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03: Team Building - Pokemon Emerald
At this point we have pretty much moved through the bulk of the kit, we have covered all of the basics, and we have advanced the story to the point where it actually has direction, so what we need to do now is concentrate upon our first baby-steps in building our Team and our Dex entries -- and a good place to start in that direction is to cover the Tall Grass patches that we have already passed through in the previous two sections, only this time as we have balls, rather than kill every Pokemon we encounter we should try to capture one of each as well!
Getting your Freebies at the Poke Mart
-- Poke Ball Rules --
The process of capturing a Pokemon is actually pretty simple -- you troll the Tall Grass until you flush one out, then you battle it. Your goal is to hurt it until you lower its health into the early yellow or red zone and then, using the Poke Balls, you try to capture it.
With any luck, and assuming that you have weakened it sufficiently, you should be able to capture it with ease, but there are some rules that you need to be aware of:
(1) Lower-level Pokemon (those under Level 7) can often be captured with a standard Poke Ball without needing to be damaged or given a state condition.
(2) Pokemon above Level 7 should always have their health reduced as low as you can before trying to capture them, in order to prevent yourself wasting balls in failed attempts.
(3) Balls that fail to capture a Pokemon are broken in the process and cannot be re-used.
(4) With high-level Pokemon, weakening should always be combined with a state condition such as sleep, frozen, or paralysis, as these state conditions can assist in the capture process.
(5) Burn and Poison are undesirable state conditions for use in capturing Pokemon because they continue to do damage over time. When you have lowered a Pokemons health into the red, these two conditions can incap it, which is an automatic fail and prevents capture.
(6) Pokemon that belong to other trainers -- such as those encountered in trainer battles -- can NOT be captured. Attempting to capture a Pokemon that belongs to another trainer will get you labeled as a thief. Who wants to be lumped into the same category as Team Rocket??
(7) The graphical indicator that appears on the ID bar for wild Pokemon that you battle to indicate when you have already captured one of that type does NOT indicate the sex of the Pokemon that you have captured. If you caught a male of that type, when you battle a female it will still show as captured even though you have not captured a female of that type. When hunting for breeding pairs you need to be aware of which sex you have, and which you still need.
Your first Wild Pokemon Capture
-- First Capture --
Right then, it is now time for us to go and capture our first Pokemon and start to build our team and our Dex. As there are sections of Tall Grass between Littleroot and Oldale, and as May has given us five balls, we will go ahead and capture a few on our way back to Oldale Town, but remember that we need to stop at the Poke Mart to purchase more Poke Balls when we get there.
In the first section of Tall Grass we can (and should) capture the following:
-- #261 Poochyena (C)
-- #265 Wurmple (C)
-- #263 Zigzagoon (R)
Once you have captured these three Pokemon, continue to Oldale Town and the Poke Mart, where we will re-supply our Poke Balls. Remember to ALWAYS purchase balls in lots of 10 so that you receive a free Premier Ball!
Now that we have some more Balls, head north onto Route 103, where we can capture the following Pokemon for our collection:
-- #261 Poochyena (C)
-- #278 Wingull (C)
-- #263 Zigzagoon (U)
If you ran out of Balls earlier and did not catch one of the two that are common to both Routes, go ahead and capture one now. Otherwise concentrate upon capturing a Wingull here.
When all is said and done, you should now have five Pokemon on your active team who will all be at different levels -- if you are up for it now, you can take your first adventuring break now and level them up. Our target is Level 8 for all of the Pokemon on our team -- but you may want to hold off on doing that until you have the full team, which you will in a bit. It is your call whether you level now or later...
-- Special Ability Notes --
Among the Pokemon that we have just added to our team is the Zigzagoon, a dog-like Pokemon that is extremely loyal, ferocious in its defense of its master, and perhaps even more interesting, imbued with a Special Ability called "Pickup" that allows it to find items on the ground after battles. Specifically it gives each Pokemon with that ability a 10% chance of finding an item on the ground following a battle and picking it up.
This is an important ability because it can be the source of items and wealth that will help to make your life ever so much easier on the long road to becoming a Pokemon Master, but only if you are shrewd about it!
The quality of the items is directly impacted by the level of the Pokemon with the ability -- for example if it is Level 4 and under it will pick up a lot of Potions -- which is a good thing, do not get me wrong -- but higher levels get things like X-Defend and X-Attack and the like, while the upper level range will often find Rare Candy and lumps of gold. Obviously you will want to level up your Pickup Team when you have the time, as the rewards for doing so are easy to see!
After you have obtained all of the Pokemon noted above, head back to the Tall Grass on Route 101 and capture five more Zigzagoons -- and store them on the bottom level of your A-Team box. These are the members of your Pickup Team. Whenever you feel like it, have some spare time, or need money or items, simply swap them in to your active team, and go trolling for items!
In no time at all your Pickup Team will be full of items! Just remember to stop every now and then and take the items that they find away from them, as they can only find one item at a time, and if they already have an item in their possession, they will not pick up any new items that they find!
-- The First of Many Leveling Pauses --
Now that you have obtained the Pokemon available on these Routes, and you have assembled your Pickup Team and stored it in your A-Team Box, if you have not already done so as suggested earlier, it is time to level up your team. Why? Good question!
The process of batch-leveling your team is something you had better get used to, because the reality is simple: you can progress far further and faster along the story route in this game than you can level. What that means in its most basic definition is that you can easily find yourself facing a team in a gym battle that is WAY out of your league if you simply keep rolling forward without actually preparing for these battles.
How do you prepare for the battles? By batch-leveling of course!
Your team at the moment consists of the five Pokemon noted above. Before we start batch-leveling, go ahead and step out of Oldale Town onto Route 102 now (we have not yet formally covered this Route, but we will soon -- for now do not worry about that).
Head onto the Tall Grass near the pond on this Route and capture a pair of Ralts (technically you only need one for your team and Dex, but shortly you will have the opportunity to do your first in-game trade, and for that you will need a spare Ralts!). You can also capture a Seedot and a Lotad if you like, and really the Lotad can be used in place of the Ralts for your team temporarily, that is your call, but the point of this is to assemble a full team of six Pokemon for the batch-leveling we are about to do!
With your team now full, head back to Oldale Town, which is a convenient place to do your first batch-leveling because the Poke Center is right there, making healing up so easy. Granted the wild Pokemon you will encounter are not high-level but slow and easy wins the race, mate.
At this point, your team should consist of the following:
-- #XXX Your Starter Pokemon
-- #261 Poochyena (C) Dark Type
-- #280 Ralts (R) Psychic Type
-- #278 Wingull (C) Water/Flying Type
-- #265 Wurmple (C) Bug Type
-- #263 Zigzagoon (U) Normal Type
You may notice above that I listed them by number and name, but this time I included their Type as well. There is a reason for that! Ideally your team members should all be different Types -- that way you have maximum flexibility for a given encounter, with the ability (hopefully) to switch to a Pokemon Type that is strong against whatever Type you are battling.
Some Pokemon -- the Wingull above for example -- are dual-Types, which is a good thing, and eventually your team will consist mostly of dualies, but for now the make-up of the team is good for what we are doing. In theory you could actually use what we have above to play through the entire game without much trouble!
Now is the time for you to batch-level your team to a minimum of Level 8. Higher would be better, but you can live with Level 8 for now... Be aware though that after we reach the next town and before the town after that we will need to raise the entire team to Level 13, so any extra Levels you pick up now are bonus!
Your first Pokemon Evolutionary Change
-- Evolution Solution --
When your Pokemon each reach a specific level, they will evolve, changing from one form to another. For most Pokemon, the evolutionary process involves three stages -- the starting stage, the intermediate stage, and the final evolved form. Often you can actually capture Pokemon in all of its different stages of evolution, but most trainers prefer to start with the first form and evolve them through the chain themselves because it gives you maximum control over what moves they learn via evolution and leveling.
Take Wurmple for example -- its intermediate stage is a Pokemon called Cascoon, which is clearly a cacoon-stage, so you can easily imagine what she will look like after the next evolutionary stage, which also happens to the the final stage. The important point here is that the Casoon now has all of the offensive and defensive moves that Wurmple had, plus the evolutionary move Harden.
If you had captured this Pokemon in its Cascoon stage of evolution, the ONLY move it would know is Harden, which is purely a defensive move, making it next to impossible for you to properly level it since it cannot do damage! Thus starting with the Wurmple stage is clearly a better approach.
-- And Onward We Level --
As you level up your team you can use several different tactics, either leveling each one at a time until you get them to the level you want, and then starting on the next, or simply level them by using each to fight until their health is too low to risk it, and then switching to the next, until you need to hit the Poke Center to heal them all (that is how I usually do it).
In this fashion you can quickly level up your team with everyone staying pretty much within one level of each other -- though that approach is not really as important now as it will be later in the game, it is still a good habit to get in to! Keeping level parity in your team is always a good idea but it will be very important later on, when you are facing much higher level Pokemon.
I know that level breaks are a pain -- and this is your first of many, so while it may suck, you really need to embrace the suck and remind yourself that you only have to do this once! Each time they level that is a level you will not have to level again :)
On Leveling Ralts: There are few Pokemon as troubling as Ralts when it comes to leveling them, as it only gains its first offensive move (Confusion) at Level 6, and the one you will have caught will be either Level 3 or Level 4. The best tactic here is to place it in the lead spot on your party, and each time you troll up a wild battle, immediately switch it out for a Pokemon that can actually fight. Doing this will earn Ralts half of the XP for the battle. While it is a slow method to level, it will work, and once you have them to Level 6 you can stop doing it.
Whoa! You are done already?! That was fast! Well, excellent! Now that you are done with the leveling you have essentially completed this Part of the Guide! Good on ya mate!
Before you continue on from here though, please visit the Poke Center in Oldale Town, heal up, and make sure that your PC storage is set to to the Incoming Box, since we will start to acquire Pokemon shortly that will be sent directly to the box from now on. With all of those ducks in a row, go ahead and save now, and then head for the exit on the West side of town for the next stage in our adventure!