Here's a guide that will eventually be put onto the main site, so I think its a good idea for me to first throw out a draft of my ideas, get a bit of community feedback and then make the real one. I'll later HTMLize it and all that, but first the text ought to be good. I know I'm kinda droning on at a few parts, but this is only a first draft anyway. I do plan to cut out a few stuff by the main revision... it is a large article, perhaps too large. So please comment on the parts you like. ------ Revision Log ------ January 5: Initial Draft January 5: Updated "On the defensive" to include Meteor Mash, updated conclusion, a few notes about Skarmory and a bit about sandstorm leads. January 8: Added information on more 4-attack and 3-attack combos. Continued Mekkah's capitalization efforts till the next --- January 11: Edited awkward sentences and fixed an error. Febuary 7: Minor Edits across the whole article. --------------- Real Intro ---------------- Sandstorm, sandstorm, sandstorm. It is as if that was the only weather effect in all of OU. I'll tell you one thing: it is NOT. This guide is to help gather some thoughts into developing a hail team, sandstorm's forgotten little brother. There are many misconceptions and ideas that are associated with hail teams, first of them is the confusion of mono-ice and hail. You'll see this reminder time and time again: do not mistake a hail-team to be mono-ice. Hail Teams can take advantage of hail even if half or even more of the team is not immune to hail. Finally, this guide will not suggest "standard" hail pokemon to be on any team with the exception of Abomasnow. Abomasnow is the only pokemon who can start an indefinite hailstorm. To use this guide most effectivly, see it as a collection of ideas to think about before you make a hail team. --- Hail Team Basics --- Well, we gotta start somewhere. There are 2 primary advantages to a hail team. First is the sandstorm-like effect. Like sandstorm, hail takes away 6.25% of both Pokemon's health each turn. This means that if the opponent's Pokemon is not an ice type, it takes only 17 turns for them to die due to hail and hail only. From this fact comes the first primary strategy of hail teams: stalling. It should be noted that while leftovers cancels out hail in the long run, leftovers is applied after hail damage. Meaning that even if the opponent has leftovers, you essentially only have to deal 93.75% damage to them to OHKO. The second advantage is 100% accurate Blizzard and a small chance for Blizzard to hit through protect. Blizzard is a flexible attack with no immunities and few 4x resists. Over the standard ice beam, you will be doing about 26% extra damage. The disadvantage to Blizzard is of course its inaccuracy if hail goes away, and the little PP it has. Beware of pressure Pokemon. Hail can be started by either the attack "hail", which many Pokemon learn, and by Abomasnow. The difference is this: Abomasnow's hail lasts nearly forever. So it is highly recommended to carry Abomasnow in a hail team. The only way to stop an Abomasnow hail is to bring in another weather effect. Finally: Hail immunities are nice, but it is not necessary to get pure hail immunity. Ice is not a good defensive type, resistant only to one attack and weak to 4 types. To get a decent amount of resistances on a team, it is necessary to shed the idea that you must have a mono-ice team. One of my successful teams took advantage of the ice resistance and put Garchomp on my team. Garchomp helped alleviate the rock weakness in my team, while much of the team resisted ice which is Garchomp's worst enemy. --- Attack Combos --- If you wish to place Blizzard or at least an Ice Attack on every member of your team, that is not a bad idea. Remember though, ice attacks are not boosted in a hailstorm with the exception of Blizzard. Still, some pokemon's best ice attacks are not Blizzard. Weavile can learn Blizzard for example, but Ice Punch is superior. Nonetheless, a good hail team will abuse Blizzard. Now, abusing Blizzard by placing it on every member of your team may seem rather limiting, however, Ice has the most attack coverage in the game. In all 4-attack, 3-attack, and 2-attack combos, Ice is necessary to hit the most number of types. Here is a list of the attack sets with the most coverage possible. Do note that there are *no sets in the game* that hit more types super-effective than these sets. In a 4-attack combo, Ice / Ground / Fighting and Flying, Ghost, or Dark hit 14 types super-effective. There are a good set of pokemon who can actually reach this magical "perfect coverage", but Abomasnow is perhaps the only Ice Pokemon who can get it without resorting to Hidden Power. Abomasnow Blizzard / Avalanche / Ice Shard Earthquake Focus Punch / Brick Break / Focus Blast Shadow Ball It really is a shame that Tyranitar can run a similar set... if only his ability didn't get in the way T-Tar would be a perfect hail-team candidate. In 3-attack combos, Ice / Ground / Fighting hit 12 types super-effective. Abomasnow can do this obviously, and Regice can too if you are willing to use Earthquake from base 50 attack or Hidden Power Ground. In 2-attack combos, Ice / Ground and Ice / Fighting hit 9 types super-effective. Many pokemon get this combination, and these are two sets that Glaceon can consider for Hidden Power. Finally, for single attack types, Ice alone hits 4 types for super effective, with no immunities. Fighting and Ground hit 5 types for super-effective, but common pokemon have immunities (particularly Gengar). Rock beats Ice in having 4 super-effective types, and only 3 resistances, but has shacky accuracy. So if you're willing to choose at least 2 attacks on your pokemon, Ice clearly is one of the best bets, and a reliable 100% accurate 120 base power attack is something you can bet on. Further, the above combos are not the only ones you need. Here, I'll enumerate important double, triple, and quadruple attack combos involving Blizzard. --- Double Attack Combos --- Double Attack Combos are extremely useful to build off of. You can easily add a 3rd or 4th attack for a specific pokemon that resists your combination, or for STAB bonuses or whatever. Or, you can stick with a classic 2-attack combo and go for 2 support moves. Electric / Ice : The ever present Bolt/Beam combo is upgraded to Blizzard / Thunderbolt. Just about every Bolt/Beam Pokemon can get this combination. Ice Pokemon who can get this are Froslass, Lapras, and Regice. Resisted by Magnezone and Lanturn. Fighting / Ice : This combo is resisted only by Froslass, Tentacruel, Qwilfish, Surskit, Starmie, Slowbro and Slowking. Abomasnow gets this with Blizzard and Focus Punch. A surprising number of Pokemon also get Blizzard / Focus Punch, although most don't have the mixed sweeper stats to pull it off. Ground / Ice : This is resisted only by Levitate Bronzong and Surskit. Few Pokemon learn both Earthquake and Blizzard and have the stats to pull it off but this combo is worth mentioning regardless. Noticeable Pokemon who can learn Earthquake and Blizzard are Mamoswine, Empoleon, Swampert, Abomasnow, Slowking, Slowbro, Nidoking and Blastoise. It should be noted that if you want a pure special set, both Nidoking and Nidoqueen learn Earth Power and Blizzard. They also get the more standard Bolt/Beam and Blizzard/Thunderbolt. Don't give Probopass or Magnezone the chance to lift-off with Magnet Rise. Water / Ice : This is a combo resisted by almost all water Pokemon, however it is still useful as this is the most powerful combo many Pokemon can get. A resisted STAB Surf has 71 BP making it stronger than any hidden power you can get. If you have a water Pokemon that is a special attacker, be sure to check out this combo. Aside from Bolt/Beam, this is the only pure special attack combo that can be paired up with blizzard with a decent degree of success. Beware of Vaporeon, who 2x resists ice and is immune to water. Lapras is less common, but has a 4x resist to ice and is immune to water. Rock / Ice : This is a combo resisted by steel Pokemon. Walrein gets this combo with Rock Slide / Blizzard. Other Pokemon generally have better combos, but this is worth noting if you have trouble with Gyarados and don't have access to Bolt/Beam or if you wish to go with a mixed attacker route and don't have a Fighting attack. --- Triple Attack Combos --- There are too many triple attack combos to list possible pokemon who get each one. Scan over these lists and see if there is a combo your pokemon can take advantage of. Beware of using Hidden Power however, Hidden Power is sometimes weaker than common STAB attacks, even after factoring in a super-effective bonus. Every type combo that hit 11 types for Super Effective Damage Ice Ground / Fighting Rock / Ghost / Dark Ice Ground Rock / Bug / Dark / Flying / Ghost / Fire Ice Fighting Dark / Flying / Ghost / Psychic / Rock Combos that hit 12 types super-effective Ice Fighting Ground --- Quadruple Attack Combos --- Every Ice combo that hit 13 types Super-Effective: Ice Fire Ground Ghost / Bug / Dark / Fighting Ice Fighting Ghost / Dark Flying / Psychic / Rock Ice Ground Ghost / Dark Fire / Flying / Rock Ice Fighting Rock / Psychic Dark / Ghost / Rock / Psychic / Ground Ice Fighting Flying Dark / Ghost Ice Fighting Ground Bug / Electric / Grass / Fire / Psychic / Rock Ice Ground Flying / Rock Dark / Ghost / Bug Combos that hit 14-types Super Effective Ice Ground Fighting Flying / Ghost / Dark --- Hail Immunities --- While a Hail immunity appears to be necessary on a Hail team, remember that your team does not have to be mono-Ice to accomplish the task. Even walls don't have to be immune to Hail, Leftovers does cancel out the loss more or less. Nonetheless, it is important to know some key Pokemon that can gain health inside of a hailstorm. Always look at the standard Pokemon first. IE: Skarmory, Blissey, Swampert and other standard walls work more or less the same inside a hailstorm, except their leftovers is canceled out. They are standards for a reason, and that is because they do an excellent job of walling opponents. Cresselia's moonlight is weakened to 25% recovery in hail, but Rest/Talk Cresselia is still a viable strategy. However, Hail-immune pokemon do have their advantages, and some are worth noting. Skarmory is forced to run Leftovers over Shed Shell, making it more vunerable to Magnezone. All Ice Pokemon are immune to the damage caused by Hail. Looking at raw stats, Regice, Lapras, Walrein, Mamoswine, Cloyster, and Articuno have the stats to pull off a decent wall. However, I can only recommend Regice, Walrein, and Lapras as walls. Regice is 3rd best statistical Sp. Wall in the game, behind only Blissey and Chansey. Walrein for its "Ice Body" ability and the stats to pull off a stall successfully. Lapras for its "Water Absorb" ability and massive unpredictable movepool. The other potential walls I haven't been able to use successfully for various reasons. Feel free to experiment with the others however. Mamoswine is interesting for its immunity to Hail and Standstorm, and has a Curse set to beef up its defense. There are two non-ice Pokemon who are immune to hail: Clefable and Golduck. Golduck is more of a UU Pokemon and doesn't get the benefit of blizzard, but Magic Guard Clefable can hold itself up in an OU environment with its immunity to poison's damage, Spikes, Stealth Rocks, Sandstorm and Hail. Slap a toxic orb on and it will be immune to status after the first switch in. Toxic Orb Breloom is not immune to hail, but it does gain health inside a hailstorm due to its ability Poison Heal. As you can see, there aren't many walls in the game that resist hail. Because of this, I cannot stress enough that you can and probably must use standard walls on your hail team. Further, you must build key resistances to Rock, Fire, and Fighting attacks which cannot be done with Pokemon who share an Ice typing. --- Sandstorm Teams --- Sandstorm teams are one of the most fun teams to play against when you're running a Hail team. Sandstorm is setup by either Hippowdon or Tyranitar, and after that Rock Pokemon boast a 50% boost in Sp. Def. This makes Blizzard significantly weaker for your team. --- However, if you instead capture the advantage of a hailstorm, just about every attack combo a sandstorm team will fear. All Rock, Steel and Ground are going to be hit hard with the fighting/ice and ground/ice combos. Further, rock and ground pokemon are hit hard with water / ice. Bronzong is an exception, but can be dealt with decently powered surfs or just simply Magnezone if you fear him enough. You are not the only team with an offensive advantage however. The opponent's sandstream team will most likely take advantage of common rock and ground attacks. Quake/Slide beats up most ice Pokemon, as does fighting / rock. Heatran can switch in on any blizzard and then scare away your ice Pokemon with a high powered fire attack. So overall, be careful of what the opponent has. Now note, while it is not necessary to start with Abomasnow, many people like to do so for various reasons. It is a fine way to start up a hail advantage right away, but depending on how many ice pokemon are on your team, you can wait till later to start up hail. Either way, the Tyranitar / Hippowdon vs Abomasnow leads are very important and here are some tips to get off on a good start. It should be noted that the slower pokemon keeps the weather. This is a mixed bag for both sides. If Abomasnow is faster than TTar / Hippowdon, then it can brick break T-Tar, or Blizzard Hippowdon. Granted, blizzard doesn't have 100% accuracy, but you still have a 70% chance of OHKOing the hippo. After that, the sandstorm will remain until you switch Abomasnow back in. If Abomasnow is slower than hippowdon / ttar, you get the weather advantage. You can always try and predict the early stealth rock from the hippo and go for Blizzard anyway, which can OHKO... but you're always risking a stone edge. Against Tyranitar, you switch to your designated T-Tar counter. --- On the Defensive --- A good team has the correct resists in the right places. A good hail team is no exception. There are 4 attacks that are super-effective on ice pokemon, these are rock, fire, fighting and steel. Outside of Metagross Meteor Mash, you probably don't have to worry about steel attacks. It is important to note some ice pokemon that are the exception to this rule. Froslass is immune to fighting. Walrein and Dewgong can run thick fat and resist fire, while their water typing and low speed saves them from gyroball. Mamoswine's ground typing is about as close as you can get to resisting rock. However, this is typically not enough and if you plan to stop revenge switch-ins, you should get a more reliable general wall. You *cannot* build a single pokemon who happens to resist rock, fire and fighting and call it quits (Heatproof Bronzong, Flygon, and Slowbro come to mind as pokemon who resist many of these). Offensive pokemon have common attack combos you must prepare for. I find it far more useful to have a single pokemon who resist the common attack combos and is weak to say... fire... than a single pokemon intended to resist everything. No point switching in your Slowbro to recieve a Close Combat when the next turn it is eaten up by a grass knot. I should note one last thing before I begin. Prediction beats choice banders. Period. The following advice only applies to pokemon who aren't trapped to using the same attack over and over. For example: any flying pokemon can counter a choice band rhyperior if it mispredicts and uses Earthquake. Here's a list of attack combos to watch out for. Rock / Ground : Ice pokemon fear rock, but your rock-resist must be able to handle ground attacks at least neutrally. Tyranitar, Gyarados, Hippowdon, Rhyperior, and every OU dragon can potentially carry this attack combination. Resistant pokemon are far and few between, and dragons usually carry a special fire attack to take out the few resists. If you're willing to bet the opponent will only use the classic 2-attack combination, some perfect resists to rock / ground are torterra, bronzong, breloom and flygon. Fighting / Rock: This double wammy for ice pokemon is common among fighting pokemon. Virtually every OU fighting pokemon can do this combo, as well as earthquake. I suggest a bit of standard Gliscor or Bronzong if fighting/rock troubles your team. Fighting / Ground: This is not an attack combo you see alone, but it is a very useful resistance to hold. Typically, this is part of a 3 attack combo of fighting / rock / ground. However, if you can safely switch into 2/3 attacks of a combo and then force the opponent's pokemon out, then most certainly you have a useful resist. Gengar, Mismagius, Heracross, Pinsir, Crobat, and Gyarados can all be used if you are willing to gamble on stone edge the next turn, or if you think you can manage to force the opponent out. Jumpluff deserves a mention as it can switch into earthquakes and encore them, giving a free turn to the jumpluff user. Fire / Grass: This attack combo essentially boils down to Mixape in the typical OU setting, although togekiss, azelf, slowbro and ninetails also get this attack combo. Gyarados and Tentacruel do well against this, while simultaniously resisting fighting. Be warry of mispredicting the opponent's Infernape as it might be pure physical and carrying thunderpunch or stone edge or earthquake. Fighting / Ghost : Togekiss, Lucario and Smeargle get the high powered Aura Sphere / Shadow Ball combination, but many pokemon can go for the physical version of Brick break / Close combat + Shadow Claw, and many others go for HP fighting / Shadow Ball. This is a very common attack combo for Mismagius and it hits every pokemon in the game for at least neutral damage. As long as the opponent doesn't stat-up, standard blissey ought to handle special versions. Nasty Plotting or Calm Minding breaks the standard bliss however. Wildcards: Tyranitar, Dragonite, Salamence and others have such massive movepools that you can never have a standard response to them and expect to come out on top all the time. Enter the general purpose standard walls. Never forget the standards who were already forged to battle these (pocket) monsters. Cresselia, Swampert, Dusknoir and so forth. --- TL; DR --- Overall, there are too many threats to handle defensively, and too many defensive threats that pure offense can't handle it all. Nonetheless, I hope that this guide has enabled you to break down the threats and come up with a plan. Remember, they key to any battle is to gain momentum and retain it. With 100% accurate blizzard, you can quickly capture the momentum with a nasty plotting or Agility bolt/blizzarder like PorygonZ, or recapture the momentum with a Specs/Scarf Glaceon Blizzard. On the defensive, strategies like Stallrein require only a single turn to setup and require very specialized counters to deal with. And remember, the classic Gold/Silver TSS combo can still work, with new attacks like Toxic Spikes and Stealth Rocks. Keeping a weather advantage will help you retain the momentum, especially because the opponent is usually not as well prepared for hail as you should be.