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XY/ORAS Singles Competitive Battling Guide: Movesets, Moves and Held Items

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Expert FPS Player
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Since the moveset tips were so numerous and lengthy I decided to make a separate topic for them instead of lumping them into the team-building topic so that it's easier to read and digest.

1 ) Always try to carry one move with Same-Type Attack Bonus (STAB) on any Pokemon who is intended to deal damage to the enemy. STAB is obtained by using an attack that shares the same typing as the Pokemon using it, such as the Water-type Vaporeon using the Water-type move Surf. In the case of Pokemon with dual-STAB, such as Infernape, it can be beneficial to have two STAB attacks, one for each of Infernape's respective types (Fire and Fighting) but this isn't always the case; A lot of players using Starmie for example tend not to use a Psychic-type attack on it, as the move doesn't really offer as much to Starmie as its Water-STAB and coverage moves such as Ice Beam and Thunderbolt do.

2 ) Avoid having two attacks of the same type on one Pokemon. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as Lucario running both Aura Sphere and Vacuum Wave on a set so it gets STAB priority as well as a harder-hitting STAB attack, or Kingdra running Waterfall and Hydro Pump for mixed sweeping, on top of simply having nothing else better than its STAB attacks. If you're unsure whether you have a genuine reason for using two attacks of the same type on a Pokemon, then don't do it.

3 ) Avoid using two-turn attacks like Hyper Beam and Sky Attack – Hyper Beam's recharge turn will allow the opponent a free attack or switch, one that could quite easily cost you the entire match. Sky Attack requires a turn to charge up – a turn that leaves you wide open to attack and also grants the opponent a free switch-in on whatever attack you planned to use and they will know exactly what attack you're preparing as well. Even moves like Fly, Dig and Dive tend to be very ineffective despite making the user near-invulnerable during the charge-up turn, due to them giving the opponent a free turn to switch or use a non-offensive move to set up. The only exception for this is when using the item Power Herb to remove the charge up turn, but even this is very situational and best avoided unless you know what you're doing.

4 ) Avoid using HM moves in battle as well – with the exceptions of Surf, Waterfall and now Defog, almost all of the HM moves are worthless in competitive battle as they are either rendered obsolete by superior moves or are just extremely ineffective in general.

5 ) Use diverse attacks on your Pokemon. Preferably, you'll want to use attack combinations that cover as many types as possible, while also covering your own type weaknesses if able. For example, many Water-types like to carry an Ice-type attack to deal with enemy Grass-types in battle. Fighting-types will often carry a Ghost/Dark move to hit Ghost types, and/or an Ice/Rock-type move to hit Flying-types unless they run dual-STAB like Infernape for example. For offense-oriented Pokemon, think about what Pokemon types they may struggle to defeat, and add moves tailored to beating Pokemon of those types where you're able.

6 ) Make sure each Pokemon's moveset, ability and stats are all tailored to suit each other. Starmie, for example, has high Sp.Attack and Speed but low Attack – as such, physical moves such as Waterfall and Avalanche would be pointless on Starmie when compared to special moves such as Surf and Ice Beam. Starmie also gets three potential abilities: Illuminate, Natural Cure and the Hidden Ability Analytic. While Natural Cure is a very useful ability in battle, Illuminate is completely useless in battle against another player, and Analytic only tends to be useful on slow Pokemon – one look at Starmie's stats and you'll notice its Speed should be its highest stat, rendering Analytic worthless on Starmie almost all the time.

7 ) This will seem obvious to experienced players, but if you are new to competitive battling then I cannot stress this enough: Just because a Pokemon/moveset works well in the anime or in RPs, it does not mean it will work in competitive battle! No Pikachu will ever be as successful as Ash's is in the anime, Gyarados using Hyper Beam may be able to destroy towns in the anime but it absolutely sucks in competitive battle, and that deadly Infernape you use in your RPs with Flare Blitz, Flamethrower, Close Combat and Mach Punch would get annihilated against any experienced player in a competitive match. When it comes to competitive battling, disregard absolutely everything from RPs or the anime, because anything from either of them is likely to fail in competitive battle 90% of the time.

8 ) Try not to tie yourself down to movesets you see on the internet. While some of them may be very standard, and the best you're likely to find, they all suffer from two universal weakness, first one being, they're not taking into account what the other team members are carrying. For example, Dragon Dance Salamence may be all the rage and be considered the best Salamence moveset at a given time, but if your team already has, say, a Swords Dance Lucario present to sweep opponents, Salamence may be better off running a mixed wallbreaker set carrying Draco Meteor, Earthquake and Fire Blast to knock down the Pokemon that could stop Lucario's sweep. Secondly, you're not the only person who has read these movesets, which can make them predictable when facing an opponent who has seen these movesets as well and adapted their team and strategy accordingly. Try adding your own modifications to the movesets you see online where you can, since it can help mould these movesets into your team composition better and also help make your movesets harder for opponents to predict.

9 ) Be wary of using moves and especially damaging attacks with less-than-perfect accuracy. While a lot of them, such as Thunder, may do more damage than some 100% accuracy moves like Thunderbolt, you never know when that 70% accuracy is going to bite you in the ass and cost you a match, and a lot of the time the extra power doesn't come close to making up for the times the attack misses. While there are exceptions to the rule where the more powerful move but less accurate move is the better pick, such as Fire Blast vs Flamethrower (85% accuracy for Fire Blast isn't too bad,) Draco Meteor vs Dragon Pulse (neither is the 90% on Draco Meteor) and Stone Edge vs Rock Slide (Rock Slide only has 90% accuracy itself anyway vs Stone Edge's 80%) in most situations, most of the time you're better off going for higher accuracy over higher power, especially if the higher accuracy move boasts 100% accuracy.

10 )
On the opposite end of the spectrum, going for a lower power move just because of its effect isn't always a good idea either. Picking Bite over Crunch for the flinch chance for example is a bad idea unless you have Serene Grace since the 70% of the time Bite doesn't flinch it's just a worse Crunch. This also works in reverse when choosing between a high-power move with a negative effect such as recoil or stat-dropping over a less-powerful move with no downside, such as Fire Punch vs Flare Blitz or Dragon Pulse vs Draco Meteor. In almost every one of these situations, the move with the greater damage is the better pick since most Pokemon that use Flare Blitz are frail anyway so conserving your HP is pointless since you'll be KO'd by a stiff breeze full HP or not, and Draco Meteor's stat drop is worth it if it manages to clinch you an easy KO in a situation where the opponent would have survived Dragon Pulse and KO'd you instead. On any sweeper or Pokemon focused on offense, you should be focusing on using the most powerful moves possible unless the more powerful move has very unreliable accuracy as stated earlier, or if you're using the weaker move primarily for its special effect, such as the speed-boosting effect of Flame Charge or the Sp.Attack-boosting effect of Charge Beam.

11 ) Don't be afraid to use moves that don't directly damage the opponent. While a lot of these moves have somewhat limited use when beating the main games due to the fact that they're just not really necessary to beat the CPU opponents, a lot of them are extremely strong when used against other players. Moves like Roar and Whirlwind for example may be near-worthless for beating the main game, but against other players where stat-boosting moves are common and entry hazards are around they're a lot more useful. On the subject of both of those, moves that boost your offensive stats such as Nasty Plot and Dragon Dance are very strong, and entry hazards at least in 6vs6 singles battles are all but mandatory.


Held items are mandatory but some held items are better than others, to the point that some of them are just somewhat obsolete compared to the more commonly-used ones and it's important to know which ones you're better off avoiding. Items that boost only moves of certain types such as Mystic Water and the Arceus plates are generally outstripped by items like Life Orb, Expert Belt and even the Type Gems which can be used to clinch a surprise KO with their sudden 50% power boost. Situational items such as Metronome and Absorb Bulb along with its counterparts tend to be better off avoided as Choice items tend to outstrip the former and any offense-boosting item would outstrip the latter in most cases. Other held items are limited by certain strategies, such as Focus Sash being near-worthless on anything that isn't leading out in any setting where entry hazards are common, or by relying purely on luck such as Focus Band and Quick Claw, which may win you the occasional game but will likely cause you to lose a lot more. Note that in the cases of items like Life Orb and the Choice items, the upsides of using them more than make up for their respective downsides, and sometimes your movesets and the Pokemon you use them on can be tailored to negate those downsides. For example, a frail Pokemon that can't take hits anyway like Alakazam won't care much about the recoil effect of Life Orb since any attack would KO him anyway full HP or not, and a Pokemon that has to switch a lot due to spamming a move like Draco Meteor that drops its stats and makes it weaker the longer it stays in would be quite suited for using Choice Specs/Scarf since those items usually require the user to switch in and out a fair bit to reset the move lock anyway. Also consider your Pokemon's ability; Pokemon such as Reuniclus with Magic Guard can use the item Toxic Orb to poison themselves, since Magic Guard prevents all the damage the poison would do to them and a Pokemon can't be inflicted with more than one major status effect, so Reuniclus is now effectively immune to status effects for the rest of the match. Ferrothorn's ability Iron Barbs causes damage to anything hitting it with moves that make contact with it; the item Rocky Helmet has the same effect and the two stack with each other, so Ferrothorn can inflict surprisingly high damage to opponents just from switching into a contact move such as Close Combat or Brave Bird.
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