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The Beginner's Guide to Pokémon Showdown

Discussion in 'Pokémon Showdown!' started by Alter, Dec 29, 2013.

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  1. Alter

    Alter lab report ᐛ
    is a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Jan 7, 2013
    (posted with the permission of Hugendugen)
    The Beginner's Guide to Pokémon Showdown
    Written by Labyrinthine.


    1. Introduction and Background
    2. Settings
    3. Commands
    4. Teambuilder
    5. Battling
    6. Community
    7. Rooms
    8. Resources and Links
    Use Control + F or Command + F to search for a specific heading.

    Introduction and Background

    Pokémon Showdown, often formatted as Pokémon Showdown!, is a popular competitive Pokemon simulator. It was created by Zarel and opened in October of 2011, but it was not until July 2, 2012 that it was adopted as Smogon's official battle simulator. Pokémon Showdown is a web-based project available on all major browsers and also has a downloadable client. This means you can play Pokémon Showdown on web browsers such as Google Chrome or download it from the internet and play it straight from your desktop.

    Pokémon Showdown was designed to simulate the conditions of WiFi Pokemon games in a more stable environment, which creates a more efficient method in which to be involved in the competitive Pokemon setting. The aim of this guide is to explain to new users to the way in which Pokémon Showdown operates and integrate said users into the community as a whole. This guide may also contain sections which help give understanding to aspects of the program to veterans of the site, as well.


    Pokémon Showdown also allows users to customize their settings to their own preference. In order to change those settings, one should navigate their cursor to the top right of the main menu when logged in and hit on the gear button to open up the settings menu.

    A preview of what the settings menu looks like.

    Currently, it is possible to change one's avatar, change the background, disable animations, and change chat preferences. Most of these options are purely aesthetic so feel free to alter them to whichever way you prefer. Using commands, it is also possible to change some settings relating to battles. This will be covered more in-depth in the next section.


    Within any of the chats it is possible to type in commands (messages beginning with /) in order to perform a particular action. A wide variety of these commands exist, with some only available to certain users. For instance, the /wall command is only available to Drivers and above. Similarly, only users ranked Leaders (&) and above (~, #) are able to promote other users within a room.

    These ranks will be explained later in the guide in more depth. For more information, see the "Community" section. The commands listed will be separated into Useful & Commonly Used Commands, Highlights, Room Commands, and Miscellaneous Commands. A brief description will be provided next to each command, explaining what it does.

    Useful & Commonly Used
    This is a list of the most commonly used or practical commands that you will use on Pokémon Showdown.
    If you've spent any time in the Lobby you notice users refer to a concept of 'highlights'. In a nutshell, highlights are words that trigger a message to appear at the corner of your screen, akin to private message alerts. You may choose to highlight on specific words such as your name so that you know when people are directing discussion, questions or answers towards you specifically.
    Show Hide

    • /highlight add, word - add a new word to the highlight list.
    • /highlight list - list all words that currently highlight you.
    • /highlight delete, word - delete a word from the highlight list.
    • /highlight delete - clear the highlight list

    The commands listed below are all relevant to the rooms. This topic is discussed more in-depth in the "Rooms" subsection.
    Show Hide

    • /rooms [username] - Show what rooms a user is in
    • /roomauth - Shows the particular staff for a room in a pop-up
    • /roomhelp - Gives information on all commands that a staff member in a room can use
    • /roomban username - bans user from the room
    • /roomunban username - unbans user from the room
    • /roomvoice username - appoint a room voice
    • /roomdevoice username - remove a room voice

    This is a list of the rest of the commands which aren't as commonly used or don't fit under any other specific categories. Here you will find commands you may have never even heard of, such as /faq doubles or /opensource!
    Show Hide

    • /reply OR /r [message] - Send a private message to the last person you received a message from, or sent a message to.
    • /ip - Get your own IP address.
    • /ip [username] - Get a user's IP address. Requires: @ & ~
    • /avatar [new avatar number] - Change your trainer sprite.
    • /whois [username] - Get details on a username: group, and rooms.
    • /ignore [username] - negates messages from and ignores another online user.
    • /effectiveness [type1], [type2] - Provides the effectiveness of a [type1] attack to a [type2] Pokémon.
    • /user [username] - opens up a small tab which gives you the option to challenge, PM and check the rooms / rank of another online user
    • /analysis [pokemon], [generation] - Links to the Smogon University analysis for this Pokemon in the given generation.
    • /smogdex [pokemon], [generation] - Same as above.
    • /groups - Explains what the + % @ & ~ next to people's names mean. (This is also covered later in the guide)
    • /opensource - Links to PS's source code repository.
    • /avatars - Explains how to change avatars.
    • /intro - Provides an introduction to competitive pokemon.
    • /cap - Provides an introduction to the Create-A-Pokemon project.~
    • /om - Provides links to information on the Other Metagames.
    • /weakness [pokemon/type] - Returns the type weaknesses for a specific Pokemon or type.
    • /away - Blocks challenges so no one can challenge you.
    • /back - Unlocks challenges so you can be challenged again. (opposite of /away)
    • /faq [theme] - Provides a link to the FAQ. Add deviation, doubles, randomcap, restart, or staff for a link to these questions. Add all for all of them.
    • /clear - Clears the chat that you're currently in of all text
    • /restarthelp - Gives information regarding server restarts
    • /om month - Links to explanation of the Other Metagame of the month.
    • /timer on - Turns the battle timer on.
    • /timer off - Turns the battle timer off.


    The teambuilder is a large part of Pokémon Showdown and enables users to create their own teams from scratch, important other people's teams, or edit any of their currently existing ones. Some formats on the simulator will not require you to create a team and let you jump straight into battle. An example of this is the very popular 'Random Battle' mode, or as it is commonly referred to, 'Randbats' for short.

    Other tiers and formats, such as OU, Ubers, RU, and NU will require the user to create a team that coincides for the rules of that tier. If you'd like a listing of what you can and can't use for each tier,
    click here. If you intend to create a team for playing the Sixth Generation, a different ruleset is currently available here. In order to create a team, click on the 'Teambuilder' button in the main menu.

    The teambuilder is located at the bottom-left corner of the main menu.
    Building a team is fairly self-explanatory with the teambuilder guiding you along each stage of the process. You can select a Pokemon's Item, Ability, Moves, Stats, and other details such as its Level (from 1 to 100), its Gender (None, Random, Male, or Female), Happiness, and whether or not it is Shiny. Keep in mind that some sets may require a Pokemon to have particular attributes. For example, Entei can only obtain the moves Flare Blitz, Extreme Speed, Crush Claw, or Howl from a specific event which dictates that it must have an Adamant nature and be Shiny. If you attempt to enter a battle with an moveset which doesn't abide by these rules, you will be prompted to alter it before you battle.

    Below is an example of a finished Pokemon in the teambuilder.
    Other features of the Teambuilder include the ability to rearrange the team slots (the "Move" button on the top right of the above image), delete existing Pokemon or teams, or import/export text versions of the team so that you can share your team with friends or the community.


    Organising a battle on Pokémon Showdown is a very easy task to do. One can either opt to play in a ladder game (in which you receive a random opponent), or to challenge a specific user. To play in a ladder game, select your format and team in the top left hand corner using the drop-down boxes. If your team is accepted and deemed legal by the server for that specific format, you will be put in a queue amongst other players to join a match. The server matches you with people with the closest rank to you ideally, but expands the parameters as time progresses.

    Select your desired format, team and then hit "Look for a battle".

    Alternatively, you can type /challenge username into chat or click on a person's name to challenge them manually. However, these types of games will not change your ranking on the ladder. From the point of two players entering a game, you'll either be thrown straight into a battle or into the Team Preview. Team Preview occurs in the majority of formats, in which case you will be given time to choose your leading Pokémon based on your opponent's team. After you've made your choice, the battle will begin almost identically to in the actual games themselves.

    The process of choosing your moves and switching Pokemon is quite straightforward altogether. If you wish to mega evolve a Pokemon, click the checkbox located next to the moves and the Pokemon will then turn into the respective Mega form. If you're interested in improving your battling skill or learning more about a particular metagame, the Battling 101 and Mentoring sections of Smogon can aid newer players. To learn more about these programs, click the the links provided.

    Pokémon Showdown itself is coupled with a unique and vast community which ranges from each room on the simulator as well as its forums. If you're frequently in the Lobby, you will notice regular users who discuss a range of subjects in the chat. If one has any questions, asking them in this Lobby chat is the ideal way of getting a response and if your question isn't particularly complicated, this answer will most likely be quick. In the case that you believe your question is too difficult to answer accurately through the common knowledge of others, asking said question on the Pokémon Showdown forums is also an option. Alternatively, one can also post the question in its respective Simple Questions / Simple Answers (SQSA) thread on the Smogon forums or PM a Voiced user (+) on the simulator to answer your question individually.

    The Pokémon Showdown Lobby chat.

    One of the most common questions I see on Pokémon Showdown would be, "How do you get that plus sign?", or "How do you become a mod?". These different symbols (+, %, @, &, and ~) all denote a particular level amongst staff or that the user is a "Voice".

    This table below shows what each rank represents and the respective abilities.

    (Side note: If you're interested in learning more about the commands available to each rank, try typing into chat "/help [rank]" in which you replace [rank] with one of the above symbols)

    It is no mystery that people are interested in contributing to the site or gaining status and this can be done in a range of different ways. Primarily, one can potentially be promoted through user ranks for chat contributions. This essentially means being a good influence in chat by leading strong and intelligent discussion, answering questions of other users, and not breaking the rules. One can also gain the Voice status by being a well-known and distinguished member of the community, completing the (discontinued) Voice challenges, or contributing to the simulator itself.

    Being voiced marks you as a particularly good user, granting you a position at the top of the userlist, the ability to speak in moderated chat, and shows that you are a respected member to other users. Asking for status will not aid your cause and is most likely to set you back. In a similar vein, sucking up to staff is not beneficial and is not encouraged at all.

    The staff members of Pokémon Showdown have a particular set of roles. Above all else, these users will enforce the rules of Pokémon Showdown if they are breached. Exceptions exist for those that are given staff membership for programming abilities or are more focussed on Smogon Policy. It is recommended that users don't direct questions towards staff, especially Administrators, if they are answerable by regular users.

    According to the Staff FAQ, below is a list of ways one can be promoted. Take note that just because you fulfill these requirements doesn't mean you will instantly become ranked and that these requirements exist to set a standard, and help users understand what they can do to contribute to the site. Following these points will not ensure that you're added to staff; indeed, they are merely guidelines which can help you understand how you can join staff.

    While the main room used on Pokémon Showdown is the Lobby, a variety of different rooms exist for different purposes. These rooms can range from different language rooms, rooms for people with particular hobbies or those dedicated to a particular playable format. Rooms can either be official, public (which means they're listed under "chat rooms") or they can be private.

    To join a room one can either type the /join [roomname] command into chat or hit the large plus button to the right of your room list and select your desired room.

    The only currently existing official room is the Lobby, in which most discussion and activity resides. Examples of public rooms include the Tournaments and Spanish (Español) rooms which anyone may join provided they are not room banned. Private rooms are undisclosed to the public are are generally for private communities or staff areas.

    Typically, new rooms are only created if there is enough interest expressed for the creation of such a room, a current staff member is willing to assist in its ownership, and no other room currently exists with the same premise. In order to submit an idea for a room suggestion, one can visit the Room Suggestions sub-forum on the Smogon forums. These submissions can only be viewed by the person who creates the thread and the Pokémon Showdown Lobby staff, so don't be reluctant to submit your ideas if you believe them to be valid.

    Resources and Links
    • Pokémon Showdown is Smogon's official competitive simulator and is the basis of this guide.
      • Pokémon Showdown Forums are the forums section of Pokémon Showdown. One may report bugs, suggest ideas, or appeal bans here.
    • Replays contains all uploaded videos of Pokémon Showdown battles which have been saved to the server. One can search for specific battles here.
    • Everyday Guide to the PS Ladder's Basic Mechanics is a guide to the ladder mechanics created by CoolStoryBrobat.
    • The Rules outline what are punishable offences on Pokémon Showdown.
    • #showdown is the official IRC channel.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2014
  2. LumaSoul


    Feb 13, 2013
    This was a well thought out guide to PS. You basically..talked about most of what it has to offer, and its commands, ranks, etc etc.

    Job well done, Shelly :D This was a great guide. Hope people use it.
    Andrew likes this.
  3. Florina Liastacia

    Florina Liastacia

    Sep 27, 2013
    Beginner's Guide 2: Electric Bugaloo, eh? Good going, Lab.

    Voices are supposed to be helpful, right? Say something about how if they want to ask something without getting laughed at, say, if they think it's a stupid question then they can PM you guys. I know I still feel nervous about being laughed at and PM my superiors on a fairly regular basis, and besides, you generally have to be nice and understanding to be a Voice, so they're the best ones to PM questions they're embarrassed to ask.
    Nozzle and Shame That like this.
  4. Nani Man

    Nani Man __what__ does nani mean
    is a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    May 28, 2012
    very nice guide dude, well explained
  5. Shame That

    Shame That a brilliant confluence of skill and purpose
    is a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Sep 20, 2011
    thanks diatorinthine
    Orphic and Alter like this.
  6. fleurdyleurse

    is a Smogon Social Media Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Media Contributor

    Sep 27, 2013
    Great guide SS!
  7. Daiquiri


    Nov 9, 2013
    This is really helpful Labyrinthine, good job. The Spanish room is in progress of creating a similar guide but, of course, for spanish-speakers. Would you mind if I take some of these concepts that we may have forgotten, include them in the guide and give you credit?
  8. Alter

    Alter lab report ᐛ
    is a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Jan 7, 2013
    That's perfectly fine.
    Yep! Thanks.
    My only concern with adding this is that I know there are a lot of voices who earned voice through challenges and rarely speak in chat. Some most likely don't want to be bothered by newer players while they're playing the game when asking in the chat could suffice.
  9. Florina Liastacia

    Florina Liastacia

    Sep 27, 2013
    If they earned it through the challenge, then they earned the right to be seen as good users.

    Good users help other users.

    I still think it should be included. If they don't want to be good users, then they don't need to be marked as such xD
  10. scene

    scene reverie
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Battle Server Admin Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus

    Jul 6, 2013
    Good call posting this here Shell, superb resouce and a great job you've done on it!
  11. Alter

    Alter lab report ᐛ
    is a Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Jan 7, 2013
    Thanks for all the support to the thread, everyone. I'm happy with how it has turned out and that I finally revamped the originally one. This thread is now linked in the /intro instead of the other one, so more people should be able to see it. If you have any other questions or suggestions just let me know.

    Flame Emblem: Good point. I've included asking Voiced users your question individually as an alternative to getting help.
  12. Star

    Star Tournament Banned
    is a Tiering Contributor

    Jul 14, 2013
    tl;dr Labyrinthine is god.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
    0cto Number 34 likes this.
  13. Petrovinator


    Jan 22, 2014
    This article is amazing! Ive been working on being a voiced for a few months now and you told me some helpful tips I did not know about so thank you! :)
  14. Folex


    Feb 1, 2014
    Great job this must have taken a long time to write.
  15. Beta.

    Beta. Ruff Ruff amirite?

    Jan 29, 2013
    A Couple of notes

    1) Very descriptive, very Well done, Even better than the one on the PS forums.
    B) Very thought out in the formatting
    3) much Intro
    4) So smogon
    5) I see me in the preview picture, so automatic A+
    Alter likes this.
  16. Expulso


    Nov 7, 2013
    Thanks! I actually know how to do stuff as a voice now ^^
  17. MoxieInfinite

    MoxieInfinite Banned deucer.

    Feb 4, 2013
    who the fuck brings cresselia to ou rofl
  18. SopS4nd


    Nov 29, 2013
    good work laby it will help many users :)
  19. Layell

    Layell Alas poor Yorick!
    is a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnusis an Artist Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Nov 5, 2006
    The problem is they don't exist and I haven't made them. Now if you'd like to help me make some message me and I'll be working out a guide soon on how.

    This should probably be updates to say that the PS forums are really only for news now, as bugs/appeals/suggestions are now housed on smogon.
  20. Rosen


    Jan 10, 2014
    I'm on mobile and cannot for the life of me figure out how to PM, but that does intrigue me, so if I can, sure, I'd like to help (although I have no clue how).
  21. TavoMena


    May 25, 2014
    This post is actually the reason why I came here, thanks!
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
    Alter likes this.
  22. Crestfall

    Crestfall levitate, levitate, levitate, levitate
    is a Community Contributor

    Aug 21, 2013
    Bumping to get this pinned. Seeing as Staff Interviews are up there along with the other big, serious threads this had the right ti be too. It's an excellent resource and just now I had the thought to make it more accessible and visible to new users! This is especially important as there are a good amount of users that start in PS! and are new to Smogon Forums.

    Tagging Hugendugen as he approved this post to start with (and is one of head policy leaders?). Thoughts?

    E: no harm in extra opinions from relevant people that I speak to. Zarel Hollywood. If someone else wants to tag other Leaders or admins feel free. This was mostly arbitrary tagging, pls no "y u no tag me ."
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014
    Paynes likes this.
  23. Pandon


    Dec 5, 2013
    I agree with this since as you said, it should be accessible to new users. If the post can be updated since it's been awhile since this guide has been updated, that would be excellent.
    Alter likes this.
  24. Paynes


    Feb 17, 2014
    Great guide, it should help a lot of new users out :]
  25. Keymoshy


    Aug 6, 2014
    Nice tutorial! It helped me alot :3
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