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“Water” You Waiting For: A Guide to Using Water Type Pokemon

By UndeadBan

 

Introduction

Water is one of the most basic elements in any RPG. In Pokemon they bring some of the strongest and most useful attacks. It is easily the most common type of Pokemon and seems likely to keep that spot (unless we get a 100% desert based Pokemon game). I will be going over some general information about Water types in different tiers and the effect of Sun and Moon on the type.

 

Type Overview

As one of the starter types, Water has been around from the very beginning. The Water type is also the most abundant type by 25 Pokemon over Normal type. The type’s variety allows it to occupy a variety of roles in battle. It boasts good defensive Pokemon as well as offensive powerhouses that can dominate a battle. Rain is also one of the best weathers and allows the weather setters to be usable as support for Fire weak pokemon. This makes Water an decent choice for making your team’s core.

 

By the Numbers

 

Roster

# of Pokemon with this type: 141

# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 70

# of Mega Evolutions: 5(6 with Ash-Greninja as a special form)

 

Offensive Effectiveness

2x super effective against: Fire, Ground and Rock

Effective against: Normal, Fighting, Poison, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Ghost, Electric, Ice, Steel Dark and Fairy

2x resisted by: Water, Grass and Dragon

Ineffective against: Nothing

 

Defensive Effectiveness

2x weak against: Electric and Grass

Damaged normally by: Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Fairy

2x resistant to: Fire, Water, Ice and Steel

Immune to: Nothing

 

Notable Pokemon

  • Mega Gyarados
  • Tapu Fini
  • Wash Rotom
  • Pelipper
  • Kingdra
  • Toxapex
  • Mantine
  • Manaphy
  • Greninja
  • Ash Greninja
  • Mega Slowbro
  • Gyarados
  • Starmie
  • Azumarill
  • Keldeo
  • Slowbro
  • Mega Blastoise
  • Araquanid
  • Milotic
  • Cloyster
  • Mega Sharpedo
  • Crawdaunt
  • Empoleon
  • Tentacruel
  • Suicune
  • Vaporeon
  • Primarina
  • Golisopod
  • Wishiwashi

 

Notable Moves

Physical:

  • Waterfall
  • Liquidation
  • Aqua Jet

Special:

  • Scald
  • Steam Eruption
  • Hydro Pump
  • Water Shuriken
  • Origin Pulse
  • Surf
  • Water Spout

Status:

  • Soak
  • Aqua Ring

Z-Moves

  • Hydro Vortex

 

Analysis: How to Use Water

In OU many water types held extremely important spots. Keldeo, Wash Rotom, Azumarill, and Manaphy occupied four of the top twenty spots in OU at the close of the ORAS metagame. Manaphy was so defining that it received the coveted S-Rank in Smogon’s viability rankings for its ability to shape the structure of entire playstyles (Bulky Offense and Balance, respectively). The Sun and Moon meta has yet to be ironed out, so many of the major staples of the previous generation’s OU have fallen down to UU. Some of these may rise back up in the rankings when the meta evens out but currently Keldeo, Azumarill, M-Slowbro, and Starmie have all fallen below the OU usage requirement.

This shift in the meta has cause many Water types that you wouldn’t have ever thought would rise to OU. Perhaps the biggest rags-to-riches story is Pelipper, who has skyrocketed from PU to one of the best Pokemon in OU. This is because Pelipper got the ability Drizzle, which summons rain when the Pokemon enters the field, meaning Water finally has another weather setter other than Politoed and Kyogre. The new ability along with an +10 increase of special attack (85 to 95) has allowed Pelipper to rise to top 40 in Pokebank OU usage. Pelipper also benefits from base 100 defense and a naturally good defensive typing.

pelipper

With the addition of Pelipper as a rain setter, this makes running rain in OU a bit easier. Pelipper is nice compared to Politoed because of its access to U-Turn. This means you can set the rain and get out of the field without having to switch directly. A choice scarfed Pelipper can even speed tie with a fully invested, speed boosting natured, base 105 speed mon with its speed maxed out.

kingdra

This has led to an increase in use of Kingdra for its Swift Swim ability. Kingdra often runs either Choice Specs or Life Orb in order to dole out massive amounts of damage in a short period of time. For instance, a Specs and Rain boosted Hydro Pump 3HKO’s Tapu Fini… think about that. It also makes excellent synergy with fire weak mons like Ferrothorn, Scizor, Celesteela, Tornadus, Thundurus, Tapu Bulu, Tapu Koko, and Magearna. Many of these mons also cover Water’s weaknesses, giving them great synergy with Pokemon like Kingdra and Kabutops, which are rain team staples. Rain is a versatile playstyle that has only become even better this generation.

mantine

Mantine also received two buffs: the first was a modest buff to its base HP (65 to 85), but the second–the addition of Roost to its movepool–gave Mantine reliable recovery that greatly assisted its viability.

toxapex

Toxapex is unequivocally the most important new water type added this generation. Simply put, this thing is cancer on the metagame due to its ability to fit well on almost any stall or balanced team. Its typing gives it key resistances to important mons like Pheromosa, Buzzwole, and Alolan Marowak. 50/152/142 bulk is incredible; most Toxapex run physically defensive spreads to better physically wall some of the aforementioned mons. Toxapex also has an incredible support movepool: Scald, Toxic, Toxic Spikes, Recover, and Haze provide it with all it could possibly hope for. And oh, by the way, it has Regenerator, which is the icing on the cake. Toxapex is sure to be a metagame defining Pokemon, especially in tandem with other stall staples like Kantoan Dugtrio and Mega Sableye.

 

greninja658_by_thequirkygamer-dalcj3e

After dropping from Ubers at the beginning of the Sun and Moon meta, Greninja has become an important piece for Water in OU. Its Hidden Ability, Protean, means that it changes your typing to match that of the move you are using. This not only means that you will always get STAB but it also allows you to take advantage of the defensive nature of those types. Shadow Sneak can even be used to avoid an otherwise super effective fighting attack like Mach Punch, and if you thought Fairies were a one-stop, guess again because this thing can also learn Gunk Shot. All of the above and more were among the reasons Greninja was banned early in ORAS. For now, it seems to belong in OU just fine, but as other, more powerful mons receive the ban hammer, this could change. Greninja also received a new ability Battle Bond from the Demo version of SM. This ability allows you to change into Ash-Greninja when you KO an opposing mon. Ash-Greninja has its attack and special attack increased by 50 and speed increase by 10 effectively being a conditional mega that can hold an item. Water Shuriken also receives a 5 bp increase and will always hit 3-5 times instead of 2-5. With two unique abilities that allow Greninja to run many different sets, it is easily the most versatile and unpredictable Pokemon in OU at the moment.

 

tapu_fini_sprite_by_profkrd-dami7zg

 

At first many considered Tapu Fini to be the worst Tapu. Misty Terrain does not provide a buff to Fairy type moves like the other three terrains, and its nerfing of Dragon type moves is hardly relevant when all of the Tapus are immune anyway. This however proved to not be true once the meta began to settle. One of the most used Tapu, Fini has excellent defense to go with the great Fairy/Water typing. It also gets access to many great support moves such as Nature’s Madness, Taunt, Defog and Haze. Being able to set up Misty Terrain with its ability Misty Surge also prevents any mon touching the ground from being statused and halves the power of any Dragon-typed moves. Unfortunately this does apply to the opponent as well. This means that Scald will only be able to burn mons with the ability Levitate or that are flying type. Relatively poor offensive stats do mean that you aren’t going to be able to pick up that many KOs. Setting up with Calm Mind or carrying a Z-Crystal can be used to add some extra power to your Fini.

gyarados-megamanaphyrotom-wash

For the most part, OU Pokemon like Mega Gyarados, Manaphy, and Wash Rotom function the same way they did in previous generations. Mega Gyarados remains the premier physically offensive water type Pokemon, while Wash Rotom is popular for its singular weakness and the immense utility it brings. Manaphy, likewise, can fit onto almost any team due to its standard Base 100 stats in each category; a Tail-Glow sweeper is perhaps the most dangerous of these and the reason it rose to S-ranking in Generation VI.

quagsireazumarillkeldeo-resolutestarmie

Also of note are the usage drops for a number of once important OU Pokemon. Quagsire, for instance, is not even registering as UU for the time being, while Azumarill, Keldeo, and Starmie–three of the most popular OU Pokemon last generation–now occupy places in UU. While it is possible that Azumarill and Keldeo may see increases in usage over time (or, in Keldeo’s case, likely a ban to BL), Starmie has simply been power crept out of relevance, especially with the addition of new pursuit trappers like Alolan Muk and more effective ways of removing hazards.

Unfortunately for Water, many of the better walls do have easily exploitable weaknesses. Either 4x weakness by being paired with ground or being weak to common attacking types. This means you have to be pretty good on the defensive to use the better walls. Offensively you have are a bit limited on good physical attackers that fall into OU. The only mons in OU currently that can run a physical set are Mega Gyarados, Greninja and Kingdra. Both Greninja and Kingdra are usually run as special attackers so this pretty much means one physical attacker in OU for Water. This doesn’t mean lower tier mons can’t get use but it does mean they aren’t getting the usage.

In Monotype Water is a middle of the ground typing because of its variety. Unlike in OU, the mons that shiny are much more varied.

gastrodonlanturn

Gastrodon, Lanturn, and Quagsire are more important because of their immunity to electric attacks. This also means that mons that are hit neutrally by grass or Azumarill with sap sipper can be important as well.

empoleon

Empoleon is a great mon because of its Steel secondary typing in addition to its access to utility from Stealth Rock and Defog. Defiant and well-rounded stats with a great typing make Empoleon quite versatile as both a defensive and offensive mon, both physically and specially.

Weather is still extremely important and let you sweep with Swift Swim mons and increased damage. Controlling the weather is also important because other types also like to use weather to their advantage and taking that away can make many teams easier to take down. Sun and Moon also added several helpful mons that can add some more possible strategies to emerge.

wishiwashi-schoolgolisopod

Generation VII has added a few interesting mons to the mix for Water Monotype. It makes an addition playstyle possible thanks to the addition of many slow mons. Almost all of the new mons fall under 45 speed. This means you can set up with Trick Room with some pretty heavy hitting slow mons in the back. Golisopod is very slow and has First Impression which is a 90 base power Bug move that has Priority +2. A new fully evolved Bug/Water type allows Water to have a bit better time verse the monstrous Psychic type and is a hard hitting mon otherwise. Another mon that benefits from Trick Room is Wishiwashi who boasts an insane 45-140-130-140-145-30 but the low HP and Speed mean that you really need Trick Room to get any mileage out of it. Toxapex is a new addition that has seen quite a bit of usage because of its crazy 152-142 defenses and Regenerator ability.

The main threat to Water types in Monotype is that many of their best mon have similar weakness and quad weaknesses are common. Freeze Dry means that some mons that would usually be fine against Ice types are demolished by them. Alolan Ninetales in particular is a jerk to rain teams because of its ability to OHKO Kingdra, Pelipper, and Ludicolo. A lot of Water Pokemon get Ice attacks but Mega Venusaur remains a big problem for them due to Thick Fat.

kyogrearceuspalkia

In Ubers, water pretty much boils down to Primal-Kyogre and Arceus-Water. Palkia sees some use but the other two are much more common. Toxapex has some use in Ubers because of how good of a wall it is.

 

Tips and Tricks

As an Elite Four member of Pokemon Reddit League I have mainly used my type for my challengers. This meant I was using a monotype team vs OU teams which is quite a bit different than either of the separate metas. As an E4 member I was able to use a Water Uber and that was usually a Scarfed Kyogre. This allowed me to set lasting rain instead of Primal weather and unleash full powered Water Spouts on many mons. My Mega was usually Swampert but I also used Mega Slowbro every once in a while. I unfortunately never able to get any use out of Volcanion once it was released but it would help immensely with things like Scizor and Ferrothorn. In spite of its fallen usage, Starmie remains a reliable fast psychic type. I usually ran expert belt or life orb but I did run Choice Scarf once because I knew that my opponent was probably going to use Scarfed Garchomp. Other than that I used Rotom-Wash,  Azumarill, Quagsire, Keldeo, Gyarados and Sharpedo in whatever combination seems best.

Usually my team was Kyogre, Mega Swampert, Gyarados, Rotom-Wash, Slowbro and Empoleon. I used Scarfed Kyogre which with Water Spout can pretty much do massive damage to anything that isn’t a special wall. Mega Swampert was a standard set.  My Gyarados was usually all evs in special defense and HP with sub dragon dance. That provided the bulk to set up on many more mons and was a common way I would take out mons late game. Rotom-Wash was physically defensive and standard. Slowbro had Calm Mind, Flamethrower, Scald and Psyshock on most occasions. Empoleon was Assualt Vest or Air Balloon depending if I wanted to set up Stealth Rocks or not.

 

Closing Remarks

Water is an extremely varied typing allowing it to be good in pretty much all tiers. There are always a few that make it to the upper levels of any tier. The main thing they struggle with is that they are limited to 80 and 85 Base Powered moves for physical attacking for many mons and the two moves with higher base power have 90 accuracy and are fairly limited in distribution. Water will most likely continue to be the most abundant type since there is almost always several water areas in Pokemon games.

How to be a Fire Bender: A Guide to Using Fire Type Pokemon

By TBuck48

Introduction

Welcome to the first round of our Monotype Encyclopedia! As the now-former Fire Elite Four member, I will be guiding you through a basic rundown of Fire-type Pokemon, from basic statistics and notable Pokemon, to how to use Fire-types in Smogon OU, Monotype, and lower tiers. In the official league, I only battled 5 times as a Fire-type user, garnering four wins and 1 loss. In those five battles I faced some of Fire’s biggest fears in Landorus-T and Latias, and in nearly every battle I was able to bring them down with the intense flames of my reliable Pokemon, such as Charizard or Entei. With Charizard-Y’s intense sunlight, I was able to wield mighty flames alongside my beloved Fire Pokemon, and have my opponents begging for mercy as their Pokemon succumbed to my intense flames. And now, I pass my knowledge unto you.

Type Overview

Fire has been around since the very beginning, and as such, should not be taken lightly. Fire Pokemon have the ability to dish out a lot of damage in a hurry and leave you sweating considering your options, as many have enough offensive versatility to bring down their counters. With said offensive versatility, a Monotype Fire team is typically going to be a balanced offensive team. While Fire possesses enough viable Hyper Offensive ’mons to build a Hyper Offensive team, it generally doesn’t work out as well when there are certain counters in play on the other side, especially given fire’s reputation for frail defenses. As such, bulky offense is typically the best option, as you can bring in some bulkier Pokemon that are capable of taking the needed hits, and countering the threat.

Something that is unique to Fire is its immunity to burn, which goes a long way when attacking, as burns halve the physical attack of a Pokemon, meaning potent physical attackers such as Entei or Charizard-X would not be nearly as useful when burned. This is something to consider when there is a Fire-type in play for you or your opponent, as it can allow you or an opponent to preserve precious offense by absorbing a Will-o-wisp. With that, let’s get to the numbers!

By the Numbers

Roster

# of Pokemon with this type: 67

# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 37

Offensive Effectiveness

2x super effective against: Grass, Ice, Bug, Steel

Effective against: Normal, Electric, Flying, Fighting, Ground, Psychic, Dark, Ghost, Fairy, Poison

2x resisted by: Water, Rock, Dragon

Ineffective against: N/A

Defensive Effectiveness

2x weak against: Water, Rock, Ground

Damaged normally by: Psychic, Normal, Flying, Fighting, Dragon, Ghost, Poison, Dark, Electric

2x resistant to: Grass, Bug, Fairy, Steel, Fire, Ice

Immune to: N/A

Notable Pokemon

  • Mega Charizard X
  • Alolan Marowak
  • Heatran
  • Primal Groudon
  • Ho-Oh
  • Reshiram
  • Entei
  • Victini
  • Volcanion
  • Volcarona
  • Mega Charizard Y
  • Blaziken
  • Infernape
  • Darmanitan
  • Incineroar
  • Heat Rotom
  • Chandelure
  • Arcanine
  • Salazzle
  • Torkoal
  • Turtonator

 

Notable Moves

Status:

  • Will-o-Wisp

Physical:

  • Flare Blitz
  • Sacred Fire
  • Fire Punch
  • Blaze Kick
  • Fire Fang
  • Heat Crash

Special:

  • Fire Blast
  • Eruption
  • Flamethrower
  • Fusion Flare
  • Blue Flare
  • Burn Up
  • Overheat
  • Searing Shot
  • Shell trap
  • V-Create

Z-Moves

  • Inferno Overdrive
  • Z Will-O-Wisp
    • In addition to burning the target, raises the users attack one stage

Analysis: How to Use Fire

In the Gen 6 OU metagame, Fire possessed some of the most feared Pokemon, particularly either Mega Charizard (X and Y both), Heatran, Volcarona, and most of all, Talonflame. The problems that these Pokemon posed in the metagame was that they were all quite versatile. Mega Charizard-Y was one of the most powerful wallbreakers in the tier, and was capable of countering its counters with a sun-boosted solar beam, while Mega Charizard X was a powerful setup sweeper with Dragon Dance and its ability tough claws. Further, you were always left guessing what form Charizard your opponent was bringing until it mega evolved or you used context clues to deduce. Heatran acted as a complement to Fire-weak Pokemon, such as Scizor and Ferrothorn, as it could absorb Fire-type moves and increase the power of its own Fire-type moves. Finally, Talonflame was a presence on most OU teams due to its versatility in several different roles, earning it the nickname “Smogon Bird.”

charizard-megaxcharizard-megayheatrantalonflame

All four of these Pokemon were something to worry about, as it was unclear what set they were running until it was actually brought out. In OU, Fire-types usually fit into the role of a wallbreakers or set-up sweepers; common examples of these are Charizard-Y (wallbreaker), and Charizard-X, Talonflame, and Volcarona (sweepers). Heatran ran a variety of sets, with a bulky utility set being the most common, as it is able to set up stealth rocks, tank hits, and serve in a stallbreaker role. I faced a fair number of battlers on Smogon OU who would use these Pokemon indiscriminately, without clearing out counters, particularly with Talonflame, and as such these battlers would usually forfeit after losing one of them. The battlers who could master the use of these Pokemon could be terrifying to face, especially those who could make use of Bulk Up Talonflame effectively, or those who set up a Volcarona or Charizard-X on a predicted switch.

volcarona

When building a team with these Pokemon in mind, with the exception of Heatran, they will typically be the center of the team, as Charizard X, Talonflame, and Volcarona make excellent win-cons (win conditions) due to their power and speed after setting up. As such, it is important to have a spinner or defogger to clear the field of Stealth Rocks, especially since all three are 4x weak to Stealth Rocks. Other vital members should include Pokemon with immunities/resistances to the win-con’s weaknesses; Chesnaught was an excellent complement to Mega Charizard-Y on my league audition team, as it resisted every one of Charizard’s weaknesses, and as such was an excellent switch-in to Ground-, Rock-, and Water-types. Entry hazard-setters are also vital, as they help with getting KO’s that wouldn’t occur without them and help maintain pressure on a team that requires a lot of switch-ins.

Problems that Fire-types have in OU, and really any of the metagame, are Stealth Rocks. Stealth Rocks deal damage on switch-in based on type match-up, and as Fire is weak to Rock, most Fire-types will take at minimum 25% HP damage on each switch-in; Pokemon such as Charizard, Talonflame, and Volcarona will take 50%. Most Fire-types will also struggle against Dragon Pokemon, as they resist Fire STAB, and are usually capable of dealing a lot of damage to Fire-types, especially Garchomp and Latios. Terrakion is also a huge concern given its massive attack and that it speed-ties Fire’s fastest non-Talonflame Pokemon in Infernape; with a Choice Scarf, it outspeeds Talonflame that isn’t using a Flying-Type move and +1 Charizard-X. As previously mentioned, having good complements to Fire-types is huge.

So far in the Gen 7 metagame, a couple of these major players have seen reduced usage. Both Charizard X and Talonflame have dropped in usage, although I do not expect it to remain that way with Charizard X. Charizard Y was initially Underused, but has recently been banned to the purgatory that is Borderline. Talonflame however, was heavily affected by a change to it’s signature ability, Gale Wings, in that Flying-type moves only have priority if Talonflame has full HP, meaning that if it takes Stealth Rocks damage, it will no longer have priority. It has therefore dropped firmly to Underused. Other changes won’t be clear until later when the metagame has stabilized.

 

volcanion

The final Pokemon that typically sees a lot of usage is Volcanion, as it is immune to Water with its ability, Water Absorb. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, Fire-Mono will typically use a Balanced Offense setup, given its inability to counter certain types in other archetypes. Charizard will typically function as a wallbreaker, Heatran as a utility ‘mon, and Volcanion as a bulkier wallbreaker. A hazard clearer will also be vital, but the options are pitifully limited to Torkoal, and a Gen 4 transferred Defog Charizard or Moltres. In Showdown, Defog Charizard-Y is probably going to be the best option, but for those battling our league, getting a 5 IV Charizard in Gen 4 is extremely difficult without genning capabilities. Therefore I usually went with a more aggressive and risky alternative in suicide lead Infernape.

infernape

Infernape can use Taunt to prevent Stealth Rocks, and also take out the other lead with a Focus Sash, Endeavor, and Mach Punch. The rest of the team is really up to the user, but two other ‘mons to round out the four I have outlined are Alolan Marowak with Lightning Rod and Rotom-Heat, as they both do an excellent job neutralizing Electric threats.

rotom-heatmarowak-alolan

Alolan Marowak in particular is seeing a lot of usage this generation. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Sun-Moon metagame, Alolan Marowak has an important niche in being able to check or counter 3/4 Tapus and 6/7 Ultra Beasts. With a Thick Club to bring it to near Mega Mawile levels of attack and coverage via Flare Blitz/Shadow Bone/Bonemerang, Alolan Marowak is truly a hard hitter. It can also run Swords Dance, Stealth Rock, or even Will-O-Wisp depending on your specific needs. Z Will-O-Wisp, while initially tempting, should not be run, however, as the attack boost pales in comparison to Thick Club’s immense power.

Some other options to consider are Entei and Choice Scarf Darmanitan, as it makes an excellent Cleaner and Revenge Killer.

enteidarmanitan

As far as limitations go, they are the same as outlined in the OU section; Stealth Rock weakness and difficulty handling Dragon-types, so coverage moves to counter should be considered. In my opinion, Fire hasn’t changed much with Gen 7. Alolan Marowak makes an excellent addition however, to absorb Electric attacks for Charizard and Volcanion.

turtonator

Another potential mention is Turtonator, a Fire-Dragon-type. This thing is rather disappointing, honestly: it does not get Rapid Spin, it lacks the speed and bulk to make it a true threat, and it is generally outclassed by other Dragon and Fire types alike.

While I am not very well-versed with Fire in most of the other metagames, I did experiment with my Fire Elite Four team in Ubers, where I was able to use Primal Groudon.

groudon

Primal Groudon is an absolute beast, as its ability allows it to completely neutralize Water-type moves, and deal out powerful physical or special moves. The type overall performs pretty well, but given the abundance of Dragon-type ubers, it can occasionally struggle in the tier. The return of the Red and Blue Orbs in Sun and Moon mean that Primal Groudon will surely continue to be a dominating force in the Ubers Metagame.

Tips and Tricks

I discussed some of the options for Fire earlier, but I did want to go into detail on some important Pokemon I neglected to detail further. One of my favorite Fire-types to use was Choice Scarf Darmanitan. Choice Scarf allows Darmanitan to outspeed any non-scarfer, and utilize it’s ridiculous Attack stat coupled with its excellent ability in Sheer Force. As I mentioned before, it is an excellent Cleaner, so it’s use early in a match will typically involve U-turning out of battle to get chip damage and maintain offensive momentum. As such, Rotom-Heat makes an excellent counterpart, as it is able to form a volt-turn core with Darmanitan to preserve momentum and deal damage. I utilized several Rotom-Heat sets, all depending on what role I needed it to serve, but it was usually in a bulky utility capacity, as it’s ability to paralyze Pokemon is very important. Some starter Fire-Mono sets will have you using a Scarf Rotom-Heat, but this is not a great idea in my opinion, as it lacks the power to make great use of this set. Both of these sets are rather standard on Smogon’s main meta pages, but the set for Rotom-Heat is not as common, and Darmanitan is not as common as I believe it should be.

Closing Remarks

Overall, Fire is an excellent type, but in my opinion it lacks the diversity to be a top-tier Monotype at the moment, something Smogon users seem to agree with me on. While it is offensively very strong, it lacks good defensive synergy. Fire has some heavy hitters, but Dragon-types continue to cause problems, and so I am hoping for a Fire-Fairy-type in the near future to help alleviate this. I hope this article has given you a new perspective and knowledge of Fire-types- thanks for reading!

Wherever Life Plants You, Bloom with Grace: A Guide to Using Grass Type Pokemon

By: Teenelmo26 (Lindzey Bear)

 

Introduction:
Grass. One of the 3 types we get to choose from when we all begin our Pokemon adventure. This type has been a staple of the Pokemon franchise, spanning over 12% of all total Pokemon. As one of the major types in the game, it’s no surprise that Grass types can be lethal in competitive combat. From the many starters, to their relationship with poison types, and their healing abilities and status conditions, grass types are fundamentally strong and one of the most versatile types we have today.

Many of us opt out of choosing grass from the start of the game.  Water represents strength in having so few weaknesses, and fire is seen as a powerhouse of offensive typing. So where does grass fall in all this?  Balance. Grass types run the gamut from tanks like Mega Venusaur and Amoonguss, to strong fast attackers like Sceptile and Serperior. Grass has never focused on just one stat or build. Just like nature, they are versatile, and through the generations, have adapted to shape one of the core types. I’ve always loved grass type starters over the fire and water because they feel more uniquely sculpted. And who doesn’t love an underdog?

Type Overview:

Grass type has been around since Generation one, forming the first ever starter in the Pokedex, Bulbasaur.  Since then Grass has always been a starter type, and a very abundant type all around (4th most common overall).  When it comes to monotype competitive, grass usually leans towards balance or stall, mostly because of defensive typing issues with attempting hyper offense.  Though the type sorts some heavy hitters (Breloom, Serperior, Sceptile), it’s hard to cover the basics trying to go full offense.  The addition of Kartana helps with offense for sure, but it has been banned in monotype tier from smogon (though still legal in OU).  With plenty of bulky mons, healing options galore, and pivot Pokemon, mixing in a few offensive ones makes for solid balanced teams.

By The Numbers:

Roster

# of Pokemon with this type:98

# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 48 (plus 3 megas and a form change for Shaymin)

 

Offensive Effectiveness

2x super effective against: Water, Ground, Rock

Effective against: Dark, Psychic, Fairy, Normal, Fighting, Electric, Ice, Ghost

2x resisted by: Bug, Dragon, Fire, Grass, Flying, Poison, Steel

Ineffective against: None

 

Defensive Effectiveness

2x weak against: Fire, Flying, Poison, Bug, Ice

Damaged normally by: Dark, Psychic, Fairy, Ghost, Normal, Fighting, Steel, Rock, Dragon

2x resistant to: Grass, Electric, Ground, Water

Immune to: Nothing



Notable Competitive Pokemon:

  • Kartana
  • Mega Venusaur
  • Tapu Bulu
  • Ferrothorn
  • Tangrowth
  • Amoonguss
  • Serperior
  • Breloom
  • Whimsicott
  • Celebi
  • Dhelmise
  • Cradily
  • Chesnaught
  • Decidueye
  • Alolan Exeggutor
  • Lurantis
  • Roserade
  • Shiinotic
  • Tsareena

 

Notable Moves:

Status:

  • Leech Seed
  • Spore
  • Synthesis
  • Grassy Terrain

Special:

  • Giga Drain
  • Energy Ball
  • Grass Knot
  • Leaf Storm
  • Solar Beam

Physical

  • Horn Leech
  • Bullet Seed
  • Seed Bomb
  • Power Whip

Z-Move

  • Bloom Doom

 

Analysis: How to Use Grass

As mentioned before, Grass flourishes in a Balanced or Stall setting.  The addition of Tapu Bulu and Dhelmise in generation 7 have been a big buff to grass’ ability to fit on more offensive teams. Having Pokemon to tank hits is critical to grass, because they sport 5 weaknesses. In addition, coverage types are a necessity since grass isn’t the best offensive type, hitting only 3 types super effectively and being resisted by five. It does have the niche of toppling water types, which are very common in competitive play.  Let’s break down some of the popular Pokemon and their roles before we dive into the meta games:

kartana

Kartana

The notorious UB-04 Blade has quickly risen to stardom in the generation seven metagame. Kartana has an astronomical base 181 attack. Combined with its good base 109 speed and just the right movepool including moves such as Leaf Blade, Smart Strike, and Sacred Sword, Kartana makes for a ferocious sweeper and revenge killer on  any team. It also has high 131 defense; however, its special defense is paper thin, rendering it very susceptible to Flamethrower, Fire Blast, and HP Fire.

venusaur-mega
Venusaur (Mega):  I would argue that Mega Venusaur is the backbone of Grass teams, and the most viable Grass type available.  Its amazing ability, Thick Fat, gets rid of 2 core weaknesses, Ice and Fire, leaving it weak only to Psychic and Flying type attacks. Huge bulk after mega evolution lets Mega Venusaur switch into almost anything and start Leech Seeding or Toxic stalling. Giga Drain and Synthesis prolong its already long life on the field. Many opt to run earthquake to counter its biggest threat, Heatran, but the mixed set leaves a lot to be desired.  Hidden Power Fire is common, as it counters steel types that Venusaur can’t poison or hit with a Sludge Bomb.  However you choose to run it, it should be on your team.  I see so few mono grass teams leave the gates without this bad boy in tow.

ferrothorn
Ferrothorn:  The other Pokemon I’d say is a staple of the type.  Since its intro in Generation 5, Ferrothorn has torn up OU as one of the most used Pokemon.  Its bulk is amazing, but the typing makes it stand out (Though now we have Kartana). Ferrothorn only sports two weaknesses to Fire and Fighting, letting it tank many hits with ease. Stealth Rocks and Spikes with this bulk and typing make Ferro probably the best setter in the game. Leech Seed helps it survive even longer, and moves like Gyro Ball and Power Whip hit hard. He won’t outspeed anything, even Slowbro, but you have little to fear with Ferrothorn on your side.  Always be on the lookout for possible Hidden Power Fire users!

tapu_bulu_sprite_by_profkrd-dami7wq

Tapu Bulu: One of the most common grass types now is easily Tapu Bulu, due to its ability to summon Grassy Terrain.  The terrain not only buffs grass type moves, it reduces the power of Earthquake, and heals all Pokemon a small amount at the end of each turn.  So your tanks get a huge buff just from the healing benefits!  Take advantage of this while you team build.  Tapu has impressive Bulk, and also set up capabilities with Bulk Up.  He can Leech Seed, Toxic and Protect, or become a lethal bulky attacker with Horn Leech or Wood Hammer, and coverage in Stone Edge and Super Power. One downside to using Tapu Bulu is his lack of a Physical fairy move, but don’t let it stop you. He’s sure to be a backbone on many mono grass and OU teams.

tangrowth

Tangrowth: Tangrowth increased in usage near the end of the ORAS metagame, and it certainly is a formidable staller this generation as well.  With Giga Drain/Leech Seed and the ability Regenerator to replenish its health, and some decent bulk stats, Tangrowth is a solid defensive wall.  Paired with Cradily, who acts as a Special Wall, you should be able to tank most neutral hits.  Sleep Powder and Knock Off access aid Tangrowth further in solidifying its role in OU.

dhelmise
Dhelmise: This mon has come in not only as a solid wall, but a very impressive spinner.  Being immune to fighting and normal is a plus, allowing switch ins to get rid of pesky Stealth Rocks that may damage sash users, like Breloom.  Its ability helps if you run anchor shot, which gets STAB and traps opposing Pokemon. Rapid spin is a must on this Pokemon, and I also run Anchor Shot, Shadow Claw, and Power Whip.  If you go full attack, Assault Vest can be a useful item.  It has no decent status moves, not even leech seed, so I’d strongly recommend this set.  Having no recovery means Tapu Bulu will be a great teammate since Grassy terrain can act as passive healing.

breloom
Breloom: The staple attacker for Grass teams. Breloom is fairly versatile in sets, with 2 great abilities.  Technicians usually run Focus Sash, and can run Swords Dance or Spore in addition to Mach Punch, Bullet Seed, and Rock Tomb for covering pesky flying types.  All those moves get the Tech boost, making them hit really hard.  Toxic Heals are also common, running toxic orbs to sustain them.  Most opt for more powerful moves on these, like Drain Punch, Seed Bomb, and Stone Edge.  Breloom also has Leech Seed access, but isn’t normally run with it as it wastes time that can be spent setting up or KOing Pokemon.

serperior

Serperior: The Special sweeper of mono grass.  Contrary makes Serperior absolutely fantastic.  So long as you can switch it in, serperior with Leaf Storm can sweep many many types and teams.  Its speed alone is a big draw, but after a leaf storm boost Serperior is scary.  Make sure to run some coverage though, as grass STAB is still resisted by so many types.  Hidden Power Fire or Ice, Dragon Pulse (hits almost anything at least neutral), or Giga Drain for sustainability.  Without a solid Hidden Power, Serperior is very limited, so it can be a drawback to those not wishing to breed for a good one.  Luckily Generation 7 bottle caps help with that tremendously.

amoonguss

Amoonguss:  Amoonguss functions much like Tangrowth, acting as a tanky pivot, and is thus a solid choice for stall or balanced. Spore is probably the most feared status in the meta, having high accuracy to put you to bed, and is the main reason for running Amoonguss over Tangrowth.  Sleep gives you one chance to completely neuter a foe, and can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss.  The Regenerator ability makes it even better, as it can regain 1/3 of its health every time it switches. Giga Drain is another solid move choice to keep your annoying mushroom monster alive.

cradily

Cradily:  Deserves a mention because it can aid against the biggest weakness Grass teams face: Flying.  Running Ancient Power for the occasional boost, or Rock Slide for a more physical set means Cradily can help with the likes of Talon Flame, which can reek havoc.  Stealth Rocks helps prevent Talon sweeps in the first place (if you aren’t running Ferrothorn already).  The Tox Stall set is one of this little monsters favorites.  Recover makes Cradily’s survivability that much better.  Don’t count this guy off your team just because it’s NU, he will surprise you (and your opponent).

There are a number of other Pokemon mentioned above that are currently rated UU by usage, such as Lurantis, Decidueye, and Tsareena. However, these Pokemon are simply not good in any aspects of standard play, and thus should not be used. The key to grass is balance; since it is a type with naturally many weaknesses, one must build carefully to ensure that dangerous Pokemon like Mega Scizor, Alolan Muk, Alolan Marowak, Mega Pinsir, and Talonflame cannot exert too much offensive pressure. Most of their roles are filled better by above Pokemon (for instance, Mega Venusaur over Roserade, Tapu Bulu over Whimsicott, and Dhelmise over Decidueye).


 In OU Mega Venusaur is very present, and a staple of the ever popular Grass/Water/Fire core.  Ferrothorn fits this core, as well as the Dragon/Fairy/Steel one.  Grass in OU usually is used to inflict Toxic, Leech Seed, or sleep conditions, as well as work as preventative measures from your opponents Status conditions.  Grass has the niche of being immune to moves like Spore and Leech Seed, making them crucial if you fear these things. Those wanting to add a Sleep user to their team stick to Amoongus and Breloom closely, since Spore has amazing accuracy.  


Grass can have its weaknesses covered nicely by Rock types such as Tyranitar or A-Golem, which will resist Fire, Flying and Bug, and are neutral to Ice and Poison.  Having the right team mate is crucial to keeping a Pokemon like Mega Venusaur around.  Steel is another good type to keep close, as it will resist all but Fire.  Even with its weaknesses, grass types flourish under the right conditions.


In Generation 7 we expect Tapu Bulu to move into some of Mega Venusaur’s territory as a bulky option.  He can do Venusaurs job, plus heals with his ability instead of needing a move.  The major drawback will certainly be that Tapu Bulu is weak to quite a bit, especially Poison types which will do 4X damage.  Both will fare equally well in this meta, as each will have its own set backs in comparison.   The choice will always be yours.

When Team building make sure to cover weaknesses, especially with a more balanced approach.  Throw in some Rock, Ice and Fire moves.  Never rely on your grass moves, because so many types will just resist you.  Grass is not easy to run, but practice will make you a perfectly capable user, and you will see why this type can easily be one of the best.  

Make sure you have something that will neutralize flying, like Ferrothorn or Cradily.  Flying types are generally fast, and hit a lot of grass types, like Breloom, for 4X. When you play monotype you will see what I mean, flying will be your greatest challenge.  Fire is always another concern as far as damage goes.  Having a rain dance user can greatly lessen this blow, someone like Ludicolo can find usage on such a team. Rain Grass teams are perfectly viable options, but without a grass type with drizzle it can sometimes be a slow start.  Cradily, again, can aid against many Fire Types, especially with its Special bulk.

 Grass, as you have seen, is diverse and versatile. Every meta has it’s strong ones, and a Fire/Water/Grass core is still around in most metas. Pokemon Like Cradily, Tangrowth, Exeggutor, Shiftry, Roserade, Rotom-Mow, and Ludicolo see fair amount of usage in lower tiers. Familiarizing yourself with their usage, stats, and move pool is the best advice I can give for finding which ones will fit your own team.

Tips and Tricks

 Grass types are nothing if not resilient. Bulk mixed with amazing healing options make them impressive as stall teams. Some focus should be made in this area to make sure you live long enough to win your matches. Recover, Synthesis, Giga Drain, Horn Leech, Grassy Terrain, and Leech Seed all make up a large chunk of what grass types offer. They are self healing machines, so use this to your advantage!


Never knock down some of the lower tier Pokemon.  Many of them are beastly, even when brought into an OU setting.  They can fill a nice gap in your team, and if your opponent isn’t prepared it can be hard for them to counter.  Try out all sorts of Pokemon on your teams to find what works well FOR YOU.  It is your adventure after all.

Closing Remarks

Grass types are some of the best Pokemon for stalling and inflicting status.  Remember this when building your teams.  Always remember that they may not be  immune to any types,but they are immune to many status moves.  This can be crucial when predicting what to switch in on your team.  Cover those weaknesses, and have good coverage moves ready, and you can make the grass type shine above Fire and Water.  Practice, give it a go, and show us what you can do with this amazing type.

The PRL Complete Type Guide- Coming Soon!

The Pokemon Reddit League is excited to announce that beginning next week, we will be publishing a series of blogs on each of the 18 types. This handy guide will provide readers with detailed information and strategies on using each type in various aspects of the Sun-Moon metagame, with an emphasis on each type’s roles in Smogon OU and Monotype formats. The series will showcase each of our community leaders’ unique play styles and expertise.

The series will be published in six parts, with three entries published each week for six weeks. Here is the complete schedule of publications:

January 21st: Grass, Fire, Water

January 28th: Normal, Flying, Bug

February 4th: Electric, Poison, Fighting

February 11th: Ground, Rock, Ice

February 18th: Psychic, Dark, Ghost

February 25th: Dragon, Fairy, Steel

 

As usual, entries will be posted to /r/PKMNRedditLeague. We hope that you all will find this useful in designing your own teams and challenging our league.

For more information about the series, please contact our moderators.

First Impressions: Three Leaders’ Takes on the Generation 7 Metagame So Far

By eco_politiq, ilikepizza42, and 2180161

Introduction

We are now one month into the Sun-Moon metagame, and if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the plethora of new Alolan forms, Ultra Beasts, Z-Crystals, and changes to old Pokemon have turned the metagame on its head in ways nobody expected. This week, three of our leaders here at the Pokemon Reddit League will share their first takes on the new dynamics of competitive Pokemon.

BUT FIRST…

May we have a moment of remembrance for the fall of two OU staples, Talonflame and Gengar. When it was revealed that many abilities had been altered to level the competitive playing field, players rejoiced… but then we saw what the consequences really were. With no levitate to protect him from Ground-type attacks, for the first time in the history of Pokemon Gengar is not ranked OU. (Source: http://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/official-smogon-university-usage-statistics-discussion-thread-mk-2.3508502/page-10#post-7125494) In fact, it’s barely even considered UU at this point. And the Bravest of Birds has met a similar fate with its once epic Gale Wings ability now only working at full health.

talonflamegengar

Rest easy, sweet princes.


Offensive Sleigh Ride: Eco’s Hail Hyper Offense Team

Hey all, Eco here! As a steel leader, one of my favorite things about my type is the diversity. I’ve been longing for an ice/steel type for a very long time, and I was excited this generation when Gamefreak announced that Alolan Sandslash would fit the bill! I was even more excited to discover its ability, Slush Rush, and so I’ve been longing for a few months to try out the newest toys for hail teams. After a lot of jumping around the ladder and toying with different mons, I think I’ve unlocked a few of the keys to making use of these Pokemon. I climbed as high as 1350 at one point, but depending on the ‘mons I was using feel as low as 1075 (ouch, right?)

So, without further ado, here is the team I’ve been using so far:

ninetales-alolan

Alolan Ninetales @ Icy Rock

Ability: Snow Warning

EV’s: 252 SpA/252 Spe/6 SpD

Timid Nature

Blizzard, Freeze Dry, Moonblast, Aurora Veil

sandslash-alolan

Alolan Sandslash @ Life Orb

Ability: Slush Rush

EV Spread: 252 Att/252 Spe/6 Def

Jolly Nature

Icicle Crash, Iron Head, Earthquake, Swords Dance

kommo_o_sprite_by_profkrd-dal32rq

Kommo-o @ Lum Berry

Ability: Overcoat

EV’s: 252 Att/252 Spe/6 SpA

Naive Nature

Outrage, Sky Uppercut, Flamethrower, Dragon Dance

excadrill

Excadrill @ Leftovers

Ability: Mold Breaker

EV’s: 252 HP/252 Att/6 Spe

Adamant Nature

Earthquake, Rock Slide, Stealth Rock, Rapid Spin

gyarados

Gyarados @ Leftovers

Ability: Intimidate

EV’s: 88 HP/220 Att/4 Def/196 Spe

Jolly Nature

Waterfall, Bounce, Substitute, Dragon Dance

alakazam-mega

Mega Alakazam @ Alakazite

Ability: Magic Guard (Will be Trace after Mega Evolving)

EV’s: 252 SpA/252 Spe/6 SpD

Timid Nature

Psyshock, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast, Energy Ball

As I said, I experimented with a few balanced builds at first, with the mindset that Ninetales’ and Sandslash’s weaknesses required defensive coverage. After a conversation with our Competitive Chair locoghoul, I realized I was going about it the wrong way, and so I switched to an offensive build.

This team uses a support build for Excadrill with leftovers, the objective of which is to set stealth rock and keep respective hazards off the field. Gyarados and Excadrill have great synergy, taking advantage of one anothers’ weaknesses to switch in. Currently, I am running the standard subdance set on Gyarados.

Meanwhile, Ninetales-A goes out whenever an opening is available. After trying Choice Specs, Light Clay, and Icy Rock, I’ve decided Icy Rock is my favorite item, especially for hyper offense. Prolonged hail ensures chip damage, and hail is something a lot of teams don’t plan for–for good reason, since this is the first time it’s been viable. Blizzard, Freeze Dry, and Moonblast provide super effective coverage as needed, since its movepool is shallow. Aurora Veil rounds out the movepool, allowing Sandslash-A to switch in, boost with Swords Dance, and proceed to sweep with Steel/Ice/Ground coverage. With a life orb and SD boost, Sandslash can tear through much of the tier and is a threat to all playstyles. Slush Rush even lets it outrun unboosted Pheromosa in Hail! Seriously, don’t underestimate this thing.

Rounding out a nice Steel-Fairy-Dragon core is Kommo-o. I have to admit this thing is underwhelming so far. Game Freak trolled us hard when they gave no better fighting moves than Sky Uppercut. This thing wants Close Combat, the elemental punches, and Stone Edge badly! Luckily, it has a few things going for it, like great mixed bulk and offensive stats, access to dragon dance, and three killer abilities. I run Overcoat on mine so it can take advantage of the hail Ninetales sets for chip damage.

Finally, Mega Alakazam rounds things off as a fast and powerful cleaner. It can enter in hail before mega evolving and avoid chip damage with Magic Guard, and its high special attack stat mean it can make some of the final kills of the game.

So what threatens this team? Pheromosa. Seriously, that thing needs to GO. Smogon made the right decision nixing Aegislash quick, since it was on 1 in every 3 teams, but Pheromosa is literally unstoppable. I ran a balanced team with Mega Sableye for a while that handled her better, but she is just impossible.

Aside from that, my observation so far is that the metagame has really shifted. The Tapus, Ultra Beasts, and Alolan forms are certainly everywhere, even in Bank OU where I’ve been spending most of my time. Aurora Veil and Slush Rush really add to hail’s viability, but it is still a playstyle that requires significant support to pull off. It will be interesting to see where things end up once the metagame settles and some of the more deplorable ultra beasts are sent to ubers.


Conversion Therapy: Pizza’s Balanced Offensive Team

Hello, my name is Brent and today I will be showing you guys a team I’ve been using on Pokebank OU. It’s done alright, I’ve gotten to 1350 and stopped, due to lack of playing not lack of team ability. The ceiling is still possibly higher. Here’s the team

zapdos

Zapdos @ Leftovers  

Ability: Static  

EV’s: 252 HP / 172 Def / 68 SpA / 16 Spe  

Bold Nature  

Thunderbolt, Roost, Volt Switch, Heat Wave  

manaphy

Manaphy @ Leftovers  

Ability: Hydration  

EV’s: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  

Timid Nature   

Tail Glow, Scald,  Rain Dance, Psychic  

porygon-z

Porygon-Z @ Normalium Z  

Ability: Adaptability  

EV’s: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  

Timid Nature  

Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Conversion, Nasty Plot  

excadrill

Excadrill @ Choice Scarf  

Ability: Mold Breaker  

EV’s: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  

Jolly Nature  

Earthquake, Iron Head, Rapid Spin, Rock Slide  

genesect

Genesect @ Choice Scarf  

Ability: Download  

EV’s: 248 Atk / 8 SpA / 252 Spe  

Naive Nature  

U-turn, Iron Head, Ice Beam, Explosion  

greninja

Greninja @ Life Orb  

Ability: Protean  

EV’s: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  

Naive Nature  

Water Shuriken, Ice Beam, Hydro Pump, Grass Knot  

 

So to start things off I’m using Static defensive Zapdos. The reason for that is I needed volt switch more than I needed defog from Zapdos, and that in turn allowed me to run static, which is a very nice ability. It paralyzes many U turners (Genesect, Landorus, Scizor) which complements Zapdos’ very nice defensive typing. Zapdos also fills a good niche of countering Kartana. Nothing Kartana runs can even touch it, while Zapdos has a 4x Heat Wave waiting to OHKO with. Zapdos is mainly here as a pivot and to gain momentum with Volt Switch, but it has a usable special attack that allows Thunderbolt to put it work. EV’s are to outspeed Bisharp, always OHKO Mega Pinsir and the rest thrown into physical bulk.

Manaphy is the wallbreaker that I chose to put on this team. Being a bulky water, it also fills in well to cover the fire weakness the team has. Along with rain dance, it can make a nice status absorber. I run the standard rain dance, tail glow along with scald and psychic. Psychic is so that Mega Venusaur doesn’t completely wall me. Standard 252/252/4 spread.

Next up is one of the new threats that SM brought us. Z conversion Porygon-Z. Z conversion turns Porygon Z into a deadly sweeper. With enough bulk to set up, it allows Porygon-Z to sweep entire teams that have no check with its bolt-beam coverage. While Porygon-Z is a win con of its own, it can be dead weight against certain teams, namely ones that have either red card, sturdy whirlwind Skarm, or special defensive Alolan Marowak. Marowak is a common anti meta pick and it shuts down Porygon-Z hard. You need to play around with it and eliminate it before Porygon can set up. Nasty plot boosts our special attack to insane levels after Z conversion and allows to break past many walls if they let us set up.

I chose scarf Excadrill next, to give us some ground coverage and a way to spin hazards. With a surprising amount of bulk, Exca can switch in on some attacks, rapid spin and then switch out to the appropriate counter. Scarf locking us in can really kill momentum if he’s forced to rapid spin, so sometimes you may have to sack him to get the win. Scarf is powerful, as it allows us to outspeed Tapu Koko and get the OHKO. It is also a good way to deal with Rotom-W as mold breaker allows us to ignore levitate and smack it with STAB Earthquake. I must stress how important it is to keep Excadrill alive against Tapu Koko, as he is our only check to him. Tapu Koko can run havoc if you allow it to, so therefore you must either have set up Porygon-Z before hand, or sack Genesect on an explosion if you let Excadrill die.

Genesect is the bread and butter of our team. Freshly unbanned and waiting to get sent back to ubers, he will do well until his time here is done. Scarf allows us to outspeed a majority of the meta game and download can boost us to deal some serious damage. He doesn’t do amazing against the Tapu’s since half of them resist U turn, but he is a very good momentum gainer. With only 1 weakness and an unpredictable movepool, the opponent should be wary of whoever they sent in against him. Scarf being the most common set should be predictable, but the ice beam is not. It’s used as a counter lead against Garchomps and Landorus as scarf has us outspeeding and OHKO’ing with ice beam. Against the Pheromosa lead I recommend going Iron Head, as it can OHKO. U turn might sound nice, but a wrong prediction usually leads to a dead mon and a +1 speed on Pheromosa, which does not allow your scarfers to outspeed anymore. Explosion is our nuke for when Genesect is close to death, or when you want to do a 1 for 1 trade. This set is also walled by Marowak, but chip damage on U turn to the Greninja/Manaphy/Excadrill switch can force it back out.

Finally we have Greninja, a fan favorite from X/Y he was banned in ORAS OU because of the dangerous weapons the move tutors gave him. Returning to our team, he is the generic special attacker that we use. With a higher speed and special attack than Starmie, he is a dangerous threat to other teams. I chose Hydro Pump, Water Shuriken, Grass Knot and Ice Beam. Grass Knot is so that my team doesn’t get walled by Quagsire, Hydro Pump for power, Ice Beam to hit many things super effectively and Water Shuriken as I lack any form of priority. Water Shuriken can be a little sacky if you hit things for 5, but it does alright as a priority move. I chose Protean as my ability because I like the immediate power it offers me. HP grass is another viable alternative over Grass Knot, Grass Knot just allows me to hit heavier things for more damage if need be. Other moves to consider are Low Kick, Gunk Shot, Dark Pulse, and various Hidden Powers that receive a STAB boost.
This team is a balanced Volt Turn team and can do some damage in the right hands. It is however very reliant on predictions and allowing your Manaphy and Porygon-Z to set up. It struggles against Hyper Offense since nobody on the team can outspeed base 100 speeds at +1. Marowak and Tapu Koko are big threats to it and are unfortunately common meta game picks. This is not my first nor my final iteration of this team, and if you want to use it, feel free to tweak it to your needs. It’s a good start for those wanting to dip their toes into the S/M meta.

Beast Mode: 2180161’s Balanced Offensive Team

Hey people of Reddit!  2180161 writing this time, and this is about a team I’m using in the current Pokebank OU for Sun and Moon, and trends I’ve noticed while battling. I peaked at about 1350 with this team, but not due to the team. I just am incapable of battling higher than that well.

pheromosa

Pheromosa @ Choice Scarf

Ability: Beast Boost

EV’s 252Att/252SpA/4Spe

Lonely Nature

Bug Buzz, High Jump Kick, Ice beam, U-turn

Not much to say about this one. It makes for a great mixed sweeper, as choice scarf makes it outspeed base 104’s at +1. The mixed spread gives it great coverage, and even though it has choice scarf, beast boost will boost this monster’s attack. U-turn is good to snatch momentum with.

rotom-wash

Rotom-W @ Leftovers

Ability: Levitate

EV’s: 4HP/252SpA/252Spe

Timid Nature

Volt Switch, Will-o-Wisp, Hydro Pump, Pain Split

This is different than the standard wall rotom set. It has max speed and special attack to hit hard and fast. Will-o-Wisp shuts down physical attackers, pain split is for recovery, although it may not be reliable. Hydro pump is for a strong STAB attack, and volt-switch to once again gain momentum, and perhaps get Rotom out of an unfavorable position.

garchomp

Garchomp @ Rocky Helmet

Ability: Rough Skin

EV’s: 252HP/4Att/252Def

Impish Nature

Stealth Rock, Toxic, Earthquake, Dragon Tail

This is pretty much your standard tank-chomp.  Stealth Rocks for the obvious reason, to have hazards, and toxic to help deteriorate walls. Earthquake is there for stab if something is immune to dragon tail. Dragon tail is to force targets to switch into stealth rocks, so if they switch into an unfavorable matchup, they may have to switch again and risk more stealth rock damage.

genesect

Genesect @ Choice Scarf

Ability: Download

EV’s: 252Att/4SpD/252Spe

Jolly Nature

U-turn, Explosion, Gunk Shot, Shadow Claw

While two scarf users can sometimes be unforgiving, this works fine as it can U-turn out of unfavorable situations. Explosion is for when Genesect reaches the end of its lifespan, to almost guarantee one of the opposing team is KO’d. Gunk Shot is a strong attack to take care of anything that doesn’t resist it. Shadow claw is just for coverage, as mimikyu is decently prevalent this metagame, and this team doesn’t have much to hit it.

tapu-lele

Tapu Lele@Life Orb

Ability: Psychic Surge

EV’s: 252Sp.Att/4SpD/252Spe

Timid Nature

Psychic, Energy Ball, Focus Blast, Thunderbolt

Pretty much what I would assume will be a standard Tapu Lele. Psychic for stab, Focus Blast hits steel types that would otherwise be able to resist both its STAB attacks and more than likely KO in return. Energy Ball and Thunderbolt are for coverage. This team has a lot of trouble with any Water/Ground types, and this is almost the only answer this team has.

alakazam-mega

Mega Alakazam @ Alakazite

Ability: Magic Guard (Will be trace after mega evolving)

EV’s: 252Sp.Att/4SpD/252Spe

Timid Nature

Psychic, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball, Focus Blast

This is a decently standard Mega Alakazam. Psychic for a strong STAB attack, Dazzling Gleam is a different choice, but it is used to hit dark types more reliably than focus blast, and helps take care of Sableye. Focus blast is there for a very strong attack that OHKO’s Bisharp.


 

Conclusion

The Sun-Moon Metagame is certainly a big shift from XY/ORAS. The return of previously banned Pokemon, the addition of Z-Crystals, Alolan forms, and Ultra Beasts, and all of the tweaks to old mechanics have all pushed the metagame towards healthy evolution. Some things will need to go eventually, especially some of the more controversial ultra beasts. However, for now, we at PRL are satisfied with the new meta and excited to see where things are heading!

Review of Pokemon Sun and Moon (for Nintendo 3DS)

By Chrispy294

A lot of eyes were on Pokemon this year. After the attention on Pokemon Go and this being both the series’ 20th anniversary celebration as well as the start to its seventh generation, many were expecting Sun and Moon to be the best entries in the series. Luckily, that’s mostly what we got.

Dawn of a New Day

The first thing experienced players will notice, and part of what makes Sun & Moon so great, is how fresh and new they feel. Gone is the familiar structure of chasing after Gym Badges, instead, being replaced by the similar yet original Island Challenge. Players now traverse the Alola Region’s four islands finding different Trial Captains and completing their Trials, each ending with an entertaining boss fight against a Totem Pokemon. While most of the game is still pretty lenient, players complaining of last generation’s easier difficulty will be glad to know these Totem Pokemon put up more of a challenge. With buffed stats, improved movepools and the ability to call in helpful Ally Pokemon, these battles may give some players trouble. After each of these battles as well as the big battles against each island’s Kahuna, the player receives Z-Crystals instead of badges.

This results in a much more natural progression where players traverse and complete tasks on the islands instead of in isolated buildings scattered around the region. Furthermore, these Z-Crystals are far more practical than Badges, allowing players to give their Pokemon an extra boost in battle. Each Z-Crystal has one of the 18 types assigned to it, and giving it to a Pokemon knowing a move of the same type allows it to use a powered-up supermove. They’re definitely a bit overpowered in the beginning, but become practically essential as the difficulty ramps up near the endgame.

The region itself is gorgeous to look at. Heavily inspired by the United State of Hawaii as well as several other island cultures including Japan, Polynesia, and Australia, the Alola Region features many distinct locations across its four islands. Everything from the environments to the character and Pokemon models look better than ever.

It’s a shame then, that the framerate can’t quite keep up. I wish this was just limited to more intense battles, but any battle featuring more than one Pokemon on one side of the field suffers visually. Even the new Pokemon Refresh feature chugs along if you’re interacting with a large Pokemon. It’s too bad Game Freak couldn’t find a way to improve the visuals like this without performance suffering as a result.

Another big change to the formula is the removal of those annoying Hidden Machines. Instead, players will smash rocks, fly over the region and surf on water using new Ride Pokemon, each given as the player progresses. This is a very welcome change, freeing up your Pokemon’s moveslots for more useful moves.

All of these changes also come with a new story, one that obviously makes a better attempt at entertaining the player than past entries’ poor excuses to catch the Legendary Pokemon. Characters are more fleshed out, the story actually has some twists and turns and it actually ends up resulting in the player feeling like they actually accomplished something. It’s not perfect though. Dialogue can be cringe-worthy, especially for Team Skull although those boneheads aren’t the only offenders. Characters like Hau, while potentially helpful for younger children who may get confused with some of the game’s events, ends up being way too over-the-top with his “Captain Obvious” statements. I promise you, kids playing this game are not so dumb that they need a token character shouting out the meaning of each event as it happens. That being said, even with its flaws, the story for Sun & Moon is leaps and bounds above previous entries. The presentation of important scenes helps as well, giving even the most boring events a more cinematic and engaging feel.

Finally, you can’t talk about new additions to Pokemon without mentioning the new Pokemon themselves. While there are a few stinkers (*cough cough* Bruxish), most of the new Pokemon are delightful, both in looks and in battling capability. Many of them such as Mimikyu and Salazzle come not only with new type combinations, but new moves and abilities as well. It will be very interesting to see how these new monsters shake up the competitive scene. Furthermore, Game Freak also added new Alolan Forms of Generation 1 Pokemon. Some of them, like Raichu and Marowak, are great while others like Raticate and Persian seem more like a downgrade. Luckily, the ones that do work give some of your old favorites new tools to use in battle and are fun to use on your adventure.

Don’t Fix What Ain’t Brokémon

Even with all the big new changes, the core of Pokemon remains mostly the same. Developer Game Freak were smart in approaching this however, choosing not to fix what wasn’t broken but also not to completely ignore it either. The same addictive, rock-paper-scissors style, turn-based battles still play out the same, but the new layout gives players a lot more to look at. Info such as current stat changes, exact effects of moves and their type effectiveness that was once multiple clicks away or not available in-game at all are now all easily accessible in the battle menu. This takes a lot of the guesswork and memorization out and overall leads to a more streamlined experience. If ever someone wanted to dive into Pokemon for the first time, Sun and Moon would be the perfect entry point for them.

Poke Amie is back as well, now called Pokemon Refresh. It serves mostly the same purpose, allowing players to interact and form bonds with their Pokemon, but this time with a few added bonuses. Players can now enter Pokemon Refresh with their favorite buddies immediately after battle, given that they took enough damage or have a status condition. Here, they can clean them off and even cure their status condition without using a healing item. When you step back and look at it, it’s a very small adjustment but one that led to me spending much more time using the feature than I normally would have.

Competitive players will rejoice at the small tweaks they’ve made to training as well. Super Training unfortunately has been replaced by Bouncing Houses that take a finnicky currency system, but Horde Battles have been upgraded with the new SOS system. Basically, a wild Pokemon can call in an ally if they get too hurt. This may seem worse than battling five Pokemon at a time, however Game Freak cleverly upped the number of Effort Values gained in these battles, meaning you’ll earn Effort Values even faster using the usual items and Pokérus.

Hyper Training is also a welcome addition and a dream come true for many players, allowing players to skip Individual Value Breeding in lieu of using bottle caps to increase these values. Changes like these really go a long way in improving the experience for competitive Trainers looking to prep for battle and will hopefully lead to more people getting involved competitively.

A Journey for Old and New

Overall, Game Freak did a phenomenal job innovating on some of the more outdated aspects of the Pokemon franchise while making sure to keep what was already working up to snuff. It’s truly a remarkable experience for all players, giving veterans a breath of fresh air while providing newcomers with an exciting launch point for their Pokemon journey. Pack that in with the most gorgeous Pokemon Region yet as well as a wonderful Hawaii-inspired soundtrack, and you have yourself a winning formula. Even with some story hiccups and the aforementioned visual glitches, I’m hard pressed to give Sun and Moon anything other than a glowing recommendation.

Score: 9.1/10

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: A Summary of Trends in the Second Half of Generation 6’s Metagame

By locoghoul

metacycle

sableye-megaslowbro-megalopunny-megagallade-megaaltaria-megadiancie-megametagross-megaswampert-megamanectric-megalatias-mega

As generation 6 is coming to an end, it is time to quickly give an overview of some of the most important trends in the ORAS metagame. ORAS Mega stones had something for every playstyle: stall got M-Sableye and M-Slowbro, balance got M-Loppuny, M-Latias, M-Gallade and M-Altaria while offense got M-Manectric, M-Metagross, M-Diancie and M-Swampert. In this article we will go through some trends that happened since the introduction of ORAS. The main focus of this article will be on Pokemon Showdown ladder trends, as their impact is larger on the average player than tours and tournaments.


Decline of hyper offense (HO) and rise of bulky offense (BO)

sharkking

At the end of XY, the meta was fairly offensive in nature and most teams were HO. With ORAS the style favored VoltTurn cores that helped to gain momentum.

beedrill-megascizor-megamanectric-megalandorus-therianmagnezone

Some common Volt-Turn users

At the end of XY, the meta was fairly offensive in nature and most teams were HO. With ORAS the style favored VoltTurn cores that helped to gain momentum. The addition of M-Beedrill (at early stages at least) and M-Manectric in particular favored the use of popular VoltTurn offense teams since it formed good cores with fast U-Turn users such as scarf Landorus-T or Tornadus-T. These teams often carried a powerful wallbreaker mon that would be brought safely against into the battle. Examples of these kind of teams are the following.

medicham-megabisharprotom-washtornadus-theriangarchompkeldeo-resolute

– Arik’s team

 

manectric-megagarchomptornadus-therianferrothornazumarillhoopa-unbound

– njnp’s team

The popularity of these teams made people adapt and gave rise to bulkier teams designed to punish the switches U-Turn and Volt Switch create while not being crippled by it. An example of this was the introduction of tank Chomp. With 108/95/85 bulk, it has more physical bulk than Swampert while having an arguably better typing for a defensive role coupled with a great defensive ability and a higher speed tier. This in particular allowed tank Chomp to outspeed and KO Bisharp, a common threat to offensive teams, as a +2 Sucker Punch does not kill Garchomp. Moreover, immunity to electric attacks and the ability to deal up to 30% damage when opponents make a contact move meant it discouraged mindless U-Turn spam.  Although a fair amount of megas introduced in ORAS were offensive or meant to be used in offensive teams, the meta shaped to deal with most of these teams favoring bulkier teams that could still hard. Most of these mons were not exactly walls, they were considered tanks coupled with a revenge killer and a set up sweeper. Examples of these playstyle are the following teams.

venusaur-megakyurem-blackvictinilatiashippowdontyranitar

– WECAMEASROMAN’s team

medicham-megarotom-washkeldeo-resolutelandorus-therianjirachilatios

– ABR and blunder’s team

Interestingly enough, this trend made certain mons fade into oblivion while making others pretty good at their given time. For example, M-Altaria was really high in usage and even considered S ranking at one point. As bulkier teams appeared, M-Altaria’s lack of immediate raw power was evident and its usage decreased. At the same time, M-Metagross became the face of BO while also pressuring fat fairies like Clefable and M-Altaria itself and M-Venusaur, all common mons on bulky teams.

clefable

Clefable rose to stardom in the XY/ORAS metagame, largely in part due to its new typing.

This advantage ultimately led to its suspect test where it was not banned. M-Metagross usage was later affected by two trends that we will cover next.


It’s a Trap! Stall Strikes Back

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Although stall has always been a viable playstyle, it was fairly difficult to build a successful stall team during the XY metagame due to its offensive nature. Calm Mind Landorus-I, Aegislash, M-Gardevoir, Keldeo and old Baton Pass teams made stall a very difficult playstyle. However, after a number of suspect tests, namely the ban of Landorus-I, the baton pass nerf(s) and the addition of M-Sableye, stall became much more viable. This was also favored by the decrease in HO teams and the overall bulkier meta that had trouble sometimes to break through stall. M-Slowbro seemed like a nice addition as it gave a win condition to stall teams who rely mostly on passive damage from either status or entry hazards. While it was indeed a good member on a number of teams, soon players discovered the wonders of using M-Sableye on stall. Not only contributed as a spinblocker (rare on Gen 6) but it check a lot of physical attackers that could break through classic stall, such as M-Medicham. It also provided a way to control the hazard war, something that is key to beating stall as it is guaranteed that both sides will be switching a lot. Coupled with a defogger like Skarmory, Mandibuzz, or Zapdos, stall had a great chance to keep hazards off its field while keeping them on their opponent’s side.

skarmorymandibuzzzapdos

Another component that has been used to full effect on stall is trapping. The concept of trapping is not new, if you remember the BW2 meta it was mainly dragmag teams where Magnezone would get rid of steels so that dragon spam could win the game. Pursuit trapping is also an old yet effective way to remove certain threats or walls. Examples of this is the classic Charizard-Y/Tyranitar or Keldeo/Tyranitar combo. Choiced (either Band or Scarf depending on the team) Tyranitar removes Lati@s that wall the special attackers mentioned so that they can go through teams very easily as most teams don’t have any other answers to them. During the ORAS generation, Shadow Tag, in particular the use of choiced Gothithelle, was a huge component of the metagame. This is because despite forming a good stall team there were several threats that can break through this teams like Rain Dance Manaphy or Calm Mind Clefable. Gothithelle helped remove this pokemon very effectively, sometimes even being able to trap and remove more than one pokemon per game (Heatran, opposing Chansey, Clefable, M-Venusaur, etc). Although Gothitelle trapping was not exclusive to this playstyle, it certainly took the spotlight in these kind of teams and eventually was the cause for Shadow Tag being banned from OU altogether (RIP Wobbuffet).

Even then, the combination of trapping + stall still proved to be very powerful as other types of trapping also helped to build very effective (and arguably annoying) teams against a large portion of the meta. Examples include Weavile stall featuring CB Weavile pursuit trapping offensive stall breakers like Taunt Tornadus-T, Hoopa-U (big threat to stall), etc. Another interesting use of trapping came with the combination of RU/NU mons Dugtrio and Shedinja, respectively. Commonly referred as the “Wonder Trio” (along M-Sableye), Shedinja uses baton pass on the switch to effectively trap a key opposing pokemon such as Heatran or Tyranitar. Although there was a time in the ladder where everyone was spamming the team, after a while Dugtrio in stall teams faded away until very recently where new teams have been claiming rage quits all over the ladder. The addition of a double defog core in SkarmDos, similar to what we encounter in Monotype Flying teams, provides great support to standard stall teams and allows them to handle all threats after Dugtrio killed the opposing stall breaker (M-Heracross, CB Tyranitar, Kyurem-B), keeping its sash intact for the task. Almost immediately, a new Wonder Trio team would make a reappearance, this time with the help of Eject Button Alomomola. This ensures that Dugtrio safely switches into Pokemon it needs to remove even if his sash is broken. The success of this team (plus the tears of most players in the ladder) has brought us another suspect test on Sablenite. While M-Sableye itself is not “broken” or does not fit the support characteristic of unhealthy according to Smogon’s definition; it is once again the extremely powerful combination of trapping + stall that proofs to be overpowered.

sableye-megachanseyskarmoryquagsiregothitellecresselia

– CleanerThanRotom-W’s team

sableye-megatogekisstalonflameshedinjaseismitoaddugtrio

Branflakes325’ team

sableye-megazapdosskarmoryclefabledugtriosuicune

– Tele’s team

sableye-megazapdosdugtrioshedinjachanseyalomomola

– Tio Chico’s team

 

Notice that this archetype has brought plenty of changes around the meta: it has caused 2 suspect tests (original M-Sableye + Shadow Tag, ongoing Sablenite), has moved up Amoongus to OU from UU, has moved up Dugtrio to OU from RU and has indirectly caused the drop of many mons from OU. Now that we are entering a new generation and new toys will be available for both offense and stall, do not forget that stall is a very viable playstyle and you should always account for it when team building.


Sand Offense

sexcadrill

During the later stages of ORAS this style started to grow in popularity since it had good matchups against balance and common offensive teams. Strong wallbreakers take care of balanced teams while Excadrill outspeeds and murders HO teams. Sand offense typically included Tyranitar over Hippowdon as the former not only has a better offensive presence but it can trap specially defensive pokemon such as Lati@s, Tornadus-T (only with scarf) or Chansey. These teams became so popular that it also brought Tangrowth back to OU from the pits of RU. Indeed, Tangrowth works excellent on sand teams and against them. With massive defenses and resistances to Ground and Water, Tangrowth can switch into Azumarill or Breloom with ease preventing them from revenge killing Excadrill in sand with their strong super effective priorities. On the other hand, it has a great movepool with excellent utility moves such as Knock Off, Sleep Powder, Stun Spore and Leech Seed.

volcanion

Around the same time, Volcanion release on Showdown happened and quickly lead into a lot of experimentation. At first sight, it seemed like Volcanion was a perfect fit for sand teams: it is immune to water attacks, it checks Azumarill nicely with Sludge Wave/Bomb and goes well with Tyranitar. However as the weeks went by, people realized Volcanion was not as great as they would have expected. The fact that it has slowish speed combined with a Stealth Rock weakness did not justify its use over other mons that give him competition over the strong special attacker category such as Keldeo or Latios.

As a consequence of these type of teams being very popular, some trends were observed these past year. First, a considerable increase in the already popular Landorus-T was observed to help check Excadrill better. Second, M-Metagross, M-Manectric and M-Charizard X usage decreased due to being weak to Excadrill. This also marked the end of M-Altaria in OU as the little usage it had disappeared for obvious reasons.

alakazam-megatyranitartornadus-therianrotom-washtangrowthexcadrill

– Clone’s team

charizard-megaxtyranitarexcadrilllatiostangrowthkeldeo-resolute

–  Ethanlol’s team

lopunny-megarotom-washtyranitarexcadrilltornadus-therianamoonguss

– ABR/High Impulse’s Team

scizor-megamanaphytyranitarexcadrilllandorus-therianlatias

– Confide’s Team

Spam of the Bird Spam

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Finally, for the last eight months or so a particular team has been spammed in the ladder with surprising success despite some bad matchups in the metagame. Xtra’s bird spam team is a HO team that was originally conceived more than a year ago but was popularized semi recently by Empo who peaked the ladder several times with different alts using the same team. While XY saw its fair share of bird spam teams with the addition of Talonflame and M-Pinsir, the inclusion of different stall breakers makes this team really hard to stop once it gets going. The main concept is to overload its counters with strong attackers to ensure a late game clean by one of its set up sweepers. Once again, this team has been very effective and I’d be surprised if you have not faced it while laddering as it is favored by many players because it typically results in quick games, making laddering and acquiring reqs a faster endeavor. As a result of this, the meta has seen a rise in physically defensive Zapdos to take this team better and also the appearance of Adamant Quick Attack M-Lopunny. Adamant M-Lopunny has a high chance of killing lead Azelf with a combination of Fake Out + Return, something Jolly fails to do. Aditionally, the extra power plus the two priorities (Fake Out and Quick Attack) help a lot against Band Talonflame and other strong priority users.

pinsir-megaazelftalonflameexcadrillmanaphydragonite

    – Xtra$hine’s team


Conclusion

Generation 6 brought a pool of new toys to the metagame including new abilities, Pokemon, mega evolutions, and more. Power creep was an issue, especially with the introduction of mega Pokemon like M-Kangaskhan, M-Mawile, M-Salamence, and M-Lucario. Gamefreak has made clear that they intend to nerf some of these features for the Sun-Moon metagame. The Fairy type transformed the type chart, and overall there was a shift towards a more physically offensive metagame. With just a few days remaining until the release of Sun-Moon, the dawn of a new generation is sure to throw the metagame through a series of big loops.

So you want to be the next PRL Champion…

By ilikepizza42

So you want to be champion? My name is Brent and I am the current dark type gym leader and former champion of Pokemon Reddit League. Today I’m going to give future challengers advice about team building in general and for our league.

Team building is important in all forms of competitive Pokemon so it’s no wonder that your team can make or break your PRL challenge. You’re only allowed one team and often times people will change theirs up several times before getting their first badge. For battling against our league some of the important things I made sure my team had were ‘mons with different sets and unpredictability, ones that could make use of different coverage, and made sure it was balanced in some way.

landorus-therian

Using different sets such as defensive/choice scarf Landorus-T is one of the ways that you can succeed. If you don’t get your first badge using defensive Lando, when you rematch your opponent will definitely get thrown off by the switch to scarf Lando. That alone could be a big enough of a surprise and game changer in the rematch to win.

talonflame

Talonflame is another example of a Pokemon that can run different sets successfully. At the beginning of the XY metagame Talonflame’s most popular set was choice band. It was successful at the time and checked many threats like Mega Pinsir or Volcarona. Now at the end of the ORAS metagame we have many different sets that Talonflame can run effectively: defensive stall breaker with Will-O-Wisp and Bulk Up, Swords Dance cleaner and even the classic choice band set are all still viable.

Coverage is very important in our league. Because each leader uses a different type, you should construct a team with balanced coverage to take on a wide variety of Pokemon. It is recommended that you bring at least one or two Pokemon with a wide variety of options.

gengar

During my league challenge I used Gengar because of its threatening position in the metagame and its wide special attacking coverage. 130 special attack with 110 speed and the ability to learn a variety of moves leaves it an underrated threat in PRL. Gengar has powerful STAB moves in Shadow Ball, Sludge Bomb, and Sludge Wave; in addition, it also has access to many useful coverage moves including Thunderbolt, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball, Focus Blast, Dark Pulse, and Psychic. With all of these coverage options in conjunction with stellar special attack and speed, Gengar is capable of sweeping entire teams if it gets an opening. Aside from this, Gengar can also run a viable stallbreaker or annoyer set using Substitute, Will-O-Wisp or Toxic, and Disable. Changing your sets for each gym leader you face is very important and can help you win.

Making a balanced team is also important. Our gym leaders all use at least five Pokemon of our gym type; the remaining selection is a “wild card.” The purpose of these wild cards is so that our challengers cannot just walk in with, say, Mega Gardevoir and sweep straight through my gym. When challenging the league, you must state your team up front; therefore, it is incumbent on you to similarly ensure that your own team does not have any glaring weaknesses. You want to make sure that your team isn’t swept by any one mon. Hyper offensive can be effective in OU, but depending on your match up, it can be unhelpful. For instance, current Champion Eco_politiq used a hyper offensive team during his league challenge, and while it was very effective against some gyms, he really struggled against our Poison gym leader, CleverMiltank, who was able to effectively counter team using stall. The ability to scout your teams means that we will bring a hard counter to your biggest threat and planning around that can help you win. Making sure that your team doesn’t get swept by a Talonflame is just another example of team building to win. Any playstyle can win, just make sure that your team doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses or we will take advantage of that.

azumarillvenusaur-mega

Mega Venusaur makes Azumarill sad faced 😦

When you challenge, it may sound fun to bring some of your favorite mons to do a gym leader challenge, but not all are quite up to par for competitive play. As Zdeb93 pointed out in the last entry, some Pokemon are just not useful. Using UU or even RU ‘mons can turn out successful and surprise your opponent enough to give you the edge, but at the end of the day, some are RU for a reason. They may be outclassed or even just not powerful or fast enough to do well. Likewise, bringing only A+/S rank OU Pokemon can also hurt you more than help. They are fantastic and put in great work, but if you pick them just because of their viability ranking, that doesn’t help your team, particularly if you don’t know how to use them. The other disadvantage to this is that these Pokemon are among the most common, and so our experienced leaders will know how to handle most of their sets. Being able to identify one’s role and using different Pokemon effectively can make you a great team builder. That’s something you learn not from reading who the best Pokemon in the meta currently are, but by playing games and getting a feel on what work with who.

Finally, when team building it is important to think of cores. Eco_politiq wrote a detailed blog entry a few weeks ago on this subject- you should check that out for more information, but for now, I’ll outline a couple of basics.

venusaur-megaheatran

There are many cores that can do work against monotype.One example is Mega Venusaur and Heatran. They resist almost every single one of the other’s weaknesses. Venusaur is an excellent answer to fighting, ground and water types that threaten Heatran, whereas Heatran can check psychic, flying and fire types that Venusaur is afraid of. They are an excellent example of the beginning of a good PRL team with their ability to run offensive, defensive and even choice scarf sets well.

Explore new teams, think of ‘mons that complement each other well and most of all, make sure you prep for each battle. Knowing against what type you’re going against gives you a huge advantage in team building and you should use that. Hope this helped and good luck current and future challengers!

Using Hax Strategically

By zdeb93

Some people believe themselves to be luckier than others, and while there is no quantifiable way of proving that idea, if you believe yourself to be in that category, maybe you’d like to try your luck with a Pokemon that thrives on that very idea. This blog will cover strategies for using hax to your advantage and countering your opponent’s use of hax.

By hax, I mean the luck based elements of Pokemon battles. Examples include Scald burns, critical hits, flinches, etc. Hax-based Pokemon, or Hax abusers, can be very effective in poking holes in a well-built team and even swinging the tide of a match that you find yourself very behind in.

With that in mind let’s take a look at three popular Hax-based strategies, we’ll cover countering these tactics at the end.

kingdraCritical Hit Abuseabsol

Usually there is no way to know if a critical hit is coming; however with gen VI (and assuming Gen VII if they stay the same) mechanics a couple of Pokemon are able to guarantee a critical hit with specific sets, items and abilities.

Critical hits are checked on a 0-3 point scale. Where a 0 boosted critical hit chance boosts equals a 6.25% chance of a crit. 1 boost gives 12.5%, 2 boosts is 50% and getting all 3 boosts guarantees a critical hit 100% if the move hits.

Table 1: Critical hit ratio based on number of boosts

0 6.25%
1 12.5%
2 50%
3 100%

You can boost your critical hit chance with moves that boost critical hit chance (Stone Edge, Cross Poison etc.) or holding an item like Scope Lens or Razor Claw. The ability Super Luck also boosts critical hit chance. Those will all give you +1 on the scale. The move Focus Energy will grant you 2 notches on the scale, so a combination of the first list and Focus Energy will guarantee a critical hit.

Moves with a high critical hit ratio are: Aeroblast, Attack Order, Air Cutter, Blaze Kick, Crabhammer, Cross Chop, Cross Poison, Drill Run, Karate Chop, Leaf Blade, Night Slash, Poison Tail, Psycho Cut, Razor Leaf, Razor Wind, Shadow Blast, Shadow Claw, Sky Attack, Slash, Spacial Rend, Stone Edge

+1: High critical hit ratio moves, Scope Lens, Razor Claw, Super Luck

+2: Focus Energy

Two Pokemon that are notorious for this strategy are Kingdra (UU) and non-mega Absol (RU).

kingdra

What makes Kindgra so fantastic for this “crit abuse” strategy is the ability Sniper. Sniper makes critical hits do 1.5x more damage, on top of the already boosted damage output from the critical hit. Also, critical hits ignore your negative boosted stats and your opponent’s positive boosted stats relative to your attack. That means no lost power to Draco Meteor, and it doesn’t matter how many Calm Minds your opponent has set up if it hits, and it crits, it’s going to hurt.

In reality, any pokemon that can learn Focus Energy can employ this tactic to some degree, but the ability sniper and Kindgra’s fantastic defensive typing (only 2 weaknesses plus one 0.5x resistance and two 0.25x resistances) make it the best user of crit abuse currently. However, Kingdra struggles to sweep due to its mediocre bulk and speed.

absol-3

Absol is a little more specific to make this strategy work. An Absol needs the ability Super Luck, a crit chance boosting item (like Razor Fang) and to use moves like Night Slash, Psycho Cut and Stone Edge that boost critical hit chance to get it to the +3 status for 100% critical hits. Because its item slot is used up, Mega Absol cannot run the 100% crit set.

Perhaps you have a pokemon that you want to have the Crit Abuse strategy but it doesn’t get access to focus energy or doesn’t have a lot of +1 critical hit chance moves. Enter in Scolipede.

scolipede

Scolipede who is notorious for passing all kinds of stats to its teammates can pass a focus energy like boost with the help of a Lansat Berry. The set works by protecting and substituting to build up speed boosts, then when its health is below 25%, Lansat Berry activates giving a +2 boost on the Critical Hit scale (same as a focus energy’s effect). If you’re able to predict the move coming in or if your opponent switches and you get a safe switch into your Baton Pass (it will more than likely go first due to speed boosts) everything from Landorus to Bellossom can be scary with a crit boost plus all those speed boosts.

jirachiSerene Grace Shenaniganstogekiss

Serene Grace doubles the chance of a moves secondary effect occurring. The most common use of this ability is for flinching, though stat boosting moves can also be considered under this strategy (Ancient Power and it’s +1 to all stats goes from 10 to 20 percent, for example). The chance to inflict a status (like freeze chance on ice beam) is also doubled with the Serene Grace ability.

An efficient way to abuse Serene Grace chances is to stack these effects to your advantage like paralysis and flinching, or paraflinching as it is commonly known. The practice of paralyzing a pokemon so it has a 25% chance to not move plus diminishing speed so that your move that has a chance to flinch can go first can be devastating to any pokemon regardless of matchup. Just take note that Serene Grace does not actually effect the chance of your opponent being able to move while paralyzed. Iron Head is very common move used in this strategy with a 30% chance to flinch times two with serene grace, makes a 60% flinch chance.

That makes an estimated chance of moving in a paraflinch scenario 30% (75% chance to clear paralysis multiplied by the 40% chance to clear flinch as well). It’s easy to see that when you can limit your opponent to, mathematically speaking, three moves when you get 10 that paraflinching can be a prominent, and annoying, strategy.

It’s important to be aware of pokemon that can have Serene Grace since there seems to be at least one regardless of tier (if playing Smogon/Showdown) or banlist (if at a tournament).

Pokemon with Serene Grace listed by Smogon Tiers (effective 9/2016)

Uber: Shaymin-Sky

shaymin-sky

OU/BL: Chansey, Jirachi, Togekiss

chanseyjirachitogekiss

UU/BL2: Blissey

blissey

RU/BL3: Meloetta, Togetic

meloettameloetta-pirouettetogetic

NU/BL4: none

PU: Dunsparce, Sawsbuck.

dunsparcesawsbucksawsbuck-autumnsawsbuck-summersawsbuck-winter

Two of my favorite pokemon can utilize this strategy: Togekiss and Jirachi. Here are some sample sets for each!

Jirachi-Stall

jirachi

Ability: Serene Grace

Moves: Iron Head/Zen Headbutt, Thunder Wave/Body Slam, Wish, Protect

Item: Leftovers

Thunder Wave is used on cartridge, but Body Slam (Gen III move tutor) can be used on Showdown if you wish, with a 60% chance of paralyze plus doing damage as opposed to just paralyzing, though at a 100% rate.

This set gives you a STAB move with a 60% chance flinch chance boosted through Serene Grace and a way to heal while also adding protect for scouting/passive damage purposes. Steel as a type is only resisted by four types making it borderline sweep territory if resistances are removed by other teammates. Jirachi has base 100 stats all around and can be as bulky, fast, or strong as you could want. I recommend doing some calculations on Showdown’s calculator to determine relevant moves that you want Jirachi to be able to survive or opponents you want it to outspeed.

Jirachi-Offense

Ability: Serene Grace

Moves: Iron Head, Zen Headbutt, U-Turn, Healing Wish

Item: Choice Scarf

This Jirachi is more suited to offensive teams and has become a staple in the XY/ORAS metagame. A Choice Scarf allows Jirachi to outspeed most relevant Pokemon and inflict a flinch chance with either Iron Head or Zen Headbutt. However, be mindful of the lower accuracy of Zen Headbutt. U-Turn lets Jirachi pivot out of undesirable situations. Healing Wish can be used late game to give a teammate a second lease. A Jolly or Adamant nature can be run depending on whether the speed or power matters to you; again, I recommend doing calculations. Regardless, the ideal EV spread is 252 Attack/252 Speed/4 Defense or Special Defense

Togekiss

togekiss

Ability: Serene Grace

Item: Leftovers

Moves: Air Slash, Thunder Wave, Roost, Dazzling Gleam/Coverage Move

This Togekiss set employs the same strategy, paralyze the opponent and flinch opponents to death with a way to heal itself. Air Slash (75 BP, 95% accuracy) is a little worse than Iron Head (80 BP, 100% accuracy) but is still just as effective with Togekiss’ 120 Special Attack stat vs Jirachi’s 100 Attack stat in terms of damage output. The coverage spot is flexible depending on your team’s needs. If resistances worry you, Nasty Plot can turn this Togekiss into a deadly wallbreaker. Toxic can be used if you need to put a bulky type Pokemon on a timer. Heal Bell or Wish provide team support, while Ancient Power takes advantage of Serene Grace if you want to boost all stats can be options too, depending on your needs for team composition. There are also traditional options, like Flamethrower/Fire Blast which benefit from the boosted burn chance. Aura Sphere that helps give coverage against the likes of Tyranitar and Bisharp.

cloysterSkilled Linkersheracross-mega

Perhaps one of the most well-known “hax based” strategies features Skill Link in combination with the held item King’s Rock (or another flinch inducing item). Skill Link makes multi-hit moves hit to their full potential (usually 5 times).

Mega Heracross, with its access to Pin Missile and Rock Blast, has risen to become a top threat in the late ORAS metagame. However, due to the need to hold a Heracronite, it is unable to make use of the King’s Rock strategy. Still, the fact that Skill Link lets it fire off extremely powerful attacks that break Focus Sash and Sturdy warrant its mention.

Two main Pokemon are known for the Skill Flinch strategy.Cloyster is the better of the two main users with access to Shell Smash for boosted power, Ice Shard for priority and even Hydro Pump for a mixed attacking variant in conjunction with the multi hit moves Icicle Spear and Rock Blast.

cinccino

Cinccino in lesser tiers can be used to some success but middling stats (75/60/65 defenses) really limit its use in higher tiers. A 115 speed tier gives it a niche as a late game cleaner when everything is in one hit (or 5 hit KO range). With access to Tail Slap, Rock Blast and Bullet Seed it presents a lot of coverage to fill that role.

The item slot makes the flinch hax strategy work. With five hits per move and a 10% flinch chance given by King’s Rock for moves not normally with a flinch chance it makes a 41% chance that the opponent will not move if your multi strike attack went first. This makes Skill Link pokemon serviceable stallbreakers against walls of any variety, and again in the case of Cinccino and its natural speed, late game cleaners as well.

liepardSwagPlayklefki

While this strategy is banned in Smogon competitions, however it’s worth mentioning that the ultimate example of using Hax to win seems to originate here with SwagPlay.

Swagger to boost your opponents attack by 2, then the opponent flips a coin (50% chance) on whether they hit themselves due to confusion with that boosted attack stat. If they’ve already boosted via Swords Dance for example, that’s a +4 physical hit on themselves. Foul Play attacks your opponent with their attack stat. Which means the more that stat is boosted through Swagger, Swords Dance or others, the more damage that is done.

Common users of this strategy are Klefki (Prankster ability for priority Swaggers and amazing defensive typing and decent 51/91/87 bulk) and Liepard (Prankster ability and STAB Foul Play use). The strategy may be gimmicky but it obviously works to a frustrating effect if Smogon has banned it.

In terms of those pokemon, while Klefki can serve multiple roles and has held it’s OU tiering despite Swagger being a banned move in Smogon, Liepard resides all the way down in NU, meaning SwagPlay was about all it had going for it. If you are playing in a non-Smogon match or event this obviously means nothing to you.


Countering Hax -Based Strategies

Most of these strategies rely on limiting the opponent’s turns, reducing speed, or turning attacks around on the foe. Because of this, powerful priority Pokemon can be key to wearing down and scoring kills on fully set up Pokemon who dabble in Hax. Sets with double priority, like Fake Out and Bullet Punch for example, can really put a dent into a special defensive Togekiss running paraflinch. Priority is just a generally good thing to have on a team, but if it’s scarce on your team, be very wary if paraflinch comes out against you.

For Pokemon that use the crit abuse strategy the key is to bring out a wall breaker and attempt to hit hard right away assuming you outspeed. Kingdra might only have 2 weaknesses but it is kind of frail, especially if no EVs are invested with 75/95/95 defense. Absol is even frailer with 65/60/60 defenses in non-mega form.

If you can’t outspeed a crit abuser you will need a very defensive pokemon that can probably resist the attack type coming at you. For example, if Critdra brings Draco Meteor, Surf and Ice Beam a specially defensive Ferrothorn can do great work with 116 SpD stat and resistances to all three attack types. However, with Ferrothorn’s 131 defense stat it may be unlikely you will run a Ferrothorn with full special defense by default.

ferrothorn

Mega Slowbro also forces Critdra out and can use the opportunity to set up with Calm Mind.

slowbro-mega

SwagPlay countering is pretty much a combination of the two recipes above. Hit with priority and hit it hard before it gets the chance to swagger you. However if you are a physically attacking Pokemon, you could just simply flip the coin and hope you’re on the right side of it, because after all a Hax-based strategy is always just that, luck.

If an item is crucial to the strategy (King’s Rock, Lansat Berry, Scope Lens etc.) knock off users can help to deal with the Hax based pokemon if it gets rolling and looks to finish you off.

The ability Inner Focus prevents flinches from occurring. Although this ability is generally seen as useless, there are several Pokemon that are forced to run it, like Mega Gallade, and others that have a niche use for it.

gallade-megaumbreon

Obviously the best strategy is a proactive thought that certain Pokemon are Hax-Based and not let them get “set up” by inflicting paralysis, punishing a Focus Energy user etc. The biggest weakness of hax strategies is that they still rely a great deal on luck and are therefore easy to counter with advance planning.

It might not always feell good or safe but Hax can be a huge part of Pokemon when used right and when used advantageously.

We hope you’ve learned something with our two part series on dealing with Hax as a player and utilizing (or countering) Hax in the actual moment of battle. As much as all players may moan and groan about Hax affecting the outcome of the battle the fact is, Pokemon would not be the way it is without Hax. Luck will almost always play some role in competition and as we’ve stated before Pokemon is no exception.

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