Game On: A Guide to Teambuilding for VGCs
Article by: Travis Evans
Current Format: VGC 2011
Have you ever wondered what makes those teams you’ve played against seem so much stronger than yours? Or perhaps you’re a TCG player looking to get into the VGC side for more competitive fun? Well, this is the guide for you.
You may be wondering who I am and what my credentials are before continuing. Aside from having played Pokémon ever since it hit the USA, I’ve competed in many different Pokémon tournaments (official and nonofficial, TCG and videogame) since 1999, so that’s over 12 years worth of competitive play experience. I used to be a huge Singles player in the Pokémon videogame, but given how much it’s changed, I switched over to Doubles only. Relevant to the VGC itself, my most recent accomplishment was 3rd at the Arizona 2010 VGC Regionals, as well as playing at Nationals of that year. Unfortunately, since there’s a lack of support for AZ since then and having no money to travel out of state, I haven’t been able to compete at one since, but I still maintain a vocal presence online writing various Pokémon analyses for sites and building various teams.
Anyways, the goal of this guide is to get you ready for the VGC and to have a good general basis going forward into competitiveness and teambuilding. I won’t lie: I probably will not address every single topic for the sake of brevity. Hopefully by the end you’ll come out with a good foundation for future success. To accomplish that, we’re going to go over several topics: Rules of the Game, Teambuilding, Breeding and Training, and Testing and Final Touchups.
Rules of the Game:
The first step towards team building is to know the rules and regulations that will take place. A complete list of rules for the VGC (starting on page 26) can be found here:
For now we’ll focus on the relevant ones specific to teambuilding. These include:
26. Team Restrictions
Players may only use Pokémon that are legal for the tournament format. Players are responsible for ensuring that their team adheres to any restrictions set forth by the tournament format and this document.
Players may be restricted on what Pokémon can be used for a tournament based on that event’s format. However, there are some restrictions that are universal, regardless of tournament format.
- A player’s team cannot contain two Pokémon with the same Pokédex number
- Each Pokémon on a player’s team can hold an item, though no two Pokémon may hold the same item
- A player’s team cannot contain two Pokémon with the same nickname
- A player’s team cannot contain a Pokémon nicknamed with the name of another Pokémon (for example, an Unfezant named “Pidove”)
Pokémon may only use moves that have been learned through one of the following methods:
- By leveling up
- By TM or HM
- As an Egg move, through breeding
- From a character in the game
- Already learned by a Pokémon that was received at an official Pokémon event or promotion
26.3. External Devices
The use of external devices to modify or create items or Pokémon in a player’s party is expressly forbidden. Players found to have Pokémon or items that have been tampered with will be disqualified from competition, regardless of whether the Pokémon or items belong to that player or were traded for. Players should only have Pokémon that they have raised themselves and items that they have received through normal game play. It is always the player’s responsibility to have legal Pokémon and items during the competition.
In addition to the above restrictions, we must also keep in mind the modified format for the season; much like in the TCG, the modified format from year to year is subject to change. For the 2011 Modified Format, the following rules must be observed:
2011 Modified Format:
- Only Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version Game Cards are permitted for use.
- Players may use Pokémon from the National Pokédex, from No. 001–646, that are caught in the
- game, transferred from a previous Pokémon title, or received at an official event or distribution
- The following Pokémon may not be on a player’s team:
150 – Mewtwo
151 – Mew
249 – Lugia
250 – Ho‐Oh
251 – Celebi
382 – Kyogre
383 – Groudon
384 – Rayquaza
385 – Jirachi
386 – Deoxys
483 – Dialga
484 – Palkia
487 – Giratina
489 – Phione
490 – Manaphy
491 – Darkrai
492 – Shaymin
493 – Arceus
494 – Victini
643 – Reshiram
644 – Zekrom
646 – Kyurem
- Pokémon must be placed in the Battle Box.
- Pokémon above level 50 are permitted, but they are auto‐leveled down to 50 for the duration of
- Players may use Pokémon with Hidden Abilities that have been officially released via Pokémon
- Black Version and Pokémon White Version, the Pokémon Global Link, or an official event or
- Pokémon may not know the moves Sky Drop or Dark Void.
- The Wonder Launcher cannot be used during battle.
Though the list may look daunting, they’re all fairly basic: all battles take place in Doubles (2 Pokémon out per side at a time, of which a max of 4 from your team of 6 can be picked), certain powerful Pokémon that would otherwise dominate the scene are normally banned from use, you can’t use two of the same Pokémon and Item, two moves are completely banned (Sky Drop due to a glitch and Dark Void because of how broken sending both opposing Pokémon to sleep can be at the same time), and most importantly, no cheats and hacks. Therefore, if you do use something like an Action Replay, I recommend you don’t bring it out at all or create Pokémon with it…they can and will find them and disqualify you for them. I would even be cautious of Pokémon traded online through the WiFi Connection; unless you trust whomever you’re getting it from, you just never know, so it’s always best to make your own team from scratch.
So with all the rules behind us, let’s now get to the heart of the article: teambuilding. Teambuilding is probably the hardest part of the game; after all, you need to choose a mere 6 Pokémon out of a roster of 646 official Pokémon, minus the 22 forbidden ones. Even then, how do you choose 6 out of 624 Pokémon? In reality, you can easily halve the list to choose from, as you want either fully evolved Pokémon or strong Basic Pokémon on your team. For example, you don’t want to go into battle with your Tepig (as cute as it may be). Rather, you’ll want a strong Emboar at your side ready to handle other fully evolved Pokémon you are bound to come across. Ideally, you’ll want your Pokémon choices to be strong ones as well - sure Beedrill looks cool and is fully evolved, but its stats pale in comparison to some of the other Pokémon out there like Garchomp and Metagross. This isn’t to disparge “weak” Pokémon in general though, as many can learn attacks and tricks their stronger counterparts cannot. For example, I successfully used a Persian on my team because it learned three strategically crucial moves (Hypnosis, Fake Out, and Taunt) that were crucial to my strategy that many Pokémon could not learn legally. I encourage you to look at all options for Pokémon out there since you never know what you may find.
Now in general, there really is such a vast amount of different team builds and setups out there, it would probably take many many articles to list them all. So instead, I will go over some of the more basic and helpful guidelines of teambuilding that should get you off onto a successful start.
First of all, you will want to choose a theme or archetype to build your team around. This will make the process a lot easier than just choosing whatever your favorite Pokémon happen to be. Much like building a deck, choosing a theme greatly helps in bringing in focus to execute the strategy you want, and not be at the whim of your opponent’s strategy. You’ll also want to consider what your battling style is; do you like to go swinging, or do you like to set things up before going on the offense for example? Generally speaking, there are three main types of teams I and quite some others would probably identify with: Weather, Goodstuffs, and Support
Weather teams are among the most abundant and popular archetype you are likely to encounter at your VGC competition. Teams built around weather rely on weather effects to give various benefits and attack boosts to their Pokémon. Currently there are 4 types of weather: Rain, Sun, Hail, and Sandstorm. However, there are a few key things to keep in mind when playing with weather though. First, the slower Pokémon will have its weather effect on the field dominate if two Pokémon with differing weather abilities are released at the same time; this is to say, if Politoed and Hippowdon were released at the same time at the beginning of a battle, Politoed’s Drizzle Ability would come into play first and summon Rain, but this would be subsequently cancelled out and replaced by Hippowdon’s Sandstorm Ability, leaving Sandstorm as the weather in play. Second, keep in mind the need to switch - in the above example, for the player using Rain, they would need to switch out their Politoed and then bring it back in the next turn in order to have Rain back on their side of the field. Switches can happen quite often as players attempt to establish their weather preference, so prediction to what your opponent will do is always key.
First up, and probably the most popular type, are teams based around Rain. Rain teams usually have Politoed with its Dream World Ability, Drizzle, to summon a no turn limit Rain condition to the field; optionally, a few teams might opt to set up Rain manually with the Rain Dance attack (which can also be learned via a TM), but this is less than optimal as it lasts only a mere 5 turns (8 if the user is holding the item Damp Rock) compared to Rain brought in with Drizzle. Rain itself confers many advantages; it beefs up all Water type attacks used, weakens all Fire type attacks, increases the accuracy of Thunder and Hurricane from 70% to 100%, and triggers several Pokémon Abilities.
Teams built with Rain usually carry Pokémon with the Swift Swim Ability, which effectively doubles their speed in battle. Two notable Swift Swim Pokémon are Ludicolo and Kingdra. Ludicolo has a fabulous typing of Water/Grass, making him not weak to the common counter of Electric attacks. In addition, Ludicolo has great defensive stats and offensive stats, and can learn a variety of support moves and damaging attacks depending on what you want to do with it. Kingdra, on the other hand, is all about attacking; normally sidled with great attacking potential, but lackluster speed, Kingdra becomes quite the monster when its speed is doubled. Pokémon with the Water Absorb or Dry Skin Abilities are also highly recommended. You might be thinking, "why would I want an Ability that normally relies on your opponent to attack the Pokémon in question to regain HP"? The answer is Surf: in Doubles, Surf hits all Pokémon besides the user on the field. Add in the boost from Rain and it becomes quite a formidable attack to use against opposing Pokémon. By having a partner out with Water Absorb or Dry Skin, instead of losing HP they’ll regain a nice chunk, allowing them to stay out even longer. As many Pokémon that benefit from Rain are Water types, some teams may opt to carry a Pokémon immune to Electric attacks (the common counter) or a Pokémon with the Lightning Rod Ability to direct it to them instead. A good example of a well-built Rain team can be found on the official site, from Junior RI champ Brendan Zheng: http://www.pokemon.com/us/news/op_re..._1-2011-11-23/
Sun teams rely on Ninetales and its Dream World Ability, Drought, to summon a no turn limit Sun effect to the field; as with Rain teams, you can also opt to manually set up Sun via the attack Sunny Day (which also comes conveniently packaged in a TM and can be increased from 5 to 8 turns if the user holds Heat Rock). Sun teams are less effective overall, as many of the Pokémon that take advantage of it are weak to Water (which Rain teams love), Ground, and Rock (the last two of which Sandstorm teams love). Still, Sun itself is a useful condition; it boosts the attack power of Fire type moves while weakening Water, weakens the accuracy of Thunder and Hurricane from 70% to 50%, eliminates the charge time of Solar Beam, boosts the recovery of Synthesis, Morning Sun, and Moonlight, and triggers several Abilities reliant on Sun.
Pokémon with Chlorophyll are great additions to a Sun team, as it doubles their speed in Sun much like Rain does for Swift Swim. All Chlorophyll users are Grass types as well, and the bulk should have access to Solar Beam. Fire Pokémon in general benefit greatly, allowing their attacks to hurt even Pokémon normally not weak to them. Cherrim is a great support option with its Ability, Flower Gift, which boosts the Attack and Special Defense of its partner in battle. Finally, Pokémon like Charizard and Sunflora can deliver big attacks from their Sun-activated Ability, Solar Power, at the cost of losing a bit of HP.
Sandstorm (nicknamed SS) teams are not as attractive as Rain since many Pokémon that benefit from SS are weak to the popular ones on Rain teams, but it's still a useful weather type to build around. Much like Rain and Sun, SS provides varying benefits; it damages all non-Rock, Ground, and Steel Pokémon in-between turns, increases the Special Defense of Rock Pokemon by 50%, limits the power of Solarbeam and the effectiveness of Synthesis, Morning Sun, and Moonlight, and triggers Abilities associated with it. Unlike Rain and Sun, you have two legal options for Pokémon that can summon it to the field; Tyranitar and Hippowdon. Tyranitar is generally more favorable due to its typing and strong attacking potential, but Hippowdon is slower (a plus in the battle to establish weather) and defensively more sound. Optionally, you can use the SS TM as well, and increase its duration from 5 to 8 turns if holding Smooth Rock.
Though not as abundant as Rain or Sun, Black and White introduced two new Abilities to take advantage of in SS: Sand Rush (another Speed doubler, akin to Swift Swim and Chlorophyll) and Sand Force, which increases the strength of a Pokémon’s Rock, Ground, and Steel type attacks in SS. The most notable example here is Excadrill; normally possessing great HP and Attack, but saddled with ok Speed, Sand Rush grants Excadrill a way to go in and get the first hits. Or, you can opt for Sand Force to give him unrivaled power. And of course, there’s Sand Veil as well, which ups the evasion of the Pokémon during a SS, allowing Pokémon like Garchomp to avoid attacks and score more KOs. Grafton Roll at the Florida Regionals used a very effective Sandstorm team in the Masters division to take home the gold and can be found here: http://www.pokemon.com/us/news/op_re..._3-2011-12-23/
The final weather effect, Hail is a bit of an oddball; Hail is used as a counter tactic to other Weather teams, since so few Pokémon benefit from it, making it a “neutral” field so to speak when you replace another opposing weather effect. Hail does damage to all non-Ice type Pokémon in play in-between turns, which helps in weakening your opponent's Pokemon, but keep in mind it damages your Pokemon as well if they're not Ice types. Abomasnow is the only Pokémon that can bring Hail into play automatically via its Ability, Snow Warning. Your only other option is to use the Hail TM to teach it to a Pokémon (and making it last longer if holding Icy Rock). This isn’t to say that a Hail team can’t be made, but it confers so little advantages to the team, with the most notable effect is a boost to Blizzard that makes it 100% accurate. Unlike Rain and Sun, Hail offers no boost to Ice type attacks and Ice, while a great attacking type, has never been that great defensively in taking hits. This makes abilities triggered by Hail like Ice Body and Snow Cloak less than stellar since the Pokémon possessing them are weak to the popular attacking types. Still, a team using Hail with Abomasnow and other strong Pokémon using Blizzard continuously to overpower and wear down the opposition works well, as very few Pokémon used will be resistant to Ice and Ice is a great attacking type.
GoodstuffsGoodstuffs may look like a weird name, but the concept is fairly simple to explain. To give a short history behind the odd name, back when many players were scouting out teams used in Japan in prior formats (going back to Journey Across America (JAA) and past VGC tournaments), we were always perplexed by what teams were winning over there; compared to our metagame in the U.S. where even back then you had core types like Rain and such, teams over in Japan just used Pokémon you would normally find in Singles just beating on each other, yet they were winning. At its heart, Goodstuffs is a Beatdown oriented team, using strong Pokémon to outmuscle the competition. Strong Pokémon with high stats like Garchomp and Metagross are often seen, mingled in with other strong Pokémon with diverse types to cover Weaknesses and hit opposing ones. Often a supporting Pokémon like Hitmontop will help out as well, since it has access to every good priority move and the Technician Ability to make those moves hit harder and finish off weakened Pokémon. VA champ Mychael Bryan’s team on the official site makes a decent candidate for this category if you’re looking for an example: http://www.pokemon.com/us/news/op_re..._2-2011-12-09/
I dislike labeling it as such since it can be a broad category, but for lack of a better term Support teams are centered on self-buff effects on their Pokémon and debuff effects on opposing Pokémon to win the game. Technically, every team under the sun can or do use some supporting attacks, such as paralysis from Thunder Wave or Sleep from Spore, but pure support teams build around an underlying theme, generally around two main attacks: Trick Room and Tailwind.
Trick Room (TR) can actually be considered an archetype unto itself given its prominence really. TR teams rely on its namesake attack, Trick Room, to reverse all the speed stats of Pokémon in play; therefore, fast Pokémon that normally would go first move last and vice versa. Many good Pokémon, such as Conkeldurr, have super great stats like HP and Attack, but lack the speed normally to put it to good use; with TR in play, all of a sudden that Conkeldurr is now one of the fastest Pokémon on the field and is free to hammer your opponent with a barrage of attacks. This can apply to any slow Pokémon with good attacking stats. The main weakness with TR teams is ironically the reliance on Trick Room; since Trick Room will always be used last due to priority, the opponent has their entire turn to KO or otherwise disable the TR user with an attack like Taunt, which forces the opponent to use only attack moves for 3 turns. Therefore, protecting the TR user is key - often they’re bulky defensive Pokémon paired with a partner that can Fake Out the opposing Pokémon most likely to threaten it. The second main weakness of TR is the time limit. Even though it’s a 5 turn effect, it also counts the turn it’s used, meaning you only have an effective 4 turns to enjoy it before having to set it up again.
Tailwind is in ways Trick Room’s opposite, but more exclusive; it simply doubles the Speed of all your Pokémon in play. In essence, it’s akin to giving all of your Pokémon Swift Swim in Rain, but without having to use either, making it far more flexible since you can use any Pokémon you want to benefit. Tailwind shares TR’s 2 main weaknesses as well; the opponent can KO or otherwise disable the user of Tailwind before they set it up, and you only have 4 turns of use before it fades away. Tailwind is also weak to TR teams due to the speed reversal. In turn though, it’s far more flexible, as you’re not forced into using specific Pokémon to gain benefit from it. Rather you use it to enhance what you already have.
In addition, there are the mentioned buff and debuff effects. Reflect and Light Screen can both be set up at the same time, making a nice defensive barrier for your Pokémon to operate under. Many teams like to incorporate a Pokémon with Icy Wind, slowing the opposing Pokémon so you don’t have to use any fancy tricks to outspeed them since 1 use is usually enough to allow you the advantage. And that’s not to even mention all the varying status conditions you can inflict. Sleep is the most surefire option players prefer since it will completely disable a Pokémon for a turn or two. Since Dark Void isn’t allowed, Pokémon with high accuracy Sleep moves like Spore and Sleep Powder are favored, while Hypnosis is not as good since it's less accurate. Paralysis is also a nice option since it lowers speed, and many Electric attacks already have a chance to paralyze incorporated into it, though you can always opt for guaranteed Paralysis on most Pokémon with Thunder Wave. Poison generally isn’t as useful due to the time element involved to getting KOs, as Doubles moves at a fast pace.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
First of all, always be prepared for priority moves. To give a brief explanation, priority moves “break” the normal rules by allowing certain attacks to occur first. Most regular attacks occur at normal, or 0, priority; from there you have 5 tiers higher and 7 tiers lower for priority, so you have negative and positive priority. Positive will allow attacks to occur before normal moves, while negative will make them go after, despite whatever Speed your Pokémon has normally. So, attacks like Mach Punch and Ice Shard occur at +1, Protect is at +3, and Helping Hand has the highest priority at +5. Negative priority is rarer; the most common ones you’re likely to run into are ones like Whirlwind and Dragon Tail at -6 and Trick Room at -7. To further add to the confusion, several Pokémon have the Prankster Ability, which bumps up their priority attacks another stage. For example, Thundurus using Taunt will hit its target before an opposing Weavile’s attempt to Taunt Thundurus, despite Weavile normally being faster. A full list of the varying priority levels and moves can be found in my other article here, and it’s always something useful to note when building a team since many opposing teams will run Pokémon with them, and it’s always nice to use some yourself: http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?t=160484
Furthermore, don’t discount the value of support moves. Attacks like Protect/Detect are extremely valuable for avoiding damage, as well as the new Black&White ones like Wide Guard and Fast Guard for protection against multi-target and priority attacks respectively. Helping Hand on a partner is a great way to beef up a Pokémon’s attack to hit extra hard, especially when using a multi-target move (since in Doubles, such moves like Surf and Rock Slide are weakened a bit to compensate for the fact they hit more than one target). Follow Me and Rage Powder are also useful in drawing attacks to a specific Pokémon, allowing it to act as a shield for your partner to get attacks through (like trying to use Trick Room).
Items are another important aspect of teambuilding, as many provide a substantial benefit, though some have drawbacks as well. For example, Life Orb is great in that it beefs up your Pokémon’s attacks even further, but it also costs you a slight bit of HP for every attack you land. Focus Sash is another great option for a Pokémon with bad HP or defensive stats, as it will guarantee survival against a normal OHKO. You also have a variety of support Berries as well, such as Lum Berry to recover from a status condition one time. Or, you have the “elemental” berries, which reduce damage taken if your Pokémon are weak to that type of attack; for example, an Occa Berry on Metagross will let it live through the strongest of Fire attacks usually.
Considering what backup Pokémon to use is fairly important as well; even though you’ll be using 4 main Pokémon for the bulk of your battles, having 2 great backups can greatly improve your matchups later on if you get to best of 3 scenarios (which happen at Nationals) and if you see something your team might be weak to during team preview. 2 Pokémon can even change one team type into a completely different team to throw confusion at your opponent if they were expecting something else.
Finally, I would like to stress your team DOES NOT have to fall into any of these categories; there are so many different strategies out there, you can mix and mingle as you like and plenty of opportunity to make one of your own. My 3rd place team in 2010 for example was built around setting up a Weavile behind Substitute with Swords Dance, and then using its superior speed, attacking power, and mix of attacks to OHKO opposing Pokémon one by one. To that extent, I had two supporting Pokémon for Weavile; Persian to disable and lock opposing starters and Jumpluff to further disable threats once Persian was gone with Sleep Powder and using Helping Hand to give Weavile more of a boost.
Breeding and Training
Now that you’ve finally decided on a theme and what Pokémon you want to use, the next step is to actually go out and build your team. In general, you’ll want to breed your Pokémon. Bred Pokémon have better stats than their wild counterparts and you can control certain aspects, such as which Nature and Ability they have, instead of having to deal with whatever a caught wild Pokémon will give you. Nature is important because it influences a Pokémon’s stats. For example, if you want a good physical attacker, Adamant is a great nature because it increases a Pokémon’s attack stat at the cost of its special attack stat, which physically attackers never use. Optionally, if you want a fast physically attacker, Jolly offers an increase to a Pokémon’s Speed at the cost of special attack. This is in contrast to a physical attacker with Modest, which weakens its attack stat for more special attack stat, which a physical attacker does not use
The Ability is also important: many Pokémon have more than one, and ideally you’ll want the Ability that best benefits your team or Doubles in general. To further complicate things, almost all Pokémon have an Ability that can be obtained from catching them in the Dream World, of which you’ll want to catch a Female of in order to breed and pass that Ability onto its offspring for better stats. To cover this example, we’ll look at a Rain team’s 2 most prominent members; Ludicolo and Politoed. Ludicolo in-game has two Abilities, Swift Swim (which doubles its speed in Rain) and Rain Dish (which restores a slight amount of HP in-between turns), along with a Dream World Ability, Own Tempo (prevents Confusion). Own Tempo generally isn’t as useful to a Rain team, so you can rule it out right away. This leads you to having to decide between Swift Swim and Rain Dish. Swift Swim favors a more offensive Ludicolo, with attacks like Hydro Pump and Ice Beam, while Rain Dish favors a supporting Ludicolo, with moves like Leech Seed and Giga Drain. Politoed is the opposite: while Water Absorb and Damp aren't useless from its in-game abilities, both pale in comparison to Drizzle, which summons Rain to the field, saving you an attack and turn to set it up. So you want the Dream World Ability instead of an in-game option.
Once you have your perfect Pokémon ready to use, the next step is to train it - training a Pokémon helps greatly in giving it overall higher stats than an untrained Pokémon. Pokemon have two hidden values in the game that determine stat gains in addition to their set base stats: Individual Values (IVs) and Effort Values (EVs). IVs are akin to a Pokemon's genes; they exist from a range of 0-31 and are set at birth or capture. EVs in essence is the actual training of a Pokemon; a Pokemon can have a total of 510 EVs spread across the 6 stats (HP, Atk, Def, SpA, SpD, Spe), but only a maximum of 255 in a given stat. However, a Pokemon needs 4 EVs in a stat to influence it to the next point, so in reality most people only train to 252 EVs in a given stat. Ideally, you'll want to breed your Pokemon to have IVs at 31 or as close as you can get in all their stats; IVs can be checked online using a calculator at different sites, such as this excellent one here: http://metalkid.info/Pokemon/Calculators/IV.aspx. If anything, you should stretch for perfect (31) IVs in Speed and your attacking/defensive stats (depending on your Pokemon's role), as Speed is crucial to beating (or in the worst case, tying) other Pokemon of similar Speed, while obviously you'll want as close to perfect as you can get in your primary use stats to get the maximum amount of benefit from those stats. If you're aiming to use a Trick Room team however, you'll need to change things around a bit. In this scenario, you want to get as close as 31 in all your stats except Speed. For Speed, you want your IVs to be as close to 0 as possible, which in turn makes the Pokemon faster under Trick Room. You also don't want to train in any Spe EVs either (feel free to put them into defensive stats like HP after maxing your main attacking or defensive stat), unless you're doing so for a very specific purpose, such as having a Pokemon faster than its partner for a combo. One thing to keep in mind, remember the level is auto-set to 50 for VGC battles, so you'll need to adjust your calculator and training accordingly; most information is based off Pokemon being at Lv 100, and Pokemon may sometimes need extra EVs (in multiples of 4) to increase a given stat point.
To help in training, there are several vitamins and held items you can use. Six vitamins exist in the game: HP Up (increase HP EVs by 10), Protein (increases Attack EVs by 10), Iron (increases Defense EVs by 10), Carbos (increases Speed EVs by 10), Calcium (increases Special Attack EVs by 10), and Zinc (increases Special Defense EVs by 10). These are quite expensive, costing 9000 in game currency per vitamin, but it greatly helps in reducing the amount of training needed if you have the cash; alternatively if you have a lot of BP saved up, you can buy a vitamin of your choice for 1 BP each. Another thing to note is that you may only use up to 10 of each vitamin on a given Pokémon; once you've maxed out at 100 EVs from vitamins, you have two options. First, you can use the wing items that randomly drop from shadow patches on the Driftveil Drawbridge and Marvelous Bridge. Six wings exist as well, one for each stat and will work past the 100 EV mark of vitamins: Health Wing (increase HP EVs by 1), Muscle Wing (increase Atk EVs by 1), Resist Wing (increase Def EVs by 1), Genius Wing (increase HP SpA by 1), Clever Wing (increase SpD EVs by 1), and Swift Wing (increase Spe EVs by 1). There is also a Pretty Wing, but it's merely an item to sell for more currency. While you can technically farm wings and use them to finish EV training your Pokemon, that would be largely impractical as you would need another 152 wings of a given stat to max it at 252 EVs (including the 100 from vitamins), so they're generally better for filling in odd numbers. Your second option and the one we'll look at next is battling.
For more training beyond vitamins and wings, you’ll need to foot it out to your local grassy area and start battling Pokémon. This is where held items come in; there are 7 specific held items which all provide differing benefits to Pokémon training. All of these training items slow your Pokémon’s speed (just temporarily, until you take it off), but in turn increases a specific given stat they train in from fighting other Pokémon. Your training held items consist of:
- Macho Brace (doubles EVs gained)
- Power Weight (adds 4 EVs to HP in addition to normal EVs gained)
- Power Bracer (adds 4 EVs to Atk in addition to normal EVs gained)
- Power Belt (adds 4 EVs to Def in addition to normal EVs gained)
- Power Anklet (adds 4 EVs to Spe in addition to normal EVs gained)
- Power Lens (adds 4 EVs to SpA in addition to normal EVs gained)
- Power Band (adds 4 EVs to SpD in addition to normal EVs gained)
To obtain them, the Macho Brace is found in Nimbasa City. The 6 Power items you'll need to purchase from the Battle Subway/Gear Station for 16 BP each. In general, the Power items are much more worth it for training in a single stat at a time (as you can battle a Pokemon with the EV you want plus 4, making your net gain 5-7 instead of 2-6), so if possible, having a complete set of Power items is far more beneficial than using Macho Brace. Then it’s just a matter of finding the right Pokémon to train against, since all Pokemon in the game you battle against (wild and Trainer NPC owned) give EVs, ranging from 1-3 in a stat per Pokemon depending on the Pokemon, with very few Pokemon giving multiple EVs in different stats. A list of great EV training locations can be found here for wild Pokemon, which is the best option usually due to ease of multiple encounters: http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?t=143628
Finally, did you accidentally mess up your EV training? Perhaps you accidentally battled one too many times and now have excess EVs in a stat, or maybe want to redo a trained Pokemon entirely? Fear not, you don't have to start over with a fresh Pokemon, grab an EV reducing berry and finish up from there. Like the vitamins and wings, there are 6 specific EV reducing berries in the game to aid you if you need to redo your EVs: Pomeg (reduces HP EVs by 10), Kelpsy (reduces Atk EVs by 10), Qualot (reduces Def EVs by 10), Hondew (reduces SpA EVs by 10), Grepa (reduces SpD EVs by 10), and Tamato (reduces Spe EVs by 10). Unlike previous generations, stats update dynamically in BW, so you can redo and retrain your Pokemon at any time and at any level.
Testing and Final Touchups
So now with your team all built up, guess what? It’s time to practice up till the big day!
For testing itself, you can test your team pretty much anywhere really; challenge some of your friends at league to see how well it performs. The Pokegym also has its own “Wanna Play?” thread located in the Electronic Games forum (http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?t=123551) where you can leave your own contact information and find/challenge other Gym members to battle. There are also many other Pokémon related websites that offer ways to challenge more people to battles. Even in-game you can get a bit of testing done to a degree; hop onto the WiFi Connection and start doing Doubles there to see how well you stack up. The main things you’re looking for in testing is answering key questions, such as:
- How well does my strategy work? Is it one I can successfully implement on a consistent basis?
- Is there a glaring weakness, whether it be type or to a specific team composition? If so, is there a way I can counter it?
- Are my Pokémon good choices? Is there one that can fit the team or role better without messing with fluidity?
- Can I win using this team?
Obviously there’s no easy way to answer these questions and others, but you will always want to be thinking of how to improve the team; you want to field the best one you possibly can. This means testing other Pokemon for your team, different movesets, different EV builds, everything you can in order to be prepared. You can even make and test multiple teams, but overall you still have to choose one that gives you the best chance of winning. Unlike the TCG, you can’t really scout out a “metagame” simply because one doesn’t really exist with all the available options and different competitors. Rather, the only thing you can count on is that people will inevitably copy top teams from other Regionals and areas, so you can always try to plan on some of those popping up.
Well hopefully you’ve all found this guide to be a good, informative resource for your VGC team planning. Even though it’s largely outshined by its successful TCG cousin, the videogames and VGC competition are well on their way into being another mainstay for the foreseeable future, and in my opinion, something that should’ve happened long long ago considering how long Japan has had a system and how much we all would have loved it sooner instead of the sporadic ones Nintendo held over the years instead. Regardless though, I wish you all the best of luck in your VGC battles!