Rain has always been the most powerful weather team in the world of competitive Pokemon. When compared to the utility value of Sunny Day, Hail, and Sandstorm it’s easy to understand why.
Compared to the other weather team variants, rain teams lean heavier into the cost vs. reward strategy. Rain offers accuracy buffs to more moves than other forms of weather. Rain can be played offensively or defensively. We have the tools to build lighting-quick glass-cannons and the tools to build an army of tanks that move at the speed of molasses. Water is the essence of adaptability.
…And unrivaled by other weather conditions.
Dry Skin is “riskier” than traditional healing. It also offers double the passive healing strength of other weather-related restoration abilities. For every turn that ends in cumulonimbus clouds, a Pokemon with Dry Skin regains 12.5% of their hit points. Now, let’s tack on passive recovery from leftovers. Our Pokemon now restores 18.75% of its health with each passing turn. That’s almost enough to throw down a free Substitute on it’s own.
Let me tell you: Toxicroak LOVES hiding behind subs and spamming toxic on irritated foes.
It doesn’t end there. Pokemon with the Dry Skin ability also sponge Water-type attacks to regain 25% of their health. It’s the Water Absorb ability slapped on to our dual-wielding Rain Dishes. You know who water-slinging super-soakers tend to avoid? Helioptile… and you better believe he gets access to the Dry Skin ability.
The “cost” is taking an extra 50% damage from Fire-type attacks. We also take 12.5% residual damage under the effects of Sunny Day. The trick is to exercise patience. Switch Pokemon often. Pretend you’re the Karate Kid. Wax on, wax off.
Generally speaking, conditional abilities need powerful effects to prove worthwhile. Luckily for the Pokemon blessed with Dry Skin, having two abilities wrapped tidily in one package fits the bill.
Think of it this way: Your weaknesses are easily negated by playing smart. A Fire-type move is predictable. Likewise, try to anticipate an incoming water-type attack. The sheer momentum gained is nothing short of sublime. You get a free turn, a free switch-in, and some extra hit points as icing on the cake!
[P.S. I’ll admit, in your first couple of battles you’re going to learn a lot of awkward coverage moves on creatures you’ll never expect. Apparently, Remoraid can learn Flamethrower. It gets pretty wacky. Hang in there! With each loss comes a wealth of competitive knowledge!]
Let’s knock out the easy stuff quick. Water-typing is a direct counter to Fire and Rock/Ground types who benefit from Sunny Day and Sandstorm. The ability to overwrite these weather effects is already enough to solidify the advantage for our rain-guzzling party of six – seated at table two.
What about Hail?
Unfortunately for Hail teams, water has more generations of support to call upon. More creatures in-game have abilities to take advantage of Rain Dance. More moves gain accuracy buffs than in alpine climates.
If that wasn’t enough to tip the scale in favor of rain, our snow-loving rivals are often outclassed by the Water-types in general. Ice has an insatiable offensive output. Water-type Pokemon have had access to the strongest Ice moves for decades. It may be true that Blastoise is giving up a 50% STAB (same type attack bonus) when using an Ice Beam, but Ice is traditionally the worst defensive type in the game. Ice-type is tied for last place in resistances, only resisting itself. Factor in four weaknesses and we’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Fire-types have a phenomenal defensive poise on paper. They resist six attack varieties. The issue here is that they’re weak against three of the most heavily distributed attack-types in the game. Even Coalossal learns Scald, despite the fact that the jury ruled he shouldn’t stand within a 200-foot radius of a puddle. Shiftry learns Rock Slide because… science.
Sunny Day also boasts a ton of grass-type sweepers to level the playing field. Using a Grass-type as your main attacking force in broad daylight is risky. Again, water sweepers have access to grass type moves, and don’t suffer the questionable defensive typing that grass and fire bring to the table.
You probably get the picture. Rock-types are also more aggressive on paper. Rain teams boast Drednaw and Kabutops. By making a sacrifice to Grass and Electric-type attacks, we’re able to neutralize weaknesses to water and steel. We also pick up a handy resistance to Ice.
At the end of the day, a weakness to grass is easy to overcome, and Electric-type moves just aren’t as widely distributed as they ought to be.
We’ll start with a general type breakdown:
Total: 28 (22 in-game)
Total: 37 (26 in-game)
Total: 25 (24 in-game)
Total: 43 (33 in-game)
Snow Cloak and Sand Veil are unique abilities for Hail and Sandstorm, respectively. Rain Dance teams fail to fulfill the same evasion niche. Unfortunately, with the birth of Dynamax, every team has been gifted with three turns of perfect accuracy – even pushing through barriers like Protect, King’s Shield, and Detect.
Froslass lost her capacity to be a slippery spike setter. Garchomp lost momentum as a defensive breaker for setup sweepers.
The accuracy increase to Thunder and Hurricane are considerable buffs to the two fastest moving types in the game. After averaging out base speed scores for each type. Flying ranks first with an average of 85.3 speed. Electric takes home the silver medal with 82.
Of the top 25 fastest Pokemon: 4 are flying and 4 are electric, accounting for 32% of the list despite Pokemon featuring 18 unique types. Talk about over-representation!
Of course, the real reason to run a weather team is to take advantage of the abilities that abuse the 200% speed buff. Let’s compare the fastest sweeper from each category.
NOTE: These placements are calculated BEFORE weather-related boosts.
Slush Rush gets the toughest break. Arctozolt and Arctovish are plagued with 55 base speed, and Bearctic sporting base 50. To put it into perspective, Barraskewda can still outspeed Alolan-Sandslash under the effects of hail.
Of course, as any Battle Stadium veteran could probably point out: Whimsicott is typically run as a support creature with the prankster ability. Overall, three of these four Pokemon are already pretty fast without doubling their speed, and we can realistically see good results in a lower speed tier. I hear you loud and clear! Let’s get into our Runner-up section:
Unfortunately for Leafeon, he’s a one trick pony. Scratch that, perhaps a one trick mystical fox nymph? Under sunlight he’s got a pretty ferocious Solar Blade at his disposal. Having said that, coverage and Eevee evolutions are historically a combination that mix like dogs and chocolate.
Still, this is the speed tier where our grassy warriors start to see some good representation. Lilligant sports a base 90 speed. Shiftry and Venusaur clock in at a respectable base 80 speed.
Excadrill, on the other hand, hits like a commercial 18-wheel truck hauling brick and mortar. Boasting 302 max speed that doubles under sand is still plenty enough to outspeed many choice scarf users in his weather of choice. Although more players seem to favor maxing out that incredible 405 max attack stat, since Excadrill is still outspeeding most of the Pokemon metagame in a sandstorm. Five hundred and fifty points in speed in sand is nothing to scoff at.
In the end, water powers through with over-population on their side. Flooding through the gates of “just fast enough to outspeed the unboosted” tier are Kingdra, Qwilfish, Golduck, Kabutops (base 80), Drednaw/Seismitoad (base 74), and Ludicolo/Poliwrath (base 70).
While Excadrill may outclass our runner-up sweepers in power and speed, having options is a strength of its own. You can choose from secondary STAB’s such as: dragon, poison, rock, and grass. Rain Dance teams carry the fortitude of variety. Rain Dance line-ups are best suited to cover team weaknesses.
Sand Rush isn’t terrible. Dracovish and Dracozolt have admittedly awesome STAB (Same-Type Attack Bonus) coverage. For the first time ever, sand teams gain a capacity to sweep with powerful Dragon-type, Electric-type, and Water-type attacks. Unfortunately, 100% of our sand sweepers are locked into using physical attacks. This can make your competitive Pokemon team predictable.
While a Sunny Day squad has solutions in the physical and special split department, they lack strong STAB coverage outside of Grass and Fire typing.
It’s time to see what our sweepers are capable of taking on! Let’s take a look at optimized four move sets designed to hit as much as (in)humanly possible for super-effective damage. There is a finite amount of fun to be had in a Pokemon battle, and you want to have all of it!
Dropping X-scissor can increase his net average. Excadrill has plenty of options outside of Bug-type coverage. He has access to Rapid Spin which has enough utility value to warrant giving up the heavy hits on Grass, Psychic, and Dark. He also has access to Poison-type attacks and some weaker fighting type moves. The former only contributes to Grass-type coverage – which can be picked up more efficiently through X-scissor.
Shiftry has a lot going for him. He has access to moves in 10 different type categories. Respectable moves lending themselves to ample base power. Both his physical and special movepools are incredibly diverse and his attack stats are close enough that you can utilize whichever stat his team is lacking.
The sample set uses his physical stat since it has a slightly higher damage output. His net average could be remedied by substituting his STAB’s for Fire, Flying, and Ghost type attacks. Unfortunately, his overall strength would suffer.
Shiftry falls a bit short of sweeper status with his attack stats plateauing at 328 and 306. Dropping his 4th coverage move for Growth under sunlight remedies this harsh truth, and even supports the idea of holding a mixed attacker title. Unfortunately, sacrificing a slot of his move-set breaks Shiftry’s biggest asset… His diverse movepool.
Kabutops has such incredible offensive presence that the addition of Superpower in his move-set only adds normal-typing to his list of super-effective moves.
Some players may opt to run the significantly worse bug-type coverage option for the sake of extending his overall reach. Be prepared to drop that total net average to -1 if you do. Kabutops learns the newly-buffed 80 base power Leech Life. It restores hit points. That’s a pretty big deal! A second-wind could mean the difference between a clean sweep and a face full of dirt for poor Kabutops.
Also, let’s face it. That double weakness to Grass needs to be dealt with. Ice Beam may be tempting, but 65 base special attack won’t be doing us any favors. On the other hand, a fully invested attack stat yields Kabutops a respectable 361 rating.
Kabutops is also one of the few physical attacking water types to make use of the new tutor move: Flip Turn. It pairs undeniably well with a well-placed volt switch, forcing opponents to second guess their moves at the risk of a high speed switch-in.
Since I brought it up for Excadrill, I may as well bring it up here: Kabutops learns Rapid Spin! Having said that, good luck finding the right move to cut.
Kingdra Maximum Coverage Output:
Attack Types: Water (Fire, Ground Rock, 3 resists), Dragon (Dragon, 1 resist + 1 immune), Ice (Grass, Ground, Flying, Dragon, 4 resists), Flying (Grass, Fighting, Bug, 3 resists)
Overview: Our boy Kingdra has a suprise up his sleeve. He can use the steel-type move Flash Cannon – covering ice and fairy types. The interesting case for Kingdra is that dropping his Dragon STAB for a steel type move would increase his overall coverage since he has access to Ice-type moves.
Kingdra also has access to the utility move Clear Smog, which can stunt the stat boosts of opposing Pokemon while dealing damage and maintaining momentum. In the advent of Dynamaxing, having a damaging poison-type move is a pretty big deal for special sweepers. Max Ooze can boost Special Attack by 50% with each successful attack.
Ludicolo Maximum Coverage Output:
Attack Types: Water (Fire, Ground, Rock, 3 resists), Grass (Water, Ground, Rock, 7 resistances), Ice (Grass, Ground, Flying, Dragon, 4 resists), Fighting (Normal, Ice, Rock, Ground, Steel)
Overview: The STAB bonus to other water types who could benefit from rain can be a huge pivot in favor of your team. Ludicolo has an incredible physical move set with coverage options ranging from Electric and Fire types, to utility moves such as Knock Off and Fake Out. Unfortunately, for maximum damage output, he’ll want to lean toward special attacks.
Access to Drain Punch and Giga Drain can make him a tough Pokemon to break. While Grass-typing tends to look pretty bad on paper, their clerical utility and stout special defense scores tend to make them pretty tough to deal with. Especially under the protection of rain.
This analysis is primarily targeting doubles. You can find a full analysis of the Sword & Shield metagame here.
In previous generations, the Water-type slot was often used to combat entry hazards. Water typing was well-suited for absorbing damage from Stealth Rocks and their spiky companions. Water typing also sported some of the fastest Rapid Spin users in the game.
Having said that, entry hazards have been falling out of favor for a few generations now. We can lay the blame on power creep, but entry hazards are losing traction due to the existence of a solitary culprit: Heavy-Duty Boots.
Less entry hazards means a meta without Stealth Rocks. As a result, Fire-types catapulted in usage and Flying-types soared into the most ubiquitous type in doubles. Incineroar and Scorbunny are here to stay, folks. Incineroar places first in doubles and Scorbunny takes home the gold medal in singles. This isn’t enough to give Rain Dance teams the edge over Sandstorm. Not yet.
The other prominent types are currently: Dark, Steel, Fairy, Water, and Electric.
Fairy-type doesn’t pose much threat to any of our weather teams. That’s an exaggeration. Kingdra and Dracovish can struggle as sweepers, but they both have options to overcome the weakness. Sandstorm teams are practically begging for Fairy-type walls to come out and play. The support for Steel-types in a Sandstorm core is overwhelming. Sunny day also gets a bit of an edge here since Fire resists Fairy. Rain teams tend to support Steel-types such as Magnezone and Ferrothorn.
Dark and Steel can be dealt with by adding Close Combat to a party. Barraskewda gets access to it, but I can’t necessarily call it an advantage for rain since 106 Pokemon can learn Close Combat in generation 8.
Electric-type Pokemon will give us trouble. We’re not only sporting a Water-type sweeper, but we’re looking at using a Flying-type special sweeper in a lot of cases as well. We’ll look at some numbers for Regieleki since he’s both the fastest Electric-Type and the most commonly used.
The good news is: Many teams are utilizing him as a suicide lead that drops Light Screen/Reflect and explodes himself into oblivion. Smogon recommends a set without any electricity at all. Still, a Pokemon who sports 476 speed shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Hands down, my favorite part of our generation 8 meta is the newfound prominence of Grass-Type Pokemon. There are only a handful being used. You can probably guess them: Rillaboom, Whimsicott, Kartana, Amoonguss, and Venusaur. Grassy Glide Rillaboom is an absolute wrecking ball. Every team needs to be prepared to deal with him. Here’s to hoping we’ll get Breloom and Serperior back in future games!
Alright. Time for the elephant in the room: Rillaboom. Both rain and sand theoretically have troubles dealing with a priority grass move given the natural type advantage. Both teams are well-supported and typically sport a Flying-type of their own.
I’m giving the edge to Rain. Perfect accuracy on Hurricane is a great boon to taking down the biggest Grass-type threats in the game.
Let’s check out our Rain Dance threats:
Now let’s check out our Sandstorm threats:
Dropping a Hurricane is THAT powerful.
We can also flaunt a 100% accurate Thunder in a meta prodding around with Thunderbolt. We can build Flip Turn/Volt Switch cores.
Lastly, thanks to Dynamaxing, we can often run full weather teams without a setter – if we’re smart about our timing. We’re no longer required to double up on typings to be exploited by stacked weaknesses. It can be risky. The freedom in team building is still a fantastic boon.
So, now that we know Fire-type is one of the top 3 types in Pokemon, it starts to make sense why Ferrothorn and Scizor have fallen out of favor. Steel-type usage in general has taken a pretty hefty dip in popularity.
When we dampen the effects of fire by 50%, things start to look better for Ferrothorn and any of his Steel-type buddies. He’s left with a weakness in Fighting-type, which is now one of the least popular types in the game. Out of the top 50, you can expect to see… Two forms of Urshifu and Galarian Zapdos.
An Urshifu given full investment in attack and a choice band still struggles to kill Ferrothorn in three hits, and will fall to a single power whip.
G-Zap poses a bit more of a threat. Although, we can tear him to shreds with the Thunder we’re storing in our back pocket. You ought to know how to play Ferrothorn by now. Pivot like a madman. Patiently chip away and wait for that perfect prediction.
If Ferrothorn pivot spam isn’t your jam, Magnezone appreciates Rain Team support for knocking out ground users.
Alright, Scald is pretty busted. 80 Base Power and a 33% chance to leave a burn? Physical attackers get annihilated by a 50% debuff, and passive burn damage pairs well with the defensive walls that would be scouting for that debuff.
Water-Type is one of three elemental types that gets an unconditional priority move. Accelerock is exclusive to Lycanroc, and Ice Shard is buckled onto the weakest defensive typing in the game. Notice how I quit bringing up Hail altogether? Ice just doesn’t hold up in competitive Pokemon.
…And now we get Flip Turn? Let your opponent be the one to use outdated moves like U-turn. Flip Turn has far fewer resists and pairs better with Volt Switch. It’s honestly insane that Barraskewda and Kabutops are going largely unnoticed in VGC.
Anyway, that’s everything I’ve got for you today. Good luck out there in the wonderful world of online competitive Pokemon! I added some social media links down below, so feel free to drop a like to check out some future posts! Or don’t! I honestly made them because I’m too shy to self-promote. Take care, and as always: Thank you for reading!