THE DELTA ARTICLES
Issue Written By: TheQuantumJumper, Legyro and Phlygone
What Are The Delta Articles?
The Metagame: Tiers
The metagame refers to the most effective and widespread strategy currently in the game. Over time, this meta will shift with the introduction of new factors, such as Pokémon, their abilities, items, or even entirely new types. Additionally, the meta will shift gradually over time as players refine their strategies and hone their effectiveness. Each tier will have its own nuanced meta at any given time.
So what is a tier? Well, a tier is a power class containing a portion of the Pokémon. Most commonly we look at Pokémon tiers based on usage; NU is the “never used” Pokémon, RU is rarely used, UU is underused, and OU, the most popular, stands for overused. If a Pokémon stops seeing use in OU, it will often fall down the tier list to UU, allowing it to be used where it was once prohibited, and will continue until it finds a place where it can be used in a balanced way. Smogon has a listing of which Pokémon currently reside in which tier, and is all around a handy resource to new and old trainers alike.
Not all Pokémon find a happy resting point in any tier however, which leads to the groups BL, BL2, and BL3, which are ban lists for UU, RU, and NU respectively. The Pokémon in these groups were deemed too strong for the metagame they resided in based on usage, and were subsequently banned. However, they are not used enough to belong to the next tier in the typical usage method, so the distinction is made with these ban lists. OU also has a list of Pokémon which are banned, but there are so many that they formed their own tier known as Ubers. Many of these imposed bans are the subject of debate, as well as Pokémon that have not been banned despite many believing they should be. It should also be noted that just because a Pokémon has a low usage doesn’t mean that it cannot function well in higher tiers--Blissey, for example, resides in UU, but sometimes sees play in Ubers where it often shines!
It’s also worth mentioning that there are several clauses which appear in all of the tiers mentioned thus far. They can be found here.
The Metagame: Archtypes
Sweepers are characterized by hitting things really hard. A fairly high attack or special attack is required, and speed is often desirable to prevent opponents from beating you to the punch, though a variant known as a bulky sweeper will capitalize on its more powerful bulk to allow it to weather hits and drop the opponent in response. Both options can utilize various boosting moves to up their relevant stats: Calm Mind, Dragon Dance, Swords Dance, and other moves can create threats to an entire team, as sweepers will run powerful moves as well as a variety of coverage moves. If you aren’t prepared to face a sweeper the game could be over in a couple of turns.
Very similar are revenge killers, which specialize in outspeeding (sometimes by using priority) and finishing off weakened Pokémon. A revenge killer can become a sweeper if a team is sufficiently weak and can’t outspeed it, though this is tricky if the revenge killer is utilizing a Choice Scarf to ensure it can outspeed its foe, as it will often be walled by a type that resists it.
Physical Sweeper Examples: Gyarados, Dragonite, Mega-Metagross
Special Sweeper Examples: Manaphy, Volcarona, Gengar
Revenge Killer Examples: Talonflame, Lucario, Azumarill
What do you do to stop a sweep? Switch in a Pokémon that can’t be knocked down so easily. Walls are tasked with the goal of weathering attacks, and typically have some form of recovery to outpace damage that comes at them. A wall generally can only wall certain types of Pokémon. The two main types of walls are the physical wall and special wall, which stop physical and special hits respectively. Keep in mind that a wall should also have a decent HP stat as well, so that they can soak up the damage that they take. Walls can often force an opponent to switch out because they can’t overcome it, or force them out with a phasing move like Roar or Dragon Tail. Walls are also common users of utility moves such as entry hazards and status conditions. Status conditions can negate a Pokémon’s strength or set a timer on how long it can stay in. Walls are also popular clerics, who will use moves like Wish and Heal Bell to keep the rest of your team healthy.
Physical Wall Examples: Ferrothorn, Skarmory, Hippowdon, Slowbro
Special Wall Examples: Chansey, Heatran, Sylveon
Cleric Examples: Celebi, Umbreon, Florges, Chansey
The Wall Breaker
When faced with a wall, you need to outpace its recovery. Wall Breakers specialize in taking down these bulky Pokémon. Raw force is the first method: either by just having a ridiculously high offensive stat to overpower the opponent or utilizing a Choice Band or Choice Specs or boosting move like Swords Dance. Mixed sets also have the potential to smash a wall, as most walls have to choose to be physically or specially defensive. In order to prevent walls from fleeing from the wall breaker some Pokémon have the ability to trap opponents with abilities that prevent switching, like Magnet Pull. Finally, instead of outright killing a wall, many Pokémon can wall break by limiting the ability of the Pokémon to do its job by utilizing Taunt or Trick with a Choice item to limit the options available to the wall. Lastly, keep in mind a wall breaker can transition into a sweeper if the opposing trainer lacks Pokémon fast enough to outspeed them, or if the faster Pokémon cannot break through its bulk.
Raw Power Examples: Mega-Charizard Y, Hoopa-Unbound
Setup Examples: Mega-Garchomp, Talonflame, Mega-Scizor, Serperior
Trapper Examples: Magnezone, Gotheille, Dugtrio
Choice Item Examples: Keldeo, Noivern
These guys are a bit more unique. Usually their job can be done by walls or faster sweepers, but occasionally, you may see them as their own group. Their job is to support their team with moves like defog, taunt, stealth rocks, wish, healing wish, thunder wave, toxic, and otherwise just be an annoyance to the enemy team. They may have one or two offensive moves, but are not usually offensively inclined and are more there to set up hazards, get rid of hazards, or stop the enemy team from doing so. Often times the support role will fall within the abilities of a wall, but sometimes a pokemon without bulk will utilize its speed or ability to get off critical moves quickly. Some of the more offensively inclined supports will threaten to KO opposing pokemon and use that threat as an opening to use one of their key non-offensive moves. As a whole, the supportive pokemon can have a huge impact on the game, and often will cause the entire match to pivot with a single move. Even if they will never be the star player that the sweeper is, their impact cannot be overlooked.
Hazard Setter/Screen Setter Examples: Klefki, Azelf, Whimsicott, Froslass
Hazard Clearer Examples: Crobat, Zapdos, Starmie
Other Support Examples: Thundurus-I, Politoed, Sableye
So what does this all mean for team building? Well, you’ll usually want a fairly diverse team, unless you want to run a heavy stall or heavy offensive team. Have Pokémon you want healthy? Grab walls and/or a cleric. Notice that there’s a few Pokémon that you can’t seem to knock out? Pick up a wall breaker. Always be looking for gaps in your team to fill, and always have an answer to whatever your opponent may bring to the battle.
So, with that being said, let’s get started! Today’s Pokémon is…….. DRAGONITE!
Sp. Atk: 100
Sp. Def: 100
Multiscale lowers damage taken from damage-dealing moves by half when at maximum HP. It does not reduce the amount of HP deducted by moves that deal a set amount of damage, such as Night Shade and Seismic Toss.
Dragonite is a pretty cool Pokémon. Along with its very useful ability and strong stats, it has a very large move pool to boast, giving it lots of options when it comes to its move sets and play choices. For the most part, if you seriously want to seriously do well with dragonite, you are going to want to focus on exploiting its high attack stat. Let’s take a look at some sets (Already in Pokémon Showdown teambuilder format, so you can just copy and paste!):
These sets are the norm, what you will normally see throughout your laddering career on Pokémon Showdown, as well as in-game PvP. They work really well with most standard laddering teams and are what make this Pokémon so viable in its tier.
Fast Dragon Dance
Dragonite @ Lum Berry
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
- Dragon Dance
- Dragon Claw
- Extreme Speed
This is the definition of Standard Dragonite. Smogon has this set covered, but I thought I might go into it anyway. This set takes advantage of Dragonite’s bulkiness and ability to take a few hits and set up with Dragon Dance (DD), then follow up with a sweep. It holds a Lum Berry so it can take a Will-o-wisp and cure itself of the burn, which would normally cut its attack in half. Earthquake is used to hit Pokémon that have Rough Skin (Ability), Iron Barbs (Ability), and/or Rocky Helmet (Item) without taking any damage from said things. This is because taking damage will destroy the point of having your ability multiscale. Remember, the key to using Dragonite well is to keep it at maximum health for as long as possible, so when the time comes for it to set up with DD and sweep, you will be able to live any hit the opponent throws at you and retaliate with a boosted attack that One Hit KOs (OHKOs) the rest of their team. It also packs Extreme Speed, as the move’s +2 Priority (if you do not know what this is, don’t worry, we will be going over it in another issue) allows it to get damage off and/or possibly kill Pokémon that would normally outspeed it with their own priority or speed. This set is not invincible, however. Pokémon like Ferrothorn and Skarmory can switch in on this Dragonite for days and you will probably never kill them with it. So, there are a few solutions to this problem: Run Fire Punch, which a strong physical attack that is 4x super effective against Ferrothorn and 2x against Skarmory. OR you can have a strong fire Pokémon as a teammate to help get rid of those guys before you bring your Dragonite in to sweep. Magnezone may also come in handy as it can trap both Skarm and Ferro with its ability Magnet Pull and take them down with Hidden Power Fire. Another Pokémon Dragonite has trouble dealing with is Clefable, when it has the ability Unaware. The Unaware ability allows Clefable to ignore any stat boosts from an opposing Pokémon. In other words, even if Dragonite were to get up six DDs in a row and hit the Clefable, it would only deal damage as if it had no DD boosts, which means it would do practically nothing to those types of Clefable. The best way to deal with this Clefable is to have a strong Poison or Steel Type for a teammate, like Gengar or Bisharp respectively. One last thing to keep in mind is that the hazard (covered in another issue) Stealth Rocks can also put a dent in Dragonite’s sweeping ability, as it breaks its Multiscale and deals 25% of Dragonite’s health every time Dragonite switches in. In order to combat this, make sure to have a teammate that knows Rapid Spin or Defog, as these moves will get rid of said hazards. Other than that, DD Dragonite will probably be able to have a field day after it sets up. Have fun winning!
Bulky Choice Band
Dragonite @ Choice Band
EVs: 248 HP / 252 Atk / 8 Spe
- Fire Punch
- Extreme Speed
So let us think about something for a bit: a base attack stat of 134. Now, let’s multiply this by 1.5. That could kill a lot of things, couldn’t it? That, my friends, is the power... of Choice Banded Dragonite! This monster literally hits like a truck every time it uses a move. A Choice Banded Outrage will, at the very least, Two-Hit KO (2HKO) pretty much everything bar hardcore dedicated physical walls and Fairy Type Pokémon. Fire Punch is there to deal with Ferro and Skarm, as stated above, Earthquake hits for neutral coverage, and Extreme Speed is there to outspeed normal priority users. Remember to be wary of Stealth Rocks as you will be switching a lot with this Pokémon, since Choice Band locks you into one move. Always carry a Rapid Spinner/Defogger around to deal with this issue. Once you get rid of their dedicated physical wall, you can let Choice Banded Dragonite go to town on these poor souls.
These sets are not meant to be serious, however, they can still work with the right play style and teammates. I would suggest not using these to raise your ELO, but rather just to mess around and have fun with. Enjoy!
Dragonite @ Leftovers
EVs: 248 HP / 8 Atk / 252 SpD
- Thunder Wave
- Dragon Tail
This move set was inspired by a youtuber named Thunderblunder777, who used this set in 1600 ELO and won the majority of his games with it. It is somewhat similar to the set that its previous evolution, Dragonair, runs in lower tiers, in that it makes use of the annoying move Thunder Wave, which paralyzes the enemy Pokémon. This set relies on hitting Thunder Wave, setting up a Substitute, and Dragon Tailing Pokémon out continuously until they are all dead. As you might have already guessed, having a Pokémon that can get up Stealth Rocks for your team will be highly beneficial for your team, as incoming enemy Pokémon will take damage from them, along with the Dragon Tail. Roost is there to get back your Multiscale should something break it. Of course, every set will have its flaws, and this one is no exception. It cannot hit Fairy Type Pokémon, as its only attacking move is Dragon-Type and therefore ineffective against fairies. Also, Ground and Electric-Type Pokémon are not affected by Thunder Wave, so that strategy goes out the window with them. Good teammates are those that can set up entry hazards, those that can deal with Fairy Types, those that can deal with Ground-Types, and those that can deal with Electric Types. Other than that, you should be able to just sit back, relax, and watch as your opponent cries and rage quits after having to deal with the cancer that is Yellow Magic.
Superman Can Fly
Dragonite @ Leftovers
EVs: 248 HP / 40 Atk / 220 Spe
- Dragon Dance
Definitely one of the weirder sets i have talked about in this article. This set takes advantage of dual STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) in Outrage and Fly. It also allows for recovery in roost, as well as DD for boosting. Fly is an unconventional move, as it takes two turns to damage the opponent, however, the boost it gets from STAB plus DD will make it a strong hitting move versus almost anything that tried to take it. Not only that, but it gives Dragonite an extra turn of leftovers recovery. You can run an Adamant nature here if you wish, but I decided on a Jolly nature to outspeed threats that would normally outspeed it at 220 EVS. Skarm is kind of an issue here, like usual, so bring a fire Pokémon to deal with it. They say Superman can fly, but now, so can Dragonite… apparently.
I Have NO WEAKNESS (Policy)
Dragonite @ Weakness Policy
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
- Dragon Claw
- Fire Punch
This is an older set, more well-known to the fifth generation of Pokémon, but still fun to run when you need an extra sweeper on your team. The point of this set is to set up Agility on the predicted incoming super effective attack, which will then activate your Weakness Policy. That means that in one turn, you will have double attack, double special attack, and double speed. You should then be able to sweep the entire enemy team from that point on. You may substitute Dragon Claw for Outrage if you want more power, and Extreme Speed for Earthquake if you have problems dealing with priority. Defog/Rapid Spin teammates are always a welcome sight for this Dragonite, especially since it cannot take a super effective hit once it loses its Multiscale. Very few people run this set anymore, so using it will get you some unexpected wins if you play it right!
Playing Against a Dragonite
Now that you know how to play Dragonite, it is time for you to learn how to deal with an enemy using Dragonite. Nowadays, nine out of ten Dragonites that you will face will be some variation of the standard DD Sweeper set, as that is usually the most effective set at the current time. Of course, there will always be an odd set here and there, but for the most part that is the set you should expect. The first way to help counter Dragonite is with Stealth Rocks. In case I was not clear enough earlier, Stealth Rocks deals 25% of Dragonite’s maximum health whenever it switches in. That means that it loses the effect of its multiscale ability right off the bat, and it puts it that much closer to being KOed. Just be careful, because if it has Roost, it can potentially regain its ability effect, so keep that in mind. In terms of Pokémon counters, physically defensive, Unaware Clefable is the number one choice to stop Dragonite. As stated earlier, its ability means that it can ignore DD boosts, and Dragonite has no real way of landing a serious hit on Clefable, bar Iron Tail, which it rarely runs, and Clefable can easily recover any damage it takes with softboiled. Following Clefable, Skarmory and Ferrothorn are the next best counters to dragonite, as they easily take almost all of Dragonite’s moves, bar Fire Punch or Fire Blast, and deal contact damage to it if they are holding Rocky Helmet (and running iron barbs for Ferro). Do keep in mind that Fire Punch is not uncommonly seen on a Dragonite, so be careful about switching in these two on a Dragonite unless you know for sure it does not carry the move. Another great counter to Dragonite is Physically Defensive Garchomp. As stated above for Ferrothorn and Skarmory, it has Rough Skin and likes to have Rocky Helmet for an item, so getting hit by Dragonite means it will be dealing extra damage to it that the Dragonite does not want to take. Be wary though, a Dragonite’s main STAB attacks are Dragon Claw and Outrage, both of which are super effective against Garchomp. There are other ways to deal with Dragonite, but these are the most effective ways of doing so. Don’t just take my word for it, though, go try it out for yourself and see what happens!
Now that you know the all the good stuff about our good friend Dragonite, it’s time to get out there and give him a shot! Use my sets, use your own sets, it doesn’t matter! Just take my advice to heart and do your best. Good luck on your laddering!
Battle Arcade: OU Stinks
There are a few rules however:
- You have to follow the Battle Arcade Rules explicitly. Any violation will not merit a feature
- You have to play on the ladder in the selected tier. You do not have to be on your main account, I just request that the person you are playing against is a total stranger.
- Avoid toxicity in chat. Any excessive toxicity will not merit a feature.
Team Spotlight: Issue 1
- How well does your team work together? Does it have Pokémon that compliment each other? Or is it just a bunch of random Pokémon slapped together at the last minute?
- How creative are your movesets? Is your team a boring, standard OU team? Or does it have unconventional Pokémon with unconventional moves that still somehow gets you to 1500 ELO? Not all your sets have to be super weird, and you don’t have to break the meta with your team, but make it different.
- Nicknames are not a necessity, but they do sometimes give a Pokémon a different image, so get creative with those too! (No profanity or you will not be featured!) Themed Pokémon (and teams) are awesome!
- Your team’s name
- Your Name (so we can recognize you if you win)
- The Tier that your team belongs in (if you have banned Pokémon in that tier, you cannot be featured)
- Your Team (Please only submit in the Showdown Import Format, other entries will not be accepted)
- A brief description of how your team works
- (Optional) Tell us about your thought process as you made the team. What was going through your head as you chose your Pokémon. It can be as simple as “I really wanted to use Donphan,” or it can even be “I was eating an ice cream sandwich, and I suddenly had the urge to make a team based around Vanilluxe.” The choice is yours, but just don’t say “I did it for Team Spotlight,” because that is just lame.