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After reading through the Smogon dex and Introduction to Competitive Pokémon, you embark on a mission to create a team, and after finally finding the members that suit you most, you went ahead and opened Shoddy Battle, joyously inputting every single piece of information. As you select Scizor as a member, you hover ahead the Attack EVs section, maximizing it. Following that, you wish to give Scizor as much overall bulk as possible, so you go ahead and prepare your fingers to input 252 in HP...
Halt! I warn you, this is an unwise action.
Take a moment to step back and consider the following. When Scizor’s HP is maximized, it produces the number 344. That number is unfortunately divisible by 8, which signals indirect damage hazard. Stealth Rock, burn, Leech Seed, normal poisoning and even Darkrai’s Bad Dreams take away 1/8ths of the victim’s maximum HP. This means a maximum HP Scizor will faint in 8 times of exposure to one of these (though it can not be poisoned). When your Scizor spams U-turn in order to weaken enemy counters, you might find your precious mantis dying upon its 8th switch in due to Stealth Rock.
Scizor alone is not the only one that suffers from this disorder when HP is maxed. In fact, there’s quite a list of Pokémon whose maximum HP is divisible by 8, yet not divisible by 16.
The asterisk (*) indicates reduced Stealth Rock damage due to type. The plus (+) indicates increased Stealth Rock damage due to type. Similarly, a (++) indicates a 4x increase in standard Stealth Rock damage.
Not only are the numbers divisible by 8, two turns of Leftovers recovery can not make up for the indirect damage. Furthermore, you’ll realize that you are wasting a point by maximizing HP on any of these (Aggron is perhaps an exception since it takes reduced Stealth Rock damage, is immune to Poison, and Burn renders it useless anyways). To demonstrate what I mean, let’s put it in a simple example we all can understand.
There are two Scizors; we will refer to them by Scizor 1, who has maximum HP EVs, and Scizor 2, who has 248 HP EVs. Both of them are sent out into the battlefield where Stealth Rock awaits to inflict injury. The results should be as followed:
As you can see, they will enter the trap-laden battlefield with the same HP. However, should you want to switch Scizor out more than once…
What do we have here? The Scizor that started out with one point lower in HP ends up having higher HP upon its second time switching into the field.
But let’s not stop there shall we. We shall discuss the Pokémon that take increased damage from Stealth Rock as well. These Pokémon, when their HP is maxed, maximizes the pain that Stealth Rock brings upon them
Adding to the previous list of Pokémon marked with the plus, here are some more that share their shame. The HP of all of these Pokémon are not divisible by 16
Like previously, the double plus (++) indicates 50% damage when the Pokémon is switched in while Stealth Rock is active against you.
It may be tempting to maximize the HP of these Pokémon (especially Shuckle, who sports the lowest non Shedinja HP, yet the highest defenses in the game), but in reality, having one point less in HP is better. The 100 Base HP receives a special note as maximizing HP allows the Pokémon to create 101 HP Substitutes, withstanding a Seismic Toss from Blissey. However, aside from possibly Shaymin-S, the rest should not bother with such a task.
Now, with this outlook on entry hazards in mind, you can save one or even more points. But how much is a single point worth? It can give you a greater chance of survival, a greater chance of knocking something out, or more importantly in some cases, outrunning the ignorant opposition. Did I say one point? You can save more when you plan to switch the Pokémon in more than once. This one point you remove from HP can save your Pokémon from its deathbed during critical moments.
Now, there’s one more thing to discuss that falls in a similar issue. Known since the dawn of Ruby and Sapphire, it is the famed “Leftovers numbers”. These numbers allow for maximum recovery by the hold item Leftovers as they are divisible by 16. Sounds great? Not always. Being divisible by 16 also means divisible by 8. Should these numbers be avoided? It depends on the situation you plan to encounter. But before we go to that, we shall note the Pokémon whose HP is divisible by 16 when it is maxed.
++ indicates 50% Stealth Rock damage
+ indicates 25% Stealth Rock damage
* indicates Abomasnow creates hail.
As stated before, to maximize or to not maximize depends almost entirely on your situation. For many of these Pokémon, maximizing HP also maximizes defensive capabilities, while having one point less can sometimes produce the same type of problems as mentioned when you maximize a base 70 Pokémon’s HP (For instance, a Deoxys-D with 303 HP takes 37 damage from Stealth Rock, and two rounds of leftovers recovery won’t completely heal it). However, as appealing as maximizing Leftovers recovery sounds, sandstorm and hail negate this advantage, and leaves your Pokémon suffering from increased indirect damage. If you have one of these weathers in your team, it is generally a bad idea to maximize the HP EVs of these Pokémon unless they are immune to it. However, when you do not have damaging weather on your side, it can go both ways. Do you wish to maximize the HP EVs of one of these Pokémon due to your own team, or do you maximize HP based on the possibility of sandstorm or hail? You should consider the frequency of these weathers in different metagames. For example, sandstorm is common in OU due to Hippowdon’s and Tyranitar’s presence, but it is quite rare in Ubers due to Kyogre and Groudon being everywhere, canceling out the sandstorm Tyranitar creates, or the hail Abomasnow brings. Therefore, it is safer to maximize HP of any of these Pokémon in the Uber metagame compared to the OU metagame. Also consider other factors such as Rapid Spin or Taunt that could prevent the set up on entry hazards. It would probably be a more preferable option to max HP when you have these and no damaging weather on your side (that hurts it obviously).
Before we go, if you are going to go with a classic 252/252/6 Spread on some Pokémon, putting 6 EVs into HP automatically turns these Pokémon “Stealth Rock weak”, meaning that these Pokémon will fall in 4 turns of switching when Stealth Rock is present.
Now that you’ve bled your eyes out upon reading all of these, you now know that EVs aren’t as simple as it would seem. Saving only one or two points may not be a big deal, but remember that there are virtually no downsides to doing so, considering the prevalence of Stealth Rock, and the occasional Leech Seed and Will-O-Wisp.
Of course, there's yet another final word to this. It's not always maximizing HP, but make sure your HP isn't divisible by 8 (unless it is a lefties number and you decide to go by that due to circumstance). This means Scizor with let's say...188 HP EVs is asking to die in 8 switch ins.
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