By: Ashley Quirke
As someone who participates in competitive Pokémon a lot, I often get asked about Pokémon breeding. Why even bother? Does it really make a difference? What IS an IV anyways? Well, I’m hoping this article will help give you guys some insight into all that, as well as serve as a guide to get you started breeding your own Pokémon.
I’ll start with the whole “Does it make a difference?” thing. And the truth is, yeah, it really does. Perfect IV’s in at least 5/6 of your Pokémon’s stats is pretty much the norm for competitive play. By entering a competitive setting without Pokémon with perfect stats and an appropriate nature, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Let me put it this way. Imagine you’re in a competition to see who can cut the most apples in half in 20 seconds. Everyone else has really sharp steel knives and you have a plastic butter knife. Your knife can still compete, but simply isn’t as effective as the sharp steel knives, thus you are at a disadvantage from the get-go. Same with competitive Pokémon.
So what is an IV anyways? IV stands for Individual Value. It’s a number between 0 and 31. An IV is assigned to each of your Pokémon’s six stats – Hit Points, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed. A “Perfect IV” in a stat means that the IV value of that stat is 31. So, that’s all well and good, but what does this mean? Think of IVs as a Pokémon’s genetics. In the same way that people can breed dogs to look or act a certain way, we can breed our Pokémon to have a greater potential in certain stats. At level 100, each IV point adds exactly one point to its matching stat. For example, a Venusaur with 31 IVs in Defense will have a Defense stat that’s 31 points higher at level 100 than a Venusaur with 0 IVs in Defense. It really does make a difference!
Still with me? Good. Next we’ll talk about Natures. You might have noticed that since 3rd generation, each individual Pokémon is assigned a nature at random. Two Pokémon of the same species will not necessarily have the same nature. Maybe you have an Adamant Chespin, or a Quirky Latias. It’s cute to imagine your Pokémon with its own personality. I can picture the little Chespin in a battle against a fiery Charizard, determined not to give up despite its disadvantage! Lucky for us Pokémon breeders, natures serve another purpose besides giving our Pokémon personalities. They actually have an effect on your Pokémon’s stats. Most natures increase the base potential of one stat, while decreasing another. (There are 5 natures that do not have an effect on stats at all. These are called neutral natures). Take a look at this table for more information about natures.
Take the aforementioned Chespin and Latias for example. This Chespin has an Adamant Nature. If we check the table above, we can see that Pokémon with Adamant natures’ Attack stat is increased, and their Special Attack stat is decreased. This means Chespins physical attacks, like Tackle and Seed Bomb, will pack an extra punch, but its special attacks, like Mud Shot, will be a little underwhelming. Our Latias has a Quirky nature. Quirky is one of the neutral natures, meaning that our Latias’s stats are not affected by her nature (She’s still adorable though).
Ok, so to recap, so far we’ve learned that each Pokémon has a set of IV’s and a nature, and that both of these can affect a Pokémon’s stats. So how do we use this knowledge to make better Pokémon?
The answer is through breeding, and 6th gen games have made this part a breeze! It’s now much easier to breed competitive Pokémon than it was in previous generations. Mostly thanks to two incredibly useful items that we can make our Pokémon hold while they are in the daycare. These two items are the Everstone and the Destiny Knot.
I remember the first time I got an Everstone as a kid in Pokémon Silver. I was all like “Who the heck would ever NOT want their Pokémon to evolve? That would be dumb!” Well, luckily for us, the Everstone good for other things than preventing your poor Quilava from evolving. Any Pokémon holding this stone while being bred in the Daycare is guaranteed to pass on its nature to its offspring. This allows us to easily pass on appropriate natures from parent to offspring. Easy, right?
The second item leaves a little more to chance, but it’s still a must-have for any breeder. It’s the Destiny Knot. This item ensures that 5 IV values are passed from EITHER of the two parents to the offspring. This means the baby could get 2 IVs from Mom and 3 from Dad, 4 from Mom and 1 from Dad, or any variation in between. Now, this is fantastic when we have two parents with a bunch of perfect IVs, or even just the one for that matter. It speeds up the breeding process a lot. We still need to rely on luck a little bit though, and keep our fingers crossed that we get the right perfect IVs for the Pokémon that we’re breeding.
Okay. So now we got items down pat, and we understand the premise of IV’s. Let’s talk Egg Groups. Egg Groups determine what Pokémon can breed with each other. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same species! For example, a female Venusaur and a male Serperior can breed because they are both in the Grass Egg Group. It’s important to remember that the offspring of breeding two different Pokémon species WILL ALWAYS BE THE SAME SPECIES AS THE MOTHER. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve mixed this up. Take our Venusaur and Serperior for example. These parents will only hatch Bulbasaurs, as the female parent is a Venusaur. The only exception to this is ditto breeding.
It’s also important to note that some Pokémon can be in more than one egg group. Venusaur is a prime example. It is in both the Grass and Monster Egg Groups, so it can breed with any Pokémon in these two egg groups. Breeding between two species is also how egg moves get passed on. An Egg Move is a move that a Pokémon can only know by being the offspring of a parent Pokémon that knew the move when it was in the daycare. Let’s use our Venusaur and Serperior as an example again. Giga Drain is a great move for a competitive Venusaur to have, but it cannot learn it on its own. Giga Drain is an Egg Move for Venusaur, so our parent Venusaur will never know it, as neither of its parents knew it. Serperior, on the other hand, gets this move as at level 44. This is great for us, as we can now ensure our Bulbasaur offspring are equipped with this move from the get-go. All we have to do is make sure that Serperior knows Giga Drain when we put it in the daycare with Venusaur. The Bulbasaur offspring will all know Giga Drain. Easy as that! These offspring will also be able to pass down the move now that they know it. Bulbapedia is a great resource to find out what Egg Moves your Pokémon can learn.
Remember earlier I talked about ditto breeding? Well, having a ditto with 6 perfect IVs (also called a 6IV ditto) is not a necessity, but using one can make breeding a ton easier. Dittos are unique in that they can breed with almost any Pokémon, and having 6 perfect IVs means it passes on more perfect IVs to its offspring. Most of my breeding is done using a 6IV ditto and it speeds up the breeding process considerably.
One more thing I should mention is Hidden Ability breeding. Some Pokémon have abilities that can only be obtained in special circumstances, called Hidden Abilities. And these abilities are sometimes more desirable than a Pokémon’s normal ability. Take Talonflame for example. It’s Hidden Ability, Gale Wings, gives priority to Flying type moves, making it a formidable opponent. Pokémon in XY’s Friend Safari often have their hidden ability, as well as Pokémon in hordes. Passing down these abilities through breeding can be a bit of a challenge though. Ability capsules don’t work on Hidden Abilities, so we’re going to have to rely on knowledge and a little bit of luck. When breeding with ditto, there is an 80% chance that the non-ditto parent will pass on its ability to its offspring. When breeding 2 Pokémon in the same egg group, there’s an 80% chance the FEMALE will pass on its ability.
I know that’s a TON of information to take it, so here’s a quick summary of what we just learned:
- IV’s are points that increase Pokémon’s stats from birth
- Natures can increase or decrease a Pokémon’s stats
- Destiny Knot and Everstone are must-have breeding items
- Egg Groups Determine what Pokémon can breed/ pass on egg moves
- 6IV dittos are an IV breeder’s best friend
- Hidden Abilities can be passed down through breeding
I hope my guide is able to help get you started with breeding competitive Pokémon! It gets a lot easier once you get the hang of it. There are ways to optimize your Pokémon’s stats and moves post-breeding, but that’s information for another guide.