In terms of tactics Pokémon battles are like far less impressive and gruelling versions of real life combat sports. They require power, defence, being well rounded in all aspects of the game and most importantly, fight psychology.
You need a strategy. Whether your strategy is to use entry hazards to wear down opponents and make them more difficult to battle, to lure and take out your opponents main threats and leave them with the easy to take Pokémon or even just to annoy the shit out of them until they rage quit (hey, if they forfeit, it’s legit).
However you need to be able to play mind games with your opponent and this is the part that is actually very difficult to flat out teach, as what comes more instinctively to some players won’t for others.
First, you need to be able to recognise the fact that your opponent knows that some of your Pokémon are going to be a threat to his, and he will switch out to gain an advantage. This is why it’s important to not only have great type coverage, but also to be unpredictable in your attack.
For example say your opponent has a Forretress currently on the field and its facing your Ninetales (with drought). No good player is going to keep Forretress before its done it’s job, especially when it has weaker special defence and is 4x weak to fire attacks. So you can predict that they will probably switch out to their Golem in their party who will be able to take the fire attack without any problem and then KO with earthquake or force you to switch out.
You take the change, they switch and then BAM. You’ve KO’d your opponents Golem with Solarbeam which they didn’t even know was coming. It’s true that you could have hit Forretress and done practically no damage to it, but because you predicted correctly you managed to KO one of your opponents Pokémon for free, without taking any additional damage.
That is the kind of battle psychology that is good to have; the ability to predict your opponent and be unpredictable. Not everyone is going to be a big risk taker but once you’ve had enough battles you will tend to find that most people share quite a few habits. It is important to always think before you make your next move: I’ve lost a fair few battles just because I made a bad call, or I didn’t switch into the Pokémon that would make the most effective counter.
You should always look to take away your opponents options, it’s completely fine to leave a Pokémon on the field if it looks vulnerable if either it has the ability to damage the opponent more than what they’d expect, or you have another Pokémon waiting.
I personally recommend the use of annoyers to frustrate and put pressure on your opponent to cause them to make mistakes which you can capitalise on. Constant attacking with status moves or forcing your opponents into entry hazards will make a battle far easier for you.
That and the presence of a powerful Pokémon will often cause intimidation, especially if your opponent is already losing a battle,. I’ve been in quite a few battles in which opponents probably would have been able to beat me, but the mere presence of a Pokémon like Latios causes them to over switch to avoid taking too much damage and weaken their whole team as a result. No player wants to admit it, but I don’t think there is a single hardcore player that hasn’t thought “oh shit” when a powerhouse like Garchomp has been let onto the field, especially if they’re not prepared.
Make sure you set up your sweeps with your other Pokémon, if you have a clear shot to sweep then take it, but make sure you don’t lose your most valuable Pokémon early in the game.
A lot of experienced battlers reading this will probably not find this to be anything 2new, but if you’re a new battler then it’s really crucial to think about these things, as competitive Pokémon battling is no longer about raw power. It’s has become a tacticians game.
Remember your Pokémon’s roles and constantly plan ahead on how to make the most use of them, if you stick to your game plan you’ll most likely find you will win battles more. But just remember, you can’t win them all and sometimes you will just get out fought and out battled by an opponent.
I’ve done a lot of talking about battle roles and strategies, but let’s see what sort of team I can put together. I have two teams in the waiting ready to show you and I will break down what makes them effective. See you next time.