How to properly build a team.
A guide for intermediate players on how to build a successful team
A guide for intermediate players on how to build a successful team
This is a guide written for the specific purpose of helping intermediate players build teams that will play effectively in the current metagame. As such, this guide will list typical roles of pokemon in a team, what a team should be and do, and how to build said team. This guide is written for people who understand the basics of the game, and are looking for a helpful source to build a team. If you feel that you are having difficultly understanding the topics in this, I suggest reading and learning Niiro's MUST READ guide, as it will help aquaint you with the topics in this guide.
Role of team:
Ignore all pokemon!!!! Dont think about specific pokemon until we get to that point.
Before you begin to make your team, you must decide what role you want your team to fill. Do you want to make an Uber sweeping powerhouse, or a UU tanking team? As this is THE pivital decision on what roles your pokemon play in your team, this is the biggest decision you will make. Here are some examples of teams, and how they play-
Baton Passing- This team is centered on Baton Passing boosts to a specific pokemon. The Baton Passing chain can be as simple as a few Speed Boosts from Ninjask, to something as complex as Ingrain Smeargle->Rock Polish+Swords Dance+Taunt Gliscor-> Stockpile Drifblim-> Cradily. Baton Passing teams can be effective in any environment, but seem to be most effective in UU and OU. Baton Passing teams can easily be ruined by a well timed phazing move.
Walls and Stalls- This set of teams is based on Walling and Stalling pokemon. Generally teams that fill this category are composed of a variety of tanks, and the most damage they deal is typically residual damage. If you are setting up Sandstorm, Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Stealth Rock (and that is before looking at your pokemon, who all either carry Toxic or Will-o-Wisp)- you are probably running a Stalling team. They typically have at least one (p)hazer, and possibly a cleric. Many of these teams fear Taunt, as almost all pokemon running a stall set are heavily dependant on recovery options. They also have an extreme dislike for Rapid Spinners..... These Stall teams can be seen in any tier play, but seem to thrive in UU play.
Sweeping - These teams dont mess around- they get to the killing. Possibly a DD or a SD, and let the slaughter begin. Generally composed of powerhouses, often any single pokemon on these teams is capable of 6-0ing an opponent. Expect to see a lot of Choice Items and Life Orbs. These teams can be seen in any tier play, but seem to be most common in Uber play.
Rain Dance / Sunny Day teams - These teams play VERY differently than SS or Hail teams. These teams will have pokemon who benefit from the weather in effect (Chlorophyll, Swift Swim, Dry Skin, Solar Power, Leaf Guard, Hydration, Rain Dish, etc.). Most common are Chlorophyll and Swift Swim, as the increase in speed and the assured hits and increase in power makes sweepers with mentioned ability very hard to take down. These are both common in UU play, however with Kyogre and Groudon, they can easily be played in Ubers, if played properly.
Hail - Hail teams play very differently from Sun or Rain teams, as they don't benefit from the massive speed boosts. Hail teams typically are based much more on the Evasion boost of Snow Cloak, the health benefit of Ice Body, and of course, Blizzard's 100% accuracy. These teams are some of the best in the game at dealing significant residual damage- however, they suffer greatly from SR damage. They were extremely overpowered when Abomasnow was UU- the game is much more balanced now that he is BL tier.
Sandstorm - Without a doubt the most common of all weather teams, such that many teams that dont intend to be SS teams end up as them. Sandstorm is very powerful, as it increases the Special Defense of any rock type by 50%- this is massive because most rock pokemon naturally have high physical defenses, so it bulks up their weakness. Additionally, 2 very common pokemon come with an instant activation of Sandstorm. In OU tier play, Sandstorm play is very common.
Trick Room - A team based on the move Trick Room. Can still be any other type of team, but will generally be built to have a very low Speed.
The "Ideal, Balanced" Team - Probably the most commonly seen team, a well balanced team. Generally speaking, these teams will have 2 sweepers (one physical, one special), 2 walls (one physical, one special), and 2 supporters (a lead/anit-lead and another). Obviously these teams can fall into another category, but not always. These teams can be catered to the user- if you would rather leave out a special wall for a 2nd physical sweeper, by all means do it. This team should be balanced to fit the current metagame, and whichever tier play you plan on using it in.
Determine YOUR team:
Ask yourself now- after reading through different team, what do you want to run? Do you want to run a surprise gimmick (example: Trick Room Power Trick Shuckle), or do you want a straight sweeper team? Decide what you want to run, but make sure you fit it accordingly into the current metagame, for whichever tier you are choosing to play in. If the majority of people are running 4 physical sweepers and you want to run a stall team, dont run 6 special walls- its asking to get beat to pulp.
Optional Step- Build your core:
As you have already decided on the purpose of your team, this is the stage you may want to consider your team's core.
In your core, you will have the basic roles of certain pokemon that you have selected to
run. You may have a specific pokemon that you want to build your team around, or 3 favorites that you must include in your team. If this is the case, this is the step you will go to before deciding on specific roles. Go ahead and check up on common sets for your chosen pokemon, and alter those sets to fit your style, and the type of team you are planning on running. Be sure that your core is not contradictory in the set or sets your pokemon have, or the team you want to run (dont choose 3 special walls as your core if the current metagame is based around physical attackers, and dont run 3 physical attackers if your planning on running a defensive team).
If you do this step, in the next step you will need to alter the roles on your team to fill the gaps in your core. A fellow player gave great insight on this:
Decide on the roles:This is a great example for a core because it has three key figures to an offensive core: being able to adapt to a different number of threats, typing synergy, and a lure. Obviously there is no such thing as a solid three-pokemon core. Example, after finishing off a Scizor with HP Fire on Magnezone Gyarados comes in for a free DD. If there is no prior damage, it will be able to KO Garchomp with Aqua Tail/ Ice Fang after surviving a scarfed Outrage. Mence stands no chance in the way as well, so you may opt for a celebi to help take care of this problem. Celebi can deal with almost all Gyarados with a combination of Grass Knot, Reflect, and Leech Seed. The only exception I can really think of is a waterfall/Bounce/Taunt/DD variety, which is very rare to say at the least. Another way to limit gyarados is to set up Stealth Rock and Sand Stream, greatly limiting it's ability to stay alive and making that Scarfed Garchomp an official check to it since it will finally fall to that scarfed outrage. So maybe investing in a Sashed Tyranitar or maybe even a hippowdon (not reccommended for an offensive team) would be in your best intrest.
A defensive core is much different: since your aiming to cover as many threats as possible, doubling up is usually not the best option(unless, of course, a particular kind of pokemon likes to double up). Starting with something like Blissey, you realize you have issues with physical attackers, and infernape who uses a lot of special attacks. Throwing in Gyarados to take those fighting attacks with intimidate and maybe even a heavy sp. Defense investment to take LO NPed GK from infernape. From that point you just try to cover as much as possible: CM Jirachis+Gyarados on your nerves? Celebi with Reflect+Perish Song to the rescue. Since defensive teams need a lot of residual damage, forretress is a good option, as it provides a nice dragon resist, sets up spikes, and rapid spins it as well. You want the spikes to stay up too, so rotom comes in and helps take care of steels like scizor and metagross. For the final slot, you may want to "double up" on dragons like salamence and garchomp so maybe Swampert is in order.
Still, we are ignoring specific pokemon. Look at the team you have planned to run, and decide on the specific roles you want each pokemon to play. If you are running a sweeping team, you need to balance Physical and Special sweepers to fit the current metagame. If your running a Baton Passing team, pick out the status boosts you want each BPer to pass. This is the most important step to the success of your team! If you properly have planned out your teams roles, you will easily be able to fit in the best pokemon. This goes regardless for tiers, as every tier has a pokemon who plays a specific role better than most in that tier- so regardless of the tier you plan on playing your team in, this step is extremely important.
Here is an example of me selecting a set of specific roles:
C3's New OU Sandstorm-based team
- Set-up Lead
- Tanking Spiker
- Special Wall
- Physical Attacker
- Special Attacker
- Mixed Attacker OR Wall Breaker
Roles of Pokemon:
There are many specific roles pokemon can play on a team. I will list each type of role. Do realize that many pokemon can fill multiple roles- Like a Nasty Plot sweeping Darkrai, who also acts as an Annoyer with Dark Void.
- Set-up Lead - This lead sets up specific situations for your team, anything from Rain Dance to Stealth Rocks. Often they either play another role in a team (like a tank) or they explode.
- Anti-Lead - A lead that is designed to kill generic set-up leads.
- Physical Attacker - A pokemon that specializes in physical attacks.
- Special Attacker - A pokemon that specializes in special attacks.
- Mixed Attacker - A pokemon that uses both physical and special attacks.
- Wall Breaker - A pokemon that is used to break through both physical and special walls- generally a variation of the mixed attacker.
- Bulky Sweeper - A pokemon that is build to take a few hits while dealing out massive damage.
- Physical Wall - A pokemon that is designed to take physical hits.
- Special Wall - A pokemon that is designed to take special hits
- Mixed Wall - A pokemon that is designed to take any hits.
- Bulky Water - A common version of the mixed wall, these are water pokemon with abnormally high defensive stats that can help absorb hits.
- Tank - A pokemon with naturally high stats in both defenses, they typically run a pseudo-sweeping set. (sweeping with either the higher of their 2 attacking stats or by outsurviving your opponent)
- Annoyer / Crippler - A pokemon that specializes in crippling your opponent- generally with statuses. Parafusion sets are a great example, as are flinch hax sets.
- Status Absorbers - Pokemon that are designed to absorb a specific status. Like Electivire with Thunder Wave, or Arcanine for Will-o-Wisp.
- (Toxic) Spiker / Stealth Rocker - A pokemon whose purpose is to lay down layers of either Spikes, Toxic Spikes, or Stealth Rocks.
- Spinner - The answer to Spikers/SRs, this pokemon utilizes Rapid Spin to nullify the effects of any spikes or stealth rocks.
- Wish Passer- A generally bulky pokemon that is designed to pass Wish to other pokemon.
- Cleric - A pokemon with either Aromatherapy or Heal Bell, to heal status effects.
- (P)hazer - These are pokemon that find ways around your opponents boosts- either with Haze to ignore the boosts, or phazing with roar, whirlwind, etc. to force a change.
- Baton Passer - A pokemon that is used to BP boosts to another pokemon.
- Trapper - A pokemon that uses a trap move to stop your opponent from switching.
Picking out the Pokemon:
You have decided on the team, and the specific role of each pokemon in your team- so now you must pick out the pokemon to fill each role. This should take the longest of all the stages of building your team. You should be constantly debating which pokemon fill what roll best- because in this step, you are looking a every possible moveset for every pokemon that fills each role, and narrowing it down to fit in with the rest of your team. Back to the example:
C3's New OU Sandstorm-based team
- Set-up Lead - Tyranitar, Hippowdon, Bronzong (all 3 are decent SR leads, with SS immunity- 2 induce SS on the switch, definatly a bonus for my team)
- Tanking Spiker - Forretress, Omastar, Skarmory (again, all 3 have SS immunity, and each has over 125 base Defense. Oma and tress both also have access to Toxic Spikes, but no phazing move. Skarm has access to Roost and Whirlwind, definate + for this team)
- Special Wall - Bronzong, Dusknoir, Heatran, Empoleon ( Dusknoir has the highest Sp.Def out of the group, but no SS immunity- however, he has a fun recovery move in Pain Split- the others are dependant totally on rest. He also has nice attacking stat, and can deal some massive damage.)
- Physical Attacker - Rhyperior, Metagross, Tyranitar, Scizor (Rhyperior looks beautiful on this set- but everyone listed has SS immunity, and 130+ Attack. Thats a nice list to choose from)
- Special Attacker - Heatran, Magnezone, Gengar (Heatran for its amazingness, Magnezone covers steel-types, and Gengar has a lot of options, but no SS immunity)
- Mixed Attacker OR Wall Breaker - Jirachi, Lucario, Azelf (Lucario really shines here, Jirachi falls behind the other 2- Azelf doesnt have SS immunity, but has beautiful stats to work with)
There are a couple of great tools to use in this stage, other than those you should already be using. The one I suggest more than any other is Marriland's Team Weakness Revealer. Yes, if you are reading this you probably already know the weakness of each type- but this will let you see the specific weaknesses of your team. If you have more than 3 200% or 400% weakness, you have a team that is very weak to a specific type- you should consider changing your pokemon.
A very important part of this step is determining EV's and Nature's - be certain that the spread you choose is what you want to try. Often, EV's take tweaking to perfect- they will probably be the thing you are altering the most on your team.
As you are deciding on your 6 pokemon, you need to start realizing movesets for the pokemon you have chosen. If you are filling a Spiker role on your team, obviously you will want to use a pokemon that can learn spikes. As you are deciding on moves, you must look for type coverage and recognize the bonus of STAB. The best coverage is often worth not taking a STAB move- so look at your thoughts of a team, and weigh which moves fit which pokemon best. Avoid same-type coverage on too many pokemon (having Earthquake / Earth Power on 4 pokemon is bad use of moveslots).
Eventually, you will need to narrow your team down to the 6 pokemon you plan on using, along with the specific moveset's, EV's, Nature, and possibly specific IV's. You should know what moves and pokemon the pokemon on your team can safely switch in to, and which pokemon not to switch in (Skarmory loves to switch into a Dugtrio, but should almost never switch into a Heatran).
Playing your team:
So you have now finalized your team, and know each pokemon's purpose. You know what you can and cannot switch into, and when moves can be used safely. Your best bet is to now practice playing your team! I suggest Shoddy Battle as a place to practice playing your team- specifically on Smogon's Server. Play your team, and see how you do! Recongize that losing one game is not the end of the world- be sure to learn from each of your mistakes, as that is vital to the next step.
Fixing your team:
So you've made and played your team. It looks decent, it plays well, and your not having too much difficulty. Good job, you obviously picked a decent strategy, and filled it with decent pokemon. However, you are still having difficulty with certain types of teams. Rain Dance teams walk all over you, and Swampert is causing hell for your team. So make changes to your team! After playing your first 20 or so games, you should have a great feel for everything about your team, including all your weakness and mistakes. Make changes, 1 at a time, and test them out. By only doing one change at a time, you will realize if the change benefits your team. If it doesnt, change it back, and fix something else. The practice of building teams isnt a one-time event, it is an ongoing process. As the meta-game evolves, so should your team.
If needed, drop your team and start again, from scratch. With your knowledge of what worked and what didn't work, you should be able to make a much better team.
Anyone building a team should be checking Smogon's Pokedex and Serebii's Pokedex often, as these will both show you which moves any pokemon can learn- Smogon's is exceptionally useful, as they list base stats, common sets, and moves that specific pokemon can use. Additionally, I suggest downloading Shoddy Battle if you haven't already- it will help you build and practice your team.