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Feb 04, 13 at 4:19pm ^[Full Guide] - Rhus' Extensive Guide to Supporting your Team
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Table of Contents:
I. The Importance and Goals of Team Support
II. Things you need to know
III. Fitting into Teams
IV. Finishing Comments
Importance and Goals of Team Support
Pokemon, just as in virtually any other game, possesses a type of unit commonly known as the “support unit.” In Pokemon, these pokemon utilize their moves, abilities, stats and whatever tools available to them to keep the team healthy, spread status, incapacitate the opponent's team, and protect their team mates. Although some pokemon are indirectly supportive, some follow a strict line of withholding little offensive presence in order to make room for hefty support abilities.
Let's start off with a classical example. You're down 2-3 in the finishing touches of a match. Your opponent knew your Scarf Porygon-Z was going to be troublesome, so he outfoxed you and managed to paralyze it on the switch-in. In addition, he had laid rocks later after he exterminated your Starmie to whittle away at Porygon-Z's health, who is now sitting at 30% health. Your other remaining Pokemon is a Subseed Shaymin with max speed. Your opponent's remaining members are a Specs Tornadus(75% health), Mamoswine(80% Health) and a weakened Gliscor(45% health). At the moment, your Shaymin, who is significantly more healthy(75%) is up against his Gliscor. Realizing he can't do much to you behind your Substitute, he sends in Tornadus to break it. In response, you command your Shaymin to whip out its trump card: Healing Wish. Shaymin takes the Hurricane and fades the Sub, while Shaymin sacrifices itself. Out comes Porygon-Z, now cured of paralysis and sitting at 100% health. Porygon-Z now has enough health to tank a Choice Band Ice Shard from Mamo and still outspeed the remaining pokemon. Porygon-Z can now sweep the opponent's team with a fast, powerful STAB Tri-Attack.
Even in offensive situations, a powerful supportive pivot/emergency button can hold enough momentum and alter the battle's outcome entirely. Support is not only important to defensive teams, but is also highly recommended for use on offensive teams to keep their cannon-like attacks hitting hard throughout the match. A team that lacks the cohesion to hold itself up will collapse without mercy.
Ii. How does it Work?
Team support works off of a simple principle; keep your teammates alive so you may continue fighting safely and efficiently. Support moves and techniques vary greatly, and each move/strategy is directly dependant on the user(s) of the said move/strategy. In addition, the ability to execute support well relies on the rest of the team's cohesion and synergy to keep their support unit alive, such as eliminating and/or incapacitating their counters.
Every team should have a reasonable amount of type synergy within it, and this rule is by no means broken in the case of team support. No matter how defensive you are, if your pokemon cannot switch in on resisted attacks of several types, it will be difficult to both execute your support as well as giving it to a teammate(especially in the case of Wish Passing).
II. Things You Need to Know
Team support is not a simple concept in pokemon. Although its surface is rather obvious, Support is complex due to its immense reliance on synergy. Because of this, it's highly necessary to have a solid understanding of mechanics and roles to these pokemon and tactics.
IIi. Important Moves
Although I'll probably miss several of them, there are a myriad of Support moves in pokemon, and each of which has a distinguished use. It's important to know these moves well and to utilize them even better. Being aware of their users is highly useful knowledge as well, as always.
Spoiler:List of Supportive Moves Complete with Explanation
Acid Spray (Poison)
Effect: Lowers the target's Special Defense by two stages
A unique move that isn't exactly support, but it can force some pokemon out and can hurt their chances pretty bad. In addition, it can score you an extra turn while they switch and/or softens the pokemon up for an incoming offensive pokemon. This move can also help walls like Tentacruel to break through other walls/force switches for otherwise unwinnable matchups.
Aromatherapy (Grass) & Heal Bell (Normal)
Effect: Cures the users team of all status conditions.
The first (and marginally better) cleric move is Aromatherapy. This move is one of my favourites, and despite its poor distribution, is well worth finding a user of it on virtually any team. Aromatherapy is almost identical to Heal Bell in that is cures all status effects (Freeze, Sleep, Paralysis, Burn, and Poison) from your team members, except that Heal Bell will not restore status to any pokemon on your team with Soundproof. This move is particularly important to hyper offense teams as well as committed Stall teams.
Baton Pass (Normal)
Effect: Swaps the user out while keeping effects in play on the recipient.
The effect of this move is actually quite strange. When used, the user switches out on its turn. The incoming pokemon receives all the changes in stats and other alterations that the user of the move had. Baton Pass can carry simple things such as Swords Dance attack boosts, to more strange things like Substitute, Aqua Ring/Ingrain, Block etc. Also be aware though, that this move also passes some negative effects, such as Leech Seed, Perish Song, and Curse.
Baton Pass is often used to pass enormous stat boosts to sweepers to enable them to easily destroy virtually everything. This is tricky to pull off, however, but there are other uses for Baton Pass. “Dry Passing” is the technique of using Baton Pass without anything to pass, but instead you get to see whether or not they are going to switch or not. In addition, if used on a slow pokemon, such as Umbreon, it can enable a sweeper or other pokemon to get in without having to take a hit.
Circle Throw (Fighting)
Effect: Swaps the target out forcedly.
Clone of Dragon Tail, except it is Fighting type. This is a phazing move, and is important against pokemon that will set up in your face and ruin your day as a support. The fighting type of this move is a double-edged sword as you have to keep in mind it means you cannot phaze ghosts but fighting is deals good damage to most things in OU nowadays.
Clear Smog (Poison)
Effect: Destroys all stat alterations from the target, both buffs and debuffs.
A more specialized Haze, this is another security against pokemon that will try to boost their stats. This attack is unique in that it does damage whilst doing so, so it cannot be stopped by Taunt. However, because it relies on the damage, it means the move cannot clear stat changes against a substitute or Steel type. This makes the decision between Haze and Clear Smog a bit trickier and should be adapted to your team.
Effect: On any type other than Ghost, it gives the user +1 Attack, +1 Defense and -1 Speed. On a ghost, the user sacrifices half of its Health Points to lay a Curse on the target. The target is afflicted by the Curse every turn thereafter, dealing a substantial 25% of their health every turn. This effect disappears upon switching out and has no effect on pokemon who bear Magic Guard.
In the strictest sense, this move is only support on Ghost types, and should only be used on hardcore Stall teams. These teams often have problems if the remaining pokemon is a sturdy set up pokemon, especially with a recovery move such as Rest+Sleep Talk combo, ie. CurseTalk Registeel or Crocune. This move then shines as the Curse cannot be avoided by switching, and Rest will not alleviate the Curse. This move should be considered on Spinblockers such as Spiritomb or Dusclops on hard stall teams.
Effect: Disables the move last used by the target for three turns.
Disable is a bit of a quirky move, and is most commonly seen on Gengar as a SubDisable set that isn't necessarily Support, but rather to preserve his life. Disable on a defensive pokemon often requires good prediction and is usually about sparing that pokemon's life and making your potential switches much safer. This move can be used to spare your own team's turns or ease switch ins and enable your offensive pokemon easy set-up turns.
Dragon Tail (Dragon)
Effect: Hits the target for damage and immediately forces them out, to be traded with another pokemon on the foe's team. -6 Priority.
Dragon Tail works in the same fashion as Circle Throw except is Dragon Type and therefore nothing is immune to its hits, and the only resistance is Steel. That said, you'll be hitting a lot less super effectively given Dragon only deals extra damage to itself, but you can phaze Ghosts but are still blocked by Substitutes.
Effect: Blocks the use of the target's item for 5 turns.
Embargo is essentially a much worse Knock Off that affects pokemon with Sticky Hold. Embargo doesn't have much use generally, and it's better to just go for Knock Off.
Effect: Locks the target into their last used move for 3 turns. Hits through Substitutes.
One of the most debilitating moves in the game, Encore can essentially ruin another team's momentum if played right. Using Encore on moves like Stealth Rock, Protect or Rest practically forces a switch every time, easing predication and grabbing momentum. Pokemon like Whimsicott with Prankster can essentially lock one pokemon into a move until the move's PP runs dry. This move can deter set up and can make prediction easy and should be utilized wherever possible.
Fake Tears (Dark) & Metal Sound (Steel)
Accuracy(Fake Tears): 100
Accuracy (Metal Sound): 85
Effect: Harshly lowers the target Special Defense. (-2)
Poorly distributed and used, Fake Tears is a better Metal Sound and is used to soften up targets for teammates to take out. It can also easily force switches.
Featherdance (Flying) & Charm (Normal)
Effect: Harshly lowers the target's Attack. (-2)
Not very widespread, but used on many pokemon who have access to it. Pokemon like Murkrow and Xatu use it to aid their longevity and fulfill their goals as Perish Trapper and Status absorber/reflector respectively. It is useful on hardcore supports that can use it to tank many more hits, such as Whimsicott.
Follow Me (Normal) & Rage Powder (Bug)
Status (Priority +3)
Effect: Draws all attacks to the user of the attack. Attacks that hit multiple targets function normally.
Only used in Doubles and Triples, but no doubt useful to aid in your partner's survivability and overall set up. No one plays multi battles or VGC here so I won't delve into the details and importance of this move.
Gastro Acid (Poison) & Worry Seed (Grass)
Effect(Gastro Acid): The user hurls a noxious fluid that nullifies the targets ability.
Effect(Worry Seed): The user plants a seed on the opponent that gives them the Insomnia ability.
Useful in its own merit, Gastro Acid can effectively ruin some pokemon's proficiency while they are out. Scizor loses damage output, Jirachi loses some hax, Guts Conkeldurr is now crippled by burn, Gliscor is now being hurt by his poison, Techniloom loses damage, and Reuniclus can no longer laugh at Stall, to name a few. Gastro Acid's effect wears off when the target switches out, however, as does Worry Seed which is essentially used for the same thing.
Important Note: Despite being poison type, this move does affect Steel types, however, Worry Seed will proc Sap Sipper however.
Glare (Normal), Thunder Wave (Electric) and Stun Spore (Grass)
Accuracy(Thunder Wave): 100
Accuracy(Stun Spore): 75
Effect: The user's frightening stare/jolt of electricity/neurotoxic pollen inflicts the target with Paralysis
Glare is unique in that it is a reliable paralysis move that affects Ground Types, Glare is poorly distributed but very useful in incapacitating sweepers like Landorus/Landorus-T/Thundurus-T/Jolteon. It sacrifices 10% accuracy in comparison to Thunder Wave to compensate for its added utility. Glare does affect ghost types. Stun Spore adds the same utility for less accuracy and almost universal effectiveness except against pokemon with the ability Sap Sipper.
Effect: The user intensifies the Gravity in the battlefield for 5 turns thereafter. Everything that is in the air, ie. Flying types, pokemon with Levitate, pokemon holding an Air Balloon or hovering with Magnet Rise, is pulled to the ground and is then made vulnerable to Ground attacks. Everything in the field for the duration of the Gravity has -2 Evasion and moves such as Hi Jump Kick, Jump Kick, Fly, and Bounce will fail.
A complex, underutilized field effect, Gravity requires a team centred around it. This isn't a Gravity guide, so I won't explain how Gravity teams work other than Offensive ones focus on using pokemon with high base power, good coverage moves with low accuracy (such as Starmie with Thunder/Blizzard/Hydro Pump) and stall teams focus on pulling flying and levitating pokemon down to the ground where they are made vulnerable to Spikes and Toxic Spikes.
Effect: Once this move is activated, if the user dies before its next turn, the move that killed it will lose all of its PP.
I don't have much of any experience with this move. I could see it being useful on a fast pokemon that could bait pokemon, but to be honest, I find Destiny Bond much more superior choice. Although depleting the PP of a core STAB move could be debilitating to pokemon like Terrakion who rely on excellent coverage in dual STABs.
Guard Split (Psychic) and Power Split (Psychic)
Effect-(Guard Split): The user averages the Defense and Special Defense between the target and itself.
(Power Split): The user average the Attack and Special Attack between the target and itself.
Primarily a sustaining move, these two are used on pokemon with very weak stats on one side so as to mitigate them and make them semi-useful. In example, Alakazam can run Guard Split to somewhat boost his bulk while most likely making his attacks do significantly more damage because of his average-ish Special Defense stat. Shuckle has almost non-existant offense, so using Power Split on an enemy will almost half their damage output, making Shuckle even more difficult to take down. These moves can also help your teammates by softening/weakening opponents for your team.
Effect: Elimates all statistic alterations present on the field.
The original Clear Smog, Haze is an all out field clear of status alterations. It is blocked by Taunt, but hits straight through Substitutes and there is no pokemon with immunity to it. Haze also affects the user and everything else on the field at the time, unlike Clear Smog. Tremendously useful support as it stops sweeps and deters setup very well.
Heal Block (Psychic)
Effect: Stops all healing effects on the target for 5 turns.
In some ways, this move could be tremendously devastating, but because it is so situational, it hinders its use. Heal Block can snag a kill on things like Chansey or ruin Wish Passing. It negates Leftovers recovery and Leech Seed/Ingrain/Aqua Ring etc. This move is particularly useful on pokemon like Hydration Vaporeon that abuse Rest in rain.
Healing Wish (Psychic) and Lunar Dance (Psychic)
Effect: Upon using this move, the user sacrifices all of its remaining Health Points and faints. At the end of the turn, the next pokemon is restored to maximum health and all status effects are removed.
One of the most potent, game changing supports there is, Healing Wish can bring your paralyzed 3% Scarfmence back from the brink of death to clean up late game. Healing Wish fits nicely into heavy offensive teams that rely on powerful pressure through wall-breaking attacks. Healing Wish renews pressure of an otherwise damaged sweeper, just make sure you're sacrificing something you won't need later on, or the action could end up burdening you more than being beneficial!
Hypnosis (Psychic), Sing (Normal), Lovely Kiss (Normal), GrassWhistle (Grass), Spore (Grass) and Sleep Powder (Grass)
Accuracy(Lovely Kiss): 75
Accuracy(Sleep Powder): 75
Effect: Lulls the target into Sleep condition.
Sleep, although highly debilitating, is usually a risky move, being the only ones who can reliably induce it are Parasect, Breloom, Amoonguss and Smeargle due to Accuracy issues. Hypnosis is widely distributed, but its accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, its pay off can save you games, however. Sing's/GrassWhistle's usage is usually exclusive to teams with Gravity support, and the others are often used on the pokemon fortunately blessed with them to debilitate one of the enemy's pokemon, hopefully a counter.
Effect: User plants roots beneath their feet, restored 6.25% of its health every turn. The user is snared and cannot switch out afterward and immune to phazing moves.
The only time that this move is a powerful support is when the pokemon is receiving it from Baton Pass. Ingrain roots the user to the ground and therefore makes it an important move for any pokemon going to try and receive boosts from a Baton Pass chain.
Knock Off (Dark)
Effect: After the user's attack lands, the victim loses its hold item permanently.
One of the staple utility moves, Knock Off is a versatile move that is often a highly crippling effect on the victim. Knocking off Leftovers inhibits one's bulk, losing choice items sacrifices great power/speed, and specialty items like Gliscor's/Breloom's Toxic Orb can render them largely worthless for the remainder of the match.
Leech Seed (Grass)
Effect: The user plants a life sucking plant on their target, draining a portion of their life every turn and restoring it to the pokemon the user's side has out at the present time. Leech Seed is removed upon switching the victim and the use of Rapid Spin. Switching the user out, however, does not cancel it.
Leech Seed is a staple on many defensive Grass pokemon. It is a part of the cohesive subseed combo that gives deceptive bulk to many. Leech Seed adds large bulk to the pokemon and gives passive damage that grants the ability to stall out the pokemon. Abused in common gameplay for its ability to support the team, stack with leftovers recovery, force switches and deceptively high passive damage.
Light Screen (Psychic) and Reflect (Psychic)
Effect-(Light Screen): The user manifest a shield of glorious light that protects the users team from special attacks. The user's team takes 50% of the original damage while the screen is up. The screen lasts for 5 turns, but can be extended if the user is holding Light Clay, in which case it lasts 8 turns.
(Reflect): Same effect as Light Screen but is instead a shield against physical attacks.
Two highly potent team player moves, the “dual screens” have several uses, but are primarily used to get sweepers more time to set up, making up for their often poor defenses, ie. Quiver Dance Volcarona. The moves are often used on an all out support pokemon who is there to aid in longevity of your team. Make no mistake, these moves are not exclusive to offensive set-up tools, but are also powerful options on Stall teams, where your boosted defenses make your plethora of walls and defensive support almost impossible to break.
Lucky Chant (Normal)
Effect: The user sings an incantation that prevents all critical hits from landing for 5 turns after its use for the user's team.
I've always wanted to make use of this move. Critical hits can ruin games. They really can, and considering this is the only surefire defense against them bar Shell Armor/Battle Armor, you would think the move is a solid support choice. Sadly this is not the case, and the sole reason is the duration. 5 turns is simply not enough to reap the benefits of, but I'm sure it could have a place if you tried hard enough.
Magic Coat (Psychic)
Status (Priority +4)
Effect: The user shrouds itself in a veil of protection. All direct status moves to this pokemon and its team will be reflected in this turn.
A move highly reliant on prediction skills, Magic Coat will reflect some pretty nasty stuff back at the attacker, ranging from Stealth Rock, Sleep Powder and Encore. This move may not be full blown support, but it can buy your team valuable turns and can screw with the enemy's momentum. Magic Bounce is a permanent ability of this, exclusive to Xatu and Espeon who can switch in on most defensive pokemon with ease.
Effect: The user takes its remaining life and cuts both of the target's offenses in half in exchange for the pokemon's life. (-2 Attack and -2 Special Attack)
Memento is often used in a similar way as Dual Screens, but uses a more pressuring method. By sacrificing itself, the target pokemon receives huge negatives to their offensive output and their damage will most likely be negligible. On top of that, the next pokemon gets a free switch in, further helping the set-up aid of this move. Memento is a good option on hyper offense for opportunities to start stat-boosting. Granted, switching out will nullify the effect, but sometimes all you need is just that one turn. This strategy is obviously best used lategame where a powerful setup pokemon such as Haxorus, Volcarona or Dragonite can simply clean up the enemy team.
Perish Song (Normal)
Effect: The user sings a dark incantation that will cause all pokemon on the field to faint three turns after. This effect goes through substitutes, protect does not work, and Magic Guard users cannot avoid it. It is essentially a death sentence.
Perish Song is a very powerful move. It's also severely underrated and under used considering its tremendous influence on the match. Perish Song ruins Baton Pass chains, it limits set ups, forces switches, and can secure kills on the opponent's final pokemon. It often finds its way on stall teams for the latter most reason, but is a solid emergency button for balanced and offensive teams as well. The move is poorly distributed though, which is most likely the reason why it is not seen often today.
Quick Guard (Fighting)
Status (Priority +3)
Effect: The user's team is protected entirely from priority attacks for the turn and will take no damage. Feint hits through Quick Guard, and it does not protect against Prankster attacks.
Only for use in doubles/triples, where it shines as an answer to Fake Out and other annoyances. Otherwise unexciting though, and obviously replaced by Protect in singles.
Rapid Spin (Normal)
Effect: The user spins wildly to attack the foe. In the process, the user is freed from the effects of Leech Seed, Fire Spin, Whirlpool, Wrap, Sand Tomb and Bind. In addition, the move also removes all entry hazards (Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes) from your side.
This move is a staple support move on many teams. Without it, Volcarona would be nonviable, and Tentacruel may take a hit in usefulness, as would Starmie, Cryogonal, Claydol etc. Rapid Spin is a highly useful move to have on your team, as the pressure-built metagame forces too many switches for you to risk having so much passive damage from the hazards let alone the attacks you switch in on. You can get away with no spinner if you have no glaring weakness to the hazards(many levitating/flying pokemon, a grounded poison type and no rock weaknesses), but their presence will influence your opponent's decisions on whether he wants to spread hazards or not.
Roar (Normal) and Whirlwind (Normal)
Effect: Forces the target pokemon out to be replaced by another random pokemon in the target's party. Fails on the last pokemon.
These moves are identical in use and effect, except that Whirlwind is slightly better as it effects pokemon with Soundproof, unlike Roar. The use of these moves is very common today, as they are the go to phazing moves of the metagame and interrupt momentum, stack hazard damage, and just makes set up more risky with potentially less reward. Pokemon with substantial bulk often make intimidating phazers when hazards are up, such as Mandibuzz and Skarmory. Sigilyph gets a special mention with Cosmic Power, Roost, and Whirlwind accompanied with Magic Guard make it one of the most under appreciated phazers there is. Phazing is an important role in a team to keep your opponent at bay, mostly, by forcing them into bad situations and stacking passive damage to wear down their team.
Effect: The user shrouds their team in a mystical veil that prevents all status problems against their team for five turns.
In theory a powerful utility move, but the main problem is the lack of turns to utilize it. Highly useful in doubles and could probably work on a status absorber such as Milotic, but if you're this afraid of status, it's often better to pack a cleric as it is more reliable.
Effect: The user drenches the target in water, eliminating previous typing and transforming them into pure water type.
Soak is a very underrated move. The ability to change types of a pokemon effectively diminishes their primary STAB in most cases, hampering damage output, and can be hit by moves otherwise impossible, such as poisoning Steel/Poison types. It can also work more gimmicky in an offensive manner by using the water typing to your team's advantage and hitting them super effectively as well. Let me tell you, there isn't many things more satisfying than poisoning the opponent's Jirchi, Ferrothorn, or Skarmory. This effect is lost upon switching out, but Steels/Poisons keep their poison and are damaged by it regardless.
Spider Web (Bug), Mean Look (Dark) and Block (Normal)
Effect: The user ensnares the target by means of a sticky web, vicious glare, or extended limbs.
Useful moves, these moves have the potential to ruin games for your opponent entirely, or put you in a bad situation. The central idea is to trap a pokemon that cannot harm you, and then either Baton Pass the effect or secure the kill by preventing them from escaping. These moves have a terrible habit of trapping the incoming counter, but it's important to realize that when potential counters are elimanated, these moves limit the opponent's options greatly, and this effect should be considered, as late game, trapping any of their remaining pokemon could spell a loss if placed carefully.
Effect: The user spreads a field of sharp spikes around the opponent's team's feet. The spikes deal damage upon pokemon switching in, and can be stacked up to three times. One stack deals 6.25% damage, two stacks deals 12.5% and three stacks chop away 25% of the pokemon's health. Spikes damage is avoided by levitating and flying pokemon, as well as pokemon with Magic Guard.
I'm going to talk about each of the hazards independently as they are tremendously useful as a support to any team. Spikes deals flat damage, regardless of typing or any other factor. This combined with the fact that three layers of spikes is the most reliable hazard damage you can have is appealing, but is offset by taking a tremendous amount of time to lay down. Spikes are used on both offensive and defensive teams and everything in between. Their utility can secure OHKOs and rack up serious passive damage. Spikes take the longest to set up, but if you can lay down all three and they lack a Rapid Spinner and/or they are fainted, you have a huge advantage. It deters switch ins like mad to prevent unnecessary damage, and limits the options of your opponent whilst broadening yours.
Stealth Rock (Rock)
Effect: The users lays a trap of levitating pointed stones around the enemy team's feet. Any pokemon switching in take damage according to their damage modifier to the rock type.
The effect of this move is, to put it bluntly, borderline over powered. Stealth Rock takes a simple one turn to set up and has so much influence that is has made spinners far more popular, and it even forces several pokemon into very low tier positions specifically because of its overwhelming influence. If you are going to have any support on your team, you better make sure it's this move.
Stealth Rock damages every pokemon that comes in aside from pokemon possessing Magic Guard. The unique thing about SR (Stealth Rock) is that the damage done is reflected by the pokemon's damage modifier to Rock based attacks. The damage is as follows:
.25x effective: 3.125% HP
.5x effective: 6.25%
1x effective: 12.5% HP
2x effective: 25% HP
4x effective: 50% HP
The damage from this move is so significant that spinners like Donphan are considered vastly superior to that of pokemon like Cloyster, due to their resistance and weakness to Rock types. It makes pokemon like Lucario(.25x damage) more appealing whereas dwindling the uses of others(Articuno).
Effect: The target provokes the foe and forces them to attack for three turns thereafter.
Taunt is another game changing move. It's heavily crippling to stall teams who rely on passive play, and can stop the set up of Subs and rocks vital to offensive play. Taunt is a shut down move valuable on almost anything that learns it as it prevents status harass and set up from the oppoenent. Taunt is used often for particular uses, such as preventing that Ferrothorn from seeding you or throwing hazards around your team, or that Jellicent looking to burn your Haxorus. It's effect can easily grant you a free turn while they switch and greatly limits many teams answers to several threats.
Toxic Spikes (Poison)
Effect: The user scatters a trap of jagged spikes imbued with a deadly venom, inflicting poison status and/or bad poison on any pokemon switching in. These spikes can stack twice for bad poison, and they do not affect steel types, levitating or flying pokemon. If a grounded poison type switches in, they remain status free and remove the hazards around their team's feet.
Toxic Spikes is a staple utility move on several teams, but stall teams in particular benefit from it's powerful effects. The bad poison is such a potent source of passive damage that I can't imagine a stall team functioning well without its support. This hazard is the only one that can be removed by means of passive effects.
Supporting the team with this move means that your team should excel in prolonged matches for poison to add up, hence its use on dedicated stall and bulky offense teams.
Effect: The user sings an incantation to the sky and makes a Wish. At the end of the next turn, the pokemon out in battle is restored 50% of the user's HP.
Wish is probably the most influential support move to keeping the team alive and healthy. Reason being is that it does not require Baton Pass and a simple switch will restore the pokemon 50% of the user's health. This mechanic means that Wishing pokemon with high base HP, such as Vaporeon, Chansey/Blissey, or Alomomola, pass a large amount of HP that will often heal 60%-90% of the target's HP. Wish is a sustaining support move, which gives pokemon without reliable recovery, such as Bronzong and Claydol, a method to recover health. Wish is excellent support on so many teams because it's benefits are unmatched. It's support means that you can sustain your sweepers and walls longer, and makes the entire team much harder to kill.
Be careful though, your Wish support is often a target to prevent their powerful support to the team. It's often very important to keep this support alive as your core which also keeps the rest of the team alive. Teams with Wish support must have good cohesive synergy in terms of typing otherwise the Wish passing you do will often have many situations where it will fail.
Wonder Room (Psychic)
Status (Priority -6)
Effect: The user twists dimensions around the field, swapping all pokemon's defense and special defense stats for its duration of five turns.
Wonder Room is beyond any gimmick I have ever used; but it is effective with the proper defensive core and support. Wonder Room is a powerful support tool that can essentially switch you pokemon's walling capacity or make that Chansey bait for your Hydro Pump, which would otherwise struggle to scratch her. Wonder Room has a lot of potential, both offensively and defensively, but using it means the entire team must have a role relevant to it, but is not dependent on its effects. This move often confuses people and all of a sudden make Tangrowth a rain team's worst enemy, or Slowking able to take on the majority of Sand teams and win.
Effect: The user releases a weary yawn, which hypnotizes its target into drowsiness. At the end of the next turn, the pokemon will fall asleep.
Yawn is in a different class of sleep inducing moves because of the delay, this is by no means a bad thing, however. The delay in turns means the opponent must be put in the spot to switch or debilitate that pokemon. Yawn acts as a phazing tool, sleep inducing move and harass move because of it. Yawn's utility means it can ruin offensive pressure, and get your team some momentum. Bulky pokemon are seen with this move occasionally, such as Slowbro, Hippowdon and Quagsire.
IIii. Notable Pokemon
Of course, using certain pokemon as support and emergency buttons on your team can greatly help your team with powerful sustain and game changing plays that can turn any game around, using a pokemon like Salamence to support is a waste, as it is more suited to muscling through the team with its powerhouse offense, with great attacking stats, high speed and exceptional STABs/coverage, as such it makes an ideal pokemon to fill an offensive role. Support is no different when it comes to having strict criteria for being an effective support. When I find myself selecting my supports, I often ask myself a few questions:
What does my team need at this point?
How does this role benefit my team? Can I edit the pokemon I currently have or add new pokemon to reap the benefits more efficiently?
Can I use this pokemon’s support properly? Does it synergize well enough that its utility will not be wasted while the rest of the team suffers while it does as well?
Does this type of support suit my team’s theme/general goal?
And I cannot stress this enough. Does my team need this support, or would it function better with different support?
Also, do not build teams by role, build them by goal.
A common mistake when building support is to have 5 members of a team, and realizing a support is needed so they throw in a generic wish passer to help sustain their team, such as Chansey, Blissey or Vaporeon. Does this work? Sometimes, but there’s often something better. For instance, you are building a Volt-Turn synergistic swapping team with offensive pressure and type baiting/synergy. Using these teams relies on hefty prediction and pressuring the opponent by keeping them on their toes, so you decide that you need a support, and choose Chansey because everyone uses it. But little do you know it, Chansey’s support is slow, and often lets up on pressure and momentum you have going during the match because of how passive it is. Granted dedicated supports are often much more passive and lack any significant threat, there are some that can keep the prediction and pressure theme to Volt-Turn better than your Chansey which you picked out of laziness.
For instance, in this scenario of a Volt-Turn team, your team needs sustain in case hazards are placed and you haven’t had the time to spin them away, and most pokemon need to be synergistic with the switching theme of Volt-Turn. In Wish passers, there is a pokemon named Alomomola, which benefits from the constant switching with Regenerator, has superior typing for the job as a water type, and has access to Magic Coat, which helps maintain pressure as it reflects taunts and attempts to stop your support with Taunt etc. Alomomola’s benefit to switching and resistance to fire for the bug types which U-Turn and more balanced defenses make it a superior choice here, despite Chansey being shown to be a more useful pokemon overall.
I cannot simply list the criteria of a pokemon considered to be a support, because different qualities make them a better support in different scenarios. I will instead list some notable pokemon which can support well and can fit into many teams.
In the OU Tier
As OU as these two are, they are powerful supports that pack massive wishes and cleric moves with Aromatherapy and Heal Bell. They can spread status and inflict fixed damage to soften the enemy team with Seismic Toss.
Their tankiness is perhaps their biggest asset, packing the largest stat in the game at 255 Base HP for Blissey and 250 for Chansey, and their enormous Special Defense as well, which allows them to easily tank some of the most potent Special Attackers in the metagame with ease. They fit onto many teams that rely on offensive cohesive synergy and hardcore stall teams, as well as balanced teams. They are probably one of the easiest supports to fit as they are forgiving and statistically sound to play in OU, just pack counters to top physical threats that would otherwise muscle through you.
The premier hazard user of OU, Ferrothorn is, to put it lightly, one of the most versatile supports of the current metagame. He has an enormous amount of resistances and forces many switches both due to its potent bulk and its ability; Iron Barbs. It has become popularized especially with the uprise in rain teams due to his weakness to fire attacks.
Ferrothorn is so used because of its ease on switching in, and it has a very well laid out set of tools to become a very solid support. He brings hazard support, as well as Leech Seed and Gravity. He is also slightly unique among supports for having very acceptable hitting power with base 95 Attack and 120 power STAB Power Whip and mostly 150 power STAB Gyro Ball on the majority of faster pokemon. Ferrothorn’s only real problems are lack of sustainability with no reliable recovery and 4x weakness to fire. Having a wish passer will aid Ferrothorn’s longevity very much and let him lay hazards more frequently and force more switches.
The steel bird has been in OU for the most recent gens and for good reason; its solid typing and lack of exploitable weaknesses coupled with fantastic base defense(140) and ample opportunites to switch in due to myriad of resistances make it one of the most useful supports today that is easy to place on most teams.
He is the premier phazer of OU, granting both that support as well as laying two different hazards and reliable recovery. He has powerful flying STAB at 120 power and can often hit well enough to not be ignored. Skarmory’s only true problems are his imbalanced defences and the detriment of being trapped by Magnezone and killed all the time without Shed Shell.
The water eeveelution is one of the most revered wish passing support cores this metagame as well as Generation IV has ever seen. Its base 130 HP passes very large wishes, and it’s abilities: Water Absorb and Hydration give it more sustainability as well as the ability to act as a status absorber. Vappy also has access to Heal Bell as a cleric role, and can phase with Roar. It’s typing make it a solid toxic stall pokemon and Scald allows it to deter otherwise safe switch-ins from pokemon like Gyarados and Scizor.
Vaporeon fits nicely on rain teams with Hydration as a very sturdy tank with Rest+Hydration and it provides solid support and utility to the team as well. Otherwise, Vaporeon can be played well on dedicated stall, hyper offense as a sustaining utility pokemon, and balanced teams as a tank/Wish Support.
The infamous Forry is essentially full utility. He is the onlypokemon bar Smeargle that has access to all three hazards, as well as being blessed with Rapid Spin, good defensive typing, and an enormous 140 Defense stat. All these qualities and a useful resistance to Dragon make Forretress probably the most prominent spinner and hazard user of the standard metagame. His downfalls that prevent him from always laying all his hazards out and spinning off the ones on your team are his imbalanced defences that falter in special defense, 4x weakness to fire and lack of a significant offensive presence.
However, Forry fits well into most teams needing significant hazard support and a solid spinner. His lack of recovery makes wish support welcome but not required. He can literally play well on every themed weather/field effect team with Hail, Rain, Sun, Sand, Gravity, Trick Room and even Wonder Room. Play to forry’s advantages and don’t let your opponent prey on his weaknesses, and you will never be more pleased with hazard and spin support in the same package.
The Lower Tiers
Note: these pokemon are in this section as they are officially classed in this tier, this by no means makes them unviable for standard OU or even Ubers.
This pokemon is one of my most revered supportive pokemon. Alomomola, contrary to popular belief, is probably the one of the best supportive asset a team can have. It has an enormous base HP of 165 and slightly above average defense of 80 and poor special defense. It has access to almost every support move under the sun (except a cleric move ), including Wish, Soak, Toxic, Healing Wish and others. It offers incredible utility in multi battles too, possessing both Wide Guard and Heal Pulse. It’s astounding bulk is only helped that its regular ability is Hydration, allowing it to elude dreaded poison in rain, a very common theme in today’s metagame.
Alomomola also got three huge buffs with the advent of BW2 as well. It gained the moves Knock Off and Magic Coat, as well as gained access to its DW ability Regenerator, which before then, Wish and regenerator were only available to Audino legally. Now our mola mola is able to easily heal the team whilst healing itself via Regenerator, which is a huge boon to its already impressive bulk. The inclusion of Magic Coat into Alomomola’s movepool is a godsend. Alomomola is like Whimsicott and others in that they usually don’t attack much and usually pack 3-4 non-damage moves and are thus vulnerable to set up, taunt, and status. Magic Coat easily reflects that poison onto that desperate Vaporeon, or puts that unfortunate Gengar to sleep with Hypnosis. Magic Coat also allows Alomomola to reflect hazards that would otherwise become intolerably powerful if they were able to be set up, and it reflects Taunts from other pokemon like Jellicent that make them set up bait. I believe, that despite Alomomola’s lack of noticeable offense, it is one of the most underrated of all supportive pokemon.
145 Defense. 145. This ghost is not going down easy. Cofa has stupendous bulk, and is one of the most reliable spin blockers in the game. His natural bulk and good defensive movepool make him a significant asset to your team’s success. He does lack reliable recover y and has to resort to Rest without Wish support, but he brings burns with Will-O-Wisp, enough bulk to take on mostly anything physical without super effective STAB, Haze, Disable, Heal Block, etc. to the team. But, in my experience, what differentiates himself the most from the likes of other supports is his incredibly
Ah, my favourite pokemon of all, Cradily is a fossil pokemon with interesting typing and a substantial support movepool, containing Stealth Rock, Toxic, and Gastro Acid, as well as several tools to help its longevity in Barrier, Recover, Giga Drain, Amnesia, Rest, and Stockpile.
Cradily shines on several teams that need a unique supportive tank pokemon that bring hazard support and a water immunity with Storm Darin. Cradily, with Mirror Coat and Storm Drain, is one of the best counters there is to rain teams. His good defense and high special defense make him a great choice both for and against sand teams, which he gladly accepts the SpD boost to levels where it can tank STAB Ice Beams and Focus Blasts and live. Gastro Acid adds similar utility to Cofagrigus’ Mummy but is instead on command, meaning Reuniclus probably won’t be ignoring that poison anymore, and Breloom will be sad when his damage is murdered when his Technician disappears, or is now hurt by poison from his own hold item. He can make Hydration pokemon a little less tanky, and can stop Landorus from eating your team with the boost from Sand Force etc.
Everyone thinks Skarmory is the best phazer there is, and with good reason, his fantastic typing, Roost, and access to both hazards and phasing moves with great physical bulk gives little doubt for his tier placing. However, Mandibuzz is an often forgotten pokemon, usually thought of as an overshadowed Skarmory. I assure you she is not Skarmory in any shape or form, she is instead a unique pokemon who benefits on hardcore stall needing a mixed wall phazer, and she does it better than any pokemon I have ever seen.
Mandibuzz’s core role is a supportive phazer, but with those 100/105/95 defenses, she is probably one of the most sturdy walls there is in tandem with access to Roost. Her access to moves like Knock Off, Taunt, Punishment, and ability, Overcoat, make her an excellent choice on many stall teams needing a phazer. Her bulk will save you from potential sweeps via whirlwind, and Knock Off and Taunt make her shuffling more effective. She can beat many pokemon 1v1 with Toxic due to her astounding defenses, and ability to cripple pokemon with Knock Off. I mentioned Punishment earlier as a boon to her because it nets surprise kills easily with STAB against set up pokemon, particularly pokemon like Lati@s and Reuniclus.
Uxie is a levitating Psychic type that is, without a doubt, completely designed for support. She has an incredible movepool and super powered defenses sitting at 75/130/130. She has access to crippling moves like Memento, Thunder Wave and Yawn, in addition to its ability to dual screen better than almost any pokemon in the game with a decent speed of 95.
It’s important to note that although Uxie excels in almost all support roles available to her as a crippling status inducer or hazard setter/scout, she is probably the most impressive pokemon for setting up a pokemon for a sweep. This is because she has Memento, as well as both screens to protect her team. Uxie can support on all types of teams, varying from bulky offense, hyper offense, stall and balanced, all of which she is used for a defensive pivot. Uxie can turn games around with her ability to help the team in literally almost every way excluding Wish passing and cleric duties.
I mentioned Vaporeon earlier in the OU section, so it’s logical to look into why Umbreon is different and in some cases, a better support.
Starting off with stats, Umbreon has lower offenses and passes large wishes, just not the bulk of what Vaporeon passes. Instead, Umbreon is not vulnerable in either defense with deceptive bulk of 95/110/130 defenses. Umbreon can trap foes with Mean Look, Toxistall them to death and deter status attacks due to Synchronize. It has the capability of Wish+Protect stalling most of the metagame that lacks super effective STAB against it. It has access to Yawn and Cleric moves to support the team, and dry passing Baton Pass can get in sweepers for free, or give a Wish to them without them taking a hit. The main difference between the two is offensive presence, stats, and of course typing, so choose according to what your team needs.
This is, of course, by no means a complete list of all pokemon capable of competing in the support role. Supportive pokemon come in various shapes and sizes, I have just listed the pokemon that are popular supports and I have had success with(minus a few, because I experiment with a lot of supports).
III. Fitting into Teams
Shockingly, there is very few occurrences in team building where you can simply throw a support on your team and expect it to be effective. Chansey may be arguably the most used support by today’s metagame, but that doesn’t mean she’s always the best or most well suited to the team. Picking the supportive unit/core for the team can, contrary to popular belief, be picked early in team development or later. Early, you build to offensive and defensive powerhouses that benefit greatly from the support’s abilities ie. Wish support, hazards, status etc. When building last, make sure your supportive utility pokemon is one that holds the team together by offering the support needed for the other members on your team to survive and perform better overall. Here I will explain how to fit this role into each team, and the most effective way that I believe is.
IIIi. Which support is necessary?
Some teams benefit more from certain types of team support, so its integral to your success that the support and utility you choose to use is appropriate and most effective for your team composition.
Important factors to note about which support to include in your team is typing, strategy of the team, general stats on your team and your own personal playstyle. For example, let’s take a hyper offensive team lineup.
A standard OU team with a HO lineup would be something like;
Volt turn core: Scizor, Rotom-W
Support/utility tank: Eviolite Chansey
Resilient Offense/utility: Heatran
Special sweeper (patches weaknesses): Gengar
Clean up sweeper: Haxorus/Dragonite
In practice, I assume this would work well, because the teams I build are usually riddled with odd sets and strange pokemon, they are not the best example.
However, notice this team has some beautiful type synergy, its VoltTurn core keeps offensive pressure moving while making predictions easier and thus putting you in a better position. Heatran fills the role of hazard laying with a myriad of important resistances for the core, absorbing Fire hits aimed at Scizor with Flash Fire, and taking grass, ghost, dark, psychic, ice and dragon hits for the other memebers of the team. Building Heatran with a bit more bulk than punch would do better here, as his responsibility is to keep his VoltTurn pressure core from caving terribly if something goes wrong, the second back up here we have is Chansey. While Chansey eases offensive pressure off the opponent, her Wishes are enormous and keep her team going and going. If she opts to be cleric as well, she can remove status that would otherwise cripple the team, such as a burn to Scizor or paralysis to Gengar. Chansey is optimal in this position because she’s insanely bulky, self-sustaining and her Wishes are huge, basically fully healing pokemon geared for offense and removing harmful status away from them
Gengar is placed into the team for a few reasons; it counters and thrashes common fighting threats like Conkeldurr, Lucario and Breloom with Substitute+Disable, and can revenge kill many pokemon. This combination of attacks and uses allow Gengar to still remain an immense offensive presence in the game, but also giving his team some breathing room when dealing with such powerful threats.
Lastly, the team’s finisher and late game clean up sweeper has been chosen to be an offensive Dragon Dance Dragonite or Haxorus. Their power means after the VoltTurn combination and Heatran’s deceptive hitting power has softened up the enemy team, the clean up sweeper can ideally get a single Dragon Dance off and clean up with powerful Dragon STAB. Of course, this could never be accomplished without the reinforcement Chansey provides through Wish healing and immensely powerful Cleric abilities. The enemy team would surely stall you to death with passive hazard damage or they would easily whittle you down or catch on your mistakes and gravely wound or incapacitate your core structure, Chansey eases this burden by covering mistakes or giving extra leeway through wishes and cleric abilities. Without Chansey, a single Thunder wave on your Dragon sweeper could mean you lost the match.
IIIii. Execution and Planning
Although many of the scenarios and conundrums you encounter while team building won’t be detailed in explanation here, I will list the general supportive roles that you should consider for each style of team, keeping in mind that this is, in no way, a complete list. I will cover the three focused team types of Balanced, Hyper Offense and Stall teams. Other teams should look into more specific utilities and/or use a blend of what I list here for your specific team composition.
Balanced (Offensive and defensive) Teams
Required or strongly recommended:
-Status support – Any incapacitating status that helps your team, it’s a good idea to carry at least two different status inflicting moves on separate pokemon or a dedicated status platform. Paralysis for teams lacking substantial speed, burn for teams weak to common physical threats(minus guts pokemon), sleep for lure pokemon or just a general safety precaution, and poison for general stalling or problems with stall based pokemon. Balanced teams should carry this to round it out.
-Hazard Support – Just as with any team, passive damage from hazards is almost essential to deter or punish switches, having a hazard setter on a balanced team is strongly recommended, but usually a simple Stealth Rock pokemon is good. Carrying a spin blocker is nice as well.
Optional, but helpful:
Rapid Spin – I hesitate saying this is optional, because hazards are no doubt a very big problem, but sometimes certain teams can function without them due to their typing and abilities making them resilient to them. Long story short, if your team has a single pokemon vulnerable to the passive damage from any sort of hazard, it’s a good idea to strongly consider a spinner.
Wish – Wish goes well on any team, so it’s important to always consider it. Regenerator Wish Alomomola is awesome in case you were wondering.
Phazing – Phazing is a very important emergency button, be sure to carry it if you feel shuffling the enemy team would be helpful, especially if you’re vulnerable to subs and set up sweepers.
Cleric Support – Not sure if I need to explain this. Nice reinforcement and safety to prevent you from getting gimped easily.
Hyper Offense Teams
Required or Strongly Recommended:
Cleric Support or Healing Wish – That moment when you turn the game around by removing status or essentially resurrecting a teammate from near death to pull off an incredible sweep is that moment that is pokemon plays at its finest. Carrying these supports on offensive teams is overlooked but it’s awesome. Please, please do not ignore this, a simple cleric or a pokemon with Healing Wish can save you a game so easily, as status conditions can completely debilitate sweepers extremely easily.
Hazard support – With the pressure this team composition applies, pressure is huge and switches are forced often, capitalizing on that with a quick Stealth Rock is a good idea, but stacking Spikes and others may eat up too much of your time with this team, stick to Stealth Rock.
Optional, but helpful:
Status support – Making it easier to punch through teams or incapacitating the enemy’s support can be highly useful, pick your status conditions for which common threats affect your pressuring ability.
Wish – This can take away from some of your momentum, but sometimes an offensive team with excellent defensive synergy can make use of passed wishes fairly well, consider it if your team composition fits the bill.
Spinner – Obvious reasons, help you switch more often without detriments, keep momentum without losing to stalling and forcing to switch etc. etc.
Required or Strongly Recommended:
Cleric support – Stall teams hate passive damage from poison, burn, and incapacitations from freeze and sleep. Remember to almost always keep a cleric on your team for this reason, as without it, your team loses a lot of potential bulk and general tankiness.
Wish – Although many defensive pokemon have impressive stats to go with it, it’s important to address many pokemon have a lack of reliable sustain, such as pokemon like Bronzong and Tentacruel. You can greatly aid to their durability by passing larger wishes to them from Blissey, Chansey, Alomomola, Vaporeon etc.
Hazard support – Laying several layers of hazards are the cornerstone of all stall teams, as they rely on the passive damage. Ensure that you have at least two out of the three hazards, if not all of them to maximize your stalling potential. Toxic Spikes is particularly important, as it wears down pokemon quickly, but keeping the flat damage from Stealth Rock and Spikes is very important as well.
Phazing – Stop set up on your defensive pokemon that lack offense, shuffle the enemy team for damage from your traps, spread status and make prediction harder for the enemy. Sounds like a good idea for teams built around passive damage if you ask me.
Optional, but Helpful:
Rapid Spin and Spinblocker – Get rid of those nasty Toxic Spikes and other hazards that stab your teams durability, while preventing yours from being removed so you can reap the benefits of your efforts more frequently and longer.
*Because Stall Teams are based around support, it’s a good idea to put a large focus on supporting everyone of your pokemon with a huge load of support moves, it makes your stalling more effective.
IIIiii. Finishing Comments
Support in pokemon plays out much like it does in other competitive gaming, a concept that few understand, properly execute, or appreciate. However, you can definitely distinguish players that can support their team well with incredible tankiness, or offense that just keeps hitting and hitting. A well played support unit in the field of pokemon can change the field of battle in a single turn, resurrecting your 3% paralyzed Salamence from near death, setting up your Scizor for Swords Dance sweeps with dual screens or getting that crucial paralysis on the enemy Scarf Terrakion. Supports change games by giving their teams buffs and protecting and mitigating damage done to their team, and as such is a role in a team that is extremely important, and should be considered with your whole team in mind.
I hope you found this guide useful. Feel free to PM me on any problems you may be having in team building or general supports for your team, I’d be happy to help!
"Nothing like a challenge. Let's take them down!"
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