Randbats - How to Play from an Expert

By Oglemi. Art by Bummer.
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Randbats, for the uninitiated, stands for Random Battles, and is a metagame playable on Pokémon Showdown! that gives each player 6 random Pokémon at the start of each battle. In its current iteration, only fully evolved Pokémon are given to the players. These Pokémon have a predetermined range and combination of moves and items that try to make the Pokémon as competitively viable as possible. The Pokémon are also level-balanced, with the strongest Ubers Pokémon placed at level 70 and the weakest fully evolved Pokémon at level 99. Most OU Pokémon are level 74, UU 78, RU 82, and NU 86. Finally, Team Preview is not activated, meaning only the player knows their whole team from the start.

While on the surface it doesn't seem like there can be a lot of strategy involved in a metagame where the game is totally randomized from the start, in reality a high level of knowledge of the metagame, good planning, and playing to luck can easily turn the tide of battle, the same as any other metagame. This article's goal is to introduce some strategies and in-depth knowledge of the metagame, as well as provide a quick analysis of the best available Pokémon and how to use them to your advantage.

Oglemi's Pro-Tips

Levels and stats are constant

The most important thing to remember about Randbats is that the Pokémon and sets you and your opponent receive have a very limited range of variability. Most Pokémon have only one possible set (with a select range of coverage moves that can be included), while others will only change items, and only a few have more than 2 completely different sets. But what's constant is that every Pokémon's stats are the same regardless of set. Every Pokémon has a neutral nature and 85 EVs in each stat, meaning the Speed tiers remain constant. For example, no matter what set the opponent's Gyarados is running, it'll be outsped by Luxray at +0, allowing the latter to switch in and take it out. This is where keeping the Pokémon's level in mind comes into making smart plays, as it's important to remember that a level 86 base 70 Speed Pokémon ties with a level 82 base 75 Speed Pokémon. Finally, remembering to look at levels is of the utmost importance when dealing with Serperior, as the set changes dramatically based on level. If it's level 74, you're dealing with the significantly more dangerous Contrary Leaf Storm Serperior, while a level 86 Serperior is extremely fast by Randbats standards and is likely a SubSeed set. Levels signify the relative damage output the opponent is going to be capable of.

No Team Preview

There is no Team Preview in Randbats, which means you and your opponent have the opportunity to hide your best Pokémon until the end. This also means that scouting with U-turn and Volt Switch are significantly more important than in standard XY and BW tiers, as revealing your opponent's team gives you an innate advantage to plan ahead which Pokémon has the best chance of sweeping your opponent. Using a massive phazing wall like Hippowdon or Giratina is also a good way to reveal a majority of your opponent's team while possibly racking up entry hazard or chip damage, especially considering these Pokémon are offensively weak and have little use outside of this role.

Entry Hazards are King

Speaking of entry hazards, they are probably the most important aspect of Randbats, if you have some on your team. Because switching is important, and most of the Pokémon that are weak to Stealth Rock and Spikes are level 86, getting entry hazards up can really turn the tide of battle. For example, getting Stealth Rock up is usually your only hope of defeating Articuno. On top of this, most Pokémon have the power to nearly OHKO their opponent, but rarely actually get the OHKO (as is often the situation with Pokémon like Mienshao and Raikou), which Stealth Rock and possibly Spikes can help remedy. In most cases, it's more worth sacrificing your Qwilfish or Maractus to get up 2 or 3 layers of Spikes than it is to use them for attacking. And let's not forget Sticky Web or Toxic Spikes either, the former creating an insane team advantage due to the close Speed tiers of the metagame and the latter letting really bulky Pokémon just sit and be fat and win the match without doing much of anything.

Status is Queen

Because of the relative overall increased bulk of Pokémon in the metagame, status can go a really long way in giving you an advantage in a match. The reason I say this is because I always encounter players on the ladder simply mashing their attacks without realizing that it is seriously almost impossible to take out something as bulky as Regigigas or Cresselia without hitting them with burn or Toxic. The incredible amount of bulk they possess will just let them steamroll over your team, even if their power output isn't all that impressive from a glance. Paralysis is another amazing tool in Randbats due to the importance of Speed tiers and the amount of Pokémon that can capitalize on the luck factor it brings with it. A number of Pokémon carry moves with high flinch chances, most commonly Air Slash, meaning with the opponent's team paralyzed they can simply paraflinch to a win. Finally, sleep is probably the biggest game-breaking factor of Randbats, and there exists very few Pokémon that are able to absorb it effectively. With the opponent's team scouted, sleep can allow you to switch in the Pokémon that has the best chance of sweeping the opponent completely for free. This replay displays perfectly how important status is in Randbats (I'm RoliPoliOli).

Every Pokémon on your team matters

Don't just sac your Pokémon for no reason. If it's possible to switch in a Pokémon and win, don't sacrifice the original Pokémon just to save some HP on the other. Every Pokémon can be a win condition, yes, even Luvdisc, so think carefully when it comes to saccing and switching around.

Determining which Pokémon to hide

There are a few general statements that can be made about which Pokémon on your team will have the best chance of sweeping without even knowing what your opponent's team is. If you have two Pokémon of the same type, odds are one of them will be your win condition. This is due to the simple fact that it's unlikely your opponent will have more than one Pokémon that will be able to effectively counter that type, allowing you to overload your opponent. The Pokémon themselves don't have to be the same type, you just have to have more than two with a certain attacking type, such as multiple Pokémon with Thunderbolt.

Playing to your opponent can help you determine where their team's weaknesses lie. For example, if they don't switch in a Pokémon with a distinct type advantage against your Pokémon and choose to sac the one that's in play, it's unlikely they have a Pokémon to counter that type at all.

Finally, there are some Pokémon that you can get that are a serious cut above the rest. I have a number of these Pokémon listed below. If you see any of these Pokémon on your team, those are the ones you'll usually want to keep hidden until the late-game. However, don't feel like you need to absolutely keep these until the end, especially if it's apparent that they'll be able to switch in easily and threaten the opponent's team early, or in the case of the defensive ones feel free to get them in quickly. This can also let you lure out the opponent's best chance of defeating them, letting you plan to eliminate their counter and sweep later.

While I only have a few listed below, for the most part they share some of these commonalities: a high level, a high amount of bulk, great power, good Speed, a decent typing, and a wide coverage movepool. These are the kinds of traits that you should look for when trying to determine your most valuable team member.

Top Pokémon to get and why


Say hello to the most dangerous Pokémon in Randbats. Several factors make it the most dangerous: a complete immunity to status and Stealth Rock thanks to Magic Guard, the ability to cripple Rock-type and physical Ghost- and Dark-type attackers with burn thanks to Psycho Shift and Flame Orb, incredible bulk at +1 in each stat after Cosmic Power, and an amazing Speed stat that lets it Roost before getting hit by most otherwise-super effective Electric-, Rock-, and Ice-type attacks are all major factors in making it the top Pokémon. It is hard to overstate how incredibly dangerous Sigilyph is at just +1. There is seriously only a handful of Pokémon that can actually defeat it one-on-one, and that pool is limited to about only fast special Electric-types (physical attackers get burned) or special attackers that can boost faster than Sigilyph, such as Nasty Plot Mismagius. Sigilyph is the perfect example of a Pokémon you do not want to reveal until the end of the match. There is one caveat: it's very prone to getting hit by a critical hit, so only boost up to a point to where it's possible to sweep. You don't need to get to +6 and OHKO everything; getting to +3 and 2HKOing everything will actually work better in your favor over the long run.


Power Herb Geomancy Xerneas is the best offensive setup sweeper in Randbats, but is overshadowed by Sigilyph as the best Pokémon overall due to being vulnerable to status, being relatively weak before setting up, and only being able to boost once. However, that one time is all it should need to blow through the opponent's team. On top of having amazing stats after a Geomancy, it has amazing type coverage as well. Xerneas is another you'll want to keep hidden until the end.


Nasty Plot Mismagius is probably the third best setup sweeper thanks to its immunities, great STAB, and good coverage. But what really makes it dangerous is its incredible Speed stat, outpacing not only nearly every level 70-78 Pokémon, but a large majority of 82-86 as well. Even without its STAB (which is actually a pretty frequent occurrence due to its coverage), it's still one of the best Pokémon to receive thanks to its special bulk and Speed.


These two musketeers offer amazing typing, power, Speed, and coverage, but most of all bulk. These two are hilariously tough to take down, and are great mid-game Pokémon to clean up the first Pokémon your opponent revealed and weaken the ones they have yet to. They are also pretty varied as far as Randbat Pokémon go, with Virizion being able to pose both a special-attacking and a physical-attacking threat, and Cobalion having a wide range of support and offensive moves it can pull out.


Water- and Flying-types are the most common Pokémon types, and both benefit from the rain Politoed brings, the former getting a STAB boost and maybe even a Swift Swim boost and the latter gaining an accurate Hurricane if they're carrying it. Not to mention that Steel- and Grass-types gain a Fire-type neutrality as long as rain is in play. While the support alone that Politoed brings with rain is enough to put it on this list, an extremely high level of 86 and the variability it brings itself puts it above the pack. Offensive Life Orb and Choice Specs sets are possible, as are support Leftovers sets. This, on top of having a great STAB in either Scald or Hydro Pump (boosted by the rain), makes it arguably the best Water-type in the metagame. Yes, Politoed is a better get than Kyogre.

Shell Smashers

Amazing bulk, good Speed, and incredible power after a Shell Smash and White Herb are what make every Shell Smasher as dangerous as they are. Gorebyss and Huntail can even Baton Pass their boosts to an even more dangerous teammate, and Carracosta packs priority in Aqua Jet. Do not bring these Pokémon out early-game; these are some of the best sweepers you can get and you should try to base a sweep around them. If you can keep entry hazards off the field, Carracosta and Crustle even have Sturdy to be able to survive an OHKO and proceed to sweep the opponent.


Let's just take a moment to thank God Articuno doesn't have any setup moves. At level 86, its set of Substitute, Roost, Ice Beam, and Hurricane is hilariously tough to break, which is compounded by its amazing bulk and good Speed. Even though its typing is horrible, most super effective moves don't have a prayer of coming close to 2HKOing it, let alone OHKOing it. Articuno is almost the sole reason why I say Stealth Rock and status are as important as they are in Randbats; even with them, it's unlikely you'll be able to KO Articuno quickly enough.


The floating pixies are some of the hardest Pokémon to take out, and while they don't pack quite as much power as Articuno, they have a far better typing and bring a lot of support moves as well. The tanking ability of these guys cannot be overstated, and they can likely outlast nearly anything without a Bug-, Dark-, or Ghost-type attack, all of which are relatively uncommon. These guys are the reason Toxic and paralysis are as important as they are, though beware that Mesprit might have Substitute.


Heatmor is probably the hardest offensive Pokémon to switch into due to its great power and astounding coverage. Seriously, its coverage is what makes it as dangerous as it is: Fire Blast, Focus Blast, Giga Drain, and Sucker Punch are so much harder to switch into than what you may originally think. Not to mention most of what it can't outspeed either have no chance of OHKOing it or don't like Sucker Punch. Probably the best wallbreaker and definitely one to keep safe.

Guts/Toxic Boost

Guts users Swellow, Raticate, and "God-killer" Zangoose are probably the most threatening physical attackers in Randbats, and if they're switched in smartly they don't even need a turn of setup to become dangerous. Their incredible power and insane Speed is what puts them at the top of the pack. They are very frail as far as the top Pokémon go, but their power really is unmatched.


Blissey completely and utterly walls exactly 1/2 of the Pokémon you can receive in Randbats, with the only special attackers that can break it being Sigilyph and a couple Psyshock users. Every time your opponent switches in a special attacker, Blissey can just completely stop them, letting you pivot and double switch around the opponent quite effectively. Not to mention that Blissey can even heal the status of your team with Aromatherapy or set up Stealth Rock. Blissey is one you do not want to just let die; as long as there's a possibility of your opponent having a special attacker, try to keep it alive; it'll just win the game for you at that point.


If entry hazards are king, Forretress is the prince of Randbats. It will have 1 and likely 2 different hazards to set up, and its typing and bulk normally allow it to get them all set up. It also often has Rapid Spin, which can save your team from hazards. To top it off, it'll likely have Volt Switch, allowing it to pivot and give your team momentum. Of all the hazard setters and spinners, Forretress is the top bug.


Randbats is a great metagame to just hop into when you're bored. However, just because everything is randomized doesn't mean there isn't any strategy involved. Keep these tips in mind the next time you hit the ladder and it'll seem like there actually isn't any luck involved after all.

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