Welcome to Dream World

By Tobes. Art by Birkal.
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There is no contesting that the introduction of a Dream World has radically altered OU, even causing enough of an effect to get a Pokemon banned. But Dream World has not divulged all of its secrets yet; at least, not for OU. There is another metagame out there, one where all hidden abilities and Pokemon exist, known simply as Dream World. Dream World is not an official metagame; in fact, it is not even possible at the moment to play it on the cartridge games. But don't let that deter you from jumping into this metagame. Although it is the speculated future of OU, Dream World is a completely different animal from it. In addition to the presence of unreleased factors, a number of Pokemon who were banned from OU are legal in Dream World: Blaziken, Deoxys-S, Excadrill, Garchomp, Manaphy, and Thundurus, to be precise. These titans and the powerful denizens of Dream World surprisingly form an intricate and delicate balance similar to the one that exists in Ubers, with massive powers keeping massive powers in check. It is a refreshing, popular, and very enjoyable metagame, and one that you should definitely consider trying out. Below is a quick run-through of some of the notable Pokemon of the metagame, all of whom in relation to OU are banned, have unreleased traits, or are themselves unreleased at this time.

Chandelure is the Pokemon that immediately draws the attention of newcomers to the metagame, and for good reason: Shadow Tag is a hell of an ability. Choice Scarf Chandelure is perhaps the best revenge killer in the tier, capable of picking off a broad range of Pokemon with the right conditions. With proper play it can often get at least one kill a match, and in the hands of a skilled player it can dissect an opponent's defenses, allowing a clean sweep with a menacing sweeper such as Excadrill. Thanks to its extreme power and good Speed, Chandelure is very capable of killing something every time it comes in. STAB Overheat hurts a lot, especially when boosted by sun. Shadow Ball provides a good auxiliary STAB, and if Chandelure manages to survive to endgame it can sweep through a weakened team with it. Hidden Power Ice is an almost mandatory coverage option since it allows Chandelure to pick off pesky Dragon-types, such as Garchomp, but Hidden Power Ground and Hidden Power Fighting are also options for nailing Heatran or Tyranitar, respectively. Energy Ball, Flamethrower, or sometimes Psychic, usually round out coverage. Chandelure's other prominent set, Substitute + Calm Mind, is a reason that stall is very rare in this metagame, as if Chandelure can get in on an appropriate target—say, Eviolite Chansey—it can set up a Substitute, then boost up six times in complete safety, allowing it to go on a rampage that can prove very difficult for slower teams to stop. Chandelure is also an extremely potent spinblocker, making it difficult for stall teams to control the passive damage battle.

This isn't to say that Chandelure is without faults. Ironically, it is subject to being trapped itself by Tyranitar, who can OHKO a fleeing Chandelure with Pursuit even without Attack investment. Chandelure is also weak to Stealth Rock and susceptible to both forms of Spikes, so it will usually only manage to switch in once, and often trades its life for the life of its target. A good player will make that swap count. Chandelure is also prone to allowing Pokemon to set up once it has gotten a kill; a -2 SpA Chandelure locked into Overheat is not going to be able to do anything to Blaziken without a timely critical hit. Chandelure is also slow as far as Choice Scarf users go. A well-timed double switch to your own Choice Scarf user can often put Chandelure in a bad position, especially if Stealth Rock is up. It is undeniable that Chandelure shapes the metagame, but that does not mean it is invincible. Shed Shell goes a long way in helping to combat Chandelure, and it is recommended that you run it on a wall who is your only answer to a particular threat. Some would even suggest running it on all of your walls, unless they have no recovery and rely on Leftovers to stay alive throughout the game. Chandelure is probably the best supporter in the metagame, but it can be beaten with preparation and smart, careful play.

Genesect is comparable to a special attacking Scizor on steroids. It has a slew of useful coverage moves, including Ice Beam, Flamethrower, and Thunderbolt, with Bug Buzz and the ever-useful U-turn as its STAB moves of choice. Genesect is an amazing scout, capable of putting pressure on many Pokemon and forcing switches, and as such almost mandates entry hazard support. Genesect's offensive prowess is in part due to its Download ability. Switching into a special wall such as Blissey will give Genesect access to a fairly powerful U-turn, while against physical walls, such as Skarmory, its ample Special Attack is boosted even further, nearly guaranteeing a switch; something Genesect is more than capable of taking advantage of thanks to U-turn. It is one of the most dominant Choice Scarf users in the metagame, and can be quite a migraine to play against. Its combination of typing and stats just makes it an all-around excellent scout and revenge killer. Genesect is by no means limited to using a Choice Scarf set though. It can clean late-game with a Rock Polish set, which is extremely difficult to handle if it has gotten a Special Attack boost from Download. Genesect can also run a devastating Choice Specs set, hitting hard and then retreating. Genesect is difficult to prepare for, and facing it often comes down to an exercise in prediction. Chandelure is Genesect's greatest nightmare, but it will generally only manage to catch Genesect via revenge kill, as switching into U-turn with hazards down is the last thing Chandelure wants to do. Heatran is another solid answer to it, though it can get screwed over by the rare Hidden Power Ground.

Meet Jabba's wet dream (See how that works on two levels?). Keldeo may be adorable enough that partnering it with Victini can lead to massive aneurysms from sheer kawaii-ness, but don't let that soft and cuddly exterior fool you; Keldeo is out to murder you, your Pokemon, and everyone you ever knew or loved.

Keldeo has superb offensive coverage, and is capable of dealing a large amount of damage with a Calm Mind boost, especially when backed up with Drizzle support. Due to the combination of STAB Water- and Fighting-type attacks, only a handful of Pokemon can take Keldeo's assaults. Even Chansey fears STAB Secret Sword, which hits it off its far weaker Defense stat. Hidden Power Ice or Hidden Power Ghost usually round out coverage. Usually it's best to revenge kill Keldeo with a strong physical attacker, such as Life Orb Excadrill, but faster special attackers with a super effective STAB move, such as Thundurus or Latios, work as well. Keldeo can choose to forego the turn of setup a Calm Mind set requires, however, and take on a more hit-and-run approach with a Choice Specs set. When boosted by rain and Choice Specs, Keldeo's STAB Hydro Pump is ludicrously powerful, allowing it to bludgeon foes and then retreat when necessary so that it can come back in later and lay on another round of pain.

Manaphy is arguably the most dangerous Pokemon rain teams have to offer. While it is raining, Hydration in tandem with Rest allow Manaphy to recover all of its health with no drawbacks, and an immunity to debilitating status as a bonus. Because of this, Manaphy only fears moves that can OHKO, being PP stalled, or having rain removed. There are two approaches that can be taken with Manaphy. The first is an extremely offensive route that focuses on Tail Glow, which gives Manaphy +3 Special Attack. Manaphy's decent Speed and excellent bulk make it a very menacing, powerful sweeper that can muscle its way through some threats before dying. The other approach, often regarded as the more deadly of the two, is a physically bulky set running Calm Mind. Through Hydrest cycling, Manaphy can often boost up a full six times, allowing it to decimate teams. Its bulk makes it very difficult to kill, and after a few boosts it is difficult to wall. STAB Scald can make things even more difficult with its burn chance. That said, there are ways to beat it. Removing the rain automatically makes Manaphy much more manageable, as Rest now costs it two more turns to use, giving enough time for a Pokemon to do away with it. Very strong physical attackers can OHKO or come close to OHKOing Manaphy as well (depending on Manaphy's EV spread), such as Choice Band Garchomp. When all else fails strong super effective STAB attacks will usually do the job, including things like Serperior's Leaf Storm or Thundurus's Thunder. Manaphy is deadly when left to its own devices, but a player who keeps a cool head and plans out how to deal with it, or just gets lucky and crits Manaphy while it is trying to PP stall something such as Ferrothorn, will be able to prevail. There is also the fact that most Manaphy are limited to one coverage move due to almost always running a STAB Water-type move, Rest, and a boosting move. The two common coverage moves are Energy Ball and Ice Beam; one deals with Water-types and the other with Dragon- and Grass-types. Because of this it is easier to manage Manaphy if you have Pokemon that can threaten it while resisting whatever type combination it is using. Keep in mind that a +3 rain-boosted Surf still does a ton of damage even to resists, though.

Blaziken is easily one of the most threatening physical sweepers in the metagame. It has an amazing ability in Speed Boost, a fantastic offensive typing, and the offensive stats to wreak absolute havoc after a Swords Dance boost. Blaziken's STAB moves are so good that it will often not need any attacks other than Hi Jump Kick and Flare Blitz, but Shadow Claw and Stone Edge both have merits, both of which can deal with the few Pokemon who resist both of Blaziken's STAB moves—Slowbro and Dragonite are examples, respectively. Protect is usually Blaziken's fourth move, buying a turn for Speed Boost to do its magic. Substitute is also an option, blocking Thundurus's priority Thunder Wave and preventing Ditto from copying Blaziken. As far as item choices go, Air Balloon gives Blaziken more opportunities to set up Swords Dance, while Leftovers helps to mitigate recoil from Flare Blitz as well as passive damage from hazards and weather, while a Life Orb trades longevity for more power. Sun is obviously Blaziken's favored weather, as it significantly boosts the power of Flare Blitz, removes Blaziken's Water-type weakness, and prevents Excadrill from outspeeding Blaziken in the sand. Blaziken can also opt to use a mixed set, dismantling the usual answers to it with an appropriate coverage move. What potentially makes Blaziken the most fearsome, however, is a move it did not have access to during its tenure in OU: Baton Pass. With it Blaziken can pass its Speed boosts, and perhaps even a Swords Dance or Work Up boost, to a teammate, allowing it to go on a rampage against the opponent's team.

Blaziken is a nightmare to wall, but it can definitely be played around. It's single greatest weakness is its dependency on Hi Jump Kick; a timely switch to a Ghost-type or the use of Protect when Blaziken uses its Fighting-type STAB will strip off half of its health, drastically reducing the threat it poses. Sand and poison damage, combined with Flare Blitz recoil, also help to put Blaziken down. Priority moves, such as Breloom's Mach Punch or Thundurus's Thunder Wave, are the safest way to dispose of a Blaziken. Very fast Pokemon, such as Excadrill in the sand, can revenge kill Blaziken easily, so long as Blaziken does not get lucky with multiple consecutive uses of Protect.

Excadrill is indisputably the best Rapid Spinner in Dream World. No Ghost-type can safely stop it in the sand. It's also one of the best physical sweepers in the metagame—no mean feat—thanks to its incredibly powerful STAB Earthquake, excellent typing, and dreaded Sand Rush ability. The combination of Ground and Steel typing grants Excadrill an immunity to Toxic and Thunder Wave, which means hindering Excadrill with status can be quite difficult. There are very few Pokemon that can take a hit from a +2 Life Orb Excadrill; examples include Skarmory, Bronzong, and Gliscor. Excadrill is a bit easier to wall when it is using an Air Balloon since it has less power, but in exchange it can find more opportunities to set up. Rock Slide is an essential coverage move, but Return and X-Scissor also see use to help deal with Pokemon who can handle those two moves; for example, X-Scissor helps Excadrill break through Tangrowth. Using a second coverage move usually comes at the cost of using Rapid Spin, however. An alternative is Substitute, which can be used to prevent Ditto from copying Excadrill, and can also allow Excadrill to turn the tables on a Blaziken attempting to gain enough Speed boosts to beat Excadrill through Protect. A +2 Excadrill behind a Substitute can be very hard to stop.

There are, of course, ways to beat Excadrill. Technician Breloom is the first option that springs to mind for most in Dream World; its Mach Punch OHKOes Excadrill when boosted by a Life Orb. Chandelure, Breloom's worst enemy, is a common partner to Excadrill for this reason, as well as for its ability to eviscerate Toxic Orb Gliscor and any Skarmory or Bronzong foolish enough to not run Shed Shell. Changing the weather is by far the most effective way to deal with Excadrill—it's certainly far easier to deal with it when Excadrill doesn't outspeed your entire team. Choice Scarf Ditto can work as well, although being locked into Earthquake does have its disadvantages.

Garchomp is perhaps the most threatening physical Dragon-type in Dream World. It has incredible stats all around, with superb Attack, very high Speed, and a surprising amount of bulk. Dragon- and Ground-type offensive STABs are flat-out amazing, with only a handful of Pokemon, such as Skarmory and Bronzong, being able to take the combination without too much risk. Garchomp's Sand Veil ability has caused many a player a headache. It often runs variations of a Swords Dance set, the most common ones running Substitute and generally running Tyranitar support so that they can fish for a miss when necessary. Offensive Swords Dance variants pack quite a punch though, as does Choice Band Garchomp. Choice Scarf Garchomp sits at a very advantageous Speed tier, sitting above nearly every commonly used Choice Scarf user, including very common Choice Scarf users such as Genesect and Chandelure. Garchomp also has access to Stealth Rock, allowing it to fill a supporting role for the team if need be.

Oh, and for those of you who remember Garchomp in OU and are wondering: Yes, it's still an asshole.

Thundurus is an extremely effective special attacker, boasting high Speed and Special Attack, excellent offensive coverage, and access to Nasty Plot. Thundurus can sweep through whole teams if it gets a boost, often running Hidden Power Ice and Focus Blast to supplement its very powerful STAB Thunderbolt, or if being run on a rain team, STAB Thunder. Thundurus does have a few tricks up its sleeve, as well. It can opt to run Grass Knot to get around Gastrodon and company, or go mixed in order to run Hammer Arm to deal with Blissey. Thundurus's Prankster ability is not to be overlooked, either. Priority Thunder Wave is incredibly useful, slowing down such dangerous threats as Blaziken and Choice Scarf Genesect. Quick Subsitutes are no laughing matter either, as they can be used to quickly block any status move or scout the opponent's moveset. Additionally, they also prevent Ditto from stealing Thundurus's form and boosts. Thundurus must of course give up Nasty Plot or offensive coverage to use either of those moves, but that doesn't deter it from being effective at what it does.

Remember in the early Pokemon anime when Ash fought that one girl's Ditto and that Ditto curbstomped Bulbasaur, with that trademark complacent blank stare? Well this is kind of like that, except in Dream World, Ditto is copying your +2 Attack / +2 Speed Salamence and devastating your entire team with Choice Scarf Outrage. Ditto is the very definition of a one-trick pony (unlike Keldeo, who has maybe two or three tricks at its disposal), thanks entirely due to its Imposter ability, which is an automatic Transform that is only blockable by Substitute and Illusion. Transform copies everything but HP from the opponent, including stat boosts. This means that, with a Choice Scarf equipped, Ditto can reverse nearly any boosting sweep. As a result, many set-up sweepers will sometimes choose to use Substitute just to prevent Ditto from revenge killing them. Now, Ditto is, by merit of using a Choice Scarf and Imposter, nearly useless against stall, but that playstyle is nearly nonexistant in Dream World. Ditto's a very good fit for Dream World's metagame. One thing to note is (if copying a special sweeper) that Ditto's IVs do not change to the IVs of a Pokemon it copies. So if you intend to replicate a special sweeper using Hidden Power, be sure to set Ditto's IVs beforehand to the Hidden Power type of your choice, because you are not likely to get many kills with something like Hidden Power Dark.

Serperior's Dream World ability, Contrary, is almost as redefining as Speed Boost was for Blaziken. In OU and below, Serperior is merely a sub-par Grass type, at best filling a SubSeeder or dual screen role. In Dream World, it's an offensive powerhouse. With Contrary, each of Serperior's Leaf Storms acts as a Nasty Plot, in addition to being a Base 140 Power STAB move. You read that correctly. Serperior can reach absurd levels of power very quickly simply by attacking, and it has excellent Speed and bulk to back up its subpar Special Attack before it gets the ball rolling. The main reason Serperior isn't running rampant all over the Dream World metagame is its lack of coverage. It's limited to Hidden Power, and, if you're insane, Twister. Because of this, Serperior usually runs a SubSeed set, which helps it beat Blissey if it carries Leftovers and has a Substitute up when Blissey switches in. It can also run dual screens, Taunt, Giga Drain, and interestingly enough, Glare in its two available moveslots. There are also choices to make when selecting Hidden Power type. Fire allows you to KO Genesect as it switches in and prevents Ferrothorn from walling you, while Ice allows Serperior to muscle through Dragonite and the like. Other options, such as Hidden Power Ground for dealing with Heatran and Chandelure, or Rock as an intermediary between Ice and Ground, are feasible. Speaking of Chandelure, it's easily the biggest threat to Serperior. The Choice Scarf set can switch into Leaf Storm easily and proceed to OHKO with Overheat. Because of this, Pursuit support—and perhaps even a Shed Shell—is recommended.

Breloom's role in Dream World is akin to Scizor's in OU. Thanks to Technician, Breloom's Mach Punch packs quite the, well, punch, allowing Breloom to revenge kill dangerous threats such as Excadrill and Blaziken, an invaluable ability in Dream World. Unlike Scizor it doesn't have U-turn or anything similar for scouting purposes, but Spore more than makes up for that. Breloom will often run a Swords Dance set so that it can polish off weakened teams if given a chance. It's no slouch when it comes to wallbreaking, either, thanks to Spore and Bullet Seed. If Breloom has a Swords Dance under its belt and Bullet Seed connects all five times, Breloom can OHKO even Gliscor. However, a moveset of Spore / Mach Punch / Bullet Seed / Swords Dance leaves Breloom very vulnerable to Chandelure, so some opt to run Stone Edge in order to OHKO it. This of course helps little if Chandelure comes in for a revenge kill. It doesn't help that Chandelure is often paired with Pokemon vulnerable to Breloom, which can create some interesting mindgames. A Breloom facing down a +2 Attack Excadrill in sand could go for the OHKO with Mach Punch, but what if Chandelure switches in? Using Stone Edge would be best then, but if the Breloom player predicts incorrectly and Excadrill attacks, then they've lost what might have been their only answer to Excadrill. It's an interesting dilemma that can result in high pressure Pokemon matches, aka the best kind of Pokemon match.

Deoxys-S is hands down the best entry hazard Pokemon in the game, and is hyper offense's best friend. With full investment its absolutely insane Speed stat allows it to outpace even Choice Scarf Pokemon, and its broad movepool and access to Stealth Rock, Spikes, dual screens, and Taunt allow it to take full advantage of this. Deoxys-S is prominently seen as a suicide lead for VoltTurn teams, which are all the more deadly in Dream World due to the existence of Genesect. Dual screen support can also make set-up Pokemon far harder to deal with, such as Blaziken, Garchomp, and Excadrill. Deoxys-S can opt to run Superpower, Psycho Boost, and Ice Beam to handle specific threats, which can be used for a surprise kill if the opponent is too focused on handling its entry hazards. Deoxys-S can also run a cleaner set due to its immense Speed and respectable offensive stats, cleaning up teams late game. It still needs to watch out for Excadrill in sand and +2 Speed Blaziken, however.

Oh, right. Meloetta. Many people overlook Meloetta because of all the shiny toys Dream World throws in their path, so it's one of the less explored Pokemon in Dream World, and as such still has a lot of untapped potential. Its Aria forme clocks in at base 90 Speed, but has excellent Special Attack and special bulk. The Pirouette forme is a complete opposite, having a Normal / Fighting typing and an impressive base 128 Attack and Speed. Meloetta alternates between the two formes by using Relic Song, a Base 75 Power special Normal-type attack, which has a nifty 10% chance of causing sleep that is doubled by Serene Grace. This means that a well-handled Meoletta can be extremely frustrating to play against. Aria forme threatens physical walls, while Pirouette forme threatens special walls, so by toggling its formes, Meloetta can force multiple switches, which can really wear down the opposition with proper entry hazard support. It is quite potent against stall teams, as rare as it might be. Meloetta is easily the most underlooked Dream World-exclusive Pokemon, so if you want an excuse to be a Pokemon hipster, this is your chance.

"I used Meloetta before it was written about in that one Smog Article."

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