The Art of War/Guide to Competitive Battling
If you are reading this, then you are either bored out of your mind, a member of staff, or want to know more about competitive battling. If you are the latter, then good. In this guide, I will be hoping to cover the basics of competitive battling, and, hopefully, brush upon the more in-depth aspects of the game too. Subjects mentioned from this point range from simply building a team to gaining momentum in a battle, and from weather effects to psychological warfare.
Chapter I; Laying Plans/The Calculations
The Art of War Chapter Summary Wrote:Laying Plans/The Calculations explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership, and management) and seven elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory. Habitual deviation from these calculations will ensure failure via improper action. The text stresses that war is a very grave matter for the state, and must not be commenced without due consideration.
Planning. Obviously, a major part of competitive battling. Without a decent team behind you, your hopes of winning drop significantly. When building a team, many things must be considered - the style that you most enjoy playing, the Pokémon chosen for that team, current metagame threats, common teams that might pose a problem, etc. If your team is able to counter and cover off a large number of threats, then your chances of winning will be much higher than if you just throw some Pokémon together and see what happens. Calculations, too, are a major help. When building a team, the distribution of EVs is one of the most important factors in deciding whether your Pokémon will be effective. Calculating how much damage you want to do to a Pokémon - or how much damage you want to take - beforehand may give you an advantage in that you won't be wasting EVs. For example, if you're using a Pokémon in your team mainly to OHKO one Pokémon, you can calculate how much damage you will be doing. If you're doing a minimum of 105% damage to the particular set you want to counter with however many EVs, there's not much point in giving it any more. If you can, try to not give a Pokémon straight 252/252/4 EVs in three stats, unless it's a good idea - examples of "good idea" being something obviously offensive, such as Haxorus. This is the Way
Currently, and possibly for the entirety of competitive battling from now, weather teams dominate, and it is easy to see why. The bonuses and added resistances that weathers give teams are amazingly helpful, and can win battles easily for trainers that know what they are doing with them. While some weathers reduce the damage done by a certain type of attack while in effect - useful for covering a Pokémon's weakness - some make the accuracy of certain attacks flawless. It is up to you to remember which weathers have which effects, and how you can deal with them in battles. These are the seasons
- Increases the damage done by Water-type moves by 50%.
- Fire-type moves do half as much damage as normal.
- The accuracy of Thunder is 100%.
- The accuracy of Hurricane is 100%.
- Solarbeam's Base Power drops to 60.
- Moonlight, Morning Sun and Synthesis heal 1/4 of the user's maximum HP.
- Pokémon with the Swift Swim ability have their Speed stat doubled.
- Pokémon with the Forecast ability become Water-types.
- Pokémon with the Rain Dish ability heal 6.25% of their maximum HP per turn.
- Pokémon with the Dry Skin ability heal 12.5% of their maximum HP per turn.
- Pokémon with the Hydration ability cure themselves of status ailments.
- Increases the damage done by Fire-type moves by 50%.
- Water-type moves do half as much damage as normal.
- Thunder's accuracy is lowered to 50%.
- Solarbeam does not require a turn to charge.
- Moonlight, Morning Sun and Synthesis heal 66.6% of the user's maximum HP.
- No Pokémon can have the Frozen status ailment while sunlight is active.
- Pokémon with the Chlorophyll ability have their Speed stat doubled.
- Pokémon with the Forecast ability become Fire-types.
- Pokémon with the Leaf Guard ability are unaffected by status-inducing moves.
- Pokémon with the Flower Gift ability, and their partners in Double Battles have their stats increased.
- Pokémon with the Dry Skin and Solar Power abilities lose 12.5% of their maximum HP at the end of each turn.
- Pokémon with the Solar Power ability gain a one-stage boost to their Sp.Attack stats.
- Pokémon that aren't Rock, Ground or Steel-types take 6.25% of their maximum HP damage per turn.
- The Sp.Defence stat of Rock-types is raised by 50%.
- Solarbeam's Base Power drops to 60.
- Moonlight, Morning Sun and Synthesis heal 25% of the user's maximum HP.
- Pokémon with the Sand Veil ability have their Evasion raised by 20%. Non-Rock, Steel and Ground-types do not take damage per turn.
- Pokémon with the Sand Power ability have their Rock, Steel and Ground-type moves increased in power.
- Pokémon with the Sand Rush ability have their Speed stat doubled.
- Pokémon that aren't Ice-types take 6.25% of their maximum HP damage per turn.
- The accuracy of Blizzard is 100%.
- Moonlight, Morning Sun and Synthesis heal 25% of the user's maximum HP.
- Pokémon with the Snow Cloak ability have their Evasion raised by 20%. Non-Ice-type Pokémon do not take damage per turn.
- Pokémon with the Ice Body ability heal 6.25% of their maximum HP per turn.
- While a Pokémon with the ability Cloud Nine is on the field, the effects of weather are temporarily disabled. Water- and Fire-type Pokémon are at normal power under rain and sun respectively, Rock-types have an unmodified Sp.Defence stat under sandstorm, Solarbeam has 120 Base Power and takes two turns to use, Blizzard, Thunder and Hurricane have normal accuracy, and no Pokémon take damage from sandstorm and hail.
- While a Pokémon with the ability Air Lock is on the field, the effects of weather are temporarily disabled. Water- and Fire-type Pokémon are at normal power under rain and sun respectively, Rock-types have an unmodified Sp.Defence stat under sandstorm, Solarbeam has 120 Base Power and takes two turns to use, Blizzard, Thunder and Hurricane have normal accuracy, and no Pokémon take damage from sandstorm and hail.
On most teams, there are Pokémon that set up entry hazards. These come in three forms - Spikes, Toxic Spikes and Stealth Rock - and have different effects. All three can be removed by using the move Rapid Spin, and Toxic Spikes can also be removed by bringing a Poison-type Pokémon into play. All three moves can be prevented by using the move Taunt, and can be bounced back to the user's side of the field using either the move Magic Coat, or the ability Magic Bounce. This is the terrain
- Does damage to all Pokémon switching in that aren't Flying-types or have the abilities Levitate or Magic Guard. Spikes can be stacked up to three times. One layer of spikes does 12.5% damage to the Pokémon switching in. Two layers do 18.75%, and three layers do 25%.
- Either poisons or badly poisons all Pokémon switching in that aren't Flying-, Poison- or Steel-types, or have the abilities Levitate, Magic Guard or Immunity. They can be stacked twice, the first layer simply poisoning the target, and two layers badly poison the target, receiving increasing amounts of damage per turn. Switching a Poison-type Pokémon into the field removes Toxic Spikes, unless that Pokémon is part Flying-type, or has the Levitate ability (they are still removed if Gravity is in effect).
- Does a set percentage of damage to a Pokémon switching in, dependant on that Pokémon's weakness to the Rock-type. A Pokémon that is 4x resistant to the Rock-type takes 3.125% of its total HP as damage, 2x resistant Pokémon take 6.25% damage, and Pokémon that take neutral damage take 12.5% damage. Pokémon weak to Rock-type attacks take 25% damage, and others that are 4x weak take 50% damage - half of their total HP. Does not hit Pokémon that have the Magic Guard ability, and can be reflected with Magic Coat and Magic Bounce.
Finally, the way you play will also be a deciding factor in whether or not you win a battle. You may have a good team that can take on the game's biggest threats, but that will amount to nothing if you play badly and make mistakes. Knowing simple things such as the type chart - weaknesses, resistances and immunities - go a long way towards playing well, as well as knowing about other aspects of game mechanics such as Sleep. Another important factor is strategy, without which you may end up backed into a corner with no way out. Planning ahead in a battle, thinking a few turns into the future, and considering more than one scenario helps prevent this, as does predicting what your opponent will do next. This, finally, is the leadership
Chapter II; Waging War/The Challenge
The Art of War Chapter Summary Wrote:Waging War/The Challenge explains how to understand the economy of warfare, and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.
With a basic understanding of competitive battling, you will obviously be at an advantage when compared to people that lack any kind of knowledge about the game. However, this does not mean that you will never fail to defeat them. During a battle, it is important to think things through, especially nearer the beginning of the engagement. With the advent of the fifth generation, it bought with it new clauses - arguably the most important of which is the Wifi Clause, effectively eliminating the need for a dedicated leading Pokémon in competitive play.
With this clause active, each player is given a look at their opponent's team before the engagement starts, showing the kinds of Pokémon used, and useless things such as the Pokémon's gender and level. The only important part of this - the Pokémon - is a good thing to pay attention to, as you are also allowed to switch the order of your team around before the battle commences, meaning that you can put a Pokémon that has the best chance against their team in the leading spot, possibly giving you an early-game advantage over the opponent, who may have overlooked that factor entirely.
An important thing to remember in a battle is when and when not to switch a Pokémon into play. At the start of the battle, switching a powerful end-game sweeper in, intending to finish the battle near the start in one fell swoop, could be a disastrous move - chances are that they have a Pokémon that can stop you dead in your tracks, meaning that you'll either lose your potentially most important team-member, or they get a free turn while you switch out. While pulling out an advantage in the opening few turns is a great idea, it may not be worth throwing away a vital member of your team for it. Know in which situations members of your team shine, and you will have a more successful time in battles.
Thinking a turn ahead in the battle is all well and good - planning out your moves ahead of time is always a good thing to do - but, ultimately, not much use if your opponent is predicting what you would be doing in response to his own actions. You never know what your opponent can be thinking, and predicting every action and eventuality until the final turn of the battle would be nearly impossible. The best thing you can do is to think a couple of turns into the future, for a few plausible situations - think about the moves that you're going to make, what your opponent may do in response, then your counter to that.
Sadly, even though you may achieve this perfectly, there's always the possibility that they have done it better than you, or have simply access to a better team and are subsequently able to counter everything you do. In this situation, at least one of your Pokémon will be in danger, and you will be forced to make a decision - which member of your team to lose. Think ahead as many turns as you can, considering the Pokémon that your opponent has on their team, their sets, and then look at your own. One of your Pokémon in danger will have a better chance against the opponent than the others, and it is, unfortunately, up to you to decide which to keep. This will maximise your chances of winning later on in the battle - limiting the cost of confrontations and conflict.
Chapter III; Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack
The Art of War Chapter Summary Wrote:Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities.
Unity factors into almost everything nowadays, be it in the world, politics, or gaming. If you don't have a team that works well together, then you won't be successful - that's obvious. In-team synergy is vital to ensuring that you're not wiped out within the first 10-or-so turns - this means having, if you can, resistances and immunities to every type of attack in the game, and to have them outweigh your weaknesses. Following on from this, however, is how well the Pokémon work together in their respective roles - you could have resistances to every type and still be taken apart by one Pokémon if the roles you have chosen aren't up to scratch. This means not stocking up on Pokémon that defend well on one side of the offensive spectrum - a team made entirely of Special walls will be easily picked apart by a Physical attacker, and vice versa.
The easiest way to ensure that your team has good defensive synergy is to make a team with a core in it. In competitive terms, a core is a combination of two or more team-members that cover each other's weaknesses, and have their roles compliment each other. Back in the fourth generation, the definition of this term was essentially SkarmBliss - Skarmory and Blissey used on the same team. While they may not hold up to the description of "covering each other's weaknesses", they still synergise amazingly well. Skarmory, an obviously defensive Pokémon, has almost no problem taking Fighting-type attacks - most of which revolve around the Physical side of offense - that would be aimed at Blissey, while Blissey would have absolutely no trouble shrugging off Fire- and Electric-type attacks that are aimed at Skarmory, as they are, more often than not, Special attacks.
-game, and do compliment each other well, as long as you get their roles
correct. Arguably one of the most effective examples of this is GastroCeleTran - a three-Pokémon core consisting of, predictably, Gastrodon, Celebi and Heatran.
Additionally to the most basic form of synergy - defensive - is of
fensive synergy - Pokémon that are quite obviously meant for offensive roles in the team that can work around each other as an effective core, still managing to cover each other's weaknesses relatively well, but also being able to take apart threats which may stop the other from doing its job. A prime example of an offensive core is the dreaded, and extremely annoying, Volt-Turn strategy, coined by Rotom-W and Scizor. The moves U-Turn and Volt Switch lend their names to this strategy, which generally involves using the two moves in conjunction to hit hard from both sides of the offensive spectrum, while forcing your opponent to switch Pokémon almost constantly to keep up pace.
Those factors together comprise the Attack
in this context would most fit when referring to the types of team that you can play. In the metagame, there are many types of team, but most will fall under one of two categories - offensive or stall, both of which do exactly as the names suggest. Offensive teams focus on overwhelming the opponent with the sheer Speed and offensive power of the Pokémon they use, not worrying about opposing defensive walls or worrying about their own lack of them. Typically, these teams will feature at least one Dragon-type, and a couple of Choice item users. Some teams go even deeper into this category, classing themselves as Hyper Offensive teams. These kinds of teams will try not to worry about synergy full stop, and will always come with some form of Dual Screens user. Using the moves Reflect and Light Screen, damage from Physical and Special attack respectively do half as much damage for 5 turns (7 with the item Light Clay), giving the team's heavily offensive Pokémon a chance to do as much damage as possible before the effect expires. Speaking from my own opinion, this is a risky option when compared to creating a balanced or stall team, as, if you run into one opposing Pokémon that can shut you down, then that's essentially game over right there. These kinds of team are the Army
Stall-based teams go in the completely opposite direction to offensive and hyper offensive teams. As the name may suggest, this kind of play revolves around stalling the opponent out, defending against their attackers (or even other walls) and causing indirect damage through the entry hazards listed in Chapter I, weather effects and status moves. Typically featuring slow Pokémon with high defensive stats, they also tend to lack a large amount of damage-inducing moves, and try to include as many forms of reliable recovery as possible. They will also feature effective defensive cores such as SkarmBliss or FerroCent - difficult to break through - and will almost always carry a Pokémon with the move Rapid Spin to clear any entry hazards that you yourself may have set up, prolonging the amount of times that they can switch counters in and out again. These kinds of teams can be seen as the Cities
- strongholds, fortresses.