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Global Covid lockdown won't end - it's the new endless war like the "War on Terror"
The Powers That Be love what is happening as it benefits them in so many ways. The isolation: People are being isolated from each other - friends, family, and everyone else. The only comforts that many have is their mobile phone or computer. The internet these devices are connected to are mostly being used in the heavily censored "public square" social media that was built originally by freedom loving individuals and free expression. (Facebook didn't become so big because of how it's run now, but because it let people do what they wanted to). It's TV MSM v2.0 for billions who don't use the internet beyond these gatekeeper platforms. Many young people have only had experience with in real life social interactions through school or collage and the internet is becoming an extension of those rules they have. It's conditioning that what happens in school, is real life; as the online world is now feeling like an extension of 2010+ era public school environments and rules. The fact we have so many people in their 20's that still act/think as they did in school is a startling reflection of this. They consume without any counter of creativity or critical thought, just as public school enforces. Death of physical small businesses: Without even having to look up statistics, it's obvious that small businesses with dependent physical locations and patrons are hit the worst in the private sector and the Big Corporations with the reserves and bailouts are doing fine/better. With the results of further job losses in the private sector, more people are turning to Government jobs, Big Corporations (which at this point are unofficial extensions of the Government; lobbying alone speaks to that, plus regulations that prevent the little guy from ever competing with the big. Go ahead and try to start your own ISP) or... UBI: People are now overwhelmingly supporting UBI due to the above and who can blame them? Nobody should lose their place of living or starve because of this nonsense. UBI acceptance is only further enabled because of limitations placed on places of charity (at least the few left that actually do something locally) that can't help anymore due to... Prevention of gatherings of Spiritual and Religious Groups: This ties in with the isolation. For many, their local place of religious/spiritual worship was the only place they had fellowship and community bonding. You're going to see lockdown continue due to "second wave" and so on, endless like the "War on Terror." The invisible enemy will never go away. The new waves will come from places such as rural and poor places where people suffer from malnutrition and are vulnerable to everything more so than healthy individuals who can afford to eat and supplement healthy items. Personally grew up in absolute poverty and didn't even know what an amino acid was or that raw honey was an excellent source of B vitamins that help your body and brain heal, before moving to a big city and proper health facilities. In the rural and poorer areas, medical facilities act like it's normal that people have muscle atrophy and constant body pains/migraines, etc. (many who have never lived or didn't grow up in these places are sheltered from this). Malnutrition is a slow genocide of the poor that hardly anyone talks about; and with Covid, it's being weaponized and politicized - "see those stupid people in the country are dying because they don't use masks. Don't question the fact they died because of bad health in general that resulted in that heart attack." Individuality is being removed, tribalism accelerates over masks: Masks take away individuality to be a sea of half-faces. This has sprung into the creation of another dividing social war - teams of mask vs no mask. You better bet that it will be further politicized that "not wearing a mask is a Far-Right belief;" even though people from all political/a-political backgrounds have their individual views on the practice. In Washington state for example, it is now "illegal" for businesses to do business with anyone not wearing a mask. So we can't buy or sell without a mark, I mean mask (Christians will be flipping over this one, as the argument could be made that it's conditioning for the mark of the beast)? The end of physical money: Physical money isn't clean so it is being denied at many places. Literal legal tender denied in favor of digital transactions and a push for the digital dollar. There are articles popping up now speaking how China is beating the USA in digital crypto adaptation and that we must have a digital dollar to keep up. Why it's not further emphasized that kids of today are seeing all of this as normal. Anyone born in Gen Z (1996 to 2011) and Gen A (2011 to current) has little to no idea of what life was like pre-9/11, before all the massive changes such as public admittance of government spying domestically on citizens, NDAA, PATRIOT Act, TSA, DHS, etc. and authoritative tyranny has been all they have ever known. When the last of the Baby Boomers check out in the 2030's (the ones who helped enable/vote for the things that corrupted what we have today), only Gen-X, Elder Millennials and some beyond that will be able to remember what life was like before the internet, before all the oppressive big government/corporations and the laws/regulations that rule the land of today. They will become the new villians "of progress" and their "old ways/ideas" are going to be "holding us all back." Tim Pool (the former Vice Journalist) recently spoke about how he hasn't changed since 2013 as a Liberal and is now considered by some as "Right" because the Overton Window has shifted so much from the "Left" side (similarly and oddly, but perhaps not that odd, NeoCons are being considered acceptable because "they're not Trump." Politics have truly become Hollywood v2.0 after 2016 that both sides have been duped into). Because the young have no mentorship at home or from those older than them (they're either working too much and are too exhausted to or just don't care), the only mentor they have is the hive of approved speech/thought online. It has become a conditioning like never before seen with "you have to be like this and obey" conditioning from school to the digital public square - all being portrayed as "real life." No wonder kids of today think the internet is the same as real life - it's all they know; this is terrifying and even more terrifying is barely anyone speaks of this nightmare. Edit: Typos
FIRE and Kids – The cost of raising children in Australia
This post has been inspired by this recent podcast featuring three of the biggest names in the Aussie FIRE blogging community, and the follow on discussions in the Aussie Firebug Facebook group about how much it costs to raise kids in Australia. As all three acknowledge they don’t have kids so it’s not something they really have any experience with. As someone who has two young kids I thought it would be useful to write about it from my perspective. Obviously my situation isn’t the same as everyone else’s, there are plenty of people who would be horrified with how much we’ve spent, and others who would wonder how we manage to spend so little. Everyone’s situation is different, so what works for my family wouldn’t necessarily work or others. My oldest child has only just started school this year so I can’t really speak from experience beyond the 0-5yo age range, but I’ll talk through some of the typical costs, what we have and haven’t spent money on so far, and what we’re anticipating in the future. The costs people actually talk about The first two things that almost always come up when people start talking about the cost of babies are prams and carseats. Yes, you can spend a lot of money on these things if you want to, prams in particular. From a quick look at Baby Bunting the most expensive pram there is nearly 3 thousand dollars, and I’m betting that with a few accessories you can easily get over that mark. No, you do not need to spend that much on a pram. Yes you can probably pick one up on the cheap from Kmart or Target etc for well under a hundred bucks, but it’s probably not going to be as sturdy or hold much of the gear you take with you. Happily a pram is also the sort of thing where you can pretty easily and safely pick one up secondhand or get a hand me down from someone else. We bought a Babyzen Yoyo, which is basically a small sized pram although it still has enough storage room for us. It folds up so that you can take it on a plane as carry on luggage, is quite light, extremely maneuverable and very sturdy. I’ve taken it running plenty of times, it’s even got a Parkrun PB of 22:06! This thing is absolutely gold. Unfortunately it’s priced as though it’s made of it as well. There wasn’t an option to get one second hand because it had only just been released so we had to pay full whack. I think we spent over a thousand dollars on it including all the accessories and the lie flat and sit up seats etc. It was worth every cent. It’s been going for 5 years and 2 kids and is still in great shape, we’ve never had a problem with it at all. My wife tells me it is one of the best things I have ever bought her, although we both use it obviously. And at the end of the day a one off cost of $1,000 for us as a family is going to have basically zero impact on when we hit FIRE. Plugging the numbers into a compound interest calculator and using 7% annual return over 30 years I miss out on $8,000, which is about a month worth of returns on my target portfolio. I can live with delaying retirement one month for about 5 cumulative years of having a really good pram that works great for us. Similarly you can spend a fair chunk of money on car seats. This is one of those things that I wouldn’t want to get second hand because you can’t see if they’ve been broken or not and safety is a huge priority for us and presumably everyone else. Happily car seats don’t tend to cost that much, you can pick one up for a couple hundred bucks or less pretty easily. If you do that it tends to be one for a much shorter age range, say 0-2yrs whereas I think you can get ones which will take your kid from 0-8 but they cost a lot more. In any case per kid you’re probably looking at a thousand bucks total, and this could easily be a lot less. Again it’s not going to make any appreciable different to us reaching FIRE. So as easy as it is to point at this sort of stuff as being ridiculously expensive and over priced etc, it’s really not going to make much of a difference to most people. Sure you don’t want to spend any more money than you have to, but you also want to make sure you’re getting something that works for you. The other one off costs There are also a bunch of one off costs for babies and young kids like cots, beds, mattresses, baby carriers etc. From what I’ve been told you want to buy a baby mattress new, but that’s only about a hundred bucks at Target, potentially cheaper elsewhere. We have an Ikea cot which cost about the same, you could easily get one second hand or likely for free just by asking around your friends who will probably be delighted to get it out of their house. Some people do co-sleeping in which case you don’t need the cot and mattress although you may like to kid yourself that your baby will actually sleep in their own bed, maybe even through the night. It’s nice to pretend sometimes! As kids get older you’ll need a proper bed for them, again you can probably pick this up second hand pretty cheap and a mattress can be easily had for a couple hundred bucks. So none of these things are really going to have much of an impact so long as you’re a decent saver already. The big costs you see When you don’t have kids it can be great to live in a studio flat or one bedroom apartment in the inner city close to all the bars and restaurants and all the rest of it. You can stay in your local area and have plenty to keep you entertained, there is probably a supermarket nearby and plenty of public transport so you may not need a car either. Once you have kids, it’s likely going to be a different story as your priorities change. It may be that you’re happy renting with kids, but lots of people tend to prioritise stability and security when they have kids and that means owning your own home in most cases. I’m not saying everyone will want this, but a lot of people will. So now that you have kids you almost certainly want a second bedroom and if you’re planning on having more kids maybe a third or fourth etc. Obviously kids can share bedrooms for a while at least but sooner or later they will probably want their own space, as will you. You’ll also be wanting parks with playgrounds nearby and somewhere you can easily take your kids for a walk or kick a football around, ideally in a good school district which can add a couple hundred thousand dollars to the cost all by itself if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne. And if you want to live somewhere cheaper but send the kids to a good private school, well that can cost anywhere from the low thousands to multiple tens of thousands per year. Similarly if you didn’t have a car before, you will very likely want one now. I’ve mentioned before that we drive a base model Corolla which works just fine for us so far, but you’re still probably looking at $20k plus if you buy one new, mid teens if you want one used. If you want an SUV or a luxury model car, be prepared to fork out a lot more. In the same vein if you were previously going on lots of holidays and plan to keep doing so, well you now have at least one more plane ticket to buy, might need a bigger hotel room etc. As I talked about in this post about big ticket items, that all comes at a real cost. We bought land and built a house, so I can say that we spent roughly $100,000 more on that than we would have otherwise. The ongoing costs There are also a bunch of ongoing costs for kids as well. They need to be fed, they need clothes and shoes, they need medicine, and a bunch of other stuff that costs money. I wrote here about a bunch of things that we do to keep costs down, but the reality is that you still have to fork over a decent chunk of change. On top of all that contrary to what you might have been told public school is not free, there are a bunch of things that you have to chip in for here as well. We’re not at the stage that we’re forking out a fortune in extra utility bills etc but we certainly use the washing machine a lot more than we would if we didn’t have kids, there are extra lights and tvs etc on so there are extra costs there as well. There are also a bunch of extra items that you don’t really need to spend, but probably will. For us this includes stuff like swimming lessons, some sports like AusKick (AFL) and Junior Blasters (cricket), occasionally taking them to a theme park or zoo etc. They also get birthday and Christmas presents, and if they get invited to other kids parties they take a store bought gift with them. The above is about what I think our 5yo costs us at the moment based on our spending, our 2yo is probably about two thirds of that due mostly to her not eating as much and not getting swimming lessons yet, as well as not being in school or doing sports. I’ve left the holiday line blank because this is hugely variable. Last year we did a trip to the UK and it probably cost us about $3,000 extra between the two of them, next time it will be another couple thousand dollars more because the youngest one will need her own seat rather being on someone’s lap for the flights. So our spending for our eldest is about two thirds of the costs quoted in this article for a 6yo girl, I would assume that apart from a boy maybe eating a bit more the costs should be fairly similar. The main difference compared to our costs seem to be education and transport. Also, it was somewhat shocking to me just how expensive swimming lessons are! This is actually at our local council aquatic centre and is the cheapest in town. We do get to use the pool whenever we want, but that only tends to be once or twice a week at most. At least the lessons will hopefully only be for a few years for each child, although after that we may be forking out for something else instead. The hidden cost of kids The biggest cost is often actually one that doesn’t show up as an expense, the opportunity cost of one parent giving up paid employment entirely for a while or doing part time hours (I’ve used the phrase giving up paid employment here because looking after kids and a house is definitely work!). If we say that you’re giving up a full time paid job that’s at minimum wage of roughly $20 an hour for 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, then that’s $38,400 a year ($33,605 after tax and medicare levy) that the family is giving up for however long this goes on for. If you’d otherwise be earning more than that, then the opportunity cost each year is even higher. On top of that there is the hit to your career and future earnings, because those are definitely going to be impacted as well. If you’ve got two kids that are separated by two or three years and you as a family want a parent at home until they go to school, well that’s 7 or 8 years of missing out on that money which works out as around $250k based on a full time minimum wage job. I’m pretty hopeful that my wife would be earning more than minimum wage as well so for us it’s even more than that. On the plus side, she gets to spend more time with the kids although that probably feels like a mixed blessing some of the time! Alternatively if both parents want to keep working then there will likely be childcare costs for the first 4 or 5 years and then before and after school care, as well as missing out on spending time with their kids. Because we haven’t gone down this route I don’t know exactly how much it costs, I do hear plenty of stories about it being $100 a day minimum around where I live and it’s a lot more in capital cities. There are subsidies available for this, but you can pretty easily be spending tens of thousands each year on childcare while they’re young and then once they’re old enough before and after school care. You may be lucky enough to have grandparents or other family nearby that are happy to help out with this if they live nearby, but that won’t apply to everyone and it’s unlikely to reduce the cost entirely. The costs that are yet to come At the moment our kids are still young and fairly inexpensive. Between the two of them they tend to eat roughly what a grown adult eats, but from what I’ve been told that will change fairly dramatically as they get older. They’ll need new clothes more frequently, more shoes, potentially play more sports, go on more school excursions, you get the idea. Education could be another factor. There is a public high school that will be built in the next few years quite close by, and assuming that it’s decent our kids will likely be going there. But if it’s not, then we’ll have to look into private schools which can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. There will be extra curricular stuff as well. Given my wife and I are both horrible at music it seems unlikely that our kids will be doing extra lessons there, but there are plenty of other areas like sport or extra educational activities that we’d be considering. I know a few parents who have kids who are in elite sports programs (as in regional or state teams) and the costs here can very quickly add up, likewise if extra education is needed or wanted then that’ll be an extra expense. Government and other assistance I know that depending on your circumstances that there can be government assistance in the form of Family Tax Benefit, childcare subsidy and possibly other programs as well. We don’t get any of these which is fine, we don’t need them and they are presumably meant to be for those who do. If you’re not sure if you should be getting any of these then Centrelink does have this payment finder. We did get the one day a week Kinder program for 3yos and 3 days a week Kinder program for 4yos, although these both also came with costs of roughly $1,500 a year so it actually cost us money, again this is fine, just a reminder that it isn’t actually free. Depending on your employer you may also be able to get parental leave for a while, and there is a minimum payment which they have to make so long as you’ve met some requirements. Some employers may also have some continuing support with subsidised childcare and the like. None of this was applicable to our situation but at least some of it will likely be available for others. So what’s the bottom line? For us the biggest actual one off cost so far has been the bigger house and land that we purchased because we wanted our kids to be able to have plenty of space inside and outside the house. That cost about a hundred thousand dollars more than we would have paid if it were just the two of us. All the other stuff like a pram, car seats, cots/beds, mattresses and all the rest of it have been maybe $5,000 total, which is tiny by comparison. The opportunity cost has been bigger than this though. When we had our first child when we were in Hong Kong my wife wasn’t working much anyway as there just weren’t that many jobs she could do and my wage easily supported both of us so she was doing some very casual part time work and so not doing that work afterwards didn’t impact us much. In Australia though she probably would have been earning at least $40,000 a year after tax, so we’ve foregone almost $200,000 on an after tax basis there. Which as I’m sure you can imagine has a pretty big impact on when we will hit FIRE, particularly given we’ve got another few years or her not being in paid employment at all and then likely only working part time after that. So I would guess we’ll be looking at forgone earnings of at least $500,000 by the time all is said and done, and it could quite easily be a lot more. The actual ongoing costs of the kids so far haven’t been too bad. Between the two of them it’s about $8,000 a year at the moment, although we would anticipate that this will go up a fair bit over time as they start eating more and getting into more extra curricular activities. I get that this is spending that isn’t a necessity, but do I really want my kids to miss out on a bunch of fun stuff so that I can retire a year or two earlier? No, no I do not. So far the total costs look something like this. You can see that by far the biggest cost has been the earnings that we’ve missed out on because my wife has been at home looking after the kids and doing the household stuff (yes I do some of it because I think it’s important that we share the jobs and to role model stuff for the kids, but the reality is that she is at home a lot more than I am and does more of it). Buying a bigger house and land is next, and the actual costs of feeding and clothing and all the other one off stuff for the kids is a tiny proportion of the actual cost. All up I’m hopeful that we can keep the ongoing costs to somewhere between $125k and $150k per child from birth through to age 18, although if private school is necessary then that will push up the costs a fair bit. This is less than half of what this article suggests, so although it sounds like a lot of money it’s actually fairly frugal by comparison. To put it in perspective, it’s basically spending about 7 or 8 grand a year on each child. There are plenty of people out there who spend more than that on food alone, let alone the rest of their living expenses. As I said earlier travel costs are on top of this, and this can increase the costs quite a lot! Travel is a huge part of the reason we’re pursuing HIFIRE, and we want to be taking the kids on plenty of holidays while they’re growing up. That’s obviously discretionary spending to a large extent, but we do have close family living overseas who we want to see every couple of years or so, and it’s not fair to expect them to always be the ones travelling. I would guess that we’ll be looking at about $50k per kid in travel costs by the time they turn 18. That’s about 3 grand a year, which doesn’t sound wrong based on the cost of international travel. It may be less than that which would be great, but could also be a fair bit more. So all up for the two kids we’re looking at about a million dollars from birth to age 18. About half of that is the foregone wages from not working, which is by far the biggest impact. The actual cost of the kids is about another 30%, then travel is 10%, another 10% for the bigger house and land. And then right at the end is less than 1% for the one off stuff like prams and baby seats and cots etc. How could we spend less? Obviously there are other things we could be doing instead to keep the cost down. The biggest expense is the wages that aren’t being earned because my wife is looking after the kids and the household stuff. We could have chosen to have her work and instead pay for childcare and after school care etc. If we did though then she wouldn’t get to spend as much time with the kids (which she tells would be welcome some of the time!) and there would be a lot more house work and shopping that would need to be done after work or on weekends for both of us, we’d potentially eat out more often as it’d be more of a hassle cooking meals each night, as well as a bunch of other tradeoffs. So having her stay at home was our preferred method, and thankfully we’re in the financial position where we can afford to do it that way. Other people make different choices, or they’re unfortunately not in a position to make a choice, they need both partners working or if they’re a single parent have to do it this way. We could have also gone with a smaller house and less of a backyard. I shared a bedroom with my brother for part of our childhood and we both managed fine. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly doable, and we could have saved a lot of money by having a smaller house. Again we chose not to because we wanted a bigger house and a decent sized backyard for them to be able to run around in and we can afford it. We don’t have to travel, although it’d be a bit rough expecting family to travel overseas to see us every year or two and then not reciprocating. Still, that would save a fair amount of money. It’s pretty hard to say how things will work out with the actual costs of raising the kids. I know roughly what we’ve spent so far, but it’s pretty difficult to know what we’ll be spending in future as they get older. They’re likely to be eating a fair bit more food, s they grow they’ll need new clothes and shoes, they’ll presumably be playing sport and doing other extra curricular stuff which will all cost money. $150k per kid from 0 to 18 seems like it’s a lot less than what it costs most people, but then we already live a fair bit more cheaply than most others so maybe it’s about right. At the end of the day we’re happy with the choices that we’ve made so far, but there has certainly been some room to have spent less money than what we have, or to have had more money coming in through both of us being in paid employment. Obviously it has an impact on when we will hit our FIRE number, but I’d rather take a little bit longer to get there than to make different tradeoffs along the way. Have you got kids or are thinking about having them? How do you think it will impact on your FIRE journey? Original post with pretty charts, pictures, tables etc is here.
Nifty Or Thrifty: Premier Cup (PvP Meta/Budget Review)
It's me, that PvP article guy again! I've been writing the "Nifty Or Thrifty" article series for a long time--it's actually the series that got me started, 150ish PvP articles ago, way back in February 2019--but I believe this is the first time it's shown up here on The Road. So, by means of introduction, the "Nifty Or Thrifty" series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for upcoming Cup formats--Premier Cup, in this case, now less than two weeks away!--particularly focused on Pokémon where you can save yourself some stardust. Normally I write this for Great League, where things do not often have to be maxed out, but of course here we're talking Master League, so yeah, everything will be maxed. Therefore I will spend extra time on those with cheaper costs for adding a second charge move, as it's really the ONLY place where we can hope to get "thrifty". Because for those on a stardust budget--and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future--it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps instead channel our inner scrooge? We've got a lot to cover, so let's not waste any more time. Here we go, organized by Pokémon with the cheapest cost for adding a second move and moving on through from there. (Do note that most of the linked simulation results below assume maxed out, 15-15-15 IV Pokémon on both sides of the equation. Your mileage obviously may vary depending on IVs on either side of a particular matchup, so watch out for the close matchups especially... a score of 500 is a tie, below is a loss, and above is a win. The closer the number is to 500, the closer the result!)
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
SWAMPERT Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake/Sludge Wave Likely the most common "cheap" Pokémon you'll see in the Cup, and the reason is simple: Swampert is a big player, and holds one of the best records against the core meta. The so-called "Mud Boys" (WateGround Pokémon) famously have only one weakness--a double one to Grass--and resistances to Steel, Electric, Fire, Poison, and Rock moves (all very relevant in Master League), and therefore can run absolutely rampant against unprepared teams. Swampy is the only one that has the stats/CP to play with the big boys. While it has no great answers for two thirds of the "axis of evil" of Premier Cup (Dragonite, Togekiss, and Metagross), Swampert abuses Metagross, as well as other Steels, Electrics, Fires, and Grounds that are likely to appear, and can even stand toe to toe with things like Machamp and Gardevoir and simply outslug them. And while Flyers like Dragonite and Togekiss evade it, Swampy can at least make Togekiss play honest if it's packing Sludge Wave (and usually has time to fire off two of them, so no baiting necessary). Wave is a little risky though, as Swampert barely beats Metagross without the generally preferred Earthquake... Hydro Cannon often gets the job done against most opponents, and does against Gross, but Earthquake is a great finisher against Gross (that's a difference of well over 100 HP!) and others like Snorlax and can OHKO things like Magnezone and Electivire. And again, the second move is only 10,000 dust... you've already invested enough to max out your Swampert, so what's another 10k? Swampert is the textbook definition of "getting the bang for your buck" in Premier. EMPOLEON Waterfall | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Flash Cannon/Blizzard Empie can do your standard Water things, walloping Fires and Ices (Water resists Ice, but not the other way around!) and Steels and Grounds, which a smattering of other Water types can all handle as well. But Empoleon has something other Waters don't: a Steel subtyping. That means it resists Charm and can therefore beat Togekiss and Gardevoir, which is very handy and puts it a cut above the vast majority of other Water types that can play at this level. And it really does all that with just Hydro Cannon... Flash Cannon or Blizzard SHOULD be added, especially being so cheap to do so, but their applications will be more for shieldless scenarios. GYARADOS Waterfall/Dragon Breath | Crunch & Hydro Pump So everybody already knows that Gary is a player in Ultra and Master League, right? And Dragon Breath is the way to roll, right? Well, strictly by the overall numbers, yes, that looks like the better move than Waterfall. But I'm here surprising even myself by actually recommending you give strong consideration to Waterfall instead. Why? Because it seems better against the core meta--the Pokémon you are most likely to face--than does Dragon Breath. Waterfall wins all the same matchups there that Dragon Breath does--and usually with more remaining HP--and adds on wins against Rhyperior, Snorlax, and Gengar. I know, I've been convinced Breath is the move to go with in PvP too, but with the pool excluding Legendaries and Mythicals, Waterfall seems to pull ahead. May the Fast TMs be ever in your favor. TORTERRA Razor Leaf | Sand Tomb & Frenzy Plantᴸ/Stone Edge If you have played PvP for any amount of time, you have surely run across a Razor Leafer at some point. It is an extremely punishing fast move that often tears things apart without needing to trouble itself with charge moves... Razor Leafers tend to laugh at shields. Most don't get big enough for Master League though... but Torterra does. It has the CP, bulk, and typing that allows it to hang in there and earned it my first ever Master League spotlight article. And there is one charge move it has that comes frequently enough that it does make an impact: Sand Tomb. It is very nasty here, as it lowers the Defense of the opposing mon--even if shielded!--and makes subsequent Razor Leafs all the more deadly, typically making each one deal 3-4 more damage, and that adds up FAST. That makes "Torterror" a major force in Premier, absolutely obliterating things weak to Grass, but also Electrics (with its Grass/Ground typing--the only such Pokémon in the game, by the way--it TRIPLE resists Electric damage) and other relevant things like Snorlax, Gardevoir, and Machamp. SCEPTILE Bullet Seed | Earthquake & Leaf Blade I'll keep this one simple: it's all about that Earthquake. If Sceptile is able to bait a shield with Leaf Blade (tied for cheapest move in PvP and highest damage output of any 35-energy move, at 70 damage a pop!) and then land a Quake, it does some very nice things. If it doesn't... well, at least it can still shred a few things with Blades, or just forgo baiting and double Earthquake the Electrics. You get Rhyperior and Swampert and such ether way, which is nice. This is more of a high risk/high reward option, I admit, but if you're comfortable with using Sceptile in the lower leagues, yeah, you may like it here too. I did look at other Grass starters, but they just struggle up at this level. VENUSAUR and MEGANIUM are the most promising, each doing normal Grass stuff (Rhyp, Swamp, etc.) and Venu having a small anti-Charm, anti-Fighting niche and Meg Earthquaking Electrics, but they just can't really do anything beyond that. Too bad. TYPHLOSION Shadow Claw | Blast Burnᴸ & Solar Beam/Overheat With obvious applications against things like Metagross (and other Steel), Fairies, and Ices, Fire types are an intriguing option in Premier, but suffer from not having a lot of (non-Legendary) members that crest 3000 CP. Three of the best ones--all starters--don't even get that high. Typhlosion is probably the best of those three thanks to Shadow Claw, which is very widely unresisted here and a good move on top of that. It does all the things I mentioned before (beating Steel, Fairies, Ice, and of course other things like Grass), plus has advantages over other Fires like Charizard and just outdamages others like Conkeldurr. And don't forget the ever-present threat of Solar Beam which can win Typh things that NO Fire type has any right to, or at least force shields against things that have little to fear from other Fires. CHARIZARD Fire Spin/Air Slash/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ Charizard doesn't have Shadow Claw, but has its own advantages. It's typically run with Fire Spin, but Legacy Wing Attack and even Air Slash have legit play here and may be even better than Spin, giving Charizard wins against other Fire types while still holding up against the Steels you'd most want Fire Spin for and really only giving up a barely there win over Snorlax and holding all other wins, usually with about the same remaining HP too. (And the energy gain of Wing Attack in particular gives Zard its best chance of beating Glaceon...believe it or not, even super effective Fire Spin is arguably less reliable.) Charizard is a solid option this time, and with no Dialgas or Melmetals or the like in sight, I think it's actually with a Flying fast move this go-round. BLAZIKEN Counter | Blaze Kick & Stone Edgeᴸ/Blast Burnᴸ All of you who made yourselves a Stone Edge Blaziken with your precious Elite TM, pat yourselves on the back. It looks like potentially the best version of Blaze here, beating all the same things as Blast Burn minus a super close loss to Typhlosion (BB is 5 energy cheaper than SE, and that makes the difference there), and gaining a win over (Dragon Breath) Gyarados and a legit threat to things like Togekiss and Dragonite. Blaze is a bit boom or bust, as many of its wins rely on baiting a shield with spammy Blaze Kick, but the boom potential is quite high for anyone brave enough to max one out. ALOLAN GOLEM Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge This might be the first real "huh?" moment in this article. A-Golem is probably not one you've given serious thought to for Premier Cup, but maybe you should, as not only does it have a cheapo second move cost, but a rock solid (total dad joke there!) performance that includes wins over Dragonite, Togekiss, Gyarados (yes, even if it has Waterfall), Electivire, potentially Magnezone, and of course the Fires and Ices that want nothing to do with Rock damage. It's not the longest list of wins you'll find, but it's a darn good list for the lowest dust cost you can find in Master League. If you're hurting for affordable options, A-Golem might be JUST what you're looking for. I recommend it over one that IS generating a little more buzz: Aggron, which does better against the Faires but generally worse otherwise. LUCARIO Counter | Shadow Ball & Power-Up Punch I know, I know... "but JRE, Lucario's second move costs 75,000 dust!" True... but Riolu's second move costs only 10,000 thanks to the infamous Baby Discount™, and it only makes sense to buy that before evolving, so don't forget! Once you do, Luc becomes potentially the cheapest Fighter you can use in Premier (depending on how far you have to level up a good Machamp). And while not the best of the best, Luc puts in a solid showing for something that maxes well below 3000 CP, taking out all the major Steels (including Metagross), Ices, Snorlax, and conveniently Typhlosion as well. It's not the most expansive set of wins, but Luc does exactly what you want a good Fighter to do most and is a legit team player in Premier. OBSTAGOON Counter | Night Slash & Hyper Beam Yes indeed, it's more than viable, I'd say even moreso than Lucario. Goonie doesn't have a ton of great super effective targets for Night Slash, but it's a widely unresisted move that can go off for a big Attack boost at any time, and sets up a closing Hyper Beam nicely (which is necessary against Gyarados, Glaceon, Electivire and leads to blowouts over Snorlax, Rhyperior, and others). Candy shouldn't be an issue here, but whether all that dust is worth it is your call. Just keep it FAR away from Fairies and other Fighters.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
TANGROWTH Vine Whip | Rock Slide & Power Whip/Solar Beam While other Vine Whippers fall short in Master League, one of my clever Patrons pointed me to Tangrowth. It wasn't on my intial list, but it would seem that was an unfortunate oversight. Growth creeps above the 3000 CP threshold and looks quite solid here in Premier. That is thanks not just to solid Grass damage (with Power Whip being a close approximation of the broken Frenzy Plant the starters get), but also the threat of newly added Rock Slide bringing it wins like Charizard that Grasses simply shouldn't be able to get (and being the preferred weapon against things like Gyarados too). If you're looking for a Grass that can bring serious pressure to shields and doesn't have the bust potential of Sceptile, Growth might be just your speed. ARCANINE Fire Fang | Wild Charge & Crunch/FlamethroweBulldozeᴸ There's one Fire type that works here outside the starters, and it's one that can really keep the opponents guessing! I have long been an Arcanine groupie, so it warms my heart to see that, yes, it is quite viable in Premier Cup. And the crazy part is that the vast majority of its performance hinges not on its Swiss Army like toolkit of charge moves (though Wild Charge pulls its weight against Flyers and leads directly to a win over Charizard), but instead on Fire Fang. Look at all those things it can beat with just fast moves, pocketing a ton of energy to throw at whatever follows. Note that list includes the popular Magnezone and Togekiss, and can even include mighty Metagross as long as Arcanine shields the non-Mash charge move. Arcanine is a good boy! Scratch him behind the ears and consider making him YOUR best friend in Premier. RHYPERIOR Smack Down/Mud Slap | Surf & SuperpoweRock Wreckerᴸ Ready to have conventional wisdom flipped on its head again? The overall best moveset for RhyPerrier does not include Community Day move Rock Wrecker... the best overall looks to be Smack Down (which does plenty of Rock damage on its own!) with charge moves Surf and Superpower, which ends up looking like this. Smack Down alone takes down all the Flyers (Nite, Kiss, Gary) and Fires you care about, plus Gardevoir, Glaceon, and Gengar (Triple G!), while SuperpoweSurf add on Snorlax and Magnezone (regular AND Shadow for each). That all being said, there is a good case for the perhaps more standard Mud Slap/WreckeSurf. While it sheds Dragonite and Glaceon and even Snorlax, it gains one big, prominent name: Metagross, being able to simply Slap it to death. That is no small thing, though is it worth what you give up? Look over those sims--and create your own by playing around with various movesets--and decide for yourself. You know your OWN team best, after all, not me or anyone else! And yes, I did look over the somewhat similar EXCADRILL, and while it plays somewhat like Mud Slap Perrier, it just doesn't do as much. If you have one already maxed, then yes, it IS viable, but given a choice between them, I think it's Rhyperior all the way. MAMOSWINE Powder Snow/Mud Slap | Avalanche & Bulldoze/Stone Edge Yes, as you may have guessed, sets with Powder Snow are generally best, with Avalanche combining with Stone Edge to hate on Fires (and DB Gary) or with Bulldoze to take out Magnezone(s). Either way, other Grounds, Flyers (though Dragonite usually remains frustratingly out of reach), most Electrics and Fires, and things like Gengar and Snorlax want nothing to do with it. Alternatively, as with Rhyperior, you can run a Mud Slap variant to hate HARD on Electrics and Metagross, and then take your pick of charge moves to threaten others as you see fit. HIPPOWDON Ice Fang/Thunder Fang | Body Slam & Earth Power I don't know that I'd recommend maxing one of these just for Premier Cup, but there are crazier things, I suppose. With Ice Fang it does abuse Dragons and Fairies and also manages to beat Snorlax, Scizor, and the big Electrics too. And wth Thunder Fang it trades the Dragons for Charizard and Gyarados (regardless of fast move). Again, not the greatest long-term use of dust, perhaps, but Hungry Hungry Hippo is a good enough flash in the pan for this format to at least consider. GENGAR Shadow Claw | Shadow Ball & Sludge Bomb Oh, how I wish it was getting Shadow Punch in time for Premier Cup, but alas, it'll be a few short weeks too late. Instead, we'll have to make due with Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb, which is obviously a step down but certainly still viable, handing Metagross, Charmers, and Fighters their lunch money, along with Gyarados and Typhlosion, which would seem to be things Gengar would want to avoid, what with their Crunches and Claws. It's a nice little niche to occupy, and one that will surely benefit some teams when Premier rolls around. MAGNEZONE Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge 'Zone has already been touted quite a bit as a top Premier Cup option, and I have friends who have already maxed theirs in preparation. And by the numbers, it's easy to see why. But I also see some red flags. Mirror Shot is largely responsible for those high numbers, as they just tail off without its bait potential. Now MS is not JUST a bait move, in fairness--it beats some good, relevant things with it--but if you turn off baiting... well, the results speak for themselves. The truth likely lies somewhere between those reduced numbers and the max potential result (with baits bringing in wins against Nite, Glaceon, Lax, and Shadow Gross & Zone). I am not trying to say Zone is bad, just that it requires some practice time to feel out when to bait and when to just go for broke. It's not one to pick up the day before you compete and expect to already have mastered. Practice makes perfect! TOGEKISS Charm | Flamethrower & Ancient PoweAerial Ace Togekiss, on the other hand, you pretty much CAN pick up and use right away. As a Charmer, the name tells you everything you need to know: Charm stuff to death, and typically plan to pocket energy to throw a charge move at whatever follows. Flamethrower is probably the closest Kiss has to a "must have" move to have an answer to Metagross that is one of the very top counters to Togekiss. Beyond that, Ancient Power or Aerial Ace is kind of a matter of preference... Power can threaten Fires, but Ace puts out higher neutral damage for the same cost AND gets STAB on top of that. Whatever you roll with, there are literally no better counters to Dragonite (and only Dragonite itself is a better counter to Garchomp) and the Fighters... and also getting things like Swampert and Gyarados and Snorlax and fellow Charmer Gardevoir are very nice bonuses. There is a reason everyone and their mother are talking about running Togekiss... it is a VERY hard counter to some very good things, and almost singlehandedly keeps the Dragons from running amok. MACHAMP Counter | Rock Slide & Dynamic Punch/Close Combat Another one where you may be wondering why I'm recommending the moves I am. "Where's Cross Chop? Isn't that Machamp's best Fighting charge move?" Yes, it likely is... in Great and Ultra League. In Master, you usually want raw power over more bait-y moves, and few Pokémon exemplify that more. Just look at a move like Close Combat compared to Cross Chop. Close Combat and Dynamic Punch can get wins like Garchomp, Conkeldurr, the mirror (vs Cross Chop Champ), and big prizes Swampert and Metagross that Cross Chop cannot reliably replicate. The ONLY things in the core meta that can overcome DP or CC Champ in 1v1 shielding are Gengar, Gardevoir, Togekiss, and Dragonite, and Rock Slide can turn even those last two around quick. I will say that in my own personal experience, I like DP over CC just because the self-nerfing that comes with CC really hurts sometimes, but it's more just a matter of preference than anything. HERACROSS Counter | Close Combat & Megahorn Heracross lacks Machamp's awesome Rock Slide coverage, but it has Megahorn instead, which is a nice move with unique coverage all its own. Putting Horn together with the Fighting moves, Cross lies somewhere between Champ's max potential and the other Fighters... it is better than Conkeldurr and Lucario and XC Champ, and worse than DP or CC Champ. One big plus is that its Bug typing makes Heracross resistant to Fighting moves, so it beats all the other Fighters one on one. Beyond that niche--and having a good answer to stray Psychics thanks to Megahorn--it mostly just operates as your standard Fighter, albeit a very solid one. HARIYAMA Counter | Heavy Slam & Close Combat/Superpower So good is Fighting in this meta that even a Fighter that tops out below 2900 CP is still quite good. Heavy Slam is really just here to provide neutral coverage... the Fighting moves are all Hairy Yama will need most of the time. His HP is so high that he can shrug off the self-nerfing of Close Combat and Superpower better than most, beating all the Steels, Normals, Ices, and Rocks you need a good Fighter to beat, plus Typhlosion and Swampert, and Hairy outbulks the other major Fighters too. If you can't or don't want to build a Machamp, Hairy may be your next best bet. ESCAVALIER Counter | Drill Run & Megahorn Escavalier has already made a name for itself in Great and Ultra Leagues, getting better and better over time as first Megahorn was buffed, and then Drill Run's cost was reduced. Combine all that with Counter, the best fast move in PvP, and it's easy to see why it's been a force in the lower Leagues. Can it do the same here? Despite maxing out below 3000 CP, it would appear that yes, it most certainly can. Counter takes out Ices and Shadow Magnezone (though that last one only shows up if you go straight Counter), Drill Run adds Steels and Rhyperior and Gengar, Megahorn adds Gardevoir and Snorlax, of all things, and the combination of it all puts together adds Swampert as a sweet cherry on top. It is perhaps not the most impressive volume of wins, but the quality of the wins it does get is impressive.
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
I am going to try to cover these a bit more succinctly, as I have a Reddit character limit to account for AND these are obviously not thrifty picks anymore. So strap in for the final push! DRAGONITE Dragon Breath | Dragon Claw & Hurricane/Draco Meteorᴸ Nite's future looks bright, with a ridiculous win percentage in Premier Cup, one that remains robust against the core meta, beating everything except hard countering Charmers, Ice, Metagross, and Shadow Magnezone. (Even regular Zone falls short.) Perhaps even more impressive is that Dragonite can do all this with just Dragon Claw if it wants to, with the sole exception of Scizor (barely!). Dragonite is--and should be--perhaps THE top option in Premier Cup, doing a ton of things very, very well. GARCHOMP Mud Shot | Outrage & Earthquake/Sand Tomb Sand Tomb is obviously primarily a bait option, but amazingly, even if the baits go awry, Chomp still does well (and the sky is the limit if the baits DO work!). You can forgo all that and just go for the throat with big moves Outrage AND Earthquake... Mud Shot charges them both fast enough for that to be a legit possibility. Whatever you roll with, expect to have a leg up on Electrics, Grounds, Steels, Fighters, and Fires, but be ready to swap quickly at the sight of any Dragons, Charmers, or Ices. This is also one of the best cases for considering Dragon Breath on Gyarados, as DB Gary consistently terrorizes Chompy even more than Dragonite does. HAXORUS Counter | Dragon Claw & Earthquake/Night Slash If you have somehow managed to find a good one AND max it, you're gonna like what it can do. Sort of an unholy mix of Nite, Chomp, and a Fighter. It beats Steels, Fires, Electrics, Ices, AND things like Snorlax and Rhyperior, and then Scizor (with Night Slash) or Machamp (with Earthquake). I lean towards Earthquake and the surer win over Machamp personally, but there's not really a "wrong" way to go. METAGROSS Bullet Punch | Meteor Mashᴸ & Earthquake/Psychic The Steel moves do most of the work, handling Fairies, Ices, Fighters (sometimes, at least), Dragonite and Rhyperior and others. For the second move, while Psychic seems to be all the rage to really beat on Fighters, I continue to beleve in Earthquake, which gives Metagross an important leg up against Steels like Magnezone and, of course, enemy Metagrosses (Metagreese?). Its ability to handle Fairies and Dragonite in particular make it a BIG player in this meta, one you should expect to see on the majority of teams. SNORLAX Lick | Body Slam & Superpower Normal and Shadow are both very viable and very good, beating most things that don't wail on it for super effective damage (Fighters) or resist its moves, to include Metagross, Gardevoir, Ices, Electrics, and anything that relies on Ghost damage. If you REALLY want to go nuts, though--and had the foresight to TM away Frustration during the short window we had to do so--Shadow Snorlax is basically a straight upgrade, gaining wins over Togekiss, Garchomp, Rhyperior, Gyarados, and Charizard without giving up any core meta wins regular Lax achieves. If you want to break the piggy bank wide open, that might be the place to do it. ELECTIVIRE Thunder Shock | Wild Charge & Ice Punch/Thunder Punch The only pure Electric that has legit play here, and that's a nice thing since Electrics are weak only to Ground damage and resist three very relevant types (Steel, Flying, Electric). Vire has the intriguing Ice Punch, but against the core meta, ThunderPunch is actually slightly better, getting all the same stuff plus Metagross. Vire beats Fires, other Electrics, Lax, and even the Steels... and Gyarados, but surely you already knew THAT one. It's a steady option that does a bit more than "just Electric stuff". MAGMORTAR Fire Spin | Fire Punch & Psychic/Brick Break Did you even KNOW that Mags gets Psychic? Yep, it's true, and combined with the Fire moves, it does alright for itself, taking out the things you'd expect your Fire to beat (Steel, Ice, Fairy, etc.) plus the other Fires too. Alternatively, you can replace Psychic with Break Break to trade in Typh and Conk for regular and Shadow Magnezone instead (as Fire Punch is just a hair too slow to get that job done). MILOTIC Waterfall | Surf & Hyper Beam Here's a Water type I bet you completely forgot about. But Milotic can break the 3000 CP threshold and puts in quite the impressive performance! Not only does she beat the Fires and Grounds and Ices and Steels you might expect, but Milly also overpowers Machamp, Gardevoir (and leaves Kiss with less than 5 HP too), Snorlax, Gengar, and fellow Water Gyarados. And she can do all that except Gary with JUST Waterfall and Surf. (Hyper Beam adds wins against other Waters, like Gary and Cloyster and such.) Nothing fancy, just big bulk wearing opponents down. Milotic should be on your radar, and I assume it hasn't been to this point, amirite? LAPRAS Ice Shardᴸ/Water Gun | Surf & Blizzard/Skull Bash/Ice Beamᴸ Lappie doesn't max out anywhere NEAR 3000 CP (doesn't even break 2700!), but it has such great PvP stats and moves that it finds a way to compete in Premier anyway. Dragons, Flyers, Fires, Ices, Grounds... they all have a long-standing restraining order out for Lapras. So good is Lapras that it even hangs in and competes with Water Gun, trading in the Gyarados and Swampert wins it gets with the more standard Ice Shard for Gardevoir, Typhlosion, and Scizor instead. And that is perhaps one of the best things going for Lappie... unlike Milotic and others that have no real surprises up their sleeves, Lapras can come at you with quite a wide array of moves and keep the opponent guessing every time they have to make a shielding decision. Use that, run with it, and consider being bold enough to dust off your favorite Lapras for the biggest of big leagues. It will earn your trust yet again. TYRANITAR Smack Down/Bite | Crunch & Stone Edge/Fire Blast Keeping this one simple: with Smack Down, Tyranitar is basically a worse Rhyperior, gaining Dragonite but losing Togekiss and any realistic shot at Metagross. With Bite it gets Metagross but trades in Dragonite and Magnezone to do it. Maybe that has a role on your team, but it seems to me you can probably do better and cheaper elsewhere. Just gonna do some QUICK HITS for the rest:
I know lots of people are on the Shadow GARDEVOIR bandwagon, but I'm not really seeing it. Togekiss seems better, and is significantly less expensive. Roll with S-Gard for the flex, I suppose, but I don't see much reason to spend all that dust otherwise. Heck, I'd be more inclined to go with ShadowGALLADE, to be honest. At least he has a nice spread of wins against some big name stuff and can seriously pressure shields.
Another one that seems extremely popular but seems to fail to live up to the hype is SCIZOR. Again, what am I missing here? It's a solid Fairy and Ice (and Metagross) counter, but beyond that...? I know, the thought then turns to the Shadow version, but that's barely better. I don't get the hype, but maybe someone can educate me in comments? I legit welcome it.
GLACEON and even VAPOREON are both solid enough, but rather limited. Glaceon just handles Flyers, Grounds, Dragons, which are all good, but does very little else of particular note. Vaporeon puts out Fires and beats Grounds and Ices, and conveniently handles Steel as well, but it's basically a less flexible Swampert or even Milotic. Note that neither really benefits from Last Resort.
CONKELDURR is fine, but a worse (and more expensive!) Machamp... even Heracross is a bit more reliable. AMPHAROS is a worse Electivire, with Focus Blast more bark than actual bite in practice. And even HYDREIGON, cool as it is, cannot hold a candle to the original Dragonite.
VOLCARONA has a nice little niche as a Fairy/Steel/Ice/Snorlax slayer, but uh... it hasn't arrived in the game yet. Same with Galarian Zen Darmanitan, which can take on Dragons, Fairies, Ices, Snorlax, and has solid weapons to bring to bear against Metagross and the like too, and plenty of stats/CP to work with.
Other fun spice options to look at on your own time include (but are not limited to!) Feraligatr, Shadow Flygon, Golurk, and Gliscor. And before I ramble on any further... that’s a wrap! As with all my articles, take all of this with a big grain of salt. I am not trying to persuade you on using any one 'mon or any one team, and of course everybody’s dust situations are different. But perhaps this can help you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!). Before I go, continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last year and a half and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon which now has a tie-in exclusive Discord server you can access to get straight through to me. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I'll try to get back to you! Thank you for reading! I very much appreciate you taking the time, and sincerely hope this helps you master Premier Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time!
More Tanker DD to help you sleep (Positions inside) - BET ON STNG - HE IS ONE OF US!
I know many of you will IM me death threats for more bullish news on oil tankers, and in particular, DHT Holdings (DHT), Euronav (EURN), and Scorpio Tankers (STNG). I have absolutely NO INTENTION OF TRYING TO PUMP, you invest at your own discretion. I personally believe this is the beginning of another Super Bull market for tankers (See the 80’s and mid 2000’s for context) and have 95% of my account invested in the above 3 companies (50% calls and 50% stock). Sorry no NAT for me, more upside on the above companies. I’ll keep this short and let you read the sources yourself: SKIP TO THE END FOR SOME FUN INFO ON SCORPIO PRESIDENT, ROBERT BUGBEE Storage (1): We saw last week that tanker shares took a bit of a hit. Why? In volatile tanker markets, the price of the share often times mimics the daily spot prices for the various VLCC’s, LR2’s, etc. Now it shouldn’t be completely dictated this way due to TC rates, etc., but unfortunately market sediment can drive the price more than hard data. Here is a simple recap of last week: Tanker stocks in decline last week (above) compared to spot rates decline last week (below) ------ I realize the above is only 2 days, the whole week looked the same. Rates in Decline last week (Projected to shoot up in mid May when June contracts expire) Here is a quick recap of how it happened:
Some States prepare to partially open. The price of oil increases based on speculation of demand increase. Hence the front month oil futures contract increases, which means……..
Contango begins to flatten. If you don’t know what this means yet it’s just arbitrage, it’s buying a commodity, in our case an oil contract at a cheaper price today then it will be in 3 months. Oil contract contains a thousand barrels. You buy a contract (1000 barrels) at $15/barrel the contract costs you $15,000, and you then hope to profit at a later date by selling it at $30/barrel, netting a nice profit. Do this with a few thousand contracts and you can be sitting pretty.
Last week we had bad speculation as investors ran screaming after hearing news that daily spot rates decreased....... because obviously we moved away from the most insane Contango in history: remember WTI as it went negative? VLCC’s spot rates dropped from 200k to 100k over the week, oh my gosh, SELL, SELL SELL!!! However most of these gents failed to realize that 100k is still 4x the average rate for years pass. Yes obviously rates are going to be the highest during the period around oil contract expiration. What they don’t tell you, is at the rate we are using up storage (there is some 160+ million barrels already sitting at sea and 50 million being added per week), if we enter into another Contango for the June contracts which expire on 5/19/2020 (which is looking inevitable), there are projections that daily spot rates could reach 500k/day.
Storage (2): Cushing is building at an incredible rate and while you may see people misinterpret headlines like this, the fact remains that we are still building the glut, and fast, but an estimated build of 13.6 million barrels peday is forecasted for May. If you are out drowning in a pool of oil and you begin to drown a little slower, you're not being rescued and you're not working your way out, you're still drowning buddy. This glut is not being reversed anytime soon. What many don't realize is that much of the Permian is still pumping, yes that's right, many of these companies are hedged through 2020 and will pump as long as there is a pipeline to take it. Contrary to what you might believe, a negative WTI price doesn't meant their losing their books. Oh and let's not forget Russia and SA increased oil production in April to all time highs (below). Lastly, oil works like any other free market, if the price goes up, people will sell more. Oil is not being cut while we quickly and neatly use up all the surplus and then all politely turn our wells back on at the same time. The minute oil increase in price, countries start increasing their production to maximize revenue, the glut starts to build and we go through it again. This surplus isn't being worked off in 6 months, we are talking years. https://preview.redd.it/zihmbkm72uw41.png?width=630&format=png&auto=webp&s=88b138aba9ab18f40eea434dac09e56ddd02c9bf NAV I dont have the energy for this as everything is bullish and you can't google it without seeing the undervalue. Most of the above companies are still trading below Net Asset Value (NAV), meaning if they went belly up today and had to sell all assets and turn around and pay of debt, guess what, there would still be enough left over to pay share holders more than the current stock price. STNG last week was trading at ~75% NAV which is ludicrous. After today it's still trading below NAV and right before an earnings drop where we have seen some of the highest LR2 rates ever. Closing (This is it!) Check out this interview from Robert Bugbee, CEO of STNG, and watch that mad lad say at the 2019 Annual Product Shipping Forum LAST YEAR, that due to IMO 2020, STNG was going to increase in price by 50% (At about 7:45 time in the video), which it did last year, before tankers got hammered in the beginning of the year along with everyone else. Now with IMO 2020 and the Covid supply glut, I wonder what he is going to say Wednesday when earnings drop lol, my guess is stonks go into orbit. Oh and did I forget to mention, that same Mr. Bugbee bought 2 million calls on STNG in March. Granted his strike and premiums were a little more attractive lol, HE IS ONE OF US! He is the way, do not miss this earnings and guidance forecast with STNG. TL;DR ------- You need to be in this trade, not just options, buy shares as well for some monster dividends. Yes that's right stocks, instead of Yolo'ing your entire savings away on 30% OTM Tesla puts you can make some serious cash off these tankers for the next 6 months...... Then go blow it all, but at least do one thing right before you go down in flames. DOUBLE TL;DR ------- Listen to the above interview with Robert Bugbee and keep in mind he has $millions in calls on STNG (yes he does this legally), and let that sweet bit of information rock you to sleep tonight. TRIPLE TL;DR -------- You still have not missed the boat. STNG is going to the stratosphere Wednesday and EURN on Thursday when earnings come out. POSITIONS Picking up a lot more STNG tomorrow https://preview.redd.it/lq30j3mm3uw41.png?width=750&format=png&auto=webp&s=7ee5a289b484d6b22c9cae6ff9e67b92cef40f30 At the end of the day what do I know. Do your own research. This is a once in a life time opportunity that hasn't passed yet. EDIT: To all you fellas that got your pants pulled down today..... so did I. As I have now said numerous times, this market is so volatile right now and can be derailed by a ridiculous tweet from Trump. LISTEN TO THE ASC earnings call which is happening now!!! They smashed earning by 50% Q1 and are projecting a heck of a lot more than that come Q2. LR2 tankers, which STNG is the world leader in these product boats, is now smashing VLCC Rates by 3x. (56k/day for VLCC vs 155k/day for STNG). You will thank me tomorrow after earnings. Cut ties on some others companies if you are unsure, but STNG and their product boats are going to print so much money you won't see straight. Even more so as Contango widens come next week and oil prices fall. This is my opinion and I have no intention of selling. If you saw STNG this morning it was up 4% pre market so this baby had every intention of taking off. I am planning on this tomorrow. EDIT: Scorpio (STNG) Earnings Report just released, smashed earnings estimates by 60% for Q1 (.82 vs expected of .51). Earnings call incoming. STNG currently up pre market. Although there are news of oil cuts today, supply levels are still soaring. Contango inbound next week, STNG goes parabolic...... at least thats what I am betting on.
the guardian part 4 :15-20 THE END. by fredrik granström
CHAPTER 16: Road to the capitol part 2 -Where have you been? Tobias asked after coming out of a teleportation hole. -A place that does not exist. -You are LATE the council will NOT be happy. And furthermore I heard Bruce is dead surely that’s not true? And what is this nonsense about a house that, does not exist? A place either exists or it does not. -Sadly, he is Robert answered with a solemn tone of voice. And as far as the house goes, don’t even bother a stupid simpleton like you would never understand. -Breaking the rules AND losing another slayer, your kind don’t grow on trees you know the council will be absolutely furious. -Fuck the council! Robert cursed. -E-excuse me? Tobias stuttered. -Never mind… let me handle to council when we get there. -And when WILL you be getting there? -Asap. I am speaking with Tor via telepathic link as we speak, he is coming here with his electric tank and Tesla car. -Telepathic? Tobias asked. -Yes, a skill all guardians learn after taking the test to become a slayer, but you would not know about that you glorified postman now piss off! -O-h okay-y Tobias stuttered and teleported away steaming mad. Robert looked for his mirror shield and found it at the dead Gorgons corpse. -I fucking hate gorgons Robert said if only we could kill the real Medusa then maybe we could get rid of them once and for all. -I agree said Ivana I fucking hate snakes and this bitch got snakes for hair. -This bitch needs a haircut said Robert and cut the snakes off, when thinking about it she needs a beheading the slayer cut her head off. -Well she looks a lot better without that face! Ivana made the team burst out laughing. -What are you going to use that ugly head for anyway? Nils asked. -You will see was the only answer he got from the slayer. The team waited for a few hours for Tor to come and get there. The powerful electromancer from the capitol arrived in his electric powered tank it had machineguns and a big cannon on top following it was a auto driving Tesla a car fueled by electricity it had two M-60 machine guns mounted on it. -Robert my old friend! You are in bad standing with the council, but you must know that already… -Fuck them! Robert said. The two slayers joined each other in laughter. -Anyways so these must be the young guardians, but there is four and not three as I been told and they seem to be older than I been told to. -Well you must grow up fast on the battlefield. -I am betting that’s the only explanation you care to give. -Sure, but on the upside these are all in appropriate age for taking the slayer test soon. -Four new slayers that would be a blessing indeed! It would really increase our numbers in the capitol. And the hydromancer Paul to… - I would not expect much from the water boy I left him at the school because it is not an important place so these more useful guardians should not waste their time there, they are more needed in the capitol. Paul seems to be to afraid to take the slayer test anyway. -If you say so! Now young guardians let`s roll out. Tor said. -Me and Nils will take the Tesla and the rest can join Tor in his tank. Robert was driving the Tesla. -Will you let me drive!? Nils asked excitedly. -Ha-ha NEVER! Cars are real rare in the new world and even in the old world these cars where expensive as fuck and this one is tricked out with machine guns and autopilot to boot I will not let a non-slayer hand touch it period. -Oh, you are no fun! Nils said. -Well but I am alive and have been for ages and I intend you keep you alive to little friend. -How old are you anyway? -Never ask a slayer his true age. Also how does turning seventeen feels? You are old enough to take the slayer test and you and Elina are both above fifteen now that makes you both legal to do you know what, but that’s none of my business. -Damn right its none of your business! -Well the guardian gene seems to be more common in families where one or both parents have it so it`s important to reproduce. -Well that’s IS true, Nicklas his brother and his father all had it. But worry about your own reproducing and I will worry about mine. -I am hearing what you are saying kiddo and I think I might be a father soon away. -WTF!? Really? Who is the lucky bride? -Well she is no bride, but you might consider her lucky and I will keep this secret as a surprise for later. Now I know for a fact that one of the members of the council is a demon I will need you to figure out which one. -You don’t think its Tor do you? -Maybe if it is he got the upper hand in that tank. -You don’t think its Arne, Nicklas dad? -Maybe and if it is be ready to kill him without hesitation. They kept driving and eventually arrived at the capitol. CHAPTER 17: THE CAPITOL They entered the castle in the capitol it was surrounded by a great wall with mounted machine guns and mortars ready to fire grenades at any occult threat or of course Satanist`s some humans had chosen to fight for evil selfish and un-empathic people often did the dirty deeds of demons wishes, wishing themselves to be rewarded with demonic powers in return. Three thousand people lived inside these city walls making it by far the biggest city in the country of course it was said that in the old world this city had hold over one million people but that was before the demons invaded now there was far less then a million in the entire country. Nils walked looking around at the people seeing the approving and wanting looks of young girls, mostly blue eyed with blonde hair but also dark eyed beauties with dark hair to match and even a few gingers with freckled faces. They were eating him up with their eyes eyeing him from head to toe which granted him a most unapproving gaze and a shove from his girlfriend Elina. -Don’t get any funny ideas! She told him off. -I would never he assured and kissed his beloved. The crowd erupted with cheers of joy the only thing better then two guardians were two guardians in love because this meant more guardian babies in the future. The girls looked all looked at Elina with jealousy in their eyes and the boys with wanting eyes. Nils caught his girlfriend eyeing they boys all tall and of muscular build with six packs of abs and big strong arms all of them with their shirts of it was a sunny day after all. Most boys were blonde haired and blue eyed like Nils himself and a few had darker hair a few had red ginger hair and a few were even dark skinned. Nils pulled Elina`s arm -Now you don’t get any ideas. - I would never! She said and kissed her truelove. The crowd started cheering again. Ivana was wanting for attention and did not want to be outdone by Elina and she kissed Nicklas. This really mad the crowd go wild the only thing better than ONE guardian couple were TWO things were really looking up. Nils could see the older women looking at Robert with dreams in their eyes but he seemed uninterested which was strange he was usually the player type. The team entered the castle once a King of the old world had lived here Nils knew but now it was the base of the Council the strongest slayers in the country. -You are late dark slayer! I woman screamed Nils was in awe by her beauty she had a body to live fear but eyes you could die for, she was wearing high heels and a short white dress that exposed her long slim legs that just never quit. She had an hourglass body with a slim waist and big tits and big ass with more curves on her body than a motorway. -Nice to meet you to Alicia I been missing you sweetheart. Robert said in return he could not take his eyes of the woman. Nils was thinking Robert, in love? But with such a beautiful woman maybe it was not surprising, and she was a slayer to boot. Maybe she was even the woman that was wearing Roberts baby in her stomach? But she did not look pregnant. -Don’t call me sweetheart dear. Alicia said to the dark slayer. - And where is that dark armor of yours? I always thought you looked good in it, at least the helmet covered up that face of yours. -Thanks for the compliments sweetheart but I am afraid I lost it in a fight with necromancer and a zombie dragon. -A fucking zombie dragon!? You got to be kidding me. -Actually, the slayer tells the truth. Elina intervened. -And who is this young lady? A guardian I suppose. -Yes, a guardian and an angel to boot. Robert answered. -An angel!? A man wearing all red joined the conversation. It was David the pyromancer one of the most powerful slayers in the country and supposedly the world. -Robert speaks the truth Tor the electro-mancer joined in on the conversation. Tobias joined the room via teleportation. -So the dark slayer is finally here… Alicia the aero-mancer, Tor with electric powers, David with fire now we are only missing Arne the one with ice powers. -My dad! Where is he? Nicklas asked. -Oh, he was out closing a demon portal last I saw him. -C-closing a demon portal!? The guardians were all surprised by this news. - I did not know you could close them? Nils asked confused. -Oh, but you can well you cannot but a powerful ice magic spell can close them so Arne can do the job and maybe his son can also learn the spell after he becomes a slayer. -Yes, this is my hopes we cannot have kids standing around guarding these portals from hell all the time sooner or later they will fall to a demon. Everyone In the room knew that Robert spoke the truth. And then Arne joined the room with his familiar a huge polar bear wearing armor and with two miniguns mounted on him. Arne was looking old and tired he had a long grey beard and grey hair looking 90-100 years old. -I closed the damned portal now lets discuss what we should do with Robert the rulebreaker. CHAPTER 18: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT -Robert should immediately be stripped of his rank as number one slayer is anyone opposing this, Arne asked and was met with silence. -Furthermore, he should be sent to the dungeons while we figure out what to do with him is anyone opposing this? -I am! I sure as fuck am what are my crimes really? Robert screamed in anger. -Well you broke the rules which released the demon lord Gargos on our lands and furthermore you got a fellow slayer, Bruce the shapeshifter killed. -Oh, fuck the rules! Don’t you get it the demons set the rules and try to bend them all the time. I got you no less then four new guardians soon to be slayers all of them and all of them strong, one of them is even an angel for fucks sake! A fucking angel! Do you hear what I am saying? -Quite frankly I think everyone can hear your screaming there is no need for that or your crude language show the council a little bit more respect. -Fuck the council! Robert said in anger before realizing that was NOT the right thing to say. -Show him to the dungeons at once since he is no longer number one I am, confiscate his weapons before locking him away this meeting is over. The guardian team sat at the dinner table enjoying a meal fit for a king of course the guardians and slayers could eat all they wanted here as they could anywhere in the world. Nils felt a bit uneasy buy this looking around seeing jealous gazes from other kids and grownups. The kids still had hopes at least sometime around twelve to eighteen years of age there was always a chance that he guardian gene would kick in but once you were adult… if it was not meant to be it just was going to happen and they would have to seek out hard work of building walls or risking their lives on dangerous expeditions scavenging for supplies outside of the walls and then he knew the people inside of the walls were the lucky ones. The less introspective boy Nicklas seemed completely unfazed but all of this and keep stuffing his face with one plate after another without a deeper thought in his mind. Elina was enjoying the food to chicken, pork, fish even potatoes and greens she was not a picky eater. Ivana was eating to either though she rather have her food alive so she could suck the blood out of it she was a vampire after all but she knew there would be time for such pleasures later she did not want to make a scene at the dinner table. A one armed boy stepped over to the guardians table. -So these are our new protectors and overlords? He asked with a condensing voice filled to the brim with jealous. -Sure, are and who are you a thief buy the looks of it? Nils did not care for the tone of the voice of the one-armed boy one bit. -Stealing once off with your arm if you do it again off with your head, sex crimes of with your dick and for murder you will be hanged. - So, he is a thief then are you not boy? You do have your dick left I presume? Ivana said and laughed. -Shut up you vampire bitch! I was starving and stole some chicken what about it? They boy was steaming mad and grabbed the chicken off Ivana’s plate. -You are not even eating it anyway. You fucking spoiled bitch! That really made Nicklas angry he rushed at the boy but boy was older and stronger and knocked Nicklas down with a powerful punch to the jaw. -I had enough of this shit! Nils punched they boy with a boxing knockout punch like Mike Tyson used to do in the old world the boy fell back and his head hit the floor… dead. -Fuck! Nils had forgotten about his new robot arm and accidently killed the boy with his punch. -Take him to the dungeons! Arne the slayer said. Nils and Robert were sitting in cells next to each other. -Come on that’s bullshit he started it and did not mean to kill him it was an accident they will not hang you for that. The slayer informed his guardian friend. -I sure hope so. -When you get out don’t forget to take the scraps of my armor on the world’s highest mountain there is a dwarf master weaponsmith he will use it to craft the dark blade for you the most powerful sword in existence. -If I ever get out of here I will. Patricia entered the dungeon keep wearing a white dress with her shoulder straps strategically pulled down exposing her young smooth looking skin and the top of her big firm tits. She was holding a bottle of vodka in one hand and a Havana cigar in the other. -Just the three things I needed, smoke, drink and the touch of a woman Robert said. -Oh, we will be doing more than just touching each other but you young guardian you must go to your friends I put in the word for you and you are free. The guard opened Nils cell door he could not wait to get out of there and join his friends. -Oh, thank you so much I owe my life to you, and have fun. -Yes, you do and we will the female-slayer answered him. Nils joined his friends at the hell gate a young woman stood ready it was Paulina, Paul`s twin sister also a hydromancer with long blonde hair and bright green eyes. She was holding a big sword that seemed to be made out of water. Today’s opponent appeard from the flaming circle a goat headed fire demon holding a devils fork a poor match for the water user. The demon swung at Paulina with the trident but she quickly parried it and with another quick strike separated the demons head from its body. Late at night the guardians was sleeping Ivana and Nicklas in the same bed in one room and Nils and Elina together in their bed in another room. In the darkness a shape appeared he was sneaking slow and carefully to their bed with a knife in hand just when he was about to strike Nils suddenly woke up shooting and electric beam at him Tobias opened a portal and Nils charge disappeared to god knows where. Elina was also awake now and cut the teleporters throat with a dagger she always kept under her pillow. So Tobias was the demon Elina said to Nils. -N-no, Tobias spat blood from his mouth finding it difficult to talk as he lay dying in a pool of his own blood. But I am working for him. -Why did he want you to kill me? Nils asked. -Kill you? No, he wanted the school… it was the last words Tobias ever uttered in life. Nils looked at Elina in shock when he realized what they meant. CHAPTER 19: THE SCHOOL Paul was standing ready to guard everyday there was a new demon to slay which did not bother him much since they kept being fire types which was an easy match for him and his water-powers. He had created a shield and axe out of water, the demon appeared in front of him it was a coyote burning with fire holding a sword and shield, he rushed and attacked it. The demon launched a fireball at him but he easily guarded against it with his water-shield he tackled the demon and while it was laying on its back he began chopping it to pieces, legs, arms, chest and head all were cut apart by his fierce axe swings. He laughed at the stupid demon and kicked its head like a soccer ball into the crowd who erupted in cheers. -PAUL! PAUL! PAUL! PAUL! A young good-looking girl he had not yet bedded caught the gaze of his bright green eyes, yes everyday there was another demon but there was also another girl. At night Paul was in his bedroom with the girl her name was Erika. -Wow I really wish I was a guardian like you they are so cool! The girl told him. -We sure are but there is still hope for you, you are only seventeen years old. -Yes, I really hope the spark awakens in me soon, before I turn eighteen and becomes useless. -A pretty girl like you will never be useless there is always kitchen work and bed work for that matter, about that come here. He grabbed her and kissed her lips and kissed her neck and then began to wander downwards with his lips to her big breasts, she felt her nipples getting erect and grabbed his boxers where she could feel something else getting erect. She moaned with pleasure as he licked her nipples. -And what about you, you are nineteen years old are you not going to take the slayer test? -Enough talk! He pulled down his boxers and gently pulled her head down by the hair. -I am tired of your babbling find a better use for your mouth. And she did they had a whole night of pleasure. Next day Paul stood ready again the fire was burning as it usually did but something was different, wrong it was way bigger then before in fact it was enormous he began to worry exactly what was he going to face today? Never mind as long as it was a fire type he could easily bet it as before… and then he saw it, it was a fire type but he could barely believe his eyes! A long snake like neck the size of a fullgrown anaconda and on top of it an awful head scaly with big burning red eyes with a complete lack of empathy for humans in them. On top of the ugly reptilian head there was two goat like horn on its head a dragon… in fact a fucking demon dragon. The crowd was shrieking in terror, Paul saw children crying of fear even nurse Anna looked terrified. But fucking shit did hear tits look amazing Paul thought if he were to be killed by this overgrown lizard he had only one regret that he had never had that woman, but she never had shown any interest in him he wondered why, he did not think it was the age difference plenty of older women had shown interest in him before, it must be that baby growing in her belly it had recently began to show. -I AM THE DEMONIC SCALELORD, THE BURNER OF CITITES, EATER OF HUMANS, MEN, WOMAN AND CHILDREN, THERE IS NO DIFFERNCE FOR THE SCALELORD YOU ARE ALL FRESHMEAT, ALL WILL BE CONSUMED FOR A HUNGER! Paul was feeling afraid, he had only one chance it was to make a big defensive wall of water he began summoning it at once. The demonic dragon blew fire at him, but his water barrier was still protecting him against the flames. -MY BIG BROTHER RULES THE BURNED COUNTRY AND THIS TOO WILL BE A BURNED COUNTRY, FIRST THIS SCHOOL WILL FALL, THEN THE CAPITOL, THEN EVERYWHERE ELSE, ME AND MY SPAWN WILL RULE THIS LAND FOR CENTURIES JUST AS MY BROTHER DOES IN THE COUNTRY ONCE CALLED “CANADA” BY HUMAN TONGUE, NOW BURNED TO THE GROUND, ALL WILL BE ASHES… -Shut the fuck up you stupid fucking chameleon with wings! Paul was getting tired of the scale lords bullshit, no one ever told him dragons were such dramatic speakers and why the fuck did it have to scream all the time. -Boast all you want reptile brain your fire attacks will never break this water wall and you will never defeat my you hear that? Never! -OH, BUT THAT IS WHAT YOU THINK HUMAN, A DRAGON ALWAYS COMES PREPARED IN FACT I DEFEATED YOU BEFORE I EVEN CAME HERE WITH MY MASTERFUL PLAN… -You are lying, fire a firebreather you are sure blowing a lot of smoke… and then Tobias portal opened in the air above him, Nils lightning bolt came out of it and shocked the water user, his whole body was in agony and pain but it ended just as his life ended with one big bite from the dragon devouring the boys entire upper body leaving only his legs and feet. The dragon then quickly swiped at nurses Annas belly and killed Roberts baby inside she had little time to mourn her loss before she to was eating alive by the giant dragon. After that he began to burn, teachers and kids both, and then he burned the school to the ground before flying to the capitol. CHAPTER 20: THE DEMON Ivana and Nicklas were making love when suddenly a knocking on the window interrupted. Ivana quickly got up walked to the window in only her panties she looked out and saw a bat knocking on the window. -It must be my new familiar she told her lover. -Are you sure? I don’t know if we can trust that thing it might bite us and suck our blood. -Too late! Ivana opened the window and in came the bat flying. It took a rest on her shoulder and she petted it. -It’s kind of cute I am going to call him Bruce after the fallen slayer. -Yeah, Yeah, her boyfriend told her seemingly unimpressed he wished that the flying rat had not interrupted before he could finish. They could her Nils and Elina screaming in the room next door, the both quickly got dressed and ran to check on their friends. -What the fuck happened, is Tobias… dead!? Ivana asked. -I sure as hell hope so I slit his throat good. And could you please put a top on… Nils stop looking at her tits. Nils blushed his cheeks red with shame. -I was not looking, he lied but to no avail Elina could see through his bullshit. Also, there is more important things to worry about then tits. -More important things than tits!? I found that hard to believe said Nicklas still horny. -Well, there is the dead man on the ground Ivana intervened. -That fucker tried to murder me in my sleep, I tried to shoot lightning at him but he opened a portal and then luckily Elina slit his throat. -A portal? But where did it go… oh fuck! Ivana realized. -Paul! The school! We must alert the grownups Nicklas said full of fear. -Yes, lets get dressed and tell them. I like your new familiar by the way, its ugly but kind of cute at the same if you know what I mean? -Oh, I totally know what you mean said Ivana and she and her boyfriend left to get dressed in their room, Nils and Elina did the same thing. Alicia was struggling to fit the slayers big hard cock in her mouth like usual she looked him in his eyes, she knew how much he liked that. -Oh, my god baby I am cumming! You have tits to live for but eyes to kill for. She swallowed then told him… -I might make you keep that promise. They both got dressed just in time for the guardians to enter. - Tobias tried to kill us, he must be the demon Nils told the slayers. -Tobias the mailman? I hardly think so he is to much off a bitch, he has always been jealous of slayers with useful powers he might have been working for the demon though… yes that makes sense it probably promised him great power in exchange for his services. -Okay but who could the demon be? Its not you and its not Alicia or she could have killed you just now. -I agree with your deduction, also I think Tor is blameless or he could have used his tank to kill me and Nils both when we were driving the Tesla. -That leaves only David and Arne said Alicia. -My, d-ad Nicklas stuttered. -Yes, he is closing the demon portal just now. Said Alicia. -But if he is the demon he might summon a legion of demons through it, instead of closing it Robert said with a voice full of terror. -Fuck! Guard let me and the dark slayer out. -I am afraid I cannot my lady, you may leave but Robert must stay, Arne gave strict instructions I am afraid. -But its an emergency! She screamed with anger. -Sorry no can do. -May I look at the slayers confiscated weapons? Nils politely asked. -I am sure that is in order the guard told him. Nils grabbed the gorgon head and with a shock of lightning made her open her eyes, turning the man in front of him to stone. -Quick grab the keys and release them both Arne must be stopped. Elina grabbed the keys and unlocked the door. The team all ran outside where Arne was at the demon gate ready to summon a spell, David was there with one hundred men. -Now the gate will be closed by my spell, Blizz… -BALEFIRE! Before the old man could finish, he was interrupted by a fire spell from David, burning Nicklas dad alive killing him in the most painful way, he died screaming in pain. -No! Nicklas screamed! -Fear not he was a demon and I have saved us all David tried to calm the boy down. -Oh, really? I am afraid you just used balefire the most powerful fire spell and seem unbothered by it, I think in fact you might be the demon the man closest to David said. -Oh, you stupid human of course I am David said and ripped the mans heart out of his chest and crushed it by closing his hand into a fist. In fact I am Damian the son of lord Lucifer I will overthrow my father and sit on the throne as the demonic king the true ruler of hell. And balefire is not the most powerful fire spell, but this is. -Run! Robert told the team and the all ran inside to hide in the castle walls. David snapped his fingers. -INFERNO! The castle yard erupted in hellish flames burning one hundred men alive the air filled with smoke and the stench from burned corpses. -Before I leave, I summon legion. Damian disappeared into the flaming hell gate and ten demons appeared as one the all said… -WE ARE LEGION! -Fuck there is ten of them, ten that’s just too many, in fact its should be an illegal amount Elina said. -Well lets make them one less Robert said before taking aim at a one cyclops his first shoot making it a no-eyed cyclops the next five shoots annihilating what was rest of its head making brain and blood splatter all over the other demons. -And then there were nine Alicia said she threw two daggers that guided by her wind powers easily hit their goals and penetrated the brains of two demons, both falling dead to the ground. -Now there is only seven Robert counted and with lightning speed quickly emptied his other revolver into one demon making them only six. A half man half rhino demon was quickly rushing towards Nils he used the gorgon head to turn it into stone. -That makes five, make yourself useful you can mourn your father later he said to Nicklas. -Sure, and that makes four Nicklas obliterated a troll-demon with a shot from his plasma cannon. Then he summoned his dads polar bear to attack another troll the huge bear struggled with the troll and eventually overpowered it and began eating it alive while it screamed in agony. -Only three left said Elina flying high dropping stones crushing another demon a lizard man with her rocks from above. -This one is mine! Ivana burned a vampire demon alive. -Only two left! Great work team said Tor as a werewolf came flying at Ivana but the slayer saved the girl by frying the werewolf`s brain with a lightning bolt. -Last one! Said Paulina and attacked it with a water attack but the demon seemed unaffected. It was a chimera it had a goat head and lion head on top of a half goat half lion body and its tail was a long snake. -Fuck snakes! Why is it always snakes! Why can the not be cute like kittens, I fucking hate snakes. Ivana said appalled by the look of the demon. -Well you would not kill a kitten would you? Said Elina swinging down from above quickly cutting the snake tail of with one swift sword strike. She flew up again and summoned another rock crushing the chimera. And then she saw it a huge dragon approaching. -Fuck! A dragon approaching, and its fucking huge. Everyone take cover in the castle. Everyone got in the castle including the polar bear. More and more demons were coming out of the hell gate they seemed to be a never ending army. Humans on top of the castle wall attacked with all they had shooting and killing demon after demon with machinegun-fire, bow and arrows, sniper rifles and grenades, countless demons was laying dead on the ground but more and more came out of the cursed hellhole and the humans were starting the get low on ammo. And then the angel came riding on Pegasus’s winged horses of heaven four of them and the fifth one, their leader the angel lord Klara was riding on a unicorn with a longhorn and wings. The unicorn pierced through the body of a frogman with its horn and Klara swung her angel blade left and right decapitating frogmen and lizard men both they were laying on the ground holding their lost limbs and getting trampled to death by the Pegasus’s and their riders killed even more of the enemy hordes. Then Gargos appeared riding the big dragon it launched a fire attack against the angels, they all escaped except one both she and her winged horse were burned to ashes. The angels were flying towards the castle, but the dragon was close behind them, all the humans started shooting at it but the dragon seemed to not even take notice, its thick scales protecting it, it did not slow down one bit and swallowed one of the angel riders whole leaving only her Pegasus. The angels were inside the castle walls now and Klara walked towards Elina and hugged her. -Hey, how did you escape? I thought I was to find my father to release you. Elina told her aunt. -Yes, sweet child but I fear your father must be dead and the magic spell used to lock us in heaven vanished when his life ended. Klara told her niece. -What, my father locked you away, why would he do that? I thought he was an angel just like you! -Well sometimes a man can be demon and angel both, but we will talk later, this is your ultimate test to see if you can became a slayer and the same goes for your friends, I can see you are wearing armor and look battle ready now drink up from the Holy grail you need all the enhancements you can get to stand a chance. The dragon was flying around burning everyman it could find on the castle wall, Elina could hear them screaming in pain as they died. Alicia was trying to blow the dragon away with her wind magic blowing a powerful wind of gust it subverted the dragons breath and blew it in opposite direction. -Good try slayer but ultimately pointless the demon lord riding on top of the dragon told her. Gargos launched a quick fireball at her it hit and burned her entire body. Paulina quickly hit her with a water spell putting the fire out. It saved Alicia’s life but not her beauty. The dragon breathed fire at Paulina but she quickly put up a water wall protecting her and saving her life. Ivana stood with four men surrounding her they were all shooting at the dragon. -The eyes try to hit its eyes! Ivana launched a fireball at the dragon which only made it laugh. -Ha-ha fire will not hurt a dragon young girl. It returned fire burning and killing the men surrounding Ivana, but she seemed unhurt. -I am the daughter of Vlad Tepes the impaler, the most powerful vampire of all time also known as Dracula. He fed me and my brother both on dragon brains and dragon hearts. I am immune to both sunlight and fire you bitch! No overgrown iguana with wings is going to kill me. -D-Dracula? Gargos stuttered the winged demon seemed shocked by this news. Ivanas bat flew towards the dragon, morphed into the form of a man and cut its head of with a quick strike. -Yes, it is me Gargos you little bitch! Dracula was levitating in the air in front of him holding the mighty sword called dragon slayer. I will not let anyone kill my daughter and I am no friend of Lucius or Damian as you know, the throne of hell belongs to me and no one else. -Fuck Damian, and fuck Lucius both! Gargos cares only about Gargos. The winged demon lord flew away. -Dark slayer! I will give you your sword back but in return you must keep my daughter safe and also Transylvania wants peace with your country, the enemy of my enemy is my friend or so they say. We both have a common enemy in this child of the devil Damian, we must unite our forces and crush him! Should you say no to my offer, trust me your country will be invaded and my vampire forces will drink blood from men, woman and children all. -Seems I have very little choice I agree to your offer bloodsucker. -Go after Gargos he must not escape! Klara sent her two remaining angels, Tilde and Sara after him. I will stay here with the young one, two against one you will be able to handle him. And then out of the hell gate Nils could see Lucius appear. PART 3 -This is it! Time to finally kill that horned motherfucker. Nils screamed at the top of his lungs. Nicklas created a slide made of ice for Nils to slide down towards the demon. -Robert and Elina stay close to me, Nicklas stand back and attack from a distance. -But! -No buts just do as I say Nils told him, assuming the role of team leader. -I will fly my unicorn into battle and you can take the leftover Pegasus young one, Klara told Elina. -Sure, my own Pegasus so fucking cool! I am going to name her Peggy Elina said. -Lightning storm! Tor summoned his ultimate lightning attack against the enemy horde, demons exploded, and were lit on fire, hundreds of them they all died in immense pain. Tor passed out by the strain of using this powerful attack. -Two against one it is an easy win! Sara told Gargos the demon lord, she and her fellow angel Tilde was heading towards him. -It sure is! Gargos responded he ripped the left wing off Sara the angel, and Tilde ripped off the right wing. Then the demon pushed her of the Pegasus, she fell with her head being smashed against the ground killing her with her brains out. -Finally! we can be together my love! The angel Tilde kissed the demon gargos. -Yes, my love I have missed you so much and I need you to enter a house no demon can enter. -Of, course it will be no trouble angels can enter after all. Tors powerful attack had really thinned out the enemy hordes, but more and more demons appeared out of the hell gate all proclaiming: -WE ARE LEGION, FOR WE ARE MANY. Robert emptied both of his six shooter revolvers with straight headshots. -Well you might be many but now you are fewer. Nils was running towards Lucius with sword in hand. -My sword sings, but it knows only one song, the song of death for demon kind! Nils screamed and swung his sword left and right, splitting skulls, cutting demon heads of, cutting bodies in half and finally stabbing a demon straight through the heart as it was dying it proclaimed: -WE ARE LEGION, FOR WE ARE M- -Yes, but now there is one less of you, Nils stomped its face in. Shutting the demon up for good. Nicklas was in the back as Nils had told him, he was riding his dads polar bear, killing an insane amount of demons with its twin machineguns. Paulina was ending demon lives with her water sword, Nils shot an electric ball at Lucius but the demon was ready for it, he countered the attack and smashed Nils electric charge like a tennis ball with his devils fork the ball was sent flying towards Paulina and hit her, frying her brains out instantly killing her in the most painful way. Elina dropped rocks from above that smashed demons to death under her, Klara shot her bow and arrow piercing demons brains, eyes and necks killing another then. The legion appeared to be running low on demons finally. One gargoyle flew to Gargos for support. -WE ARE LEGION, WE ARE MANY, LORD GARGOS HELP LORD LUCIUS. Gargos ripped the heart straight out of Legions chest. -Fuck Legion and fuck Lucius too! Gargos is only concerned about himself he said before starting to eat the still beating heart of his fellow demon. Lucius ran towards Nils trying to pierce him with the devils fork, Nils rolled and cut the demons left knee. -Shit! Fucking shit! The demon lord screamed. He tried to pierce Nils brain with his sharp tail but Nils quickly cut it of with his dagger and then quickly threw that dagger into the demons back. Lucius drew the dagger from his back and his wound began to have blood flowing out of it. He again strikes at the young guardian but Nils parried the strike with his sword, Lucius cut the boys chest with a quick stab with the dagger. Nils fell to the ground he had managed to save the life of his friend but not himself. -Ha-Ha, finally revenge for my brother! My legion will kill all your friends, then everyone in this town, then this country will fall, I will rule for eternity, and Damian will be the true ruler of hell… excuse my what were you saying? Nils spit blood from his mouth. -L-Lightning storm! And a giant bolt of lightning hit the horned demon making his entire head explode and all of his troops around him too exploded leaving only blood and guts left of them. -But I thought you had to take to Slayer test to use such magic? Elina asked. -He has completed his test, he is now a slayer and I trust you and all your friends will be to. -Okay so now Nicklas can close the demon portal. Elina said. -Wait just one second Robert said and walked towards the demon gate disappearing into hell.
Nifty Or Thrifty: TSA Season 2 Continentals (Part 1)
Howdy, folks. First off, if you're reading this for the purposes of prepping for Continentals, congratulations! Very likely you got this far by ignoring my advice, so uh... what are you doing here? 😂 The "Nifty Or Thrifty" article series takes a comprehensive look at various condensed metas--Silph Arena Continentals, in this case--particularly focused on Pokémon where you can save yourself some stardust. More than likely, you got this far by splurging a bit, but with the way this format has been formulated, you may still need some cheap options in certain slots. I won't rehash what the folks at Silph already wrote about it, but I'll just say that this is a whitelist format, with a specific group of Pokémon to select from for each of your six team slots. As just one example, in Slot #3, you can select Azumarill OR Registeel OR Skarmory OR Altaria, but only one. That will break up some GBL and former Silph Cup cores for sure! Read more about the specifics over here. So, I will be mixing up the format of this article a bit to match. Instead of listing all the Pokémon with a 10k cost to add a second move, then 50k, and so on, I will instead go slot by slot and list the eligible 'mons I think are most worthy of consideration, going from 10k on down through 100k in each of those sections. And instead of my usual section split out for each (10k, 50k, and so on), I will instead mark each one with some 💸s. One is 25k, two is 50k, three means 75k, and finally four 💸 means you're dealing with a Legendary/Mythcal and its 100k second move cost. Make sense? Hope so, because we've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's gooooo! Today, for the purposes of splitting this massive meta into bite size chunks, I will be looking ONLY at Slots 1 and 2. I will have two more sections this week covering Slots 3 and 4, and then finally 5 and 6, so stay tuned throughout the week for those. Hell or high water, I WILL have them all out before the weekend, as that's when Continentals begin! 😬
SLOT #1 - Fire/WateGrass
CHARIZARD 💸 Fire Spin/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ Always a threat when it's in a meta? Blast Burn. And usually the best pure Blast Burninator around? Charizard, the only one that flies, and carries a great bait move to boot. Continentals Zard comes in two main flavors: Wing Attack or Fire Spin. The former gets Poliwrath, Noctowl, and Flygon, while the latter instead nets Perrserker, Alolan Muk, Galvantula, Froslass, and Cradily. Either way, Zard can burn through most Steel, Grass, Charm, Fighting, and Bugs, and outslug a number of other things in neutral on neutral battles. Charizard certainly has a place in this meta, and remains a budget player hero. BLAZIKEN 💸 Counter | Blaze Kick & Blast Burnᴸ/Stone Edgeᴸ Here, again, we have a choice: Blast Burn or Stone Edge? By the numbers, Blast Burn is better, picking up wins over Noctowl, Stunfisk, and of all things, Quagsire. However, Stone Edge is obviously much better counter coverage, best exemplified by the fact that it can eke out a win over even Altaria. Like Zard, Blaze terrorizes Steels, Grasses, and Bugs, but struggles against Charm (for obvious reasons) and Fighters, trading most of those for extra hate against Darks and Ices. On some teams, it will fit better than Zard... all depends on which extra niche sounds more appealing to you and your team. SCEPTILE 💸 Bullet Seed | Earthquake & Leaf Blade I won't try to hide it... several of Sceptile's impressive number of wins come from successfully baiting out a shield with Leaf Blade and striking the killing blow with a followup Earthquake. But certainly not all. It obliterates Waters and Muds and some other notable names (like AhChu and Probopass) with just Leaf Blade spam, and can just forgo baiting and double Earthquake a notable list as well. But yes, for FULL success, you're going to want to nab a shield. That's not TOO difficult a prospect as quickly as Sceptile throws charge moves out there, but it is just a fact of how you gotta play it. CHERRIM (SUNNY) 💸 Bullet Seed | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam Cherrim is a great core breaker. It beats Azumarill and Registeel, as well as most all Waters, Muds, Steels, Grasses, and even stuff like Obstagoon and AhChu and Flygon. And it's cheap to add a second move too! What's not to love? You have to like the value of getting the Grass and Fire roles (mostly) rolled into one when you consider something like Cherrim is the ONLY pick you can go with in this slot. SERPERIOR 💸 Vine Whip | Grass Knot & Aerial Ace With the other Vine Whipping Grass starters not on the guest list, Serperior still sneaks through and gets a chance to show its stuff. Obviously it pines for its future with Frenzy Plant, but Grass Knot is still a good enough approximation, and Aerial Ace adds some handy coverage that allows it to do not only standard Grass stuff, but also handle the Fighters that look rather dangerous in this meta. As you'll see in a bit, that's a very good secondary role to have here. BLASTOISE 💸 Water Gun | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Skull Bash 🎶 It's all about that bulk, 'bout that bulk, go turtle! ♫ Sorry, sorry... but in all seriousness, it IS all about that bulk. Blastoise is the bulkiest Hydro Cannon Pokémon in the game, and numbers 2-4 really aren't all that close. So while it lacks the fancy Ground moves of Swampert and the Ice and Dark shenanigans of Feraligatr and the useful subtyping of Empoleon, Blastoise trails only Swampy (who is, of course, not IN this format) in overall effectiveness, doing everything you'd want a Water to do in dousing Fires, Grounds, and Steels (yes, even Registeel). But it also handles other Waters well by either outbulking them in ineffective-on-ineffective Water fights or slapping them with an unresisted Skull Bash. In this way, it does something Swampert and the other Mud Boys like Quagsire only dream of: beat Azumarill. That's right... Blastoise can handle Regi AND Azu in addition to the standard Water role AND taking out things like Charmers and Mud Boys and Ghosts and outbulking even things like Noctowl and Alolan Muk. If you want a good, solid Water that will always put up a fight, without having to rely on Azu itself, Blastoise would like a word. EMPOLEON 💸 Waterfall| Hydro Cannonᴸ & Flash Cannon The other Hydro Cannon user worthy of your consideration, though it may not look like it on the surface. It's true, Empoleon does not have the breadth of varied wins that Blastoise does, but what it does have, thanks to its handy Steel subtyping, is built in resistance to Fairy, Dragon, Flying, Psychic, Normal, and other useful resistances that allow it to beat Altaria, Skarmory, Munchlax, and even Cradily, none of which Blastoise can overcome, as well as convincingly taking down Charmers and Noctowl and such. It's not all sunshine and roses, as Steel adds worrisome vulnerabilities to Fighting and Ground that other Waters don't have to contend with, and Empoleon cannot overcome Azumarill or Registeel as Blastoise does (though it does at least TIE Azu), but with the right team around it, Empie could be a critical component of tournament winning teams. PRINPLUP 💸 Bubble | Icy Wind & Hydro Pump Yes, really. With the caveat that it needs to land a Hydro Pump to do so, Empoleon's pre-evolution can use Pump to close out wins over Azumarill, Registeel, Munchlax, Probopass, Obstagoon, Froslass and others. And it's not JUST a one trick pony... Icy Wind is enough alongside Bubble to take out all the big Fires, everything Flying but Altaria and DB Gyarados and TS Zapdos, plus Quagsire and Blastoise (shaking off a Skull Bash along the way) and Alolan Muk and Flygon and Sableye and even Shiftry. No beating around the bush: this is a bold pick, definitely spice, and you may not be looking for that with championships dangling out there in front of you. But hey, it wouldn't be me if I didn't point to SOME potential spice, now would it? 😉 And Prinplup is much more than just spice in the right hands. WAILORD 💸 Water Gun | Surf & Hyper Beam Wailord is shockingly decent in this meta. For one thing, it rather easily tops Azumarill and Registeel, outbulks most of the other Steels and Charmers, obliterates all Fires beats all Grounds but Garchomp and Torterra and all Rocks that aren't part Electric or Grass, outlasts all Ices but Lapras and Aboma, and even overcomes wild cards like Obstagoon and Sableye and A-Muk and Mantine and Haunter. Well, okay, that was like, six or seven or ten things. But look over the sim overview I linked to: it's a GOOD list, and Wailord can be built dirt cheap. NINETALES 💸💸 Fire Spin | Psyshock & Overheat/Solar Beam It's like Rainbow Cup all over again, because I think that Ninetales just may be the very best Fire type in this meta. It has the best numbers against the core meta, beating all the meta Ices, Steels (aside from Empoleon), and Grasses (with the sole exception of EQ Sceptile), plus all the Charmers too. If that's not enough, well, it also gets Noctowl, Obstagoon, Hitmontop, Munchlax, Galvantula, Alolan Muk, and oh yeah, fellow Fires Sunny Castform and Charizard. Just scan through that list in the link, because it's a VERY good list. TANGROWTH 💸💸 Vine Whip | Rock Slide & Power Whip/Sludge Bomb With the low number of Grass starters allowed, Tangrowth shoots up the Grass rankings as the best Vine Whipper available, with the bonus of having an excellent coverage move with Rock Slide. It can go full speed ahead into the Grass role with Power Whip, and while that is probably the best play, it also has the option to be more of a gimmick mon with Sludge Bomb instead. SB technically gets more wins (all against Grasses like Cherrim and Shiftry and the mirror) while not showing any new losses as compared to PW, though a number of formerly safe Water wins get scary close now. I'm going to recommend Power Whip, but there's a case there for Bomb if you want to really mess with your opponents' expectations. BELLOSSOM 💸💸 Bullet Seed | Leaf Blade & Return/Dazzling Gleam Plays a bit like Sceptile with the same insane Bullet Seed/Leaf Blade combo, but with significantly more bulk. That means it can also better guarantee a slow charging, closing move comes into play, and gives Bell better overall results than Sceptile. While Sceptile does much better against Steels, certain Fires (A-Wak and Castform), and things like A-Muk thanks to its Earthquake, Bell wins all the same things, and usually with more left in the tank, and beats other bulky opponents like Lapras and Mantine and Munchlax--and outlasts hard hitting opponents like Shiftry, Obstagoon, and Alolan Ninetales--that Sceptile cannot manage. Dazzling Gleam gets it Zweilous, while Return instead gets Victreebel and Galvantula, but all the rest comes with just Leaf Blade. Bellossom is one of the best Grass options in this format, and arguably the best one that's not a Razor Leafer (though heck, it can even do that, if that's more your cup of tea). PARASECT 💸💸 Fury Cutter | X-Scissor & Solar Beam I'm including this one mostly because I've seen a lot of chatter on it, so I wanted to take a peak into whether or not it was warranted. On the surface, yes, it looks viable, but this is another bait-heavy option that often relies on getting a shield with X-Scissor before building up to a devastating Solar Beam. That's how it gets some of the flashier names, like Melmetal, Galvantula, Hitmontop, Munchlax, and of course Azumarill. But interestingly, it can get all those other wins with X-Scissor alone. The fact that FC/XS gets all Grasses but Cradily and Bug-weak things like AhChu, Obstagoon, and even Zweilous is probably not surprising, but that it can also take down things like Stunfisk, Rainy Castform and Lanturn, Blastoise, Flygon, and even Quagsire without any Grass damage at all probably is a bit of a shock. The folks that have been buzzing about Parasect MAY be on to something. Are YOU bold enough to try it out? LUDICOLO 💸💸 Razor Leaf/Bubble | Ice Beam & Energy Ball There are two main variants you can run of everyone's favorite dancing pineapple, though both utilize Ice Beam and Energy Ball as Ludi's defacto best charge moves now. Razor Leaf Ludi is a very, very good RLer, toppling every single Water but Tentacruel, every Ground but Gligar, and every Rock but Crustle and Probopass, and every Ice but Aboma, AND conveniently most Fighters, Munchlax, AhChu, and all Ghosts but A-Wak and Drifblim. Bubble Ludi looks worse, giving up most of the Waters and Ghosts and Fighters and Munchlax and AhChu, but gaining Altaria, Probopass, Togekiss, and the majority of Fires. Whichever one of those fits your team better, it's a nice one to consider for its versatility in a format where you want to squeeze as much out of each team slot as possible. SEAKING 💸💸 Poison Jabᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Drill Runᴸ Oh, I have been WAITING for this one. I finally get to cover Seaking in a Nifty Or Thrifty! And yes, it's really good here. The overall numbers look a bit so-so, but of course, triple Legacy Seaking can famously beat Azumarill, Registeel, AND Altaria, and everybody's team is all but guaranteed to have one of those. The King also takes down all Fires (well, except Moltres), every Fairy except sometimes Granbull, nearly all Flyers (Golbat, Skarmory, Dragonite, Moltres and Zapdos and a couple total fringe options are the few exceptions), most Waters (Lanturn and Rainy C and Mud Boys are the ONLY exceptions, and even Quagsire loses!) and even many prominent Grasses, including Cherrim, Ludi, Parasect, Shiftry, and Bellossom (with their ideal movesets). I think I've thrown enough names at you there... take a look again at the core meta results and decide if Seaking has a place on YOUR team. If you have one, it's a very strong contender for your #1 slot. RAINY CASTFORM 💸💸💸 Water Gun | Weather Ball (Water) & Thunder I'm just gonna drop the numbers... and the mic. If it isn't Grass, Electric, or Dragon, it's going to have a rough time with Rainy C. In fact, the only losses Rainy suffers to anything on that list that ISN'T Grass or Electric or a Dragon is Machamp, Obstagoon, Melmetal, and Alolan Ninetales. And that's it. Weather Ball is just nasty, and what it can't finish off, Thunder likely can. That includes Azu and Regi and Skarmory and Stunfisk and A-Muk and Poliwrath and Charizard and Flygon and Haunter and A-Wak and a whole host of others. This first team slot is PACKED, if you haven't been able to figure that out already, but here is yet another very potent contender. SUNNY CASTFORM 💸💸💸 Ember | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam I mean, it's fine, and Weather Ball is again pretty nuts. Grasses and Steels and Charmers and Ices certainly don't like it. The balance of wins and losses is very close to Rainy... except the wins and losses flip around the other way. Fire just isn't a fantastic typing, much more niche than the WateElectric combo that Rainy brings to the table. It's a good enough Fire type, but others that can do more like Charizard and Ninetales and Blaziken are just better thanks to their more versatile moves. Make no mistake, Solar Beam can and HAS snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for players in many past tournaments, but especially up at this level of play, it's not something you want to bank on too much. I think Sunny is best left cheering from the sidelines this time. SUICUNE 💸💸💸💸 Snarl | Bubble Beam & Hydro Pump Many Pokémon are a blunt instrument, where tap-tap-tapping faster than the opponent will get you victory. And then there are Pokémon like Suicune, which is a scalpel that can reap utter devastation in the right hands. If you're already considering it, you probably used it in Ferocious Cup to great effect. If you didn't... well, honestly, it's probably too late to learn it now. Suicune requires precise timing on the Bubble Beam baits and springing Hydro Pump at just the right time. If you can pull it off, it's deadly, but done wrong, it can all blow up in your face. Someone will make it work. Is that you? Only you can answer that question.
SLOT #2 - Ghost/Normal/Fighting
MUNCHLAX 💸 Lick | Body Slam & Bulldoze There unfortunately aren't many viable 10,000 second move Pokémon in this slot, so may as well start with the best of them. I mean, even with just Body Spam, Munchie impressively can beat things like Mud Boys and A-Muk and Skarmory and several big Grasses and Waters and Ghosts and Fires and even Altaria. But with Bulldoze it becomes a Steel killer too, adding on Registeel, Probopass, Perrserker, and Jirachi, as well as Froslass (and shoring up Sableye)--giving it wins now over ALL Ghosts--and Lanturn. There are many roles that Munchlax can play, and it makes a nice, safe lead or swap in option that can at least put up a fight against nearly anything. ALOLAN RATICATE 💸 Quick Attack | Crunch & Hyper Beam Sort of a lesser Munchlax, with the caveat that it wins the head to head and better handles Darks and Psychics, where that matters. But aside from that and being able to tie Azumarill, maybe, this is really just budget Munchie. Of note: unlike many past metas, Hyper Fangdoesn't get it done... it is HyperBeam you likely want here, if you want A-Rat at all. NOCTOWL 💸 Wing Attack | Sky Attack & Psychic The best pure Flyer here, as expected, though that only goes so far. Yes, Grasses and Bugs hate it, as do Ghosts, and there are several other notable and perhaps surprising wins like Munchlax, Togekiss, Flygon, Hitmontop, Sableye and Poliwrath (despite their super effective Power Gem and Ice Punch... Noctowl is a TANK, remember), and even Azumarill and its Ice Beam aren't enough. Those are all very good things, but that loss column is distressingly--and surprisingly--long as well. One could argue this just isn't a very Flying-friendly meta, and Noctowl has as much success as it does in spite of it. I would still endorse it more fully if it didn't take up your precious second slot, but in this format? Despite all the good Mr. Owl can do, you may want to look elsewhere. LUCARIO 💸 Counter | Power-Up Punch & Close Combat/Shadow Ball Looking for a budget Fighter? Look no further. Find a Riolu with most IV spreads, second move it for the 10k Baby Discount™, evolve it, and at most you'll only have to power it up by half a level (if even that!) to have the perfect Great League Lucario. It used to be that Shadow Ball was standard, but now it's been almost unequivocally replaced by Close Combat, which--combined with Power-Up Punch--wins all the same matchups, PLUS stuff like Skarmory, Noctowl, Flygon, Galvantula, Rainy Castform, and Sableye, plus a slew of other stuff you see in those links yourself. It IS worth noting that, yes, PuP is often used for baiting, but even without baiting, its performance at least doesn't fall completely off a cliff, which is nice. Chances are you've gotten this far with SOME potent Fighter already built, but if not--or if it isn't allowed like, say, Medicham or Scrafty--Lucario can be built on the cheap and get you most of the same Fighting performance you'll get from others. And Fighting is quite big here, as we'll see very soon.... PRIMEAPE 💸💸 Counter | Night Slash & Close Combat You really for an absolute shock? Primeape may be the best Fighter in this format. No, stop laughing. I'm quite serious. Just LOOK at that list... it's quite extensive. Now, it doesn't include Azumarill or Altaria, but Primeape can do all the things you want your Fighter to do, AND can beat all the other Counter users but Hitmonchan and Heracross, AND has a solid threat to Psychics and Ghosts in Night Slash that MUST be respected and can go off for a huge damage boost at any time. Again, look at that list and tell me what's not to love. Well, I'll beat you to it: a number of wins DO require getting a shield with Night Slash and setting up a closing Close Combat, but in reality, that's true of most all the big Fighters here (Lucario and Hitmonchan with PuP, Machamp with Cross Chop, Blaziken with Blaze Kick, etc.), so I don't consider that a damning strike against Ape. You may feel safer with Machamp or Blaziken or one of those other tried and true options, and that's fine. They're great too. But if you're the go big or go home type, give Primeape a good, hard look. I think it could legit win you the whole enchilada this go-round. MACHAMP 💸💸 Counter | Rock Slide & Cross Chop Speaking of the tried and true, Machamp is a well-known commodity now. That's a good and bad thing--good in that it's easy to use and you likely have a good feel for it, bad in that the opponent is unlikely to be surprised. I did look over various other moveset combinations, but there really aren't any that can match Cross Chop/Rock Slide, which gives Machamp great, shield-pressuring Fighting damage output and a very good coverage move that allows it to force shields on things that normally would never have to shield a Fighter, and can legit steal away wins. But beware... Machamp is a bit squishy down at Great League level, just barely less so than Primeape, and while it can outslug many things, that health bar must be watched closely. POLIWRATH 💸💸 Mud Shot | Dynamic Punch & Hydro Pump/Ice Punch Poli's normal Mud Shot/Ice Beam/Dynamic Punch moveset looks surprisingly tepid in this meta. Sure, Steels and Darks and Ices still loathe it, with Ice Punch hurting Dragons and Grounds and making Flyers play honest too. But Poliwrath may be best forgoing all that for pure power with Hydro Pump instead, trading away Altaria, Zweilous, and Haunter for potential wins over A-Wak, Beedrill, Stunfisk, Sableye, and others instead. Poliwrath lags behind Fighters with Counter in the pure Fighter role, but it has options those others can only dream off. Despite the obvious downtick in overall success, it should and certainly will still find a welcome spot on teams in Continentals. Is yours one of them? ZANGOOSE & PERRSERKER 💸💸 Shadow Claw | Close Combat & Night Slash/Foul Play Everyone's talking about the new hotness Perrserker, and why it shows up in this slot, and I'm just over here like, "hey guys, have you seen how Zangoose is just flat out better anyway?". Because yes, Perrserker is fine, but when you compare it to Goose... well, there doesn't appear to be much comparison. But that's what Ido, so here we go. Both reliably beat most Ices, Rocks, Psychics, and--somewhat curiously--Grasses. Perrserker uses its Steel typing to do better against Dragons and Fairies (uniquely beating Altaria, Togekiss, and Alolan Ninetales, for example), as well as Flyers (Noctowl, Skarmory) and Grass (Shiftry, Victreebel). Zangoose and its Normal typing, by contrast, does better against Ghosts (uniquely winning A-Wak and crushing Haunter as opposed to Perr's barely-there, less-than-10-HP victory) and Grounds (Flygon, Marshtomp), winning there where Perrserker cannot. Goose also has a better overall Dark move, with Night Slash clocking in 10 energy cheaper than Foul Play and, of course, carrying that looming boost threat. Largely on the speed of Slash, Zangoose also uniquely defeats Flygon, Blastoise, Galvantula, Munchlax, Melmetal, Quagsire, Obstagoon, Alolan Raichu, and Registeel and the head to head versus Perrserker. As with many other Night Slashers, Zangoose's performance DOES take a hit if it misses baits, but not too drastically, missing out on Flygon, Munchie, Melmetal, Zweilous, and Goonie, but actually gaining Sunny Castform by going double Close Combat as a small consolation prize. Anyway, end of the day, both are useable and have the kind of versatility you like to see here, though I think Goose is your better--and underrated--option. ALOLAN MAROWAK 💸💸 Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball/Fire Blast You may think there are no surprises left with A-Wak at this point. It's been a staple of a ton of Silph Cups to this point, and this season in particular. But while the standard Fire Spin/Bone Club/Shadow Ball set has the best overall results and does well against the core meta, it is NOT the only option. Because there is a real case for Fire Blast too. Shadow Ball is a better move overall, and it alone gets A-Wak Ludicolo and Fighters Machamp and Hitmontop, but Fire Blast is more of a home run, with unique potential wins against Lapras (well, SB can do it with very high Attack, but....) and Noctowl and Cradily. Now would I necessarily recommend Blast over Ball? I don't know... that's a pretty bold move. But if you like bold moves, Fire Blast A-Wak looks like one you could pull off to great effect. It's a legit alternative. FROSLASS 💸💸 Powder Snow | Avalanche & Shadow Ball I know she's a fan favorite, and folks will be bringing Lass no matter what I say, but honestly, she's a little underwhelming in this meta. Yes, Dragons obviously flee in terror, and most meta Flyers want nothing to do with Lass either, but her other best roles--taking out Grasses, Ghosts, Grounds, Psychics--are inconsistent. She can beat A-Wak, but not Haunter. Vine Whippers and Bullet Seeder Grasses tend to fall, but Shiftry and Razor Leafers generally do not. Even against Fighters, one of her biggest claims to fame in past Silph formats, she can take many but not the likes of Machamp, Primeape, and Blaziken, who all have moves that pretty consistently turn the tables. Don't get me wrong... I DO get the appeal. Froslass does a number of very good things and is lethally dangerous in the right hands. But for me, she just doesn't do quite enough to get a rousing endorsement from me for the coveted second team slot. THE LICKIBOYS 💸💸 Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Power Whip/Earthquake Really, they're mostly just worse Munchlax. Lickitung's biggest claim to fame is trading in Registeel for an Azumarill win thanks to Power Whip, and holding on to Altaria, but otherwise it basically is just worse. Lickilicky has Earthquake which allows it to hold (barely) Registeel, and notably it alone among the three Body Slammers can sneak a win over Obstagoon and Stunfisk, but it also cannot match Munchie in overall performance. I think if you use the Lickis, it's because you like them and/or have a shiny to show off. They're not bad, just outclassed, IMO. HITMONCHAN 💸💸💸 Counter | Close Combat & ________ Punch Before I say anything else, note the potential for big cost savings here if you've hatched a good Tyrogue (with Defense being its highest stat IV)... second move for only 10,000 dust and THEN evolve to 'Chan, level up to Level 23ish, and you're done. Otherwise it's 75k for the second move, so if you trade for a Chan and THEN have to second move... ouch. Anyway, however you get there, a double moved Chan wants Close Combat for sure, and then you can trick it out with really any Punch move for extra coverage and baits. The "best" of the Elemental Punches is probably Ice, as it alone can get Altaria, but otherwise they basically all work the same in the end. Even Power-Up Punch is a consideration, unable to get Altaria but making Sableye and Serperior much easier. While your selection of second move may not actually lead to many new wins, the fact that it has such a large pool of options is a good way to keep the pressure on the opponent. Chan remains a solid but seemingly always underrated Fighting option. GALLADE 💸💸💸 Confusion | Leaf Blade & Close Combat Not really a true Fighter, though here it counts among them. Not really a true Psychic either. Gallade is really more of a generalist. Its best role is actually as a quasi-Grass thanks to Leaf Blade, beating most of the big Waters and Grounds of note (though not quite that darn little Azumarill). It also manages to whoop Obstagoon and most of the biggest Steels like Probopass, Melmetal, and Regi with Close Combat, and beats Haunter and ALL eligible Fighters thanks to Confusion damage. Gallade isn't the best Fighter or Confusioner or Grass, but the fact that it can masquerade pretty well in all those roles gives it great value when you want... well, great value from each of your carefully selected team picks. SNORLAX 💸💸💸 Lick | Body Slam & Superpower Snorlax is the patron saint of varied movepools. You can run with big closing moves like Earthquake and Outrage and Skull Bash, but it does generally work best with Body Slam and, these days, as a quasi-Fighter itself thanks to Superpower, which gets it TEN wins more than Body Slam alone... basically all Steels, Rocks, Darks, and little bro Munchlax. Snorlax and Munchlax are actually very close in performance, with Munchie a little more solid against Steels, Fires, and Electrics, and its slight bulk advantage giving it things like Altaria and Sableye, whereas Snorlax does much better against Darks and Rocks and outracing Melmetal while Munchie cannot. They're both excellent generalists, depending on which fills that hole on your team a little better. The cost difference SEEMS large, but do keep in mind that Munchie has to be leveled up to about 30 (and 20 to 30 is, how about that, 75,000 dust), so there's a decent chance Snorlax COULD actually be cheaper to build from the ground up if you have one in the mid to upper teens for its level. Something to consider. SABLEYE 💸💸💸 Shadow Claw | Foul Play & Power Gem/Return Another popular pick that just underwhelms. I've included it because Sable always generates hype, though it seems a little outmatched here. Beating things like Registeel and Probopass without dealing any super effective damage is quite nice, and it has a smattering of other eye-raising wins (A-Wak, AhChu, Haunter, Poliwrath, Charizard, Lapras, Beedrill, etc.), but it just doesn't seem to me like enough to justify burning a slot on it. You want your scrappy little wild card to do a bit more than Sable seems capable of. GOLURK 💸💸💸 Mud Slap | Shadow Punch & Dynamic Punch Honestly, if you're going to burn this slot on a Ghost, why not go for an unpredictable one? Beating a varied mix of Pokemon similar to Sableye, but with more pain being brought to Steels and Electrics thanks to Mud Slap hijinks, and also better results than Sable against Fighters and quasi-Fighters like Machamp and Obstagoon (and beating all the ones you care about except funky Poliwrath and Gallade). Again, if you're going to take a chance on a Ghost in this slot, why not do it with something that will keep the opponent on their toes? And that's list of what I personally think--based on nearly a week of analysis--are the most impactful and reliable Pokémon for your first two team slots. I did look at EVERY eligible Pokémon for these slots, so if it's not listed above, it just didn't make the cut. They're not all trash or anything, but many (Typhlosion, Feraligatr, Milotic, Linoone, Hitmontop, Drifblim, and more) are just markedly worse--and often more expensive!--versions of things I DID highlight. As I said at the start, I will be covering Slots 3-6 in other writeups this week, and I've already begun writing! So until then, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon which now has a tie-in exclusive Discord server you can access to get straight through to me. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I'll try to get back to you! Thank you for reading! I very much appreciate you taking the time to read all this and sincerely hope it helps you start crafting your team. Some of you may not need my help, but I am willing to bet many are still scrambling a bit, and that's why I do this! Good luck as you begin prepping, and check back throughout the week for more. Until then, good luck, my friends!
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BABY ALIVE: June Kayla & Katrina got to the pool! FAIL?! Katrina drops her iPad in the pool!
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