Brains Over Brawn: Calm Mind in OU - Part I

By Albacore and DarkNostalgia. Art by Pipotchi.
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Clefable by Pipotchi


Setup sweepers are an integral part of competitive Pokémon. Using setup moves such as Calm Mind, Nasty Plot, and Swords Dance, these sweepers can serve as wincons for many teams and possibly receive additional benefits such as boosted defensive capabilities and an augmented Speed stat. Calm Mind raises both Special Attack and Special Defense at once, increasing not only the offensive potential of a Pokémon but also the defensive potential, turning once-passive Pokémon such as Slowbro and Clefable into viable defensive wincons.

Due to Calm Mind's slower nature of boosting compared to that of Nasty Plot, as well as its boost to Special Defense, Calm Mind is a move suitable for many Pokémon that possess either a naturally good defensive typing or strong defensive stats. In this article, I will explore some of the top users of Calm Mind in the OU tier. It will be divided into two parts, with this one dedicated to defensive Pokémon.



With a seemingly poor stat distribution, as all of its base stats fail to even reach 100, Clefable seems like an unlikely contender for OU, let alone one of the most defining Pokémon in the current metagame. However, if one takes a closer look at Clefable, one will discover the combination of a godly Fairy typing, two amazing abilities in Magic Guard and Unaware, and an extraordinarily expansive movepool. A mono-Fairy typing is an excellent trait in this metagame, packing an immunity to Dragon-type moves and resistances to common Fighting- and Dark-type moves as well as the less common Bug-type moves. Magic Guard is a stellar ability to have, particularly in such a entry hazard-centric metagame, as the immunity to damage from status ailments and entry hazards makes Clefable incredibly hard to wear down, resulting in it being capable of beating and setting up on a lot of threatening Pokémon such as Mega Lopunny, Mega Gyarados, Kyurem-B, Raikou, Thundurus, Mega Manectric, Mega Medicham, Hippowdon, Mega Sableye, Latios, Latias, and Mega Diancie.

Unaware is Clefable's other viable ability, and it is a great one at that as well. With Unaware, Clefable is capable of combating a myriad of setup sweepers, such as Mega Gallade, Mega Heracross, Power-Up Punch Mega Lopunny, Swords Dance Weavile, Swords Dance Garchomp, and Bulk Up Talonflame. It also fits great on more defensively oriented playstyles, serving as one of the remaining counters to Tail Glow Manaphy. Another factor greatly enhancing Clefable's viability is its wide movepool, consisting of many coverage and utility moves such as Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Flamethrower, Focus Blast, Thunder Wave, Stealth Rock, Encore, Heal Bell, and Wish. With these options, Clefable can invalidate its checks on the switch; for example, Talonflame, Heatran, Mega Venusaur, and Gengar are greatly crippled by Thunder Wave.

In terms of Calm Mind sets, the combination of Calm Mind and Magic Guard is the most common one, though Calm Mind with Unaware is perfectly viable as well. Calm Mind Magic Guard Clefable fits on a variety of team archetypes, providing invaluable support by virtue of dealing with more threatening Pokémon such as Kyurem-B and Thundurus. Play as any bulky Calm Mind user would: pivot into weaker Pokémon or Pokémon that Clefable is capable of dismantling such as Mega Manectric, Mega Lopunny, and Hippowdon, and alternate between Calm Mind and Soft-Boiled. Make sure Clefable is healthy so that it can sufficiently check the Pokémon it's supposed to check. If Clefable packs Thunder Wave, then try not to reveal it too early and surprise the likes of Gengar, Mega Venusaur, Talonflame, Ferrothorn, and Heatran on the switch.

Having Mega Venusaur and Heatran paralyzed means Clefable has a chance of setting up on and beating them; in particular, Mega Venusaur fails to 2HKO Clefable with Sludge Bomb when Clefable is at +1 Special Defense—in other words, after one Calm Mind boost. It is imperative that Clefable does not try to immediately use Calm Mind against the previously mentioned Pokémon, as it will lose more often than not. If Clefable packs Flamethrower, it is usually better to hit Steel-types such as Scizor, Mega Metagross, Skarmory, Ferrothorn, and Magnezone on the switch with Flamethrower rather than attempting a sweep with Calm Mind in order to do some decent damage to them, thus giving Clefable an easier time serving as a wincon later on.

The combination of Unaware and Calm Mind is less common, being slightly overshadowed by Magic Guard in terms of longevity due to the latter set's immunity to passive damage and mixed EV spread to combat special attackers better. However, having Calm Mind on Unaware variants of Clefable means that it can gain leverage over many special attackers, particularly special setup sweepers such as Tail Glow Manaphy, Nasty Plot Thundurus, and Calm Mind Slowbro.



Despite its UU status, Suicune is one of the most notorious bulky Water-types in OU, as it has been for generations. In particular, its renowned CroCune set, which was extremely popular in ADV, is just as effective nowadays as it was back then, mainly due to the introduction of Scald in Gen V, a godsend for a Pokémon that relies on Special Defense boosts. However, Scald is far from the only trait that makes Suicune such a good Calm Mind user. What stands out the most about Suicune is its sheer bulk: 100 / 115 / 115 bulk is phenomenal even by Gen VI OU standards. This bulk is further amplified by Suicune's great mono-Water typing granting it only two weaknesses, to Electric and Grass, both of which are almost always special attacks, meaning that Suicune can power through super effective moves with enough Calm Mind boosts under its belt.

Its bulk is so strong that even wallbreakers can struggle to 2HKO it. Unfortunately, Suicune has one big flaw: it lacks reliable recovery and thus must use Rest. This means it does not need to be 2HKOed, but rather 3HKOed in order to be defeated. Sleep Talk does alleviate the problem somewhat by making Suicune less passive while asleep; however, it is still very unreliable and does not help Suicune regain health. There is, however, a notable silver lining to using Rest, and that is its ability to remove status ailments, particularly bad poison, a death sentence for Calm Minders that aren't either immune to it or able to remove it. Another fairly minor perk Suicune has is Pressure, which enables it to more easily PP stall opposing Calm Minders.

Up until relatively recently, the only set Suicune commonly used was the classic CroCune set of Scald / Calm Mind / Rest / Sleep Talk. However, many people are now using Roar over Sleep Talk. This may seem odd on a Calm Minder, but it all makes sense when you realize that one of Suicune's biggest flaws is its vulnerability to setup sweepers. Many Pokémon, ranging from other Calm Mind users like Keldeo and Latios, to Dragon Dancers like Mega Altaria and Mega Gyarados, to Nasty Plot and Tail Glow users like Celebi and Manaphy, respectively, are able to set up on it relatively easily. But Roar completely prevents this, and given how difficult Suicune is to beat without a boost, just giving it Roar can suddenly give many teams that would otherwise easily beat Suicune a very hard time against it. On top of all that, it gives Suicune excellent general utility in checking other setup sweepers and racking up entry hazard damage.

Suicune may seem easy to use, but that isn't necessarily the case. Like most defensive Calm Minders, Suicune can be used as an early- to mid-game wall or as a late-game sweeper; however, it is unlikely to effectively do both during the same battle. This is because Suicune is never in a better shape than when it is sent out for the first time, as from then on, it'll be either weakened or asleep due to the nature of Rest. As a result, you need to decide if you want Suicune to wall or sweep very early on in the battle. If the opponent has a good answer to Suicune that isn't easily weakened, such as Celebi or Taunt Mew, or has multiple checks to it, then trying to sweep with it isn't worth it, and you should just use it as a standard wall, sending it in on what it counters.

On the other hand, if Suicune needs little support to sweep the opposing team, refrain from sending it in too early. Once you find an opportunity to set up, take it, preferably by giving Suicune a free switch in on something it beats. Generally speaking, you should make sure you keep Suicune healthy at all times, and try to keep entry hazards off the field before sending Suicune in, as they chip away at its health. Heal Bell support helps Suicune enormously for obvious reasons, letting it act as both a regular wall and a wincon during a single battle much more easily.



Manaphy is a very similar Calm Minder to Suicune in many ways. For one, its typing is the same, and the sets they run are almost identical. It may seem outclassed by Suicune as a Calm Minder due to its comparatively lower 100 / 100 / 100 bulk, but Manaphy has a very important trait setting it apart from its bulkier cousin in Hydration, which cures all status ailments under rain. More specifically, this ability enables Manaphy to instantly wake up from Rest if rain is up. This means it can just run Rain Dance in its fourth slot and use it before Rest in order to heal itself all the way back to full health. This also makes Manaphy more resistant to status ailments in general, as in order to remove them, it doesn't need to use Rest and can instead just set up Rain Dance, and if rain is already up, it can't be crippled with status at all.

Another great advantage Manaphy has over Suicune is its greater offensive presence. Manaphy's slightly higher base Special Attack (100 compared to Suicune's 90) makes it much easier for it to wear down its checks. This is especially true if it is already raining, as Scald becomes significantly stronger under rain. Essentially, Manaphy is a frailer but less passive Suicune. And, unlike Suicune, it's not primarily known for its Calm Mind set, but rather for its offensive Tail Glow set. This means the opponent may send in a Pokémon like Ferrothorn or Latias that can check the Tail Glow set but cannot handle the Calm Mind set, enabling Manaphy to boost up even more.

Unlike Suicune, Manaphy can potentially both wall and sweep in a single battle thanks to Hydration enabling it to be both healthy and free of status conditions. However, it isn't as good at either of those things as Suicune. Its lower bulk makes it harder for it to take on such a wide range of threats and to find an opening to set up Calm Mind. In both cases, it is very important to make sure rain is up for as long as possible, as without it, Manaphy will be unable to heal itself without staying asleep.

This is something you want to avoid as much as possible, as Manaphy isn't bulky enough to afford to stay inactive for three turns. This means that using it requires foresight; you need to be able to tell when Manaphy will need to heal one turn in advance. This also creates extra difficulty when setting up, as extra turns need to be expended in order to keep rain up. Despite these flaws, Manaphy can potentially be very difficult to KO once it's able to set up, and no one should underestimate just how frustrating it is is to face a Pokémon with instant full healing.



Despite its notoriety in Gen V, nowadays, it's easy to see Reuniclus as a poor man's Clefable due to its weaker typing leaving it weak to Pursuit and its far smaller movepool. However, Reuniclus does have a few advantages over the fairy. The most obvious one is its greater bulk. While Clefable's typing enables it to set up on a handful of Dragon-, Fighting-, and Dark-types, it has trouble taking a lot of neutral hits due to its lack of sheer bulk. Reuniclus shares Clefable's immunity to entry hazards, poison, and passive damage in general, but it also has higher bulk in general, making it much easier for it to set up on the likes of Mega Diancie, Mega Lopunny, Keldeo, Starmie, Mega Medicham, and any other Pokémon against which Clefable's typing would not help. And while Clefable's typing is generally better than Reuniclus's, there are still advantages to having a Psychic typing over a Fairy typing; for instance, Reuniclus can take on certain Pokémon like Mega Venusaur, Talonflame, Ferrothorn, and Mega Medicham far better than Clefable can.

It's also stronger than Clefable, especially if it decides to carry a Life Orb. One of Reuniclus's best selling points is its access to STAB Psyshock. Due to the fact that it hits foes on their Defense rather than their Special Defense, it enables Reuniclus to beat opposing Calm Mind users, with the exception of Unaware Clefable and, if Shadow Ball is not used, Mega Slowbro. Speaking of which, one of Reuniclus' biggest flaws is its four-moveslot syndrome: it has to choose between Focus Blast to hit Dark-types and Shadow Ball for Psychic-types and Mega Sableye. However, Focus Blast is usually preferred because most Psychic-types lose to Reuniclus after one Calm Mind boost regardless. Unlike most other Calm Mind users, it cannot spread status and thus provides little other than a pure Calm Mind user, making it more difficult to fit on teams. This can be fixed by running Thunder Wave instead of a coverage move; however, this makes Reuniclus far easier to wall.

Reuniclus functions almost identically to Clefable; it should be sent in against the Pokémon it beats, be kept healthy throughout the battle, and not set up Calm Mind until its checks are gone. The main difference between it and Clefable is the lack of a move that is as risk free to use as Thunder Wave or Moonblast, and thus, it needs to be used with much more caution. In particular, Reuniclus should attempt to hit Dark-types with Focus Blast as they switch into it, and if it does face one and you expect it to use Pursuit, you may want to keep Reuniclus in and use Focus Blast, but this is a very risky move to pull.

Mega Slowbro

Mega Slowbro

Although it may seem like a combination of Suicune and Reuniclus, Mega Slowbro actually performs quite differently from these two. Its most notable problem is its complete inability to cure itself of status ailments, meaning it is easily stopped by Toxic users and is also heavily crippled by burns and Leech Seed. While it can use Rest to remedy this, the move makes Mega Slowbro very exploitable and much easier to beat offensively, especially due to its lack of Leftovers recovery. As a result, Mega Slowbro is mediocre against more defensive teams, against which Calm Mind users typically fare very well. However, it makes up for that by being very strong against offensive teams. Mega Slowbro's amazing Defense means it can easily afford to invest in special bulk, and after only one Calm Mind boost, it becomes very difficult to 2HKO.

This is especially true given that its ability, Shell Armor, grants it an immunity to critical hits, which are otherwise a huge problem for defensive Calm Minders and dissuade them from setting up too much. Besides the obvious benefits of having access to STAB Scald, Mega Slowbro also has STAB Psyshock, enabling it to beat opposing Calm Minders and hit Pokémon that resist Water such as Manaphy, Azumarill, Serperior, and Breloom. It also has the option of using Iron Defense, which prevents it from being overpowered by physical attackers, including setup sweepers such as Mega Gyarados, Mega Charizard X, Mega Altaria, and Garchomp, thus improving its anti-offense capabilities even further. Finally, Thunder Wave is an option that increases Slowbro's ability to wall threats before it Mega Evolves, but it helps it less when it comes to sweeping.

Mega Slowbro, like any other Calm Minder, should wait for its checks and counters to be gone before setting up, and until then, it should only be used as a wall and just weaken its checks. Thus, it is better to postpone Mega Evolving until it is ready to sweep. After all, while Mega Slowbro is far bulkier and may therefore seem like a better wall, regular Slowbro's amazing ability in Regenerator makes it much easier for it to stay alive throughout the course of the battle and thus enables it to more consistently wall various threats. That being said, you may want to Mega Evolve Slowbro early in order to take on a powerful physical attacker such as Swords Dance Garchomp or Choice Band Azumarill more easily, in which case you need to be much more careful when it comes to keeping it healthy.

Mega Slowbro hates getting worn down gradually by status, so before attempting to set up, make sure that all status spreaders and Leech Seed users are gone, and avoid switching it in on Scald and Lava Plume, which can burn it. On the other hand, Mega Slowbro barely minds paralysis, which, in fact, can be beneficial because being paralyzed prevents it from being afflicted by any other status condition.

Mega Sableye

Mega Sableye

Mega Sableye is usually seen less as a Calm Mind sweeper and more as a pure utility Pokémon, bouncing back entry hazards, Taunt, and other status moves. And while its standard Knock Off + Foul Play set may provide more immediate support, Mega Sableye is still able to pull off an effective Calm Mind set, which can sweep teams more easily and relies less on team support given that it is harder to force out after a boost. Mega Sableye's greatest asset is quite obviously Magic Bounce, arguably one of the best abilities in the game. Not only does this protect it from being directly inflicted with status ailments, but it also gives it an immunity to Taunt, Roar, and Whirlwind, which are otherwise hard stops to Calm Mind sweepers. This makes it very strong against stall teams, which don't have the firepower to break through Calm Mind users and thus must use defensive tactics to beat them, almost all of which Mega Sableye bypasses. Unfortunately, this does not protect it from status ailments from moves with secondary effects, such as Scald, Lava Plume, and Sludge Bomb, which most Calm Minders have a way around.

While its bulk isn't stellar, its excellent defensive typing enables it to set up on many Pokémon, especially when paired with Will-O-Wisp, which disables physical attackers, preventing them from overpowering Mega Sableye. It also pairs up very well with Shadow Ball given that Will-O-Wisp disables every relevant Pokémon that resists or is immune to Ghost in OU, with the exception of Chansey, which gets PP stalled by Mega Sableye regardless. However, Snarl can also be used, and although it is very weak and does almost no damage to Fairy- and Fighting-types, it does help Mega Sableye set up against special attackers thanks to its side effect of dropping the foe's Special Attack. In particular, it helps against opposing Calm Minders by preventing them from boosting alongside Mega Sableye.

Once again, it is very important for Mega Sableye to remain very healthy throughout the battle and to not set up recklessly, as if it is forced out while weakened, it will be very hard for it to switch in. It might be tempting to not Mega Evolve Sableye before attempting a sweep in order to make use of Prankster. And there are advantages to this, such as making it easier to keep Sableye healthy, being able to emergency check a physical sweeper, and saving Mega Evolving for when Sableye first uses Calm Mind to get both priority on the move and the extra bulk from Mega Evolving at once. However, it is often a good idea to Mega Evolve as soon as possible, as the ability to bounce back entry hazards and other status moves, as well as the extra bulk, is also extremely useful throughout the battle.

Will-O-Wisp is a pretty spammable move that can cripple or wear down checks, but be careful, as most people will expect it and send in a Pokémon immune to burns to absorb it. Try to take advantage of the fact that most people expect an utility set on Mega Sableye, and then surprise them by wearing down its switch-ins such as Mega Diancie and Togekiss with Shadow Ball, among other tactics. You shouldn't be afraid to set up Calm Mind if the opponent's main answer to Mega Sableye is a special attacker such as Keldeo or Hydreigon.

How to beat defensive Calm Minders

Defensive Calm Mind users can be very difficult to break through, to the point where they often need to be accounted for in teambuilding. Taunt users such as Heatran, Mew, and Talonflame are among the most reliable ways of stopping Calm Minders. Roar and Whirlwind users are also able to get rid of Calm Minders, but this is only temporary, and they'll fail if the Calm Mind user in question is the last remaining Pokémon on the opposing team. Taunt, Roar, and Whirlwind are also unable to stop Mega Sableye. It can be phazed with Dragon Tail; however, Clefable is immune to it. Calm Minders can also be overpowered by Swords Dance users such as Garchomp, Gliscor, and Breloom; however, most of them fear the burns that many Calm Mind users are able to inflict.

Even safer options are special setup sweepers such as Celebi, Manaphy, and Serperior; however, along with Swords Dance users, they are unable to break past Unaware Clefable and struggle against Roar Suicune to a lesser extent. Most Calm Mind users are either immune to or able to cure bad poisoning, but those that are not are stopped cold by it. Furthermore, those affected by burns or Leech Seed can be severely worn down by them. The only universal, foolproof way to stop Calm Minders is Perish Song, which even bypasses Magic Bounce, but it has very poor distribution.

Overall, though, the best way to handle Calm Minders users is to simply prevent from setting up in the first place by continuously applying offensive pressure. Calm Mind users can't wall offensive threats and set up at the same time, so they can be overloaded if they are forced to switch into multiple offensive threats and subsequently take high amounts of damage. This mostly applies to offensive teams, though, as bulkier ones usually either have to use specific answers to specific Calm Minders or rely on more defensive tactics such as those mentioned above.

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