“Oh what bulls***!”
“COME ON” “Seriously???”
Any of that look familiar to you? Those are some of the more tame reactions to critical hits (aka “crits”), paralysis (“parahax”), scald or flamethrower burns, and other luck based events in Pokemon that have come to be known as “hax” that unfortunately run rampant among some Pokemon players. The most frequent place you’ll see these rantings is Pokemon Showdown, but other battling communities and even cartridge play is not immune to this childish and unnecessary behavior.
Simply put complaining about hax is an excuse, and if you’ve ever done anything for the purpose of getting better, you will know that making excuses only hurts yourself in your development. Plus, your perception to those who also engage in the community will probably be a bit tarnished.
I’m not saying a loss because of hax isn’t worth bemoaning, but it’s not worth flaming out on the internet or at a tournament over. It happens to the best of us; get over it, and move on to your next battle.
Conversely, a win via hax shouldn’t be celebrated over the top obnoxiously. Oh, your Mega Scizor’s bullet punch landed a crit and KO’d a Talonflame? Cool, you took a risk and were rewarded, but don’t act like you knew that was going to happen when any damage calculation will tell you in your position you were a dead duck.
I’m not saying you have to apologize for hax going your way (I never do and expect the same treatment from my opponents), but you make yourself look like a special kind of idiot when the critical hit lands and a KO that shouldn’t have happened is lauded as amazing skill. 99% of the time it isn’t.
There are a few ways to know a crit will happen, but that’s another article entirely.
Moreover, superior strategy and skills in battle will usually prevail over an inferior opponent, and those superior players often make luck-based plays as non-existent as possible in their strategies to win. This is incentive to get better. Doing things like learning metagame trends and sharpening battle skills will make you a better player, even when Hax goes against you. You also should be more able to handle a Hax filled match the better and more experienced you get.
For Pokemon, or any kind of competitive game to thrive the way it has for so long it must embrace some luck components to its game, no matter how much high level players may hate it. Luck is just as much a part (if not more) of the formula of a Pokemon battle as prep and double switches can be. If there was no luck, there would be no variety, no wild cards, no chaos. All battles would be straightforward and vanilla. It’s like a major league baseball game with no curve balls thrown during the game. Yes, it’s still baseball, but something is so obviously missing and it would make the game very different.
There are very few things in this world that from a competitive nature are completely devoid of luck, and pokemon is not one of them.
To help break up the rant and to give some more viewpoints here are some words from other members of our community on the topic of Hax.
Current Champion of PRL and Steel-type Gym Leader /u/eco_politiq: “As hard as we try to plan our teams, random chance events do occur and can cost us important matches. There’s no point being upset about it. It’s just what makes this game so fun at times… I love when random stuff happens but players ought to be careful not to conflate skill with chance events.”
In my gym (Psychic) I had the chance to use a Hax-based strategy with a paraflinch Jirachi, the challenger, /u/TheKenpoFreak, was able to beat it after some damage had been done with a M-Medicham High Jump Kick (another chance for Hax) through said paraflinches.
I asked them about their thoughts on that particular aspect of our battle: “When your Jirachi was doing his thing mid game, I won’t lie, I was bummed and frustrated. But I understand it is a tactic and has to be set up, it doesn’t just “happen”… I feel like [going against] paraflinching is fighting a losing battle. Paralyzing first so you have a 25% chance of not being able to move in conjunction with lowering its speed, with using flinching moves after that I feel is really hard to counter. The percentages and probability rates are just not in your favor and at that point luck is taken out of the equation and it’s more like you need a Hail Mary in most cases to put a stop to it.”
Effectively using and countering hax-based pokemon will come in another piece.
Former champion and current Dark-type Gym Leader /u/ILikePizza42: “…this game is all about 10%-30% chances of things happening. It’s frustrating when something very unlikely to happen happens, but the game was meant to be played like that and it makes comeback wins that much more likely and exciting. My opinion is that hax is natural and it will happen, both to you and your opponent.”
Hopefully you can take some pieces of wisdom out of this blog, the big one being hax is just a fact of life for Pokemon players no matter the skill level. While it’s true many high level players will make luck as little a variable in their battles as they can, it’s still a healthy and necessary part of the game that we’ve all come to know and love.