How To Play Pokemon Scarlet & Violet As A Gym Leader
Dating all the way back to Pokemon Ruby, I have always used a native team for my first run of a Pokemon game. In fact, given that native teams are the only teams in Gen 1, the only time my first playthrough of a Pokemon game has featured non-native creatures is Pokemon Gold. What a native team means is only Pokemon who were first discovered in that generation. Only new Pokemon, basically. No old favourites, no meta teams, just six newbies. I usually try to get dual-types two, and no repeats, meaning 12 of the 18 types covered by my six-strong roster. That last part is more of an aim than a guarantee, but generally, this has been part of the fun in Pokemon and has helped me build creative new teams rather than sticking with the same old same old. Pokemon Scarlet, however, poses a problem to this tradition.
The last couple of years have been an odd time for Pokemon. While I have criticised the games for stagnating for so long, culminating in the largely uninspired transition to home console with the Switch, recently Pokemon has tried to turn a corner. It has overshot the distance, slipped on a puddle, and fallen to its knees a little, but still a corner has been turned. No game in Pokemon history has shown as much love and reverence for the 'mons as New Pokemon Snap, while Legends: Arceus took the game into the open world space for the first time. There were teething problems, sure, but Pokemon had finally put down the Everstone in order to evolve. Unfortunately, Tsareena was absent on all fronts.
Tsareena ranks among my favourite Pokemon. She's not always number one (like a favourite song, that honour is transient), but she's by far the most disrespected. Gardevoir, Gengar, Gyarados, Sylveon, and Absol all get a lot of love, but Tsareena gets left out in the cold. She wasn't present in either Snap or Legends, so she has missed out on this recent revival. She's back in Scarlet, so I can finally be reunited. But that means not running a native team this time around. While others at TheGamer have been impressed with Gen 9 so far, I think a few designs have missed the mark, and a couple of the leaks I've seen have been uninspired, so I'm not all-in on the whole native idea.
However, I still want some kind of purpose. Just catching whoever I want will mean a fairly random team of old favourites that I've used before. Thankfully, Sprigatito provides an answer. While Tsareena has booked her place on my team, I still need a starter. With Diamond & Pearl I ditched my starter for the first time ever, and while that was rewarding I still want at least one playthrough seeing out with my chosen pick. Right from the first reveal, I have known this pick would be Sprigatito. Much like Tsareena, Sprigatito is a Grass-type. With two Grass-types and one non-native already, my usual plan is in shambles. Luckily, I have a back-up plan – I am going to play Pokemon Scarlet as a gym leader.
Gym leaders have a very tough job. While we can rock up with all sorts of STAB counters and meta rosters, they're stuck to a single typing. Considering I've assigned two of my slots to the same type, and taking into account how common Grass-types are, I'm going to do the same thing. I'll still be aiming for dual types to help me out, and I might try to pull a fast one with some planty looking Poison-types, but overall I'm trying to get a fresh experience in Pokemon. After over a decade of native teams, maybe a new idea is just what I need. I owe it all to Tsareena, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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