Friday, June 27, 2014

Pokémon Geneticist: Making Tournament Ready Eevee From Scratch

Next month GameFreak is hosting an online tournament called "Eevee Friendly" for Pokémon X and Y, which is basically a tournament around a single Pokémon and it's 8 possible evolutions. Way back when at the beginning of my blog, I was working on breeding an entire set of near-perfect Eevee, so I figured this would be a good time to finally try out the online tournament scene.

All Eevee, all the time.
My Eevee army is complete; I have six different types, decked out with crafted move sets, stats, and natures (personalities). Given the effort, I figured I'd deconstruct the steps to both have everything I need in one spot, and to give folks an idea of what really goes on to get tournament-ready critters.

Step 1: Understanding the Lexicon

One of the first things you need to do is basically understand what we're aiming for, and to do that requires some basic groundwork.

All Pokémon have six stats:
  • HP
    • The total amount of damage your critter can suffer before they faint ("die").
  • Attack (Atk)
    • Moves that use Attack to help determine damage have a red and yellow star beside them.
  • Defense (Def)
    • Reduces the damage you take from moves that use the Attack stat.
  • Special Attack (SpA)
    • Moves that use Special Attack to help determine damage have a blue and purple set of circles beside them.
  • Special Defense (SpD)
    • Reduces the damage you take from moves that use the Special Attack stat.
  • Speed (Spe)
    • Determines who goes first in a given round. In case of ties, order is assigned randomly.
These stats are determined by combination of a Pokémon's base stats, Individual Values (IVs), Effort Values (EVs), nature, and level.

The base stats are identical for all Pokémon of a given species, and have the most influence over the final stats. For example, all Pikachu have 55 base Attack, and 90 base Speed. At level 100, a Pikachu with no EVs, IVs, or nature would have 115 Attack and 185 Speed ([2 x Base] x Level / 100 + 5). HP ends up being a little bit more, with ([2 x Base + 100] x Level / 100 + 10).

For the most part, just note that the higher the base stats are, the better. If you want something that is speedy and crushes your opponents with Earthquake, finding a Pokémon with a high base Speed and Attack is probably a good start.

Individual Values (IVs) are something I talked a lot about last time. These are basically the "genetics" that create variation in your Pokémon. They're generated at the point where you encounter the Pokémon (either in the wild, or in egg form), and are immutable. There is an IV for each stat: HP, Attack, Defense, and so on. Each IV can range from 0 to 31, and at Level 100, will add that amount to the stat.

So a Pikachu with a 15 Speed IV will have 200 Speed at Level 100 (185 from the base stat, 15 from the IV). Ideally, you want 31 is as many useful IVs as possible. I say useful because not every Pokémon uses every stat, usually in the case of Physical versus Special attackers.

Effort Values (EVs) are the nurture portion of nurture versus nature. They're basically XP for specific stats. Whenever you defeat another Pokémon, they're worth some amount of EVs. For example, if your Pikachu were to defeat a Charmander, Pikachu would get 1 Speed EV.

A Pokémon can have a maximum of 252 EVs in a single stat, and a total of 510 EVs across all stats. This makes choosing which stats you want to boost important, because you have a very finite number to apply. At Level 100, your stats will be increased by 1/4th of the EVs for that stat.

So our Pikachu with a 15 Speed IV, and 90 base Speed, if we trained him to have 200 Speed EVs, he would have 250 Speed total: 185 from the base stat, 15 from the Speed IV, and 50 from the 200 Speed IVs.

In Pokémon X and Y you can see your EVs via the Super Training window. The middle dark chunk is your IVs (and nature, I think), and the outer yellow portion of the graph is your EVs. The bar on the right is how close to your maximum of 510 EVs you are.

Finally, a Pokémon's Nature can also change the spread of a Pokémon's final stats. Some natures have no effect, others will reduce one stat by 10% and increase another by 10%.

All told, your Pokémon's final stat allocation is as follows:

With thanks to Bulbapedia for the graphic.
IVs, EVs, and Nature are all under your control as a player. Basically, the higher the better for IVs and EVs, and find a nature that makes what you want to focus on go higher, and lower a stat you don't care about.

Step 2: Choose your Pokémon

Simple, which Pokémon do you want to use? When you're picking for a larger team, you want to make sure you have things like type coverage (you don't want a team where most of your critters are susceptible to say, fire attacks), and different roles for different critters. If you have nothing but Special Attack sweepers (a critter who does little but makes super-powerful attacks once it's been set up with stat boosts), you're going to get creamed by someone with one or two Special Defense walls (a critter who has really high defenses/HP and often has moves to support those defenses).

For the Eevee Friendly tournament, thankfully, my choices are limited to nine: Eevee and the eight evolutions. With each Pokémon having only a single type, and some having type counters, but not others, it makes thinking about the metagame interesting., but far more finite than the game as a whole. For myself, I ended up choosing a tank (Vaporeon), a staller (Umbreon), three sweepers (Flareon, Espeon, and Jolteon), and a baton passer (Leafeon).

Tanks often can take a lot of damage and still dish some out. Stallers inflict various conditions that do damage over time, then try to hold out for a period of time while those conditions do their job. Baton passers refer to a specific in-game move, where you set up some positive status conditions then "baton pass" to switch to another Pokémon, who would inherit those positive conditions.

Step 3: Determine IVs, Natures, Abilities, and Move Sets

Once you've determined who you want to bring, you'll want to figure out what you're aiming for. As an ongoing example, I'll use my Espeon.

Espeon are often used as Special Sweepers, and that's my primary aim here. Since Espeon won't be using the Attack stat, the IV for Attack can be zero for all I care, but I want 31s in all the other stats--note that getting a 6 perfect IV Pokémon is extremely unlikely, whereas 5 is totally doable in a couple hours. I also want to emphasize the Speed stat at the expense of the Attack stat to make it more likely that I will go first in a round, so I want an Espeon with a Timid nature.

Pokémon abilities are a special attribute which usually have positive effects in battle. Espeon can have one of two abilities: Synchronize, or the hidden ability Magic Bounce. Hidden abilities cannot just happen. You need to have caught a Pokémon with the hidden ability and pass it down via breeding. Since I didn't do that, I ended up with Synchronize, which causes any status ailments inflicted on Espeon to also be inflicted on Espeon's opponent, which isn't too shabby. Since that's the default, nothing extra for me to do here.

Finally, the move set. As a sweeper, I want to make sure I have a bunch of special attacks in different types to ensure the maximum number of types that I can inflict double damage on. Since I decided against cross-breeding moves from other Pokémon, there was nothing else to do here but select moves from Espeon's levelling list and/or technical machine list--TMs are items which can teach moves to Pokémon. Not all Pokémon can learn all moves.

For Espeon, I selected:
  • Psychic
    • A powerful Psychic-type special attack.
    • Since Espeon is a Psychic-type Pokémon, it gets a 50% boost in power on this move.
    • Learned from levelling.
  • Dazzling Gleam
    • A powerful Fairy-type special attack.
    • Useful against Dark-types such as Umbreon.
    • Learned from TM.
  • Grass Knot
    • A moderately powerful Grass-type special attack.
    • Useful against Water-types such as Vaporeon.
    • Learned from TM.
  • Reflect
    • Reduces damage from incoming physical attacks for 5 turns.
    • Leafeon and Flareon are both strong physical attackers, and the Eevee line tends to have better SpD than Def.
    • Learned from TM.
Step 4: Get Your Pokémon, and Start Breeding

To breed more Eevee, you need to have an Eevee first. Since all Pokémon from the Friend Safari start with at least 2 IVs maxed out at random, I started with Eevee from there. Catch a whole bunch, then go to the Kiloude City Pokémon Center and talk to the guy on the right-hand side of the screen.

When he checks out your Pokémon, he'll say, "Incidentally, I would say its greatest potential lies in its <best stat>." He'll also append other stats if the IVs are equally as good. For all Eevee from the Friend Safari, he should say at least two stats and end with, "Stats like those... They simply can't be beat!" If he doesn't end with that sentence, you don't have any IVs at 31. I lucked out and got a couple 3s.

A neat trick for keeping track of which IVs are 31 is to mark them on the Pokémon status screen. In the screenshot above, you'll see 6 symbols outlined in pink. When you touch one of those symbols with the stylus, it darkens, and when you touch it again, it reverts to light. A standard way of marking IVs is to darken any symbols corresponding to a stat, starting from the left: HP, Atk, Def, SpA, SpD, Spe. These markings stay with the Pokémon, even when traded. I've gotten a few from Wonder Trade that were already marked up, because Wonder Trade is a great way to get rid of your failures. If you get lucky and get a 4 IV Pokémon, I suggest squirreling it away for future breeding.

You'll also want to make sure you have at least one Eevee with the nature you want, or it'll be a pain to fix it later when you're relegated to chance.

Once you've gotten an Eevee with decent IVs (2 or 3), and another Eevee with the nature you want (and also preferably decent IVs), you need to give the Eevee who's nature you want an Everstone. This ensures that the offspring will have that nature, removing luck from the process.

For the other Eevee, you'll want to give it a Destiny Knot. Normally in the breeding process, 3 IVs are chosen at random, then pulled from a random parent to be given to the offspring. For example, the system could pick Attack, Defense, and Speed, and choose the mother's Attack, the father's Defense, and the father's Speed. The other 3 IVs would be completely random between 0 and 31. With the Destiny Knot, the system picks 5 IVs from the parents, and only randomizes 1, making it easier to get 5 perfect IVs down the line (which is why getting 6 is such a pain).

So once you have those set up, drop them off at the daycare to get them to make babies. Wander around for a bit, checking with the man in front of the daycare every couple hundred steps (note steps, not time). Eventually he'll have an egg for you! Rinse and repeat until you have 5 eggs.

Fly to Lumiose City and go to the tower. You'll note that the screen rotates in a circle automatically if you just hold to the right or left. Get on your bike, shove a dime under the thumbstick to get it to stay to the right, and let the game go. Eventually, your eggs will start hatching. When one hatches, just spam the B button until the dialogs all go away, and let it run again until all 5 eggs have hatched.

You can speed up the hatching process by using the Hatching O-Power, and/or have another Pokémon on you with the ability Flame Body, which halves the number of steps it takes to hatch eggs. For me, I have a Talonflame with the ability, because it can also fly me to the other cities, meaning fewer Pokémon to switch in and out of my party for the process. It's also native to the game, and easily found.

Once your eggs hatch, take them to Kiloude City's IV checker, and figure out which Eevee are better than your current ones. If any of them are actually better (more perfect IVs, and/or more desirable perfect IVs), replace the current parents with the better ones, and repeat until you have your 5 IV Pokémon with the correct nature, remembering to move the Everstone and Destiny Knot the appropriate Pokémon.

Do note that in the process, you're more likely to get what you want if you choose Pokémon with perfect IVs in the stats you want, and garbage in the stat you don't want. It's easier to get perfect IVs for all but Attack if you breed a Pokémon with HP, Def, SpA, and Spe (often denoted 31/x/31/31/x/31) and a Pokémon with HP, SpA, SpD, Spe (31/x/x/31/31/31). Note on both Attack is garbage, and the other garbage stats are covered by the other parent. You're quite likely to get a perfect 5 IV but garbage Attack Pokémon with this setup. Shouldn't take more than 10 - 15 eggs unless you get really unlucky.

Also note that if you get other 4 or 5 IV Pokémon, squirrel them away for other breeding projects. For my Eevee breeding team, since I needed 6 of them of different natures and IVs, I saved a whole whack of them. It made further Eevee breeding a snap.

Step 5: EV Training

Once you have your 5 IV Pokémon with the correct nature (in my case, a 31/x/31/31/31/31 Timid Eevee), you'll want to start EV training immediately, because every time you knock out a Pokémon, you get EVs. To prevent getting EVs in stats where you don't want them, you'll want to make sure you only knock out Pokémon who give you the EVs you want until you're maxed out and can't gain anymore.

Since my Espeon is a special sweeper, I want a lot of speed, and special attack. So I'll aim for 252 Speed EVs, 252 Special Attack EVs, and have the 4 left over in HP for the extra 1 HP at Level 100.

With Super Training, you can play minigames to increase your Pokémon's EVs, which is a fun way to pass some time. But the fastest way to train EVs is to get some items from the Battle Maison, and then go find Hordes.

For 16 Battle Points (BP), you can buy a Power Item: Weight, Bracer, Belt, Lens, Band, Anklet. Holding a Power item gives your Pokémon 4 extra EVs in a specific stat (HP, Atk, Def, SpA, SpD, and Spe respectively) every time it knocks out a Pokémon. So that Charmander from before which gives 1 Speed EV? If your Pokémon were wearing a Power Bracer, it would get the 1 Speed EV and 4 Attack EVs. Or it could wear the Power Anklet, and get a total of 5 Speed EVs!

The next thing you want is for your Pokémon to catch a virus. That's right, a virus. The Pokérus is a benign virus that can randomly occur on Pokémon, but the odds are quite small. If you do manage to get infected, it's a cause for celebration! Having the Pokérus, or having been cured of it (which occurs naturally after 24 hours in your party) doubles the EVs that you get. So those 5 Speed EVs? If your Pokémon had the Pokérus, you'd get a whopping 10 Speed EVs instead!

If you do a lot of Wonder Trading, chances are you may have gotten a Pokémon with Pokérus, as kind souls give them out to help other trainers. Honestly, it's the most likely place to get it unless you know someone who'll give it to you. Once you have a Pokémon with the virus, just have them in your party next to uninfected Pokémon and have a couple battles. Eventually, the virus will spread to adjacent Pokémon. You can keep the virus indefinitely if you put the critter in your PC, and then whenever you need a Pokémon to catch the Pokérus, bring them out, and run a couple of battles. Note neither the infected or infectee need to participate in the battle.

You'll also need the Exp Share item, and it should be turned on. This allows experience earned by your Pokémon to be shared among others who are in your party, but did not participate. This also includes EVs. Note that while Experience is halved, EVs are not: the full value transfers.

Finally, you'll want a Pokémon with the Sweet Scent move. When this move is used in the field, either in a cave or in the grass, if you can encounter a horde, you will (unless it's raining). Since hordes are usually five of the same Pokémon, they're extremely efficient at earning EVs.

If we were to run into a horde of 5 Charmander, and our EV training Pokémon is in our party but not battling, holding a Power Anklet, and the Exp Share is turned on, we'd expect 50 EVs from a single battle! Given that we want 252 in a single stat, that's 6 battles and we're finished for that stat. Pretty damn quick. Bring another Pokémon with a move that will hit all enemies, like Surf, and you're good to go.

The most efficient routes for grinding EVs are as follows:
  • HP - Route 5
    • Gulpin give 1 HP EV a piece. Run from other hordes.
  • Attack - Route 19
    • Weepinbell and Arbok both give 2 Atk EV each.
  • Defense - Terminus Cave
    • Durant give 2 Def EV, Geodude and Aron give 1 Def EV.
  • Special Attack - Frost Cavern
    • Vanillite and Smoochum give 1 SpA EV.
  • Special Defense - Reflection Cave
    • Mime Jr. give 1 SpD EV each.
  • Speed - Route 15
    • Murkrow give 1 Spe EV a piece.
If it's raining in an area, check the link above for alternate areas.

For my Espeon, I needed a Power Anklet (for speed) and went to Route 15 for a while, then a Power Lens (for special attack) and went to the Frost Cavern for a while. For the 4 HP EVs I just donned a Power Weight and knocked out another horde of Vanillite since I couldn't gain anymore SpA EVs (and could only get the HP EVs).

Step 6: Round Out Move Set, Level, and Evolve

The final step is to round out the move set by either levelling and/or using TMs. Since I didn't carry over any moves I wanted from breeding, everything for my Espeon was levelling (Psychic), or TMs. I just used the TMs, and evolved Espeon and levelled him up until I had Psychic. Then my move set was complete. Since the tournament reduces your level to 30, anything above that was wasted effort (unless needed to learn a move).

And bam, rinse and repeat for all my Eevee. All in all, it took probably a good 12 - 15 hours or so to get the entire team tournament ready. Since I was using only one base Pokémon (Eevee), step 4 took a LOT less time in aggregate compared to breeding 6 disparate Pokémon. It also helped I had a lot of the items and helper Pokémon required (mostly through playing the story, thankfully). But all-in-all, despite the crazy lengthy process, it wasn't terribly complicated.

The tournament starts July 11th and ends July 14th, so we'll find out how well I do. Here's hoping I do okay!

#Pokemon, #Guide


  1. Damn.

    This seems really far removed from playing Pokemon Red on a Gameboy!

    1. Well, to be fair, none of this is remotely necessary to beat the game itself. But yeah, things have definitely gotten more complex over the years!