February 29, 2020

KarpQuest!

When the Pokémon HOME GTS launched in February 2020, naturally I asked myself: what would be the most pointless, inane collection of a single Pokémon one could build through GTS trading only? VC Dunsparce? Not bad. Bidoof? Sure, but it’s not in Sword & Shield. How about Magikarp? It’s in all the latest games, can do nothing but Splash, and even its official Pokédex entry dismisses it as a “pathetic excuse for a Pokémon” that’s “virtually useless”. Perfect!

Here’s the thing about doing a GTS quest: dream up all the goof factor you want, but unless you want to be refreshing the GTS overview 30x/minute like you’re trying to snipe a Zacian, for attainability you’re going to be constrained in your Pokémon selection to other people’s junk. Amassing lots of ordinary Magikarp, I imagine, would be easy. It’s a PoGo starter. The Magikarp Salesman offloads them at ¥500 a pop. They’re in Sw/Sh raids. Every Old Rod will hook them. No, these would have to be special Magikarp of the golden, shiny variety.

Now, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Shiny odds were a firm, immutable 1/8192. Running into an off-coloured Pokémon was an extraordinarily rare event, finding more than one a pipe dream. Today, vastly improved shiny odds cap out at 1/512, but even then, surely shinies are still held sufficiently dearly that nobody would be ditching legitimate specimens on the GTS, right? Well, let’s find out.

Inspired by the adage that a picture may express more than a thousand words, I set out to achieve the inverse – to have a 1000 pictures frame a singular thought: Karptastic.

Kurrent Karp Kollection Kount: 420 (March 8)

Is your OT Magikarp in the collection? Which one is your favourite? Let me know!

Magikarp 1-60

Magikarp 61-120

Magikarp 121-180

Magikarp 181-240

Magikarp 241-300

Magikarp 301-360

Magikarp 361-420

More coming soon!

I bet you’d like to know how long it took to acquire all these Golden Magikarp. The answer may surprise you. I traded for the first one February 24, the 100th late on the 25th, and the 250th on February 28. After this initial flurry of activity, I slowed down to stave off GTS fatigue even as the supply of Magikarp remained quite healthy. Or, depending on your perspective, unhealthy. Which I suppose betrays my ambivalence towards the unequivocal success of this crazy undertaking.

I was frankly amazed to hoover up hundreds of yellow Magikarp through the most mundane KarpalTunnel screentap effort. Technology is incredible! But… Why are there so many? And why are players only asking for Cacnea, or a Chimecho, or a Litten, or a Froakie, or a Swinub in return for their shiny Karp? These don’t look like hacks, or clones, so what gives?

The short answer, I suppose, is that it’s Magikarp we’re talking about. That’s not exactly a representative choice of Pokémon! No other Pokémon is so unwanted and so abundant at the same time.

The longer answer is that not only do people not want Magikarp in whatever shape, hue or form, they exist in absurd quantities. Magikarp featured in four-day special Max Raids over the 2019/20 New Year, blessed with a whopping 8% shiny chance. That was early January. At present, it’s early March. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of shiny Magikarp came into existence. And it shows in the collection – some 60-70% are the Lv.60, Max Raid-kind. Oversaturation has made these less valuable than a Gen IV/V starter. Limited-time events like these cast long shadows and the GTS is, and will continue to be, awash with shiny Karp.

Not that I mind too much. Red Gyarados has been a “free” shiny since time immemorial. It does, however, beg the broader question whether we truly need Niantic-style bonus-odds shiny Raids in a game that’s already optimised to make hunting off-coloured Pokémon more accessible and inoffensive than ever. Perhaps we could do a fuller assessment of the “state of the shiny” by trying to repeat this stunt with some other Pokémon available in Sword & Shield, so… Stay tuned for that!