Gambling and the Pokémon universe have always felt weirdly complimentary. It's easy to conjure up images of a bow-tie clad Espeon who ensures the house always wins, or a stadium full of people betting on Rapidash races. There are even elements of gambling in a basic Pokémon battle. Each participant puts money down on the outcome of the fight, and the winner takes home the spoils. However, the new Wonder Trade system in X and Y has brought gambling to Pokémon in a fresh and exciting way.
If you haven't tried a Wonder Trade, here's how it works: you send out a Pokémon, any Pokémon, for trade, and you get a Pokémon from another player in return. You might send out something common and get another common Pokémon back, but you might also get something rare and spectacular. It's completely luck based, and that's what makes it so exhilarating. Sure, a series of Wonder Trades might leave you with a box full of Bidoofs, but you also have the chance to receive a Charmander, a Chespin, or something infected with Pokérus. Getting a Fennekin wouldn't be a big deal if you couldn't get a Fletchling too.
There's something that's inherently addictive about Wonder Trade's randomness. Time and time again I've told myself "just one more trade" as I frantically searched through my boxes for something worth sending out. Wonder Trades have given me plenty of Flabebes, but they've also gifted me with new starters and cool foreign Pokémon. The system also gave me access to a number of Pokémon long before I encountered them in the game, which changed my strategies for certain gyms.
Adding to the gambling aspect of Wonder Trade is the Loto-Id Center, a shop in Lumiose that compares a daily lotto number against the ID numbers of your Pokémon. The more Pokémon you trade, the greater variety of IDs you have, and the greater your chances are to win big. Getting a Pidgey in exchange for a rare Pokémon is a disapointment, but knowing they can help you win awesome prizes definitely softens the blow.
Technically speaking, there's no way you can boost the odds of getting something good in a Wonder Trade. As stated, it's completely random, and someone who sends out Bunearys has the same chance of getting a rare Pokémon as someone who gives away starters. Still, I'm convinced there's a way to tip the scales. If players take the time to give out something great, the people who receive it will be motivated to trade great Pokémon too.
So what can you do if you're just starting out your journey, but have been bitten by the Wonder Trading bug? Without a Ditto, your breeding options may be limited, and you may not feel like you have much to offer other players. Thankfully, there are things even a beginner can do to make the world of Wonder Trade a better place.
Use your version
Kakunas may be a dime a dozen in Pokémon X, but they're rare in Pokémon Y. The reverse is true for Metapods. In Y, you can catch a Spritzee as early as Route 7, but X players can only get it via trade. Stuff that's easy for you to accquire can be rare and exciting for players with the opposite version, and it's definitely worth sending out.
Vivillons, Vivillons, Vivillons!
Vivillon has a myriad of different wing patterns, and the only way players can collect them all is through trading. Scatterbug evolves at a rapid pace, and it won't take long at all to turn it into a beautiful butterfly. Once you've got the EXP share, you can stick a Scatterbug in your party, let it evolve, and send it out once it's earned its wings.
Breed what you can
Even if you don't have a Ditto, you can probably breed something. Were you lucky (or persistent) enough to get a female starter or fossil Pokémon? Did you catch a rare female, like a Kecleon? Send them over the Day Care Center, hatch a few eggs, and share the love. You can give them to your friends and give away the leftovers with Wonder Trade.
Take the time to make a Pokémon special
Are you a pro at Pokémon-Amie? Follow our guide and start trading Sylveons. Have you found some really cool TMs? Teach them to a Pokémon before sending it on its way. Something as simple as a goofy nickname can make a trade feel worthwhile to another player. Anything that makes a Pokémon a little bit better will improve Wonder Trades.
There's no way to ensure you'll get a good Pokémon in a Wonder Trade, and that's part of the fun. The risk inherent in each trade is what makes the system such a thrill. That said, if players put a little extra effort into their trades, everyone has better chances of receiving something awesome. The Wonder Trade System has been a blast so far, and I can't wait to see how it grows. Once the Pokémon Bank is launched, the possibilities will truly be endless.
For trades and musings about life and Pokemon, follow me on Twitter @maskedndi