UU Rain Dance

By Diesel.
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Rainy Season

In early February, Rain Dance teams made quite a splash as they reemerged onto the UU scene with a vengeance. With all but one Swift Swimmer allowed in UU, a number of great supporters, and Gallade and Honchkrow banned, Rain Dance was poised for a resurgence. The strategy has seen tremendous growth on the ladder since January, as shown by the most recent usage statistics. The largest jump has been from January to February, when the strategy caught fire, and since then it has remained fairly constant. Gorebyss, a telltale Pokemon due to its dependence on Rain Dance, leapt from 76th to 54th, a jump so massive it speaks for itself. In reaction to Rain Dance's growth, Toxicroak experienced a very impressive increase from 39th to 26th in usage from January to March. The other staple Rain Dance Pokemon did not experience such massive jumps, as they are not dependent on the strategy for success, but the way they are used has reflected the increase in Rain Dance. For example, Ludicolo's use of Swords Dance doubled to 33% from January to March.

Rain Dance is certainly not a newcomer to UU. In the early stages of "New UU", back in May '09 when Crobat and Shaymin ruled, Rain Dance was quite popular. Crobat and Uxie, the masters of setup, carried Damp Rock on 10% and 25% of their sets, respectively. However, in July and August, after Crobat and Shaymin got the boot, the strategy began to fizzle in the summer heat. So, what spawned this outbreak of rain teams? There is no one event that lead to mass growth in usage, although the departure of Honchkrow and its devastating Sucker Punch certainly didn't hurt.

Rain Dance can be difficult to prepare for, as there is really no one-size-fits-all counter to its sweepers. For example, Pokemon who counter Gorebyss will likely be steamrolled by Kabutops, while Pokemon who can handle Kabutops can be setup on by Ludicolo, and so on. To make matters worse, most Pokemon simply fare horribly against rain sweepers, as their sheer power and Speed is very difficult to overcome. All of this means that if a team is not prepared to face Rain Dance, it will almost certainly lose, which really cannot be said for any weather strategy outside of Ubers.

One of the most fearsome aspects of Rain Dance teams is that they are incredibly straightforward to construct and play. This means that almost any novice player can throw together an extremely threatening rain team, whereas a novice player attempting stall would likely get run over by more experienced players. This is part of what makes the strategy such a "big deal". It can be used easily and frequently, so one cannot hope to scale the UU ladder with a team unprepared to face Rain Dance.

The Sweepers

Kabutops

Kabutops @ Life Orb
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Swords Dance
- Waterfall
- Stone Edge
- Aqua Jet

Kabutops is perhaps the most threatening rain sweeper due to its ability to tear through many of the counters to other rain abusers. Its excellent Attack stat and powerful dual STAB allow it to pummel fragile Pokemon, while Swords Dance allows it to conquer bulkier foes, such as Registeel. Aqua Jet is also much more useful than it seems at first, as it not only outspeeds priority users and makes Sucker Punch fail if Kabutops is faster, but also allows Kabutops to continue to manhandle opponents after the rain stops, when its Speed is only average.

Gorebyss

Gorebyss @ Life Orb
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Surf
- Ice Beam
- Hidden Power Grass
- Psychic

Gorebyss is arguably the best special sweeper in rain. Although its Special Attack and Speed are slightly lower than Omastar's, its pure Water-type gives it the advantage of not being so easy to revenge kill with common Fighting-type priority moves such as Hitmotop's Mach Punch and Toxicroak's Vacuum Wave. Gorebyss specializes in type coverage, as it dedicates its entire moveset to attacks. Its type coverage is so good that all Pokemon resisting Surf are hit super effectively by another one of Gorebyss' moves, which makes it very hard to switch into.

Ludicolo

Ludicolo @ Life Orb
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Surf
- Energy Ball / Grass Knot
- Ice Beam
- Rain Dance

Ludicolo

Ludicolo @ Life Orb
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Swords Dance
- Waterfall
- Seed Bomb
- Ice Punch / Zen Headbutt

While the previous two sweepers are very predictable as far as their movesets go, Ludicolo is just the opposite. When Ludicolo first switches in, the opponent is forced into a glorified guessing game between Swords Dance and Surf. Predicting incorrectly could spell big trouble, as there are few Pokemon that can switch into both moves. Ludicolo's dual STAB is also one of its great strengths, as it provides great coverage when accompanied by an Ice-type move.

The Rest

Qwilfish - Not to be forgotten amongst these aquatic titans is Qwilfish, who can dish out damage with the best of them. With Swords Dance, potent dual STAB, and Explosion, the little puffer can pack quite a punch. Additionally, it has an excellent defensive typing, which includes resistance to Mach Punch, although its defenses themselves are mediocre. It has even been known to set up Spikes as a lead.

Uxie - Uxie is nearly unrivaled as a support Pokemon in UU, so its qualities naturally extend to setting up Rain Dance. It is very versatile as a lead, so it won't be obvious that you are running Rain Dance, unlike Electrode. Moves like U-turn make it great for scouting to ensure the success of its sweepers, while its massive bulk will allow it to stick around awhile.

Lanturn - Lanturn also makes a fantastic support Pokemon for a Rain Dance team. Its excellent ability, Volt Absorb, allows it to take any Electric-type attacks aimed at sweepers, which, most importantly, includes Thunder Wave. It can also utilize Rain Dance to boost its STAB Water-type attacks.

Omastar - Omastar can do it all on a Rain Dance team - set up entry hazards, make it rain, and sweep. It works great as a lead, as well as a sweeper.

The "Counters"

Chansey - Chansey counters all things special, and rain sweepers are no exception. It walls the likes of Gorebyss and Omastar all day long, as well as supporters like Lanturn. As mentioned, however, it cannot safely switch into the multifaceted Ludicolo, and is forced to flee for its life against Kabutops and Qwilfish.

Hitmontop - Intimidate and Mach Punch, on defensive and offensive sets respectively, go a long way toward stopping the physical rain sweepers, Kabutops in particular. Intimidate allows it to safely switch in to Kabutops, as it will not be 2HKOed by Waterfall or OHKOed on the subsequent turn if Kabutops uses Swords Dance. This means that Hitmontop can blow Kabutops away with Close Combat after switching in. TechniTop, meanwhile, can switch in and use Mach Punch to score a surefire revenge kill if Kabutops is below 82% health. Hitmontop also functions well on any type of team and pairs well with Chansey.

Toxicroak - Toxicroak's typing and Dry Skin ability make it very adept at countering rain in UU. It resists both the quintessential Water/Rock and Water/Grass combinations that are so common among rain sweepers, although it needs to be wary of Psychic-type moves from Ludicolo and Gorebyss. Toxicroak also has two potent offensive combinations in the form of Swords Dance + Sucker Punch and Nasty Plot + Vacuum Wave. These allow it to not only finish off weak sweepers, but also set up on support Pokemon while they Rain Dance.

Golduck - If your thumb is already on the Command key, please hold off on hitting Q. In addition to getting rid of weather with Cloud Nine, Golduck actually outspeeds and can beat many rain sweepers with a +Speed nature and four attacks. Its usefulness carries over against other weather teams as well, which it will frustrate to no end.

The Debate

For much of the past two testing periods, an epic debate has raged on in Stark Mountain's UU sub-forum regarding Rain Dance. Many users argue Damp Rock causes Rain Dance to be broken, and that banning it would effectively neuter the rain strategy. The reasoning behind this is that without Damp Rock, rain teams can only use three of their five turns of rain to sweep (which may even include a turn of setup) versus six out of eight turns to sweep with Damp Rock. This would effectively cut the time sweepers can spend attacking in half, which advocates of this solution claim is enough to make the strategy both non-broken and still usable.

Others maintain that rain is broken no matter how long it lasts due to the power of its sweepers under rain. Therefore, banning Damp Rock would not be the correct course of action. Instead, they propose that banning the dominant rain sweepers is the proper way to tone down rain's potency. This would mean banning Kabutops, Ludicolo, and possibly Omastar and/or Gorebyss, depending on who you ask.

Still others claim that rain is simply not a broken strategy, and that it is just another strategy people need to prepare for, like stall or bulky offense. This seems to be the consensus many community members are coming to, as at the end of the latest round of voting, Kabutops was the only Rain Dance member (Damp Rock included) to be nominated as a suspect, and it received a mere two nominations.

What's Next?

It all comes down to the suspect votes. Since no element of Rain Dance will be voted on, its effectiveness will hinge on how the metagame changes with the possible departure of the current suspects. Offensive teams that abuse Spikes are en vogue currently, but the departure of Froslass, or even Moltres, could change that significantly. There is no telling whether Rain Dance will dominate the next testing period or slowly fade into the background. The only way to know for sure is to participate in the UU metagame and find out what happens.

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