RNG is one of, if not the most controversial topic within the VGC community. Many people think this game is 100% based on luck, and others spend more time complaining about losing a game to RNG then they do playing the actual game.
But what if I told you that the some of the RNG in Pokémon was controllable if you worked to play against it? What if I told you that you can actually actively play around and prevent potential RNG from impacting your games?
Well that’s why we’re here today, to talk about the ways you can work around hax, as well as what are some things you are doing that play into the RNG aspect of the game.
Slow Play/Stalling Techniques
Slow defensive play is often highly rewarded in VGC, using Pokémon like Incineroar to lower stats through intimidate and parting shot, Grimmsnarl to set up light screen and reflect, Gmax Lapras to set up aurora veil, or spamming snarl. However, using these moves/abilities do not inflect much, or any damage to your opponent, meaning that although they can weaken your opponent’s damage output their Pokémon are likely still alive and ready to continue fighting after you use those moves and abilities.
This means that your opponents Pokémon are still able to attack, and each turn your opponent’s Pokémon are able to attack, they have the potential to score a critical hit, negating all of the debuffs you set in place.
This is the biggest downside to slow play, the longer games are the more chances your opponent has to flinch you, crit you or for you to get fully paralyzed.
The point of this being, if you can outspeed, and knock out your opponents Pokémon, you are minimizing the risk you take of being “haxed”.
This also applies to Pokémon who use long play stalling techniques such as Porygon2 and Eternatus. Spamming recover each turn without returning any damage to your opponent is only allowing your opponent more time to land a critical hit on you, or flinch you to end the game.
Now I’m not saying to just play hyper offensive and never make defensive plays. However when building a team that relies on damage reduction, stalling or switching, you must keep in mind that you are building a team weak to RNG and it is unavoidable that you will be taking RNG losses. Take into consideration that you should also be having options to dish out large damage before your opponent can respond, usually through the means of tailwind, or trick room, and not just plan on stalling out the game.
Not Using Types/Items/Abilities/Moves That Prevent RNG
There are in fact some items, abilities and typing that help prevent RNG and I encourage you to consider these when teambuilding.
Electric and ground types are immune to thunderwave, and paralyzing moves and all moves that have potential paralyzing effects besides glare. If you find your team to be very weak to opponent spamming thunder wave then these are easy, built in mechanics that can help counter such a tactic.
Grass types/Safety Goggles/Electric Terrain/Misty Terrain:
What do these 4 mechanics have in common? Well they help against two of the most notorious moves used in VGC, sleep powder and spore.
These sleeping moves have caused many players a lot of anger and frustration as it is seemingly random how long you will be asleep for and the users of these moves are incredibly powerful making them extremely common. If you have a team weak to sleep you’re in for a bad time as Amoonguss isn’t going anywhere and he’s ready to make you go night night.
However with any of these 4 mechanics you can prevent this sleep making switching much safer and neutralizing the sleepy threat.
With the threat of sleep so prominent in the 2020/2021 formats I would recommend you have at least 2 ways to help prevent sleep as it will likely be the most common status you will come across and is easily negatable.
Shell armor is an incredibly powerful ability that prevents critical hits from landing.
This ability is not very common in today’s meta game outside of Lapras, but you get a choice of using water absorb to help against Kyogre, or shell armor to prevent crits through aurora veil. Most commonly you will see water absorb since TornOgre is so common, but keep in mind that by doing so you are allowing your opponent the chance to crit you through aurora veil at any point. (and Lapras isn’t a very good answer vs the opposing Kartana on TornOgre teams but that’s for another article)
Very similar to the first two I listed, lum berry can prevent both sleep, and paralysis, as well as other RNG secondary effects such as scald burns, and ice beam freezes.
Lum berry is an incredibly powerful item that not only helps in many matchups such as Venusaur sun or any Amoonguss team, but it also is a safeguard against the secondary effects that some moves hold that can be very frustrating.
For a very long time I had the mindset that Lum Berry was required on every team I built due to its extremely powerful effect, but forcing a Lum Berry on a team that has better item choices isn’t the best option. But keep in mind if you don’t have an item for a Pokémon on your team Lum Berry will always be there to dig you out of a tough RNG situation.
Wide guard is a move that has had extreme highs of popularity, and other times where it is seemingly useless. Wide guard is great in restricted formats as it can stop moves such as Groudon’s Precipice Blades, or Kyogre’s Water Spout, but something people may not consider is it’s a perfect counter to the most infamous move in VGC history, Rock Slide.
Stopping potential Rock Slides from highly popular Pokémon such as Tyranitar, Landorus-T, or Groudon, is a great way to catch your opponent off guard presenting a new mind game, but also preventing any chances your opponent can flinch you.
Wide Guard is very meta dependent but in any meta game where Rock Slides are being thrown around is a good meta game to consider slapping wide guard on your team if possible.
This one is a bit self explanatory after reading the previous examples, but stopping random secondary effects such as freezes, paralysis, and burns is incredibly crucial. Safeguard is easily overlooked as a move when Tapu Fini is available, but who knows if Fini will be around in future meta games to prevent random status effects.
Once upside that safeguard has over Tapu Fini’s misty terrain is that it also protects your flying/levitating Pokémon.
If you find yourself with a Pokémon who needs a 4th move that won’t be clicked often regardless of what that move is, consider safeguard as a safety net for status.
A good example of this would be my first team of series 8. I had an Indeedee-f that had expanding force, helping hand, and follow me. I did not want protect as all I wanted from Indeedee was to prevent my porygon2 from being hit by fake out or taunt and then leaving the field so I could bring in my minimum speed Groudon. I tried out all the potential 4th moves on that indeedee such as mystical fire, light screen, reflect, and finally stuck with safeguard. I liked safeguard on the team as my only counter to Amoonguss was the safety goggles Indeedee in question, but once that Pokémon was off the field Amoonguss could have a field day vs my team in trick room, so I decided I could add safeguard to counter Amoonguss, as well as prevent my Groudon from being burned. I didn’t click it very often, but I didn’t click any of the other tested moves very often and by adding safeguard I made a bad matchup a good matchup just like that.
Running Moves With Low Accuracy
I think we can all agree that one of the worst ways to lose a game is to play well the whole game only to miss a move at a very crucial time. Well, this is the easiest form of RNG to avoid during team building.
When you are making a team it can be very appealing to use strong moves, that have lower accuracy as they dish out higher damage, or in a lot of cases hit both of your opponents Pokémon. However, you can’t dish out damage if you can’t hit your opponents Pokémon.
One example I can give is muddy water on Tapu Fini. In series 7 I had a team that was built to have Fini be a premier member on the team due to Misty Terrain as well as the great defensive typing of water/fairy. But Fini was for a while considered the worst member on my team, all because every time I clicked muddy water I was missing at least 1 of my opponents Pokémon if not both.
Now there are two solutions to this problem I had, 1.) Pray to RNG lords to be in my favor (extremely ineffective and 100% made up), or I could replace muddy water with scald and then have dazzling gleam be my spread move, both 100% accurate. To no surprise I made that switch, and just like that, Tapu Fini was powerful again.
Now just to save my behind in the future, I use muddy water Tapu Fini currently, but that’s because for the role on the team I am using currently I don’t have to rely on muddy water hitting very often as I mainly use Fini as a fairy type that prevents sleep meaning I mostly click moonblast or if I do use muddy water its actually a calm mind boosted Max Geyser. This shows that there are differences on each team, if you need a Fini to be mainly a water type and hit water moves each time you click it, scald is a better option, in my case on my current team I need Fini to click moonblast more than muddy water making it a good move to have as I have a chance to drop my opponent’s accuracy and pick up double KO’s from time to time.
When building a team you have to consider the pros and cons of your move selection, as well as what you need your Pokémon to do. If you have 2-3 flying/levitating Pokémon on you team then its likely a better choice to use earthquake over high horsepower allowing guaranteed damage, if you’re running water spout on you Kyogre then it’s probably a better option to use scald over origin pulse so you don’t have to risk missing a move when you already have a strong move that hits both opponent Pokémon. I could go on for a long time just talking about how 100% accurate moves are likely better than less accurate moves but you get the point, and I have one more thing I want to address about move choice.
Some Pokémon do not have the luxury of using more accurate moves, my example I will use is the Rotom wash/heat as they are the most common Rotom Formes. Rotom-W’s only water move is hydro pump, and Rotom-H’s only fire move is overheat, both lacking that pristine 100% accurate benchmark.
This is where you must again evaluate the pros and cons of your choice, do you need Rotom-H because it’s a fire type immune to ground that can also have access to electric STAB? If you don’t need to electric typing then its likely safer to choose another fire type immune to ground such as Charizard, Moltres, or Ho-Oh all of which have access to 100% accurate fire moves that will provide you with your ground immunity without risking missing their fire moves.
Do you need Rotom-W because it’s a water type that’s not weak to electric? Or do you need a water type that you can earthquake next to? If it’s the former then hey Rotom can be a great choice if you want that electric coverage and Will-o-Wisp potential but you can also consider Ludicolo, Dracovish, or Palkia to also do the same job and not miss their attacks. If it’s the ladder of those scenarios you could always try out Gyarados as a flying water type.
This all comes down to team synergy and is much more complicated then the scenarios I gave, but I just wanted to give you a picture of how to think about what the purpose of each Pokémon is and if you can find a more consistent option. Sometimes you can find an optimal replacement sometimes you can’t and only Rotom-W can fit that role and you will have to live with the 20% chance to miss Hydro Pump, this is the game we play and all you can do is set yourself up with the best chance for success.
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