As she elegantly (Quiver) dances her way into BW, it is easily apparent that Butterfree is significantly better than she was in the old RBY days. No longer is she the standard for terrible Bug-type Pokemon that make six-year-olds cry over how bad they are; rather, Butterfree has finally become a Pokemon worthy of use. With BW's gifts to her in the forms of Tinted Lens and Quiver Dance, Butterfree has found a comfortable place in the NU metagame as the most lethal Quiver Dance sweeper available. The picturesque combination of Sleep Powder, Quiver Dance, and Tinted Lens makes for a lethal combination in NU, and Butterfree's stats are just good enough to utilize these moves perfectly. Butterfree is not just a one-trick pony (err, butterfly) either; she is also capable of firing off Compoundeyes Sleep Powders and Stun Spores if sweeping with Quiver Dance isn't your cup of tea. Despite her mediocre stats, downright awful typing, and various other tiny things that make her a poor Pokemon on paper, Butterfree has proven to be an excellent Pokemon in the NU metagame. After generations of disuse and mockery, you could say that Butterfree has finally evolved into that beautiful butterfly that she had wanted to be for so long.
Though her mediocre stats might make this difficult to believe, Butterfree is a fearsome sweeper in the NU metagame, and is arguably the best Quiver Dance sweeper in the tier. Unlike her competitors in Mothim, Masquerain, and even Beautifly and Dustox, Butterfree has access to the combination of Tinted Lens, Sleep Powder, and Quiver Dance, which lets her tear through a wide variety of teams. Sleep Powder can take out one of Butterfree's counters and makes it significantly easier for her to set up, while Tinted Lens and Quiver Dance make Butterfree hard to wall. Additionally, while her stats are mediocre, Butterfree is the only Quiver Dance user in the tier that outspeeds Swellow after a boost, which makes her significantly harder to revenge kill. Furthermore, with Tinted Lens, Butterfree only really needs Bug Buzz to deal damage, which frees up room for Substitute, protecting her from status and priority. With all this in mind, Butterfree can easily sweep the opposing team with just a little bit of support.
Sleep Powder is extremely important for this set's success, as it significantly eases Butterfree's setup. In fact, the mere threat of Sleep Powder will sometimes suffice: as opponents won't risk having a useful Pokemon be put to sleep, they might switch out, giving Butterfree a fantastic opportunity to set up a Quiver Dance or smack the switch-in hard with Bug Buzz. However, note that not all opponents will switch; this is where Substitute comes into play. If you're feeling skittish about your prediction skills, you can simply put up a Substitute against a slower opponent. First of all, this saves Butterfree's Sleep Powder for another opponent and ensures she doesn't use it on a Sleep Talk user. Secondly, it shields Butterfree against status and attacks, which means that if the opponent stays in and attacks, Butterfree will only lose a comparatively small 25%, as opposed to perhaps all her health. Finally, if the opponent does switch, Butterfree is much more free to do what she wants behind the Substitute, and depending on the opponent, she can Bug Buzz for damage, set up a Quiver Dance, or use Sleep Powder to incapacitate a troublesome threat. However, note that spamming Sleep Powder is still an option, as Substitute is not without its costs: while small, the loss of HP if the opponent attacks will add up, and Butterfree might need to put the opponent to sleep to ensure that she can set up safely.
Thanks to Tinted Lens and Quiver Dance, Butterfree only really needs one move to sweep through the opposition: Bug Buzz. After a Quiver Dance boost, few Pokemon can tolerate a STAB Tinted Lens Bug Buzz, and Quiver Dance also guarantees that she is extremely difficult to revenge kill. Additionally, the combination of Substitute and Quiver Dance acts much like the Substitute + Calm Mind strategy, as Butterfree's Substitutes become increasingly sturdy after each Quiver Dance, allowing her to set up on many walls. However, despite all that Quiver Dance and Tinted Lens do for Butterfree, they do not entirely cover her mediocre Special Attack stat, enabling a slew of specially defensive Pokemon to wall her. To deal with this, a coverage move can be used over Substitute. Hidden Power Ground in particular does massive damage to Probopass, who would otherwise wall Butterfree to oblivion, while Hidden Power Rock covers everything else that Bug Buzz misses out on, such as Haunter and Combusken, who still resist Bug Buzz after Tinted Lens. Without the cover of Substitute though, Butterfree becomes more vulnerable to priority, and she might have a more difficult time setting up.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Despite Compoundeyes boosting the accuracy of Butterfree's status moves, her mediocre Speed and wet paper-bag defenses often make it difficult for her to successfully pull off a Sleep Powder or Stun Spore. Butterfree therefore has the option of utilizing a Choice Scarf to outspeed most NU Pokemon and inflict them with status. The main draw of this set is that it is almost guaranteed to put one opponent to sleep; this is a huge advantage in many games, as many NU teams cannot afford to have one Pokemon incapacitated for most of the match. However, note that Butterfree will be locked into whatever move she uses, which means that she can be played around much more easily. Still, if you're looking for a fast, reliable status spreader, then Choice Scarf Butterfree might be a perfect fit for your team.
As always, Sleep Powder is the key move here, as the ability to completely incapacitate a foe for most of the match is very appealing. While you can throw it out to cripple the switch-in and gain momentum, you might wish to save it to incapacitate a more problematic foe. U-turn works well in this situation, as it allows Butterfree to scout for sleep absorbers and can help swing momentum in your team's favor. The last two moves both serve important purposes: Stun Spore allows Butterfree to check speedy threats such as Tauros, and while it will probably faint in the process, it will likely be a worthy trade. Bug Buzz is a not a particularly powerful move due to the lack of Tinted Lens, but it does allow Butterfree to revenge kill frailer opponents, such as Kadabra and Serperior.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Reminiscent of the days of old where Butterfree did not have boons such as Choice Scarf and Quiver Dance to assist her, this set utilizes the age-old double status strategy to cripple the opposing team. This strategy is simple: Sleep Powder something, and then Stun Spore the probable switch-in. With proper prediction, Butterfree will be able to cripple a third of the opposing team. It is important to note that this set particularly excels at spreading paralysis; between the switches forced from Substitute and Sleep Powder, Butterfree can easily paralyze several opponents. Unfortunately, Butterfree does not have outstanding Speed, which means that you must switch her into a slower Pokemon to get the most mileage out of her.
As always, Sleep Powder is the most essential move on this set, and with Compoundeyes boosting its accuracy, it immediately presents a huge threat to the opponent. Stun Spore, while not nearly as useful as Sleep Powder, gives Butterfree another way to cripple offensive threats. Substitute is an interesting move for this set, and it serves a myriad of purposes. First of all, it eases the prediction needed to effectively pull off the double powder strategy. Instead of having to blindly pick Stun Spore and hope the opponent switches, Substitute guarantees that a turn will not be wasted. It also gives Butterfree a form of protection: if the opponent switches, Butterfree can use Stun Spore on the switch-in as it breaks her Substitute, and if it doesn't, Butterfree can just hammer away at it with Bug Buzz next. Secondly, Substitute can bluff a Quiver Dance set, luring out offensive counters that will despise being paralyzed. Finally, Substitute also protects Butterfree if the opponent should only sleep for a single turn and manage to attack her. Bug Buzz rounds off this set nicely and allows Butterfree to deal some damage if she has the opportunity to attack or is Taunted, and it can break Substitutes from Pokemon which would otherwise stop Butterfree from spreading status.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Though Butterfree has multiple viable sets, if you look closely, you'll notice that most of them consist of similar moves. This is because Butterfree actually has a very, very tiny movepool that lacks solid competitive options aside from those listed. However, Butterfree does have a few extra tricks she can pull off with reasonable success. Butterfree has access to some excellent support moves in Roost, Whirlwind, and Toxic; unfortunately, Butterfree's frailty makes them more often than not wasted moveslots. Butterfree has alternative special attacks in Giga Drain, Psychic, Shadow Ball, and various Hidden Power types, which can be useful in assorted circumstances, but Tinted Lens usually renders most of these moves unnecessary, and if running Compoundeyes, Butterfree would much rather make use of her otherwise inaccurate status moves. Finally, Butterfree has the option of using the field support moves Rain Dance, Sunny Day, and Tailwind, but she is often too frail and slow to use them effectively, though Sleep Powder is definitely helpful on such a set.
Checks and Counters
Though Butterfree can be a fearsome sweeper or reliable status spreader, one thing that will forever remain a thorn in her side is Stealth Rock. As long as Stealth Rock is on the field, Butterfree will be heavily crippled; losing 50% of her HP is extremely detrimental for her as she often needs as much of her HP as possible to survive even light attacks. Keeping Stealth Rock on the field is therefore one of the best ways to clip Butterfree's wings and prevent her from sweeping your team.
That said, Butterfree is still not completely dead weight even if you do manage to keep Stealth Rock up; Sleep Powder is as deadly as ever, so if Butterfree switches in successfully, she's almost guaranteed to incapacitate one of your Pokemon. A Sleep Talk user such as Lickilicky or Musharna is ideal in this role, as they can absorb the sleep without fear. However, Butterfree will be able to set up on them if they lack a phazing move or get poor Sleep Talk rolls, making an additional phazer or hazer an excellent idea. Altaria, Wartortle, Cryogonal, and Camerupt are excellent choices for this job due to their nice special bulk. If you do not wish to use a Sleep Talk user, it is also possible to simply sacrifice a Pokemon to sleep and have another counter to Butterfree. Make sure that the Pokemon you sacrifice to sleep can still hurt Butterfree though; otherwise, you might find that Butterfree will set up in its face with startling ease.
Once the threat of sleep has been removed from the equation, Butterfree really isn't difficult to deal with. Even after a Quiver Dance boost, the likes of Altaria, Lickilicky, and Probopass will still wall her, while Choice Scarf Rotom-S, Charizard, and Braviary will still outspeed her. Furthermore, Butterfree is neither overly powerful nor fast, meaning that quite a few Pokemon can take her attacks and KO in return. Priority attacks will also take a heavy toll on her due to her physical frailty. While Butterfree can circumvent both of these issues with Substitute, plenty of Pokemon can beat Substitute variants as well; Piloswine, Golem, and Armaldo are just some of the Pokemon that have access to a strong multi-hit move that will break Butterfree's frail Substitutes and hit her for massive damage. In the end, the key to beating Butterfree is to play around Sleep Powder and make sure she does not set up, as if she cripples her main counter and obtains a Quiver Dance and Substitute, you will have a monstrosity on your hands.