|02/28/2012, 07:45 PM||#1|
Natures and their Relevance in the VGC
Natures and their Relevance in the VGC
Article by: Travis Evans
Current Format: VGC
Much like their human trainers, Pokémon have a variety of different natures that you can get to know. Is your Pikachu a Jolly fellow like Ash's, or maybe he's a bit Timid by nature? Garchomps can be very Serious, but this could be masking their Lonely personality as well.
From a competitive viewpoint, natures are an important aspect to consider when it comes to Pokémon, as natures define their role and their ability to attack or defend successfully. To give a brief background on what they do, most natures provide a simple 10% boost to a given stat and decrease a given stat by 10%, except for a few that provide no boosts to any stats at all. There are 25 distinct natures in the game, which at first may seem overwhelming, but you can easily subdivide each nature into 6 specific groups based on which primary stat they boost by 10%, as well as the corresponding decrease in another stat by 10% (or in some cases, natures that neither boost nor decrease stats). Based off this information, you can arrange natures like so:
From here, we'll look at the natures individually by their categories:
Hardy, Docile, Serious, Bashful, Quirky
Highlighted by yellow, these 5 are lumped together for one simple reason: they're exactly the same! None of these natures offer any boosts or decreases to stats, with only difference being their names. It is recommended you avoid these natures and instead use a nature that will boost one stat over another instead of a nature that will not, since you want to maximize a Pokémon’s stats (be it attacking or defending) over not having any boosts at all. For example, a physical sweeper such as Metagross usually has no need of its special attack stat since it will generally use physically-based moves reliant on its attack stat, such as Meteor Mash and Earthquake. By having an Adamant nature, its Atk stat is boosted even further at the expense of a stat Metagross has no need of, which is his SpA stat. In contrast, if one opted for a neutral nature such as Serious, that results in free attack stats gains Metagross is losing and may cause him to miss out on potential KOs.
Attack Boosting Natures
Adamant is the top choices for physical sweepers, offering more Atk at the cost of SpA, which these kinds of Pokemon don't normally use. Pokemon like Excadrill benefit greatly from Adamant, boosting their Atk into the stratosphere while weakening the SpA stat they never utilize. As Excadrill already has his Ability, Sand Rush, boosting his speed naturally, Adamant is a logical choice to increase his power even further.
Lonely is oriented for mixed sweepers, increasing Atk while decreasing Def. Pokemon such as Dragonite could conceivably use Lonely on a mixed sweeper set, keeping powerful main attacks like Dragon Claw beefed up while opening the option for special attacks like Fire Blast, which hit Pokemon such as Ferrothorn a lot harder than other physical attacks Dragonite might carry.
Brave is your Trick Room option for physical sweepers, being the only nature to grant more Atk at the cost of Spe. Conkeldurr is one of the most notable Pokemon to use Brave, which keeps his Atk high and under Trick Room makes him a fearsome sweeper due to the decrease in Spe. It also allows you to invest EVs into HP to beef up his survivability further without needing to worry about Spe.
Naughty is your other option for mixed sweepers, increasing Atk at the cost of SpD. Naughty functions similar to Lonely, leaving it a toss up if you want your sweeper to be able to take physical hits or special attacks better. Salamence is a decent candidate for Naughty; Intimidate gives Salamence great defensive potential in taking physical hits, and his dragon typing alone gives him nifty resistances to some of the main elemental special attacks out there, meaning his SpD isn't needed as much in this scenario.
Defense Boosting Natures
Bold is your primary option for physically defensive Pokemon that use SpA to deal damage, such as Cresselia. Even if it may not attack a whole lot, it is far better to have a nature that at least won't hinder its ability to deal damage instead of one that will, as even an unboosted Ice Beam will still do big damage to many of the Dragon types out there.
Need a stout defensive Pokemon on your Trick Room team? Look no further than Relaxed to service their nature, which offers more Def at the cost of Spe, making it the ideal nature for Pokemon such as Ferrothorn. Relaxed also has the benefit (in this case) of lowering his Spe further, which makes him faster in Trick Room and powers up attacks like Gyro Ball.
The other side of Bold, Impish is your main option for physically defensive Pokemon that use Atk to deal damage. In all honesty, Impish is in a bit of an odd place: most defensive Pokemon who would use Impish are slow, and thus would benefit more from Relaxed in case either you or the opponent use Trick Room. Along with that, many of those Pokemon have high Atk scores as well and would rather go with an Atk boosting nature like Adamant or Brave due to VGC's fast paced nature. Still, there are a few exceptions, one of them being Tangrowth, who is potent on both the physical attacking and defensive ends, and while normally slow could be ran with Chlorophyll to boost his speed in the Sun, making a nature like Relaxed not as desirable unless you don't plan on seeing Sun.
Lax generally is not a good option as it subtracts from SpD, which lessens a Pokemon's overall ability to take hits from either side. Defensive Pokemon generally do not run mixed sweeper sets, and even if they did would probably gain more mileage from Relaxed as many defensive Pokemon are also slow, not to mention if a Pokemon is meant to defensive, they want to be able to survive all kinds of attacks. For the most part, stick with any of the 3 above natures before considering Lax.
Special Attack Boosting Natures
The de-facto choice for special sweepers, Modest grants more SpA at the cost of Atk. Ludicolo is a great choice for Modest much in the same way Excadrill is great with Adamant; both already possess Abilities that boost speed naturally in their favored weather, and can easily benefit from more firepower from a nature that boosts their offensive capabilities.
More uncommon than a mixed sweeper from the physical end, Mild is still a valid option for Pokemon wanting a boost to their SpA and the ability to maintain their Atk stat at the cost of Def. Pokemon like Kingdra could make use of this, normally attacking with Surf or Ice Beam while keeping Waterfall handy in case Pokemon like Blissey appears, which can absorb attacks like Surf easily but would take big damage from the physical Waterfall.
The first (and only) choice for Trick Room-oriented Pokemon, Quiet boosts SpA while decreasing Spe, making Pokemon such as Reuniclus all the more effective in attacking and outspeeding the opposition under Trick Room.
The companion to Mild, Rash boosts SpA as well, but decreases SpD instead. Providing you aren't too picky as to which stat you want decreased (or if it won't make a difference in a Pokemon's survivability), Rash makes a perfectly fine substitute for Mild. Pokemon like Zoroark don't care whether their Def or SpD are lowered (as they're both at a weak base 60 to begin with) and allow Zoroark to attack with its many special attacks while keeping Sucker Punch handy to catch opponents off-guard (even more so if Illusion fools them into thinking he's a different Pokemon).
Special Defense Boosting Natures
Calm is a great nature for specially defensive Pokemon that don't rely on their Atk stat. For example, as an alternative to the default Bold on Blissey, Calm can be used to further enhance her ability to absorb any special attack from any of the commonly seen special sweepers (a Calm Blissey would likely give many Rain teams fits) and lessening damage from super-effective attacks like Focus Blast.
Gentle is generally a suboptimal nature like Lax, in that it boosts one defensive stat at the cost of another; in this case, you gain SpD, but lose Def. Again, look to any of the other 3 choices in this category, as odds are likely any one of them would be a better fit for your Pokemon.
Sassy is your to-go nature for Pokemon that want a SpD boost, such as Amoonguss, but don't care for Spe. Amoonguss in this case also becomes one of the fastest Pokemon under Trick Room, allowing him to cripple opposing teams easily with Spore.
Careful is a nifty option for the oddball Pokemon that needs more SpD at the cost of SpA. Sableye is a good candidate for Careful: it is usually supporting a team with its Prankster Ability to cripple opposing teams with various maladies, and given his mediocre defensive stats (despite having no Weakness at all), Careful goes a long way into ensuring his survival while not hindering the occasional Sucker Punch he throws out.
Speed Boosting Natures
Timid allows special sweepers to boost their Spe at the cost of Atk, which allows them to maintain their SpA stat, making it a great option over Modest if you don't mind exchanging SpA for more Spe. Many special sweepers may opt for it depending on your concerns: for example, Hydreigon will usually pick this over Modest as it allows him to gain the definitive edge over his 5th gen rival, Haxorus, as well as allowing it to maintain the crucial speed advantage over base 95 and lower Pokemon using a Spe boosting nature.
Hasty is your first option for mixed sweepers needing a speed boost, but also needing both their attacking stats to be unaffected. The Def penalty might be a bit rough for some, but the ability to outspeed and hopefully KO the opposing Pokemon makes it a worthwhile consideration. Houndoom is a fun choice here, allowing him to use his powerful special attacks like Fire Blast while maintaining a surprise Sucker Punch for Psychic Pokemon, many of whom carry Focus Blast these days.
Jolly is the physical sweeper's boon for Spe, while losing that SpA stat they normally don't care about. Garchomp is a great candidate for Jolly, as his Atk is already sky-high and his unorthodox base 102 Spe allows him to outrun many opposing Pokemon stuck at base 100 or lower Spe with Jolly (whereas if he was Adamant instead, he would act after to any +Spe nature Pokemon from those categories). At worst, he ties with opposing Garchomps, so you have at least a 50/50 shot to win the speed match against them as well.
Naive is your other speed nature option for mixed sweepers, boosting Spe while lowering SpD. Meinshao is a nice option here, as unlike many of its Fighting type brethren, it has a respectable SpA stat as well, allowing it to run attacks such as Hidden Power Ice to catch Dragon and other types off-guard.
So after looking at all the natures in-depth, you can easily pick out of the 5 main groups their optimal natures, depending on the Pokémon’s expected role. These natures are optimal in the sense that they boost their primary stat while decreasing a little used stat and are listed below:
Physical Sweeper: Adamant or Jolly
Special Sweeper: Modest or Timid
Physically Defensive: Impish or Bold
Specially Defensive: Careful or Calm
For the most part, with sweepers it largely comes down to more attack or more speed, which itself is a complicated issue. Speed is always good, as it will allow you to outspeed or at least tie with other Pokémon in a given speed tier (say all Pokémon with a base speed of 100, that would compose a tier, and so on, you can even calculate +1 or +2 boosts and arrange them into differing tiers of speed). This comes at the cost of an attacking stat though, and depending on how you crunch numbers, you may miss out on OHKOs and instead have to settle for 2HKOs or more. The opposite is true as well; with a boost to an attacking stat, Pokémon can hit crucial OHKOs or 2HKOs far easier, but at the risk the opponent may be able to outspeed and KO them before they can attack.
Defensive Pokémon are the same to a degree. While they may not attack as much and instead provide more of a supporting role or absorb hits better, there is always the chance they can go on the offensive, which is why you choose your nature based on whether they will be using special or physical attacks primarily. For example, Cresselia will use special attacks when it goes on the offensive with Psychic or Ice Beam, so a Bold or Calm nature will maximize her defensive benefits while not hindering her ability to attack if needed, as every bit of damage helps.
Teams using Trick Room as their main strategy play by a slightly different set of rules. Pokémon on Trick Room teams want to be as slow as possible, and will always use a –Spe Nature (such as Quiet) along with breeding to reduce their Spe IVs to 0 (or something close to that) in order to maximize the gains from Trick Room. As such, the optimal natures for Trick Room Pokemon after examining all the natures is shown below:
Physical Sweeper: Brave
Special Sweeper: Quiet
Defensive: Relaxed or Sassy
Occasionally you may want to use another nature if you want your Pokémon a mixed sweeper, which uses both attacking stats. For this, the following natures are most optimal for a mixed sweeper build:
Physical first, Special second: Lonely or Naughty
Special first, Physical second: Mild or Rash
Need for Speed: Hasty or Naive
Since you need both Atk and SpA stats to be unhindered, you will have to sacrifice a defensive stat. This is done by weighing the pros and cons of whether –Def or –SpD would hinder a Pokémon more or less in terms of taking hits. Neutral natures can theoretically be used here as well, but still remain suboptimal since you’re still losing out on a boost to an attacking stat, and many Pokémon can suffice with a decreased defensive stat over the loss of extra attacking stats. Spe natures work in the same way for a mixed sweeper, choosing a corresponding decrease in a defensive stat in order to gain more speed. Finally, consider if you want to plan around Trick Room as well with your mixed sweepers; since Trick Room teams will always opt for a -Spe nature, this frees you to boost a primary attacking type of your choice while still maintaining the option for your secondary attacking type.
Natures impact Pokémon in a very meaningful manner: they empower them beyond what their base stats allow and let them to do many great things, whether it is attacking or absorbing hits better. Hopefully this article will aid you in considering how natures can change a Pokémon and the effects they have in both team building and battling.
Interested in the VGC? Want to be the best you can be? Check out my VGC Teambuilding guide here:
|03/18/2012, 09:58 PM||#2|
Great article filled with great info! One thing you may want to consider for those not familiar with
this info would be to include a brief definition of "mixed sweeper" up top.
Whatever doesnt kill you will most likely hurt; a lot, but make you stronger.
Now AKA Nintendo Nick thx to the amazing Name Rater, Matt Riddle! Thx Matt!