Building ND Rain
What does a rain team look like in National Dex? How do you go about building your own rain team?
To say this post has been a long time coming would be an understatement. I started writing it a few months ago, but I have a bad habit of struggling to finish things that I can't do in one sitting. So here it finally is, a comprehensive breakdown of rain teams in the National Dex tier. Rain is a playstyle which, even outside of Nat Dex, tends to be very linear. There are tried and true ways of building rain, and it's almost always best to follow the existing formula. Once you've got a solid base for the rain team, that's when you can start experimenting and add your own personal touch to the team. I hope this will be a beneficial read for anyone trying to build their own rain team and even if you already know how rain works, maybe you'll still learn something.
(Click on the pokemon icons for example sets)
It wouldn't be a rain team without the actual rain setter. Pelipper is always the first place to start when building rain. Only 3 mons exist with access to the drizzle ability and one of them, Kyogre, is in ubers. Politoed is never used as a rain setter for a number of good reasons. I'm sure a majority of you don't need an explanation, but I can see how this mon might be a bit of a noob trap for those with little competitive experience trying to build their first rain. Politoed is outclassed by Pelipper because it lacks any form of recovery which can cause issues in a prolonged game where you may need to set rain up multiple times. Pelipper also has a better defensive typing and access to a slow u-turn which can safely bring a rain abuser onto the field.
When building a spread for Pelipper you want to invest in bulk, typically physical defense. A phys def Pelipper can actually wall opposing Mega Swampert which is very useful for rain mirror matchups and it helps Pelipper take on Lando-T as well. Investing in sp def is less preferred, but it does improve Peli's matchup against Charizard-Y which threatens rain teams by disrupting their weather with drought. Pelipper can opt for 0 IVs in speed and a speed reducing nature. This makes your u-turns as slow as possible to ensure that, in most situations, Pelipper tanks an incoming attack rather than the rain abuser that you want to switch in. Damp rock is always the item of choice to extend your weather to 8 turns instead of 5.
Pelipper should always commit two moveslots to roost and u-turn. The former keeps Peli healthy over the course of a game and the latter brings in rain abusers once your weather is set. Pelipper wants to have at least one attack so that it is not completely passive. Hurricane is 100% accurate in rain and hits grass types relatively hard which is great for a team structure stacked with water types. Scald is an option which is slightly stronger than hurricane thanks to the 1.5x rain boost and has a nice 30% burn chance. DO NOT use weather ball in place of scald. The extra base power may seem appealing, but it comes with consequences. This move changes to match the weather typing when opposing setters like Torkoal, Tyranitar, Hippowdon, or Charizard-Y switch in. Pelipper gets a favorable matchup vs these setters as they are all weak to water moves and you will completely sacrifice this if you run weather ball. The last moveslot on Pelipper is a bit customizable. You can opt for both hurricane and scald to get better coverage. Defog is a decent option to clear hazards. Knock off strips leftovers from bulky water resists like Ferrothorn or Toxapex allowing the rest of the team to break through more easily and also gets a crucial item removal vs Chansey. A very niche option is pursuit to trap and KO Shedinja. This is a mon which hard walls a large number of rain abusers. Using pursuit Peli will greatly increase your matchup against stall, but this move will be useless against every other mon in the tier.
The next step to building rain is to add Ferrothorn. Simply put, any serious rain team should have a Ferrothorn. This mon synergizes way too well with rain teams to ever consider dropping it. Ferrothorn has an incredible typing that is only weak to fire and fighting, the first of which is cut in half by the effects of rain. Water type mons on the other hand are weak to grass and electric which Ferrothorn resists, so this is really a match made in heaven or hell depending on how you feel about rain teams. Ferro also resists rock which nicely covers one of Pelipper's weaknesses.
Ferrothorn is easily the most customizable part of a rain team, so make use of its huge support movepool to patch up any areas where your team is lacking. Need hazards? Ferrothorn has stealth rocks and spikes. You can run both on the same set for some hazard stacking action or choose whichever your team doesn't already have. Gyro ball smacks fairy types and body press hits opposing Ferrothorn decently hard as well as other steel types. Knock off provides great utility in much the same way that it does on Pelipper. Power whip is an option to threaten opposing waters and is also the strongest STAB move Ferro has access to. Remember that you are going to be boosting their power with your own rain, so whip can be quite nice to keep them in check even if the majority of your team is already resistant to water.
Leftovers and chople berry are the most common items for rain Ferrothorn. Leftovers should be used with leech seed to maximize longevity. Chople berry patches up Ferrothorn's 1 remaining weakness to fighting types. This set should not run leech seed as, without leftovers, it isn't able to stick around for too long. Rather, chople berry Ferro should focus on stacking hazards and returning with a hard hit on mons that activate the berry. Body press for example will OHKO a Mega Lopunny that CCs into Ferro expecting a kill. Toxic or thunder wave are good options on any Ferro and work especially well with Chople berry. In cases where you don't have good coverage for opposing mons that will attack with a fighting move, simply throwing a status on them works just as well. CM Mega Latias for example can be a dangerous cleaner vs rain teams. However, chople Ferro can tank a boosted aura sphere and put Latias on a timer with toxic.
Now we're getting into the fun part of using rain teams; the rain abusers. Mega Swampert is, to put it lightly, an absolute menace under rain and one of the best cleaners in the tier. The swift swim ability boosts an otherwise unimpressive base speed of 70 to formidable levels. Bar priority moves, there are few mons fast enough to hit Mega Swampert before it gets an attack off and just as few mons that can reliably switch into a neutral STAB from this monster. Pert also has a great water/ground dual typing which is usually all a rain team needs to be safe against electric types in tandem with Ferrothorn. It is so effective in this role that well-built rain teams rarely need another swift swim mon. I think using multiple swift swim mons is a common mistake for an unexperienced player, and I'll explain later in more detail why rain teams rarely stack this ability when it seems so intuitive at first glance.
There are 3 moves that Mega Swampert will almost always want to run; waterfall, earthquake, and ice punch. Obviously, STAB moves are needed and ice punch rounds out this coverage by hitting grass types for solid damage. The combination of these 3 moves are virtually unresisted in the tier with the notable exception of Rotom-Wash. Waterfall is preferred over liquidation because of its flinch chance. However, the 5 base power increase of liquidation plus rain boost will let you 2HKO Corviknight after stealth rocks damage so it's not a totally unviable option. The 4th moveslot on Pert is customizable and there are quite a few options here. Flip turn is my personal favorite to keep up momentum on a switch to something like Slowbro or Tangrowth and it still hits quite hard. If you are choosing to use spikes on your Ferrothorn, stealth rocks are an option to get some hazard stacking action. Superpower nearly OHKOs Kartana, deals massive damage to opposing Ferrothorn, and is also your strongest option to hit Rotom-Wash. Toxic is niche but can really mess with mons that are traditionally problematic for rain like Slowbro, Tangrowth, Rotom-Wash, and bulky Kyurem. Finally, bulk up or power-up punch amplifies Pert's ability to clean teams but requires some prediction to use and is overall a bit awkward. You will want to fully invest EVs in Spe and Att for maximum offensive potential. Also, a Jolly nature is highly recommended. Adamant may be tempting, but it will cause you to be slower than scarf Kartana and base 100 Spe scarfers even with your swift swim boost.
The 3 mons I've just covered are rain essentials. If your goal is to build the best rain team possible, you should by all means be using those mons nearly 100% of the time. Everything after this point is not a prerequisite for a rain team. However, they are incredible picks and you will want to use some combination of these following mons to fill out the last 2 or 3 slots of your team.
Zapdos is a crucial component of many rain teams as you'll probably notice from past and present sample teams. It is able to fill both an offensive and defensive role simultaneously. Although more commonly known for being a bulky balance pick, rain support lets Zapdos make better use of its impressive 125 base Sp Att than it normally could. Hurricane and thunder have huge base power which is supposed to be offset by poor accuracy. However, rain allows Zapdos to throw out these powerful STAB attacks with 100% accuracy and adds weather ball to your movepool. A combination of flying, electric, and water moves has perfect coverage in the OU tier and the most notable resist is the very niche Dracozolt. When Zapdos enters the field with rain active, it becomes a terrifying offensive presence whose answers are mostly limited to blanket Sp Def walls like Blissey, Chansey, and Mega Ttar. Thunder can be replaced by volt switch if you're using flip turn Mega Swampert on the team. It is significantly less powerful, but water/flying coverage is mostly solid and this creates a lethal volt turn core that doesn't care about ground types whatsoever. While this would probably be enough to justify using Zapdos on most rain teams, electric/flying dual typing also offers some defensive benefits. Alongside Ferrothorn, it will usually be a rain team's secondary grass resist. Kartana, Rillaboom, and Tapu Bulu which pack fighting coverage are more easily dealt with when you have a healthy Zapdos in the back. It is also a useful flying resist when the mandatory steel type for rain is neutral to these attacks. Your own weather will give opposing Zapdos 100% accurate hurricanes so this is fairly relevant to have on the team. The best way to make use of Zapdos' coverage and power is with full Sp Att and Spe investment. Base 100 speed outruns a good chunk of the tier, however bulkier spreads can be used to make Zapdos more reliable in its defensive role.
The whole idea behind weather teams is to take the 1.5x damage boost and other benefits it provides and spam multiple of this typing to overload defensive answers. Tapu Fini might be able to handle 1 water type over the course of a match but can it handle 2? or 3? You get the idea. Ash Greninja is notable for having the most raw power of any water type in the National Dex tier. The amazing speed, STAB combo, and rain-boosted priority makes it a natural choice for this kind of build. Another less obvious reason that Gren works on rain is it can force the opponent to make suboptimal plays. A smart player understands that they can't sack a pokemon to Gren without giving it a huge damage boost from Ash form. Their defensive option for water types might be something they want to keep healthy for other threats on the rain team, but because they can't sack a mon to Gren, they will be forced into the answer for water types every time which makes it much easier to overload in conjuction with Swampert or Manaphy. Gren also has some cool utility in its movepool, namely spikes. If your Ferrothorn only has room for stealth rocks on its set then spikes is one of the easiest ways to hazard stack. U-turn is another good pick if you have both flip turn Pert and volt switch Zapdos. This will allows you to keep up momentum when the opponent switches to a Gren answer like Chansey, Fini, or Pex and immediately threaten it on the next turn. Ice beam can be used to nail two water resists, grass and dragon types, which will usually open up opportunities for something else on your team to spam water moves. Full Sp Att and Spe investment with a timid nature are standard here.
Weavile is the other best dark type for rain teams and is currently featured on the sample rain team, considered the most optimized rain build for the current meta. It's a mon that needs little introduction as it has proven to be incredibly potent in the National Dex tier with choice band, boots, and Z move sets. When it comes to rain teams, choice band is the only set you should really be using as other sets can't fit pursuit. Although Weavile doesn't specifically benefit from rain in any way, it works well on rain teams because of the incredible synergy is has with your typical rain mons. If you can get Weavile onto the field safely, it is able to threaten and potentially pursuit trap many mons which otherwise shut down rain cores like Mega Latias, Gastrodon, Kyurem, Slowbro/Slowking, and even Shedinja on stall. Rain builds can't afford many choiced mons and typically don't even have a scarfer, but they appreciate having at least one choiced mon for the immediate 1.5x damage output. For that reason, one of Ash Gren or Weavile are usually placed in this team slot with their respective choice item.
Moving on to the final slot on a rain team, this is where you will want to fit some kind of stallbreaker. If you're building standard rain, you should already have sufficient speed control between Mega Pert and your fast dark type. These two in combination with Zapdos offer a lot of offensive pressure, but it may not be enough to carry you through stall and fat balance matchups. Luckily, we haven't assigned a z move yet which will fit nicely on your chosen stallbreaker. Manaphy is hands down the best choice here if you want to brainlessly click your way through stall teams. Manaphy can boost its Sp Att to incredible levels in just a single turn and uses rest + hydration to prevent stall teams from wearing it down with chip damage. Compared to other water types, it also has some unique coverage options such as psychic to hit Toxapex or energy ball for Gastrodon. After one tail glow, a rain boosted Z surf can destroy even bulky resists like Ferrothorn.
Manaphy's base 100 defensive stats make it easy to get at least one boost off, and stall will be unable to status you in rain or deal any notable damage in one turn before you can become a threat. This is where having a pursuit trapper on your rain team becomes so relevant. Stall tends to either accept a losing matchup to Manaphy or resorts to one of just a few mons like Gastrodon, CM Mega Latias, or Shedinja as their answer which are all prone to being pursuit trapped. Manaphy will typically run a modest nature for maximum damage output and significant Hp investment so it can set up tail glows and heal afterwards with rest + hydration. Psychic is a good choice of coverage move for when you have a pursuit trapper on the team as Weavile will not beat Toxapex. Without one, you may want to run energy ball to not be walled by Gastrodon or even ice beam to beat CM Mega Latias. A niche option for non-pursuit builds is replacing the coverage move with toxic to mess with Gastrodon, Lati, and Shedinja all in the same moveslot.
Now that I've given you a bit to think about, here are some interesting off-meta rain picks you can slot into the team to make it less standard but still plenty effective.
Swords dance Z aqua tail Scolipede is my own personal innovation on rain that I'm relatively proud of. It may seem like a borderline meme, but this mon is nothing to mess around with. Scolipede needs a Z move to pull this set off so it will replace your stallbreaker slot. However, you don't lose too much value here since Scolipede is surprisingly dangerous to many stall teams as a setup mon that can actually threaten unaware Clefable. Poison jab + earthquake have great coverage and +2 Z aqua tail in rain absolutely destroys the most common resists to this combo like Lando, Gliscor, Corviknight, and Mega Scizor. Scolipede becomes both strong and very fast after receiving a speed boost on the turn that you get your swords dance up. Aqua tail + earthquake gives you similar coverage to Mega Swampert and the addition of STAB poison jab to threaten grass types means these mons can overload their shared checks or break holes in a team for one or the other to sweep. Scolipede's typing also offers a ton of value to rain that isn't obvious at first glance. Because rain teams have a hard time finding chances to defog and usually focus instead on setting their own hazards, having Scolipede remove an opposing Toxapex's tspikes on switch in is a godsend. It is also a 4x resist to grass type moves so you can use these as setup bait or just keep Scolipede in the back to ensure you don't get swept by scarf Kartana or a Rillaboom.
Thundurus-Therian is one of the only mons that can give Zapdos some competition for its spot on rain. Both share the same typing, but Thundy has some unique traits that give it certain advantages (and disadvantages) over the bird which may be worth considering when you build your own team. On one hand, it is an electric immunity although the value in this is a bit questionable since rain teams should have both a Mega Swampert and a Ferrothorn to deal with this type. The main value Thundy provides is access to both focus blast and nasty plot giving it actual wallbreaking potential. It has the same electric + weather ball coverage as Zapdos, but can throw out boosted focus blasts to actually threaten Ferrothorn, Chansey, Blissey, and Mega Tyranitar which give Zapdos trouble. Without the coverage of hurricane, you will absolutely want Weavile as a teammate to help with Mega Latias and grass types not named Ferrothorn. Unfortunately, there are significant drawbacks to using Thundurus-Therian over Zapdos. For one thing, it is hardly a proper grass resist since it is much more frail and lacks the longevity that Zapdos has with roost. Since Manaphy will probably be redundant with Thundy as your wallbreaker, the 6th slot will likely need to be dedicated to yet another grass resist that can help manage Kartana, Rillaboom and Tapu Bulu. The main draw of this mon, focus blast, also has poor accuracy so you will have to choose between heavy duty boots for your stealth rock weakness or the accuracy and damage boost of fightinium Z.
Regieleki is something I've had my doubts about for a while. After testing, I can say rain builds are one of the few places this mon fits without being too much of a joke. This is mainly because it forms a surprisingly decent electric spam core alongside Zapdos to threaten grass and ground types with hurricane and weather ball respectively. Opponents will be forced to actually keep their ground types alive which would normally be sack fodder against rain teams, and they can't even let them get chipped down much or Regieleki will pick them off with Z hyper beam. This mon will make your rain team exceptionally fast in conjunction with Mega Swampert and can spin away hazards so you have a somewhat viable form of removal outside of Pelipper's defog. It pairs great with hazard stacking Ferrothorn and either of the two premier dark types. Ash Gren + Regieleki make it exceptionally hard for the opponent to actually find chances to sack, but Weavile can chip ground types with pursuit as they try to switch out so both are viable options.
Kingdra is a mon I personally don't have much experience with, but I think it deserves a brief mention as a fringe viable pick for rain teams. The main draw of Kingdra is it can be a secondary swift swimmer to increase the overall speed control of your team. Hitting via Sp Att rather than Att, it has hurricane for coverage on grass types and STAB draco meteor for Mega Lati meaning you won't share too many checks with Mega Swampert. Kingdra will probably replace the Ash Gren slot on the team as these two are mostly redundant together. However, you will still need a wallbreaker on the team and putting Manaphy in the last slot may be stacking too many water types so keep that in mind when building.
Before I wrap things up, I'd like to finish this post by highlighting some common mistakes and things to avoid when building rain. Some of it may seem self explanatory to an experienced player, but I want this post to be helpful for newer players who have little or no experience with rain.
DO NOT USE THIS MON. I know I already mentioned it at the start of this post, but I'll mention it again. Politoed is a vastly inferior drizzle user to Pelipper and rain teams do not need multiple setters if played carefully, so this mon should never be showing up in your builder. Seriously. In the same vein, you shouldn't be putting rain dance on random mons on the team like Swampert or Kingdra. This is a waste of valuable moveslots and if you feel like you struggle to play rain without it, you should reevaluate how you play your Pelipper and consider if you're being too reckless with it.
Don't use these mons either. Not so much the mons but the abilities that they represent. It may be tempting to put a rain dish or dry skin mon onto a rain team but truthfully, the only rain-related ability you want to be using is swift swim. These abilities offer very little and the mons that have access to them are extremely subpar at best. If you're just playing for fun then by all means go ahead and use a full rain team of lefties and rain dish mons.
If your rain team looks like this, something has gone horribly wrong. Stacking swift swim mons is a common noob trap, and most viable rain teams will only have one or two at most. Using rain is not just about creating a team that is absurdly fast and clicking as many weather boosted attacks as possible. Unviability of most of these mons aside, a team like this has no type synergy and completely misses the nuance of the different components that make up an actually serious rain team.
And that about does it. This post has taken me way longer than it had any real reason to. I may edit it further if I have anything else to add but for now I'd just like to get it out there. If you made it this far and found this post even slightly interesting, maybe leave a like to help ease the pain in my wrists as I deal with the inevitable carpal tunnel syndrome I'm going to get from writing this monstrosity. Thanks!