Raichu has never been the strongest of attackers, and has consistently been relegated to the lowest tiers with each passing generation. Raichu gains a new toy in BW in the ability Lightningrod, generating a Special Attack boost when Raichu is hit by an Electric-type move. Additionally, Raichu's great Speed and high Special Attack stats are complemented by a diverse movepool, turning it into a decent sweeper. Unfortunately, Raichu is held back by its poor 60 / 55 / 80 defensive stats, which make it difficult to switch in. It is also hampered by its lack of overwhelming power, which means it has trouble breaking walls. Despite its flaws, Raichu is capable of severely denting the opposition with its few unique niches.
With its high Speed and Special Attack, Raichu can make use of its access to Nasty Plot quite well, easily facilitating a sweep. After a Nasty Plot, Raichu reaches 558 Special Attack, which lets it quickly break through opponents. Although Raichu's defensive stats make it difficult to boost comfortably, Encore can lock an opponent into a non-damaging move and give Raichu the free turn it needs to set up. Furthermore, Raichu gains free switch-ins on many other Electric-type Pokemon, such as Electabuzz and Rotom-S, whose STAB options activate Raichu's Lightningrod ability and grant it a free Special Attack boost.
Thunderbolt is Raichu's go-to move, being a naturally powerful move as well as an excellent STAB option. Hidden Power Ice provides the best coverage alongside Thunderbolt, as it grants Raichu awesome BoltBeam coverage, and hits key Pokemon that resist Thunderbolt, including Tangela, Torterra, and Dragonair. If necessary, one can forgo Encore in favor of Grass Knot in order to gain coverage on threats that can still handle the Electric / Ice combination, most notably Regirock, who is one of the heavier Pokemon in the game.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Occasionally, Raichu yearns for the days of the original generation where it could power past the opposition, and this set provides it with a way to do just that! With either a Choice Scarf or a Choice Specs equipped, Raichu gains the ability to either outspeed almost any Pokemon in NU or to zap opponents with brute force, respectively. Thunderbolt and Volt Switch are both excellent STAB options; Thunderbolt being the more powerful of the two and allowing Raichu to sweep through weakened teams, whereas Volt Switch grants Raichu excellent scouting capabilities, maintaining momentum in the process. The crux of the set, however, is Raichu's Lightningrod ability, which pushes Raichu ahead of Electabuzz, whom Raichu would otherwise be inferior to. Lightningrod allows Raichu to counter opposing Volt Switches, absorb opposing paralysis attempts, and check general Electric-type attackers, gaining a Special Attack boost in the process. In order to take advantage of such a boost, Focus Blast and Hidden Power Ice are the coverage moves of choice, being strong neutral options and covering Rock-types, and Dragon- and Grass-types super effectively, respectively.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Although primarily a special attacker, Raichu is capable of using a SubPunch set, which when used alongside other physical moves, such as Volt Tackle or Iron Tail, and can quickly catch opponents off guard. A mixed SubPunch set is also viable, however for any set utilizing Focus Punch it must be noted that the move is illegal alongside Lightningrod, forcing Raichu to use the less useful Static as its ability. Raichu's other offensive options, moves such as Signal Beam, Discharge, and Fake Out, all have their own situational uses but are rarely worth using over one of the main moveslots.
Its support movepool, however, is where Raichu carries most of its alternative moves, albeit ones that are most often illegal alongside Lightningrod. Light Screen can be used to provide Raichu and its teammates with a temporary buffer from special attacks, with Rain Dance similarly boosting its teammates' Water-type moves. Substitute and Agility are options that scout for status moves and boost Raichu's Speed respectively, although Raichu will rarely be strong enough to make use of them. Raichu can also provide HP support in the form of Wish, which, while not particularly large, in Raichu's case is never unwelcome. Tickle and Knock Off are niche options that will frustrate the opponent, the former weakening both their Attack and Defense stats whereas the latter strips them of their held item. Finally, Magnet Rise is useful against Pokemon locked into Ground-type moves, turning Raichu's only weakness into an immunity.
Checks and Counters
Regirock handles Raichu quite effectively, its natural bulk allowing it to tank even Focus Blasts without undue hardship; it can then retaliate with a STAB Stone Edge. Similarly, Probopass can take any attack bar Focus Blast from Raichu and can proceed to set up Stealth Rock before whittling Raichu down. Specially defensive Grass-type Pokemon such as Vileplume also handle Raichu well, often being able to outstall its attacks while avoiding the 2HKO from Hidden Power Ice.
Other, more niche Pokemon, such as Lightningrod Seaking and Motor Drive Zebstrika can handle Raichu's attacking combo without difficulty, although these Pokemon should rarely be considered. Of far more concern are any strong physical attacker that can outspeed Raichu, including Pokemon such as Tauros and Swellow, as well as powerful Choice Scarf users that will be able to outspeed and OHKO Raichu with ease. Similarly, strong priority users, such as Skuntank, Gurdurr, and Swellow, can prey on Raichu's weak Defense stat and KO it with priority moves, such as Mach Punch and Sucker Punch.