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This article should teach you from the ground up the complete basics of competitive pokémon. The first thing you will need to know is the basics of battle mechanics. The game revolves around "Battles" in which two people who have up to six pokémon each try to knock out the opponent's pokémon before the same is done to themselves. Pokémon do this using "moves" which can have several effects but most prominently they damage the opponent directly. However, they can also afflict the opponent with several "status effects" but we'll get into that later. Also, it is important to remember that each Pokémon can only have up to four moves.

Commands[edit]

First, we will talk about the two basic commands in battle. If you have battled many times before, you can skip this section. Note that items are not available in multiplayer battles either before Pokémon Black & Pokémon White, or without the wonder launcher.

Fight: This allows you to attack the enemy. Choose one move from a movepool of up to four moves, and you will attack your opponent with that move. Depending on the move you have chosen, it could hit or miss, not attack right away, or not have any obvious or immediate effect. Certain moves may act on your Pokémon rather than your opponent.

Pokémon: If you want to change Pokémon, simply go to Pokémon and choose a Pokémon from your party of up to six Pokémon. Note that when you switch, your opponent's selected move will strike after your Pokémon has switched (this is turn-based, after all), so make sure that you don't make a bad switch. There are some moves that take advantage of when a Pokémon is switched.

Understanding stats[edit]

Pokémon have six "Stats", they are "HP", "Attack", "Defense", "Special Attack", "Special Defense" and "Speed".

HP stands for Hit Points and is essentially a Pokémon's health. If this value falls to zero, the Pokémon faints.

Attack, or Physical Attack, is the value that decides how much damage a Pokémon will do to its foe coupled with the foe's Defense when using a physical attack.

Defense is a value that decides how much damage a foe will do to you with a physical attack coupled with the foe's Attack stat.

Special Attack is the value that decides how much damage a Pokémon will do to its foe coupled with the foe's Special Defense when using a special attack.

Special Defense is a value that decides how much damage a foe will do to you with a special attack coupled with the foe's Special Attack stat. (A note here: in Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow Special Attack and Special Defence are merged into a single stat, called Special)

Speed is the value that decides which Pokémon will go first using a move; even if a Pokémon has a single point advantage in speed over its foe, it is going to move first. There are exceptions to that rule but, again, we will get into that later.

Before Generation IV (Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, and LeafGreen) the types whose attacking power is determined by the Attack stat (Physical attacks) are: Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Bug, Rock, Ghost, and Steel. The types whose attack power is determined by the Special Attack stat are Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Psychic, Dragon, and Dark. From Generation IV (Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heart Gold, Soul Silver, Black, White, X, Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) all Pokémon moves are categorized either Physical or Special separately from the attacking moves type.

The amount of damage done by physical moves is determined by: a) the power of the attack; b) your Attack stat; and c) your opponent's Defense stat. How much damage you take from a Physical move is determined by your Defense stat and your opponent's Attack stat. If you have a low Attack stat, then you will have trouble dealing a lot of damage with Physical moves; if you have a low Defense stat, you will have trouble surviving Physical moves, and the same holds out for Special Attack and Special Defence. The damage dealt by a special attack is determined by: a) the power of the attack; b) your Special Attack stat; and c) your opponent's Special Defense stat. How much damage you take from a Special attack is determined by your Special Defense stat and your opponent's Special Attack stat. Take the Pokémon Alakazam as an example. Alakazam has a very low Attack and a very high Special Attack. With the information that you have learned above, it is best to teach Alakazam Special attacks, such as Psychic rather than teaching it Physical attacks, such as Dig.

"The power of the attack" was mentioned earlier, so what is it? An attack has four characteristics: a) power, b) accuracy, c) type, and d) special effects. Let's take the move Psychic as an example. Psychic's characteristics are: a) 90 base power; b) 100% accuracy; c) a Psychic typing; and d) has a 10% chance of lowering the opponents Special Defense until it switches out or faints. Base power is the strength of an attack before the Attack and Defense stats act on it. Once again, let's take Alazakam as an example. Giga Impact has a base power of 150. However, if you look at your Alakazam's stats it is more than likely to have twice as much Special Attack than Attack so even though Giga Impact has a higher base power than Psychic, it is a Physical Attack, and so it will deal less damage than Psychic if Alakazam uses it.

Base power is also affected by other conditions. First is something called Same Type Attack Bonus, or, in short, STAB. If the type of the move you use matches one of the types of the Pokémon using it, then the attack receives a 1.5x power boost. Psychic's base power is 90, but if used by Alakazam (Psychic's type is Psychic, Alakazam's type is Psychic), then Psychic's power will be: 90 x 1.5 = 135 base power. Second, there are Type Alignment Advantages. This means that if an attack is super-effective against your opponent, its power will be boosted. Third, there are moves that temporarily raise a type's power, such as Sunny Day, which boosts the power of Fire-type moves until the sunlight ends. There are also moves that edit Stat Modifiers, but that will be saved for later. Fourth, there are items that raise a type's power when held by a Pokémon, for example the BlackGlasses, which raise the Dark-type's power if held. And finally, there are Abilities that raise a type's power under special conditions. These will be discussed later.

Speed, as the name implies, determines which Pokémon attacks first. Generally, the Pokémon with the higher Speed stat will attack first. In case of a tie, this is determined at random. Some moves can upset this, such as Trick Room, which makes the slower Pokémon attack first. In Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow Speed is a major contributor to Critical Hits. A Critical Hit is simply a chance that your attack will hit a gap in your opponent's defenses, and deal double the damage that it was supposed to do. The higher the Pokémon's Speed, the greater the chance it has of dealing increased damage. Note that this only applies to the Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow.

Despite all this, you need to remember that Pokémon stats are quite random. For example, how does a Zapdos Attack compare to another Pokémon's? There is another system called Base Stats. Base Stats are values used to compare stats more easily. For example, your level 10 Charmander might have a higher Attack than a level 10 Bulbasaur, but a level 10 Charmander could, in theory, have a lower Attack than Bulbasaur. When base stats are checked, Charmander's Base Attack stat could be 52, and Bulbasaur's Base Attack stat could be 49. This means that most of the time, Charmander will have a higher Attack than Bulbasaur, but not all of the time, since Bulbasaur might use a move or item to raise its Attack stat, or have EVs, but there is another article for that. Another use is to compare stats of one particular Pokémon when choosing which moves to teach it. Alakazam's Base Attack stat is 50, and its Base Special Attack stat is 135. What this means is that, even if Alakazam uses a Physical Attack that has double the power of a Special attack, the Special attack would still deal more damage, because Alakazam's Base Special Attack stat is more than twice its Base Attack stat. Because of this, Shadow Ball (base power: 80) will deal more damage than Giga Impact (damage: 150) if used by Alakazam.

It is also very important to keep an eye on each move's Power Points (PP). Every move has PP, that determines how many times you can use that move. When a move's PP reaches zero, you cannot use that move any more. When all four of your moves' PPs reach zero, then you will be forced to use a move called Struggle, a low-damage move that will hit all Pokémon. You will even take damage from this move yourself (recoil damage).

Items cannot be used during a player(s) vs. player(s) battle outside Wonder Launcher, but one item can be held by each Pokémon. The item can either have a single use or permanent effect. After a player(s) vs. player(s) battle, any one-time usage items used will reappear. Beware that from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire onward there are moves that can steal or knock away your item.

Stat Modifiers[edit]

Stat Modifiers are pretty easy to understand which I'm sure you will be thankful for if you are a new player using this guide. Stat Modifiers are basically a value between -6 and 6 that multiply a stat according to this chart (note all percentages are of a pokémon's full stat):

  • -6 - 25%
  • -5 - 29%
  • -4 - 33%
  • -3 - 40%
  • -2 - 50%
  • -1 - 67%
  • 0 - 100%
  • 1 - 150%
  • 2 - 200%
  • 3 - 250%
  • 4 - 300%
  • 5 - 350%
  • 6 - 400%

There are 3 ways to lower or raise a stat's stat modifier.

1. Your opponent uses a move that lowers your Pokemon's stat. This basically means a foe's move reduces your Pokémon's Stat modifier up this chart. (e.g. from 0 to -2)

2. Your move raises your stat modifier down the chart (e.g. from -1 to 0)

3. An Ability raises or lowers a stat in the appropriate direction as described above.

As a side note when a pokémon with the ability Simple has his stat modified, it lowers (or raises) his value by two steps instead of one. As an example using a move that increases my Pokemon attack, raises it from 0 to 2. On generation IV Pokemon games instead, it still moves one step at a time, but it counts as two steps. This makes values less then -3 or more then +3 meaningless. As an example using a move that increases my pokemon attack, raises it from 0 to 1, but "1" modifier is 200% and not 150%. At 3 the modifier is 400% and raising it to 4 will have no effects on the stat (except for the fact that I'm still at value 4)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The above table is only for Generation I and II, please refer to http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Statistic#Stage_multipliers for more accurate information

For all battles, these rules should (and are sometimes set by your game) be applied:
  1. No Pokémon shall be over level 100.
  2. No moves or combinations of moves can be on a Pokémon that isn't legal.
  3. No items can be used that are not held by a Pokémon unless you are having a Wonder Launcher Battle.
  4. No unreleased Pokémon.
  5. No unreleased moves or items.