Now why would I do that?
Maybe I like round numbers. Maybe I like the callback to when I quit at 100
for my Grass streak. Maybe I was completely out of PP and had only one poke left.
Or maybe I think that I could have won dozens more battles beyond 200 had I not made a seemingly trivial but ultimately costly error a few battles prior.
Target? You bet. Moving?!
gets credit for showing us how ridiculous Xurkitree was, matching the pre–Crown Tundra record less than two weeks into the DLC2. Zapdos proved an excellent and somewhat necessary addition to the given Electric type. Raikou's speed, access to Calm Mind and great coverage moves seemed an invaluable combination.
But what *is* invaluable, anyway? The word itself, logically—what does it mean? "Beyond calculable or appraisable value; of inestimable worth; priceless."
When you can restore your PP over and over, it can translate into more fainted pokemon, more peace of mind for pokemon with finite PP, and more wins. Literally invaluable. That's why I looked long and hard at the Electric types that can use Recycle, put my faith in Magnezone and stuck with my Recycleppa strategy. And that's also why I quit where I did.
Key word above: can. If you thought Appletun was tough to use, try a pokemon that doesn't have reliable HP recovery (Rest will never check that box), can't use Leech Seed, and doesn't benefit from on-demand Grassy Terrain support. The Xurkitree and Zapdos I wanted to use largely did not vary in build, but Zone sure as hell did.
#1: Flash Cannon/Teleport
At first, I was in love with the idea of Teleport on Zone, especially with Leftovers on Zapdos. The concept of unlimited Leftovers recovery for Zapdos by way of the -6 priority Teleport, end-of-turn Leftovers recovery, then hard-switching right back to Magnezone was very appealing to me, so I tried a Flash Cannon/Teleport Zone. In practice, I realized that this had Zone incur too much damage, and Zone is definitely not an Appletun that can restore its HP at will.
#2: Flash Cannon/Toxic
I then tried Toxic over Teleport (Recycle and Rest are givens), comfortable with the idea of being able to hit everything. But that just didn't hit hard enough, and made for some hard-to-time situations where, when I needed to Rest with Zone, I risked being asleep for the next poke after Toxic killed something.
At this point I'll mention Drifblim—a massive threat for my Grass team as lead Rilla couldn't OHKO at +0, for sure, and still somehow an issue in Electric with two pokemon that outspeed and OHKO (Zapdos needs Max Lightning but whatever). The reason Drifblim (Trick, Flame Orb) is still such an issue for Zurk/Zap/Zone (#notsorry) is because, if Zone is out when something dies, it necessitates Rest on Zapdos unless I want to deal with having Zappy burned. It necessitates this because getting Leppa Berry Tricked at any point means it's gone, forever, so I can't just leave Zone in to take Trick.
Unless...Zone is still an Electric pokemon, and doesn't need *that* much speed to outpace Drifblim to OHKO. Zone sits at 80 speed minimum, and Drifblim is 92, and 93 speed only required 100 Speed EVs, 80 more than the 20 I was using already to outpace the six pokes 80–82. I realized that I needed Dynamax to be able to OHKO Drifblim anyway:
156 SpA Magnezone Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 0+ SpD Drifblim: 240-284 (96.3 - 114%) -- 75% chance to OHKO (75% chance to OHKO after accuracy)
(240, 242, 246, 248, 252, 254, 258, 260, 264, 266, 270, 272, 276, 278, 282, 284)
This is max HP, 100 Spe EV, rest in SpA, and no Def/SpD EVs. And still couldn't get the job done. Drifblim is only one pokemon, though, so I figured that I could utilize Dynamax to kill the rare Drifblim, and free up Zapdos to not have to use Rest, and run Roost+3 Attacks like sb879 did. With the knowledge that I had to use Dynamax freeing me to use whatever Electric move I wanted, I went with Charge Beam, for its sweeping potential and this calc:
68 SpA Magnezone Max Lightning (100 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0+ SpD Drifblim: 252-296 (101.2 - 118.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO (100.00% after accuracy)
68 EVs, not that many to free up a crucial moveslot on another poke. But 168 EVs total that were NOT going into the defenses of my team's backbone (Appletun was MegaCalm at 252HP/252SpD+) really started to pull Magnezone thin. Again, it needed all the defense it could get without reliable recovery.
#3: Charge Beam/Toxic
So while trying CB/Toxic for a bit seemed okay in practice, (at least it told Pyukumuku to fuck off). From my notes:
(after like four battles lol): this sucks, i won’t be able to rest after getting electric terrain up, and i will necessarily have taken some hits by charge beaming everything to...death
toxic is cool but the best sets are prob just:
rv/ac/ls/rest, 252hp/116def/4SpA/84SpD/92Spe Timid
press/id/recycle/rest, 252hp/236SpD/20Spe, Calm
You can see I'd flirted with the idea of Body Press/Iron Defense already at that point, and was thinking about the whole team. Charge Beam on Zone essentially meant I wouldn't have to use Rest on Zapdos, but CB itself made Zone's efficiency dicey, even before accounting for the 90% accuracy.
I did really, really like the idea of boosting in some way, just to make my Zone more invaluable. So I thought of Charge Beam/Flash Cannon briefly, to make use of dual STAB. But aside from the Electric Terrain clashing with much-needed Rest opportunities, CB/FC would leave Zone walled to hell and back by Volt Absorb Lanturn, which takes 40BP damage from Xurk's Grass Knot and beats Zapdos pretty bad too.
So I was back to the drawing board. Or back to Body Press, I should say.
#4: Body Press/Iron Defense
With very good base Defense of 115 and access to Iron Defense, Magnezone makes for an interestingly "reliable" sweeper. Body Press is my favorite move in SwSh (Meteor Beam is a very close second) given how it makes you rethink both offense and defense. (Meteor Beam makes you rethink offense when Gigalith, who learns no Fire moves in Gen 8, OHKOes 100% HP Scizor in RS with a crit with just one special move.) Zone's base stats (70/70/115/130/90/60) pointed to a MegaCalm spread for it that would allow it to take special hits pretty well, especially given its 12 resistances/immunities, and sharply boost its Defense and "attack" at the same time. Kind of how like Amnesia worked in RBY for you Genwunners.
The obvious problem with a mono-fighting set is Ghost-type pokemon. This should, in theory, have made Body Press/Iron Defense Zone a nonstarter. But I took a closer look at the ghost pokes in the RS, and discovered something pretty encouraging.
maybe i should use id/bp zone. no matter what i can't stay in on:
trevenant anyway (assault vest, eq) or
dusclops (eb fire punch) or
palossand (scorching sands) or
drifblim (trick) or
golurk (42% max from fc).
I thought of those in my head, which encouraged me to really go with BP/ID and look up the rest of the ghosts in the RS.
froslass isn't something zapdos and xurk love taking on anyway. prob most annoying "i wish i could hit you" though
rotom will prob vs eventually anyway, which i want as i'm setting up IDs
jellicent can be ohkoed by xurk so
gourgeist needs to be switched out of anyway because of phantom force
So that's 10 pokes. 6 of them are ones that I figured Zone, even with some combination of Flash Cannon, Charge Beam and Toxic, had no business with. Especially Trev, Palossand, Golurk and Rune, who are immune to or take lol damage from Electric attacks (AV Trev takes less than 20% from Mega Charge Beam). Rotom, Jellicent and Gourgeist were ones I wanted Toxic/"Elec move" for, but were manageable, and Froslass was the real pain here, since spreading WoW blows and Zone with Rest and FC stops it pretty well.
Then I got to the 11th and final ghost, and laughed out loud:
ok lmao this settles it:
Cursola Ring Target Spite Shadow Ball Grudge Endure HP / Def Calm 42
+6 0 Def Magnezone Body Press vs. 252 HP / 252 Def Cursola: 173-204 (108.8 - 128.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO
It seemed like a poetic nudge in the direction of really trying this crazy strat, and ignoring Zone's 130 base SpA. More important than this Ring Target serendipity was the fact that I always OHKOed things like Lanturn at +6. Plus:
4 SpA Magnezone Flash Cannon vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Amoonguss: 75-88 (35.2 - 41.3%) -- guaranteed 3HKO (100.00% chance to 3HKO after accuracy)
+6 36+ Def Magnezone Body Press vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Amoonguss: 74-87 (34.7 - 40.8%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
and that's just 36 EVs. AND amoonguss is megabold.
Not so much "crazy" as it was "reality." But would it prove invaluable for my team?
Team ZZZ in Action
Xurkitree ** CircuitCity® @ Shell Bell
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 252 SpA / 4SpD / 252 Spe
- Rising Voltage
- Thunder Shock
- Volt Switch
- Grass Knot
hinted that he'd dabbled with three electric moves despite having Dazzling Gleam in his 168 streak, and I settled on Volt Switch as my third from the very beginning, both for PP reasons and because Dazz didn't seem to help with the stuff I needed it to (Goodra, as he mentioned). Goodra is not OHKOed as a leadoff by Max Starfall, and is 2HKOed at +1 by RV + "VS". 144 total PP is a lot, and I found myself using TB a ton. 4 SpD EVs for Download Porygon2.
Zapdos ** Zappos!® @ Leftovers
EVs: 212 HP / 116 Def / 4 SpA / 84 SpD / 92 Spe
- Rising Voltage
- Air Cutter
- Light Screen
I spent almost as much time messing with this as I did with Zone. Given that I needed
to address Fire-types defensively (a defensive synergy problem that Raikou doesn't present), I needed a bulkier Zapdos variant that could check or counter every single Fire-type in the RS.
"Luckily," I do 102% min to Volcarona, for whom the Speed EVs (and Nature) are for (145 speed to its 144), with basically no-investment Max Aistream, and I take only 46-53% from Heat Wave. Thunderpoult does 83-98% to Torkoal, and Zapdos takes Drought Lava Plume only slightly worse than Volc Heat Wave (59% max), loving it when Torkoal uses Scorching Sands on the switch then Amnesia as it survives TP. Centiskorch similarly uses Sands and then eventually Burns itself out into Light Screen. Talonflame is destroyed by LS Zapdos, Salazzle doesn't have fire moves, Turtonator spams Shell Trap on Zapdos, and Coalossal is actually beaten pretty handily by BP/ID Zone:
252+ Atk Coalossal Heat Crash (40 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0+ Def Magnezone: 44-54 (24.8 - 30.5%) -- 99.6% chance to 4HKO (99.60% chance to 4HKO after accuracy)
Light Screen was a tough decision. It has a shitload of PP (48), and helps out Zone in many spots. I mainly have it for "throwover" PP purposes when I intentionally want to affect Pressure and don't want to Rest or burn valuable attacking PP, as I heal with Leftovers. Light Screen also makes an important Max Guard candidate in a pinch, compared to having to use a much more valuable Rest (or Roost) PP while dynamaxed.
Roost is obviously an amazing move through and through, but I strongly felt that to have the highest streak possible, I should not be using Roost more than two times, maximum against ANY one pokemon.
Hilariously enough, the only move on this set that was a lock from the beginning is the 40 PP Air Cutter. It's not even close. Given than I couldn't run more SpA (or "any," since 4 EVs in SpA is honestly a technicality of "they'd be wasted elsewhere"), I knew I wasn't going to be able to OHKO the Ground-types Zapdos needed to handle. This was somewhat comforting to realize, actually:
ok i have to switch zappy into marowak, krook, mamoswine and whiscash and immediately dynamax and airstream twice to best beat them. do remember that even if you had hurricane you'd need to both dynamax and airstream twice:
252 SpA Zapdos Max Airstream (140 BP) vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Whiscash: 169-199 (95.4 - 112.4%) -- 75% chance to OHKO (75% chance to OHKO after accuracy)
Missing can't be risked, so dynamaxing is required. Only Modest with literally 248 more
SpA EVs would begin to OHKO these pokemon (or Wise Glasses), and that's just not what my team is about.
So I went with my gut and stuck with my strat. Zapdos started with Rising Voltage/Hurricane/Air Cutter/Roost and 150 Speed and ended with 145 Speed, Light Screen over Hurricane and Rest over Roost. Its defensive EVs also mind Download, and give Zappy just enough bulk to take Poltergeists on the physical end and Draco Meteors from Goodra on the special.
Magnezone ** AutoZone® @ Leppa Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 236 SpD / 20 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Body Press
- Iron Defense
I've said quite a bit about this out-of-this-world (heh.) pokemon already, and you may notice the shift from Calm to Bold. Bold allowed me to always affect these:
+6 0+ Def Magnezone Body Press vs. 252 HP / 0- Def Marowak: 164-193 (103.1 - 121.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO
+6 0+ Def Magnezone Body Press vs. 0 HP / 252 Def Sirfetch'd: 128-151 (99.2 - 117%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO
Marowak is a pain for Zapdos and Xurk to deal with, since Zapdos takes 56-66% from Outrage, Xurk 85-100%, and Zappy only does like 33% with Air Cutter. Xurk only does 70% min with Grass Knot even if I get it in safely on a confusion turn or with full HP so...I decided to give up the MegaCalm dream and give Zone the Defense it needs to always OHKO at +6. Calm can get to 144 Defense that checks this box, but then I realized that Sirfetch'd would also being a problem if I didn't kill it, which I do 95% of the time at +6.
I wish I could spare a few more EVs to guarantee this, which I technically could taking from HP and putting into Def, but having 140 SpD instead of 154 makes a considerable difference in taking all the Dragon Pulses and Psychics I set up on. The 20 Speed EVs again are amazingly useful, allowed Zone to outspeed six pokes guaranteed it otherwise wouldn't. 148 Def instead of my old 135 Def also allows Zone to always OHKO things like Wishiwashi it didn't before, and turns some 3HKOs into 2HKOs on semi-dengerous stuff like Aromatisse.
Circuit City is what immediately came to mind for Xurkitree, and Zappos quickly followed suit. AutoZone was the logical thing to round it out, especially when adding all the ® symbols.
Also, by way of Max Move naming efficiency:
- Rising Voltage | Thunderxolt/TX
- Thunder Shock | Thunderbolt/TB
- Volt Switch | Thundervolt/TV
And Zapdos: Rising Voltage | Thunderpoult/TP
(it's a bird. 100% credit goes to EeveeTrainer
for this one.)
: What a piece of shit. This always uses the right move on Xurk (Bulldoze), wastes so much of Zapdos' PP (Air Cutter is like a 6HKO) and outspeeds Zone and threatens with two possibly-lethal hits. It's the PP wasting that's the biggest problem—it makes Zapdos have to Rest like three times every time it comes out. If Xurk is at +1 with Electric Terrain up, I 2HKO, as mentioned, but when this leads I groan audibly. A CH Draco Meteor only does 132 HP max to Zapdos and Pressure obviously helps a ton, but it's still on my screen for like 20 turns, and Lansat Berry always seems to proc.
: Another PP threat to Zapdos. Xurkitree can't muscle through this without boosts, and Strength Sap gets it back to full easily. Moonblast SpA drops suck, but mainly for this reason—switching to Zone is never safe until Vileplume uses Corrosive Gas, or bye bye berry. If not for this somewhat odd mechanic, Zone would have a field day with this poke, but alas.
: Does a crapload to Zapdos with Poltergeist, has EQ for my grounded Electric Types, and only takes 72-85% from Airstream. Lead Volt Switch out of EQ may make killing possible but it's a slim chance. Taking a Poltergeist in base form to extend Dynamax is risky (does 45-54%).
: Can't be OHKOed, and has Endure to stall out Dynamax. Has to be played around very carefully.
: Does a lot to Zone thanks to Metronome. A primary reason to keep Zone's HP as high as possible at the end of every battle.
: Similar requires a high-HP Zone as does a lot with Dragon Rush if it's Hustle, which it always is, literally. I've almost lost Zone from 100% to this thing because of a single flinch (and it using Dragon Rush three times in a row and hitting every time). 25-29% damage is a lot for a resisted move on 148 Defense. Thankfully Iron Defense completely negates Grav Apple Defense drop shenanigans, and Flapple seems to go for those like 40% of the time.
: Threatens...absolutely nothing. Dies to literally everything but Airstream and is slower than my entire team. What a bad pokemon. I'm ashamed of myself for using this on my ingame team.
: Almost always elects to Trick Room, which Xurk doesn't like as it can't OHKO, and quad resists Body Press.
: Zapdos always OHKOs with Airstream and Eggy likes aiming Power Herb Solarbeam at Xurk, so there's that, but it usually Trick Rooms.
: Random Misty Explosion puts the team out of position and Zone doesn't like taking it, certainly not at -2 (Fake Tears).
: You know what's fun? Doing 88% with TX (Mega RV) midway through a leg and having leadoff Gardevoir use Grudge (instead of Psychic Terrain like the bitch is supposed to). You have at least 25 PP for every move, and now you have to switch out of Dynamax. And if you don't Dynamax you risk taking a lot from raw Psychic. So much fun.
My first serious run with this team, I got to 40, and had literally 40 electric PP left. Figuring I needed to get to 60 in one leg to seriously threaten the 183 record, I always sought to conserve Xurk's PP while not doing something stupidly overconservative at the same time, like switching it out of lead Gyarados just to save a PP. After mowing down 45 pokes in a row with Xurk and healing at 56 in that run a few months ago, I lost at 60, but it was very informative.
When learning how to use the team, it was a serious struggle between "set up Zone whenver you can!!!!! conserve Xurk's PP!!!!!!!" and "can you just get back to 40 without being an idiot please." I can't stress enough how tough this was to follow in practice. You face enough Miltank and Dunsparce at battle 11 and 17, only to own yourself by forgetting to Recycle, or not being careful enough with Xurk's HP so you can take a Starmie/Mienshao 1-2 punch. But as I played, I figured out the right balance.
So, I've posted in Discord that this run had a first leg of 74, which I was able to follow with a ridiculous 79 somehow on what's supposed to be the "conservative" leg. Before this, I had a LOT of first legs where I died or did something stupid before that 40 mark. As I learned, I was able to get a first leg of 67 that really showed me that 200 was possible, if played right.
This "warstory" is devoid of actual battles, which kind of seems like a bit of a letdown. I do have some logs, and there were definitely dicey battles. Truth be told—a LOT of this streak was "boring" stuff like deciding to set up Zone on things like leadoff Amoonguss rather than power through with Zapdos Airstream. Figuring out that pokes like leadoff Milotic are actually godsends for Zone (25% max with Scald). Patiently jousting with pokes like Oranguru and Mr. Rime that Xurk can easily 2HKO with no real threat so Zone could be set up, at +0 SpD, but not letting them steal/copy my boosts through Psych Up/Copycat. Determining the right way to beat Goodra without losing too much PP. Being smart and diligent about keeping Zone's HP and PP high enough for the next poke or battle. Triple-checking to see if I still had my berry, which is surprisngly easy to forget to do.
This stuff wasn't actually boring, if you think about it. Being able to give Xurk a breather here and there by setting up Zone, patiently and smartly, was truly invaluable in the long run.
Well, "long" run. I'm sure that this seems like a weird flex or whatever to most, and I don't blame you for thinking that way The fact is that I did something dumb in between 154 and 200 that involved remembering a benign AI move-usage mechanic two seconds too late. Coupled with a lot of unusual bad luck, this crippled me, and I was only able to limp to 200. I am confident that I would have won dozens more battles otherwise.
And as sappy as it sounds, I believe I'll be able to recycle my experience, which has been invaluable—as have the pokemon, especially Zone—into a much better sparring session. The iterations, and "back to the drawing boards," and different scenarios all kind of came together to where my efforts became automatic. And I thought Zone was just an average Recycleppa pokemon...