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What constitutes an attack

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  • Originally posted by Knobert on June 7, 2001
  • Revised by Archaic on September 30, 2001
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The issue surrounding what counts as a move is an important one, and like other rules, is also ambiguous.

Quoted from the league website:

"Attacks" are defined as being the Pokémon's attacks, use of non permanent signature moves (i.e. Special Attacks, Defenses & Techniques), evolving (However remember that if you evolve you may not do any other attacks this round) and extreme movements (i.e. The oft seen "Dodge that and attack", as well as moving behind the opponent, to the extreme other side of the arena, etc).

The key word to consider in the rules is extreme. Some referees would count certain things as extreme, and others wouldn't. I for one am not one to call moves attacks, as my take on the whole situation is to let trainers get their Pokémon to move around. One of the main differences between this and the game is that this league is more fantasy. By that I mean there are these extra elements that make the whole game seem more real than ever before. A battle with movement, I find, not only makes referee's results more interesting, but it also makes the battle itself more interesting, and gives the trainers something extra to think about. And each trainer gets the advantage of ordering moves, as every turn the battling order reverses. Of course, although the fantasy element is in there, I of course agree that there should be boundaries in the form of our league rules, and the referee's discretion of course.

I think before going any further, what classifies an attack in the first place?

  1. Obviously enough, an attack such as Agility or Ice Punch is going to automatically be classed as an attack.
  2. Sig. moves in the form of non-permanent effects also all count as normal attacks.
  3. This is the one the rules don't really specify on, and that is extreme movement.

Having discussed this, what do I think comprises an extreme movement? Throughout this next part of my views, I will be using examples, almost all fictitious. I personally never count any movement as an attack, for one simple reason: I don't give an advantage. When I ref, I think about the attacks, and then each Pokémon's state, then how the movements issued would affect the result, and finally how the arena could be changed as a result or used to modify the result. If the trainer really tries to use movement to get out of a situation, I either let it fail, or I don't let it have any advantage. That is how I perceive the situation, and I think it is a good approach for all refs to take. Following are different examples, as said above, almost all fictitious, and how I would handle each situation. Remember, I never count movements as attacks, so this is not the issue in hand.

If a trainer issues movement such as:

"Pikachu, get as close as possible..."

This, in my book, is fine. The Pikachu is being told to get as near to the opponent as possible, and this in my book is perfectly legitimate, as this is not going to effect the outcome very much at all, and may only do a little extra damage under certain circumstances. I would handle this situation as normal.

Another example:

"Spearow, keep your distance..."

Once again, fine. The trainer is not gaining anything from this, and if an attack which had widespread attack was being used, natural instinct would come into play and the Spearow would probably keep its distance. But, the Spearow will still take some damage unless the attack being used against it misses, or was a poor decision.

Here is another one:

"Heracross, get out of there..."

This one is not so good to do. Running away in my eyes, as I see it, is not the best thing to do unless the Heracross was in mortal danger. If that is the case, Heracross would be perfectly within its rights to flee, and I would happily allow it, although Heracross still taking damage, for example. However, if it was not necessary to run away, I would frown upon this act, and most of the time would not let it work, and backfire on the user, in some way, shape or form.

This is another example:

"Cyndaquil, try and dodge that..."

This is another worse one, as the Pokémon, Cyndaquil here, is being told to directly dodge the attack. As I don't count any movements as attacks, I would not let it work very well. I would maybe allow one hit to miss, possibly two depending on which Pokémon were involved, and the others to hit, and probably cause any appropriate after effects, such as paralysis.

This is one that has only recently come in, and is important too. It caused this whole argument in the first place:

"Elekid, get under Pidgey and use your Thunder!"

This is a difficult one to say what happens. Although Elekid could be told to move closer, like I said in my first example, in this case the trainer is trying to get a harder hit. Though the trainer misjudged the properties of Thunder (Many, after having seen the Smash brothers game, believe it comes straight down. This is not true. Thunder arcs towards its opponent starting from the Pokémon who used it.), this sort of scenario can happen with attacks that could be enhanced by certain actions. Now, there are two views on this. The first is that it is an attack, but I do not fall into that group. I fall into the other group, which is making the move not work completely properly, because of whatever reason, or by getting Pidgey to instinctively move away, in this case. If I was reffing the battle involved, I would either allow Elekid to not make the attack properly, or cause Pidgey to move away. In these circumstances, it is dependent on other factors, such as Pidgey's ordered attacks, the health and energy levels of each Pokémon, and so on.

As I said earlier, the whole fantasy thing makes it all different and special, and that is why I think moves are OK to be used. I know certain other refs agree with this approach, and I know and appreciate that other refs have different opinions on the issue. But, you all know mine now, and how I cope with different situations. If you think there are any important examples I've missed, or any questions you've got, I'll be happy to answer them.

Oh, and I do realize that sometimes I have not carried out my reffing in the same way as I have mentioned above. This is due to other factors such as the physical strength and energy levels at the time, and other factors that would come into play. Also note that over time my reffing technique has become more refined, so some things and principals I did have have now changed slightly.

I hope this helps both sides out, it's only my opinion on this situation, and others are bound to think differently about it.


Knobert, 7th of June 2001

The changes I have made to the above document are relatively minor, but significant enough that they may have an impact on some refs who have been taking the document literally. While it was not league canon then, it is now. Follow it, but be prepared to fudge things for the sake of a better battle, just like with the rest of the rules.

Archaic, 30th of September, 2001

This text is copyright © 2001 Knobert, Archaic.

Redistribution is permitted under conditions. Modification is not permitted.