Discussion on any aspect of competitive Pixelmon.
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By SimonFlash
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The Competitive Edge

Everything you need to know about competitive Pixelmon
Volume I, Issue 1

Greetings everyone, and welcome to the first issue of the Competitive Edge! Here, you'll be able to find information relating to competitive Pixelmon, in-depth articles to give you and edge over your opponent, and some fun facts that aren't incredibly generic! Each week, join us on Sunday to learn about competitive play and how to join some of our weekly competitions, polls, and more. Of course, don't forget to provide feedback below and participate in community discussion on the forums. Without further to do, I present to you the Competitive Edge!

The Art of Competitive Play

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Nearly 2,500 years ago, the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu wrote these words to describe the philosophy of war and how to win battles. Believe it or not, the same holds true to Pokémon battles - understanding your opponent, their team, and their strategy is the start of a successful battle, while being able to respond correctly marks the end.

Competitive battling has three pillars, if you will, that are essential to competitive play - game knowledge, teambuilding, and strategy. In competitive play, your game knowledge doesn't just consist of knowing the type chart or Pokémon moves, abilities, and items, but also refers to understanding game mechanics, common sets and strategies, and checks and counters. The most important thing to note about game knowledge is that the baseline is simply knowing what everything in the game does. However, the next step is understanding how they work together. Pokémon is like a multidimensional game of Rock-Paper-Scissors: for every winning strategy, there's a counter. Have a team comprised of the most powerful pokemon in the game? There's a counter for that. Developed a team with no type weaknesses? There's a counter for that. Anything else you can imagine? There's a counter for that.

In short form, that's the brilliance behind Pokémon - there is no individual pokemon, team, or strategy that will ensure you win every single battle. Instead, your goal is to create a team that can handle most strategies and provide some semblance of a check to others. With that being said, the majority of developing a strategy comes through the process teambuilding. As with any game, there are some combinations of team members that work much better than others. For example, a Pokémon with Swift Swim would pair well with a Rain Dance user, while a physical attacker that's weak on the special side would have good balance with a special wall. This concept of synergy, or combining Pokémon in ways that are stronger than on their own, is the most important part of teambuilding. Needless to say, the goal of teambuilding is to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths against opposing threats.

However, the battlefield is it's own monster - strategies developed in teambuilding may fail, opponents have just the right combination of Pokémon to counter your strategy, or sometime luck just seems to be against you. The key to having strong battling skills is to be able to recognize strategies and be able to quickly develop a counter based on what your team is. This process is done through predictions, which are simply educated guesses on what strategy your opponent has and what their next move(s) will be. Coming full circle from the start, knowing your opponent, their team, and their strategies will allow you to make more accurate predictions and increase your chances of winning you battle.

With those three skills - game knowledge, teambuilding, and strategy - battling should become easier and feel much more natural. Pokémon is a mental game at heart, and making one wrong play or prediction can spell your downfall. If you practice, learn from mistakes, and recognize that there is always room to improve, the doors to competitive play will always remain wide open. Learn those three skills, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Pixelmon: Fact of the Week!

In the Pokémon games, the Pokémon Spinda is said to have such a unique pattern of spots that no two Spinda look the same. In fact, the number of available spot patterns is actually 2 to the 32nd power - that's well over 4 billion!

While the PixelmonMod Wiki shares this factoid on Spinda's page, there is only one lonely Spinda design in Pixelmon. Though it would be interesting to have those 4 billion possibilities, it's probably better to keep the mod files under a terabyte ;)

Off the Deep End

Feeling crazy? Lets take a look at how damage is calculated in Pokémon and Pixelmon.

Lets ignore the modifier for a second and focus on the rest of the equation. Scanning through it, the most notable feature is that the Attack and Defense (users attack and targets defense) is a ratio. This means that an additional point in attack doesn't mean an additional point of damage - in actuality, the stat points for attack and defense follow a exponential scale, while hp and speed are linear. In other words, the benefit from investing into attack or defense decreases the higher the stat is, while it stays roughly linear for hp and speed. Of course, there's plenty more factors at play that you should consider when investing EVs.

Moving on, the value of Base is the base damage of the attack being used, meaning that doubling the base damage roughly doubles the damage output. We can also see that, for whatever reason, two is added to this entire calculation, meaning that this entire segment of the formula must be at least two.

Now, here's the formula for calculating the Modifier.

Here, we can see how the damage is affected by STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus), type advantages, critical hits, an 'other' category, and a random number between 0.85 and 1. Immediately, this should through up two flags - what is the 'other' variable, and what's the deal with the random number?

Lets cover those in reverse order. The random number means that a pokemon will attack with damage between 85% and 100% of it's max damage, evenly distributed. This means that, at time, an attack that does over half of a pokemon's hp will not knock it out the next attack. In competitive play, the random variable is referred to as a roll such as, "the attack is 2HKO (2 Hit Knockout) on a roll". Next, the 'other' flag. Other is simply a holding value for abilities, held items, weather conditions, and other aspects of gameplay that affect damage.

One additional note that I'd like to mention is the fact that damage is reportedly truncated, meaning the the decimal is ignored completely rather than rounded. Theoretically, this should mean that it should be possible to cause 0 damage in any game using this formula. However, this is only the case in GenI and GenV - so there must be something else at work behind the scenes to prevent 0 damage from occurring.

If you'd like to learn about the labels not mentioned (and more!), feel free to visit the Bulbapedia page for damage linked below.http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Damage

With that being said, lets return to the place in competitive play that doesn't involve ridiculous math, if it exists...

Mod Corner

If you've checked the news feed in the past week or two, you'll know that NPC gyms are getting extremely close to being released into the full version of Pixelmon. What might be news, however, is that you can actually build your own gym and submit it to the mod team for review. If you're gym is good enough, who knows - you might just see it in-game someday! Click the link below to see the Gyms page!

Ask the Audience

Interested in providing some feedback and supporting the community? Click the link below to head over to Straw Poll to vote for your favorite feature in this week's Competitive Edge!

In Other News...

Lets conclude this week's Competitive Edge with a bit of news from Smogon, the group behind Pokemon Showdown. With Sun and Moon tiers being developed, the ongoing project to construct tiers has resulted in the UU quickbans of Mega Slowbro, Tornadus-Therian, Diggersby, Volcarona, and Scolipede.

More importantly, the OU suspect test for Genesect concluded last week and resulted in a majority ban. Genesect has consistently been a part of the Ubers tier since it's introduction in GenV primarily due to it's ability download coupled with multiple sets on both the physical and special side of the game made it unpredictable and extremely effective. Genesect's large movepool provided immense coverage against the majority of potential threats, while held items like the choice set proved to be incredibly powerful. If you'd like to read more about the Genesect ban, you can find the suspect test thread on their website linked below.


Interested in writing a feature for the Competitive Edge or have an idea for one? Send me a message and we'll look into adding it to next week's Competitive Edge! In the meantime, feel free to leave any constructive criticism you have below and we'll see you all next week for Issue 2 of the Competitive Edge!