Hello and welcome to my Sinnoh blog, which will detail my soon-to-begin game of Pokémon Platinum Version. Platinum was released today in the UK, so it won't be long until I get my hands on a copy. In the meantime I am still playing Pokémon Emerald Version, and am working on the Hoenn Battle Frontier right now, although I'm yet to even meet a Frontier Brain.
There are many different ways to play Pokémon games, and I wanted to give a rundown of the rules I follow when playing a Pokémon game, before starting this blog.
Order of progress: I tend to always save everything up to the last minute. In other words, whenever I have a gym or major dungeon to complete, I will always make sure I have completed all the other parts of the game that are possible to complete before attempting that dungeon/gym. In particular, I always save getting the badge needed to use the "Fly" HM, until late in the game. For example in Emerald Version I did not get to use "Fly" until after I had got to the Elite Four entrance in the north of Ever Grande City. I then went back and completed Fortree Gym. In general using this method will stop you having to do those "grinds" which most people do. For example, a lof of people when reaching the Elite Four for the first time are 10 or maybe even 20 levels below the Elite Four and then they have to just keep training and training for days on end before they can even stand a chance. Using my method, you will be at a much higher level than the normal.
Use of guides: I think in this franchise, unlike many others, it is okay to use guides to some extent. If I had never consulted guides, I never would have heard of EVs or IVs or base stats or STAB. I also think it is useful for squad planning to a very limited extent. For example, I knew that Rayquaza was not an allowed Pokémon in the Hoenn Battle Frontier and so I trained up another Pokémon of the same type (Salamence). What I don't agree with is looking at the types of future opponents and then choosing your squad appropriately. So for example I wouldn't pre-plan a squad to beat the Elite Four before I had even faced them.
Saving and loading: I think strategic saving and loading is wrong in the majority of cases. In terms of first the correct cases, I like many others always save before battling a legendary Pokémon. This is just common sense as if you kill the Pokémon or all your squad faint then you never have another chance to catch it. I don't however agree with re-loading a save just because you have lost money in the previous battle; this is cheating and kind of defeats the whole object. However I have been known to reload saves due to a problem in concentration. The example that springs to mind: I was crossing the road and not really paying attention while playing on Emerald, and a car almost hit me; obviously I ran out of the way without first stopping to pause my Pokémon game, and when I looked back, my Bagon had prematurely evolved into Shelgon. Well here I re-loaded my save because I had lost that opportunity due to unforeseen circumstances.
Trades: I don't believe in receiving a Pokémon in a trade that is a far higher level than your own squad, then using that guy in battles. I use the trade facilities only for Pokédex completion or for Pokémon which only evolve by trade.
Utility Pokémon: Most HMs are rubbish in my opinion, and the only ones I really use for attack are Fly and Surf; I also use Dive occasionally. Therefore I keep a set of "utility pokémon" who basically only have some HM moves, and I take them into dungeons with me etc, so as not to "contaminate" my main squad with rubbish moves.
Level considerations: I generally try to catch Pokémon at the lowest possible level and at the lowest possible evolutionary form, as that way they have more of a chance to get effort values etc. I will look at guides to see the moveset of that Pokémon and then strategically plan my evolution level so as the Pokémon evolves once it has learnt all the moves it needs to before evolving. It also often occurs that a Pokémon only learns a move in an evolved form so I have to factor that in too. Finally, it makes sense to have all your active Pokémon at the same level, as some automatic systems choose CPU Pokémon which are automatically at the same level as your strongest Pokémon.
Squad maintenance: I keep 4 separate squads. Squad 1 is my strategic squad. It will be type-complete (in other words for every single type there will be a STAB move that is super-effective against that type in my squad 1 move pool). Apart from that I tend to choose reasonably well-rounded Pokémon that are strong in their Physical/Special Attack stat as appropriate. I won't start to build up this squad generally until about a third of the way through the game. Squad 2 is my tactical squad. This is the squad I tended to use before developing my strategic squad, and in particular in the early stages of the game. It will generally be quite strong but not type-complete. Squad 3 is my mercenary squad. It contains powerful, usually legendary Pokémon, that I train at the Day-Care. I use these Pokémon sometimes in tough battles. Squad 4 is my old squad. This is where I store Pokémon I have partied with before, but did not have a long-term future with. I have one box for each of these 4 squads, and then the remaining (never partied with) Pokémon are sorted into level group boxes. Finally I will generally have a box called "To Sort" which I will set as default, and a box called "Utility" as above.