown. This Grenina has maximum Speed EVs (as shown by the sparkling) with the rest being split between Sp. Atk and Attack. Also note that the arrows are blue coloured meaning that all 510 EVs have been invested.

Each time you KO an enemy Pokémon you gain some EVs in a stat or possibly two. If you play through the game you are likely to have a roughly even distribution of EVs across all 6 stats. This is less than optimal because generally a Pokémon is better off being focused in either Attack or Sp.Atk. Naturally slower Pokémon won’t really benefit from speed EVs as much as a faster Pokémon and so on. But once you’ve hit 510 you can’t get any more EVs – so what do you do?

EV Training

Enter the EV reducing berries (Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa & Tamato). Each of these lowers a Pokémons relevant EV by 10 and makes it a bit happier. Grow lots of these on your Pelago! Reduce down the EVs of the stats that you don’t want and then you can train up the stats you do want.

To raise EVs there are 3 options. Items such as Vitamins or Wings will raise the EVs by a little. Vitamins (Protein, Iron, Calcium, Carbos) etc are expensive and only raise a stat by +10 to a maximum of 100 but are a good way of getting a head start. Wings are harder to come by  and only raise a stat by +1.

You could simply fight Pokémon that yield the correct EV that you’re after such as Zubats for Speed or Mudbrays for Attack. This is more intensive but can be quicker than the Playground – especially if you use the EV-increasing items such as the Power Anklet or Power Lens.

islevelupFinally you can pop your Pokémon into the Pelago Playground island. At Level 3 of development each play session will increase the EVs by 4 for that stat. Combined with beans doubling the speed you can fully EV train a Pokémon in about 2 days without having to lift a finger!

Conclusion

Hopefully that will have helped demystify at least some of the process around assembling a team. The trick is to establish a system that then makes any non-legendary Pokémon accessible via breeding. This in turn frees you up to focus on using Synchronise to catch the correct natured Unique Pokémon.

If you’ve managed to understand the principles I’ve outlined, some great further reading is this article at the Outer Haven. Although focused on beating the Battle Tree, it’s a good way to sharpen up your gang and experience different sorts of opposing teams.