Your Weather Forcast For Today
There are rain, sun, sand, and  hail in the forecast for today... but don't worry, your pokemon will probably be fine.

I've seen so many weather teams lately that I've decided to look into just what makes them work... or fail as so often seems to be the case. I think in analysis I'll start with sun as I see the fewest of these.

Sun teams tend to have an interesting dynamic of fire and grass pokemon because of all the Chlorophyll abilities in grass. Looking at the dynamics, the best boost that sunny day teams received was Ninetails getting Drought as a dream world ability. Now the question, what makes a sunny day team work?

The start:
For a sunny day team to work, you first have to get the sun out. This means either Ninetails or a pokemon who can use the move sunny day. Among the list of sunny day pokemon, a few stand out at least in my mind:

The reason these pokemon stick out is because they are good defensive pokemon that can play a second role on the team dynamic. One of my favorites is Venusaur, as he can have the dream world ability Chlorophyll, be bulky enough to easily switch in, and has a lot of power potential with moves like power whip. Nidoking and Nidoqueen are just bulky with a good movepool for aiding the team. Clefable, blissey and suicune are all very bulky, and can help against on opponent who's fire type is looking to grab that free boost for a fireblast. Forretress can spike and spin, and can easily switch in. Spiking can bring 2hko pokemon down to a ohko. Crobat and Gliscor can be good stall breakers against defensive pokemon. Celebi is a good counter to most rain dance users, so it can also be a useful addition.

Once you decide who your team you will rely on for bringing out the sun, you have to decide on a couple sweepers. My suggestion is to make sure you have one fast, powerful fire user (choice scarf shandera or heatran are always good choices) that can take advantage of the sun, but will also be useful if the sun gets taken away. You'll want to probably have two Chlorophyll sweepers as well... but here's the hard part. I personally am a fan of mixed sweepers for these positions because it means that skram/bliss or simaler switching defense strategies can't force you to switch and either para or damage your sweepers. Having a pokemon like Venusaur who can sweep both types if specd right and has sunny day can really free up extra spaces on your team... but be careful! You need to make sure your sunny day user isn't a frail sweeper or you may never get the sun to shine in the first place.

That is the core of a sun team. The rest of your team should be complimentary. If you have too many pokemon relying on the sun completely, you ignore two facts:
1) Any all-sun team has considerable weakness to other weather (especially auto-weather).
2) There is no way a team of 6 sun-based pokemon can have coverage against the entire OU defensive meta... and if it does most of the time it's far too weak to kill it in less than 3 hits or requires switches.

The best fix? Look at your sweeping strong types. Grass and fire will obviously already be there, but often you will have 1-3 more types you can hit well.  Find what elements that you are missing (commonly ground or water)

To illustrate I will make a team following my own advise. To start I want to find two sun bringing pokemon. Looking at what commonly  gives these teams problems my choices are Suicune and Ninetails. I like ninetails because semi-perma sun is almost indispensable against defense-swap teams who will try to outlast your sun. I like suicune because it's unexpected to run sunny day, and can tank out many other tpyes of weather like sandstorm and rain. My sweepers are both Chlorophyll sweepers and mixed: venusaur and shiftry. Venusaur is my main sweeper because he can use sleep powder to take out any major counters, and has Swords Dance to boost his attack, allowing him to focus on special and use a sleep turn to buff. I like shiftry because it can switch in on any psychic pokemon that threaten venusaur for free, and use the extra turn gained to use nasty plot... which also allows me to just boost one of his two stats and have the other boost by move. My fire user is already on the team in ninetails, but she requires some extra care... I would use high hp and special defense ninetails with choice specs (allowing her to live through a hit and switch in, and then with still decent speed use specs and sun boost to deal heavy damage). This leaves two spots, and not much left to cover. I personally prefer to have a backup defensive pokemon to stop rain and sandstorm, so I throw in Nattoorei here as it almost conpletely stops rain, and gives sandstorm teams a hard time. This gives the team a huge fire weakness, so as my last pokemon I need something that can help remedy that. I chose bulky ddance gyarados because it takes fire well, and after a dance can wreck what's left of a team that's already devistated trying to stop the sun.

Next, i'll look at rain.
Rain teams seem to be almost a gimmick these days. Sometimes they get a 6-0 sweep, and sometimes the same team gets stopped 0-6. Why does this happen?

As i dissected players teams I started to realize that it was the name that people seemed to follow instead of the spirit, and it was making obvious holes in teams. Many people see rain and instantly think ludicolo, kingdra and kabutops sweeping through whole teams. The problem? This works great against a generally banalced team as you can knock out their one or two decent counters by hitting+sacrificing with one or two of your sweepers and winning with the third... but it's just not a solid gameplan overall as a defensive team that uses SR can switch kill you, or just use the switch causing to deal damage or para. For instance, the minute you send out ludicolo an opponent with blissey can grab a free switch and paralyze what you swap to. When kingdra uses outrage, skarmory comes in and uses whirlwind to put off your team and cause SR/spikes damage... or predicts your switch to a special sweeper and deals large damage with brave bird.

Rain is over used on rain dance teams.

As with the sun team, you can't have a team that entirely uses rain. The best way to run a rain dance team is what I like to call Fake Rain Dance. basically you convince your opponent you have a rain team, beat up their rain counters in turn, and then finish with a swift swimmer. For this strategy you only need two rain involved pokemon. The first i call the Bait, and the second the Clencher. For bait, you need something obviously rain based that starts rain. The easiest is Drizzle politoed as its weak, has hypnosis to annoy the opponent, and gives the opponent an easy choice of switching to a water counter. Then use grass, ground, rock or electric pokemon to eliminate their counters, switch back to politoed, rinse and repeat. On my test teams for this strategy, i often actually never bothered to bring out my swift swimmer because I would kill them with just politoed once their water resistances were all gone.

Many people also overestimate the power of thunder. There are plenty of 120 power moves, and if you don't have the stab or special attack to back it up they'll never be able to ko most common threats. Its a good move to have on a pokemon like jolteon, but only when you don't make the moveset just to spam it. Choice scarf thunder is BEGGING to get swapped in on by something with enough power to KO your other pokemon.

Anyway, no need to make an example team here. Just make sure that you use mixed sweepers whenever possible to prevent the need to switch, and that you stay away from obvious strategies like using rain then immediately switching. Its sometimes best to get only 1 turn in the rain with your swimmer to kill one of your opponent's pokes, then go back to defending.

Next I looked at sandstorm teams.
These teams got a real boost with gen 5 as now they can get a couple pokemon with a speed boost and attack boost, which was the main problem with them before.

I see a ton of different ideas for sandstorm, and many of them work. The main problems I see have mostly to do with three main topics:
1) The Lead
2) Sweeper Choices
3) What to do when it falls apart.

i mean really people. Hippodon can only defend against maybe 15% of leads, and normally just gets up SR then gets KOd, tricked, taunted, or slept.Tyranitar is a great antilead... because he can take a hard hit and retaliate. Try bringing that back if the opponent brings in hail? yaaaaa....

Sweep based on what you want to do with the team, not based on whats the fastest. Doryuuzu is an amazing pokemon in the sand... but he has a ton of weaknesses and can't even get out without some help. He also has problems since he only has one real stab. You need to make sure you balance your team, and keep your number of actual sweepers and sand reliance down to a minimum.

When you lose the sand (especially to rain) it can make it really hard to recover. Make sure you have a "Recovery Plan" that you can use to get your sand back up even in a harsh environment. If you assume the worst that your opponent can do do stop you and have a backup plan that gets around it reliably then you can always recover.

The last type of weather is Hail.
Hail is the type i've personally seen fail the most. It doesn't give speed or extra damage, so you can't just choose a group of ice pokemon and hope that it works. In fact, there are only three real reasons to use hail.
1) Blizzard
2) Snow Cloak
3) Ice Body

Now the real key is in how to use these. Blizzard is a no brainer, just a strong stab that  is resisted by a decent number of pokemon, but good for stab and better than ice beam. Any pokemon benifits from blizzard, but only if that pokemon was capable before. Snow Cloak is only really useful on a pokemon like froslass who can use thunder wave and substitute. A paralyzed pokemon trying to hit against snow cloak has a 60% chance to hit, so the basic idea is to switch in, twave, and then set up sub while healing from leftovers until you get a sub, then deal damage until the sub is broken. rinse and repeat, using the leftovers healing to keep it up. Ice body is good as a stall tactic on Walrien, but he should be used carefully as he can get Pp stalled and then just take up a spot.

Similar rule for Hail as with Sandstorm: Don't lead with abomasnow. He doesn't make a good lead in most circumstances, and there's no reason why you need to start hail from the start. Hail is a stalling weather, don't rush into it.

Weather is a great tool, but so easy to accidentally misuse. Just make sure you use it in a way that it actually supports, and that you have a recovery plan, and it can easily be a great addition to a team.

Have any questions about pokemon? Go ahead and ask, I'm always looking for new things to look into ^^.

Why Do People Hate Blissey So Much?
I see so much hate for blissey that I decided i'd take a look and figure out exactly what was going on. The general consensus I got from asking around was that blissey annoys people because she walls nearly every special attacker in the game. I play OU, so thats the tier I hear complaints about it in, and will look into.

I thought about it for a bit and realized why: the only good satk for fighting is Focus Blast, a very inaccurate move that only a few pokemon like Gengar bother to run (and thats mostly for ttar and other darks). There are also Aura Sphere (only 90 bp, but still a decent move with stab) and possibly the best candidate for defeating blissey: Sword of Mystery. Aura Sphere is usable by lucario (not likely to get a blissey switched in, or bother using special except in certain circumstances) Togekiss (who lacks stab and even after a nasty plot can still only hit 45.7% - 53.8% in the smogon nasty plot set against a blissey with0 sdef investment... not enough to cancel softboiled+leftovers) or Kondojo (who would also be much more likely to be physical with only 95 satk, and also won't be switched into by blissey). Sword of Mystery is only usable by Kerudio, a recent 5th gen addition that is not used very often as far as i've seen, but might just be underestimated. With 129 satk and a Special move that counts against Physical defense, gets stab, and is super effective, it seems like the most likely counter to blissey that would be special. It also resists both ice beam and flamethrower that are common on blissey.

This proves though just how hard blissey is to take down as far as damage is concerned. When blissey switches in on a completely special sweeper she pretty much gets 1 free move. She gives free momentum- something that very few pokemon can do as often as she can. This makes me think that the key to beating blissey isn't really in out damaging its heals, as you can easily do that just by getting in a physical damager, but in outmaneuvering it and making its free attack useless when you switch. This leaves 5 distinct possibilities that are the most common:
1) Thunder wave
2) Ice beam
3) Flamethrower
4) Seismic toss
5) Toxic

Looking at the three damage-based attacks that are common, they can easily be avoided or dealt with by using a decent HP pokemon that takes either fire or ice neutral or well. this leaves the elements dark electric fighting fire ghost normal poison psychic rock and water. Of these we need to look at the non-damaging effects (twave and toxic) and see where we can be immune to those. Steel and ground is the only way to beat both, but is weak to fire from earlier which was why it was tossed out. Any pokemon with heal bell, aromatherapy, rest, or natural cure is also in effect immune to these effects as they can get rid of them easily.

Another good way to look at it is to decide what you want to do when you switch in. If you have a taunt user, even if its a special attacker it has decent odds of beating blissey or causing a switch that gives you momentum again. If you have a physical user that has a setup switch in, you can gain a free turn from it to get a swords dance or a substitute. Blissey can also offer you a great opportunity to make possibly game-winning buffs or a free switch into a hard to counter but hard to switch in pokemon.

Much of the decision here will now depend on what kind of team you have. If you are at 5 pokemon and looking for something to counter bulky sdefender switch ins with, I would suggest using a pokemon like breloom, gliscor, doryuzuu, nidoking/queen, or similar to fit your team. I would put out there that most teams have a more than adequate counter to Blissey, and the real problem lies with them either just switching strait to their fighting or sweeping pokemon only to have it crippled or switching to another tank to try to win an impossible stall war.

Blissey is a good pokemon for changing the momentum of a game. Lets flip the coin here and see what you can do with a blissey to make it even more useful.

The most common way people use blissey is as a cleric or wish support. The main issue with this is that there isn't always a good switch in for her, and she tends to require special attention to make sure she lives to support... and wish by itself is hard to pull off as you opponent will get a free hit before wish can take effect, meaning its mostly for creating easy switches as opposed to actual healing. Many people run their cleric with thunder wave or toxic, and if their team has no status will attempt that on the opponent's switch... but they often find that (as mentioned above) most people will predict a status effect and try to avoid it by switching to a ground or steel type.

I see two ways to utilize blissey that are normally overlooked by the community because they are not on the smogon sets (they have their reasons) and are possibly the most useful slots to have on a team. The first is a dedicated status absorber. Blissey has the amazing natural cure ability coupled with its extremely large sdef and hp pool, making it a perfect candidate for absorbing any status from a special attacker. The nifty thing about blissey though is that when she switches in to absorb a status on a special attacker or wall, you can almost always predict that a switch is coming and either hit them with a status or damage that gives you momentum.

The second is so cool I'm making a second paragraph just for it. Its something that currently is unexpected, but even if the opponent sees it coming there isn't much they can do. When blissey switches into a special attacker she gets a free turn... which normally your opponent will try to predict and make useless. What if you could make it so you could SEE their guess, then pick your move? Well, you can. Substitute on that free turn, and then no matter what your opponent switches to your blissey can be useful! if the opponent switches in steel, use twave. Ground? toxic. Steel ground? seismic toss? xD it all depends on what your team would benefit from most, but from behind a substitute blissey has the option to do the most damage, as well as possibly scout out the opponent's attack. It also allows you to prevent substitute setup by letting you seismic toss when they try to sub, forcing them to break your sub first and take a hit or two and reduce their effectiveness.

My current favorite set is Sub, Seismic Toss, twave, and softboiled... but the team it's on is full of bulky sweepers that benefit greatly from having a few paralyzed opponents.

Blissey, like most OU pokemon, has a specific niche in the metagame that requires a well balanced team to back it up in order for it to be a star. It can turn the tide of the battle in either direction just based on how it is used and how the opponent reacts to it. It certainly isn't an overpowered or broken pokemon based on any of its stats, abilities, moveset, or bst. It isn't causing over-centralization of the game because it's usage isn't too high (because it requires a specific team dynamic to work well) and when it is used it has many possible counters and ways around its strategies. The most important thing to realize is that if someone uses a blissey, they have a reason to... and if you can figure out that reason you should be able to beat not just the blissey, but the whole team it's on if you play better than your opponent.

*Turns on Livejournal*
Today I played Pokemon. Yeah, that little kid's game that swept the nation then disappeared, you all remember it right? Oh man, i remember getting my first card... but looking back on it now it all seemed so silly xD. Turns out I was mistaken, and it is totally NOT silly anymore. What I've decided to try out is Competitive Battling using the Pokemon hand held system as reference.

The first thing that I found obviously helpful was Somgon University, as they are the leading decider in the pokemon world as to what Pokemon fall into which "tier", that is, which pokemon should be able to fight each other based mostly on their BST (base stat total), move sets, and a concept called Centralization (which is fine, but Over-centralization is the problem, that being if a pokemon "works" so well every team has to have one or a direct counter to it in order to be productive).

I also quickly learned that wifi was probably not the best choice for testing, as creating the pokemon on the system required either hacking or tedious labor, and then after I made "perfect" stat pokemon I found that other people hacked Pokemon with better than perfect stats ;-;. I turned to a few outlets in turn. The first was Shoddy, an online battle simulator that had a decently sized community of players. After making and testing a few teams based on research from smogon, I found myself climbing the ladder there quickly... and it wasn't long before I was noticed by a clan and recruited. There I discovered Pokemon Online simulator. I've since been doing clan matches, and waiting for gen 5 to officially come out of suspect testing (now only a few more days!!).

The really important things to consider when making a team are how they will combine to work together. For example if you have a strong attacker (Sweeper) that has a high ATK, even if you have a moveset with perfect coverage (a set of attacks that when combined can always hit normal or super effective) it will still have trouble killing something with high defense. There are a few ways to counteract strong defense that are pretty much consensus through the pokemon world:
1) have 2 sweepers or more, and have at least one physical and one special
2) have a wall breaker or stall breaker. This is a very significant difference: a wall breaker is basically just an attacker that hits well both physically and specially that can knock down any kind of normal strong defense while a stall breaker is a pokemon that taunts, encores, or sleeps opposing defensive pokemon so they can't heal then out-stalls or sets up on them for free.

1) having a starmie and a metagross. Starmie can deal with the physically defensive, and gross can deal with the specially defensive.
1) Mixed Infernape is a wall breaker, being able to use 2 120 base power stab attacks, one special and one physical. Gliscor or Breloom are stall breakers, being able to outspeed defensive pokemon, stop them from stalling, and eventually kill them or force a switch.

The other big thing to look into is type coverage, both offensively and defensively. It's pretty much what it sounds like... you need to have a set of pokemon designed to be able to switch into any type of opposing attack and take the damage well, and you need to have essential elements covered to make your attackers effective when working together. Pokemon like heatran make the defensive aspect easy, as they resist many elements, and sometimes even absorb one element for an added boost. Coverage for the attacking part is a little harder to nail down, as you won't be able to have an attack of each element on your team. The best way to decide on moves is to first grab STAB attack(s), and then look at what resists those attacks (either by high defense or typing) and figure out if you can add in types to counter those types. A good example would be with the mixed infernape we saw earlier. Two attacks we know we want for it are fire blast and close combat, as each are very powerful and give him STAB. Now we look and see that defensive water pokemon (like vaporeon) and Gyarados present a large problem, as do fast psychic or flying pokemon. This means that in the last two slots you should add moves like Grass Knot, Stone Edge, or U-turn... but you should also look into the rest of your team and decide if the team already can counter one type or another on the list. For instance Jirachi would make the psychic weakness pointless, as he can take 1/4 damage from psychic and practically get a free switch in. Or breloom could take out the slow water pokemon with sleep and even get a substitute set up out of the deal.

Once you've made your team, and like where it's going... you'll still have a lot of work to do. Now you get to calculate the EVs you'll need. Some of this is taken care of on sites like Smogon, but those are mostly suggestions for "Stand Alone" sets that you'll find work better with your team when you change them up a bit. A good example of a need for EV calculation is when a pokemon is using leftovers. Leftovers heals 1/16 of a pokemon's HP each turn, so if you want to maximize the effect of leftovers you might want to move some points around to get it divisible by 16 so you aren't wasting extra points or missing out on extra heals. Another thing to keep in mind (especially on pokemon like shaymin) is that a 101 hp substitute is not broken by seismic toss, so investing some extra hp to get shaymin to 404 will make the sub harder for pokemon like blissey to break. That is, if you choose to use a sub ~.^

Next you'll want to play-test your new team. Normally this means just jumping on the ladder on Pokemon Online or Shoddy with a new name, and playing with the team to see how far up the ladder it will take you. Its a good way to get used to how a team works, and flatten out any kinks or weaknesses you might see. It also helps you with probably the single most important part of pokemon: Prediction.

Figuring out the flow of the match is important. It can help you determine what pokemon your opponent will switch to, or if they might sacrifice a pokemon to get a free switch.

Probably the thing I look at first is something I like to call Momentum. Its basically just a comparison of who has "the upper hand", meaning the person who is the one causing moves against the one receiving moves. Momentum is the single most important thing in my opinion to winning. When you have momentum, you know the opponent will be trying to get it (either through a set up, or switching into a strong defense to force you to make a switch you didn't expect) and knowing that helps determine what your opponent will do. A good way to keep momentum is to use a scouting move as a finishing move (like u-turn, to make sure that if they switch to a defensive poke to save it you get a counter) or to finish a pokemon from behind a sub. A good way to gain momentum is phasing with a defensive pokemon or getting in a pokemon with a setup move like dragon dance on a pokemon that doesn't threaten it.

The next thing to look at is Scouting. If you can manage to see most/all of your opponent's team before they see yours you have the obvious upper hand when the predicting and Momentum come into play. This can be achieved through moves like u-turn or phasing (roar and whirlwind). Its also good to look at this defensively... Don't show your pokemon if you can help it.

There is also another thing to consider: The Spontaneity Factor. Sometimes when you are giving an opponent a particularly hard time they will try something that makes little sense in order to evoke a response from you. One of the most common instances is something called "Double Switching", or switching into a good counter, then switching directly into a counter of the thing that you think the opponent will switch to. This strategy only works in very specific situations... or when your opponent thinks he has you beat with momentum.

Obviously it takes a good amount of testing, patience, and persistence to make a good team... and possibly just as much of each to actually get good at using it. The good news? Once you've gotten really good at following and manipulating the flow of the game, making teams turns into a 1-2 hour thing you can do with minimal testing to get it right. It is good once you've reached a high level to still make new teams, as it keeps your opponent's on their toes and prevents people from just making an anti-team to play against you. There are also many other ways to play that are a good challenge to your team making skills, such as mono teams (making an entire team that has a certain type in it). Remember not to believe what everyone tells you about things... I find that much of the time the common stigmas associated with certain sets or builds are solely due to misuse ^^


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