Battle Tower Team Building Guide
The Battle Tower holds a truly unique place in the Pokemon franchise. Many tend to shy away from it, preferring the challenge of competitive play instead. But in many instances, the Battle Tower can prove to be more challenging than any real-life adversary, and success is often very difficult to obtain. The Battle Tower features the Pokemon AI at its strongest, particularly in later rounds. Many players have broken their backs trying to reach the elusive 100 trainer streak, and only the cleverest of trainers manage to reach it. In this guide, I hope to enlighten you with the knowledge I have gathered through hours of experience in the Tower. With this guide, I hope you will be well on your way with creating your own team to challenge the Tower and enjoy the success so coveted by Tower aficionados.
The Battle Tower is a beast of its own, incomparable to any other sector of the Pokemon metagame. One of the biggest mistakes I see trainers make in creating Battle Tower teams is the fact that they tend to copy-paste Smogon sets, or standard competitive sets. While these sets are effective in Competitive play, rarely are they ever truly useful in the Battle Tower. Now, Smogon sets CAN be used in the Tower, and more often than not they enjoy relative success. However, the AI has certain limitations that make it vastly different from any other kind of play, and thus the BT metagame must be approached accordingly.
~In almost all cases, the AI will not switch Pokemon. Notable exceptions include Perish Song (don’t bother) and two-turn status moves (Yawn). This means that attacks that lower the opponent’s stats (Charm, Fake Tears, Memento) become viable, as the AI will not switch out to amend these stat drops. These moves will be very useful later in this guide, when we discuss strategy. Also, two-turn moves like Fly, Bounce, and Dig also become viable.
~Unless the Pokemon is programmed to use set-up moves, it will typically use the Super-Effective move in its arsenal. This helps with prediction, but cannot necessarily be relied upon entirely. The AI is unpredictable, and may surprise.
~Each Pokemon is limited to certain movesets. As most of you already know, I have posted on this forum a database of Pokemon you might find while in the Tower (Which you can find here), reprinted from Jumpman16’s Smogon post. Each Pokemon has four specific movesets, complete with items, EVs, and nature. All Pokemon after Battle 49 carry perfect IVs, so plan accordingly. Using the database, you can find out what moves the opponent may use on you and help to plan your strategy.
AI’s Redeeming Qualities:
~Hax. The bane of all great challengers. To counter the its limitations, the AI has luck on its side, often at the most inopportune moments for you. Hax is basically another word for unlikely events occurring in the AI’s favor. The AI will land more Critical Hits, OHKO moves (Fissure, Sheer Cold, Horn Drill), activate status hax (Ice Beam’s 10% freeze rate may seem more like 40% to you), and avoid your hits with evasiveness than one would presume. Unfair, perhaps, but it certainly makes up for the shortcoming of the AI. In order to succeed in the Battle Tower, you must be prepared to deal with hax. Otherwise, your team could fall victim to it at the worst of times, ending a valiant streak.
Building the Team:
Like in competitive play, special care and consideration needs to be put into your team if you hope to be successful in the Battle Tower. So slapping together three Pokemon with Smogon movesets just isn’t going to cut it. There are many ways you can go about making a team, but there are some rules of thumb you ought to abide by. Here are some things to bear in mind while creating your team:
Do my Pokemon have the right movesets for my team’s overall effectiveness?
Pretty self-explanatory. You don’t want to include an Arcanine on a team that has Rain Dance Kingdra, or Weavile in a team with Trick Room Bronzong. Your Pokemon’s movesets must complement each other and cooperate. Likewise, there are certain moves that are unquestionably best at their job. Flamethrower, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Surf, and Return are all better attacks than Blast Burn, Aurora Beam, Discharge (in most cases), Hydro Cannon, and Giga Impact. Many of these distinctions will be obvious, however.
Do my Pokemon have EV spreads and natures that fit their role?
EVs spreads are a necessity in the Tower. The AI uses them, and so should you. Make certain that your Pokemon have usable EV spreads: A speedy Special sweeper does not need Attack, Defense, or HP EVs, and a Physical tank does not need Special Attack EVs. More often than not, it is advised that you consult Smogon for help with EV spreads. More experienced players may create their own spreads, but only after doing extensive research and damage calculations. Likewise, natures should be specifically catered to your Pokemon’s role. A sweeper ought to have a Speed or Attack boosting nature, where a wall ought to have a Defense boosting nature.
Do my Pokemon have good type synergy?
This is perhaps the most crucial thing you should ask yourself when creating a team. Good type synergy means that your Pokemon should not share weaknesses, and should actually be able to cover each other’s weaknesses. A good example of this is Gyarados and Electivire. Electivire’s only weakness is to Ground, so he’s likely to draw in many Ground type attacks. Gyarados is immune to these attacks, and is therefore capable of a safe switch in. Likewise, Electivire’s ability makes him immune to Electric attacks, which Gyarados will attract a lot of. Playing around with synergy is often tricky business, but when done correctly can be very rewarding.
Is my team walled?
Ultimately, you want to make sure that your team has a way of dealing with most, if not all, threats it will encounter. If your team is all Physical, it may get beaten by a team of Physical walls. Likewise, a team with insufficient type coverage may find itself utterly unable to beat a certain Pokemon. Since you only have access to three Pokemon, absolute coverage may be difficult to obtain. In any instance, you must seek to ensure you have a way to counter most things in the Tower, and that no one Pokemon is capable of defeating you entirely.
Do I have hax protection?
Hax protection is essential in the Tower, and is where BT play differs most from competitive play. Since your opponent will have luck on its side, special precautions need to be made. The ultimate hax prevention move in the game has to be Substitute. This move protects you from status, prevents OHKO moves from defeating you, and prevents Critical Hits from bringing you down. Also, never-miss moves may be helpful in dealing with the abundance of Double Team users. Moves like Aerial Ace, Faint Attack, and Aura Sphere ought to be considered.
Here, I’m going to walk you through a team building process, bearing in mind the advice given above.
For optimum success in the Battle Tower, I have found that the lead is often the most important Pokemon in your party. The lead must be capable of supporting the rest of your team, or setting them up for a sweep. Therefore, bulky Pokemon with moves like Charm, Fake Tears, Thunderwave (and other status moves) are highly recommended. Pokemon that fit this ballot well include Uxie, Latias, Cresselia, Spiritomb, Metagross, and Bronzong. For this situation, I’ll use Cresselia.
Cresselia @ Leftovers/Light Clay/Choice Scarf*
EVs: 252 HP / 100 Def / 156 Sp Def
Bold Nature (+Def –Atk)
~ Light Screen/Reflect/Psychic/Trick*
Cresselia makes a fantastic Battle Tower lead, and uses many of the aforementioned strategies to help its teammates. Remember, the AI will not switch, so any moves you use that lower an opponent’s stats become useful. Cresselia has a lot of options to choose from for support. Flash and Thunder Wave work beautifully in conjunction with each other, effectively crippling most sweepers. She could then carry either of the screens to set up a cushion for the rest of your Pokemon. If you are concerned about not having an attacking move, you could opt for Psychic, which has semi-reliable STAB.
*Also, if you are familiar with the TrickScarf strategy, Cresselia is a wonderful employer of it. The AI will not switch, even if you Trick a Choice Scarf onto it, meaning the enemy lead will be locked into a single move.
Once you’ve decided upon you lead, you should consider which sweepers work well with it. Cresselia’s weaknesses are Ghost, Bug, and Dark. What you need now is a relatively bulky sweeper who resists Cresselia’s weaknesses. For that, I recommend Scizor.
Scizor @ Muscle Band
EVs: 176 HP / 252 Atk / 80 Sp Def
Adamant Nature (+Atk –Sp Atk)
Scizor easily resists all of Cresselia’s weaknesses, and can easily set up a Substitute for protection and Swords Dance to sweep. Bullet Punch is a strong priority move that deals with many threats. On your last slot, Superpower gets you coverage on Pokemon who resist Steel, Aerial Ace protects you from Double Teamers, and Roost can help heal away any damage you sustain from setting up.
To finish out the team, I recommend you find another relatively bulky sweeper. So far this team has Cresselia and Scizor, who work very well together. For your last Pokemon, you may want someone who still has reasonable bulk, resists the weaknesses of BOTH Scizor and Cresselia, and who is more on the special side (seeing how your only sweeper is purely physical). Who better here than Heatran?
Heatran @ Wise Glasses/Leftovers
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Sp Atk / 252 Spe
Timid Nature (+Spe –Atk)
This set rounds out the team nicely. He resists Scizor’s fire weakness with Flash Fire (which could REALLY make him a threat), as well as all of Cresselia’s weaknesses. Substitute allows him some safety while sweeping, and his attacks get perfect coverage.
There you go. If you look at the questions I listed above, you’ll find that this team I’ve created follows many of the guidelines I previously set forth. It has great type synergy, specifically designed movesets that work well together, isn’t walled at all, and carries several forms of hax insurance. Although made on the spot, a team like this has the potential to get you very far in the Tower.
In conclusion, I hope this guide has helped to better your understanding of the Battle Tower and it’s metagame, as well as helped your ability to craft teams. These guidelines are basic and do not need to be followed specifically. You may disobey some of the basic rules I outlined previously and still be successful; likewise, you could follow them to a tee and still not enjoy much success. It’s all a matter of how you craft your team and how well you can use it.
Good luck, Battle Tower challengers. Feel free to send me a PM if you have any questions, or need any advice. Likewise, if there are any mistakes in this guide, let me know so I can fix them.