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Learning to fight: a NetBattle adventure

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WaterWizard vs. WilliamLongfellow part 1
I hadn't fought in ages before yesterday, when I got whupped by someone called "spies", but back in the halcyon days of RBY online battling on Porygon's Big Show I was a regular gladiator. Regular, if not skilled at all. One way I might get skilled is to analyze the logs of my recent fights.

I'm worried that as a patzer I'll not only make many mistakes, but misanalyze them as I run through the log; time will tell. I may extend this liveblog to GSC (and beyond), but for now my simple mind tackles a simple generation.

My team:

This is bog standard. I'm not sure whether the particular moveset quirks (HP over Blizzard on Starmie, double powder Eggy) synergize; that's something experience teaches. But the Pokémon and movesets themselves are absolutely standard, tried and true, nothing unusual. I think it's good to begin with a standard team so there's less team analysis and more skill analysis.

WaterWizard often posts in the Ruins of Alph, the sub-board at Smogon for early generations of Pokémon. A pretty sensible guy; it feels good to play a known name, at least.

Gengar's the most common Sleep lead. Many people lead with Zam to counter Gengar but I'm not sure what they gain. Gengar can just switch out to Chansey, Eggy, Slowbro, or Starmie, and Alakazam can't do much to them but paralyze or switch to something better. "Switching to something better" sounds more facetious than it is, as one perk of leading with a matchup advantage is you're in the position where you can bait. But you need to have a Pokémon that baits well. Starmie's a great baiter as it sees only one switch-in consistently—Chansey. So it can bait Chansey and then switch into Tauros or Snorlax the same turn, putting Chansey and her trainer off-balance. Alakazam can't do the same because it can see three or four switch-ins.

I still didn't want my Chansey to be caught naked on the off-chance that WaterWizard does switch out to Tauros or Snorlax, so I sent in Exeggutor instead.

A bit bumpier than I hoped, but got the Eggy in. Zam could've Twaved my Exeggutor here, but I think that would be a misplay, as Eggy could now be a status absorber, able to switch in on Thunder Waves and Sleep Powders with impunity. Psychic at least gets chip damage, and pretty good chip damage with a crit and Special down.

Now that my Exeggutor's in, I can nearly guarantee a Sleep. In RBY, Sleep is nearly worth a KO (sleeping Pokémon probably won't wake up on time, though they can still be jettisoned for tempo or thrown against an Explosion), so this turn of events has not gone at all badly for me. This is why Alakazam seems a poor starter; he not only got the lead matchup he wanted, but hit my Exeggutor as hard as Alakazam can hope to do, and I still feel like I'm doing all right.

I sleeped someone and I have a sleep absorber. I'm probably a bit ahead now. (Maybe another Psychic would have been wiser of him?)

A bad double switch for me. I wonder if Golem was a stupid Pokémon to switch to. Gengar would've been the best matchup, I think, so I'll just switch to him.

Now that I have my Gengar in, what do I do? Switching in Gengar resolves the immediate problem of my Golem in mortal danger, but the revolving door, as Ted Lewis puts it, of switches will bring in his Eggy against whom my Gengar can't do anything. Perhaps I should bring Eggy in? I have to weigh that against the chance Lapras will foolhardily remain to Blizzard (or Sing!?) me again. Unlikely, but at this point my head was in the clouds and I just pressed Thunderbolt for the super-effective.

I think these next few turns are OK for me, but the impulse to just hit your super-effective button is dangerous, especially in the bulkier first and second generations. It's too easy to switch, make your attack mean nothing, and put you in the awkward position of having to switch yourself. It gives the opponent the upper hand in the sort of switching judo that is Pokémon. Attacks should be chosen with care.

And I barely ruffle Eggy's leaves. I'll switch to Eggy just as I should have last turn, and again in this case the lost tempo doesn't hurt me, but my habits could sure lose me some important tempi later if I don't note them and expunge the bad ones. To shed bad habits takes time and practice, of course, and even among the best of us, sometimes le chat revient.

The doors have almost revolved all the way. Now his Lapras carries Blizzard and I guessed, though I didn't calculate, that it could kill my Eggy at this point (turns out I have a non-trivial chance to survive, though I wouldn't risk it); furthermore, I guessed that if I did survive, my Explosion would be unable to take Lapras out (this assessment was correct). So I decided to switch. But to whom?

Bringing in Gengar would just hook me back on the losing end of the switching chain, so I wondered who else I could bring in. Starmie, to my knowledge, loses the one-on-one with Tbolt Lapras, though maybe I could Thunder Wave her and then switch out. I don't like the idea of eating two (potential) Thunderbolts, though. Maybe I could switch to Tauros? But the thought of it doesn't feel right; Tauros mightn't be the worst switch-in to Lapras, but he's too valuable to risk against such a bulky strong foe. So I had an audacious thought: what about Chansey? With para and Thunderbolts I can bring Lapras down, and if it turns out Lapras is the Confuse Raying Body Slammer typically meant to take Chansey out, well, I'll cross the bridge when I get there.

(to be continued)
26th Jan '11 12:53:57 AM flag for mods
Would you say the 1st gen metagame is more sophisticated than people give it credit for? Like how much does luck really affect it?
Cliche 26th Jan 11
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