Based on what I have seen in the RMT forum of Ubers' teams this thread is long overdue. To take a recent example, the perpetrator of which shall remain nameless, "throw a bunch of powerful stuff together", is not a good way to build a team. And, in fact, is the most common way I see teams being built; Rayquaza, Mewtwo, Kyurem-W are all Pokemon I see in abundance, yet the teams that have them lack cohesion and complementary offensive and defensive synergy. Most of these Ubers teams will win a few matches simply by the courtesy of having strong moves, as is characteristic of Ubers Pokemon, but when building a team your foremost aim should be to win consistently. That is to say, win as much as you can. In this thread I hope to cover what I see as the most important aspects to teambuilding, including several core concepts that one should always think about when constructing a team. Utility If you know me I always use this word when I talk about teambuilding. All it means is usefulness. Now, this may not seem to mean very much, but one would be astounded at how many people neglect this quality when selecting Pokemon for their team. To better understand this concept one should understand the every viable Pokemon has a 'role', and many have several. Here are some examples: Grass Arceus -Kyogre check and general Water-type resist -Offensive Groudon check and general Ground-type resist -Zekrom check and general Electric-type resist -Only true Palkia counter in Rain -Kabutops check -Manaphy check -Groudon check (rain) -Rayquaza check (shaky) -Kingdra check Possible other uses, by the virtue of being an Arceus forme -Phazer -Status spreader -CM sweeper -Lure (lol Stone Edge) -Stealth Rock as one can see Arceus Grass, despite having high opportunity cost (not being able to use another Arceus forme) has immense utility by the virtue of what it can check. Being able to check Kyogre in addition all the other shit it does makes it a viable addition for almost any balanced or defensive team. In fact, its utility shines all the more when looking to make a balanced team with several defensive 'mons, due to its ability to compress the checks for such a vast amount of Pokemon into a single slot. Excadrill (Bulky) -Rapid Spin -Stealth Rock -Electric Immunity (i.e. Zekrom check) -Stallbreaker (situational) -Latias check (situational) -Dialga check (rain) Although this list may seem paltry in comparison to Grass Arceus's, Excadrill again offers great utility simply because it combines 4 very important roles that no other Pokemon can even hope to do. Rapid Spin is a move with VERY low distribution, and considering that this is Ubers the amount of viable spinners is only 4 (Excadrill / Tentacruel / Forretress / Kabutops) one of which is highly situational and Toxic Spikes weak to boot. Having access to it, in addition to being able to set up Stealth Rock and not having to dedicate another slot for it is fantastic. Of course, Forretress can technically do this too, but what Forretress can't do is beat Defensive Dialga in the rain and check Zekrom wonderfully (all except mixed sets). SDef Kyogre Although seemingly lesser used than its Physically bulky set, SDef Kyogre has several noticeable traits to distinguish itself, despite not being able to check Ho-Oh anymore. -Darkrai check (as a bonus it turds all over Thunder Wave Darkrai that I seem to be seeing around) -Kyurem-W check, only Choice Specs can hope to break through this monster, and only Modest ones at that. -CM Arceus check, this is huge, being able to check almost every single variant of CM Arceus without SE STAB is a huge asset to many teams. -Drizzle, this goes without saying but obviously the utility provided by rain is huge, that is if you build your team to abuse it of course. -Burning shit, small, but still nice when it happens. Especially on Ferrothorn. -Choice Scarf Palkia check - it takes less than 50% from a Thunder, and severely punishes any mispredicts as Spacial Rend does not 3HKO without a crit and everything else except Hasty Outrage does pittance. The three greatest thing this set does is check most CM Arceus, practically counter Darkrai (unless you're really unlucky), and be one of the few practical checks to Choice Specs Kyurem-W (it's better than Steelceus), technically SDef Ho-Oh is better, but it's Stealth Rock weak. Scarf Genesect -Lati@s check -Mewtwo check -Darkrai check -Rayquaza check Genesect does more than just this, but these are its most important traits. As a Choice Scarf user its utility is almost unparalleled because checking these four Pokemon is insaaaaaaaaaanely useful. CM Ghost Arceus -Sweeper -Spinblocker -Mixed tank Another Pokemon with great utility, filling three very important roles on any team. Spinblocking is an amazing asset, and be able to pose an offensive presence, in addition to having the bulk to take on most dragons is incredible. Skarmory -Physical wall (primarily best Extreme Killer check) -Spikes -Phazer -Taunt Skarmory has a lot of utility! It should be in tier 1 on the threatlist. With Extreme Killer being such a hard Pokemon to handle, having something that can also set up Spikes, have reliable recovery, phaze AND Taunt Pokemon that have the potential to be very destructive (Ferrothorn / Forretress) make it a wonderful addition to many teams, provided it is supported right. Utility is the reason why Pokemon that seem to be better checks, e.g. Gastrodon, are not chosen, as they have limited use outside of that, perhaps even being a burden in the absence of the threat they were meant to cover. Overlap And with utility covered now comes the concept of overlap. Many teams fail to realise that many of their Pokemon are redundant with other Pokemon on their team. One must avoid the potential confusion that could arise with a doubling-up offensive strategy, as this is entirely viable. Rather, overlap most commonly occurs when taking into account defensive roles of Pokemon. For example, Lugia + Skarmory - while Lugia has much greater mixed walling potential than Skarmory, and Skarmory has Taunt + Spikes, they are both similarly hindered by an Electric-type weakness, and are thusly Zekrom weak (Zekrom is important because it is a physical attacker that can get past these two physical walls). When building defensive teams, i.e. any sort of team with a defensive core, avoiding overlap is extremely important; covering as many Pokemon as possible is directly compromised by the presence of any sort of redundancy at all. Playstyles While teambuilding goals might seem to differ between playstyles, at the core of it they are the same. The most basic level of which is, of course, the goal to win. All teams are built with the intention to win. The approach is different, the objective is the same. This is how I see things Offensive - seeks to build and maintain pressure as soon as possible, dictating the flow of a match and eliminating Pokemon that can impede a sweep for any of its team mates. This is where the aforementioned doubling-up strategy applies, by pressuring the same Pokemon with 2 or more of your own one can break through an entire team when their usually one check falls (carrying two hard checks to a Pokemon inevitably results in being massively weak to something else). An example of this is the fairly well known Lum Berry Double Dance Groudon + a variant of Extreme Killer Normal Arceus. The former can break through physically defensive Giratina-A, as +2 Earthquake 2HKOes, leaving Extreme Killer to clean up later, even after Groudon has fallen. With alterations to movesets this combination can lure and eliminate non-Timid Lugia, Skarmory, Landorus-T, etc. The point is that their checks are fairly similar, and as such when the opponent's check eventually falls your remaining sweeper can clean up without hindrance. Balance - the most diverse of all playstyles, and one where overlap must be avoided at all cost. Applies a modicum to a moderate amount of offensive pressure (Balance is a fairly nebulous definition to describe many team archetypes) backed up with a defensive core. Redundancy is avoided at all costs because defensive cores need to be compact and efficient. One may expect to see cores such as - Wall Normal Arceus + SDef Giratina, which has the rare quality of complementing each other not only in checking synergy, i.e. checking different things, but also type-synergy (although largely connected the degree of synergy between these two Pokemon is much greater than normal). To further explain, while Wall Normal Arceus is a very potent physical wall, it, like all other walls, can be exploited by the one spectrum it is meant to deal with, namely Fighting-types. Giratina, while not having a specially defensive spread can check the two most common physical Fighting-types in the tier, Blaziken and Terrakion, which Normal Arceus obviously struggles with. Fortuitously, Normal Arceus possesses the mixed bulk to take on some of the Dragons that specially defensive Giratina cannot, such as defensive Dialga and most Rayquaza. Stall - attempts to deal with as many threats as possible, while having a win condition of its own; this is usually through hazards, phazing, and simply stalling out, but might involve more complex strategies such as the use of stallbreakers + a defensive core. Being compact is less of an issue here, but redundancy should still be avoided, with a slight exception in the case of using two softer checks rather than a single hard one. Due to the other roles they might be able to fill that the single hard check could not, e.g. Perish Song Ground Arceus + Ferrothorn have a slight overlap because Ferrothorn can also check most Zekrom. However, Ground Arceus offers a hard counter to Zekrom, which Ferrothorn does not (SubHone / Mixed Zekrom sets), in additoin Ferrothorn provides Spikes, Leech Seed, etc. In other words, the extra utility provided by each of these Pokemon justifies having them both on the same team, the slight overlap is acceptable on stall, where 5 to 6 Pokemon are devoted to defensive duties. Compression This concept is mostly applicable to balance, where defensive roles must be tacked onto 4 or less Pokemon. Compression is either to use highly compact cores, and/or to slightly compromise defensive utility of certain Pokemon by pushing roles onto them that they do not usually carry out. Examples of the former are the aforementioned Giratina + Normal Wall Arceus core, another is Phys.Def RestTalk Roar Kyogre + Support Grass Arceus with Stealth Rock. Sticking as many roles as possible onto Pokemon, with next to no redundancy. Examples of the latter are using Stealth Rock on Pokemon such as Jirachi or Grass Arceus, Physical Giratina-O with Dragon Tail + WoW and considerable investment into Defense, there are more, but those are for people to discover themselves! Primary Roles I have mentioned 'roles' throughout this post extensively, and one may wonder what are the most important ones to have on your team. In addition to covering as many of the top checks as possible (as covered in this post http://www.smogon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4344613&postcount=1 one must also take into account many other things. However, please do not get into the mentality of having a building process that looks like this: I must check this, this, and this, and have this, this, and that, as this entirely eschews the concept of complementary selection and synergy. These are some of the most important things to have on a team, -Stealth Rock, every team needs it, no exceptions; Magic Bounce is not an acceptable substitute. -Some way of dealing with opposing hazard(s) (users), be it Magic Bounce, Rapid Spin, or being able to prevent hazards from going down through Taunt or consistent threat. E.g., Offensive SR Groudon can hardblock ever setter of Spikes (only Skarmory isn't OHKOed, Forretress too, if you count Sturdy). -Checks to Kyogre and Extreme Killer, these deserve a special mention as they are the two most prominent threats and have the ability to sweep an entire team if not met with significant resistance. -A way to deal with status, not only for Darkrai, but random Scalds, WoWs, Thunder Waves, etc. This usually means using a Sleep Talk user or Natural Cure Pokemon. -A way to deal with weather abusers, this usually means changing the weather to something in which you can handle opposing abusers of it, i.e. having rain + Grass Arceus to handle Kabutops, Omastar, and Kingdra. The other alternative is, of course, Rayquaza, as it naturally outspeeds all viable Chlorophyll, Swift Swim, and Sand Rush users under Air Lock. -Some general things like having a Ground- and Electric-type immunity/resistance. Cores and Focus The correct way to approach building a team is to select a core or a single Pokemon that is either very powerful (by whatever virtue you care to think of), -- or one can think of it in the way that it can force a win condition if unchecked -- then cover its weaknesses and support it with the remaining members of your team. Here is a quick example - I want to build around Calm Mind Ghost Arceus, a formidable mid-late game sweeper also capable of spinblocking and performing as a mixed tank. The immediate checks that spring to mind are, -Chansey / Blissey -Kyogre - some variants, Thunder Wave + Calm Mind, Specs -Ferrothorn - can't outright stop me, but having to deal with Leech Seed and a potential Thunder Wave is very irritating -Darkrai -Toxic Spikes -Skarmory - shaky, but with Toxic it can put your sweep on a timer -Ho-Oh I know that Ghost Arceus excels with multiple layers of hazards, as it forces many switches and best operates when the majority of the opponents team is at least slightly weakened. I elect to use a Forretress, as so Forretress Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide move 1: Toxic Spikes move 2: Pain Split move 3: Rapid Spin move 4: Volt Switch item: Leftovers ability: Sturdy nature: Bold evs: 252 HP / 36 Def / 216 SpD / 4 Spe the ability to set up on Chansey, Blissey, Ferrothorn, non-Taunt Skarmory very quickly and with whichever hazard is more effective against the opponent makes Forretress a solid choice. Pain Split recovers huge amount of HP from Blissey and Chansey, and also prevents Ferrothorn from killing you with Iron Barb + Leech Seed residual damage. Volt Switch + Dialga means that the Giratina formes can be baited and forced out, having taken hazard damage already, and with smart play Forretress can pull off a spin. The 4 Speed EVs are in the event of a Forretress mirror match, meaning that I can Volt Switch out first to my Ghost, eliminating the possibility of getting spun upon. This is the Dialga I'm talking about - Dialga Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide move 1: Stealth Rock move 2: Draco Meteor move 3: Thunder move 4: Fire Blast item: Leftovers ability: Pressure nature: Modest evs: 252 HP / 56 SpA / 200 SpD Dialga is probably the most dominant hazard setter in terms of balancing defensive and offensive ability; things it cannot kill can rarely kill it, meaning Dialga can freely set up Stealth Rock if walled, achieving its goal. Stealth Rock reduces the viability of Ho-Oh as a Ghost Arceus check greatly, as it must be much more careful in what HP it maintains if it wants to switch into a +1 Ghost Arceus with 50% or less. Thunder is chosen over Roar as SDef Kyogre can phaze CM Arceus out and this team doesn't have space for Latias, meaning a better way to deal with Kyogre is needed. (Certain Arceus formes might be more assured in setting up Stealth Rock, but have a high opportunity cost in doing so, as most formes cannot feasibly fit it into their moveset, and automatically render themselves a support Arceus). Kyogre is the next logical choice, mitigating the threat of Darkrai if Choice Scarf or SDef is chosen, and reducing Ho-Oh's effectiveness vastly. I choose a specially defensive Kyogre, as it is also a great status absorber, compressing two important roles into one Pokemon - Darkrai check + status absorber, preventing mind games when Giratina is the only Pokemon capable of absorbing sleep. Kyogre Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide move 1: Scald move 2: Roar move 3: Rest move 4: Sleep Talk item: Leftovers ability: Drizzle nature: Calm evs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD 30 Speed IV the reduced Speed IV is to ensure that leading against Groudon summons rain rather than sun, as Groudon can actually set up Stealth Rock vs this Kyogre in sunny conditions, taking ~33% and only fearing the burn. Skarmory is now needed for Spikes and a great Extreme Killer check, in additon to providing a secondary phazer. Skarmory Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide move 1: Spikes move 2: Taunt move 3: Whirlwind move 4: Roost item: Leftovers ability: Sturdy nature: Impish evs: 252 HP / 16 Def / 236 SpD / 4 Spe 4 Speed is to get the jump on non-Taunt Skarmory that don't bother with Speed. The last member is somewhat of a neccessity, Choce Scarf Genesect, needed for a reliable revenge killer, and to check Mewtwo and Latias. Genesect Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide move 1: U-Turn move 2: Iron Head move 3: Explosion move 4: Ice Beam item: Choice Scarf ability: Download nature: Hasty evs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe Physical spread for the U-Turn damage it needs to KO Mewtwo and Latias with the download boost, Ice beam for Rayquaza. Unfortunately this team still has several weaknesses (such as Zekrom), but should give you an idea of how to approach teambuilding. I hope this thread was helpful and I encourage you all to post anything I might have missed and your own opinions on how you think people should be building!