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VG Competitive Basics: Effort Point Training 09/03/2012

Posted by Gryphon in Game Strategy, Pokemon Video Games.
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It’s that time again… back to school.

Before I can start talking about competitive battling in the Pokemon video games for our trainers getting ready for the Autumn Friendly and Regionals, I should first cover the basics on capturing, breeding, and training strong pokemon. The mechanics for this have differed in just about every generation since the first Pokemon versions, and will experience some more changes upon the release of Black 2 and White 2. For now, I’ll talk about a game mechanic which will remain roughly the same in the new versions as it was in Black and White.

Effort Point training involves manipulating a pokemon’s stats in such a way that it can hit harder with certain attacks or be better able to take getting hit. Whenever a pokemon earns experience points in a battle, it also earns a certain amount of hidden points, called Effort Points, depending on the species of pokemon it was fighting against. These points go toward a boost to one or more of your pokemon’s stats (Attack, Defense, Special Attack, etc.) and is the reason why a trained pokemon is generally stronger than a wild pokemon encountered at the same level. There is nothing on the pokemon’s stat screen that shows these points, and there is nothing in-game that tells you how many Effort Points your pokemon earned from a battle; the only Effort Point indicator in the game is a young girl who lives in a house in Opelucid City, just north of the Pokemon Center, who can tell you whether or not your pokemon has maxed out its Effort Points (your pokemon can only earn up to 510 Effort Points). In order to keep track of your pokemon’s earned Effort Points while in training, you will have to keep a tally. (Effort Point training is also called Effort Value training, though I will be sticking with “EP” to make it easier to talk about, since “EV” sounds like “Eevee” and may confuse some people.)

While pokemon earn Effort Points just through battling, the point of Effort Point training is to intentionally focus those points into one or two stats (usually Attack/Special Attack or Speed with a few in HP), in order to make the pokemon’s attacks more powerful and to give it a better chance of striking first. While a pokemon can earn up to 510 EPs total, it can only earn up to 255 EPs in a single stat, which is why people tend to focus on an offensive stat and the Speed stat. (There are a number of instances where you would want to put EPs toward defensive stats in order to build a “wall” or “tank” pokemon, but for this guide, we will explain how to raise a pokemon built for doing a lot of damage.) A pokemon with a beneficial nature, good stats, and a good EP bonus to its stats can be an extreme powerhouse in battle and a force to be reckoned with.

As an example for this guide, as well as a means of practicing this on your own, let’s put a Keldeo through Effort Point training.

The first thing we do is study Keldeo and find out what its best stats are, so that we can train those stats. (Click here to read Keldeo’s page on Bulbapedia. Scroll down to where it says “Base Stats” to see what its stats are.) Keldeo is very fast and has a huge Special Attack stat, so we will be focusing on increasing its Special Attack and Speed.

When a pokemon earns 4 Effort Points in a certain stat, it then gets a single stat point boost to that stat. We will start by training Keldeo’s Speed; the best pokemon to fight for Speed EPs is Basculin, which you can encounter through Surfing in most places in Unova (one of the most recommended places is the water route heading out west from the route that connects Nuvema Town and Accumula Town, where pokemon have low levels). Send out Keldeo to battle a wild Basculin. If it isn’t strong enough to defeat the Basculin by itself, switch it out for one of your stronger pokemon. It will still earn EPs since it earned experience from the battle. After the Basculin is defeated, your Keldeo will earn 2 Speed EPs from fighting the Basculin. Defeat another Basculin, and Keldeo will have 2 more Speed EPs, making 4 Speed EPs total. That will translate into an extra point in Keldeo’s Speed stat.

Keep track of the EPs Keldeo is earning by making a chart like the one below, and marking a tally for each EP Keldeo earns in a stat. I mark them in rows of 50 so that I can see how far along I am at a glance.

This EP training chart was for a Latios named Aeon Caen, which required similar training to a Keldeo. I marked a check when I was done training a stat.

The first thing you might have noticed from looking at this chart is that I only marked down 252 EPs for the two stats, when the max that a pokemon can earn in a stat is 255. The reason for this is that 255 isn’t divisible by 4, the number of points that are needed to earn a single stat boost. The highest number of EPs you can earn without wasting any points is 252. With 252 points in Special Attack and in Speed, I’m left with 6 EPs left over, 4 of which I put in HP to give it a small health boost. We trained against wild Litwick in Celestial Tower (north of Mistralton) to earn Special Attack EPs (Litwick gives 1 Special Attack EP per battle) and the HP EPs were earned by using a vitamin (which I will explain next).

The second thing you’re probably thinking is that, whoa, that’s a lot of tally marks. Since Litwick only offers 1 Special Attack EP point, it would seem that I had to fight 252 Litwicks to be able to max out Keldeo’s Special Attack stat. However, there are a number of items and tools available at your disposal, which you can use to increase the number of EPs your pokemon earns in battle, as well as give it free EPs without having to battle to earn them. Vitamins such as HP Up and Calcium, which go for 9500P each in Shopping Mall Nine, each give your pokemon 10 EPs in their respective stats. However, you can only give your pokemon 10 vitamins for a single stat (in the chart above, 100 of the tally marks under both Special Attack and Speed came from using vitamins). Another vitamin-like item is the Wing, such as the Genius Wing or the Muscle Wing, which can be found by walking under shadows of flying pokemon on Driftveil Drawbridge or Marvelous Bridge. These only offer 1 EP in their respective stats, but there is no limit on how many you can use.

Although, if you don’t happen to have any Wings on hand, the other 152 EPs for the stat will have to be earned through battling. This is where the tools come in; if you own one of the Power items, such as Power Anklet or Power Lens (you can earn points to buy these in the Battle Subway), they add 4 EPs of a certain stat to the total of EPs you earn from defeating a pokemon (so if Keldeo was wearing a Power Anklet when it fought and beat a Litwick, it would earn one Special Attack EP plus four Speed EPs; if it was holding a Power Lens instead, it would earn five Special Attack EPs). Another tool that increases EPs earned is Macho Brace, which multiplies the number of EPs earned by 2 (so that if Keldeo was holding one while fighting a Basculin, it would earn 4 Speed EPs instead of 2).

Finally, while it is not a tool or an item, there is still one more important EP multiplier known as the Pokerus; this harmless “virus” which your pokemon may randomly catch over the course of the game will cause any EPs your pokemon earns in battle to be doubled, after factoring in the bonuses it gets from held items. This means that if a Pokerus-infected Keldeo, holding a Power Anklet, fought a Basculin and defeated it, it would earn 12 total EPs at the end of the battle (2 from Basculin + 4 from Power Anklet = 6 x2 from Pokerus = 12). While there is a low chance for a pokemon to catch Pokerus in the game, it can be easily spread to other pokemon in your party by having the infected pokemon participate in battle; however, Pokerus’ “contagion” goes away overnight if the infected pokemon isn’t stored inside the computer, so be sure to keep one or two infected pokemon safe in the PC to be able to continue taking advantage of this handy EP multiplier. If you don’t yet have a pokemon with Pokerus, ask around at League! With so many ways to multiply your pokemon’s EP earnings, EP training isn’t very hard at all.

Now my Secret Sword attack will be more powerful! Yay!!

Another tool that can help you out is Exp. Share. Since it allows the pokemon that holds it to earn experience even though it doesn’t participate in battle, it also allows the pokemon to earn the base EPs that the wild pokemon or opponent’s pokemon gives. However, this cannot be multiplied through other held items nor with Pokerus.

Here is a list of some of the best pokemon to battle for EPs in Black/White and where to find them:

  • HP – Stunfisk and Palpitoad (2 EPs) – Icirrus City
  • Attack – Lillipup and Patrat (1 EP) – Route 1
  • Defense – Sewaddle and Venipede (1 EP) – Pinwheel Forest
  • Special Attack – Litwick and Elgyem (1 EP) – Celestial Tower
  • Special Defense – Frillish (1 EP) – Routes 17 and 18
  • Speed – Basculin (2 EPs) – Route 3

If you have any questions about Effort Point training, feel free to leave a comment!

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