Competitive Battling is an aspect of Pokemon that separates "casual" players from players that aim to battle using Pokemon bred and trained for competitive battling. This guide will teach you the ins and outs, not only of competitive battling itself, but of building Pokemon that are suitable for competitive battling in Pokemon Black and White.
1. Getting Started - Natures
You may have noticed that every Pokemon that you capture has a nature. But what do these mean for the Pokemon itself? Natures effect Pokemon's stats in a dramatic way. Natures raise one stat by 10% while lowering another stat by 10%. To maximize a Pokemon's potential, you want to raise a stat it uses, preferably lowering one it has no use for. Here is a list of each nature, and what it does:
Nature & Effect
|Adamant||Attack||Sp. Atk||Impish||Defence||Sp. Atk||Mild||Sp. Atk||Defence|
|Naughty||Attack||Sp. Def||Lax||Defence||Sp. Def||Rash||Sp. Atk||Sp. Def|
|Brave||Attack||Speed||Relaxed||Defence||Speed||Quiet||Sp. Atk||Sp. Def|
|Bashful||No Effect||No Effect||Docile||No Effect||No Effect||Hardy||No Effect||No Effect|
|Careful||Sp. Def||Sp. Atk||Jolly||Speed||Sp. Atk|
|Sassy||Sp. Def||Speed||Naive||Speed||Sp. Def|
|Quirky||No Effect||No Effect||Serious||No Effect||No Effect|
Knowing how to utilize natures is the most basic step to obtaining good Pokemon. In B/W, nature has a 50% chance of being passed from a parent to a baby if the mother or father holds an Everstone. Here's an example of how to utilize a nature:
For this Reuniclus, we see that it is aimed mostly at utilizing Special Attacks, with Recover used to heal itself. Since we're not using any moves that use the Attack stat, a nature that lowers Attack would be the most beneficial. Looking at Reuniclus' stats, Modest nature (+Sp. Attack, -Attack) would likely be the most beneficial here, hitting harder with the attacks it has, without lowering any of the stats that it uses. Neutral natures are never a good idea, since there is always a stat that can afford a 10% drop to raise a more useful stat. Likewise, Lax and Gentle nature are never a good idea, because raising one defense while lowering the other leaves your defensive Pokemon far more susceptible to being knocked out. Defensive Pokemon in general tend to use only one attacking stat, while the other can afford to be lowered.
Pokemon with the ability Synchronize will have a 50% chance of passing their nature to a wild Pokemon when placed in the lead position of your party.
2. BreedingBreeding is a very important aspect of competitive Pokemon. Not only can you breed for a Pokemon with the correct nature, but you can pass on Egg Moves, which are moves that the Pokemon can only learn when the father passes them down through breeding. You can also pass down IVs (see the IV guide below).
The mother Pokemon will always determine the species of the Egg produced. Having a female Salamence breed with a male Gyarados will always produce a Bagon Egg. Attaching an Everstone gives the mother or father a 50% chance of passing the nature of the Pokemon holding the Everstone to the Egg it produces. This is especially useful for Ditto, which can breed with any Pokemon that can have an Egg. Having a Ditto of every (useful) nature will aid in getting competitive-ready Pokemon.
Egg Moves are moves that are passed from the father Pokemon to the baby Pokemon. Using the aforementioned example, let's assume we have a female Salamence in the daycare with a male Gyarados. Gyarados knows Hydro Pump, Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Ice Beam (a terrible moveset for Gyarados, but just for the sake of example, bear with me). The level 1 baby Bagon will have this moveset upon being hatched: Rage, Hydro Pump, Flamethrower. But why? I'll explain.
Rage is the move that Bagon will always know upon being hatched. Hydro Pump is an Egg move, only possible to learn when the father knows the move. There is no other way for it to be learned. Flamethrower is learned because Bagon can learn Flamethrower via TM, and any time the father knows a move that the baby can learn via TM, it will be passed to the child. Thunderbolt and Ice Beam cannot be passed to Bagon, and it cannot be learned via TM, so these moves are not passed to the child. To find a list of Egg moves that can be passed to a Pokemon, you can check our online Dex.
3. Stats and "EV Training"You may notice that two Pokemon of identical nature and level have different stats. This is due to two factors, the first of which are called "EVs", or Effort Values. Effort Values are invisible values that your Pokemon obtains every time it defeats a Pokemon. There are EVs for each of the six stats (HP, Attack, Defense, Sp. Attack, Sp. Defense, Speed). This is very simple once you learn it, and is a very important factor in obtaining competitive-ready Pokemon.Your Pokemon can obtain 510 EVs total in it's lifetime, and only 255 can be allocated to a single stat.
Defeating a Patrat gives 1 Attack EV. For every four EVs your Pokemon obtains in a single stat, the actual stat will go up one. So, for example, defeating four Patrat will get you 1 extra point in your Attack stat at level 100. Defeating eight Patrat will earn you 2 extra points in Attack at level 100, and so on. For this reason, you should never invest more than 252 EVs in any stat, because that is the highest number that is divisible by 4; any further EVs in that stat will be wasted, since the EV cap in a stat is 255, and 255/4 won't yield a higher result than 252/4.
PokeRus doubles EV gain of any Pokemon infected with it, or cured of it. Defeating a Duosion using a Pokemon with PokeRus, for example, will give 4 Sp. Attack EVs instead of just two. Macho Brace is a held item that doubles EV gain as well, so equipped with that and PokeRus, the Duosion would give 8 Sp. Attack EVs!
The Power Items (Power Anklet, Power Band, Power Belt, Power Bracer, Power Lens, Power Weight) also aid in EV training. They give 4 EVs in their given stat every time you defeat any Pokemon, regardless of whether or not the Pokemon you defeat gives EVs for that stat. The formula for figuring out how many EVs you'd gain from any Pokemon under these circumstances is:
If your Pokemon doesn't have PokeRus, that's removed from the equation. Assuming you have a Pokemon with PokeRus and holding a Power Lens (gives +4 Sp. Attack EVs) battling a Litwick, you'd gain 10 Sp. Attack EVs.
Here is a simple guide to EV training your Pokemon in B/W Version;
HP - Stunfisk gives 2 HP EVs, and can be found Surfing on Route 8 (Unova), Icirrus City and Moor of Icirrus.
Attack - Patrat and Lillipup each give 1 Attack EV, and can both be found on Route 1 (Unova).
Defense - Sewaddle and Venipede each give 1 Defense EV, and can be found in Pinwheel Forest.
Sp. Attack - Litwick gives 1 Sp. Attack EV, and can be found in Celestial Tower.
Sp. Defense - Frillish gives 1 Sp. Defense EV, and can be found Surfing on Route 4 (Unova).
Speed - Basculin gives 2 Speed EVs, and can be found Surfing on Route 1 (Unova), Route 3 (Unova) and Route 6 (Unova).
4. IVs"IVs", or Individual Values are the second part of why two Pokemon at the same level will have different stats. Individual Values are determined when the Pokemon is captured or hatched, and cannot be changed once they're set. IVs range from 0-31 in every stat, and effect how high or low your Pokemon's stats will be at level 100.
For example, let's say you have two level 100 Unfezant. For the sake of argument, they're both Jolly nature, and have 0 EVs in all stats.
|HP IV = 6
Atk IV = 13
Def IV = 0
Sp. Atk IV = 22
Sp. Def IV = 23
Spd IV = 31
|HP - 276
Atk - 228
Def - 165
Sp. Atk - 141
Sp. Def - 138
Spd - 244
|HP IV = 20
Atk IV = 28
Def IV = 13
Sp. Atk IV = 4
Sp. Def IV = 16
Spd IV = 2
|HP - 290
Atk - 243
Def - 178
Sp. Atk - 125
Sp. Def - 131
Spd - 212
As you can see, IVs play a huge part in determining a Pokemon's stats, and have a more dramatic effect when combined with EV Training.
Determining IVs isn't possible with a Pokemon that's been EV trained, unless you know the exact EVs it's been given. The most accurate way to do this is to use newly bred Pokemon that has never taken part in any battles. The best way to determine the IVs of a newly hatched Pokemon is to first take it to the judge in the Battle Subway to see what he has to say about it. If the Pokemon has a 31 in any IVs, the judge will tell you "The best aspect of your Pokemon seems to be (stat here). It couldn't be better in that regard!". With this message, you will know if your Pokemon has a perfect IV. The judge will also tell you if the Pokemon has multiple perfect IVs, so no need to talk to him more than once per Pokemon.
Once you've got down which IVs are perfect, the next easiest step is to enter the new Pokemon into a Battle Subway challenge. This will set it's level to 50. From there, you enter the stats and nature into an IV calculator. This will give a close range of the Pokemon's IVs, allowing you to see if the Pokemon is a suitable parent, or even possibly, if it's the one you'll want to train competitively.
The parents of the Egg will pass along 3 IVs to the child naturally. One from the mother, one from the father, and one third, chosen randomly from either parent. Note that any of these can over-lap, and will still count as the one that is passed.
For the sake of simplicity, let's assume one parents' IVs (the mother's) are 0/0/0/0/0/0 while the other's (the father's) are 31/31/31/31/31/31. The child will inherit one of the mother's 0 IVs and one of the father's 31 IVs, and one other IV chosen from a parent at random, which can overlap, like so:
Mother IV passed: 0 Attack IV
Father IV passed: 31 Speed IV
Random IV passed: Father's 31 Speed IV
As you can see, the RNG replaced the father's Speed with his Speed again, thus only passing two IVs: the mother's Attack and the father's Speed. Here is where Power Items will, again, be of use. Power Items will pass the IV that they would boost in battle. Power Lens, for example, will pass the Sp. Attack IV of the Pokemon holding it, to the Egg Pokemon. Note that if both parents hold a Power Item, only one of the IVs will be passed. For this reason, it's best to use one parent to pass the nature, and the other to pass a specific IV.
When dealing with IVs, Speed is always important, as a single IV more (or less, if you're using Trick Room) can be the differece between winning and losing. Make sure to know what IVs you're aiming for the most when breeding, and remember that breeding for a single Pokemon can be a long process, but is well worth it once you get the correct IVs on the Pokemon you want.
5. Team Building
Building a team sounds easy; put six Pokemon together, and defeat the opponent. But it's much more complicated than that. You want to build a team of Pokemon that works well together, and doesn't have Pokemon with redundant roles. Again, it's always good to refer to Smogon for this, as they're the leading authorities on Competitive Battling, and have standard movesets for every Pokemon.
Synergy is the first thing you want to look for when creating a team. Synergy is when things are more successful as a result of working together. This is ideal for a team. You want six Pokemon that each support each other with roles that don't clash. It's best to start with an idea for a team. Maybe you want to center a team around one powerful Pokemon, or maybe you want to create a team that uses and abuses Trick Room. Once you've got an idea, you can build off that.
When making a Rate My Team (RMT) thread, it's best to lay Pokemon information out like this:
Nature (+Stat, -Stat)
IVs: (if applicable)
Move 1 | Move 2 | Move 3 | Move 4
Giving a brief explanation about what the Pokemon does, and why you've chosen the moves that you've given the Pokemon.
For the sake of the example, let's pretend I want to build an entire team around Heatran. Heatran is one of the most common Pokemon in the metagame, sporting two great types in Fire and Steel, checking things such as Scizor, Ferrothorn and Magnezone.
Heatran @ Air Balloon
Modest nature (+Sp. Attack, -Attack)
EVs: 252 Spd / 252 Sp. Atk / 6 Sp. Def
Hidden Power Ice
Heatran is an incredible offensive threat in this metagame, and can find time to come in on a variety of threats and scare them out. Fire Blast is Heatran's main STAB, plowing through things that don't resist it. Earth Power is for coverage, and allows Heatran to come in on other Heatran whose Balloons have been popped, and kill them. Hidden Power Ice allows it to kill Dragons. In the last slot, I've got Stealth Rock, which is probably the best move in the entire game, since it hurts every Pokemon that the opponent will switch in (except Magic Guard Pokemon) for some damage. Heatran can come in on the extremely common Ferrothorn to set this up, as well as a variety of other Pokemon that get scared away.
Now that we have Heatran, let's consider Pokemon that would do well with it. Heatran has a huge weakness to Water and Fighting moves, so a great partner would be Jellicent, immune to both of those types of attacks!
Jellicent @ Leftovers
Bold nature (+Defense, -Attack)
EVs: 248 HP/ 46 Spd / 216 Def
Toxic / Will-O-Wisp
Jellicent is bulky defensive Pokemon. Scald is a good STAB with a 30% Burn ratio. Recover keeps Jellicent alive. Toxic will break down opposing specially defensive Pokemon, while Taunt stops the opponent from doing anything except direct attacking, which will help ensure Jellicent isn't Poisoned, and that the opponent can't recover. Will-O-Wisp, on the other hand, is a more safe way to ensure you Burn an opponent, cutting their Attack in half. The EVs outspeed Scizor to try to Burn it before it can hit you. For the sake of this example, I'm picking Will-O-Wisp.
Now we have two Pokemon, Heatran and Jellicent. We need a physically offensive Pokemon, or else special walls like Blissey will wall us forever. Dragonite has good synergy with both Heatran and Jellicent, taking Fighting and Ground attacks for the former, and absorbing Grass attacks for the latter.
Dragonite @ Leftovers
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Atk / 212 Spd
Fire Punch / Earthquake
Bulky Dragon Dance Dragonite is both an offensive and defensive force to be reckoned with. After a Dragon Dance, Dragonite can Roost off damage and begin wearing opposing Pokemon down. Dragon Claw is your main STAB move. Fire Punch hits Steel types like Ferrothorn, Skarmory and Air Balloon Magnezone, but leaves it helpless against the likes of Heatran. Earthquake hits Heatran, Terrakion, Tyranitar and some others harder than Dragon Claw would. Roost not only keeps Dragonite alive, but activates Multiscale at 100% health, which allows Dragonite to take 50% less damage from attacks when at 100% health. Since we have Heatran for Fire attacks, I'm picking Earthquake.
Heatran/Jellicent/Dragonite. This is a pretty solid core already. What I'd like to incorporate is a Choice Scarfed Pokemon. Choice Scarfed Pokemon serve an important function, not only to revenge kill an opponent after one of your Pokemon faints, but to kill Speed boosting Pokemon before they get too fast. For this, I love Terrakion, who is already naturally fast.
Terrakion @ Choice Scarf
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 6 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
Terrakion can come in on things like Salamence and Dragonite with one Dragon Dance, outspeed them, and crush them with Stone Edge. Close Combat and Stone Edge are both excellent STAB moves that hit many, many Pokemon for absurd amounts of damage. X-Scissor is good for dealing with weakened Psychic types like Latias and Latios. Rock Slide is in the last slot for two reasons: It can more reliably kill weakened Pokemon that are weak to Rock, since Stone Edge has risky 80% accuracy. The second reason is that Terrakion has a pretty shallow movepool, so it can't really do much else.
Now we've got Heatran, Jellicent, Dragonite, Terrakion. I'd like another defensive Pokemon, because Jellicent can't handle everything itself. A Pokemon with good defensive synergy with Jellicent (and just about everything) is Ferrothorn, since Jellicent resists Fire and is immune to Fighting, while Ferrothorn can take Electric and Grass attacks aimed at Jellicent.
Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
Impish nature (+Defense, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 88 Def / 170 Sp. Def
Protect / Thunder Wave
Ferrothorn is a team player if there ever was one. Spikes can stack up to three layers, which will chip a total of 25% off any opponents Pokemon that aren't Flying type, have Levitate and/or have Magic Guard. Leech Seed keeps Ferrothorn alive, sapping the opponent's health and returning it to Ferrothorn, and can be used to ease the switch to one of your own Pokemon. Protect allows you to scout what the opponent will do, and rack up more Leftovers and Leech Seed healing. Thunder Wave on the other hand will Paralyze anything the opponent brings in (barring Ground types), which can cripple common switches such as Heatran, Dragonite, etc. Power Whip is a strong STAB that can deal sufficient damage, should Ferrothorn find itself in a position where it has to do some damage.
Heatran, Jellicent, Dragonite, Terrakion, Ferrothorn. We've got one slot left, and we already have a very solid team built. What I'd like to add is a Pokemon that can serve as an offensive pivot.
Scizor @ Choice Band
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Atk / 248 HP/ 8 Spd
U-Turn is the pivot move here, doing damage, and allowing us to immediately escape. Why is this useful? Because Scizor tends to cause a lot of switches, so you can hit whatever the opponent switches in with a powerful STAB U-Turn, and immediately escape to something that handles what they switched in better than Scizor does. Bullet Punch is our other STAB move, which is boost not only by STAB, but by Technician and Choice Band, making it the most powerful move we've got. It also has priority, meaning it'll hit the opponent before they can hit us. Superpower smashes things like Magnezone, Ferrothorn and Heatran switch-ins that expect Bullet Punch or U-Turn, OHKOing all of them. Pursuit traps Psychic types that flee in fear of U-Turn.
So there, we've got a solid team that works well together. It's easy to see how these six Pokemon could support each other and come together to form a successful team. In Pokemon Black and White, you and your opponent see each other's Pokemon before the battle begins, so it would be handy to write them down to remember and reference throughout the battle, crossing their names out after they've been defeated.
Here is where I'll make several lists of helpful things to remember.
Standard clauses that are used in competitive battling:
- Sleep Clause (Only one of your opponent's Pokemon can be put to Sleep by your Pokemon at a time; if they go to Sleep themselves through means such as Rest, this doesn't count)
- Freeze Clause (I'm not sure if actual battling in BW has this, but on Pokemon Online, this is a standard clause that ensures that only one of each battler's Pokemon can be frozen at a time)
- Species Clause (Only one of each species of Pokemon can participate on a team; you cannot have two Pikachu for example. You can, however, have one Pikachu and one Raichu)
- Self-KO Clause (If a battler causes a tie through the use of Selfdestruct, Explosion, Destiny Bond, Recoil damage, etc., they lose the match)
Note that Item Clause is NOT a standard Clause, and is never used in serious competitive battling with the exception of the official VGC Tournaments.
List of Helpful items in competitive battling:
- Leftovers (heals 6% per turn. Very useful for just about anything except Shedinja, which in itself isn't useful)
- Life Orb (makes your moves x1.3 stronger at the cost of 10% health when one of your attacking moves damages the opponent)
- Choice Band (Makes all physical moves x1.5 stronger, but locks you into using one move until you switch out)
- Choice Specs (Makes all special moves x1.5 stronger, but locks you into using one move until you switch out)
- Choice Scarf (Boosts Speed x1.5, but locks you into using one move until you switch out)
- Focus Sash (Mostly useful for lead Pokemon, since Stealth Rock will make it useless, Focus Sash is useful for leads that need a turn to setup)
- Air Balloon (Grants an immunity to Ground moves until the Pokemon is hit by an attack that does damage once, which will cause the Balloon to pop. Air Balloon will pop even if your Pokemon is hit while it has a Substitute up)
- Eviolite (Boost the Defense and Sp. Defense of any Pokemon that isn't fully evolved. Very useful for Porygon2, Dusclops, Gligar, Chansey and a few others)
- Shed Shell (Allows the Pokemon to switch out no matter what. This is especially useful for Steel types, since Magnezone with Magnet Pull can trap them otherwise. Magnezone is infamous for trapping and killing Skarmory and Ferrothorn with Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Fire, respectively, so keep this in mind as an option for Steel types)
- Toxic Orb (Useful for Poison Heal Pokemon such as Breloom and Dream World Gliscor, as well as Guts Pokemon, activating their x1.5 Attack boost)
- Light Clay (Makes the duration of Reflect and Light Screen last 8 turns, which is immensely helpful for giving time to setup sweepers to setup, taking less damage from hits as they do)
Thanks to Skyler and Blazer for giving me the idea of writing this guide.
Page written by Richard and Blaziken. Additional contributions by f3raligatr.
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