Guide to Three-type Cores

By Albacore. Art by Bummer.
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Teambuilding can be quite difficult and tedious at times, so it's a good thing that there are a few rules of thumb that can be employed to make the teambuilding process a lot easier. One of the best rules to follow involves the natural synergy between certain types, which makes it much easier to form solid cores composed of different Pokémon of these typings. There are almost always three types involved in these cores, mainly because this strikes a perfect balance between having enough resistances to cover each type's weakness and not having too many weaknesses to end up becoming too vulnerable to a certain type.

These cores are great tools for teambuilders, as they enable them to create a solid backbone for their teams without having to worry too much about specific threats, and then use their remaining three slots to fill in the gaps with answers to the specific Pokémon that can break the core. They're also a good way to fill in the rest of a team when you're not sure what Pokémon to put in the remaining slots, guaranteeing some kind of defensive synergy and narrowing down your choices.

This article will serve to explain why these cores function so well by looking at the attributes of the types used to construct them, as well as usual threats to these cores. Although the article will focus on the ORAS OU metagame, this is something that can be applied to lower tiers and past generations too, as although the Pokémon may be different, the type chart is (for the most part) not, and it is, first and foremost, what enables these cores exist.

Fire / Water / Grass Cores

Probably the most popular and well-known types of cores, Fire / Water / Grass (FWG) cores have been present since the beginning of competitive Pokémon. It's no coincidence that the three Pokémon types with the most notorious rock-paper-scissors relationship also complement each other perfectly thanks to their elemental nature. FWG cores are usually defensive by nature, being seen more often on stall or balance than offense.

Water-types don't do as much defensively for Fire-types as they do offensively. Even though they lack resistances to Ground- and Rock-types, two big weaknesses of Fire-types, they do threaten them offensively by hitting them both for super effective damage, and regardless, bulky Water-types have historically never had any trouble taking hits and subsequently beating offensive Rock-, Ground-, or, for that matter, Water-types, which are obviously huge threats to Fire-types. In return, Fire-types are excellent answers to Grass-types, which can usually deal with Water-types, especially if they lack powerful Ice-type coverage moves to hit them with.

Grass-types resist Electric, Water's other weakness, which means that Electric-types usually have to resort to Hidden Power Ice to hit them with, and most Grass-types are bulky enough to take that relatively well. Grass-types have the ability to absorb Leech Seeds fired by certain Grass-types, which can easily do this after while they switch into the Water-type of the core. They also beat other Water-types, particularly defensive ones, which stop offensive Water-types in their tracks. In return, Water-types help Grass-types by taking care of Fire-types, which are hugely threatening to Grass-types, and walling Ice-types, which are also big problems for them. Water-types also often act as good checks to Steel-types, which Grass-types are often unable to hit hard.

Fire-types deal with Bug-, Steel-, Ice-, and offensive Fire-types, all of which give Grass-types problems. Those fare well against the Water-types that can counter Fire-types, or at least the defensive ones, which, even if they do run Ice Beam, cannot hit Grass-types particularly hard, while offensive Water-types are more aptly dealt with by the Water-type of the core. Grass-types also have a very easy time against most Ground-types and can also handle Rock-types quite well.

Example of a Fire / Water / Grass Core

Heatran Slowbro Mega Venusaur

Venutran (Venusaur + Heatran) is one of the most notorious cores in the Gen VI for its ability to handle a large portion of the metagame and the great synergy between the two Pokémon; Venusaur deals with Water-, Fighting- and, for the most part, Ground-types, all of which are threats to Heatran, and Heatran takes care of Fire-, Flying-, and Psychic-types. Adding Slowbro to the mix enables the core to handle most Mega Metagross and Heatran variants. It also takes pressure off the other members of the core by handling the likes of Keldeo (which can wear down Venusaur via Scald), Mega Lopunny, Sand Rush Excadrill, and Garchomp, and helps Heatran by handling Talonflame and Mega Charizard X without having it worn down too much.

However, this core is still weak to a few Pokémon FWG cores often have trouble with. First of all, Kyurem-B is well known for destroying this core. Dragon-types are the bane of FWG cores, and it's easy to see why, given that Dragon-types resist the STAB moves of all three members of the core, and none of the three types resist Dragon, either. This is why FWG cores need to be paired with a good bulky Steel- or Fairy-type, preferably the latter, given that Steel-types are much more vulnerable to the potential coverage moves or secondary STAB attacks of Dragon-types. Tornadus-T also runs over this core because Flying-types can very easily take care of Grass-types and neither Water- nor Fire-types are great answers to them. Therefore, a good Flying check such as Thundurus or Zapdos is needed to support any FWG core. Finally, offensive Starmie with a moveset that contains Hydro Pump, Psyshock, and Thunderbolt deals with this core, switching in on Heatran and being very hard to force out. Offensive Pokémon with three-move coverage that hits each individual member of the core for super effective damage can make mincemeat out of it. There's no magical way to fix this weakness; you just have to look up what Pokémon has access to good enough coverage to beat the core and pack counters to them. For Starmie, use generically bulky walls such as Chansey, Jirachi, and Ferrothorn. Although this is less reliable and requires a fair amount of scouting, you can also make sure that said Pokémon cannot fit the coverage to beat both the core and another Pokémon you have put on your team in its moveset. For example, Starmie needs Hydro Pump or Scald for Heatran, Psyshock for Venusaur, and Thunderbolt for Slowbro. Because it usually dedicates its last moveslot to Rapid Spin, using a Pokémon that can only be hit by Ice Beam, such as Latias, can be enough to guarantee that you won't be swept by any Starmie.

Steel / Fairy / Dragon Cores

Steel / Fairy / Dragon (SFD) cores have only existed since the introduction of the Fairy-type in Gen VI. In spite of that that, they have become very notorious and coveted, probably even more so than FWG cores. Not only do the three types have excellent synergy, but they are also three of the best types in the game. A lot of teams end up using SFD cores without even realizing it, as each of these types are fantastic assets to teams on their own. They can be offensive, defensive, or balanced cores, and they can fit on almost every type of team.

Steel is already an amazing defensive typing on its own, resisting a ridiculous nine types. Steel-types are so good defensively that they almost suffer from it; Fire-, Fighting-, and Ground-type moves are all extremely common both as main STAB attacks and as coverage moves simply because they hit Steel-types for super effective damage. Fairy-types help Steel-types by covering their Fighting weakness, and, although they don't resist Ground, they can usually take them on decently, and they can also handle Water- and Electric-types quite well thanks to the natural special bulk that Fairy-types often possess. In return, Steel-types wall Poison-types and can beat or force stalemate situations against other Steel-types — in the context of these cores, it's better to pick a Steel-type that can actually beat other Steel-types.

Although they aren't weak to Fire-types, Fairy-types are usually walled by them, as they often find themselves using otherwise excellent Fairy / Fire offensive coverage. Fortunately, Dragon-types are often very good answers to Fire-types. In return, Fairy-types wall opposing Dragon-types, which can deal massive damage or outright KO the Dragon-type if they outspeed it.

The other two weaknesses Dragon-types have, Fairy and Ice, are very easily dealt with thanks to a Steel-type. Steel-types also switch into opposing Steel-types, which Dragon-types have trouble against. Although two Dragon resistances may seem a bit excessive, Dragon-types are still huge threats to a lot of teams (as we've seen by their ability to dismantle FWG cores) and almost always carry some kind of coverage for Steel-types and even for Fairy-types in rare instances. However, you will almost never find a Dragon-type which can hit both for super effective damage. It suffices to say that a SFD core is as much defense against Dragon-types as you'll ever need. Dragon-types also help Steel-types by handling Fire-, Water-, and Electric-types, which Steel-types have always been very vulnerable to.

Combined, these three types resist all types, barring Ground and Ghost.

Example of a Steel / Fairy / Dragon Core

Heatran Azumarill Latias

Once again, we find Heatran, arguably the king of three-type cores in OU, and when paired with Azumarill and Latias, an SFD core with almost perfect synergy is formed. All three of Heatran's weaknesses are covered very well here; Ground-types are handled by Latias's Levitate and Azumarill's Water-type STAB attacks, while Fighting and Water are naturally resisted by both Pokémon. Azumarill's Electric weakness is dealt with by Latias, its Poison weakness by Hetaran, and its Grass weakness by both. In fact, all of the best checks to Azumarill, such as Rotom-W, Venusaur, Ferrothron, Skarmory, Amoonguss and Tentacruel,are very easily handled by the other members of the core, and Azumarill's best counter, Venusaur, is easily dealt with by both Heatran and Latias. Azumarill's Dark resistance, Heatran's Fairy resistance, and the Bug, Ice, and Dragon resistances of both Pokémon all synergize well with Latias. Heatran acts as a general Steel and Fairy killer for the other members of the core, which have a hard time against both of these types. To top it all off, the core comes with both a Stealth Rock setter and a Defogger, so it's a very nice core overall.

One of the biggest threats to this core is Mega Metagross. Steel-types can be a big problem for SFD cores, as all a Steel-type needs to do is beat the opposing Steel-type in order to handle the core well. This particular SFD core is blessed with a Steel-type with the ability to beat most opposing Steels, but a couple of Steel-types such as Metagross and Empoleon fall through the cracks and need to be covered by a teammate (this particular core would benefit from support from a bulky Ground-type like Lanadorus-T, Garchomp, or Hippowdon). Even though this core doesn't really reflect that, Ground-types are huge threat to SFD cores as well; this particular core is just fortunate enough to have both a Ground immunity and a Water-type. However, there are a couple Pokémon which can use Ground coverage to pose a big threat to the core, such as Mega Altaria, Mamoswine, or a well-played Choice Scarf Landorus-T. If no member of your core has a Ground immunity, either a Flying-type or Levitate user can be used to handle Ground-types; however, chances are at least one member of your SFD core can already deal with Ground-types. Ghost-types can also be scary; for instance, Gengar is a big problem for this core because it can spam Shadow Ball with little consequence and has Focus Blast to hit Heatran and Sludge Wave for Azumarill, so a Pokémon that can check Ghost-types, such as Weavile or Gliscor, works well here (fortunately, the only relevant offensive Ghost in OU is Gengar, so they aren't too hard to cover in that tier). Regular offensive coverage can break this core, such as Ice Beam + Energy Ball Manaphy. Once again, you need to address these threats individually and play around their coverage (for example, if Manaphy has Energy Ball and Ice Beam, it doesn't have Hidden Power Fire or Psychic, so having Ferrothorn or Mega Venusaur on your team inherently fixes that weakness).

Fighting / Dark / Psychic Cores

Fighting / Dark / Psychic (FDP) cores aren't exactly well-known, especially compared to FWG and SFD cores. However, this doesn't stop them from popping up relatively frequently on a lot of teams, both because the synergy between the three types is very good and because they all offer very nice advantages which you can't really find in other types. These cores are usually offensive cores, partly because these types tend to offer more offensively than defensively (with the possible exception of Psychic), but mostly because defensive Fighting- and Dark-types are rather uncommon (once again, Psychic-types are the odd ones out here because most of them are defensive).

Fighting-types are big threats in any tier due to their access to high-powered STAB moves, such as Close Combat, High Jump Kick, and very good coverage moves such as Knock Off and Stone Edge. Unfortunately, they are preyed upon by a few types, most notably Psychic-types. Ghost-types are also a big issue for them, especially if they are running High Jump Kick. Both of these weaknesses are patched up very nicely by Dark-types, which have always been terrifying for Psychic- and Ghost-types to face, not only because they resist or are immune to their STAB attacks and hit back for super effective damage, but also because they have the option to trap them via Pursuit, completely removing them from play and enabling the Fighting-type to roam free. Fighting-types don't do too much to help Dark-types in return, but they are able to switch into Bug-types, and although Bug-types also resist Fighting-type moves, the latter can usually hit them with a super effective coverage move, usually Stone Edge.

The greatest weakness of Dark-types are, and always have been, Fighting-types. Psychic-types check Fighting-types very well and can also support Dark-types. Dark-types can, in return, handle Ghost-types, which are hugely threatening to Psychic-types, as well as opposing Psychic-types. An extra resistance to Dark can also help take pressure off of the Fighting-type to absorb Dark-type moves aimed towards it.

Finally, Fighting-types support Psychic-types by taking care of Dark-types, which Psychics loathe to face. Fighting-types also resist Bug, patching up that weakness for the Dark-type and Psychic-type of the core. More specifically, they can switch into U-turn, which is often used to gain momentum against opposing Psychic-types. In return, Psychic-types destroy Poison-types, which are often used to counter Fighting-types.

Example of a Fighting / Dark / Psychic Core

Keldeo Bisharp Alakazam

Keldeo + Bisharp is already a very effective offensive core on its own, as most counters to Keldeo are Psychic-types and therefore can be Pursuit trapped. Bisharp also takes Grass-type moves aimed towards Keldeo, as well as Flying-type moves from Pinsir and Tornadus-T, which it can retaliate against with Sucker Punch. It also checks Fairy-types rather well thanks to its STAB Iron Head. Keldeo supports Bisharp by handling Ground-types such as Garchomp and Hippowdon, Steel-types such as Scizor and Ferrothorn, and opposing Dark types such as Mega Gyarados and Choice Scarf Tyranitar, which Bisharp has a hard time breaking through. Unfortunately, these two Pokémon are both weak to fast Fighting-types such as opposing Keldeo and Terrakion, particularly if they are holding Choice Scarf or win the Speed tie with Keldeo, as well as bulkier ones such as Conkeldurr and Chesnaught. Alakazam fixes this weakness while preserving the offensive momentum of the team, acting as an offensive Fighting check and also benefiting from Bisharp's ability to Pursuit trap the likes of Chansey, Jirachi, Slowking and Reuniclus.

Like many offensive cores, it can be blasted to pieces if it lets a foe set up, particularly Rock Polish Mega Diancie, which is bulky enough to boost against Alakazam and powerful enough to OHKO all three members of the core. Dragon Dance Mega Altaria is also a huge threat, as although it cannot outspeed Alakazam at +1, it cannot be OHKOed by it from full health and easily sets up on Keldeo. Even the special set can switch in on Keldeo and spam Hyper Voice from there. Fairy-types are also a massive problem for FDP cores; Fighting- and Dark-types lose to them, and Psychic-types are often too weak to handle them. As such, a good Fairy check needs to be used alongside the core, such as Sand Rush Excadrill or Scizor. This core is also extremely weak to Talonflame; Bisharp is unlikely to win against most sets besides Taunt + Bulk Up and the other two members are destroyed by it. Flying-types are also very threatening for FDP cores, as they are very good checks to Fighting-types and hitting the other two types neutrally, so a Flying-type check, such as Rotom-W, should be used to support the core. This core also has huge trouble against Choice Scarf Landorus-T and Choice Scarf Garchomp, which can easily wear down the core by spamming Earthquake should they be able to switch in safely. Fast offensive threats are big problems for FDP cores in general — after all, they are usually offensive cores, and, like most offensive cores, they tend to fold completely whenever they lose offensive momentum. The reason this core works so well is because it employs both a powerful priority user and a very fast attacker, so it has the tools to revenge kill without carrying a Choice Scarf user and running the risk of giving a free turn to the opponent. Make sure to build your core so that you have good checks to most of the Pokémon that outspeed and can force out another member of your core. And, as always, cover the remaining threats with good checks to them, such as Landorus-T for this particular core.


No matter which tier you're teambuilding in, it's always important to cover actual threats instead of general types. But at the same time, there are so many usable Pokémon that it's impossible to cover everything individually, and you always need a starting point to your team. Three-type cores give you a guarantee that there is some synergy and legitimacy to what you're building when you manage to fit them on your team.

Although none of the cores presented are perfect by any means, they are still very potent and quite popular because of the synergy of the types involved. Type synergy may not solve everything, but it does make building teams a lot easier and is one of the most important things to consider when teambuilding.

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