Published on July 26th, 2013 | by DaWoblefet


Stepping It Up: Small Ways to Improve Your Game

[Note: This article was written before nationals and has references to the now concluded event.]

What you see below you is a large list of small things that can be done to improve your game, split up into 3 main sections: things you can do during battle, things you can do prior to battle excluding stats, and then of course stats themselves, which deserve their own section. This is an accumulation of all the shortcuts and tricks that I have learned playing Pokémon over the last few years, especially during my more recent competitive years. This is definitely not a complete list of every little trick in the game, nor is it a just a few. Some people may know all of these tricks, and some may not. In any case, this list hopefully provides some insight to both newer and experienced players alike!

During the Battle

Minor Methods of Measuring Speed

One of the most crucial parts of a Pokémon battle is the ability to move before the opponent, and sometimes it can be game-changing, such as deciding which Kingdra will drop the Draco Meteor first on the opponent’s under Rain or which Hitmontop will be the one to shut down the opposing one with Fake Out. But how can you know which one is moving first? Well, there are a few subtle ways to tell. One of the ways to tell is by which ability activates first; the Pokémon whose ability was first to activate is faster. This is why most people will run lower speeds on their Tyranitar when preparing against opposing Rain teams, because Politoed’s Drizzle is “faster” than Tyranitar’s Sand Stream. Going with the Hitmontop example, if you’ve invested some Speed EV’s into it and your Intimidate activates before the opponent’s, you can be confident that you can get the first Fake Out. But that’s not all! End-of-the-turn item activations or damage, such as Sandstorm, Hail, Leftovers, Black Sludge, or abilities like Speed Boost can all determine speed order, with whatever Pokémon taking “damage” first being the fastest, and the Pokémon taking damage last being slowest. Of course, the order which Pokémon become damaged is reversed in Trick Room, so pay extra attention if the dimensions get twisted.

An important note to make with this is the prevalence of speed ties. If your Hitmontop’s Intimidate goes first against the opponent’s, but your Hitmontop has 0 Spd EV’s invested into it, you may have merely won a speed tie, the 50% chance to move first when both you and your opponent have the exact same speed stat, so don’t always assume that this trick means you are 100% going to be faster. Also, items or moves that affect speed (such as Choice Scarf, Iron Ball, Tailwind, or speed-boosting moves) are factored in, and that is why a Scarfed Tyranitar’s Sand Stream will activate before a regular Politoed’s Drizzle, leaving Rain permanently on the field. In short, this technique is most useful when you notice something like a Hydreigon be damaged by Sandstorm before your Latios – maybe hinting that the Hydreigon is holding a Choice Scarf.

Presenting a PokéBall Pro!

Ah, PokéBalls. They provide Pokémon with a well-deserved animation after all that hard work EV training and leveling up. However, they can also be a blessing – or a curse – depending if your opponent knows about these tricks. So, what could you possibly tell if your opponent has something other than the classic red and white PokéBall containing their Pokémon? Lots, surprisingly! There are a few important ones that really can clue you in on your opponent’s Pokémon’s moveset, Ability, or even if it’s a specific event Pokémon!

1. Dream Ball – This should automatically clue you in that the Pokémon you’re staring down has their specific Hidden Ability, whether it be from the Dream World or Pokémon Dream Radar – either one has the pink dots appear when it is called to battle. If your opponent has for example, a Landorus-I with the Dream Ball, there’s a good chance that it is going to be a special Landorus-I, most likely with moves like Earth Power and Hiden Power Ice or Flying. Thus, you can prepare accordingly. Be warned though – the Pokémon in Dream World can be captured in the Entree Forest with plain old PokéBalls instead of Dream Balls, so be on guard.

2. Cherish Ball – Ding ding ding! Event Pokémon at 12 o’clock! Pokémon in Cherish Balls are usually given out for special occasions, such as over Wi-Fi for an anniversary of some sort, or in real life at gaming stores, or Japan. In competitive battling, this can clue you in to certain movesets of Pokémon, with a good example being the “Zoroark” Raikou from all the way back in HGSS. It comes inside the Cherish Ball, and is Shiny, which is another good indicator of its unique moves that it can have, Aura Sphere, ExtremeSpeed, Zap Cannon, and Weather Ball, in addition to being the Rash Nature. While I personally don’t know every unique event move on every Pokémon, Bulbapedia has nice lists that you can check out if you want to be in the know.

3. Everything else other than normal PokéBalls – This is probably the coolest way to send out your Pokémon, but you do have to remember that hatched Pokémon come in regular PokéBalls, so that means it’s a great tip-off to your opponent that you don’t have any Egg Moves on it, and *most likely* no Hidden Ability (you can catch certain Pokémon in the wild with their Hidden Abilities automatically there, in addition to not using Dream Balls in Entrée Forest).

Personally, I would suggest going for a “custom” PokéBall only if you would not reveal anything else to your opponent in doing so. Many legendaries must be caught, some Pokémon have no Egg Moves, and some Pokémon have no Hidden Abilities. You can send out a Rotom-W with a Dream Ball, and not lose any advantage because Rotom-W has no Hidden Ability. Metagross has no Egg Moves, so feel free to capture it in the wild with a Dive Ball or any that you choose.

Eliminating Possibilities from Your Opponent’s Team

One of the greatest advantages when battling in VGCs (or any form of Pokémon battling, really) is eliminating possibilities from your opponent’s team based on what you’ve seen or haven’t seen. For example, the Item Clause in VGC restricts you from having more than 1 of the same item; because of this, if you notice an item on your opponent, you can know that nothing else on that team has that item. If the Hydreigon you’re facing just outsped your max speed Latios, there’s a good chance it’s holding a Choice Scarf. Now you know that no other Pokémon has a Choice Scarf on your opponent’s team. You can also do this trick with Abilities. One example that comes to mind is Hitmontop. If Intimidate doesn’t activate when it comes to the field, chances are that it has Technician, meaning Hitmontop probably knows Mach Punch and other moves with lower base power to fully take advantage of its underused ability. Zoroark comes into play with this, too. If Zoroark comes disguised as a Pokémon that normally would have an ability activate when it is sent into battle, you can know that it is indeed Zoroark. For example, picture this situation: the opponent leads with a slow, heavy hitter and a “Dusclops”. Immediately you might expect Trick Room, but the Dusclops’s Pressure doesn’t activate. This should clue you in that Zoroark is hiding, and you can take steps accordingly, like using Fake Out on it, which you wouldn’t normally use on a Dusclops.

Application of Arrival Animations

Shinies. With the RNG, we’re able to have both flawless IV’s and cool appearances all in one go. And in case your Pokémon’s name is Garchomp or another Pokémon that looks really close to their regular counterpart, we have sparkles that appear in addition to the new look. But that’s not all the entrances we have! We also have the more easily accessible star entrances, which are obtained by beating a lv. 37 Honchkrow in Brycen-Man Strikes Back at the Pokestar Studios. Before you say, “ahh extra work!” I should note that it is the 2nd movie at Pokestar and it is required to beat the 1st movie to advance through the storyline. Anyway, your Pokémon get a star above their heads when they come out, and it actually takes presence over the Shiny sparkles, so even if your Tyranitar has got Shiny sparkles, the star trumps it. Lastly, we have N’s Pokémon, which have 30 IV’s in all 6 stats, and are nature-locked. When they are sent out, green and yellow diamond shaped lights surround the Pokémon.

So, how does any of this apply to battles? In addition to making your Pokémon look boss, and potentially making a bad opponent think that your Pokémon are invincible, you have a few extra seconds that the game uses to show the animation. While this may seem insignificant, there are points in the game where you need every second you can get to finish the game on the timer. There are 20 minutes on the clock once both team’s Pokémon have been sent out, and there are certain times when the opponent might eventually win, but if you play it smart and keep your Pokémon alive then it’s not necessary to try and win by beating the opponent, but rather by playing the clock. In a basketball game, if you are ahead by 1 point, your team has the ball, and there are 20 seconds left on the clock, there is no reason you should try and score! If anything, it’d only give the other team an opportunity to come back, resulting in in a loss or overtime, where the other team would have a much greater shot at winning. It’s the same in Pokémon, except you can skip the part of overtime and replace with winning. Pokémon is not the only game that you can win in more than one way. Anyone remember Exodia from Yu-Gi-Oh? Sure, maybe timer stalling is aggravating. I can completely agree with people because I nearly lost on the timer myself once. But we all need to recognize that the timer is an important part of the game. If you say, “Well, I hate people who abuse the timer” then you’re not using all your options and must not be that good of a battler to have gotten yourself in that position to begin with.

Personally, I prefer Star entrances because of their easy accessibility, and because I don’t have to use Shinies to have the extra seconds advantage in battles, so I can choose whether I want the Shiny looks or not.

Note-Taking Know-How

Taking notes during a battle has both positives and negatives – you don’t have to memorize everything from the battle, but you do have to take time away from your decision making to write any information you want down. So when writing a section about taking notes, one can’t just say “Here’s exactly how you should take notes” because it’s different for every person. You need to find a method that enables you to write down notes quickly, so you’re not distracted from the match. Personally, on my sheet of notebook paper I use the top 2/3 for writing down the Pokémon, and the bottom 1/3 for special plays or combos I want to remember. The top 2/3 is then broken up into 6 sections, one for each Pokémon. During Team Preview, I copy down one Pokémon in each spot, and I’ll sometimes abbreviate to speed things up. During the battle, I’ll note a move or item that comes up, so I can remember it later, or a small note saying something about the Pokémon. For example, I might say that a Politoed is “defensive” based on what moves it knows or how much damage I do to it. Speaking of damage, remember that this isn’t Pokémon Showdown – you’re going to have to guess if that next attack will KO the opponent or leave it barely hanging. Since you don’t have that nifty percentage of HP loss information anymore, it’s good to practice in-game before a tournament, like on Random Matchup. If you’re a bit nervous about someone uploading one of your Battle Videos to Pokécheck, you can always battle at the Battle Institute, PWT, or the Battle Subway. The PWT is especially fun, because you can earn BP, listen to some of the game’s best music, and even pretend you’re a World Champion and beat Ray. Practicing this will help you judge how much damage you’ve done in-game. Another important thing that note-taking can do for you is let you keep track of turns of Trick Room, Tailwind, Gravity, or other moves that work for a certain number of turns. This way, you can plan accordingly during these turns for when the advantage the opponent has is gone. I would strongly suggest you practice taking notes on Random Matchup, so you have the closest experience to VGC play and can get comfortable with writing things down as you play. You don’t want to be at Nationals and not have any idea how you will write down what you want to remember! Also, make sure you double-check when you leave home for your notebook and writing utensil you want to use or you might be asking around to borrow a sheet of paper!

[When taking notes please remember to follow the official guidelines outlined in the official VGC rules.]

Before the Battle

Go for the Good Genders

Genders are another thing most players don’t care about in competitive battling, because they think you won’t see much of anything other than some gimmick involving Attract. Most people say then to just get your Pokémon, not mattering which gender it is, because it’s just extra work. But with RNG abuse, we have this option anyway, and there are a few legitimate reasons to pick one gender over the other.

1. Special Attackers should be female, in order to counter Captivate Sableye. Captivate is a move that lowers the Sp. Atk of both opponent’s Pokémon by 2 stages if their genders are opposite. Sableye is the most viable user of this move, as it can easily use it to its advantage with Prankster, and can even then survive a Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from a Latios – which is why people use female Sableye, because Latios must be male. Thundurus, special Landorus-I, and special Nidoking also fall under this category of Pokémon guaranteed to lose Sp. Atk.

2. The only other viable gender-based strategy is Rivalry, an ability which boosts attacks against Pokémon of the same gender by 25%, and can only be viably seen on Haxorus, but you can immediately tell if it has Rivalry just because Mold Breaker and Unnerve reveal themselves at the start of battle. Here, it is best to take the rest of your physical attacking Pokémon and “balance it” so you have a more equal ratio of males to females. If you have Pokémon that are genderless on your team, and have an odd number of Pokémon remaining, go with female, because most gender strategies rely on your Pokémon being the more common male.

And yes, you can do the reverse psychology argument saying that because female is superior then people running these gimmicks will change their Pokémon to male to counter this idea. And they might. But in all reality, the people running strategies based on genders in the first place are probably not thinking this far ahead, and that’s also why balancing the genders on your physical attackers at the end is an important step.

Proliferate Your Power Points

How annoying would it be if in a match you click Draco Meteor only to be told by the game that you’ve run out of the necessary PP to do so? If you’ve ever noticed on Pokémon Showdown, all of the moves that you use on your Pokémon are automatically PP Maxed free of charge. While this is nice for the simulator, in-game it’s a different story. PP Ups are hard to find unless you get a good Market in Join Avenue, find a lot through the storyline, or beat certain people, and don’t even get started on PP Max. Thankfully, 3 PP Ups equals 1 PP Max, so if you can’t find many PP Max don’t worry too much. Still though, it’s not very easy or time-effective to track down 24 PP Max or 72 PP Up, so you need to look at each move and decide if it can go without being maxed. I always PP Max my offensive attacks, Protect/Detect, and support moves that I use a lot. However, I don’t PP Max moves like Fake Out, Tailwind, or others with 30+ PP that I probably couldn’t use up throughout the match if I wanted to. I would suggest PP Maxing your moves very close to tournament time, such as two or three days beforehand, because if you make last minute move changes to your Pokémon, you’ll want to make sure those moves won’t run out of PP.

Detecting a Diabolical Development

There’s a certain move called Protect that everyone in VGC loves to use, because of its utility: stop a Pokémon’s attack, stall for weather damage or turns of Trick Room or Tailwind, and nearly all Pokémon capable of using TM’s can learn it. But Protect has an often-forgotten cousin, Detect. It has poorer distribution than Protect, only half as much PP, and has exactly the same effect as Protect. So why even mention this? Because a certain move, Imprison, locks your Pokémon out of moves that the user of Imprison also has, and most people will include Protect on their Imprison user. Since Imprison affects both of your Pokémon, the opponent may have gotten more than just stopping Trick Room or Earthquake – they prevent your Pokémon from saving themselves. So, Detect works great for that untimely Imprison. Pokémon such as Zapdos, Hitmontop, Eevee Evolutions, Conkeldurr, and others can utilize Detect instead of Protect.

Positioning the Perfect Team Preview

Team Preview is both a blessing and a curse to VGCs, because while you have the advantage of knowing your opponent’s 6 Pokémon beforehand, you also have to deal with your opponent knowing your 6 Pokémon. While most articles on Team Preview focus on reading your opponent’s team, setting up a team illusion of your own is good as well. For example, perhaps you have both a Whimsicott and a Terrakion on your team, but you have no intention of leading with them together. Putting them as first and second in your party can create the illusion of “TerraCotta”, a VGC 2011 strategy that involved using Beat Up on Terrakion to boost its Atk +4 stages. Or if you have 4 weaknesses to Fire on your team, don’t put all of them in a row unless you’re trying to bait the opponent into bringing a Fire-type. Basically, don’t give away your strategy from before turn one, and if you can, arrange your Team Preview so it looks like you have a different strategy than what you are actually doing.


Before I go into what you need to do to be efficient with your stats, I think that it’s very important to note a few things. First, it is stats that are the important parts of training, not EV’s or IV’s or Natures. These things make up stats, and custom EV training is to hit the correct stats. Second, this is not a guide to custom EV training, as jio already has a fantastic guide on the subject. This is just a few things about stats that are important to note that jio didn’t mention in his article.  I also think that it’s important to start with the stat formula, which, while is daunting, is incredibly important. For the sake of VGCs, this formula automatically takes into account that Pokémon are at level 50.

HP = Base Stat + IV/2 + EV/8 + 60

All other stats = (Base Stat + IV/2 + EV/8 + 5) x Nature

For all you non-mathy people out there, fear not, for Pokémon Showdown does these calculations for you, and there are several other sites you can use as well. Basically, what these 2 formulas equate to is that the base stat of a Pokémon (full list can be found on Bulbapedia) plus the IV’s of a Pokémon divided by 2, plus the EV’s of a Pokémon divided by 8, plus the 5 or 60, then multiplied by the nature (if you have a helpful nature, 1.1x, and if you have a hindering nature, 0.9x) results in the stat.

IV/2 + EV/8 Must Equal a Whole Number

This is one of the most important things to do when EV training anything, because in Pokémon, every stat counts. Because the game always rounds down the stat equation, you will always be left with a nice whole number, which can be seen from your Pokémon’s summary screen. This means that even if you had a stat of 59.9, the game would round it down to 59, instead of rounding up to 60. So, who cares? The EV’s do! Most people will RNG their Pokémon for “perfect” IV’s, aka 31 in a stat. 31/2=15.5. Aha! See? Now, let’s say we invest 252 EV’s in that stat. 252/8=31.5. 15.5+31.5=47, which is a whole number, which is why when you’re running a 252/252/4 spread, as long as you’re running max IV’s, nobody complains. The main issue comes down to when you’re custom EV training, and you use a number that is evenly divisible by 8, such as 80, for example. 80/8=10 + 31/2=15.5 = 25.5, which by game standards equals 25. So, to save EV’s, we take 76/8=9.5 + 31/2=15.5, which is again 25, but with 4 less EV’s. If you adjust all your stats, you may end up saving quite a few EV’s.

When IV’s aren’t 31

But what if you don’t have flawless Pokémon to use? RNGing is difficult, and sometimes people don’t have time to get that flawless Shiny Cresselia you were wanting, and now you’re stuck with your Cresselia with a spread as wonky as 4/24/8/31/22/29. Or maybe you did get your Cresselia, and it came with IV’s for Hidden Power Fire, with a spread of 30/2/31/30/31/30, and you wanted to efficiently EV train. How would you go about it? Well, same as last time: IV/2 + EV/8 must equal a whole number. Let’s go back to the previous example, 80. 30/2=15 + 80/8=10 = 25. But if we try to reduce it back down to 76, 30/2=15 + 76/8=9.5 = 24.5, or 24 by the game’s standards.

Basically, follow this rule of thumb: If the IV’s are odd, EV’s divided by 8 needs to have .5, and if the IV’s are even, EV’s divided by 8 needs to be a whole number.

Minimize the Atk IV on Special Attackers

There are a few basic points in Pokémon that many people know: Physical Attackers don’t care about Sp. Atk, and Special Attackers don’t care about Atk. Simple enough, right? How much deeper could this kind of concept get? Well, as far as I can tell, physical attackers really do not care at all about Sp. Atk, so feel free to search for any kind of IV when RNGing. However, Special Attackers do have a few benefits from reducing their attack stat as much as humanly (or Pokémonly?) possible: Foul Play and confusion damage. Confusion deals a 40 base power attack to your Pokémon, and is reliant on your attack stat. With lots of Swagger running around nowadays, you really don’t want your Pokémon to be hit with more damage than is necessary. By reducing the Attack IV to 0, you may turn damage that you could have taken you out into staying alive with 1 HP. Foul Play is also an attack that relies on the opponent’s attack stat, and while Foul Play users will usually target Physical Attackers, occasionally they will come after your Special Attackers, and by reducing your Atk IV, you can avoid taking as much damage.

But what if you need a Hidden Power on your Special Attacker? Well, feel free to reduce the Atk stat here as well, but it is important to note that reducing the Atk stat to 0 leaves the Hidden Power at 2 points lower – it will be 68 instead of 70. Now, even though this is minor, reducing the Atk stat is less important than the base power of your moves. So, keep this rule of thumb in mind: If the IV is 30, reducing the IV to 2 still retains the 70 base power, and if the IV is 31, reducing the IV to 3 still retains the 70 base power. For example, Thundurus-I usually has Hidden Power Ice in its moveset. 31/2/30/31/31/31 still lets you keep Hidden Power Ice, while reducing the Atk IV to reduce confusion and Foul Play damage.

Use IV’s Before You Use EV’s

If there is ever a case where you wanted your Pokémon to be able to accomplish a certain goal, but can’t afford to use up EV’s, sometimes IV’s can fill in the gap, usually involving speed. For example, take Ray’s Metagross from his World’s team:


Metagross @ Lum Berry
Adamant (14 Speed IV)
252 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 136 SpDef
-Meteor Mash
-Zen Headbutt

Ray’s Metagross needed to accomplish a certain goal – to be Swaggered first by Ray’s Cresselia under Trick Room so it could have +2 Attack and then blast its foes with things like Meteor Mash. In order to carry out this plan, he took his Cresselia’s speed, which was 81, and gave Metagross one point higher stat, 82, so Metagross would be slower in Trick Room, and thus be Swaggered first. Ray could have gone for 31 Speed IV’s anyway, because Metagross would still be slower in Trick Room, but the 14 Spd IV gave him a unique advantage, in that he could beat opposing Metagross under Trick Room, and outside of Trick Room beat a Brave 0 Speed IV Metagross.

Boost the Highest Base Stat with Your Nature

Choosing the nature on a Pokémon is sometimes really easy; usually you just boost the stat you want the highest and be done with it, and lower the stat you don’t care about based on whether it’s a physical or special attacker. But sometimes, especially on defensive Pokémon, you have to choose your Nature wisely, because you need it to do as much work for your Pokémon as possible. Take a look at Wolfey’s Hitmontop from his Worlds Runner-Up Team:

BREAKDANCE (Hitmontop) (M) @ Chesto Berry
Trait: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 84 Def / 156 SDef / 4 Spd
Careful Nature (+SDef, -SAtk)
– Fake Out
– Rest
– Close Combat
– Stone Edge

With the EV’s invested and the Careful Nature on Wolfe’s infamous defensive Hitmontop, it survives a Psyshock or a Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from the standard Timid Latios – pretty cool. However, if Wolfe had used the Impish Nature, he wouldn’t have had to put any EV’s at all into Defense, because the Nature would have taken care of the stat boost for him, leaving 84 extra EV’s to put in that Sp. Def stat. But if he had, he would have gotten a Sp. Def stat of 160 instead of 165 – which is a 12.5% chance to KO with the Dragon Gem Draco Meteor instead of a 100% chance to survive. Because Hitmontop’s base Sp. Def was higher (110) than the base Def (95), he went for the Careful Nature instead to save himself a handful of EV’s and allow his Hitmontop to accomplish multiple goals at once.

But what if boosting the highest stat prevents a certain goal from being achieved? For example, a Tyranitar holding a Choice Scarf is fairly fast, but most people run Jolly instead of Adamant, even though Tyranitar’s base Attack is higher than its base Speed. Why? Because even with the Choice Scarf and 252 Spd EV’s, an Adamant Tyranitar cannot beat a Timid Latios/Thundurus-I in speed that is running 252 Spd EV’s themselves. Thus, you must adjust the Nature accordingly to accomplish your goals first, and then take a step back and look at your EV’s to see which stat should be most efficiently boosted.

Having an Efficient HP Stat

The HP stat is an important part of Pokémon, because it marks how much damage a Pokémon can take before it faints.  There are a myriad of moves and items out there that can affect the HP stat, but there are a few in particular that I’d like to point out.

1. Leftovers and Weather damage both are unique in that they recover or deal 1/16 of their HP at the end of each turn. So, a Conkeldurr with 208 HP would take 13 damage in Sandstorm. But what about a Conkeldurr with 207 HP? Well, just like in the stat formula, the game rounds down the damage, so instead of taking 12.9 damage, it takes only 12. That means that Conkeldurr can survive 5 more turns of weather damage than 208 HP Conkeldurr can, an impressive feat. The same goes for Leftovers, only in reverse. If you were giving Conkeldurr Leftovers, 208 HP would be superior, because you would regain 13 HP instead of 12 HP.

2. While we’re talking about Conkeldurr, let’s look at another side of it: the classic Guts + Flame Orb combo. Now obviously, since you’re taking damage from Burn you’d want to reduce that 1/8 damage as much as possible. It’s the same concept as Sandstorm, really – 207 HP Conkeldurr is your answer here over 208 HP, because the damage is reduced from 26 to 25 each turn, giving you a more efficient Conkeldurr, and one extra turn of hanging on (though Guts Conkeldurr usually comes with Drain Punch anyway). The same thing applies for Life Orb, which takes away 1/10 of your HP.

3. Substitute is a move that takes away 1/4 of your HP and gives you a green plush doll that has all kinds of potential. However, if your HP is evenly divisible by 4, you can only theoretically have 3 Substitutes – because the 4th would make you faint. So, what do you do? Simply add 1 extra point to the HP stat you have, and bingo! Guaranteed 4 Substitutes! So, if you have 200 HP on a Pokémon and are intending to use Substitute, you can boost it by one point to 201 HP and make 4 50 HP Substitutes.

It is very important to note that these concepts can be combined, such as Substitute factoring in Leftovers recovery. It is equally important to note that you should not try for things like reducing Burn and weather damage if it is too far out of reach. I’d say that if you were within 3 stat points of the ideal HP stat and you can move around EV’s elsewhere, go for it, but don’t change the whole goal of your team just to be efficient with your HP, because then you’re not really being efficient.


I want to give a huge shoutout to HeroOfTheWinds, a user here on Nugget Bridge who was willing to go through and proofread this article, and offer his input. Without his advice, many ideas would not have gotten into this article. Well, that about does it! Hopefully one or two of these tips have let you learn something new, and maybe some things you weren’t sure about have now been confirmed. If you know about any more small tricks, feel free to post them in the comments so others can see.


Article image created by feathers for Nugget Bridge. View more of her artwork on her tumblr or Nugget Bridge forums thread.

About the Author

, aka Leonard Craft III, is a diehard Pokémon fan who has been involved with competitive battling since 2011. He enjoys hanging out and practicing with the Anistar Aliens (Oreios, Stats, KermitTheFrog14, and tlyee61), making the best EV spreads possible, and glitching the entirety of Generation I. When he's not playing Pokémon, DaWoblefet enjoys playing Quiz Bowl and ping-pong, hanging out with friends, and helping at his church.

20 Responses to Stepping It Up: Small Ways to Improve Your Game

  1. P3DS says:

    Nice article. Wow, I never would have guessed most of them things. Thanks for bringing the article up, that will be a very good thing to keep in mind for when I play more VGC in the future

  2. This is a beautiful article.

  3. I think they’re all things I’ve heard of before, but since I don’t RNG 90% of my things, I don’t really bother with any of these. It would be interesting to know how often these things make a difference though. The thing about Captivate Sableye seems to be the biggest, since it’s discrete whether or not it works on an opponent, and it has some pretty big male targets.

  4. DaWoblefet says:

    I guess complaining enough to the right people did the trick! Looks like it’s up on site!

  5. Great to see this on the site finally!  I guess that means that other articles unrelated to Nats will be following in the near future too!
    You already know my thoughts on the article since we discussed it so much while you were writing it. ;)

  6. tlyee61 says:

    Great article, I really like how it points out some lesser looked at features of a Pokemon,

  7. Braverius says:

    I was just optimizing a spread on one of my mons and wondering why other than in Flash’s worlds article, this kind of advice has never been brought up. I never actually cared enough to optimize before spring regionals most of the time because I’d rely on just basic spreads working and get too comfortable to bother changing them (or I’d just be unable to optimize due to needing offensive sets.) But with some experience, a more defensive and odds-crunching style of play, and simply knowing where to draw the line between optimizing EVs and warping your team, this info REALLY comes in handy.
    Probably my favorite article team-wise. Major props man, this is quality.

  8. araluen7 says:

    I never actually cared enough to optimize before spring regionals most of the time because I’d rely on just basic spreads working and get too comfortable to bother changing them

    You didn’t even EV your Mamoswine, and as far as I know (unless its a super secret tech that only higher level players know) that isn’t a basic spread. Calling shenanigans on you >.> 

  9. Adib says:

    I wish this article came out six months ago so I wouldn’t have had to figure all this stuff out myself the hard way. This is a fantastic piece to read and learn from. Little things like these can make the difference between competing in Top Cut and standing on the sidelines watching it.

  10. DaWoblefet says:

    I wish this article came out six months ago so I wouldn’t have had to figure all this stuff out myself the hard way. This is a fantastic piece to read and learn from. Little things like these can make the difference between competing in Top Cut and standing on the sidelines watching it.

    Six months ago I was learning this stuff same as you, man. I completely feel you. Hopefully people won’t have to go through it again.

    I was just optimizing a spread on one of my mons and wondering why other than in Flash’s worlds article, this kind of advice has never been brought up. I never actually cared enough to optimize before spring regionals most of the time because I’d rely on just basic spreads working and get too comfortable to bother changing them (or I’d just be unable to optimize due to needing offensive sets.) But with some experience, a more defensive and odds-crunching style of play, and simply knowing where to draw the line between optimizing EVs and warping your team, this info REALLY comes in handy.
    Probably my favorite article team-wise. Major props man, this is quality.

    Wow. That really means a lot to me, especially coming from a player with success in this season such as yours. Thanks dude.

  11. Aren142 says:

    I actually read this a few days ago while it was still in the workshop and it is pretty much a must read article. A few things I had picked up before but the stats section was very insightful. I think this combined with Lajo’s Sun team article will completely revolutionise the way I go about teambuilding next season. Could only wish this had been posted up sooner really. Thank you very much for writing this.

  12. Zog says:

    To be honest this is too good to post on the site. :P
    Can’t knock any of it; these kinds of tricks are the difference between good and great players. You only get to the top if you think of everything.

  13. Christian says:

    They’re are many ways to improve your game. BUT! These are very helpful and can help you beat any trainer easily,plus the best way to raise EVs is with Pokerus.(As mentioned in article.) I kind of like to EV train shiny Pokemon to make it look unbeatable. :D But my favorite Pokemon to EV train is “Eevee”.And it makes sense too. 

  14. Crawdaunt says:

    I just wanted to say, this was a great article! This is one of those things that players find out about, but don’t approach on their own because it seems daunting to learn all the “hidden” aspects. But with an article like this, anyone can see it’s really quite simple.

    It’s also a great reminder/checklist for anyone playing the game to remember each little trick they can take minor advantage of.

  15. JRank says:

    Enjoyed this quite a bit, great job!

  16. Enigne says:

    Great article.

    I would add that any VGC spread investing 12 or more EV’s in HP without any investment in defenses can almost always be improved by removing 8 EV’s from HP and putting 4 EV’s each into Defense and Special Defense (assuming 31 IV’s in HP, Defense, and Special Defense). This effectively lowers HP by one point and raises each defense a point, which is slightly better defensively unless the Pokemon being EV’d has an extremely disproportionate ratio of HP to defenses (e.g. Shuckle).

  17. DaWoblefet says:

    Great article.

    I would add that any VGC spread investing 12 or more EV’s in HP without any investment in defenses can almost always be improved by removing 8 EV’s from HP and putting 4 EV’s each into Defense and Special Defense (assuming 31 IV’s in HP, Defense, and Special Defense). This effectively lowers HP by one point and raises each defense a point, which is slightly better defensively unless the Pokemon being EV’d has an extremely disproportionate ratio of HP to defenses (e.g. Shuckle).

    Thank you, I always appreciate kind words, especially from a now World Champion! And yes, that is one of those tricks that didn’t make the list – you should maximize the lowest stat defensively to get the most out of it. For example, 252 HP / 0 Sp. Def Dusclops will do much more work than 0 HP /252 Sp. Def will. But 252 HP / 0 Sp. Def would do a lot less work than 0 HP / 252 Sp. Def would. Also, great point with distributing EV’s because it only takes 4 EV’s the first time to boost defenses; something that people might want to consider. I personally didn’t deem either of those points worthy enough to be included in the article, but I’m glad you brought them up!

  18. AndrewPrabowo says:

    A very good article to a beginner like me :D. Very helpful. Thank you

  19. ZzamanN says:

    shame that a lot of small tournaments (Australian Nationals 2013) dont give you a notepad to take notes with 🙁

  20. Omega says:

    @ZzamanN, I don’t think any tournaments give you a notepad. You’ll have to bring one from home 😉

    @DaWoblefet, This is utterly beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑