Welcome to Pokemon Training 104.  This class/article/walrus is about how to train yourself to work with the pokemon you have, whether you chose them or chanced on them.  This is by no means a guide to ultimate battling; such a thing could never exist, as every person plays and battles differently.  It is, however, intended to prime you to learn from your battling experience and develop your abilities so that you can respond to changes in the teams you face and the environment you battle in.

The first thing to understand, of course, is the team as a unit.  A team is a group of six pokemon that you have chosen to work together, whether because of their similarities or differences.  When forming a team, it is best to first have a clear idea of what you want the team to do.  You may want a team that throws status effects around until your opponent can’t do anything without hurting their own pokemon or even simply can’t do anything.  You may want a team that soaks damage so well that your opponent is ineffective, or you may want a team that hits so hard it can clobber an opposing team before they have a chance to breathe.

Picking your strategy will affect which pokemon you want to consider, which abilities you want them to have, which stats of theirs you want to train, and your selection of moves, as well as your overall strategy.

As a general guideline, you want to remember at all times that you cannot win without knocking out six opposing pokemon, and you need to choose with this in mind- a team composed entirely of high-defense, high-HP walls is rather fearsome, but without some way to deal significant damage, it will lose every time.  You also need to try to avoid your own pokemon getting knocked out, so a team of entirely slow fragile pokemon with massive attacks will not do you much good at all.

When choosing members for your team, you will want to pick pokemon that can do different things, so that you can deal with a variety of opponents.  They may be similar things in the sense that Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, and Ice Beam are all similar attacks, but like those three, having the variety will let you handle a number of different situations.

When you battle, keep an eye out for what causes you trouble.  Notice when one opposing pokemon sweeps your whole team, when your opponent stalls you for five or six turns at a time, and when your strategy just isn’t working.  Figure out what it is that is causing the problem, and how to get around it- and then alter your team to take that into account.

Never be afraid to change what you’re doing.

Another important element of battling is prediction.  Learn what moves you’re likely to see out of a given pokemon, especially when it’s common in battles you have, and how to counter, handle, or bypass them entirely.  If your opponents often lead with a suicidal exploding Celebi, find a way around that- a ‘mon with Protect/Detect/Substitute, something faster than Celebi that deals out a Bug-type attack, or simply something that’s so astoundingly tough that it pulls through anyways (Bastiodon, Crobat with X-Scissor, and Detect/Substitute/X-scissor Nincada come to mind).

Even if you can’t change your team, learn to anticipate what your opponent is doing.  If their Persian always Fake Outs, swap pokemon when you see it, forcing it to waste the flinch.  If they often use Rainy Day to pull out powerful Thunders, swap into Quagsire when they Rainy Day and punish them with an Earthquake or Surf.

Even these are just basic responses.  Sometimes you wind up in a quandary- is my opponent going to attack me with their Umbreon, or use Curse to power it up first?  Knowing your opponent and their tendencies, and considering how they’re going to respond to the pokemon -you- have out at the moment are all key to predicting and anticipating what they’re going to do.  This will keep you from trying to switch out under Pursuit, pulling a fragile sweeper in just in time to catch a hard attack to the face, and using Toxic just as your opponent brings in a Poison-type pokemon.

Finally, you will want to be aware of the Tiers.  The tiers are a system in place that basically determines the power level of a battle.  Because of the way the game is constructed, with pokemon that evolve at higher levels often winding up with higher stats, some pokemon simply aren’t as strong as others.  This doesn’t mean they’re always worse, teams from lower tiers can sometimes utterly destroy higher-tier teams, but it does mean that you need to be very careful with your team member selections.

The tiers are as follows:

Uber- These pokemon are unbelievably powerful.  The best legendaries are up here- in fact, this tier is almost entirely legendaries.  Wobbuffet and Garchomp are also notably in this tier, as well as one or two other especially powerful non-legendaries.

Overused (OU)- This tier is for the mainstream pokemon, ones that are both powerful enough and well-liked enough to be very common on teams.  Most trainers will have a number of pokemon from this tier in their teams, and the majority of teams are in this tier.  The ‘starter’ pokemon are in this tier, as well as the less-powerful legendaries.

Underused (UU)- This tier has pokemon that may be decently strong in a particular niche, but can’t hack it otherwise.  It also includes overall okay pokemon that aren’t specialized enough or haven’t got enough punch or pizzazz to be used terribly often.  Lastly, pokemon that are decently good at their job but just get outclassed by certain other things are in here.  For instance, Hypno is a decent wall against special attacks, but Chansey and Blissey are so much better at it than Hypno that it simply falls by the wayside, landing here in Underused.

Never Used (NU)- This is the tier where the unevolved pokemon that aren’t good enough in their own right go, as well as the quirky or bizarre pokemon that simply cannot function as intended or perhaps just don’t have any tricks at all.  Mudkip, Luvdisc, Metapod, the list goes on.

The vast majority of people battle in Overused and Underused, simply because the bulk of the pokemon are in those two categories.  Underused is much larger, but Overused ones are so common that they’re, well, overused.  Try to be at least vaguely aware of the tiers- they’re generally a good guideline to pokemon power as well as how likely you are to encounter them.  It’s not a perfect system- a properly selected Underused team can destroy Ubers teams sometimes, but most Underused pokemon are not quite as good as their Overused counterparts and shouldn’t be seen in Ubers outside of specific trick teams.  The best rule I can give is that you generally don’t want to take a pokemon up more than one tier.

This concludes Pokemon Training 104- if you’ve completed 101, 102, and 103 as well, then you’ve got the basics of what you need to battle in Pokemon.  Have a good battle and a good day!