A beginner’s guide to competitive Pokémon breeding and training

A Pokémon trainer’s success is directly affected by their team of six, making its proper construction a central part of the playing VGC.

If you’ve beaten a Pokémon game, you probably know some of the most basic tenants — have a diverse array of teammates so that you’re ready for any situation. That holds true for VGC, but it’s easier said and done. You won’t be facing off against teams like ones used by in-game champions, with run-of-the-mill Pokémon and simple artificial intelligence.

In fact, even bringing the right Pokémon can leave you open to a butt-whooping without considering things like individual values (IVs), effort values (EVs) or natures. And if everything I just said is gibberish, go grab a snack and get comfy. We have some work to do.

Perfect Pokémon

Perfect Pokemon

Before you even considering putting a Pokémon in your battle box, you need to understand one thing: basically every monster you’ve caught in-game is not going to cut it in an official competition. Even if their move-set is perfect and you know how to use them inside and out, they will be statistically inferior to every other Pokémon of their species brought to the tournament.

The reason for this is because competitive players only use Pokémon with beneficial natures, perfect IVs and EV spreads that are tailor-made to their role on the team. All three of these things affect a Pokémon’s six statistics, HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed. Let’s break them each down one at a time and then delve into why they all matter.

Natures are a random “characteristic” (such as jolly or naïve) that is assigned to a Pokémon when you encounter, breed or are given it. You see them on the second screen of the summary page, and they affect the growth rates of two stats. There are 25 natures, with five neutral ones that don’t affect any statistics. The remaining 20 each increase the growth rate for one stat while lowering the rate for another. There are lists online, but you can also tell by looking on the first summary page. See how one stat is highlighted red and another is blue? The red one is boosted by 10 percent and the blue one is lowered by the same amount. Easy enough, right?

Then there are IVs, which kind of work like genes do in real-life (only on a much simpler scale). Each statistic is given an IV ranging from 0-31 during the same occasions when a Pokémon is given a nature. What makes them different than natures, though, is that there is a slim chance for parents to pass down their IVs to their children during breeding. As for how they affect stats, each IV in any given stat gives one point at level 100. Since VGC automatically sets Pokémon to level 50, that means perfect IVs grant an extra 15 points in all six statistics. That may not seem like a lot, but it can be the difference between a knock-out and sticking around for one more turn.

Finally, there are EVs — which is the only factor players can have 100 percent control over. You see, every time your Pokémon defeats another Pokémon in battle, it is given a certain number of EV points in a certain stat. The number and which stat depends on the defeated Pokémon, with many evolutionary families granting EVs for the same stat in increasing increments as they evolve. These EVs add up until a Pokémon has 508 points across all of its stats (with a cap of 252 for any individual stat). At level 50, each eight EV points increase a stat by one, for a possible 31 extra stat points.

When added together, a Pokémon with a beneficial attack nature, a perfect attack IV and 252 EVs in attack will have an attack stat ~51 points higher than a Pokémon with a neutral nature, a 0 attack IV and no EVs in attack. And when most stats, on average, round out at about the 150 range, it’s easy to see how much it can matter.

Prepping the day-care

Daycare

Now that you understand exactly why all of this breeding matters in the first place, it’s time to get down to the details of how to get competitive Pokémon. Getting set up takes a while, but breeding is usually pretty simple once that’s done. Plus, it’s kind of your only option (unless you choose to circumvent most of it through a short-cut we won’t get into here).

Anyway, here’s the checklist of what you’ll need: an Everstone, a Destiny Knot and one ditto with each of the 20 non-neutral natures. The first two can be found in different locations depending on your game, and a quick google search can help you find them. That’s usually the easy part.

The hard part is capturing the dittos, though it is made significantly easier if you can find someone with a ditto in their X&Y friend safari (check out this sub-reddit if you need help finding one). In fact, friend safaris are ideal because Pokémon within are guaranteed to have at least two perfect IVs. So, once you have one, just dive on in and start checking natures off your list. It won’t be hard in the beginning, but it can be a slog near the end.

If you’re looking for a slight short-cut, the most important natures are as follows: adamant, modest, timid, jolly, impish, bold, calm, careful, brave, quiet, relaxed and sassy. These all involve boosting one stat while lowering either attack, special attack or speed — which is ideal since most Pokémon only need one attack stat or the other, and some Pokémon run slow. There are Pokémon that usually use more niche natures, but you can hunt for those as needed if catching all 20 takes too long.

Finally, you’re going to want to get your hands on a Talonflame with the ability flame body. The ability halves the number of steps it takes to hatch eggs, and the fact that it can learn fly makes it easy to get around. Keep it in the front of your party at all times for good measure.

Making babies

Egg hatching

Now that you have the essentials, you’re ready to start forcing Pokémon into dozens of cycles of reproduction! Head on down to the day-care center and go inside. Once you’re there, find the imperfect version of the Pokémon you’re looking for and get ready to breed.

One last thing before you start, though! It’s important to consider whether your Pokémon needs any egg moves or a hidden ability. If you need the former, just breed a female version of the Pokémon you eventually want with a male Pokémon in its egg group that has the move you need. It will hatch with the move needed (note, this may require multiple chains of breeding). Serebii.com has an easy guide for how to get egg moves for any given Pokémon.

When it comes to hidden abilities, things get a little trickier. The most reliable way is to catch one with the ability in either a friend safari or by using the DexNav in Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, but you can occasionally find hidden abilities on the global trade system. Once you have it, know that only females can pass down the hidden ability when breeding with most Pokémon, though any gender can pass it down when breeding with a ditto.

Ok, so once you get the right moves with the right ability, it’s time to start working through generations. Go to the day care’s battle resort and head to your box. First, find the Pokémon you want to breed and have it hold the Destiny Knot. Then, find the Ditto with the nature you want the offspring to have and give it the Everstone. The Destiny Knot will increase the odds of the parents passing down their IVs and the Everstone will guarantee that the baby will have the same nature as the parent holding it.

Once both parents are in their proper place, ride around the Battle Resort until you see the day care lad outside face toward you. That means the egg is ready, so go talk to him. With the egg and your trusty Talonflame in your party, position yourself directly in front of the lad and get on your bicycle. Then, cycle to your left or right until you can’t go in that direction anymore. Then, press and hold down the up direction and don’t let go until the egg hatches. This will keep you in an infinite loop that is far easier than randomly riding around.

Pro-tip: wedge the very edge of a dime or folded up piece of paper beneath the bottom of the slide-pad for hands-free hatching. Some report this can damage the slider, but I’ve used the trick for years and seen negligible damage.

IV judge

Anyway, once the Pokémon hatches, pop into the Pokémon center and talk to the ace trainer in the top right corner. When you have him check the baby, he’ll list off a number of stats — take note of the ones he mentions! Once he’s done listing them, you’re looking for the phrase “Stats like those… They simply can’t be beat!” That means the listed stats are perfect. To help keep track, use the six symbols on the touch-screen’s summary page. Each one can correspond to a different stat and be marked off when it’s perfect.

Now that you have a baby with the right nature (and hidden ability, if you need it), you can focus on IVs. If it did get the IVs of the Ditto parent, find another Ditto that has perfect IVs in missing stats and stick the baby with it. However, this time, give the Everstone to the baby and the Destiny Knot to the Ditto. This will keep the nature you need around. Once those two yield a baby, take it to the IV checker again and repeat the process until it has all of the parents’ perfect IVs.

From there, rinse and repeat the above until you have at least five perfect IVs in HP, both defenses, speed and whichever attack stat you plan to use for that Pokémon. Mixed-attacking Pokémon that run special and physical attacks will need all six IVs to be perfect, which takes a little longer. Then there are Pokémon that run 0 IVs in some stats, and those will require finding a parent or Ditto with 0 IVs in the desired stats. It’s much harder to do, but sometimes there’s no way around it.

Either way, this can take dozens of rounds of breeding and multiple hours. However, you can attempt to get a six IV ditto over on this sub-reddit to significantly speed things up. If you aren’t able to or choose not to, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. But you will eventually get a perfect Pokémon and are almost ready to battle with it.

Exceptional cases

Primal pokemon

The above strategy works in almost all cases — but not for legendary Pokémon, since they can’t breed. To get perfect legends, the process can be much more time consuming.

To start, find a Pokémon with the ability synchronize and breed it to have a variety of natures that you might need for a legendary Pokémon. Then, go find the legend you want to catch, have plenty of Ultra Balls in your bag and lead with the synchronize Pokémon. Doing so gives the legendary a 50 percent chance of having the same nature as the Pokémon with synchronize.

Anyway, do what you must to catch the Pokémon — usually a combination of status conditions and the move false swipe gets the job done. When it’s officially yours, DO NOT SAVE. First, fly to the IV checker and see how close to perfect it is. All legendary Pokémon are guaranteed to have at least three perfect IVs, but you can get more. If it has the IVs you need, congrats. Save your game and breathe a sigh of relief. If not, reset your game and try again.

The last exception when it comes to breeding involves the move Hidden Power. This attack’s damage type depends on a Pokémon’s IVs and is incredibly difficult to breed for. You can find a list of the different IV requirements here, but breeding for them is mostly a crap-shoot. Keep plugging away until you get the one you need (or keep resetting in the case of legendary Pokémon). This, if anything, is what most often drives dedicated breeders to the aforementioned short-cut.

Horde training

Horde training

Once you have a perfect Pokémon, you’ll need to give it the desired EVs. Deciding on an EV spread can be a complicated process, and you can read more about that here. Otherwise, we’ll just assume you know what spread you’re looking for!

Now, just like with breeding, there’s a bit of set-up required for EV training. You’re going to need six items that can only be bought using BP from the resort’s Battle Maison. Again, we won’t get into strategies for earning points easily, as those can be found many places online. What matters is that you’ll need to buy the Power Weight, Bracer, Belt, Lens, Band and Anklet. When held, these items add four of different EVs when a Pokémon gains experience in battle.

After that, you need to find something a bit rarer: Pokérus. Fortunately, in today’s age of digital connectivity, it’s much easier to find. People online are happy to share it with you, and it’s even possible to get a Pokémon with it over Wonder Trade with a bit of luck.

However you get Pokérus, here’s how it works. A Pokémon infected with Pokérus has a little purple box on their summary page that tells you it is infected. This also means it is contagious and can spread the condition to adjacent party members after a battle. After a couple days, though, the Pokémon will be cured of the virus and unable to spread it further. The only way to preserve the virus forever is by keeping infected Pokémon in the PC. Also, note that a Pokémon cannot catch Pokérus if an adjacent Pokémon in the party has already been cured of it. Just shuffle spots around to avoid this.

Regardless of whether a Pokémon actively has the virus or if it has been cured, it gets double EVs from every battle. That means, when combined with the power items, you can get 10 EVs from a single battle. It gets better, though! By luring Pokémon hordes out with the move Sweet Scent (which is learned by the Oddish evolutionary line), you can get up to 50 EVs in a single battle. This will speed up the training process significantly.

Finally, this is a list of all the best horde spots in ORAS. Also keep in mind that sweet scent doesn’t work if it’s raining (in-game) when you use it.

Oh — and here are a couple of pro-tips for horde training: First off, when spreading Pokérus, make sure the experience share is OFF. This will prevent you from getting unneeded EVs on your perfect Pokémon. Second, fight with a Pokémon that knows a spread move, such as surf or earthquake. If the user is at a high enough level, this will end the horde battle in a single turn. Third, make sure you switch to the appropriate item when switching from training on EV stat to another. Finally, if you accidentally add the wrong EVs somewhere down the road, you can use reset bags on the super-training page. Grind for them by punching the base bag and clearing your collection of the bags you don’t need.

The final step: power-leveling

Blissey base

You’re so close to having (a single) perfect Pokémon! The last step is by far the most mindless — you just have to level it up until it is either level 50 or has all the moves it needs. There are many ways to do it, but the best is to use these QR codes to get access to six secret bases. Each one features a trainer battle with three, level 100 Blissey that are holding toxic orbs and have no attacking moves. Slap a lucky egg on your trained Pokemon and watch their level skyrocket.

When that’s done, so are you! That is, unless you want to build a team of six. Then you have five more Pokémon to breed. At least you got most of the leg-work out of the way!

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