Weather Over the Generations: Hail

By ScraftyIsTheBest. Released: 2019/08/02.
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Art by MamOwOswine.


Weather conditions have been a major component of the Pokémon games since their advent in Generation II, and they have been a major component of the competitive battling scene since Generation IV. There are four prominent weather conditions that have been present: sun, rain, sandstorm, and hail. Hail, however, has always stood out as the oddest weather of the four, and always arguably the weakest weather condition of the lot. It has often lacked many of the things the other weather conditions boasted: it doesn't boost the power of any moves or raise the defenses of any type of Pokémon. And for a long time, it didn't have many strong abilities for Pokémon to utilize it, and the abilities that benefited from it were given to very few Pokémon. It certainly didn't help that it is mostly relied on by Ice-type Pokémon, which are more often than not hindered by Ice's abysmal defensive qualities and generally mediocre stat spreads. As such, hail has historically been the least common of the weather archetypes seen in competitive play, though despite this, it has been used in very interesting and unique ways over the generations, finding its own niches over the other three weather conditions. This article will discuss how hail as a weather has changed with each generation, its usage as a playstyle, and the kinds of teams that arose with it.

Generation III

Despite hail as a weather being introduced in Generation III, it was virtually nonexistent on the competitive scene. With no Pokémon to automatically summon it, and outright no abilities for any Pokémon to benefit from it, the incentive to use hail was close to none.

Generation IV

The advent of Diamond and Pearl saw a lot of new changes for hail as a weather that gave it some uses in the Gen 4 competitive scene. Snow Warning was introduced, and Abomasnow (and Snover in DPP UU) stood out as the main summoners of hail on such teams. The ability Ice Body was also introduced, providing passive recovery to its users under hail. This became especially prominent with Walrein (aka Stallrein), as it would often use the recovery of Leftovers and Ice Body in combination with its high bulk, Substitute, and Protect (and usually Toxic or Toxic Spikes) to rack up passive damage and stall out opposing teams while being very difficult to take down when played properly. This set was relatively common on many hail teams, especially in DPP UU. Snow Cloak was also introduced in this generation, which increases evasion, and it was used by Froslass and Glaceon quite commonly as a means to create a luck factor.

Abomasnow was decently common in OU, as it had a lot of interesting things going for it besides its ability to summon hail, namely being a strong offensive Ice-type that could wallbreak thanks to its excellent offensive typing. Its typing also allowed it to check bulky Water-types such as Swampert and Suicune and Dragon-types such as Flygon and Dragonite to an extent. Its ability to summon hail gave it plenty of utility as, making it a disruptive threat capable of removing sandstorm (and potentially overtaking Hippowdon or Tyranitar) as well as using its passive damage to disrupt stall teams by countering passive recovery. Bulky sets with Leech Seed were also very usable as a nuisance. Hail was also famously used in a stall team by Lady Bug, which relied heavily on racking up passive damage with hail, Toxic Spikes, and entry hazard damage.

While very matchup reliant in OU, hail teams in UU flourished and were a significantly more deadly playstyle. Hail stall teams were particularly common in DPP UU, often with the classic Stallrein being used in tandem with Snover to stall opposing teams to death. Froslass also saw usage on these teams as a Spikes setter with Snow Cloak for a brief amount of time, though it has since been banned from DPP UU. Offensive Blizzard spam teams were also seen as well, with Glaceon and Jynx being particularly common on these builds due to their sheer power.

Generation V

The fifth generation didn't bring too much to the table for hail, but it continued to see usage across the board. The fifth generation OU metagame was notorious for being mainly driven by weather: weather teams of all four weathers were especially common in this metagame, though hail was the least common of the lot. That being said, Abomasnow still saw usage in BW OU and could be very disruptive thanks to its offensive typing and ability to disrupt opposing weather teams: it could counteract other weather conditions and potentially defeat Politoed, Hippowdon, and to an extent Tyranitar one-on-one or on the switch. It would occasionally be seen in tandem with Kyurem or Kyurem-B, which could now use a powerful, accurate Blizzard to aid their wallbreaking prowess.

While it was the weakest weather condition in OU, hail became a very controversial subject in lower tiers, namely UU and RU. It was prominent in BW1 UU, with Abomasnow often being used in tandem with either Stallrein, which could stall out most offensive teams without much thought, or Rotom-F, which could spam powerful Blizzards backed by STAB Thunderbolt to maim bulky Water-types like Suicune and Slowbro. Other Pokémon such as Suicune, Nidoqueen, and Slowking benefitted as well by being able to use a powerful Blizzard as coverage to maim would-be switch-ins such as Roserade and Shaymin: such Pokémon synergized well with hail teams by covering the weaknesses of most hail staples. Pokémon such as Froslass and Kyurem were also common, the former due to it being able to rely on luck with a Snow Cloak evasion boost and set up Spikes. Snow Warning was ultimately suspect tested and banned in BW1 but was unbanned later in BW2 in the wake of Snow Cloak, Kyurem, and Abomasnow all being banned or in OU by that point in time, after a rather controversial retest in late November-December 2012. It remained usable throughout the rest of BW2 UU, and Abomasnow rejoined the tier shortly after Snow Warning's unban. However, Snow Warning was posthumously banned from BW UU in 2014 after it became a controversial issue again after UUPL.

Hail was also prominent in BW RU, though it relied exclusively on Snover as its lone summoner. Substitute + Protect sets from Ice Body Glaceon and Walrein were especially prominent, as was Blizzard spam from Rotom-F and Glaceon, usually with Choice Scarf. Less common Ice Body sweepers at the time included Vanilluxe and Glalie. Toxic Spikes was a common tool on hail stall, with such teams using Drapion or Qwilfish to set them up in order to help rack up residual damage. Nidoqueen was also an occasionally seen choice prior to its departure from RU due to providing crucial Fighting- and Rock-type resistances as well as Stealth Rock and Blizzard. There were several common hail teams seen around this time, one particularly unique one being -Tsunami-'s Quantum of Solosis team, which featured a Level 1 Solosis and a Duosion with a Focus Sash, Trick Room, and Endeavor. This team relied on Focus Sash and Endeavor from the aforementioned two, which in tandem with hail's residual damage could instantly destroy a Pokémon or two on the opposing team. Hail was overall an especially prominent playstyle in mid-late BW2 RU and was eventually banned later in 2013 after an extensive and controversial suspect test.

Generation VI

Automatic weather received a heavy nerf in Generation VI, as the four weather-inducing abilities were now reduced to only temporarily inducing weather for 5-8 turns, as opposed to permanently. Hail as a playstyle more or less ceased to exist, as Stallrein was no longer a feasible strategy due to Snow Warning hail no longer being permanent. It was still utilized by Mega Abomasnow in UU, as well as in RU when it was legal, as a self-support to spam accurate, powerful Blizzards to become a formidable wallbreaker. Normal Abomasnow became a relatively competent wallbreaker in lower tiers, particularly in RU with its access to Blizzard, powerful Grass STAB, and good coverage, allowing it to muscle through Registeel, Alomomola, and Venusaur cores. Aurorus also self-relied on Snow Warning in lower tiers to utilize an accurate Blizzard as well and was a solid wallbreaker and sweeper in NU and RU.

Generation VII

Hail saw a rather unique and interesting turn in Generation VII, with two things being added to its arsenal. The first being that hail finally received a Speed-boosting ability of its own: Slush Rush, which was given to Alolan Sandslash and Beartic. The other, more significant thing hail gained was the move Aurora Veil, which essentially functions as both Light Screen and Reflect at once, and can only be summoned when hail is active. While Hail still isn't the greatest weather condition in the world, it has seen interesting uses in the seventh generation.

Aurora Veil in particular had brought hail to an interesting spot in the SM metagame. It saw usage especially in the earlier stages of SM OU, particularly with Alolan Ninetales, which could summon hail on the spot and set up Aurora Veil immediately. Aurora Veil worked very well in tandem with deadly setup sweepers such as Magearna, Mega Mawile, and Gyarados. It eventually fell out of favor in OU as dual screens Tapu Koko became preferable due to its access to a fast Taunt and U-turn to maintain momentum. Alolan Ninetales eventually fell into UU, but its ability to quickly summon Aurora Veil proved too unhealthy for that metagame with its use alongside UU's many deadly setup sweepers, such as Scizor and Latias. Aurora Veil remains a niche strategy there when used with Aurorus and Alolan Sandslash, the latter of which can set up Aurora Veil quickly thanks to its high Speed in hail due to Slush Rush. However, it is generally overshadowed by Prankster dual screens Klefki, which has more defensive utility than Aurorus or Alolan Sandslash and can also further support its team with paralysis support and Spikes.

Aurora Veil, however, made a huge splash in the lower tiers, namely RU and NU. The combination of Aurorus and Alolan Sandslash to set up Aurora Veil was deadly, especially in tandem with setup sweepers such as Linoone and Pangoro, which could decimate entire teams after accumulating a boost. It was such a deadly strategy to the point where Brick Break and Psychic Fangs were often used to try to counteract Aurora Veil, even on Aurora Veil teams themselves. Ultimately, it received the banhammer from all tiers RU and below due to how absurdly powerful the strategy was in tandem with lethal setup sweepers in the tier.

Hail has continued to see uses in the lower tiers even after Aurora Veil's ban. Vanilluxe had become a very common sight throughout most of the 7th Gen NU metagame, relying on Snow Warning to spam powerful Blizzards, making it a fearsome wallbreaker in the tier with coverage such as Freeze-Dry and Hidden Power to back itself up. Its formidable power combined with its relatively decent speed and hail's residual effects eventually resulted in it being suspect tested and subsequently banned from NU. Vanilluxe sees occasional usage as a capable wallbreaker in RU; however, it is noticeably less effective in RU due to the prominence of Metagross and Registeel. Aurorus also continues to be a prominent wallbreaker in PU thanks to its powerful Blizzards as well as coverage in Freeze-Dry. A deadly combination of Aurorus and Alolan Sandslash (not running Aurora Veil) is also relatively popular in the PU metagame, as Alolan Sandslash can take advantage of hail thanks to Slush Rush, which makes it a fast sweeper and revenge killer capable of outpacing the vast majority of the PU metagame. The combination has become less effective with the rise of Jellicent which can check both of them, but it continues to be an effective and prominent core. The unofficial ZU metagame had also seen occasional uses of Abomasnow in tandem with Rotom-F and sometimes Beartic to clean through teams, though since both Rotom-F and Abomasnow have risen to PU, it is no longer usable.


Despite being very different from, and in many attributes much weaker than, the likes of rain, sun, and sand, hail has managed to carve itself some unique niches and playstyles throughout the years. If you'd like, feel free to try out the different ways hail has seen use this generation: though its uses are pretty niche, you might find yourself a rather unique playstyle to use, whether it be spamming Vanilluxe in RU, sweeping teams with Alolan Sandslash in PU, or using a rare Aurora Veil team in UU.

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