Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Basic Guide to Speed Control

Basic Guide to Speed Control
(Sept 16, 2016)

Disclaimer: Some mechanics might changes following the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, so we'll make corrections/updates later on. To note, this will be a brief, yet comprehensive list of all available speed control options, which Pokemon performs such roles, and which ones are the most frequently used. Certain options here might be favored over another, however this is a core component when teambuilding in VGC. As a final note, I'm going to make references to Battle Spot Doubles or VGC 15, as most of these field conditions were widely used.  Lets get started.

What is Speed Control?

Have you ever noticed how important "speed" factor into just about any battle in general, VGC or not? Even in-game, the potential to deal massive damage, knock out one, or possibly several Pokemon without taking HP can prove itself to be rather advantageous. Some might think running the fastest available Pokemon with decent power might given themselves, an edge, but almost every VGC battle isn't that straight forward. In any VGC game, there's many factors going on, like the Speed Investment of each mons (Base Stats / EVs), the order these Pokemon will go to attack/support each other, and of course possibly speed modifications that can occur during the battle. Obviously, speed investment of each Pokemon will determine how game will flow, but wouldn't you want to know you'll have the opportunity to go first every turn?

Speed control is definitely one the many common strategies seen in VGC and most teams tend to run one or multiple options. Even if the players doesn't need to KO the opposing Pokemon, just the potential to move first is advantageous enough, as long as the momentum is kept. Some speed control options are "single" mon/target use such as Thunder Wave/Dragon Dance, and others like Tailwind and Trick Room effect the entire field, or least on the players side. Now given how each year of VGC has been different due to the format, rules, and the various Pokemon available to the players, there's no clear or distinct speed control strategies listed below. As a mini freshener, here's a list of speed tiers benchmarks Pokemon reach at level 50 (VGC 15), so highly suggest anyone reviews this (Note: Article might be difficult to read following NB's Website Changes early this year).

5 Most Common Speed Control Options

Paralysis (Thunder Wave)

Paralysis, often in the form of Thunder Wave support, is perhaps the one of the most common forms of speed control given how "disruptive", yet effectively used to reduce the speed targeted Pokemon. To review, paralysis is a Status Condition which cuts the Pokemon's original speed stat by a quarter (1/4th), along with the chance a 25% chance for "full paralysis", or when the inflicted Pokemon can't move for a turn. Any Pokemon affect by paralysis will likely be the last one to move last, and is permanent, unless "cured".  Let's take a Mega Salamence up with speed at 189 up against a Specs Sylveon with only 80 speed as an example. Assuming that Sylveon is "frail" (depends on investment), an Aerilate Double Edge can potentially faint a Sylveon before it can fire a super effective Pixilate Hyper Voice. Now lets say what if the Mega Salamence is paralyzed during the battle? If we divided the number 189 by 4, then Mega Salamence's "new" speed is at 47 (not 47.25 as remember all digits are rounded down). This means Sylveon with originally a slow speed stat, is now able outspeed, and effectively threat the Dragon-type with its own STAB Fariy move.

Though Thunder Wave is the most common paralysis-inducing move, there are other options such as Stun Spore, Nuzzle, Glare, and other "chance effects" (Discharge, Body Slam, Effect Spore, Static, etc) with their own strengths/weaknesses. Glare and Nuzzle might seem as "stronger" paralysis options, being able to either paralyze Ground-types, or inflict damage while causing the status condition. Problem is some of these moves are low in distribution while Thunder Wave has large-based in potential users. Paralysis is often associated as a "single" target speed control, as the user has to target down one opposing Pokemon, provided they aren't Ground/Electric/Grass (Stun Spore)-type, have abilities to protect them such as Lightening Rod/Limber, or hold a Lum/Cheri Berry.

Despite some notable flaws, paralysis can extremely game changing, especially if the opponent's Pokemon isn't likely to move first, and have the chance to be inflicted with the 25% chance of full immobilize. Now take into consideration other "chance" effect moves like Swagger and Rock Slide, often as "outs" in case the players is forced to use these moves. Typically common Thunder Wave users include are Electric-types such as Prankster Thundurus, Rotom-W, and Zapdos due their impressive well-rounded stats, great defensive typing, and most importantly, staying power to continuously spread this condition. Thunder Wave paralysis isn't just limited to these Electric-type Pokemon, as others like Cresselia, Klefki, Clefable, Togekiss, Gothitelle, Porygon2 and others have great bulk / defensive value spread this condition against faster Pokemon.

Paralysis is one of the most devastating speed control methods to use, however there are some notable issues. To start off, the paralysis user is only able to get off the Status Condition on one Pokemon as opposed to two, or more. Players facing paralysis might use Ground, Electric, Grass (assuming Stun Spore)-types Pokemon on their teams to avoid facing this ailment. Moves like Safeguard, Taunt, and Crafty Shield can prevent Thunder Wave/Stun Spore/Glare, however not permanent. At worse, those who face against paralysis will use a slow "fodder", to prevent their own faster Pokemons from being inflicted. Perhaps the biggest con against using Paralysis is more so teambuilding as the players can't inflict other status options (Sleep/Burn/Toxic Poison) unto the opposing Pokemon, and opting for other speed control methods.

Trick Room

Trick Room is a widely used Speed Control, or is a field condition used to reverses the speed order of Pokemon for 5 turns (Note: Counting the turn the Trick Room user uses this move). As stated above, Trick Room changes the speed orders of all Pokemon on the field, meaning now the "slowest" Pokemon will get the option to move first, while the "fastest" ones will likely move last. The only exceptions to this are Priority-based moves (though slower mon's priority will go first), and moves like Round / After You, which are kinda niche. The main appeal of using Trick Room teams are based on having bulky Pokemon with rather "slow" speed stats now be able to outspeed the opposition for the next 4 turns. For example, take a Cresselia and Conkeldurr against a Mega Kangaskhan and Terrakion. If Cresselia ever setups a Trick Room (assuming no Fake Out/Rock Slide flinch), now it and Conkeldurr are now able to threaten both Kangaskhan and Terrakion. Trick Room can be rather momentum changing as teams that normally rely on their "positive" speed controls like Thunder Wave, Tailwind, Weather-based, or possibly just use faster Pokemon are now suddenly at a disadvantage.

In terms of who can setup Trick Room, usually Psychic / Ghost-types are able to do so like Cresselia, Gothitelle, Chandelure, Bronzong, Slowking, Gengar, Aromatisse, Porygon2, and others. Note some of these Pokemon are kinda weak to a combination of Ghost- or Dark-type attacks, so be prepared to face things like Tyranitar, Bisharp, Gengar, Hydreigon, etc. Despite these type matchup weaknesses, most Trick Room users have such direct counter, or Pokemon who can be able to OHKO/threaten opposing Dark/Ghost types. Such powerful Trick Room attacker include, but aren't limited to the following: Mega Mawile, Conkeldurr, Azumarill, Aegislash, Tyranitar, Rhyperior, Mega Camerupt, etc.

Want to emphasize this point, not all Trick Room-based team fully commit to this strategy. To elaborate, some teams are noted into the following categories Semi-based Trick Room and hard Trick Room. Lets start with the obvious "extreme" example with "hard" Trick Room, which utilizes extremely slow, yet powerful attackers who rely solely on the field condition to work effectively. Most times, these team have at least two or more Trick Room options and surrounded by multiple slow TR based Pokemon to abuse. the main issues with "hard" Trick Room is, as stated, they rely heavily on the field condition, often without any other speed control. This means if their main Trick Room users are stopped in some fashion, the opposing team can potentially out maneuver and overwhelm the heavy trick room team with low speed.

Semi-based Trick Room teams are "flexible" as they incooperate Pokemon with "middling" speed investment, and potentially other speed control methods. The idea of such team is to have the main offensive Pokemon's "natural" speed be enough to outpace typically mid tier Pokemon, while utilize Trick Room, or other Speed Control methods to hopefully outspeed the opposing team. While there's nothing "wrong" having multiple forms of speed control, the player has to understand exactly what type of investment they need to outspeed or "underspeed" mons for Trick Room and non-Trick Room purposes.

Aside the one mentioned above, there are further drawbacks to using Trick Room. As such, Taunt can shut down most Trick Room users, but they are usually paired with Fake Out, Redirection, or even a Mental Herb to ignore the effect once. Note that Trick Room's "priority", can be used against it as this is the lowest in the game at -7. This means a Pokemon like Amoonguss/Breloom can put a Trick Room user to sleep before it attempts to setup. Roar/Whirlwind is a rather niche, yet surprisingly effective way to deal with Trick Room user, though it uses up a vital move slot. Finally if all else fails, double targeting down the Trick Room user for a KO can be a last result to prevent Trick Room.


Tailwind is another speed control field condition similar to Trick Room, except it doubles the speed of all Pokemon on your side for the next 3 turns after initially used. Do note Tailwind isn't a direct speed modifier itself like Icy Wind/Dragon Dance, as its only doubles the actual speed stat where the Pokemon is at. That said, Tailwind is an effective form of speed control as there's little drawbacks and have a decent amount of setters. Typically most Tailwind users are either bulky (Zapdos/Suicune/Hydreigon/Togekiss etc), are incredibly fast (Aerodactyl/Lati@s), or abuse their "priority ablities" (think Prankster Whimsicott / Gale Wings Talonflame) to be able to setup this field conditions. Tailwind is found of rather bulky, yet hyper offensive team who are able to abuse their natural investment and outspeed common faster threats.

Though Tailwind is rather commonly used, its rather easy to counter with other forms of speed control options like Thunder Wave and Trick Room.  Being able to shut down the Tailwind user with Taunt, or simply OHKOing it can effectively render the opponent's strategy useless. Matching the opposing Tailwind, or using it on the turn the opposing "Tailwind" from the opponent peters out can prove momentum changing. On a final note, Tailwind only has 3 turns of use to use, as oppose to 4 like Trick Room so stalling it out with precise Protect plays is a decent option. 

Icy Wind /Electroweb

Icy Wind (also Electroweb) is a negative speed control method opted to drop the opposing team's speed stats by one stage (here's a reference to speed modifiers). To be more specific, Icy Wind is a base 55 Ice-type spread move that target both Pokemon, however note this is a base 95% accurate move, so it can miss. Usually Icy Wind can be useful against Ice-type weak mons to easily target down, deal chip damage to the opponent, and again slow down the opposing two Pokemon on the field to where the allied team can outspeed. Some of the most common Icy Wind users are relatively bulky or support Pokemon like Cresselia, Suicune, Milotic, Politoed, and even Gengar. Electroweb has a similar, if not the same effect as Icy Wind, yet it is less distributed, and Ground-types are immune to this attacks.

There are some issues or matchup when using Icy Wind (or Electroweb) as a primary speed control option. To start off, the user needs to understand where are the typical speed tiers for most Pokemon. This might sound obvious, except some fast Pokemon like Greninja or Mega Salamence, even if hit by Icy Wind/Electroweb can still outspeed slower Pokemon below at most those with 126 speed of below. If the opposing team has a Defiant/Competitive user like Bisharp/Milotic, they will bring these two to deter Icy Wind spam. If any Defiant/Competitive user hits with by Icy Wind, the respective attack will rise to +2, instantly turning them into threats. Finally Icy Wind speed drops isn't "permanent" as the anyone can switch out their Pokemon, and back in to reset their stats.

Weather-Boosting "Abilities"

The last group of Speed Control options are Weather-bases abilities, usually based around one "fast-mode" Pokemon. As of Gen Sixth, only rain, sun, and sand have weather-based abilities, such as Swift Swim, Chlorophyll, and Sand Rush respectively. Essentially Pokemon with the respective weather abilities and under that specific weather will have their speed stats doubled, allowing them to outspeed most of the Pokemon on the field. N Unlike most speed control options, weather-based ones can automatically have their speed stats increased provided the user leads off with their respective weather users (Tyranitar, Politoed, Mega Charizard Y, and Ninetales). These Pokemon might have the full 5, or 8 turn (if using a weather-based rock) to abuse their speed and deal massive damage. Swift Swim users have the exclusive bonus of having all their Water-type attacks hit stronger under the rain, as opposed to either Chlorophyll, or Sand Rush. Here's a list of all the potential Swift Swim, Chlorophyll, and Sand Rush users.

Swift Swim: Kingdra, Kabutops, Ludicolo, Mega Swampert
Chlorophyll: Venusaur, Jumpluff, Shiftry, Lilligant
Sand Rush: Excadrill, Stoutland, Sandslash

Like all speed-control methods, weather-based abilities have their flaws. Changing the specific weather for another can shut down most weather-based sweepers, but note the exact timing of these maneuvers. If a Politoed switches in against an Excadrill with sand still up previously "mid-turn", the speed order will still be factored in and Excadrill will outspeed for one turn. Likewise, other respective speed control option mentioned above, or below (See Other Options) can slow down, or outspeed these weather-based Pokemon. On a final note, the Pokemon mentioned here do have respective counters, so click the links to see the Smogon Dex entries of the most frequently used weather-based sweepers. Some of these Pokemon are rather frail, so a strong STAB move or Super Effective attacks can OHKO them with ease.

Other Forms of Speed Control
Not going to explain them all, but I'm going to list down some of them in order of potential viability. Not going to list "all" priority-based moves, niche abilities, other strategies which only reduce the speed of one Pokemon. 
  1. Speed Setup - As it implies, setup based attacks which raises the speed stat by one stage (1.5x), often with another stat, likely attack / special attack. Common Users: Dragon Dance (Mega Salamence, Gyarados, Dragonite, Charizard X, etc) ; Quiver Dance: Volcarona. 
  2. Prankster - Gives the user +1 Priority to all Status-based moves. Common Users: Thundurus, Klefki, Meowstic, Sableye, Liepard, Whimsicott, Tornadus, etc. 
  3. Gale Wings - Gives the user +1 priority to all Flying-based moves. Common Users: Talonflame
  4. Speed Boost - Boost the speed stat of a Pokemon by one stage. Common Users: Blaziken
  5. Grass - Water Pledge's Effect: Halves...or quarters (ok might have to research this) the speed of the opposing team for 4 turns upon using the combination of all "grounded" Pokemon on the field: Common Users: Water-Type / Grass-type starters, notably Mega Venusaur / Greninja.
  6. Quash - The user forces the "targeted" Pokemon to move last. Common Users: Sableye
  7. Round -  If multiple "Round" users attack, the second Pokemon with Round will immediate attack right after the fastest, or first user, dealing 120 base damage. The best "abusers" are Pokemon with Abilities Changing-types, like Aerilate, Pixilate, and Refrigerate. Common Users: Mega Salamence + Sylveon / Mega Gardevoir or Mega Salamence + Fast mon.
  8. After You - Makes the target move immediately after, often used in "extreme" forms of speed control like Trick Room, and Weather-based abilities: Common Users: Clefairy, Togetic, Liligant, etc. 
  9. Priority Moves - Here's a list of all Priority-moves in the game, but there's likely more to revealed in Sun/Moon.

Other Useful Links / References

So there we have it, a comprehensive list of speed control options in VGC. Expect these articles to come like every week or so given my tight schedule. Going to ask anyone if there's anything you would like me to cover during the time we get before Sun and Moon's launch. See you all next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment