When the VGC 2012 ruleset was announced, it didn't take long for Politoed to take hold onf the metagame. With an entourage of Swift Swim Pokemonusers capable of utilizing Drizzle — that range from the humble Anorith to the mighty Kingdra,— Politoed is never in shortage of teammates to occupy vacant team slots. Politoed isn't just good for Drizzle, however, as it can deal major damage to anything without a resistance or high Special Defense with its STAB, rain-boosted Water moves, or support its team using moves such as Helping Hand and Icy Wind.
Politoed doesn't really have many issues either, besides the obvious weaknesses to Grass- and Electric-type attacks, such as those from Thundurus and Breloom. The only things that really trouble it are other weather changers, such as Abomasnow, Tyranitar, and Ninetales. Luckily, Politoed can surround itself with Pokemon that have great defensive synergy, allowing it to switch in and out to reinstate weather if need be, as well as having a good matchup type-wise against two-thirds of the other weather changers. Because of its versatility, power, and workable bulk, Politoed won't be budging from its top 10 position anytime soon.
Like a lot of Pokemon in today's metagame, this set aims to be both bulky and offensive while also capitalizing on Politoed's great support moves. Icy Wind and Helping Hand form the backbone of Politoed's supportive side by helping its teammates outspeed dangerous opponents and getting the OHKOes that they desire. Ice Beam is more powerful and can nab just enough damage on Pokemon such as bulky Thundurus for better follow-throughs such as Hidden Power Ice or Draco Meteor. Encore is tricky to use, but is highly rewarding, especially when paired with Icy Wind. The trick is to use Icy Wind on Pokemon that will most likely Protect later, and when they become slower, you can lock them into Protect when they do slip up. Another perk to this is that you can punish faster Pokemon that use Trick Room in hopes of outspeeding your Swift Swimmers, forcing them to reverse their own Trick Room.
Water Gem should only be used in conjunction with Hydro Pump. The reason for this is that with said Gem, Hydro Pump is able to score quick KOes on numerous Pokemon, such as Thundurus-T, Metagross, and Hitmontop, as well as severely damage anything else that doesn't resist it, such as bulky Thundurus and even Cresselia. Sitrus Berry is the next best thing if you're not interested in such power, or if you're using Scald. With a Sitrus Berry, Politoed can bounce back from an unboosted Thunderbolt (Pokemon such as Rotom-A and Thundurus-T can't OHKO without a boosting item) and continue to spew Icy Winds and Helping Hands all over the field, or simply have enough HP to last another switch. Protect is a staple on Politoed because of the attention it draws, especially when it's involved in a weather war with its all-time rivals, Abomasnow and Tyranitar.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set's aim is to simply not die. While it certainly isn't going to be leaving any smarts, it can take moves such as Fighting Gem Close Combat from Terrakion and Modest Hydreigon's Dragon Gem Draco Meteor much more comfortably than a more offensive set can. As such, this set is better for people who think Politoed should be saving its own skin and preserving the rain rather than joining the fray and getting fried. Scald and Icy Wind are excellent supportive moves as they can't be Taunted, and Protect does as advertised, which is all the more important on a defensive set such as this.
Because of its newfound bulk, the third slot is going to be all the more useful. Helping Hand is first on the list as it is easy to use and instantly rewards the player with OHKOes that would previously be impossible. Encore is as useful as ever to lock your opponent into undesirable moves and causes them to make risky plays. Perish Song is a more deadly move because Politoed isn't easily 2HKOed between Protects, which allows it to become your opponent's worst nightmare. However, this requires at least one Pokemon to be KOed and for you to have at least one of your own Pokemon still intact to negate the drawback. In the right hands however, Perish Song is an incredibly dangerous attack that can instantly force your opponent into a checkmate position, should the score be something like 2-3 in your favor.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
If you can appreciate the power of Water Gem Hydro Pump and how often Politoed switches in and out, then Choice Specs Politoed provides all the firepower a little frog could ever ask for. With Hydro Pump OHKOing everything within the grey area of bulk in which Hitmontop and Metagross reside, and 2HKOing just about everything else, all of the other moves are mostly filler. Ice Beam OHKOes 4/0 Thundurus and Tornadus and deals around 87% to Latios. Hidden Power Grass comes as a surprise to incoming Gastrodon that think they can soak up a Scald or at the very least be lightly touched by Icy Wind, but doesn't have much use besides that as 252/0 Rotom-W only takes about 60% from it. Scald is weaker than Hydro Pump, but comes in handy when you need a powerful Water-type move that won't miss. As a small bonus, Scald can even ward off freeze hax, most notably from Abomasnow as Politoed switches in.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Haze, Toxic, Hypnosis, Rain Dance, Mud Shot, and Swagger make up the lesser-used support side of Politoed's movepool. Haze can be useful to erase Kingdra's Special Attack drop after a Draco Meteor, as well as any Intimidate drops, but seeing as you could just as easily switch to remove the effects, it isn't worth the moveslot. Toxic can easily beat non-Resting Cresselia, but the effects of poison can sometimes prove to be too slow for the fast-paced VGC metagame. Hypnosis would be a great move to capitalize on the lack of Sleep Clause if it didn't have an awful 60% accuracy, but it can be a nice option on defensive sets should Politoed find itself twiddling its thumbs instead of providing meaningful support. Swagger can power up Pokemon such as Kabutops and Metagross while also potentially disrupting the opponent, but Politoed's partners are typically faster than it is, and as such, a Swagger boost is slower than a Helping Hand boost. Rain Dance might seem odd on something with an auto-weather ability, but can come in handy against Abomasnow and Tyranitar, as they are slower and therefore get the weather advantage should they and Politoed be sent out at the same time. Theoretically, Mud Shot hits Electric-types super effectively as well as having the same Speed drop as Icy Wind, but is in reality less useful than Icy Wind as firstly, the most common Electric-types are either Flying or Levitating, and secondly, it only affects one Pokemon.
Iron Ball could be used to gain the weather advantage over Abomasnow and Tyranitar, but being slower than the two subjects Politoed to Rock Slide or Giga Drain while it cannot recover from either attack without a partner using Heal Pulse or Trick in conjunction with its own Sitrus Berry. A Choice Scarf can be used like Choice Specs, but Politoed is in general too weak to make use of the Choice Scarf and requires Speed investment, which cuts into its bulk. Leftovers should really only be considered as an alternative to Sitrus Berry in the case of Item Clause, though this isn't to say that it's a terrible item; it simply isn't as fast as Sitrus Berry, which heals four times as much as Leftovers in a single turn. Lastly, Psychic could be useful to combat Fighting-types and Amoonguss, but both are hit just as hard by Hydro Pump and Ice Beam, respectively.
Checks and Counters
Politoed's checks and counters are fairly straightforward. Ferrothorn, Rotom-W, Rotom-C, Zapdos, Abomasnow, and Toxicroak are but a few, though Politoed is probably going to be played conservatively until your opponent is absolutely sure you aren't going to change the weather. A surprise Sunny Day, Hail, or Sandstorm is a great way to take advantage of this, though you have to be careful about repeated Hydro Pumps from Politoed's teammates. To expound on the mentioned counters, Ferrothorn takes absolutely nothing from any Politoed assault bar a Scald burn, and is a general nuisance to rain teams. Rotom-W, Rotom-C, and Zapdos electrocute Politoed with their STAB Thunderbolts or Thunders while Politoed cannot OHKO them back. Abomasnow, a weather inducer itself, is Politoed's natural enemy, and the best Politoed can do to it is a neutral Ice Beam. With Drain Punch and Dry Skin healing, Toxicroak walls any Politoed if it doesn't get frozen, which is a real possibility if you let the match drag on too long. Opposing rain teams pack their own Ludicolo and Thunder users who of course can make frog leg stew out of Politoed in a heartbeat, though mirror matches generally lead to mind games of who's going to bring their Politoed. Amoonguss might be weak to Ice Beam, but it can definitely take one or two hits, Spore Politoed, and heal off the damage with Giga Drain. BW2 brought Thundurus-T to deal with Politoed, and it can usually succeed in doing so as long as it is equipped with either an Electric Gem or Choice Specs, and Politoed isn't equipped with a Wacan Berry. Virizion doesn't mind Ice Beams as much as it does Scald burns, and can 2HKO Politoed with Leaf Blade or use Sunny Day to weaken its partners.