The Narrator's Guide to Winning Live Battles

Employ these simple strategies in live battles to give yourself an edge in battle!

1) Be prepared

Any attack is better than no attack.  In the heat of battle it's easy to run out of ideas for good attacks.  This usually results in the use of some sort of generic SMASH or KICK attack, or no attack at all.  If your opponent is better prepared with more creative attacks, you'll be at a disadvantage from the word 'go'.  Knowing what Pokemon you'll use ahead of time, and having a list of clever attacks in front of you, will give you a strategic edge.

2) Use attacks that make sense

PokeBattles are zany, there's no doubt about that.  A major mistake that many trainers make is using attacks that are so zany that there's no way for the Narrator to interpret how the attacks could possibly help.  For example, a trainer commanding his Pokemon to use his 'ANNOY' attack will usually be pummeled by a trainer using even a generic SMASH attack.  However, if the trainer helps the narrator out and it makes sense, these kinds of attacks can help greatly.  If the trainer in our example says 'Use your ANNOY attack on Moses!  Worship a Golden Calf so he'll be forced to throw his tablets at it!' he'll be in a much stronger position.  Depending on Moses' move here, he will probably be wasting a turn throwing tablets while our trainer can now request favors from the Calf gods.  "CALF GODS!  Use SMITE on MOSES!"  This further helps because it draws the attention away from the Pokemon the trainer is using.  Which brings us to our next fundamental rule...

3) Deflect attention from your Pokemon

One of the strangest aspects of PokeBattles is that creatures other than the two main Pokemon can enter the battle.  For example, a trainer might send out SATAN and then SATAN will summon help from his DEMONS.  This is an extremely powerful play because often this will shift the focus of the battle from your Pokemon to elements of the battlefield.  If the trainer's opponent now attacks the DEMONS, SATAN is at no risk of taking any damage.  Plus, SATAN can attack the opponent's Pokemon directly.  On the flipside of this, a good countermove in this scenario (depending on the attacks being used) would be to either ignore the DEMONS and attack SATAN directly, perhaps by interrupting the summoning spell - or by summoning your own help.  Above all, remember to focus on who your enemy is - priority one should be targeting your opponent's Pokemon at all times.

4) Never, ever dodge an attack

Long ago the CLIFF was introduced to discourage the tactic of dodging enemy attacks.  Nowadays, using a JUMP or DODGE attack is practically suicide.  Your Pokemon risks JUMPING or DODGING off a cliff, which almost always result in it fainting unless you come up with a countermove quickly.  Although quickly using FLY or a similar move will often get you out of this, your fate is truly up to the Narrator's whim.  Jump and Dodge should never be used.  The best course of action is to use a counterattack.  Similarly, it's better to use an attack than it is to put up some kind of shield.  The best case scenario with a shield is that you'll block the attack.  But with a counterattack (depending on just how clever or lucky you are) may negate your opponent's attack and deal damage.  You should always be looking to deal as much damage as quickly as possible.  Most Pokemon will faint if they are struck by just two or three attacks.

5) Know when to return your Pokemon

The power to return your Pokemon to the safety of your Pokeball is one of the few sure things in a Pokebattle.  If you say "RETURN!" before the Narrator can say your Pokemon fainted, your Pokemon WILL be returned safely *every* time, and as a bonus it usually resets status effects.  This extremely powerful move is underused.  The RETURN command can save your Pokemon from falling off a cliff, drowning, being set on fire, and being finished off.  If your Pokemon is in critical condition and your opponent uses a move that you can't think of a counter for, RETURN it!  No harm no foul.  You can always bring it back later.

6) Don't anger the Narrator

You'd think this would be easy, but there are a few key ways to prevent the Narrator from snapping and annihilating you.  First, never correct the Narrator, even when it's wrong.  Second, don't use the same attack over and over and over.  Most importantly, don't violate PB's language policy.  There's nothing the Narrator hates more than a trainer with a dirty mouth.  Usually a strong swear word will disqualify a Pokemon from the match and bias the narrator against you for the remainder of the match.  It's just not a good tactic.

7) Be quick, but not too quick

Normally the Narrator tries to allow each trainer an equal number of attack commands, unless one trainer is too slow.  Make sure you're always in there attacking.  Some trainers have made the mistake of sitting back to see what the opponent's attack does before they react - this usually ends up costing them a turn.  On the flipside of this, don't give too many commands either!  If you shout out commands faster than the Narrator can resolve the actions, sometimes the attacks will queue up.  This results in you losing control of your Pokemon while it does moves you wanted five minutes ago instead of the ones you want now.

8) Don't be too powerful

You might get the impression from many battles that using overpowered attacks such as nuclear bombs and machine guns is a good tactic.  This generally is not the case, it just happens to be a better tactic than using 'SMASH' and useless attacks.  A creative attack that makes sense will almost always beat a power attack.

9) Repetition is the devil

Don't use the same attacks too many times in a row.  If you've established that your character has a flamethrower attack, and later your opponent uses Ice on you don't hesitate to use the flamethrower again.  But if you use it repeatedly for no reason then eventually it's just not going to work anymore.  Keep using new attacks, and repeat old attacks only when the situation shows a clear advantage to doing so.

10) Use the few constants to your advantage

PokeBattles are chaotic and make little sense.  But usually throughout the course of a battle or tournament, fundamental truths are revealed.  For example, in the last tournament opposable thumbs were extremely powerful.  So if a trainer used his opposable thumbs to accomplish something (as long as it made some sort of sense) it almost always worked.  This can work against you too, however.  One trainer established his Pokemon as being extremely heavy and thus invulnerable to wind.  Later, when the Pokemon fell off the cliff, the trainer tried to use a JETPACK attack.  Whoops.  Once you establish a truth in battle, such as your Pokemon being heavy, the Narrator isn't likely to forget.

11) Avoid in-jokes

It's tempting to use your favorite anime character, along with its uniquely-named attacks, but unless the Narrator knows what those attacks are supposed to do, you may as well be using useless attacks.  If you must use in-joke-powered Pokemon, be prepared to explain quickly what the attacks do.  Otherwise you're best off using something more generic.


Here is the hierarchy of attacks that the Narrator goes by to help determine who wins a conflict:

(1) Creative attacks that utilize a fundamental truth established in-battle to cause damage to an enemy Pokemon
     i.e. Hannibal Lecter uses EAT, targeting CRAZY HAND's opposable thumbs
     i.e. Using electric current against a Pokemon who just drank from an earlier HYDRO PUMP attack

(2) Power attacks
     i.e. Using missiles will generally beat someone using an attack like STOMP
     Be very careful about overusing these, the Narrator gets bored with people who use nothing but heavy gunfire

3) Generic attacks
    i.e. STOMP, SMASH, SLICE, KICK, PUNCH will generally beat someone using an attack like SIT

4) Uselss attacks
    i.e. Anything that can't conceivably do damage, where the attack is not explained to the Narrator - usually passive actions or nonsensical phrases such as READ, LISTEN, THINK, MAKE YOUR BED, etc. will generally lose to any other attack

If both players' attacks are approx. equal, it can go either way.  In most cases the Narrator will attempt to make the attacks cancel each other out, especially in later rounds of a tournament.

In our next issue, we'll analyze an actual battle from the 2003 Summer PokeBattles Tournament line-by-line, so you can get inside the head of the Narrator.

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