Brave Charizard?? (Scanning and “Making Reads”)

Hello everyone, Brave Charizard here and I want to talk about what it means to be “Brave”, coming from a Charizard with a very uncommon Nature. Brave natures aren’t necessarily the most ideal quality for a Charizard, or other Pokemon who are meant to run fast plays and clean up the game as quickly as possible.

Most competitive players are very particular with running a few choice natures for their Charizard teams: Timid, Jolly, sometimes even Adamant or Modest. And in many ways, just as these natures apply to Pokemon, they also apply to people and their play styles as well.

For those who aren’t familiar, each Pokemon has its own unique nature in the wild. Pokemon with some natures have different strengths and weaknesses from others of the same species. As a brief example, a Timid Charizard can be very quiet, meek, and very quick to play defensively. As such, they tend to have a much higher speed and a much lower physical attack than other Charizards. Likewise, a Jolly Charizard is quite the opposite; free and jovial; swift, yet rambunctious and often not willing to think through things tactically, meaning they typically are lower in Special Attack than other Charizards.

Another common nature for us is Modest. A typical Charizard is incredibly adept in special, ranged combat, wielding fire as an elemental attack and not as much as a physical weapon. This allows for attacks such as Flamethrower and Dragon Pulse to be used more proficiently than a direct contact move such as Dragon Claw or Fire Punch.

This quality in the average Charizard makes a Modest nature especially ideal, as it is capable of utilizing their special attacks at max strength rather than focusing on physical strength, something not common in most Charizard. On the other hand, an Adamant Charizard may have a higher physical attack and lower Special Attack than those of a Modest nature. These sorts of Charizards are often ran as a Mega Charizard X variant, as it is more likely to behave more adamantly in battle and thus more physically aggressive.

I’m a particularly unique Charizard. I’m relatively good at specialized attacks, and have been recognized in the family as adept in most areas of combat. Most importantly, I’m not afraid to show it. I try to exemplify these qualities, as many people (especially in the Hoenn region) regard us Charizards for our willingness to challenge stronger enemies:

“Charizard flies around the sky in search of powerful opponents. It breathes fire of such great heat that it melts anything. However, it never turns its fiery breath on any opponent weaker than itself” (Pokedex, Hoenn).

I am not shy of engaging in combat with Pokemon stronger than me, and I even have an exceptional physical attack stat to go with my solid special attack. Bravery is not always the most warranted course of action in a match, however. Though it certainly doesn’t always imply carelessness or Impishness, a lower speed stat is often observed in most Brave Pokemon, as we may often times have to think before we act, though in a very confident and determined way. Just a little lesson in Pokemon and Natures for you. 😉

Being brave in combat can be a very important trait for trainers as well, even when it may not be the most favorable quality that you can have in a battle. This is especially true when it means making a risky choice that could potentially cost you an entire match. Some would rather play it safe, which is quite okay most of the time. On the other hand, sometimes a bold move may swing the heated momentum of battle in your favor.

Making “Brash” Decisions (hard reads and predictive battling)

Not all conditions in a match will always work out the way you want them to. Even in situations where the board positioning is perfect, and all your chips are lined up for the win, things happen that can lessen or even obliterate your win condition in a matter of seconds. Sometimes the opponent may even make a move that you cannot foresee, and may terrifyingly put you in a compromised and seemingly perilous situation.

Critical hits happen. They are a harsh reality that we all have to deal with. Attack misses happen as well, even with moves that are accurate up to 95% of the time. If a move isn’t 100% accurate, there is always a possibility that it may miss. That is a risk that one must always leverage into their decision making process. It may even be harder to predict what an opponent may be attempting to set up for when they maneuver their Pokemon around the board (switch-in or switch-out). And harder still is ascertaining the possible Nature, Effort Values, and hold items of the opponent’s Pokemon in combat. There are so many things to think about during a match! In time, though, you become accustomed to making hard reads.

As a Brave Charizard on a Specially Offensive, Specially Defensive, Speed Control-centered squad, we have to make very hard reads in battle constantly. The build and fashion of our team isn’t aggressive or hyper offensive. We mostly test new Series Formats during early seasonal transitions which typically include drastic shifts in the metagame. We are like the “special forces” of Team Cinnabar in a way, and we (known as the “Fire Dancer Core”) are often employed as such.

The aforementioned Sun Series format excludes the use of Mega stones and Z-crystals, though it does permit up to two Legendary Pokemon, excluding mythicals. This is different from the previous format of 2018 where mega stones and Z-crystals were allowed, but restricted legendary Pokemon were not. The Fire Dancer Core was the very first team to run under Team Cinnabar in this new meta. Because this core is so versatile, it’s easy to make subtle changes based on how usage statistics in the meta develop. The “Core” of the team includes Me (Brave Charizard), Oricorio, Volcarona, and Delphox. For the Sun Series, Ho-oh and Volcanion (recognized as illegal in the Sun Series) was initially tested as well.

The way this team works is essentially targeting down faster Pokemon with Oricorio and Volcarona, utilizing Quiver Dance, Feather Dance, Icy Wind and Oricorio’s key ability (Dancer) as a means of offensive and defensive stabilization.

Where I come in is doing the Dragon Dance alongside Oricorio as a means of boosting Oricorio and my speed, allowing it to potentially outspeed the opponent with Icy Wind, doubling my own speed potential to let off any number of Earthquakes, Dragon Claws, and Overheat with no compromise to speed (as a Brave, min speed Pokemon).

What we learned is that this build can handle harsher threats like Garchomp and Landorus with Volcarona and Oricorio in the front. If Volcarona gets the Quiver Dance up first, Oricorio can Icy Wind for some crucial damage and a drop in speed, or Feather Dance as a defensive maneuver to drop a target’s attack down two stages.

Because the opponent as Garchomp or Landorus is pressured into using a Rock type attack, a Charti Berry is typically held by Oricorio, and since attacks like Rock Slide do not receive a Same Type Attack Bonus on Garchomp and Landorus, our two feathery friends would typically survive the attack, get the Icy Wind off for speed control (and some big 4x damage), and Volcarona either does a Fiery Dance with Oricorio for the knock out, or Oricorio offers a Helping Hand while Volcarona Giga Drains for recovery. Oricorio may also Roost if the opportunity is there. The options we have with this team are many!

On my side of the fence, I’d rather not run Flare Blitz as an attack, due to its recoil damage upon impact. In order to reduce recoil, I run a Solar-Powered Overheat instead, a special attack that most Jolly and Adamant Charizards would be incapable of running as well as myself. The only actual ‘recoil’ is that Overheat drops my Special Attack stats by two stages,  so it is the safest play when there is a physically powerful threat to overcome.

With Solar Power, my special ability, whenever there is harsh sunlight in play, my Special Attack increases by a whopping 50%, with only a small loss of HP every turn. I can set up Dragon Dance with Oricorio, she Baton Passes into Ninetales, I OHKO an opponent with Overheat, and then finish off another opponent with Dragon Claw, or even let Ninetales Protect or switch back into Oricorio while I clear the field with Earthquake! This not only looks really good on paper, either. It actually works! Being Brave alongside Oricorio allows me to sacrifice some speed without compromising either my physical or special attack stats.

After a single Dragon Dance and Icy Wind, Oricorio can then Baton Pass these stat changes to Ninetales (or Delphox), giving it more speed and allowing for Ninetales’ Sunlight, which may strengthen my Overheat when needed. Oricorio can swiftly disrobe the opponent with Feather Dance if it happens to be a physical threat, and then Roost in order to keep itself viable throughout the late game (as long as I don’t go for an Earthquake). The Sun Series suits me quite well, as I get the benefit of Dragon Dance from a Charizard X build, while my ability Solar Power allows me to reach my fullest potential, similar to Charizard Y.

The hard reading comes in where it is necessary to make a prediction in combat as to whether or not we can run a certain play, or if we should keep things on the safe side. Should we run Dragon Dance + Icy Wind, or would it be better to deal simple damage with physical attacks and no set up? Could it be necessary to pivot the side Pokemon for a Pokemon with a Harsh Sunlight ability? Gauging the risk of such moves may properly allow for you to keep momentum on your side, increasing your odds of victory.

Team Building then is the process of assembling all of these potential factors before entering a battle and considering what checks and balances you may need to prepare for the meta. The sort of synergy you build within the team, what sorts of technical aspects are you bringing to the table (status moves, abilities, secondary effects with physical attacks, etc); all of these things are important. If you prepare wisely and leave yourself with a variety of options in hand, sometimes a “final gambit” option may be available to you in times of dire straits.

“RNG” (the factor of luck).

If an opponent knocks down your critical factor (your “win condition”) whether by an accidental critical hit, a well executed play or sophisticated read on their end, it may be necessary to create swift solutions to the problem. This is where it is important to be Brave. Things will not always turn out in your favor. But, if you are already pit against the wall, it may be advantageous to stick out the entire battle, weighing all the odds, and play to your strengths and see if you may find an out for yourself. If possible, it may also be wise to stall out the opponent diligently until they make an unfortunate misplay and throw the match!

There may be moments where you have to switch out one of your prized Pokemon in response to an unfortunate critical hit — say, one that deals 80% damage instead of 35%. When your Pokemon takes a hit from such critical damage, you must immediately consider all of your options. You could just leave the Pokemon on the field and let it faint in battle, as a way to prevent the risk of losing two Pokemon in two turns. You may also want to consider a more measured response. Double battles in VGC are a very long and patient thinking game, where information about the board, your opponent, and the terrain is key.

Perhaps your opponent would have a reason to target down this injured Pokemon and deal a finishing blow. This could be because that Pokemon poses a threat to their team and it is ideal that they remove it from the board as soon as possible. In this particular case, you could make a hard read and judge if the opponent will target down this Pokemon and switch out accordingly. Doing so preserves the injured Pokemon for another time, as it could be useful to you later on. Predicting the attack and switching in a Pokemon with a good resistance is the best play here. This is what is known as hard reading.

On the other hand, perhaps you don’t need either Pokemon, and your primary goal is to remove a Pokemon on the other side. You could impose pressure on the opponent by switching out and completely sacrificing a Pokemon and allow your other Pokemon to deal damage onto the other side while the opponent struggles to keep up. I recommend only making these sorts of maneuvers given you’ve taken the proper measures to evaluate whether or not you need a particular Pokemon later in the game.

Creating a situation in which a Pokemon is sacrificed on your end for a Pokemon on the other side is known as trading losses with the opponent. You force the opponent to make a decision: either target down a Pokemon you’ve switched in, target one on the other side, or change course completely and go on the defensive.

Moments like these are an awesome opportunity to gain some ground or possibly inflict damage on the opponent whilst they try to regain momentum on the board. Even though it seems like you are putting your Pokemon at risk, you are actually implementing a strategic play that will disrupt your opponents flow of combat!

Just like the idea of a Brave Charizard, making a bold move isn’t always considered the most “viable” play in the meta, yet some instances require a careful sort of risk-taking and testing. You would be surprised at how one single trade or maneuver could set the opponent several steps back. And with most players doing precise calculations on the most commonly used natures in the meta, an uncommon or eccentric nature may disrupt your opponents calculations and lead to a misplay!

Always try to be creative when you work on your teams. Never be afraid to train a Pokemon with a very unique nature, and never be afraid to take a risk in battle when the time desperately calls for it. The Pokemon Universe is vast and full of colorful and unique creatures. The metagame takes a small percentage of them and maximizes their potential, and in doing so, all possible options are consolidated into a small pool of predictable, calculated moves. If you want the upper hand in combat, sometimes you can best your opponent simply by being brave and choosing to do what they won’t do! 🙂

— Your best, Brave boy!

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#TeamCinnabar B)

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