There are 3 potential uses for the move Sketch:
- Because you can get powerful moves and, unlike Smeargle, the Pokemon that uses Sketch doesn't have terrible offensive and defensive stats.
- To make catching certain Pokemon, namely Legendaries, easier. (For more information, click here)
- To make breeding multiple moves from the Field egg group much more straightforward. (A single Male user of Sketch can teach moves that would otherwise take multiple 5/6 IV Pokemon along with a Female with a different move already on it.)
Before anything else, we need to establish that Sketch is a move that can copy almost any other move, along with its normal PP, permanently. (Keyword: Almost. Consult Sketch's Move Page for more info.) Next, comes the Pokemon: Ratsy, Raffiti, and Duplicat. Ratsy and Raffiti are the only Pokemon that can learn Sketch, and Duplicat is the only Pokemon that can use Transform in random encounters. Last we have Venesi City and The Labyrinth. Venesi City is the only location where the player can encounter Ratsy, and The Labyrinth is the only place where Duplicats that know Transform can be encountered, and to gain access to it, you must first defeat the Venesi City Gym Leader.
Methods For Sketching Specific Moves
At the moment, finding a Duplicat in the Labyrinth, stalling until it uses Transform on a Pokemon that knows a desired move, and then using Sketch to copy that move before the Duplicat's PP for the move runs out, or the Pokemon using Sketch faints, is the most generally useful method of copying moves. This is what this post will focus on primarily, but it's important to remember the alternatives. Just know that some of the advice to come will prove relevant to some of these strategies, so don't click off immediately.
- Wild Pokemon and Trainers could make trying to Sketch certain moves less of a headache given that Duplicats in the Labyrinth are a very uncommon encounter, so it can be worth it to find out when Pokemon learn certain moves. To help make selecting the desired move more likely, use moves like Torment to keep them from selecting the same move twice, or drain the PP of unwanted moves with Spite. And in the case of Trainer battles, you can stack the odds against you intentionally so that you can lose and Sketch the move(s) again later, assuming the Trainer cannot be fought multiple times. It's also worth noting that certain moves like Razor Shell and Spiky Shield are impossible to Sketch without battling the specific trainers which are mentioned on their corresponding move's pages.
- Another method that could prove useful is taking part in Double Battles. While options to take part in Double Battles where you control both Pokemon are very limited currently, it's worth noting that there is still content that has not yet been added to the game, and it would be the preferred method for Sketching.
Why Not Use A Virtual Trainer?
Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Just make a Virtual Trainer on one file with the moves you want, fight it in another file, and Sketch all the moves you want! Easy!" Well, unfortunately, that's impossible. Much like how an item stolen from a Virtual Trainer's Pokemon disappear when returning from a battle, any copied move will revert back to being "Sketch" once the fight is over.
Advanced Tools and Tactics
- The first thing you'll need before setting out is actually a Yellow Flute from the Beachside Resort and Casino. This is because, no matter what method you use, you'll need to stall out turns, and little does that better than the Yellow Flute.
- Speaking of the Casino, you'll want to pick up a Smoke Ball while you're there since a Pokemon holding one might be the only way for your lead to escape a wild Pokemon with Arena Trap or Shadow Tag.
- Speaking of your lead, you'll want to take Abilities with field effects into consideration. Abilities like the aforementioned Arena Trap and Illuminate double your encounter rate when searching for wild Pokemon as long as they're in the lead position. Just make sure that if it's a Pokemon with Arena Trap that it is fainted, because otherwise, you might encounter a Duplicat with Trace. In which case, it will copy Arena Trap, and prevent you from switching to the Pokemon that you want it to Transform into. Technically, Keen Eye and Intimidate have effects that can reduce the likelihood of "weaker" Pokemon appearing, but it's not clear if they function the same way they're described on Bulbapedia, nor have I personally tested them. Besides, they only work 50% of the time, one would be better off using Super Repels with an appropriately-leveled conscious lead while taking advantage of a doubled encounter rate.
- Of course, the Pokemon with the desired move will be required. However, because everything about it will be copied, you need make sure that, again, it's not a Pokemon with Arena Trap or it will not be able to switch out. (Only Ghost-Types have Shadow Tag, and it doesn't work on them.) You can also guarantee that only the desired move is used by the Duplicat by using the Move Deleter in Venesi City to get rid of all other moves the Pokemon has. To Sketch Fission Burst or Explosion, you'll need a Xenomite, Xenogen, or Xenoqueen with Damp and either move for the Duplicat to Transform into.
- Lastly, you'll need a Ratsy/Raffiti(s) that knows Sketch. Fortunately, the Move Relearner is also in Venesi City. So whether you want Sketch back after it wasted the move Sketching False Swipe while you were trying to catch it or you successfully Sketched a move and want another, he'll be the guy to visit. You'll want to keep certain held items in mind to give yourself a better chance when Sketching certain moves. Items like Lum Berries which can shrug off potentially debilitating status conditions from moves like Sleep Powder and Glare. Damage-reducing berries like the Hafli Berry can increase your odds of survival against powerful Nuclear attacks. If you've got the money to spare, you can use items like the Focus Sash to guarantee survival against one hit (just watch out for secondary effects like flinch, paralysis, and freeze). Or you could bolster your Speed with a Choice Scarf to outrun a Duplicat that you allowed to KO another Pokemon with a particular move.
- Radioacid is one of the best moves you can have access to, so if you have a Nuclear-Type that knows it, it will be a great asset to helping your Raffiti level up in battles. Yes, Atomic Punch is stronger, but it's also only on one Pokemon, isn't 100% accurate, and makes contact, making Raffiti suceptible to contact-based abilities like Static on the Electruxos used by the training Ninja in Tsukinami Village.
- Coverage moves against Steel-Types like Flamethrower and Earthquake/Earth Power will make it so that your Raffiti won't have to switch out as soon as a threat comes in.
- Strong Priority moves like Flame Impact, Extreme Speed, or it's own Sucker Punch can help finish off opponents you didn't know would survive a hit, or outstrip opposing priority moves.
- Moves like Recover and Roost can help keep it healthy without needing to stop at a Pokecenter or use Potions as often. Or you could go for Sleep Talk and Rest since they're among the few TMs that can be taught to Raffiti without needing to Sketch them.
Two Heads are Better than One
Do you have ideas on how to make Sketching easier? Did I make an oopsie? Make your voices heard in the comments.