BW OU Guide to Sand Written by Amarillo and Harsha. Introduction Sandstorm Basics The Sandstorm Summoners Sandstorm Playstyles Offensive Sandstorm Defensive Sandstorm Main Threats Drizzle Teams Drought Teams Fighting-types Other Threats Teambuilding Tips Sample Teams Benelux Stall __________ Conclusion Introduction In the 3rd and 4th Generations, sandstorm was a common field condition. However, this was mainly because Tyranitar, and to a lesser extent, Hippowdon, were common threats in the metagame. In the 5th Generation, sandstorm receives some major offensive buffs. With the advent of sweepers such as Landorus and Excadrill, sandstorm has evolved from an annoying battle condition into a dominant playstyle. Enter Garchomp and Excadrill ban. After the dynamic duo of sandstorm abusers were sent to Ubers, sandstorm is now relegated to an anti-weather role, a possible source of passive damage that is useful for checking weather-reliant threats such as Tornadus and Venusaur. Even without the main abusers, sandstorm remains a viable option for many teams. This guide will focus on how to utilize the effects of sandstorm to your advantage, and retain the advantage against opposing weather conditions. After reading this guide, you will gain all the knowledge necessary to build and play with your own sandstorm team. Sandstorm Basics Sandstorm can be brought onto the field in two ways. The first—and generally inferior—method is to use the move Sandstorm; this type of sandstorm will last up to five turns. The held item Smooth Rock lengthens the duration of this sandstorm to eight turns. The more common method is to use Pokemon with the ability Sand Stream, an ability that casts a permanent sandstorm upon the field until the weather is changed. This guide will focus on the latter type of sandstorm. The following are the effects that will occur if sandstorm is the field effect: The Special Defense of Rock-type Pokemon is increased by 50% All non-Rock-, Steel-, and Ground-type Pokemon and Pokemon without the ability Magic Guard, Sand Veil, or Overcoat take 1/16 damage at the end of every turn. The evasion of a Pokemon with the Sand Veil ability is increased by 20%. Solarbeam's Base Power is reduced from 120 to 60. Synthesis, Moonlight, and Morning Sun only recover 25% of the user's HP, as opposed to the standard 50%. Weather Ball's base power is doubled to 100, and becomes a Rock-type move. All Pokemon with Sand Rush have their speed doubled in sandstorm. In addition, non-Rock-, Steel-, and Ground-type Pokemon do not take residual damage from sandstorm. All Pokemon with the ability Sand Force have their Ground-type, Rock-type, and Steel-type moves boosted by 30%. The Sandstorm Summoners Any successful sandstorm team needs a sandstorm summoner. Although only Hippowdon and Tyranitar possess this ability, both of them are great choices and can be easily incorporated into a team. Sandstorm is also the only weather condition with two OU-viable summoners. However, with few direct sandstorm abusers remaining, there is no need to desperately control the weather using two Pokemon with adverse synergy. Tyranitar Type: Rock / Dark Stats: 100 / 134 / 110 / 95 / 100 / 61 Ability: Sand Stream / Unnerve Tyranitar is rightfully the more common sandstorm summoner. The Special Defense boost effectively bumps Tyranitar's BST to a staggering 670, rivaling that of common Ubers. Good stats across the board make Tyranitar a versatile threat. The common mixed set can support sandstorm sweepers by luring in and weakening physical walls. Stealth Rock provides another source of passive damage, while a movepool that includes Fire Blast, Ice Beam, Crunch, Superpower, and Stone Edge makes Tyranitar a true offensive juggernaut in its own right. Choice Band Tyranitar is another viable set that can spell disaster to teams that expect a weaker Tyranitar. It also has sufficient all-around bulk to easily switch in and fire off a devastating attack. Pursuit can be utilized to cripple Ghost-types, Psychic-types, and opposing weather starters. Choice Scarf Tyranitar is also viable as a secondary special wall, revenge killer, and glue for a team. However, Tyranitar's typing leaves it with weaknesses to common attacking types. Fighting-types such as Scrafty or Conkeldurr can easily switch in, and either threaten Tyranitar with an OHKO or set up. As a result, any team using Tyranitar needs a reliable Fighting-type check, such as Gliscor, Slowbro, or Skarmory. Tyranitar also has trouble walling strong special attackers because it is weak to common special attacking types, particularly Water and Grass. A weakness to Earthquake also leaves it vulnerable to opposing sandstorm sweepers such as Landorus. Despite these glaring weaknesses, Tyranitar is a strong Pokemon on its own, and a good team supporter with Sand Stream. Hippowdon Type: Ground Stats: 108 / 112 / 118 / 68 / 72 / 47 Ability: Sand Stream / Sand Force A frequently overlooked choice, the sand hippopotamus is nonetheless a very viable option. With its excellent base HP and Defense, Hippowdon continues to be a premier physical wall in the Black and White metagame. While most Tyranitar-based sandstorm teams have a weakness to opposing sandstorm sweepers, Hippowdon is a solid stop to most physical attackers. It has a wealth of support options, such as Stealth Rock, Roar, and Toxic, as well as a reliable recovery move in Slack Off. Moreover, Hippowdon is no slacker in the offensive department. Possessing an above-average base Attack of 112, its attacks pack a surprising punch even without investment. It can even run a bulky Choice Band set for surprise value. As a defensive Pokemon, Hippowdon's significantly weaker Special Defense stat stands out as a major flaw. Hippowdon can usually solve this issue by running a specially defensive spread to easily switch in on Ninetales, mixed Tyranitar, and other common threats. Still, strong special threats, such as Rotom-W and Politoed, can OHKO Hippowdon even with maximum Special Defense investment, so a special wall such as Blissey is recommended for all teams using Hippowdon. Hippowdon can also force multiple switches with its bulk and Roar, so Spikes support is helpful too. Despite its low usage, Hippowdon is by no means a pushover, and with proper support, can form part of a strong defensive core. Sandstorm Playstyles Sandstorm teams are highly regarded for their flexibility, thanks to the variety and versatility of abusers and inducers alike. While most weather teams have only one weather starter, sandstorm teams get to choose between Hippowdon and Tyranitar, or even use both for more chances to keep the sandstorm raging. With many sweepers that perform well in sandstorm, offensive sandstorm teams are not to be dismissed. These teams usually have Pokemon with abilities that boost their stats in sandstorm. These teams also make use of the secondary damage to deal with any walls that are not of Steel-, Ground-, or Rock-type, because sandstorm removes their Leftovers recovery and pressures them into using recovery moves more often. Tyranitar's and Hippowdon's access to Stealth Rock gives sand inducers another advantage over other weather summoners. Due to the residual damage caused by sandstorm, stall teams may also employ sand setters on their teams. Sand stall teams work by abusing sandstorm's residual damage while setting up entry hazards just like a normal stall team. Both Hippowdon and Tyranitar are great defensive Pokemon capable of using Stealth Rock; also, Toxic Spikes are notorious for accumulating secondary damage. Stall teams can also make use of Rock-types' Special Defense buff by using Rock-types to sponge attacks from powerful special attackers. However, most sand teams are balanced. This is explained partly by the fact that sandstorm is not as easy to abuse offensively as sun or rain. Sun grants offensive boosts to Fire-types and Chlorophyll Pokemon, and rain grants offensive boosts to Water- and Electric-types, as well as Swift Swim Pokemon. Sandstorm, on the other hand, only directly boosts the offenses of one OU Pokemon. As a result, many sand teams only have a single sandstorm sweeper, supported by a strong defensive core to gradually weaken the opponent with sandstorm, entry hazards, and crippling statuses. Entry hazards are also crucial for wearing down the opposing weather inducer and maintaining the weather advantage. Only after the opposing core is severely weakened would sand sweepers attempt a sweep. With all these different types of teams, which Pokemon are the best choices for your sandstorm team? Below is a list of Pokemon that any sand team should consider. Offensive Sandstorm Only a few Pokemon are capable of making full use of sandstorm to sweep–but don't fret, because these unique few are some of the greatest sweepers in BW. You are virtually guaranteed to see at least one of them on any offensive sandstorm team due to their immense sweeping potential. The following key abusers are great choices to keep in mind when constructing a sandstorm team. Landorus Type: Ground / Flying Stats: 89 / 125 / 90 / 115 / 80 / 101 Ability: Sand Force / Sheer Force Landorus lacks the raw power to muscle through some physical walls, but it is a deadly sweeper in sandstorm. Its ability, Sand Force, boosts Ground-, Rock-, and Steel-type moves by 30% in sandstorm. While this boost is smaller than the 50% boost granted by Sun or Rain, it is just enough for Landorus. The fact that Landorus does not depend entirely on sandstorm makes it an appealing choice. It has a fantastic 101 base Speed, and it can serve as a Choice Scarf scout with U-turn or a boosting sweeper with Swords Dance or Rock Polish. While outsped by common Ground-immunes such as Gengar and Latios, Landorus is a versatile offensive threat. Thanks to its above-average Special Attack, Landorus can run a mixed set with a Hidden Power of choice to beat physical walls such as Gliscor or Skarmory. It also remains as the only viable user of the move Smack Down, which strips Skarmory, Rotom-W, and Bronzong of their Ground immunities and hits them hard with Sand Force boosted, STAB, super effective Earthquake. With so many tricks up its sleeve, Landorus is very difficult to counter. Revenge killers, preferably with priority moves, are the most reliable ways to check this monstrous threat, but a generic physical wall or an EdgeQuake resist will usually be enough. Terrakion Type: Rock / Fighting Stats: 91 / 129 / 90 / 72 / 90 / 108 Ability: Justified Terrakion is a Pokemon that has everything necessary for a sweeper. Its dual STAB of Fighting and Rock provide it with near-flawless coverage. Its exceptional 108 base Speed allows it to outspeed most of the OU metagame. Terrakion is therefore a good user of Choice Band or Choice Scarf thanks to its fantastic coverage and great speed. It also has access to two great boosting moves in Swords Dance and Rock Polish. Because its STAB attacks are so powerful, and have such great coverage, Terrakion can even afford to pack both Swords Dance and Rock Polish onto a Double Booster set, and use the appropriate boosting move for the opponent's team. Although sandstorm does not directly boost Terrakion's offenses, Terrakion does appreciate the Special Defense boost. In sandstorm, Terrakion can boost its stats in relative safety and proceed to sweep. Sadly, weaknesses to common priority moves such as Mach Punch, Bullet Punch, and Aqua Jet means that Terrakion is easily revenged. Still, it is a very powerful sweeper that can easily turn the tide of a game. Offensive Pokemon Immune to Sandstorm Immunity to sandstorm is a huge boon to many offensive Pokemon on sandstorm teams. Sources of passive damage are abundant in the BW metagame, so sandstorm and Life Orb damage can very quickly take their toll, especially on top of Stealth Rock and Spikes damage. While these Pokemon do not benefit immensely from sandstorm, they are not harmed by it either. Still, residual damage from sandstorm removes the Leftovers recovery of potential walls, turning some 3HKOs to 2HKOs. What sweeper doesn't appreciate that? Magnezone Type: Electric / Steel Stats: 70 / 70 / 115 / 130 / 90 / 60 Ability: Magnet Pull / Sturdy / Analytic Magnezone's unique ability, Magnet Pull, enables it to trap and remove the Steel-type walls like Skarmory and Bronzong that are commonly employed to check sandstorm sweepers such as Landorus. Sandstorm sweepers have few airtight counters, so Pokemon that can easily eliminate these troublesome obstacles are very welcome. It can serve as a revenge killer with a Choice Scarf equipped, or run a Charge Beam set to boost its Special Attack on said trapped Steels. Ultimately, though, Magnezone is a rather one-dimensional Pokemon; after all Steel-types are removed, Magnezone can attempt to tank with its multiple resistances, or—more realistically—serve as death fodder. Scizor Type: Bug / Steel Stats: 70 / 130 / 100 / 55 / 80 / 65 Ability: Swarm / Technician / Light Metal Scizor hasn't changed one bit from DPP, and it is still incredibly effective at what it does. STAB, Choice Band, Technician-boosted Bullet Punch off base 130 Attack is no less devastating, and U-turn is as useful as ever. While the advent of Team Preview has reduced the need for scouting, U-turn is a very safe option that does hefty damage to common threats such as Tyranitar and Reuniclus while retaining offensive momentum. Scizor can also trap troublesome foes such as Gengar and Latias, putting them into a checkmate position with the dual threat of Bullet Punch and Pursuit. Scizor can also sweep with a Swords Dance set, abusing its strong priority to plow through teams while unhindered by Choice Scarf users and faster Pokemon. Even with lackluster STAB walled by several common Pokemon, Scizor manages to make the best out of its exceptional utility and sheer power. Lucario Type: Steel / Fighting Stats: 70 / 110 / 70 / 115 / 70 / 90 Ability: Steadfast / Inner Focus / Justified Lucario is hands down one of the most versatile sweepers in BW OU. With access to a variety of boosting moves such as Swords Dance, Nasty Plot, and Agility, it can sweep in many different ways. You may even find your opponent switching in a counter to the wrong variant, allowing Lucario to boost twice. All Lucario desperately need residual damage to opposing walls, however: Swords Dance and Nasty Plot sets require prior damage to beat threats that outspeeds it with priority, while Agility sets struggle to dent defensive walls without help from its teammates. Lucario also appreciates Tyranitar removing bulky Psychic-types and faster Ghost-types. Nevertheless, Lucario is an excellent choice for any sandstorm team looking for strong priority and a lategame sweeper. Heatran Type: Fire / Steel Stats: 91 / 90 / 106 / 130 / 106 / 77 Ability: Flash Fire / Flame Body Due to its unique typing, Heatran can be a very valuable addition to a sandstorm team, with its Fire STAB incinerating opposing Steel-type physical walls that often trouble sandstorm teams. Heatran also possesses other offensive options, such as Earth Power, Dragon Pulse, and a choice of Hidden Power. Its support moves include Roar, Taunt, Toxic, as well as Stealth Rock, and a specially defensive set can be viable in a defensively oriented team to provide a valuable Dragon resistance. Heatran is very versatile, and it can use Choice Scarf, Air Balloon, or Substitute to great effect. Note that Heatran is, in general, a great check to Drought teams, and is therefore a great choice for sandstorm teams that struggle against sun. Reuniclus Type: Psychic Stats: 110 / 65 / 75 / 125 / 85 / 30 Ability: Overcoat / Magic Guard / Regenerator Reuniclus is a natural fit on many sandstorm teams because its ability, Magic Guard, protects it from residual damage. Since most sandstorm sweepers are physically based, and Reuniclus does not share common weaknesses with sand sweepers, Reuniclus can provide offensive and defensive diversity to sandstorm teams. Instant recovery and a valuable Fighting resist also helps it check troublesome Pokemon such as Conkeldurr. With access to Calm Mind and Trick Room, along with great natural bulk, Reuniclus also has no problem sweeping. Offensive Trick Room variants do well against opposing offensive teams, while a bulky Calm Mind set can single-handedly destroy a stall team. Metagross Type: Steel / Psychic Stats: 80 / 135 / 130 / 95 / 90 70 Ability: Clear Body / Light Metal The transition from DPP to BW brought only disappointment for Metagross. The nerf to Explosion meant that Metagross lost one of its best moves, while the advent of Team Preview did no favors for a Pokemon that once enjoyed consistent top-ten usage as a lead. Still, Metagross is perfect if you desire a Pokemon that can tank strong hits and retaliate with more powerful moves. Its substantial bulk helps it survive most unSTABbed Earthquakes even with no defensive investment. Combined with his auspicious typing, Metagross is one of the most reliable Stealth Rock users in the metagame. Other than its psuedo-signature move, Meteor Mash, Metagross' diverse offensive movepool includes Earthquake, Ice Punch, ThunderPunch, Bullet Punch, Zen Headbutt, Hammer Arm, and Pursuit. Other Offensive Pokemon Stacking Rock-, Ground-, and Steel-type Pokemon is not the best way to build a sandstorm team. It is important to note that not every member of a sandstorm team need benefit directly from sandstorm. In fact, even the most successful sandstorm teams often carry a member or two that takes passive damage from sandstorm; these Pokemon usually have access to instant recovery in order to compensate for sandstorm damage. These are a few offensive choices that will often be seen on a sandstorm team. Note that these are by no means the only Pokemon viable on a sand team despite their lack of immunity to sandstorm. This is merely a short list of Pokemon that provide valuable resistances and match up well against opposing weathers. Latias Type: Dragon / Psychic Stats: 80 / 80 / 90 / 110 / 130 / 110 Ability: Levitate Latias is a prime example of a Pokemon arguably only hindered by sandstorm. Common Latias counters include Tyranitar and Steel-types, meaning sandstorm is not wearing down her counters. Furthermore, Latias loses her valuable Leftovers recovery in sandstorm. However, the true merit of using Latias in a sandstorm team is that she solidly checks Drizzle and Drought teams, freely switching into opposing weather starters with her great special bulk and forcing a switch. This greatly helps your side retain the sandstorm and hence the advantage. She also patches up weaknesses to Fighting, Water, Grass, and Ground–common flaws in sandstorm teams. Rotom-W Type: Water / Electric Stats: 50 / 65 / 107 / 105 / 107 / 86 Ability: Levitate While most Rotom formes lost OU status upon losing their Ghost-typings, Rotom-W bucks the trend for good reason: Water / Electric is a fantastic typing, both offensively and defensively. It gives Rotom-W only one weakness to the uncommon Grass-type defensively, while providing excellent dual STAB offensively. It also has handy access to Will-O-Wisp to cripple the ubiquitous Grass-type, Ferrothorn. In fact, Rotom-W is deceptively bulky with Will-O-Wisp and Pain Split, even with little defensive investment. Another plus of Rotom-W is that it is very difficult for rain teams to handle: it packs handy resistances to Hydro Pump and Hurricane, and takes only neutral damage from Thunder. After tanking a strong hit, Rotom-W can either recover lost health with Pain Split, or retaliate with a strong Thunderbolt, which most likely hits the majority of the opposing rain team super effectively. Celebi Type: Grass / Psychic Stats: 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 Ability: Natural Cure There are undoubtedly some recurring patterns in this list of Pokemon: all of them resist Water, resist Ground, and fare well against Rain. Indeed, one of the main reasons that a team with only sandstorm-immune Pokemon cannot succeed is that Ground-, Rock-, and Steel-types have trouble against Water-types. Celebi is yet another possibility for the obligatory Water-type resistance. The most common Nasty Plot set capitalizes on its bulk to set up and plow through teams. Utility sets are also viable thanks to its incredibly versatile support movepool, which includes moves, such as Thunder Wave, Leech Seed, Stealth Rock, and the rare Heal Bell. Celebi additionally counters problematic Fighting-types, such as Conkeldurr, Virizion, and Breloom, as well as Rotom-W and its fellow Water- and Electric-types. Defensive Sandstorm Defensive walls always appreciate residual damage to compensate for their lack of offense. Sandstorm provides yet another source of passive damage, which, in conjunction with entry hazards, can rack up damage rather quickly. This combined damage will gradually weaken the opposing weather starter, which is always helpful. However, immunity to your own sandstorm is all the more crucial as a defensive Pokemon to fully benefit from sandstorm. The following are great defensive Pokemon, now made even better with sandstorm. Skarmory Type: Steel / Flying Stats: 65 / 80 / 140 / 40 / 70 / 70 Ability: Keen Eye / Sturdy / Weak Armor Skarmory remains one of the best Spikers in the game. Skarmory has incredible synergy with Tyranitar, as it can take Bug-, Steel-, Fighting-, and Ground-type moves aimed at Tyranitar, while Tyranitar can cover the chink in Skarmory's armor with its own ridiculous Special Defense. As Stealth Rock has much greater distribution, Skarmory can focus on laying Spikes to wear down opposing weather inducers. In a weather war, wearing down the opposing weather inducer is crucial. As a result, Skarmory is a good choice for any balanced team wanting Spikes support. Gliscor Type: Ground / Flying Stats: 75 / 95 / 125 / 45 / 75 / 95 Ability: Hyper Cutter / Sand Veil / Poison Heal Gaining Poison Heal through DW was a godsend to Gliscor. While Poison Heal Gliscor does not have access to Roost, it hardly matters, as Poison Heal's huge end-of-turn recovery means Gliscor never needs it to begin with. Gliscor is perhaps the most reliable check to the likes of Bulk Up Conkeldurr and Swords Dance Landorus. It is also surprisingly versatile: its Taunt + Swords Dance set can break stall teams and pose an offensive threat, while it can utilize a combination of Substitute + Protect with Poison Heal recovery to stall indefinitely until the opponent succumbs to Toxic and sandstorm damage. Baton Pass, Sand Veil, and offensive SD with Flight Gem Acrobatics are lesser used options that can be just as devastating. Just like Skarmory, Gliscor is one of the best physical walls in the game, and fares extremely well against opposing sandstorm teams. Forretress Type: Bug / Steel Stats: 75 / 90 / 140 / 60 / 60 / 40 Ability: Sturdy / Overcoat Forretress remains the premier entry hazard user of BW OU. With access to Stealth Rock, Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Rapid Spin, Forretress is able to provide any type of support relating to hazards. Toxic Spikes gets a special mention, as it is a rare commodity limited to Forretress, Tentacruel, and other forgettable UU Pokemon. Forretress also gains a new option in Volt Switch, which, while a weak special move with low Base Power, allows Forretress to escape the clutches of Magnezone, and gain momentum on the multiple switches that Forretress can force. However, Forretress cannot be relied upon to lay down multiple hazards due to its lack of reliable recovery. Hence, Wish support from the likes of Blissey is recommended to get the most mileage out of Forretress. Jirachi Type: Steel / Psychic Stats: 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 / 100 Ability: Serene Grace Jirachi can fill many roles for a team with its incredible movepool and base 100 stats across the board. While Jirachi is primarily known for its Specially Defensive set, keep in mind that it has the option to go on the offensive with a Calm Mind set, a mixed variant, or a Choice Scarf set. Jirachi's typing really sets it apart as one of the best Latios checks available, and with Wish and Special Defense investment, it can take most neutral special attacks with ease and heal its teammates. Jirachi can also fill the role of a status spreader. Body Slam, Thunder Wave, and Iron Head are all options for paralysis support and general annoyance. You should not rely on Iron Head flinches, but it is a bonus that can bail you out of tough situations. Quagsire Type: Water / Ground Stats: 95 / 85 / 85 / 65 / 65 / 35 Ability: Damp / Water Absorb / Unaware Overshadowed by Swampert for two whole generations, Quagsire finally has something to boast. Unaware is a fantastic ability that stops a range of setup sweepers from Conkeldurr and Lucario to Latias and Reuniclus in their tracks. Ground / Water is also a fantastic defensive typing that allows a single weakness to the uncommon Grass. With an instant recovery move, Quagsire can be incredibly difficult to crack, as it does not care about boosted hits. Stockpile and Curse are also viable options to boost its defenses and make it even harder to take down. While Quagsire is instantly forced out by virtually any Grass-type, it is an excellent defensive Pokemon that should not be underestimated. Gastrodon Type: Water / Ground Stats: 111 / 83 / 68 / 92 / 82 / 39 Ability: Sticky Hold / Storm Drain / Sand Force Gastrodon is another Water- / Ground-type wall that is no longer outclassed by Swampert. The generation shift has upgraded Storm Drain such that its user not only takes zero damage from Water-type moves, but also gains a boost to its Special Attack. With immunities to Water- and Electric-type moves, Gastrodon can serve as a fantastic check to likes of Rotom-W, Starmie, and other common Drizzle abusers. With its great Special Defense and access to Recover, even stray HP Grasses and Grass Knots do not faze the sea slug. Since Gastrodon has lackluster offenses even with Storm Drain, status moves such as Toxic are recommended, as it is otherwise unable to do much back to the Water-types it can freely switch in on. A full stop to most Water- and Electric-types, a well-played Gastrodon can be a nuisance to any Drizzle team. Bronzong Type: Steel / Psychic Stats: 67 / 89 / 116 / 79 / 116 / 33 Ability: Levitate / Heatproof / Heavy Metal Bronzong is a rather overlooked choice for a defensive Pokemon. Its good typing and Levitate leaves it with a single weakness to Fire, and access to Stealth Rock, dual screens, and Trick Room makes Bronzong a fine support Pokemon. Bronzong also resists both Ground and Rock-type moves, a common attacking combination utilized by many overused physical attackers. It can also use HP Ice to check common threats such as Gliscor and other Dragon-types that do not take much damage from Gyro Ball. As one of the two Steel-types immune to Ground, Bronzong is inevitably compared with Skarmory. Lack of Spikes, reliable recovery, or phazing capability is a definite letdown, but it can still be an effective supporter for an offensive team needing an all-rounded tank, or a part of a defensive core with Wish support. Other Defensive Pokemon Blissey Blissey is always an option for any type of defensive team, including defensive sandstorm teams. In spite of power creep, the pink blob still remains the best special wall in the game. Chansey gives Blissey much competition, but Blissey is indubitably the better special sponge in sandstorm for a single reason: Eviolite—and Chansey's subsequent lack of Leftovers— often leaves Chansey very prone to residual damage. Thanks to the new Wish mechanics, Standard Blissey's Wishes now heal over 350 HP, fully revitalizing the likes of Bronzong, Forretress, Latias, Lucario, and Rotom-W. The best Wish user in the game, this makes her invaluable to teammates without reliable recovery. Nonetheless, as Blissey has relatively low Defense, she is easily mauled by the likes of Conkeldurr and Terrakion. Therefore, Pokemon with high Defense such as Gliscor can be a great help. Entry hazard users like Forretress are also recommended to take advantage of the multiple switches Blissey can force. Also, note that Blissey is not an end-all be-all counter to all special threats: Calm Mind Reuniclus, Specs Latios with Psyshock, and SubSplit Gengar are examples of special threats that Blissey cannot handle alone. Hence, teammates such as Choice Scarf Tyranitar can help as a secondary special sponge. Slowbro Dream World has given Slowbro an incredible asset in Regeneration. With Slack Off, Regeneration, and its already impressive defenses, Slowbro can be a pain to take out on the physical side. Slowbro's most valuable niche in a sand team is that it can not only counter most Fighting-types that beat Tyranitar, but also soak up Water- and Fire-type attacks that more common Fighting-type resists such as Gliscor are unable to take. Slowbro also has multiple attacking options including Scald, Psychic, Psyshock, Grass Knot, and Fire Blast, and with a decent base Special Attack of 100, Slowbro is no slouch offensively. Slowbro tends to yield a safe switch-in to many threatening Pokemon such as Latios, but a timely Toxic or Thunder Wave on the switch will cripple them for the remainder of the match. While Slowbro is rather vulnerable to status itself, don't be fooled by its UU status: it is one of the best physical walls available. Tentacruel Tentacruel's niche has always been, and will always be, Toxic Spikes. Tentacruel does not appreciate sandstorm cancelling out its only source of recovery; however, its Toxic Spikes can be a massive help to any defensive team. Teammates such as Substitute + Protect Gliscor are excellent choices to abuse the accumulating sandstorm and Toxic Spikes damage. Aside from laying hazards of its own, Tentacruel can Rapid Spin to clear the field for your team, as well as absorb Toxic Spikes upon entering the arena. Tentacruel also provides a valuable Water-type resistance, and fares well against Drizzle teams thanks to Rain Dish recovery. Its other ability, Liquid Ooze, also enables it to counter common Grass moves such as Giga Drain and Leech Seed from Celebi, Virizion, and Ferrothorn, as well as Conkeldurr's Drain Punch, which sand teams will appreciate. Thanks to its mediocre offenses, however, Tentacruel is generally limited to purely defensive teams, but because the lack of reliable recovery is more troublesome on a defensive team, Wish support from Blissey or Jirachi is highly recommended to enable Tentacruel to reach its full potential. Other Options Other than the Pokemon suggested above, there are many more options for a sandstorm team. Rock-types such as Cradily, Shuckle, and Rhyperior receive a 50% boost in Special Defence, a nice complement to their natural bulk. Cradily has an interesting DW ability, Storm Drain, turning it into a handy check to rain teams. Rhyperior too is able to crush unprepared teams with its insane attack and bulk. However, they are underused options for good reason: Cradily is offensively challenged without multiple Curses under its belt, giving safe set-up opportunities to dangerous sweepers such as Lucario. Stockpile sets cannot accomplish much and will fall to an eventual critical hit. Admittedly, Cradily can become quite the unstoppable force after significant Curse boosts with good coverage in Earthquake and Rock Slide. However, it is weak to status, shut down by Taunt, and happens to be completely countered by the likes of Scizor, Taunt Gliscor, Bulk Up Conkeldurr, and other very common OU Pokemon. On the other hand, Rhyperior still cannot hope to tank super effective special attacks with its pitiable base 55 Special Defense. The fact that Rhyperior fares poorly against opposing weather teams does not help. While these Pokemon certainly benefit from sandstorm, there are almost always better options to choose from. needs reworking (Move your mouse to reveal the content) needs reworking (open) needs reworking (close) Main Threats This section will deal with common weaknesses of sandstorm teams, and how to overcome them. Some of these include opposing weather teams, but also individual threats that can check the few sandstorm abusers available. This section will provide you with not only what you would expect from an opposing weather team, but also how to counter them without having to rely on niche counters that does not add to the overall goal of the team. Drizzle Teams These teams are always a major threat, threatening both Tyranitar and Hippowdon. With rain up, Water-type attacks are boosted by 50%, as well as increasing Thunder and Hurricane’s accuracies to 100%, which certainly helps as they are both 120 Base Power attacks. It also gives Pokemon with Dry Skin and Rain Dish abilities an extra form of recovery, as well as offering Steel-, Bug-, Ice- and Grass-types support due to a 50% damage reduction from Fire-type attacks. The rain also doubles the Speed of Pokemon with the Swift Swim ability. Due to the large threat Drizzle teams were in the metagame, a ban on having Pokemon with both the Drizzle and Swift Swim abilities on the same team was put in place. Nevertheless, Drizzle teams still have a large number of hard hitting abusers and should never to be taken lightly. It is always a must to have at least one or two Pokemon in your sandstorm team to keep Pokemon that are commonly used on a rain team in check. Most rain teams consist of special attackers with Water- and Electric-types as their main STAB and hence all have similar checks: Pokemon with a good Special Defense and Pokemon with a resistance or immunity to Water-type moves. Such supporters include: Ferrothorn, Gastrodon, Chansey, Blissey, Tentacruel, Jellicent, Celebi, Latias, Latios, and Rotom-W. Politoed Politoed has made a great impact on today’s metagame with its newly bestowed Dream World ability, Drizzle. Whilst the impact it has on the metagame is largely due to the vast number and sheer power of the rain abusers, Politoed is definitely no slacker itself. Its decent bulk and its base 90 Special Attack allows it to run a variety of sets, from a defensive set to a hard hitting Choice Specs set, thanks to the 50% power boost to Water-type moves provided by the rain, or even a revenge killer with Choice Scarf. All in all, Politoed is a major threat to sandstorm teams with both Tyranitar and Hippowdon being weak to Water-type moves. Special walls such as Jellicent, Chansey, Ferrothorn, Tentacruel and Gastrodon are always good to have on your sandstorm team to keep Politoed in check. Defensive Politoed sets hate being hit with status, especially poison or burn, as they wear it down faster. Choice sets require good prediction, but getting in on the right move can force Politoed out. Entry hazard support is welcome, limiting the number of times Politoed can switch in to your Tyranitar or Hippowdon. It is also worth noting that Pursuit Tyranitar can also deal with weakened Politoed if it comes in safely, preventing it from switching back in and setting up rain again and turning the tide of the battle in your favour. Starmie Starmie has been OU in every Generation to date, and for a good reason too. Despite not receiving any significant improvements this Generation, Starmie still boasts its blistering 115 Base Speed, which allows Starmie to outspeed every unboosted Pokemon in the OU tier except Deoxys-S, as well as having a decent 100 Base Special Attack and access to high powered moves such as Hydro Pump and Thunder, meaning it is able to abuse Rain to its fullest. Sand teams will not appreciate a rain boosted Hydro Pump, a 100% accurate Thunder nor a powerful Ice Beam, so it is essential to have a Starmie check somewhere on your team. Chansey and Blissey have always been its top counters since they were introduced and they still do a great job against it in this Generation. However, the 5th Generation has given us a Water-type sweeper’s worst enemies: Ferrothorn and Storm Drain Gastrodon, the former being able to tank any hits and OHKO Starmie with Power Whip and the latter being immune to both Water- and Electric-type attacks. Both of these work well on any sandstorm team. If you lack at one of these four Pokemon, it is of high importance that you keep sandstorm up to maintain Excadrill’s Sand Rush, or have a reliable Choice Scarf revenge killer that can reliably take care of the starfish. Starmie’s downfall has always been its common weaknesses and rather average bulk, meaning that it will not last too long on the field if you play intelligently. Even with its high attacking prowess, it is also worth noting that Starmie can also serve as a great support Pokemon to a Rain team, with access to Rapid Spin, its ability to beat the most common spinblockers in the metagame, the move Recover and its ability Natural Cure. If you see a Starmie on the opposing team, you may wish to be a bit conservative with setting up entry hazards until the Starmie is significantly weakened. Due to Starmie’s Psychic weakness, Tyranitar is one of the best checks to Starmie, as it can OHKO with Crunch, or Pursuit if it switches out, but should be used as last resort due to how important Tyranitar is to a sandstorm team. Tornadus Despite having the exact same stats as Thundurus, this Pokemon is largely considered as inferior to Thundurus. However, there is one thing that Tornadus has that Thundurus would kill for: access to Hurricane, a 120 Base Power Flying-type move. Its shaky accuracy is not an issue, as it is boosted to 100% accuracy with rain up, meaning that it is a lot easier to use. Tornadus are usually seen with the Choice Specs set (Hurricane, Focus Blast, Hidden Power [Ice] or Grass Knot, U Turn) or mixed, since it has quite a nice set of physical attacks to use with its 115 Base Attack. Although it is not as threatening to Sand teams as Thundurus and Starmie are, Tornadus do always pack Focus Blast, Hammer Arm or Grass Knot much like Thundurus does, making you think twice about sending in your Tyranitar or Hippowdon against it. The best Pokemon to use against it are Pokemon with a good Special Defense Jirachi and Chansey or Blissey at full health. Common Electric-type Pokemon like Rotom-W and Thundurus can also check Tornadus fairly well. Bulky Water-types such as Tentacruel and Jellicent do fairly well against it, as it doesn't have the powerful STAB Thunderbolt or Thunder that makes Thundurus much more threatening. If you can keep sandstorm on the field, Hurricane’s accuracy drops to 70%, and if you can keep Stealth Rock up, Tornadus loses 25% of its health every time it switches in, which will make Tornadus a lot less threatening. Rotom-W Despite all the other Rotom forms falling out of OU after losing their Ghost typing in this Generation, Rotom’s Wash form remains a top tier Pokemon. With its Water/Electric typing, combined with its ability Levitate which gives it an immunity to Ground-type moves, giving it only one weakness: Grass-type moves. Rotom-W is an example of a Pokemon that can fully abuse rain, as both of its STAB attacks are boosted by the rain – Hydro Pump gets 50% more power, and Thunder because 100% accurate. It is a top threat to sandstorm teams as its STABs and very good allows it to take a few hits and threaten common sandstorm team members like Landorus, Excadrill, Hippowdon and Tyranitar. It can also run Choice sets with Trick, allowing it to not only get some surprise KOs but to also cripple defensive Pokemon. Defensive sets are even harder to take down, as it can use Will-o-Wisp to cripple your physical sweepers and use Pain Split to gain health when needed. Your best bets at stopping Rotom-W are your generic special walls: Ferrothorn, Chansey, Blissey and Gastrodon, as well as Celebi, Latias, Latios and Virizion. They all wouldn't appreciate getting hit with Will-o-Wisp or Tricked a Choice item though. Another way to wear it down is by way of status (Toxic or burn) as Rotom-W’s only reliable way of recovery is Pain Split. Toxicroak Despite having poor defences and an average Attack stat, Toxicroak fits perfectly on any rain team, offering resistances to common attacking types such as Fighting, Bug, Grass and Rock, as well as being able to absorb the Toxic Spikes that would otherwise plague rain teams. Its main selling point is its ability, Dry Skin, which restores Toxicroak’s HP when it is hit with Water-type attacks, and grants an extra 6.25% HP recovery every turn in rain, allowing it to setup on Pokemon that would normally trouble Rain teams such as Ferrothorn, Chansey, Blissey, Tentacruel and Virizion. Toxicroak is usually seen with a Swords Dance set or Bulk Up set, which utilises Substitute to block status such as paralysis and burn and uses Drain Punch and Sucker Punch for decent coverage, recovery and priority. It is typically beaten by generic physical walls such as Gliscor, Slowbro and Hippowdon, as they can all take a hit or two and threaten to KO it with Earthquake or Psychic, or Roar it out. Other commonly used Pokemon that can beat Toxicroak are Jellicent, Bold Reuniclus and Roar Latias. Some Toxicroak run Ice Punch to surprise incoming Gliscor and Dragon-types, but since it is incompatible with Drain Punch, you can presume it has it if you see that it has something other than Drain Punch, like Brick Break or Cross Chop. Though it is not a good idea to bring in your Tyranitar against it, having sandstorm up severely dents its ability to setup with ease and allows you to deal with it better. Jirachi Previously forgotten in the past after all the hype over the new Pokemon from Black and White, Calm Mind Jirachi makes its way back into competitive play with permanent rain reducing damage from Fire attacks as well as being able to fire off a 100% accurate Thunder, with Serene Grace giving making Thunder have a 60% chance to paralyze, and a rain-boosted Water Pulse, with Serene Grace giving it a 40% chance to confuse. The set aims to use Serene Grace to its fullest with the infamous “parafusion” combination as well as, like Toxicroak, allowing it to setup with ease on Pokemon that normally trouble rain teams, such as Ferrothorn, who struggles to break Jirachi’s Substitute and Chansey and Blissey, due to its 101 HP Substitutes; and lastly, lure out counters to its normal Physical, such as Gliscor, Jellicent and Skarmory, only to hit them with a boosted Water Pulse or Thunder. Though becoming common now, Calm Mind Jirachi is definitely a threat to unprepared sandstorm teams and it must never be given the opportunity to setup. The three best Pokemon to use against Calm Mind Jirachi are Storm Drain Gastrodon, Nasty Plot or Perish Song Celebi and Unaware Quagsire. Specially Defensive Tyranitar can brush off its attacks with ease but it cannot do much back without Earthquake, which is rare on Specially Defensive variants, and Hippowdon with all its bulk can take a +1 or +2 Water Pulse if at good health and Roar it away or Earthquake for the 2HKO. Drought Teams Ninetales The cornerstone of any sun team, Ninetales looks extremely outclassed when compared to other weather inducers. As all the other weather inducers, bar Abomasnow, have a severe type advantage over it, the questions arises as to whether it can really have an impact on the weather war or not. The answer is yes. In the hands of a good player, a sun team is a devastating force to be reckoned with. Stealth Rock is essential when playing against sun teams, because Ninetales will take 25% damage on every switch-in, aiding you greatly in the weather war. Ninetales has a few notable sets, namely the Calm Mind set, the Specially Defensive set and the Nasty Plot set. While they can't really do too much damage off of that 83 Base Special Attack stat, Will-O-Wisp can burn Tyranitar and Hippowdon, cutting their attack and crippling them badly. Even with access to Energy Ball, Tyranitar with the Special Defense boost from the sand can wall it and threaten to OHKO with Stone Edge. Hypnosis can be an annoyance if it hits, putting one of your Pokemon to sleep. Heatran Heatran is typically used as a Stealth Rock supporter. However, it also has great offensive capabilities, especially in a sun team, where sun raises the power of its Fire-type attacks by 50% and weakens Water-type attacks by 50%. The main aim of a sun team with Heatran is to lure a Fire-type attack aimed at a Pokemon such as Venusaur (or a similar Chlorophyll Grass type user) and get the Flash Fire boost for Heatran. You're really not going to enjoy a sun-boosted, STAB, Flash Fire boosted Fire type move from a massive base 130 Special Attack. Heatran isn't too hard for a Sand team to handle as long as Sandstorm is up. It can cause a problem for Tyranitar if Tyranitar switches into Earth Power but it doesn't really have any way of boosting its Special Attack to create havoc. Tyranitar can normally handle any variation of Heatran as long as it doesn't take repeated hits from Earth Power. Specially Defensive Hippowdon can threaten to OHKO it with Earthquake and can use Slack Off to heal any damage taken. Sandstorm teams can utilise their own Heatran to take a Choice- locked Fire attack and threaten the opposing Heatran with Earth Power. Gastrodon can also walk all over any Heatran without Hidden Power Grass. One should always watch out for Magma Storm Heatran, as it can trap sandstorm inducers and poison them, giving the sun team the advantage. Volcarona Volcarona is one of the deadliest sun sweepers you can find. Almost all sun teams run a Pokemon with Rapid Spin to prevent Stealth Rock from ruining their common sweepers. Volcarona is one of the few Fire-type Pokemon that is actually dangerous to a sandstorm team. After a Quiver Dance, Volcarona hit Tyranitar with STAB Bug Buzz and severely dent it. Specially Defensive Hippowdon can't really do much to it, as Volcarona’s unique typing makes it neutral to Earthquake. The standard Volcarona used in sun teams is one that utilises the ChestoRest strategy, healing Volcarona of any prior damage and giving it a second chance to sweep. To deal with Volcarona, it is highly recommended that you try to keep Stealth Rock in play at all times, as Stealth Rock will remove 50% of Volcarona’s HP every time it switches in. Heatran can wall it long if it doesn't have Hidden Power Ground. If it does, Volcarona is sacrificing recovery through Rest, meaning that it will not stay alive for as long as it wishes to. Heatran can also Roar it away, forcing it to take more Stealth Rock damage upon switching in again. Tentacruel can also check it decently. Venusaur Venusaur is probably the best sun sweeper in the current metagame. Having access to Growth, which boosts both its Special Attack and Attack stat by 2 stages in the sun, allows it to become a powerful mixed attacker, and Chlorophyll doubles Venusaur's Speed, allowing it to outspeed a very large portion of the metagame. A lot of people are fans of the Special sweeper Venusaur, which uses Giga Drain, Hidden Power Fire or Ice and Sludge Bomb alongside Growth. While that can tear holes in many teams and has the capability to hit Tyranitar and Hippowdon hard, it is entirely walled by Heatran. The mixed set is more dangerous, as Venusaur can use Earthquake to deal massive damage to the likes of Tyranitar and Heatran. Power Whip can also be used in place of Giga Drain for the extra power but the loss of recovery will decrease Venusaur's longevity. The mixed variant is difficult to check because it can use many different attacks. The best thing to do is to remove the sunny weather before it sets up. Choice Scarf Tyranitar can do this and outspeed and threaten it severely. Without sun, it is a much lesser threat, but with sun up the mixed variant is very difficult to deal with until you know what attacks it is running. Sawsbuck Sawsbuck is a physical sweeper, and with access to Chlorophyll and a Base 100 Attack stat, it can pose a lot of problems when used in a sun team. It is almost exclusively seen using a Swords Dance set, using three of Horn Leech, Jump Kick, Nature Power (which turns into Earthquake in link battles), Return, Frustration and Wild Charge. Outside of those moves, there isn’t much else Sawsbuck can do. It struggles to get past the standard Physical walls such as Gliscor and Skarmory, but it seriously threatens both Tyranitar and Hippowdon, as well as many common sandstorm abusers. If you’ve got a solid Physical wall, then you shouldn’t have a huge problem with Sawsbuck. Darmanitan Darmanitan has everything it needs to be a threat on a sun team. A Sheer Force boosted STAB Flare Blitz coming off of a Base 140 Attack will demolish nearly anything that doesn't resist it. Fortunately, this offensive beast has very weak defenses. It does have a fairly nice 95 Base Speed, with which it can take advantage of a Choice Band or Choice Scarf – in fact almost every Darmanitan you’ll see will probably have a Choice item. It’s really had to switch into Darmanitan’s Flare Blitz, even if you resist it. Heatran is immune to Flare Blitz and gets boosted by Flash Fire, but it will fall to Superpower. Slowbro does a fairly nice job, but U-Turn hurts it. Most of the time, Darmanitan will kill itself through Flare Blitz recoil and Stealth Rock damage. Just try and force it to switch, and you should be alright. Victini Victini is fairly similar to Darmanitan. Instead of Flare Blitz, you have to take V-Create, a Base 180 power move – and in the sun, it does even more damage. Typically, Choice Band or Choice Scarf Victini are the most commonly used variants in Sun teams. Slowbro can take Flare Blitz, but a Fusion Bolt will hurt a lot. Heatran is a decent check to most Victini, as they usually lack Focus Blast. A rare Special variant can be handled by Tyranitar, so long as it avoids Focus Blast. Fighting-types The fact that Tyranitar and Terrakion are by far the most common Pokemon in sandstorm teams opens up a whole weakness to Fighting-types. Considering BW introduced some extremely powerful and versatile Fighting-types, this is a grave issue! Often, these will switch into Tyranitar without breaking a sweat. Hence, if your team is using Tyranitar, as you most likely will, then it is crucial to have teammates to cover for this weakness. Conkeldurr Conkeldurr is one of the top threats to a Sandstorm team. Its bulk, power and typing immediately spells disaster for a Sandstorm team if it’s lacking some appropriate checks, especially as it can recover its health when it attacks. The main reason why this applies to Sandstorm teams is that Tyranitar, who is the most prominent Sand Stream inducer in the current metagame, and Terrakion, who is the most prominent sweeper in sandstorm teams, are both massively weak to Fighting-type moves. It can easily come in on Tyranitar and threaten to OHKO it or grab a Bulk Up boost and proceed to cause major issues. Typically, the most common ways of dealing with Physical threats is to burn them and lower their Attack to manageable levels. However, Conkeldurr’s ability is Guts, which actually boosts Conkeldurr’s Attack stat if it is hit with a major status condition, such as burn. However, Conkeldurr is not without his checks. Choice Specs Latios can OHKO with Draco Meteor, and both Latias and Latios can set up Calm Mind boosts if Conkeldurr lacks Payback. Reuniclus is a good check for Conkeldurr. It has impressive bulk, and it is slower than Conkeldurr, meaning that Payback will not do as much damage, and can respond with a powerful STAB Psychic. Gliscor can also a solid check. It resists Conkeldurr’s STAB attacks and can take most of what Conkeldurr can throw at it, whilst breaking through Conkeldurr’s defenses thanks to Taunt and Swords Dance. Skarmory can also check it efficiently using Brave Bird and Whirlwind to prevent it from setting up, but it can struggle as it does not resist Drain Punch. One of the most solid checks for Conkeldurr is Slowbro, as it is slower than Conkeldurr, like Reuniclus is, gets instant recovery, has an STAB Psychic to beat Conkeldurr with, and can switch out and recover any health it did lose thanks to Regeneration. All of the above Pokemon can work fairly well in a sandstorm team. Terrakion Terrakion is a fairly big threat to sandstorm teams. It outspeeds almost every single sandstorm abuser when unboosted, and if it uses Rock Polish, it can even outspeed the entire metagame. Furthermore, it can boost its Attack to high levels with Swords Dance, allowing it to power through most of the Pokemon that are used on a sandstorm team with just its powerful STAB moves. It even gets a Special Defense boost from the sandstorm, and can even utilise a Choice Band or Choice Scarf set. It still struggles to get past Gliscor, no matter what set it is running, thanks to Gliscor’s high Defense and decent typing. Reuniclus and Slowbro can both take a hit from Terrakion and respond with a powerful STAB Psychic, or a Scald in Slowbro’s case. Terrakion is also weak to a lot of priority attacks; Conkeldurr can check it with Mach Punch, Scizor can check it with Bullet Punch or Azumarill could check it with Aqua Jet. Hippowdon can take a Close Combat and Earthquake for the KO, and Choice Scarf Landorus or Terrakion can outspeed and KO with the appropriate move if Terrakion has not used Rock Polish, but be careful about Air Balloon. Infernape Infernape is still a devastating force to be reckoned with. Infernape's versatility is obviously its most dangerous weapon against any team. Sandstorm teams are no exceptions. Sporting a Base 104 Attack and Special Attack, it can hard to determine whether Infernape is running a Physical, Special or mixed set. It’s hard to find a counter or check for the mixed version. The physical version can be taken cared of easily by Slowbro and Gliscor and the special version can be handled by Latias or a similar Pokemon that resists its STAB Fighting and Fire. Slowbro and Gastrodon work really well if it lacks Grass Knot. The mixed version can usually be handled by Slowbro, as Grass Knot is not that popular anymore. Hippowdon can take it fairly well assuming Infernape lacks Grass Knot, and almost all bulky waters such as Suicune, Jellicent, and Vaporeon can wall it, and proceed to KO it with STAB Water-type moves. Scrafty Scrafty is not that powerful, yet it has just enough power to KO what it needs to. Its ability, Shed Skin, makes hitting it with status inflictions near useless. Its offenses are practically nothing when other commonly used Fighting-type Pokemon, but it has brilliant bulk and access to excellent set-up moves such as Dragon Dance and Bulk Up. Scrafty’s movepool really limits what can check it. It cannot really be walled by Gliscor or Slowbro like other Fighting-type Pokemon can, due to it usually carrying Ice Punch and STAB Crunch. The problem that Scrafty has is that almost any Fighting-type Pokemon can come in and scare it away or just smash it with their own an STAB Fighting-type move. Without Dragon Dance, Scrafty is easily outsped due to its mediocre Base 58 Speed. Conkeldurr can easily come in at any move before it sets up too much and can set up Bulk Ups or just Drain Punch Scrafty to death. Skarmory is a good defensive check, as a +1 Drain Punch or Hi Jump Kick won’t hurt it nearly as much as similar attacks from other Fighting-type Pokemon. Hippowdon can Roar Scrafty away, but it cannot really do too much damage itself. Lucario Boasting a Base 110 Attack and a Base 115 Special Attack, and having access to boosting moves such as Nasty Plot, Sword Dance and Agility makes Lucario one of the best sweepers in the game from either side of the spectrum. Whilst its Speed is a fairly average Base 90, it has access to various priority moves, such as Extremespeed, Bullet Punch and Vacuum Wave. It can seriously threaten almost all members of a sandstorm team and leave its core in pieces if the player doesn't realize what moves the opponent is using. Nothing much can hold up well against a Swords Dance Lucario, as even Skarmory takes a hefty chunk of damage from Close Combat. The Physical version can be walled by either Gliscor or Slowbro and Reuniclus, depending on what filler move Lucario is running alongside Extremespeed, Close Combat and Swords Dance. Ice Punch will make Slowbro's life easy while Crunch will make Gliscor's life easy. Gliscor can do fairly well against Nasty Plot Lucario if it lacks Hidden Power Ice, but it will take a large chunk of damage. Tentacruel and Gastrodon can do fairly well against Nasty Plot Lucario, being able to take a hit or two and try and burn it with Scald, or KO with Earth Power in Gastrodon’s case. Whilst Blissey and Chansey can paralyse Lucario, making him easier to manage, it will not want to take a +2 Aura Sphere at all. Tyranitar cannot stand up to Lucario at all, and Hippowdon struggles to take a +2 Close Combat, and it seriously struggles against Nasty Plot Lucario. Virizion Virizion is an underrated sweeper which can tear huge holes into a sandstorm team. At first it may seem like a less powerful Breloom, but with more Speed and bulk. However, Virizion can run a physical, special or mixed set, which makes it unpredictably dangerous. Calm Mind Virizion is extremely dangerous for a sandstorm team, since it can kill a lot of things that would usually feature on sandstorm teams, as well as beat common checks to Fighting types. Giga Drain beats Jellicent, Gastrodon and other bulky waters, and it also maims Hippowdon. Hidden Power Ice would lay waste to Gliscor and Landorus. Focus Blast is the powerful Fighting STAB attack that easily beats Tyranitar. Physical Virizion is easily walled by Skarmory, since it lacks the raw Physical power other Fighting types do. Gliscor can also beat Physical Virizion, but mixed Virizion runs Hidden Power Ice, which ruins Gliscor. Calm Mind Virizion can struggle to get the best of Latios and Latias, but without a Psychic-type attack, they won’t do too much damage back. Liquid Ooze Tentacruel is one of the best checks, as it damages Virizion when it uses Giga Drain. In return, it can burn it with Scald and slowly drain its health. Breloom Breloom can not only threaten a sandstorm team with its powerful attacks, but it can also shut down a Pokemon with ease thanks to Spore. It gets the Poison Heal ability, and most players run Toxic Orb on it to prevent status and regain HP at the same time, which can cause a problem if you’re trying to inflict a status on Breloom. Most sandstorm teams use Toxic Orb Gliscor with its Poison Heal as it cannot be put to sleep if it is poisoned, and it can otherwise put a full stop to Breloom. Other great checks to Breloom are Reuniclus, Latias, Celebi, Sigilyph, Deoxys-D, Mew, and Xatu. They're all able to resist Breloom's incredibly power Focus Punch attack and KO back with a Psychic-type move. However, all of that require an additional Pokemon to take Spore for them, except Xatu, which uses its Magic Bounce ability to bounce Breloom's Spore attack onto itself, which is a great way to stop Breloom if it lacks Toxic Orb or if Toxic Orb has not activated yet. Mienshao Mienshao is mostly used as a Fake Out lead. It’s frail, fast and powerful and has access to a great ability, Regeneration. Normally it is only seen using the same set, which uses Fake Out, Hi Jump Kick, U-turn and Hidden Power Ice with a Life Orb. It has the access to Sword Dance, although it is rarely seen. But in a lead position it will almost 90% of the time have the above mentioned set. Hi Jump Kick will hurt most of your sand team. But in truth, Mienshao is one of the easier Pokemon to check. Gliscor can't handle the standard variant because of Hidden Power Ice, but without Hidden Power, Gliscor is a great check. Slowbro beats Mienshao easily, but U-turn will hurt a bit. Arguably the greatest counter to Mienshao would be Jellicent, as it is immune to Hi Jump Kick and Fake Out, resists both U-turn and Hidden Power Ice, and it can burn with Scald and Recover any damage. Hippowdon handles Mienshao well, as it struggles to do much damage to it, whereas Hippowdon can respond with Earthquake. Machamp Machamp is a very annoying Pokemon to deal with. Thanks to No Guard, Dynamicpunch is always going to hit and cause confusion. Only Ghost types can avoid this, and they can check Machamp fairly well thanks to Payback not being entirely reliable. It has a variety of coverage moves including Ice Punch, Stone Edge, Bullet Punch, and the aforementioned Payback. Gliscor deals well with variants lacking Ice Punch. Reuniclus and Slowbro can shut Machamp down completely, with Reuniclus beating it with a powerful Psychic, and Slowbro either burning with Scald or hitting with Psychic. Other Threats Scizor Scizor usually come in two variants, Swords Dance or Choice Band. Choice Band Scizor is deadly, as nothing is immune to U-turn, which can give Scizor the upper hand as it can switch straight out to a check. Swords Dance Scizor can easily sweep a sandstorm team without an appropriate check. Scizor has one major problem—a 4x weakness to Fire-type moves. Pokemon such as Heatran and Infernape can easily check Scizor and force him to switch, but they have to watch out for Superpower from Choice Band Scizor. Steel types such as Skarmory and Magnezone can also come out on STAB Bullet Punch and Bug Bite and effectively set up on Scizor as well. Skarmory can Whirlwind Scizor away while not taking too much damage, and Magnezone can trap Scizor and kill it with Hidden Power Fire. Gyarados resists pretty much anything Scizor does, and it can Roar or Dragon Tail it away, or just set up a Dragon Dance. Hippowdon can Roar Scizor away if it tries to set up a Swords Dance. Dragonite Dragonite has become one of the top dragons this generation, finally outclassing its younger brother Salamence. Its new ability, Multiscale, reduces damage by 50% when it has full HP, and in conjunction with Roost, makes Dragonite one hard dragon to take down. Dragonite has many possible sets, but the three main variations are Specially Offensive, Dragon Dance, and Bulky Phazer. Specially Offensive Dragonites are more often seen on Rain teams as Dragonite can take advantage of a 100% accurate Hurricane and Thunder. Dragon Dance variations focus on taking advantage of Multiscale to get a free Dragon Dance and proceed to sweep with some selection of Extremespeed, Outrage, Fire Punch, and Earthquake. On the defensive spectrum, Bulky Phazer sets take full advantage of Multiscale by coupling it with Roost. Other moves often seen on this set are Substitute and Thunder Wave, while Dragon Tail phazes the opponent. Stealth Rock nullifies the effects of Multiscale, making Dragonite much easier to KO. Special Walls such as Chansey and Blissey can easily take on Specially Offensive versions of Dragonite. Dragon Dance versions can be a lot harder to handle, but pokemon such as Gliscor and Ferrothorn can come in and scare it away with Ice Fang or Gyro Ball. Bulky Phazer sets with Dragon Tail and Thunder Wave can be a nuisance, but the only way it can rack up damage is with entry hazards set up, so Rapid Spin users such as Starmie can spin away hazards and attack with Ice Beam while absorbing Thunder Wave with Natural Cure. Latios and Latias The dynamic duo are probably two of the strongest specially based Dragon-types in the metagame. Latios can hit hard with Choice Specs and Trick it onto incoming tanks while Latias, being more defensively based, is one of the best Calm Mind users in the game. Unfortunately, these Dragons fall prey to the most common Pokemon on Sand teams, Tyranitar. Tyranitar can switch into either Dragon-type and trap it with Pursuit. Blissey can tank Draco Meteors from Specs Latios and heal up, while Scizor and Ferrothorn can come in on Calm Mind Latias and threaten it with U-turn or Gyro Ball. Haxorus Haxorus used to be a laughingstock of early BW metagame because of its unfortunate speed tier, but don't be fooled; this dragon can be your worst enemy if you are not prepared. With 147 Base Attack coupled with Rivalry, Haxorus can destroy some of the sturdiest physical walls in the OU metagame. Choice Banded Outrage with Rivalry boost is a clean 2HKO on Pokemon such as Ferrothorn and Skarmory. Haxorus also has access to Dragon Dance to fix its rather low 97 Base Speed and Swords Dance to boost its attack to astronomical levels. Because there is no virtually no Pokemon that can tank Haxorus's assaults with a Choice Band or after a Dragon Dance, the key to stopping Haxorus is by sending in a faster Dragon-type to catch it while it's stuck on Outrage or by wearing it down with priority moves. Hydreigon Hydreigon is one of the new specially based dragons this generation. With a wide range of moves ranging from Dark Pulse to Flamethrower, it can be pretty hard on sand teams if you're not carrying the appropriate checks and counters. One of it's flaws is its rather low speed. With only 98 Base Speed, it falls 2 points short of joining the Base 100 club, losing to a multitude of common offensive Pokemon. Hydreigon tend to carry Choice Scarf or Choice Specs, allowing it to deal heavy damage and then switch out, but on occasion, it does run Life Orb or Expert Belt for better coverage. Special walls such as Chansey and Blissey can easily switch into whatever Hydreigon can dish out and tank the attack. Hydreigon is also part Dark-type, which makes it weak to Fighting-type Pokemon such as Conkeldurr or Terrakion. Jellicent Jellicent is one of the top specially defensive walls in today's metagame, and for good reason. It has access to both Will-O-Wisp and Toxic, has access to instant recovery and Water Absorb, and can act as a spinblocker. With such assets, Jellicent is a huge threat to any sandstorm team. Jellicent usually packs moves such as Will-O-Wisp, Toxic, Scald, Recover, or Taunt, making it a very versatile wall. Even so, Jellicent has a number of counters that can scare it away. Pokemon such as Celebi, Toxic Orb Breloom, and Magic Guard Reuniclus can come in and absorb status while potentially setting up on it. Physical attackers such as Tyranitar can try to come in too but must always be wary of Will-O-Wisp. Landorus Unlike the other genies, who are often found on Rain teams, Landorus thrives primarily in sand because of its typing and ability Sand Force. Sand Force allows all of its Ground- and Rock- type moves to be boosted by 1.3%. While this may seem like an insignificant boost, moves such as Earthquake, who share a STAB boost, now have the power to devestate foes that it could not before. This free 1.3% bonus can even be extended by the likes of attack boosting items such as Choice items and Life Orb. Landorus is unique in a sense that, while the other genies focus on speed, Landorus gives up that extra speed for amazing attack stats on both sides of the spectrum. With a whopping 125 base attack, and a 115 base special attack, Landorus is definitely no pushover. Although its physical attack may be higher, it has the option to use moves such as Earth Power and Hidden Power Ice to suprise foes and nab kills on common switch-ins such as Gliscor. Landorus is commonly found using either a physical Life Orb set or a Choice Scarf or Choice Band set to take advantage of its amazing Attack. Even so, some may opt to throw players off by using a special Set because with access to moves such as Earth Power and Focus Blast, Landorus can still send foes packing and can surprise most of its usual counter. Some of Landorus's checks include Pokemon such as Rotom-W and Gyarados that can come in and dodge an Earthquake, forcing it to switch out, but Stone Edge does huge damage to both. Physically bulky Pokemon such as Gliscor and Skarmory can pretty much counter most physical sets. Forretress and Skarmory Forretress and Skarmory are probably some of the top picks to set up entry hazards. While Skarmory can set up hazards and phaze out enemies with Whirlwind, Forretress can set up hazards alongside foes and easily spin them away. Both these pokemon are huge threats to sand teams because they can set up hazards and rack up damage quite quickly. They also both come with one of the most annoying abilities this generation, Sturdy, which allows them to stay alive for at least 2 turns as long as they have full HP. These two pokemon share similiar weaknesses though. For one, they are both extremely weak to Fire-type attacks, and if you have a spinner on your team, they're pretty much useless. Electric- and Fire-type attacks can pretty much take down Skarmory, but it's usually paired with a sturdy special wall such as Blissey, as is Forretress. Mixed attackers such as Infernape have no trouble dealing with this core and can easily break it. Reuniclus can fare well against the two as well, taking no residual damage and attacking back with Focus Blast. Teambuilding Tips Teambuilding with sandstorm highly depends upon one's playstyle. old (Move your mouse to reveal the content) old (open) old (close) Building a sandstorm team is pretty easy. You want to start with a Pokemon that has the Sand Stream ability; Tyranitar or Hippowdon are your only two choices. Tyranitar has great defenses, but its Special Defense stands out more than its Defense due to Sandstorm raising its Special Defense by 50%. Hippowdon's strong point is its Physical bulk, which consists of an awesome 118 Base Defense and a very good 108 Base HP. It depends on what you need your support to do for your team: Tyranitar can check Latios, Latias and Reuniclus; Hippowdon can check Excadrill and other tough Physical sweepers. Both Tyranitar and Hippowdon are able to set up Stealth Rock. You could even run both Tyranitar and Hippowdon on your team if you wanted to. There are essentially three offensive Pokemon that benefit from the sandstorm. They are Excadrill, Landorus, and Terrakion. A good sandstorm team would have one or two of these offensive Pokemon, as having too many would just weaken your team even more against Water-types and rain teams. Excadrill is typically used to take advantage of Sand Rush, which doubles its Speed in the sandstorm. This makes Excadrill an excellent sweeper with Swords Dance and STAB Earthquake. Excadrill can also use Rapid Spin to support your team if your team is weak against entry hazards. Excadrill is basically an excellent sweeper, spinner, and revenge killer for a sandstorm team. Landorus hits like a truck without any boost required, thanks to Sand Force raising the power of its Ground- and Rock-type moves by 30% in the sandstorm. Unlike Excadrill, this guy gets access to a much stronger Rock-type move (Stone Edge) and is not walled by Gliscor, thanks to Hidden Power Ice, though Landorus is not as fast as Excadrill. It does have access to Rock Polish to make up for that though. Terrakion is another great sweeper in the sandstorm, with great defenses along with a 50% increase of Special Defense thanks to sandstorm. Unlike Landorus, Terrakion takes advantage of its Fighting-type and Rock-type, which allows it to get STAB on two powerful moves, Close Combat and Stone Edge, which have great neutral coverage between them. It is faster than Landorus but slower than Excadrill, but it can boost its Speed with Rock Polish, making it even faster than Excadrill. All three of these offensive threats get access to Swords Dance, making them even more dangerous. With Tyranitar or Hippowdon and Excadrill, Terrakion or Landorus being the chosen cores of your sandstorm team, you will need to cover your team’s weaknesses, and make sure you can stop common threats and provide good offensive synergy as well. Many sandstorm abusers are weak to Water-type moves, and this means we have to choose some Pokemon that can take Water-type moves from the likes of Rotom-W and Starmie. Pokemon like Celebi or Gastrodon are great choices to stop Water-types. Celebi has Natural Cure, allowing it to hurl off a burn and defeat Rotom-W or Jellicent, and it also resists Grass- and Fighting-type moves, common weaknesses amongst sandstorm teams. Gastrodon gets the ability Storm Drain, which allows it to take any Water-type attacks and raise its Special Attack while also being immune to Electric-type attacks, so it's able to beat threats such as Starmie and Thundurus. Having more than one way of stopping Water-type threats is great for the team. You can support your team with Stealth Rock by letting your sandstorm supporter (Tyranitar or Hippowdon) set it up. If you wish to have a Spikes supporter, you can use Skarmory, Ferrothorn, Forretress or Deoxys-D. They're all great options. Dragon-type moves hurt almost every Pokemon that isn’t a Steel-type, so having a Steel-type Pokemon would really benefit your sandstorm team. Steel-types are immune to sandstorm damage as well. Jirachi is a Steel-type that can be used to support your team with Wish and to check Gengar, which could cause problems to a common sandstorm team with its Shadow Ball and Focus Blast combo. Blissey and Chansey are also great Wish supporters, and they can provide paralysis support as well as Heal Bell support. Blissey, Chansey and Specially Defensive Jirachi are both able to take on special attacking Water-types as well, making them excellent supporting Pokemon on a sandstorm team. Sample Teams Benelux Stall by Delko. Code: Gliscor (F) @ Toxic Orb Trait: Poison Heal EVs: 244 HP / 44 Def / 220 Spd Impish Nature (+Def, -SAtk) - Substitute - Protect - Toxic - Earthquake Forretress (F) @ Leftovers Trait: Sturdy EVs: 252 HP / 176 Def / 80 SAtk Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk) - Rapid Spin - Hidden Power [Ice] - Volt Switch - Pain Split Blissey (F) @ Leftovers Trait: Natural Cure EVs: 252 Def / 164 SDef / 92 Spd Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk) - Seismic Toss - Softboiled - Flamethrower - Stealth Rock Jellicent (M) @ Leftovers Trait: Water Absorb EVs: 248 HP / 160 Def / 100 Spd Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk) - Scald - Taunt - Recover - Will-O-Wisp Tyranitar (M) @ Choice Scarf Trait: Sand Stream EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd Jolly Nature (+Spd, -SAtk) - Crunch - Pursuit - Stone Edge - Aerial Ace Skarmory (F) @ Leftovers Trait: Sturdy EVs: 248 HP / 252 Def / 8 Spd Impish Nature (+Def, -SAtk) - Whirlwind - Brave Bird - Roost - Spikes Benelux Stall by Delko is an exemplar of successful sand stall, and not only because it peaked at first on the leaderboard! Its wide assortment of walls caters to any setup that an opponent may attempt, with Gliscor, Skarmory, Forretress, and Jellicent's ability to wall common physically-based sweepers such as Terrakion and Blissey's ability to wall nearly every specially-based threat in the metagame. Delko also used the uncommon Choice Scarf Tyranitar that complemented his team quite nicely; with Aerial Ace, it dealt with Breloom after previous damage, and with powerful STAB moves like Stone Edge and Crunch at its disposal, it did well against any threats that needed to be removed quickly. Conclusion Well, that was a lot to cover! Hopefully this guide gave a general understanding of sandstorm teams, and even helped you build a successful sand team of your own or better prepare for an opposing sand team. Sandstorm is the most common weather of the metagame for a very good reason. If you want a balanced team with an offensive punch, get out there and try a sandstorm team—it will not disappoint.