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Old December 14th, 2011, 09:26 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
What's this? A new chapter? Could it be... the holidays have arrived?

Pokémon for Training

Pokémon Training is the reason Pokémon were originally domesticated: the exploitation of their unique capabilities as fighters. For over four thousand years, we have pitted super-powered monster against super-powered monster in mortal (or, in recent years, not-so-mortal) combat; animal rights activists come and go, but Training is here to stay. In this chapter, I suggest how one might start off a career or hobby as a Trainer.

First of all, I must dissuade you from the usual choices. Pikachu, for some unfathomable reason the symbol of Training, is far too temperamental for a beginner; the number of people killed by their recalcitrant electric mice must now be roughly equivalent to the amount of money my wife took from me in the divorce settlement. I also must caution you against choosing a Charmander or Chimchar, or other creature visibly on fire; they have a habit of burning things down all around them. This is fine in the non-flammable stony mountains in which they dwell, but tends to be a large hazard when bringing them inside buildings. Finally, for the sake of variety, I ask you not to bother investing in any of the other traditional 'starter' Pokémon; they have all been poached to near-extinction for the sake of beginner Trainers, and I happen to have a certain vested interest in their continued survival.

What should one be looking for, then, if the usual options are closed off? My answer would be this: find a Pokémon that is tractable, eager to fight, mindful of when to stop attacking, not easily bored by repetitive training sessions and not too difficult to house. If you can find such a thing, I'd appreciate it if you let me know; to my knowledge, there is no one creature that ticks all the boxes.

I started my own career as a Trainer with a Pawniard, which in retrospect was a bad idea; I could potentially have spared several lives had I begun with a nice Sandshrew or similar Pokémon. Avoid these mistakes: choose something from the five I recommend, and you cannot go wrong.

*

Burmy

About as safe a creature as you could wish for, Burmy (Mutocorpus trifecta) is the weakest Pokémon actually capable of battling. It will never harm a human, partly because it is afraid of them and partly because it is physically incapable of breaking human skin. This is one reason I recommend it; the other is that it is inexpensive, and if it should die in the heat of battle, is easily replaced. There are also no laws against Burmy abuse, which means that you can push them far further than other Pokémon; however, they do tend to literally fall apart if you push them too hard, being mainly made out of leaves.

If this occurs, simply store the Burmy in a cool, dry place and keep out of reach of children; after a day or two, it will have rebuilt itself and its cloak using whatever materials it can find. This can be entertaining, if nothing else; I once saw a Burmy made entirely out of used syringes that it had obtained from a heroin addict. It was rather effective in battle, if only because its opponents always inexplicably fell ill partway through the fight.

They are very docile, and though not particularly bright, will learn most commands within a couple of weeks. Despite their lack of fighting spirit, they usually make a brave-hearted attempt at winning a fight; they appear to have a sense of pride, and will redouble their efforts if this is wounded by the opposition.

Diet: Leaves, particularly those of the umbrella thorn acacia tree. In the wild, they never encounter the umbrella thorn acacia tree, but they like it well enough in captivity. They also have a liking for berries, and will steal them whenever they can. This isn't often, since they are physically incapable of carrying them, but it is good to know about these things.

Housing: Not really an issue. Burmy can be kept virtually anywhere, as long as it isn't cold, and they won't complain; they will, however, chew through any paper, leaves or holistic medicines they find, so you may wish to keep them away from these. They will also attempt to replace their cloak to blend in with their surroundings, so don't keep them in an area where items are expensive to replace, such as a jewellery box or watchmaker's kit.

Size: Very small; the largest on record was only just over a foot long. Easy to fit inside your hand luggage on long-haul flights.

Lifespan: Approximately five months; longer if they evolve.

Evolution: Female Burmy command a higher price than males, and this is because they are capable of evolving into three different forms, whereas males are confined to the more usual one. Which you choose is up to you; both have their advantages – or, to speak more accurately, both have their disadvantages. We are talking about Wormadam and Mothim, remember.

Breeding: Burmy cannot be bred, which leaves you in the tricky situation of having to breed a Wormadam with a Mothim. This is difficult, but not impossible; however, it is best left to the professionals.

Acquisition:
Easy. They are found in both cities and the countryside in at least eighteen countries; being adept at concealing themselves, they have spread well across the globe aboard ships and aeroplanes. If you want a really fine specimen, though, the American dealer Tunsford & Sons is an excellent choice.

*

Sandshrew

By far the most unintelligent Pokémon in this chapter, Sandshrew (Manis terravora) is the only species of pangolin to also qualify as a Pokémon by the standards of the World Pokézoology Confederation (WPC). It has been said of them that they are the only creatures dim enough to attempt to copulate with fire; while this may be something of an exaggeration, it is certainly accurate that they have trouble learning the difference between their Trainer and their opponent, or, in extreme cases, between their Trainer and meatloaf.

Why, then, have I recommended Sandshrew if it is so stupid? The answer is its tenacity, and its safety. Very few people manage to injure themselves with a Sandshrew – about the only way I can think of is to roll it into a ball and throw it at someone's head – and no matter how hard it finds the task, it will never give up trying to learn a move, if only because it lacks the brain to think of something else to do. These qualities make it an admirable first Pokémon for the Trainer, and the fact that it gains large claws and razor-edged plates when it evolves only sweetens the deal.

Owing to their lack of intellect, Sandshrew are often not aware of how badly injured they are in battle, so they do require constant monitoring to avoid their driving themselves to death. If you do this, though, you should have very few problems, especially as Sandshrew are surprisingly effective against most other so-called 'starter' Pokémon: their solid bodies and heedless mindset mean that they shrug off enemy hits without so much as flinching, and their counter-attacks are strong. They also possess a wide range of different attacks, always useful and uncommon among basic Pokémon. Close up, they defend themselves with their claws; when further away, they are renowned for their Poison Sting, which they use without apparently caring that they have no poison whatsoever to use for it.

Diet: Insects, predominantly; however, unlike the rest of the Pholidota family, Sandshrew does not care for ants or termites. They are happy with mealworms and well-minced dog food, for the most part – though for a really sleek specimen, I recommend vitamin tablets as well, as Sandshrew are prone to catching colds anywhere outside of the desert.

Housing: As its name suggests, Sandshrew is most at home in sand, and its house ought to reflect this. They don't need a lot of space (they often forget what their homes look like, so each part of it seems perpetually new to them) but the sand must be deep enough for them to burrow in, or they will become unhappy. The house must also be heated, or they will catch colds in their sleep; they are desert animals, and prefer the heat.

Size: Not too large. They average at a couple of feet long; there is supposed to be a gigantic twenty-foot Sandshrew that swims through the sands of the Gobi Desert and feeds on people like a crocodile, but this is probably not true – Sandshrew cannot swim.

Lifespan: About fifteen years, give or take a few months; they ought to retire from battling by the time they are twelve, or they are likely to drop dead due to heart failure. Of course, this may be exactly what you desire, in which case I know of an excellent therapist. They may live up to twenty years if they evolve.

Evolution: There is no reason not to. Once you have honed your skills on a Sandshrew, a Sandslash is the obvious next step: the same creature, but a little bigger, a little longer-lived and equipped with rather splendid claws.

Breeding: Tricky. Sandshrew find it very difficult to tell males and females apart, and tend to approach any potential mate very cautiously. If you really want to try, it is said that they breed best during times of drought; I tried not giving either of my Sandshrew any water for a month, but all this did was kill them, so this may not be true.

Acquisition: Pet stores around the world carry Sandshrew, but excellent specimens are to be had from Kanto's Pokémon dealerships. Alternatively, you could try the Mongolian sub-species, which can be purchased inexpensively in Ulan Bator, but I have heard that they are, if anything, more stupid than their Kantan relatives.

*

Axew

Mention the Dragon type, and the eyes of any red-blooded male light up immediately; they are exactly the sort of creature people think of when they think of Pokémon: large, fearsome and capable of both hacking a man to pieces and incinerating him with their breath. However, such creatures as these are not for the starting Trainer, and so we start with one of their smaller cousins, Axew (Acutasecuris draco minor).

Axew is as tame as dragons get: a small tusked creature no larger than the average Sandshrew, affectionate and relatively intelligent. The only drawback is the cost: rare even in their homeland of Unova, Axew cannot be obtained for less than a thousand dollars, although they do last a long time in the manner of dragons.

In battle, they are enthusiastic, if not always victorious, and will cheerfully rush in close to attack. This is not always the best course of action, but one can't fault their intentions. They have a tendency to put rather more faith in themselves than is strictly warranted, and often attempt to overpower vastly superior foes, such as Machamp. It is wise to hold them back, if you wish them to remain long in the realm of the living.
When their tusks break, they regrow slightly stronger than before; a common trick is to repeatedly take a hammer to them, in order to build up their strength for fighting. Some question the morality of this, but the Axew don't seem to mind any more than would anyone having a tooth pulled without anaesthetic; I personally don't see anything wrong with it.

Diet: It loves berries, surprisingly, and lots of them, too. It comes as a surprise to many that there are herbivorous dragons, but its entire evolutionary line is much fonder of fruit than of meat, although it will accept the latter if offered.

Housing: They are hardy creatures, coming from the wild mountainous regions of northern Unova, and easily house-trained; they can live with you like a dog, but they tend to become rather too attached to their owners if kept this way. Far better to keep them in the garden, where their enthusiastic tusk-fighting practice will keep them safe from predators – though you could create a wire pen to house them in if you were particularly worried.

Size: Similar to Sandshrew, but not so heavily built; Axew are the scampering rather than the plodding sort.

Lifespan: Around thirty years, but close to eighty if evolved once; if matured to Haxorus, they will probably outlast you with a maximum lifespan of one hundred and eighty years. Even for a Dragon-type, this is exceptional, and research is currently being undertaken to find out precisely what it is that confers such longevity upon them.

Evolution: A long and difficult process, which is why I recommend Axew for the beginner, who will be ill-equipped to deal with a six-foot-tall axe-mouthed dragon. They don't mature to Fraxure unless their body perceives that they are continually threatened, and so they must be battled with daily to even begin the process. After that, it takes even longer for them to become Haxorus; because of the strain that such long lives impose on their bodies, they are reluctant to evolve any further. It is true that during the last forty years of their lives or so, Haxorus become more retiring and unwilling to fight – but make no mistake, they are still very much capable of doing so.

Breeding: As far as I am aware, Axew have not been bred in captivity, which adds to their rarity.

Acquisition: Try the expert trappers in Unova; Thom Mitchum has a very good reputation as a dragoncatcher, as does Vanessa Ketanne. Do not, however, expect their services to come cheap: each expedition will take around a month, and they put themselves at considerable risk to find them.

*

Snubbull

Snubbull (Phobocanis incisivus) is famed for two things: its ferocious face and its charmingly affectionate nature. In truth, it is not an eager fighter, and mainly relies on its naturally frightening appearance to scare off its enemies. However, when it does engage in battle, it is very capable, and possesses a remarkably strong bite. I remember that I once saw a Snubbull bite clean through a man's shin; it was around that time that I decided I probably needed a change of career.

Once you get it used to battling, Snubbull is perfectly decent. It often intimidates its opponents – provided they are small enough to actually be intimidated by a two-foot pink bulldog – and this gives it an edge it needs, as the weight of its head and the many folds of skin that hang from its body mean it is slow to move. When it does land a hit, though, the enemy most certainly feels it: the same large head that makes it slow is a formidable weapon.

Outside of battle, Snubbull is very playful; it is fond of children (in the socially acceptable way, not the way that Lombre is fond of children) and will cheerfully submit to being hugged or pushed about. Unfortunately, children are not fond of it, or at least not of its terrifying face, and it will often spend all day lumbering after fleeing playmates; if nothing else, this at least proves the strength of its loyalty, misplaced though it may be.

Snubbull are prone to Rowan's Syndrome (see Appendix I) and it is advisable that you take them to a qualified Pokéveterinarian at least twice yearly to nip any potential disease in the bud.

Diet: The harder the food, the better – Snubbull delight in the power of their jaws, and take great pride in being able to crack open coconuts with their molars. As predators, however, it is wise to stick to a mainly meat-based diet, preferably with the bones still in it. Like children, Snubbull can become addicted to sweets, especially gobstoppers, which they crunch up whole; the resultant tooth decay compromises their biting power, so I advise strictly rationing any treats you choose to give them.

Housing: In the home, like a dog or a slave-child.

Size: Between two and three feet tall. Those from Johto tend to be taller.

Lifespan: About fourteen years, just long enough for you to get very attached to it before it dies.

Evolution: Inevitable. At around seven years of age, Snubbull begin to mature to Granbull; when kept as a pet, this is often the end of a loving relationship, because Granbull are far larger and more intimidating. This is a pity, because they are equally loving, despite now possessing jaws that crocodiles weep in envy for. For a Trainer, of course, evolution is a blessing, since the Pokémon are left more powerful and equally loyal.

Breeding: The sexes normally display little interest in each other, preferring to consort with humans than with their own kind; however, when a female comes into heat, males from miles around will flock towards her, very slowly.

Acquisition: Their popularity as house pets means that they are easy to get hold of; most pet stores carry them. Those obtained from their ancestral homeland, Johto, are usually a little taller and more solidly-built, though – always useful in a fight.

*

Ralts

The most 'friendly' of all the Psychic-type Pokémon, Ralts (Psychovorus familiaris) is always a firm favourite with beginners. When it forms a bond with a human, it does so for life; this is commonly mistaken for friendship, but this is not so: Ralts is a parasitic emotivore – that is to say, it attaches itself to a person and feeds on their emotions.

Do not let this put you off, however. Because they can only feed on positive feelings, and because their only source of them is you, they have a vested interest in keeping you alive and happy, and will do whatever they have to in order to ensure you stay that way. For the Trainer, of course, this means winning battles – and this, combined with their high intelligence, means they are very easy to train.

Physically very frail, Ralts are adept at wielding mental attacks from an early age, and their strength increases as the emotions of their Trainer (though a better word might be 'host') become more positive. When a Ralts begins to win, therefore, it starts off what is termed a positive feedback loop, where the Trainer's reaction furthers the Ralts' power, which increases the reaction, which increases the power, and so forth.

However, Ralts are very easy to injure, something that I've found Trainers don't always appreciate. If facing one in battle, 'accidentally' slaying it may prove a useful demoralising tactic to use against the opposing Trainer.

Diet: Not a problem; they feed themselves. If you find yourself suffering depression, however, I recommend having the Ralts removed. This can be done easily and inexpensively with a small-calibre handgun.

Housing: They will follow you everywhere; locking them away will not stop them, as they are adept at teleportation. Since they excrete nothing except mild synaesthesia, there should be no problem with them coming with you.

Size: They grow with the amount of emotive power they receive, but their height is capped at around three feet tall; at this point, they begin to evolve.

Lifespan: Uncertain; Ralts seem to live as long as their host, and perish immediately upon their death.

Evolution: This occurs when Ralts has stored enough energy to invest in transformation. Further evolution to Gardevoir occurs in the same way; however, if you use a Dawn Stone on it and turn it to a Gallade, you must be wary of the fact that the parasitic link is severed: Gallade actively hunts emotion, splitting open its prey's head with its blades and draining the feelings away directly.

Breeding: It does not seem to be possible. Both male and female Gardevoir occasionally duplicate themselves, but the mechanism by which they do this is unknown. Gallade display no sexual interest in them at all; instead, they seem to regard them as a particularly choice form of prey, packed as they are with emotions.

Acquisition: Hoenn is the only known place where Ralts and its relatives are naturally found. There have been some reported sightings in Sinnoh, but these must be regarded with a healthy dose of suspicion, for everyone knows that the Sinnish are not to be trusted.
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