Rain Offense in OU

By TRC. Art by Andrew.
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History of Rain

Any competitive Pokémon player that was around during the BW metagame would know that rain was probably the most defining force in the game. Rain was so dominating that it even had its own Clause based around it to prevent it from being completely unstoppable. It was incredibly common and easy to spam on the ladder, as rain offense had a plethora of threats to utilize and rain stall was one of the most consistent playstyles. Fast-forward into XY, where many players were overjoyed with the prospect of non-permanent Drizzle, Drought, Sand Stream, and Snow Warning. The lack of permanency in these weathers drastically affected the viability of these playstyles. Sun is a terrible option in XY's metagame, hail virtually can't be used as a full playstyle, while sand is more of an extra benefit and a way of activating Sand Rush Excadrill. Where does that leave rain, though? At the beginning of XY, rain was almost unseen. There were so many new threats to test and new ways of utilizing playstyles that the once metagame-defining Politoed didn't have much of a place. A few months later, during the middle of XY's first Smogon Premier League, a user named Tesung brought a rain team in his game against Toxzn. This battle was probably the first battle with a rain team in the tournament scene, and it opened up a brand new playstyle full of opportunities for people to use in XY.

How to use Rain in XY

First of all, unlike in BW, where rain offense and rain stall were viable playstyles, in XY, rain stall has its work cut out for it. The weather nerf simply reduced the amount of "stalling" turns, so giving up momentum to go into Politoed is quite detrimental for the rain stall player. Thus, the best way of using rain is to use rain offense. Rain offense follows a very simple, clear-cut formula for the creation of a team, which is usually Politoed / Kabutops / special Water-type / Steel-type / Electric- or Dragon-type / lead or pivot. The Pokémon that fit into this formula, as well as the reasoning behind each choice, will be explained in this step-by-step article on how to build a successful rain offense team.

Building a Rain Offense Team

Step 1: Politoed

The role of Politoed is incredibly self-explanatory: it provides rain for the rain offense team.


As Politoed is the only Pokémon legal in OU to have the ability Drizzle, chances are, it's going to be something that will see use on a rain team. Like most Pokémon present on rain teams, Politoed doesn't have many uses outside of providing rain, which makes rain teams themselves very easy to determine from Team Preview. Politoed has pretty average stats overall, and requires heavy investment for it to perform any role to make it not entirely dead-weight. Nevertheless, it still has some uses, as its defensive typing is decent and it has access to some helpful support moves to benefit its team, such as Encore, Hypnosis, Toxic, and Scald. It typically runs a defensive set with investment in HP and Special Defense to maximize its staying potential, helping it fare better against the likes of Greninja and even Aegislash. However, investment in physical defense instead is a possible option, it just depends on what sorts of Pokémon you want Politoed to fare better against. A viable alternative is an offensive set, however it can't use Choice Specs or Choice Scarf as commonly seen in BW OU, as Damp Rock is mandatory. It can use a powerful Hydro Pump to deter switch-ins and round out its coverage with Ice Beam or Focus Blast, the latter of which is very nice for a typical Politoed answer, Ferrothorn. As can be seen, Politoed isn't the metagame defining threat it once was, but it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Step 2: Kabutops

Kabutops is the only other mandatory Pokémon on a rain team; it is far and away the best physical Swift Swimmer and is arguably the best Swift Swimmer overall, so there is no reason to give that up.


Kabutops is the only viable physical Swift Swim sweeper, which is partly why it is featured on so many rain teams, as it is able to smash most of the tier neutrally with its STAB Waterfall and Stone Edge. Another unique trait it possesses is access to Aqua Jet, which, while seemingly pointless, enables Kabutops to out-priority other priority users, while also benefiting Kabutops when it is outside of rain. An example would be if Kabutops was up against a Choice Band Talonflame, which can pick Kabutops off at low health even though it resists Brave Bird. With Aqua Jet, Talonflame doesn't even have a chance to move. Kabutops often also runs one of two moves which are often very helpful: one being Swords Dance, which boosts Kabutops's Attack so it has an easier time breaking though defensive teams, the other being Rapid Spin to clear entry hazards. Entry hazard removers are often difficult to fit on rain teams, so being able to clear Stealth Rock and Spikes with Kabutops helps the rest of the team immensely. Of course, like most Swift Swimmers, Kabutops has a disappointing base Speed outside of the rain, and it is sometimes unable to break through bulkier Pokémon such as Rotom-W or Mega Venusaur without a Swords Dance boost. Nevertheless, it is fast, it is powerful, and it is an essential part of offensive rain teams in XY.

Step 3: Special Water-type

The addition of a special Water-type gives a secondary Pokémon that takes advantage of rain to boost its STAB, while the fact that it is special complements Kabutops nicely, as they can take on each other's checks. Example of threats that can be taken down with teamwork include Chansey, which counters Kingdra but loses to Kabutops, or Skarmory, which can phaze out Kabutops safely but will lose to Kingdra, Keldeo, or Omastar.


Kingdra is often a rain team's go-to special sweeper, for a number of reasons. It has very well-rounded stats, with definite power, surprisingly good bulk, and blazing Speed under rain. Its types are very complimentary too, with its Water-type's weakness to Electric- and Grass-types being mitigated by its Dragon typing, while its Dragon-type weakness to Ice-type attacks is resisted by its Water-typing. Its unique typing grants it no weakness to any form of priority (aside from the competitively non-existent Pixilate Sylveon's Quick Attack), which is a flaw of many Swift Swim sweepers. Since it is unlikely to be outsped without priority, this is incredibly relevant, and is one of the things that differentiates it from Kabutops. It is often seen using a Choice Specs set, which capitalizes on the insane power of rain-boosted Hydro Pump to wallbreak, and then clean late-game with Surf, which is still incredibly powerful. Kingdra uses its Draco Meteor to break through some bulkier resists to its Water-type moves, such as Dragonite and Latios. Though rare, it can also use Ice Beam to surprise bulky Grass-type checks, such as Amoonguss and Chesnaught. However, this isn't the only set Kingdra can run in the rain, in fact, with its decent Attack stat, Kingdra can pull off a mixed set to great effect, with Waterfall and Outrage to break through Pokémon like Chansey and Mega Venusaur. It also gives Kingdra powerful STAB moves to use after a Draco Meteor. Kingdra isn't even reliant on Politoed to become a devastating sweeper, as it can setup rain itself with Rain Dance. Kingdra is another almost-mandatory sweeper on a rain team, and it's not hard to see why.


In BW2, Keldeo was the go-to Water-type on rain teams as, obviously, Kingdra and Kabutops were disallowed. Now, Keldeo definitely has the highest Special Attack stat of the typical rain sweepers used, and is second only in power to Omastar (which, unlike Keldeo, can run a Modest nature, further boosting its power). It is definitely a nuke in rain, but it has some clear advantages over Kingdra aside from the higher power. For one, its Speed is great outside of rain, which is incredibly helpful in situations where the weather is changed or Politoed is KOed and you need a late-game win condition that doesn't lose to the common Pokémon between Keldeo and Kingdra's Speed tiers. Another advantage is its typing and STAB Secret Sword, which is incredibly helpful against the universal Water-type check, Ferrothorn. Keldeo is commonly seen running Choice Specs, but Life Orb is an acceptable alternative to prevent Pokémon such as Ferrothorn from capitalizing on your Choice-locked Water-type move. Usually it will run Hydro Pump, Scald, Secret Sword, and Hidden Power Flying. Hidden Power Flying is a lure for Mega Venusaur, 2HKOing it on the switch-in, whereas Scald is a secondary STAB move which is much more reliable thanks to its 100% accuracy, while also crippling typical Keldeo switch-ins with a timely burn (such as Mega Venusaur, Azumarill, and Latias). While it doesn't get the Speed boost from Swift Swim like Kingdra does, its increased power, secondary STAB move, and ability to be useful outside of rain make it an excellent alternative option.


Omastar is probably the least common Pokémon of the three here to appear on a rain team, but that in no way means it isn't a viable choice. It has the highest Special Attack of all Swift Swim users, and when Modest, hits even harder than Keldeo. It is so absurdly powerful that it 2HKOes standard Ferrothorn and Mega Venusaur with Hydro Pump, and OHKOes nearly everything that doesn't resist it. It shares its typing with Kabutops, relishing in its resistance to Talonflame's Brave Bird, and is typically seen using Choice Specs to further increase its power output. Omastar often runs Hydro Pump as its main nuke as well as Ice Beam for coverage against Grass- and Dragon-types (although it rarely uses it). However, because of the power of Omastar, extra coverage isn't completely necessary. Sometimes, it even runs a near unheard of triple STAB attack combination of Hydro Pump, Surf, and Scald, of which Hydro Pump is the most powerful move, Surf is the reliable late-game cleaning option, and Scald is used to burn and cripple potential switch-ins, wearing them down into 2HKO range. However, Omastar could use Hidden Power Grass for the rare Gastrodon if necessary for the team, considering that Gastrodon is one of the best checks to rain teams as a whole, and is one of the only safe switch-ins to Omastar thanks to its ability, Storm Drain. Omastar is an option as the third Pokémon on your rain team as it provides much more power than both Kingdra and Keldeo, but it is very ineffective outside of rain unlike Keldeo, and is much more frail specially, unlike Kingdra. It is still a very great choice, though.

Other Options: There a few, more niche Water-types that can fit in this slot, but they are either harder to use or have more crippling flaws. Ludicolo is an option as it has both Swift Swim and a Grass-type STAB move to threaten bulky Water-types such as Azumarill. Seismitoad has a unique immunity to Thundurus's priority Thunder Wave, as well as some nice special coverage moves. Greninja has the advantage of being able to change types with Protean, being able to take on some Pokémon like Latias easier.

Step 4: Steel-type

Steel-types are good on almost every team for the plethora of resistances they have, which help the team against particular threats. They generally have high bulk as well, which make them great answers to Dragon-types such as Latios, which can otherwise be threatening. The rain also reduces their weakness to Fire-type moves, making them much harder to take down.

Mega Scizor

Like every other Steel-type here, Mega Scizor's Fire-type weakness is reduced by rain, except the main difference is that this is Mega Scizor's only weakness. This, in combination with Mega Scizor's usually invested 71 / 140 physical bulk, allows it to set up Swords Dance on many things, making it a great late-game win condition. Also, unlike many other Pokémon seen on rain teams, Mega Scizor can use Superpower for Ferrothorn, which will end it once Mega Scizor has used Swords Dance. This alone makes Mega Scizor very valuable, but it has other benefits too. Mega Scizor's Swords Dance sets are often very threatening, as with defensive investment, rain support, and Roost, Mega Scizor can realistically set up more than one boost at a time, which is great to give it the power to act as a win condition. With Technician- and Swords Dance-boosted Bullet Punch, Mega Scizor often has no trouble with faster opponents after it has setup a few boosts. Mega Scizor also has the absurdly spammable Knock Off to cripple defensive Pokémon and remove their items early-game. Mega Scizor's combination of bulk, typing, and power make it a superb Steel-type on rain teams.

Mega Mawile

Possessing the single highest virtual Attack stat in the game, Mega Mawile is a huge threat no matter what team it's on, but rain teams in particular love it a lot. With Huge Power, Mega Mawile is one of the most difficult Pokémon to switch into in the game, though it still has Intimidate before Mega Evolving to allow it to setup either a Swords Dance or a Substitute. Its unique typing blesses Mega Mawile with a plethora of resistances, and strong priority in Sucker Punch helps it against the various Pokémon faster than it, as it only has a low base 50 Speed. Mega Mawile's great power helps rain teams against stall builds that typically have answers to the Pokémon that appear on a rain team. After setting up to +2, there isn't much on stall that can withstand Mega Mawile's might, especially once Heatran has been eliminated by any of Mega Mawile's Water-type teammates. Often, one Swift Swim sweeper will wallbreak and one will clean up after, but with Mega Mawile's stallbreaking ability and powerful priority to aid against dangerous threats like Latios, it and one Swift Swim sweeper can both dent the opposing team together, making it all the more easier for the second Swift Swim sweeper to clean up afterwards.


Ferrothorn is possibly the best defensive Pokémon in the game. It has a great typing which gives very few weaknesses and a ton of resistances, and its most major weakness is mitigated by the presence of rain. It has a terrific defensive stat spread of 74 / 131 / 116, a decent offensive presence, and a huge movepool full of things any defensive Pokémon would die for, including Leech Seed, Stealth Rock, and Thunder Wave, even though the best set overall is Leech Seed, Protect, Power Whip, and one of either Stealth Rock, Gyro Ball, or Knock Off. Knock Off is actually a very helpful choice, as it cripples common answers to Ferrothorn like Heatran, which hates having its Leftovers removed. Ferrothorn is often known as one tough Pokémon to break, as sometimes even super effective hits won't KO it while manages to be a huge pain with Leech Seed + Protect shenanigans. Rain just makes it even harder to break, which is why Ferrothorn was so common on rain teams in BW. When using Ferrothorn with Stealth Rock, there is often no need to use Mamoswine in the last slot, so Tornadus-T is most commonly seen on rain teams with Ferrothorn. Ferrothorn also has a great ability in Iron Barbs, which continually inflicts passive damage on users of contact moves. As anyone who's faced a rain team with Ferrothorn would know, it is definitely a pain to break through.


Aegislash is the most dominant Pokémon in the entire tier, has a plethora of different sets to use, has a movepool stretching as far as the eye can see, and can fit on virtually every playstyle, such as offensive, balance, stall, and certainly rain. While rain doesn't really benefit Aegislash much aside from that it can check Latias and that it loses its weakness to the Fire-type, Aegislash is still a stellar choice on rain teams since it is a stellar choice on any team. It has the perfect ability, Stance Change, a fantastic typing, and a stat spread that complements both perfectly, allowing it to act as a bulky pivot one moment and an offensive behemoth the next. Offensively, it has a wide variety of physical and special moves to choose from, such as Shadow Ball, Shadow Sneak, Iron Head, Flash Cannon, Sacred Sword, and Head Smash. However, it can show off its defensive potential instead with a Substitute + Toxic set that does well against its typical checks and counters. Overall, Aegislash is one of the best Pokémon in the entire tier, and it has quite a bit to offer rain.

Step 5: Electric- or Dragon-type

This may seem a little broad, but generally the purpose of the Pokémon in this section is to help the team against Thundurus in some way, though each has some intrinsic benefits to them, such as Mega Manectric's fast Volt Switch, Mega Ampharos's bulk and ferocious Agility set, Kyurem-B's great stallbreaking potential, and Latias's useful Healing Wish.

Mega Manectric

Mega Manectric is quite an interesting Mega Evolution. It is very fast, like many other Electric-types, and is a pretty decent check to Thundurus. It has a powerful Thunder which it can use with the support of rain, as well as Volt Switch to pivot effectively out of potential checks and counters. It is a Mega Evolution, which is fine, as most rain teams don't really need a Mega Evolution as much as other teams, as none have Swift Swim (save for the unreleased Mega Swampert). However, in the current metagame, Mega Manectric is a pretty effective threat, outspeeding many common Pokémon and threatening them with just Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Ice, examples of which include Greninja, Talonflame, and Landorus. It is immune to paralysis from Thunder Wave, and is also resistant to many common forms of priority, such as Brave Bird from Talonflame and Bullet Punch from Mega Scizor. Another advantage to Mega Manectric is its ability, Intimidate, which helps to soften the blow from weaker physical attackers allowing Mega Manectric to pivot more effectively. Ultimately, Mega Manectric is a pretty good choice on a rain team, as its pivoting abilities can often be monumental to a team's success.

Mega Ampharos

An incredibly underrated Mega Evolution, Mega Ampharos is one of the most devastating sweepers in the rain. Mega Ampharos has very solid 90 / 105 / 110 defenses as well as a pretty good defensive typing which allows it to check Thundurus very easily. It also has an incredibly high base 165 Special Attack stat. What needs patching up then? Its obviously unimpressive base 45 Speed. Thankfully, Mega Ampharos has access to Agility, which doubles its Speed in one turn, something it often has the opportunity to setup thanks to its bulk. After one Agility, Modest Mega Ampharos is only one point faster than the possibly most relevant unboosted Pokémon in the game, Greninja, which is massively useful to avoid being revenge killed by it. In one turn, Mega Ampharos becomes a sweeper with a hypothetical stat spread of 90 / 95 / 105 / 165 / 110 / 122.5, truly a frightening thing to be facing. However, the reason Mega Ampharos works so well in rain is because it has the freedom to use its most powerful STAB move, Thunder. Thunder, a move with a Base Power of 120 that normally has 70% accuracy, gets 100% accuracy in the rain, easily breaking through a lot of common Pokémon, especially since many of them aren't resistant to Electric, and those that are are almost always hit neutrally by Dragon Pulse, or at least by the move that rounds out Mega Ampharos's coverage, Focus Blast. While it is criminally underrated, this doesn't mean Mega Ampharos is not powerful or viable, so it is definitely worth the consideration.


One of the most frightening Pokémon to face in the game, Kyurem-B boasts stats worthy of its legendary title. Its Attack is an incredibly high base 170, and its Special Attack isn't too shabby either, at base 120. Kyurem-B also has very solid bulk for something as powerful as it is, as well as a typing which gives a couple of nifty resistances. It is most often seen as a mixed attacker, with either a physical or special bias. The specially based set uses Ice Beam, Fusion Bolt, Earth Power, and Roost as its moveset, while the more physically oriented variant runs a moveset of Dragon Claw, Fusion Bolt, Ice Beam, and Iron Head or Outrage. Kyurem-B's excellent mixed attacking stats and movepool make it a very big threat to stall teams, especially with its ability, Teravolt, which negates many opposing Pokémon's abilities, such as Mega Venusaur's Thick Fat. Mixed sets aren't all Kyurem-B can do though, as with its threatening presence, it forces many switches, giving itself ample opportunity to set up a Substitute, which is incredibly frightening as it prevents faster Pokémon from being able to safely KO it without risking being KOed themselves. Substitute also helps it against teams that are more offensive in nature. However, another Kyurem-B set that is great against offensive teams is the Choice Scarf set, which can often mindlessly spam Outrage against fast, but frail threats. Kyurem-B's extraordinary power is definitely a boon to it against defensive teams, so it definitely provides a lot to the team.


Latias is seen on rain teams more often than her brother Latios for one reason, which we will get to soon. First of all, Latias is a very bulky Pokémon, especially on the special side, with a nice typing that gives it resistances to common Fire-, Water-, Fighting-, and Electric-type moves, which allows it to pivot easily into the likes of Keldeo, Mega Charizard Y, and a lot of other special attackers. It isn't a slouch offensively either, as a base 110 Special Attack stat isn't too shabby, and allows Latias to actually hit quite hard with its Draco Meteor or Psyshock. Of course, it has the amazing Defog, which is great since entry hazard removers are generally quite difficult to fit into rain teams. It can also use Roost for recovery. However, none of this is anywhere close to Latias's main niche on rain: access to Healing Wish. Healing Wish is an absolute godsend for rain teams as they often have to put up with Thundurus's priority Thunder Wave in order to kill it. Latias can use Healing Wish to completely restore a sweeper crippled with paralysis to full health and no status at all, giving it another go against the other team. This advantage is so valuable that it marks Latias as a definite consideration on a rain team.

Step 6: Lead or Pivot

To round off the team, the last slot is sometimes "free game" or a "wild card", however most of the time it is limited to these two Pokémon, so a "Lead or Pivot" isn't exactly mandatory, nor is it the perfect term to describe these two Pokémon. It is just what these two choices could be classified as.


While it doesn't really seem like it would have anything that makes it stand out specifically on rain teams, Mamoswine is actually a very legitimate choice as a lead for them. It gets Stealth Rock, which is always a plus, as well as excellent coverage with its STAB moves: Icicle Crash and Earthquake cover almost every relevant Pokémon in OU. Mamoswine also obtained Freeze-Dry in XY which helps it against a few of its more common checks, most notably Rotom-W, which is 2HKOed with a little bit of Special Attack investment. However, none of this even comes close to the most important advantage of Mamoswine: its ability to solidly check Thundurus. With an immunity to Thunderbolt and the paralysis effect of Thunder Wave as well as a resistance to Hidden Power Ice thanks to Mamoswine's ability Thick Fat, Mamoswine can easily switch into Thundurus and threaten it with a powerful Icicle Crash or priority Ice Shard, which is insurance just in case Thundurus has Focus Blast. Of course, Mamoswine generally just sets up Stealth Rock while an opposing Pokémon breaks its Focus Sash and then gets off some chip damage with Ice Shard, but if it manages to get up Stealth Rock relatively unscathed, then it can switch out and back in again as Thundurus comes in on a rain sweeper like Kabutops.


A huge rain threat in BW, Tornadus-T returns as an effective pivot. With its amazing ability, Regenerator, Tornadus-T gains 33% of its health back simply by switching out. Tornadus-T also has an incredibly high Speed stat of 121. This means that Tornadus-T can pivot out with a very fast U-turn on all of its counters and outlast them throughout the game until they are gone, at which point it can clean up with a powerful, 100% accurate Hurricane. Tornadus-T is commonly seen using a mixed set which uses Knock Off, a very spammable move which can cripple its checks and counters by removing their item, and U-turn, which it can use to pivot out against threats after it uses Knock Off. This makes Tornadus-T very hard to wear down and a very dangerous rain threat that thrives on its massive longevity. It often uses Assault Vest for more effective pivoting into special attacks from the likes of Landorus and Aegislash. Finally, it uses a Fighting-type move as coverage for Pokémon such as Tyranitar and Excadrill; usually this move is Superpower but it can also be Focus Blast. Tornadus-T was brilliant in the BW metagame, but it returns to XY in full swing with its powerful Hurricane, which as we have learned from the "BirdSpam" strategy, is a move of a very potent type: the Flying-type. If you play Tornadus-T correctly, it will be a very valuable asset.

Other Options: Before its banning, Deoxys-S used to be a common lead as it could setup both Rain Dance and Stealth Rock. However, now that it is banned, Azelf is a very similar replacement that should easily bring the same results.

Threats to Rain Teams

Even though rain is a very powerful playstyle, it is not infallible. There are several Pokémon that severely trouble the rain archetype in some way, offensively or defensively. Probably the most well-known threat to rain teams is Ferrothorn, which also checked rain teams very well in BW. Ferrothorn checks Kingdra, Kabutops without a Fighting-type move, Choice-locked Keldeo, and Latias, has Leech Seed and Protect to stall out rain turns, and has two STAB moves that are super effective against many things seen on rain teams. Beyond Ferrothorn, Azumarill also walls Kingdra and has an easy time against Kabutops, and it benefits from rain itself so it can heavily damage often frail rain teams with rain-boosted Waterfall. Thundurus is a huge problem, as it can utilize its priority Thunder Wave to completely nullify the Swift Swim boosts of some of the rain sweepers, making it easier for a teammate to KO that Pokémon without worrying about the concerns of Speed. While Pokémon on rain teams are very fast, they are often frail and thus susceptible to strong priority attacks, which can often easily take them out. An example would be a Conkeldurr's Mach Punch against Kabutops. Finally, every Swift Swim sweeper is completely reliant on the rain to maintain its high Speed and thus, if the weather is changed in some way, the team becomes at an immediate disadvantage. Now, while Hippowdon, Tyranitar, and Mega Charizard Y may not enjoy switching into powerful STAB Water-type attacks, they can come in after a kill to reset the weather back to normal.


Finally, I'd just like to say that this framework is by no means compulsory for rain teams. Feel free to do whatever you want! You may want to run two special Water-types to break down mutual checks and counters, or Kabutops + Gyarados for the same reason. This framework is just a solid guide based on examples of the rain teams used in high-level tournaments, and it is sure to be an effective starting point to your rain team. While rain as a playstyle is nowhere near the level it was in BW where it completely defined and warped the metagame to it, it is still an effective way of designing your team, and it is great that the weather nerf has balanced it out so that it is still viable, but not overpowering. Definitely try it, it is sure to get great results in your OU games!

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