Berries in the XY Metagame

By Sequins. Art by The Mega Lotad.
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2003 was the year that our understanding of game mechanics in Pokémon was finally ironed out. It was the year when the concept of Effort Values and IV breeding came about, and when items transformed into something more than just inventory junk and Berries became more than cheaper potions. With 11 years since the first introduction of competitive Pokémon, let's take a look at a lesser known portion of the metagame that's usually reserved and played in VGC and doubles: Berry play.

History of Berries:

From stat-passing to a 25% free heal, Berry play has been ignored by most players in favor of the more 'tried' and 'true' items.

Berry mechanics were massively overhauled in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. We saw the introduction of 43 different Berries. The first 10 were a throwback to their Generation II roots where their primary use was restoring health and healing status or restoring power points. The rest were a mixture of Pokéblock-specific Berries, EV-reducing Berries, and finally, Generation III's Berry highlight, introducing the stat-raising Berries: Liechi, Ganlon, Salac, Petaya, Apicot, and Lansat.

Fast forward to Generation IV, when Game Freak included four new Berries (Micle, Custap, Jaboca, and Rowap), but most importantly began leaning their Berries away from contests and re-purposed several previously useless Berries to new 'super effective' Berries: Occa, Passho, Wacan, Rindo, Yache, Chople, Kebia, Shuca, Coba, Payapa, Tanga, Charti, Kasib, Haban, Colbur, Babiri, and Chilan Berries. Each would reduce the amount of damage inflicted by a super effective attack of the corresponding type by half.

Unfortunately, Generation V crippled Berries by restricting them only to the Dream World. Some Pokémon could be holding a Berry upon capture, trainers could give them to you, and florists would sell them; with the introduction of type-boosting gems and the fact that the entire metagame evolved to be weather-based, Berry play was mostly considered to be time wasted.

This problem has thankfully remedied in Generation VI. Not only was the failed Dream World concept scrapped, but Berries now have an entire field dedicated to them in-game and an entire mutation system that works quickly to give you the Berries you need without any unnecessary time wasted. Essentially, Generation VI took what we loved about the Berry mechanics in Generation III and IV and introduced a hybrid system to give quicker access to Berries unavailable in the game world. As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

As Generation VI introduced a new type, it also introduced a new type-resisting Berry, the Roseli Berry. This Berry reduces damage from super effective Fairy-type attacks; however, Dark- and Dragon-type Pokémon that could benefit from the Berry prefer to use Chople and Yache, respectively. Apart from the Roseli Berry, we also received two other new Berries that had a lot of potential before being swept under the carpet for being rather disappointing in practice. The Kee Berry boosts a Pokémon's Defense when it is hit by a physical attack, and the Maranga Berry boosts Special Defense when a Pokémon is hit by a special attack. However, unlike the type-resisting berries, the defense boosts do not happen until after the damage is done, giving them little, if any, competitive use.

Berry Strategy 101

First and foremost, it's imperative to understand that Berry play is most efficient in a fast-paced setting. All Berries are one-time use, making them very limiting and difficult to execute in longer games.

However, not all Berries are forced to stay in a single corner of a "fast-paced" metagame. In light of this, I will be listing the most common strategies in order of viability in singles, to viability in VGC/doubles.


Rest/Berry is not so much of a strategy as it is extra padding for your Pokémon. For the most part, this particular strat is put on Pokémon that have good bulk, but when they're whittled down, they can get a full heal and you'll essentially have a healthy Pokémon for late-game.

A note about Lum Berry: You might be tempted to use a Lum Berry to heal all status effects, not just sleep. However, this perceived advantage is also a prime reason not to use it; if your Pokémon is hit by a status move before it uses Rest, it will lose its Berry and will not wake up. Chesto Berry activates only on sleep, and Rest will heal off any unwanted status effects anyway.


Rotom-W Rotom-W @ Chesto Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 124 HP / 252 SpA / 132 SpD
Modest Nature
- Volt Switch
- Hydro Pump
- Rest
- Will-O-Wisp

This is a typical Rotom-W lead with the exception of replacing Trick with Rest. It works well as a scout and can use Volt Switch quick enough to switch to whatever counter to the opponent is needed. Hydro Pump is its best STAB move despite its shaky accuracy. Will-O-Wisp cripples physical attackers that Rotom-W will likely be switching into.

Rest changes its job from a tricky bastard that forces its opponent to be stuck with a Choice item to a versatile beast that can sponge hits, pack a punch, and then fully heal itself late-game.

Lum/Dragon Dance

While previously mentioning that a Lum Berry can end up tripping a sleep strategy up, it works incredibly well as a support item on its own. Though finding Pokémon who just use Lum for support is rare in singles, it's a great companion to most physical Dragon-types thanks to their primary STAB move: Outrage*.

*Like with Chesto, you might be tempted to use Persim over Lum to make sure the Berry activates only when Outrage is used. However, in this case, you'd be better off with Lum. As this strategy doesn't utilize any other moves to heal prominent status inflictions such as burn (which halves Attack) or paralyze (which makes your dragon slower), you'll need Lum for full coverage.


Dragonite Dragonite @ Lum Berry
Ability: Multiscale
EVs: 24 Def / 252 Atk / 232 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Dragon Dance
- Outrage
- Fire Punch / Earthquake
- Extreme Speed / Roost

As long as Multiscale is active, Dragonite is guaranteed to get at least one Dragon Dance off the ground, making sure that Dragonite won't be outsped for long. Outrage works as a great STAB move and with support from Lum Berry, it will keep Dragonite in the game for much longer. Earthquake is an option over Fire Punch to cover King's Shield Aegislash and Heatran. You can also opt for Roost over Extreme Speed, but with priority becoming so prominent you'll probably be better off with the latter.

Substitute + Berry

The concept is simple. A fast and em Pokémon continuously uses Substitute until it reaches either 25% of its health or below it so that it activates the stat boost of its held Berry.

Berries used: Petaya, Liechi, Ganlon, Salac, Apicot, and Lansat

This strategy works by hitting hard and fast. Since your Pokémon will end up with 25% health or less, it will be extremely vulnerable to priority. Therefore, you must make sure to pack teammates that you know can deal with priority if you choose to play this way.

Considering that a majority of Gen VI is hyper offense, this strategy is best used for mid- to late-game clean up. You need to make sure that the Pokémon's checks and counters are taken care of or you'll end up wasting an entire Pokémon.


Terrakion Terrakion @ Salac Berry
Ability: Justified
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Substitute
- Swords Dance
- Close Combat
- Stone Edge

Terrakion was blessed with all-around incredible base stats and a very nice typing. Substitute can block status and allow Terrakion to set up Swords Dance. A Salac Berry works as a background item in this role, letting it get a free +1 boost should the opponent try to continuously break the Substitute. The last two moves are for coverage and STAB.

Yache Berry

Type-resisting Berry

Are you tired of your favorite beefy Pokémon kicking the dust because of one super effective move? Is Leftovers doing absolutely nothing to help with your Pokémon survive? Have you considered using a super effective Berry to absorb that one attack to give your Pokémon the survivability that it needs?

Of course not, because type-resisting Berries have always had a very niche role in the metagame. While not practically useless in a typical 6v6 setting, it's very rarely seen and works well with specific Pokémon.

However, in VGC/doubles, type-resisting Berries can be the difference between winning and losing.


Garchomp Garchomp @ Yache Berry
Ability: Sand Veil
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Earthquake
- Rock Slide
- Outrage
- Protect

This is essentially a standard Garchomp built for VGC/doubles. All moves except for Outrage can hit both opponents, making for an effective sweep, while Outrage allows Garchomp to clean up late-game. Protect helps Garchomp synergize with its partner so you don't accidentally kill it with a Surf or Earthquake. You can replace Outrage with Dragon Claw, but the increased power of the former is often worth the chance of confusion in the end.

Sitrus Berry

Next, we have the Sitrus Berry. In-game, it is usually thought of as no more than a delayer of inevitable destruction. When you're about to defeat a rival's Pokémon and it just happens to eat a Sitrus Berry, it seems so basic, yet so annoying.

In that case, why has it been given a spot on this list? Since when has Sitrus ever been seen in any of the ladders, let alone used? Why would anyone ever consider it, when there are other items like Leftovers?

As with the previous strategy, Sitrus performs best in a faster paced game where its Pokémon can appreciate the 25% healing boost to get one last turn in to win the game. In 6v6, Pokémon can easily use up their Sitrus Berry with no real benefits.


Azumarill Azumarill @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
Adamant Nature
- Belly Drum
- Aqua Jet
- Play Rough
- Superpower

An alternative set to the typical Choice Band or Leftovers Azumarill, this particular set uses Belly Drum in order to activate Sitrus Berry, which then recovers some of Azumarill's HP. With +6 Attack and a fairly healthy amount of HP remaining, Azumarill can devastate entire teams. Its coverage is not too shabby at all, hitting pretty much everything at least neutrally, except for Water/Poison Pokémon, Grass/Poison Pokémon, and Shedinja. Even enemies with priority attacks won't be enough to defeat Azumarill due to the Sitrus Berry health restoration in tandem with Azumarill's great natural bulk.


Until Gen 6, Harvest was a gimmicky strategy at best; with the users being limited to Exeggcute, Exeggutor, and Tropius, it was far from widespread, and its few users weren't known for their walling ability. Once people learned that Drought can no longer provide sun for the entire match, it seemed that Harvest would fall into even less use than before. However, as though the makers of Pocket Monsters might care about the competitive viability of their game, Game Freak provided a decent user of the ability: Trevenant. Harvest has grown from an interesting ability to something that should be prepared for on every team, lest you end up fighting a Trevenant and realize you cannot hope to break its Substitutes.


Trevenant Trevenant @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Harvest
EVs: 252 HP / 180 Def / 76 Spe
Impish Nature
- Will-O-Wisp
- Leech Seed
- Substitute
- Phantom Force

This is your average Harvest-based Trevenant. The EVs let it outspeed uninvested Scizor and Tyranitar, allowing Trevenant to hit them with Will-O-Wisp before they hit it. The rest is put into Trevenant's defenses for extra protection. With its typing, Will-O-Wisp, and Substitute, Trevenant can take hits while cycling back HP via Leech Seed and Harvested Sitrus Berries. Phantom Force buys time for that extra bit of Leech Seed recovery and lets the player give Harvest another chance to activate. It also allows Trevenant to do something besides Struggle, should something use Taunt on Trevenant.

In Conclusion:

From metagame to metagame, Berries have largely been forgotten items. They did not gain real popularity until VGC/doubles became a more publicly known aspect of competitive play in Pokémon. In singles, certain items were regarded as "the best," and that list unfortunately did not include Berries.

With the release of XY, Pokémon has received a much larger audience than it has seen in a decade. More people are becoming aware of the metagame and more people are participating in the competitive side of Pokémon. While Berries are still used less than their more respected brethren of Choice items, Leftovers, and others, they're still seeing an increase in usage thanks to the people who want to see just what this new metagame is capable of.

Next time you're creating a team, whether for singles or VGC/doubles, why not take a look at Berry strategies? You'll be surprised just how far you can get with the right Pokémon, the right team, and the right Berries.

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