Resource BBP Beginner's Guide [NEW PLAYERS START HERE]

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Data Audit Tables (All Pokemon information can be located here)
Player's Handbook
All rules regarding BBP and/or data information can be located between these two threads, with some exceptions that are found in our ruling thread.

Introduction: What is Battle-by-Post?

Smogon's Battle-by-Post (or BBP for short) is a Pokemon-raising and battling game that is balanced for competitive play. In it, players train up a team of their favorite Pokemon while facing off against other players in strategic head-to-head battles! This game, which is unique to Smogon, is conducted entirely through text posts within the Battle-by-Post forum. Although it is similar to the official Pokemon videogames in many ways, it has key differences meant to improve balance and to promote a more deliberate and less prediction-heavy style of play.

Active since the early 2010's, Smogon's BBP has had a long and circuitous history. In fact, it was originally called "Anime-Style Battling," and was partially intended as a creative outlet for players who wanted to simulate the wild antics of the animated series' Pokemon battles. Since then, it has been rebalanced for competitive play, with most of the crazier mechanics being removed. However, some of that early game's culture still persists -- we encourage players to use personalized sprites, dialogue, banter, and other forms of creative expression to spice up gameplay and add drama. Combine your choice of presentation with your choice of in-game strategy to create a gameplay experience all your own!

One more thing unique to Smogon's BBP is our use of certain original Pokemon made by Smogon's CAP community. CAP (short for "Create-a-Pokemon") is a collaborative project that creates fan-made Pokemon for use in Smogon's competitive Overused metagame. You can read about the Create-A-Pokemon Project here to get more information.

With that bit of backstory out of the way, let's learn the game mechanics!

About the Pokemon

The first step in getting started is to choose what Pokemon you want. But... which Pokemon do you choose? One of BBP's greater characteristics is that it does a decent job in equalizing Pokemon, so the natural choice should be to pick your favorites! While some Pokemon are still naturally better than others, in BBP almost every Pokemon has a unique quirk, combination, or trait that you can viably use.

Initially, you will start out with three unevolved Pokemon of your choosing (barring Legendaries, Ultra Beasts, certain Event Pokemon, etc). As you progress, you will have the opportunity to purchase and train many other Pokemon in addition to your first three.

How to read a Pokemon's Profile

In BBP, the information on each individual Pokemon is contained in its profile. During battle, you will need to study your opponent's Pokemon's profiles in order to make good decisions. The following is an example of what a Pokemon's profile might look like (click the picture to expand):
❶: The HIDE tag. Contains the species name (+ optional nickname).
❷: Picture and species name (+ optional nickname). Custom sprites are acceptable.
❸: Stage. An indicator of how much the Pokemon has grown. Pokemon start at Stage 1* and progress to Stage 5* over time. As they progress, they gain access to better attacks, Abilities, and stats.
❹: Types. Each Pokemon has 1-2 Types. Types influence the power of attacks.
❺: Abilities. Each species has 1-4 predetermined Abilities that confer unique properties. Some Abilities are "Hidden Abilities" that are locked and unavailable until Stage 2*.
❻: Nature. Unlocked at Stage 4*. This is chosen by the owner and influences stats.
❼: Stats. These affect countless aspects of the game. The (+) and (-) signs indicate which stats are influenced by Nature.
❽: Attacks. A list of all the moves this Pokemon is capable of performing.

Battle Overview

OK, so you've picked out your Pokemon. One of the next questions is "how to battle with them?" In almost every type of BBP battle, battles will take place over several rounds where players will alternate sending in orders. Here is a brief explanation of how to do that.


Like a professional boxing match, a battle in BBP is split up into Rounds. Each Round, players take turns giving their Pokemon instructions on how to fight. These instructions are referred to as "orders." After both players have finished giving orders, their Pokemon briefly fight. Then the Pokemon disengage. Finally, the next Round begins, with Trainers replacing their defeated Pokemon as necessary. See the diagram below for a summary.

Each Round will see one player ordering first, then the other player ordering second. The player ordering first is at a significant disadvantage because the opponent can read their orders. But, if you're ordering first, don't be discouraged, because next Round you will be the one ordering second!

Main Orders
Each Round, while fighting, your Pokemon will have three (3) opportunities to attack. Each of these opportunities is referred to as an "Action." Therefore, your Main Orders each Round will be a list of 3 moves you want your Pokemon to attempt in sequence (1 per Action).

Example said:
Bulbasaur: Leech Seed ~ Razor Leaf ~ Sleep Powder
In the above example, Bulbasaur will attempt to use Leech Seed on Action 1, Razor Leaf on Action 2, and Sleep Powder on Action 3.

It is possible to order moves that are "illegal". For example, you may order a move that the Pokemon doesn't know. Writing illegal moves into your Main Orders will fluster your Pokemon and cause them to use Struggle instead (an awful move that damages the user!). So exercise caution and make sure your orders are always valid and legal.

Substitution Orders

Substitution Orders ("Subs" for short) are used in tandem with your Main Orders. Essentially they function as contingency plans: "If the opponent does this, then you should do that." When you are ordering first, you should use Subsitution Orders to account for your opponent's scariest moves.

A Substitution Order in its simplest form looks like this:
IF (conditional) THEN (action).​

Here is an example orderset comprised of one Main Order and one Substitution Order:

Example said:
Bulbasaur: Leech Seed ~ Razor Leaf ~ Sleep Powder
IF (Taunt is used) THEN (use Protect).
According to this sub, whenever your opponent orders their Pokemon to use Taunt, your Pokemon will respond by using Protect. Protect will replace whatever move was in your Main Orders. The illustration below demonstrates this in action.

Useful, isn't it? But of course, we can add modifiers to this sub to improve it. Here is another example:

Example said:
Bulbasaur: Leech Seed ~ Razor Leaf ~ Sleep Powder
[ONCE] IF (Taunt is used) THEN (use Protect and push actions back)
This example features a frequency modifier: "[ONCE]". This modifier stipulates that the substitution can only trigger once in the Round; if the opponent uses Taunt twice, Bulbasaur will only use Protect the first time. This is good for us because Protect can fail when used in succession.

The new Substititon also features a phrase you will see very, very often: "and push actions back." While the previous sub replaced moves from the Main Orders, this sub "pushes" moves backwards in the sequence. See the illustration below:

Notice how even though the opponent ordered Taunt twice, the substitution only activated once. Also note that instead of replacing Leech Seed entirely, the insertion of Protect "pushed back" Leech Seed and everything after it by 1 Action. Leech Seed is a powerful move, so keeping it in our orders might be a good idea.

Substitution Orders are the most complex aspect of BBP, with many rules, variations, and nuances to become familiar with. At the same time they are indispensable weapons at all levels of play for mounting both a strong offense and defense. Begin by using simple subs, then slowly build your "toolbox" of sub variations over time.

Illegal Subtition Orders

Substitions are subject to certain limitations. The most obvious is quantity: most matches set their limit at either 2 or 3 subs per Round. Any subs beyond the prescribed limit are considered illegal.

Substitutions are also restrictive when it comes to their content. You can't just write in whatever you want! The "Substitutions" section of the Player's Handbook provides a definitive list of the clauses you are allowed to use in Substitutions. You don't have to learn them all right away, but for the time being just be aware that such a list exists, and that straying outside the scope of that list will result in your substitution becoming illegal.

Having illegal subs is different from having illegal Main Orders. When your Main Orders are illegal, the illegal moves will be replaced with Struggle. However, if just a substitution is illegal, that sub will just be ignored.

Go fight!

When getting started in BBP, your first step will be to create a Trainer Profile in the Registration Center. After you complete your profile, an Approver will double-check your work and approve it.

Once your profile is approved, it's time to participate in a battle! We recommend that you start battling as soon as possible; it is the fastest way to learn. To find a battle, go to the Battle Tower thread. You can find it in the Network Center.

The Battle Tower is the central matchmaking hub for all of BBP. Players come to the Battle Tower to ask for many different kinds of battles. But in your case, you will want to start by simply asking for a "Beginner Battle". A Beginner Battle is a special kind of battle that uses a basic pre-made ruleset and requires players to use low-power Pokemon. It is perfect for learning the basics of BBP.

After you have declared that you want a Beginner Battle, wait for another player (plus one ref) to accept your challenge. Then, the battle will begin!

For your enjoyment, we recommend you seek opponents near your skill level for your first couple of matches.

Additional Resources

While you are battling, many questions may arise. Here are some tools that will help you answer those questions and improve your skill as a battler:

Discord: Our Discord forum is arguably the most valuable reference tool for players wanting to learn the game. Expert players there will be happy to answer any questions you have, and the culture is extremely laid-back and friendly. If you have general rules questions, or are just confused about anything in particular, please ask them here.

The Data Audit: Although Discord is (in my opinion) the most important learning resource and should usually be your first place to go for answers, the Data Audit would take a very close second place. It is a comprehensive compendium of what every move, Ability, status effect, and item does in BBP. It also contains data on Smogon's original fan-made Pokemon (CAPs), which number in the dozens and are all usable here in BBP. As a reference guide for unfamilar moves and such, it will prove indispensible.

The Players Handbook: The full guide for all the rules of BBP! If you want to become an expert, you will need to read it eventually. ...But not today. It's a long, dry, read and it really dives deep into technical aspects of the game that won't be relevant to you for quite a while. I would recommend playing at least a couple matches first before you try to put time into this one.

That's about it! Again, I cannot emphasize enough that you should get out there and battle. It's the best way to learn how to play the game. Sitting on the sidelines won’t teach you anything, so find a match and get chuggin'.
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