Data Raids: A beginner's guide for new players


Welcome to the Raid Zone! As you might have figured out already, this is a Roleplay facility - in fact, one of the oldest ones around ASB and still running. However, whether you browsed through the ASB Raid Zone general thread or you checked some of the ongoing/past raids, you probably realized just how different raid battles look, in comparison to standard ASB battling. Legendary enemies with thousands of HP? Threat mechanics? Moves and actions never heard of before? ... And are some of these even REAL Pokemon?

If you came here, moved by these and other doubts and willing to learn more, you have come to the right place. As you are about to learn, raids are nowhere as hard to get into as they look, at first sight. It is my hope that this guide will help you learn the ropes to improve your beginning experience and allow you, someday, to join the ranks of the top raid players of this forum.

  • §1. The basics. What is a raid?
    • §1.1 Boss AI
    • §1.2 The Threat List
    • §1.3 Specials
    • §1.4 Different raid mechanics
  • §2. The rewards. What do I get for winning a raid?
    • §2.1 Non-raid-related items
    • §2.2 Glyphs
    • §2.3 Artifacts
    • §2.4 Badges
    • §2.5 Reputation
    • §2.6 Quest items
  • §3. The tactics. How to beat bosses?
    • §3.1 Team building! What do I need to bring to a raid?
    • §3.2 Battle! The opening!
    • §3.3 Battle! The mid-game!
    • §3.4 Battle! The late-game!
  • §4 The strategies. How to build a progression?
    • §4.1 Choosing your partner
    • §4.2 Planning your progression. Which raids to do?
    • §4.3 Planning your progression. "Eternal" rewards
  • Conclusion

§1. The basics. What is a raid?

At its core, a raid is a Pokemon battle involving two trainers and 4-8 Pokemon, depending on the difficulty mode you chose for your challenge: in Normal mode, each trainer brings 2 Pokemon, for a total of 4, whereas in Hard mode, each trainer brings 4 Pokemon, for a total of 8. Keep in mind that Species Clause is in effect, so a trainer cannot bring a Pokemon that his/her partner is also bringing. However, for all other purposes, such as Mega Evolutions and Z-moves, each trainer is factored separately - think like in a Multi Battle in-game.
These trainers and their Pokemon fight against one or more foes, which we shall call bosses. These bosses are normally other Pokemon (often Mega, Legendary, or CAPs) with beefed up stats. Sometimes the boss is not even a Pokemon, but even then, it will follow many Pokemon-related rules: it will have a type, a movepool, and will act and behave like any other Pokemon. Rarely, enviromental targets (with just HP, Def, and SpD) may also be present. So, how is a raid any different from a normal Pokemon battle?

§1.1 Boss AI

The most important difference you will notice is that bosses are not controlled by the referee - in the same way, for example, in which they are controlled in a TLR or a Battle Hall. Instead, the bosses act based on a script (think like an NPC in a videogame) which tells them what to do under given conditions.

The basic script works like this:
  • The boss chooses its target, based on the threat list (§1.2);
  • The referee builds a list of attacking moves from which the boss will choose to determine its action. We shall call this list the attack slate. The attack slate includes (1) the attacking move which will do the most damage to the target, and (2) any attacking move which does at least 2/3 (in Normal mode) or 3/4 (in Hard mode) of that damage; any status modifier which may impact damage is factored in (except for percentage-based effects applied to the final damage of all of the boss's attacks - so, for example, Water Sport would be factored, but a special effect which increases the boss's damage done by 50% would not);
  • The referee rolls to see which attack the boss will perform. Note that each move in the slate has the same chance of being selected;
  • Please note that, if the current target is under the effects of a damaging evasive move (such as Fly) and the boss has one or more attacks which can hit it, the referee will select among them to build the attack slate. If there are no attacks the boss can use to hit the D/E target, the boss will change target based on the threat list (§1.2) until the target is once again available.
In order to better understand how this works, you can check the HIDE tag below for a real example:

Boss: Tyranitar (Stormrage Depths NM)

HP 1000 | Atk 6 | Def 5 | SpA 4 | SpD 5 | Spe 70 (35) / SC 4 | WC 6
Status: Paralyzed

Defending Pokemon: Clefable (Quiet, Life Orb)

HP 100 | Atk 3 | Def 3 | SpA 4 | SpD 3 | Spe 52 / SC 3 | WC 3
Status: Reflect, +1 Sp. Defense

Now, let us build our attacking slate (keep in mind that, in raids, all damage is rounded up or down immediately, not at the end of the round like in the rest of ASB):

Aerial Ace: 6*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Ancientpower: 6 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Aqua Tail: 9*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Assurance: (6*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 8 damage
Bite: (6*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 8 damage
Blizzard: 11*0.75 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 8 damage
Body Slam: 10*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Brick Break: (8 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 8 damage
Brutal Swing: (6*0.75*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 7 damage
Bulldoze: 6*0.75*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 8 damage
Chip Away: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Crunch: (8*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 9 damage
Cut: 5*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 8 damage
Dark Pulse: (8 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 1.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 - 2 [Stage Dif] = 6 damage
Dig: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Double-edge: 14*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 14 damage
Dragonbreath: immune
Dragon Claw: immune
Dragon Pulse: immune
Dynamicpunch: (10*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 8 damage
Earthquake: 10*0.75*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Earth Power: 9 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Facade: 14*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 14 damage
Fire Blast: 11 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 11 damage
Fire Fang: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Fire Punch: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Flamethrower: 9 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Focus Blast: (12 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 - 2 [Stage Dif] = 7 damage
Foul Play: (10*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB]) * 0.67 = 7 damage
Frustration: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Headbutt: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Ice Beam: 9 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Ice Fang: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Ice Punch: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Incinerate: 6*0.75 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Boost] = 4 damage
Iron Head: (8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 1.5 = 15 damage
Iron Tail: (10*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 1.5 = 17 damage
Low Kick: (6*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 6 damage
Mega Kick: 12*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 13 damage
Mega Punch: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Mud-slap: 4 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 4 damage
Outrage: immune
Payback: (10*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 10 damage
Power-Up Punch: (4*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 5 damage
Pursuit: (4*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 7 damage
Retaliate: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Return: 10*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Rock Climb: 9*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Rock Slide: 8*0.75*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 12 damage
Rock Smash: (4*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 5 damage
Rock Tomb: 6*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 12 damage
Seismic Toss: 9 damage
Shadow Claw: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Shock Wave: 6 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 6 damage
Smack Down: 5*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Snarl: (6*0.75 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 1.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 - 2 [Stage Dif] = 4 damage
Stomp: 10*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 11 damage
Stone Edge: 10*0.67 [BP] + 3 [STAB] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 14 damage
Strength: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Superpower: (12*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif]) * 0.67 = 8 damage
Thrash: 12*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 13 damage
Thunder: 11 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 11 damage
Thunderbolt: 9 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Thunder Punch: 8*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 10 damage
Thunder Fang: 7*0.67 [BP] + 4.5 [Stat Dif] = 9 damage
Uproar: 9 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 9 damage
Water Pulse: 6 [BP] + 1.5 [Stat Dif] - 2 [Stage Dif] = 6 damage

The most damaging attack is Iron Tail (17 damage). So, the attack slate will include any attacking move from the above list which does at least 17*2/3 = 12 damage

§1.2 The threat list

As we have mentioned, bosses do not select their targets based on the ref's decisions, but rather based on an automated process governed by a mechanic named threat. Each trainer-owned Pokemon can increase its threat value against the boss in two main ways: (1) damaging the boss, and (2) healing. The boss will generally attack the target which has the highest threat against itself.

But there's a catch. Once the boss picked a target, in order for another Pokemon to become the boss's new target, the Pokemon needs to reach a threat value which is over 130% the threat value of the boss's current target. So, for example, if Clefable is the current target of a Tyranitar boss with 201 Threat, Tyranitar will not change target until another Pokemon gets to 261 threat. Naturally, if Clefable's actions (such as spamming Moonblast on Tyranitar) causes its threat to keep rising, the threshold for "stealing threat" will rise as well.

Thankfully for you, at the end of any given round in a raid, you can see a purple-colored label named Aggro threshold on the threat list of each boss. This value is the threshold you need to reach in order to change the boss's target (assuming the current target's threat does not rise further).

Threat can be manipulated in many ways. Some moves, such as Payback and Power Gem, cause a higher-than-normal amount of threat. Other moves, such as Double Team and Camouflage, can reduce the user's threat value against all enemies. Abilities can affect threat generation as well, increasing or reducing it under certain conditions. You can find more info about this on the ASB General Thread.

§1.3 Specials

If this were all it is to raid bosses, fights would be quite monotonous. However, there is something more to these fights than mere attacks. For example, a Tyranitar's boss fight may grow in power every few rounds. Or a Manaphy boss could summon minions to help it in battle. A Kyogre boss may have a passive bonus which increase the damage of its spread moves, and a Syclant boss may become invulnerable to damage for a few rounds. As you might imagine, specials are what defines boss encounters, and knowing them is crucial in order to succeed.

What are specials? Basically, specials are a form of trigger. If conditions are met, the special happens.
Conditions may include:
  • Periodic effects - ex: "At the end of the 1st round and every 2 rounds after that", "Every 3-6 actions, chosen at random", etc.
  • Trigger-based effects - ex: "If the boss is under 50% HP at the end of a round", "If one of the boss's allies has fallen", etc.
As for what the special can do, well... it can be just about anything. In fact, you will hardly find a boss which has the same specials of others, and any fight will be a unique experience to a large extent. It is thus imperative that, even at the beginning of your career, you familarize with the specials of the raid you intend to challenge. Reading through past raids may be especially helpful in this regard, as specials are highlighted in bold, italics, and underlined text in the calculations, so they are really hard to miss.

A final note: most bosses share a special known Enrage. This special drastically increases the damage output of the boss, allowing it to make quick short of the raid. Enrage commonly happens if a certain number of rounds has passed, and is there to prevent raiders from just stalling their way through the encounter. That being said, most bosses will take a couple rounds after they enraged to wipe out the raid completely, and it is often possible to finish off the last 5-10% HP of it even after Enrage has kicked in.

That being said, with the exception of Eye of the Storm (and the bonus Raikou/Entei/Suicune fights), Stormrage Mountain bosses do not feature any Enrage timer.

§1.4 Different raid mechanics

Most moves, items, abilities will work the same in raids. Whether it is Bubble Beam, or Tinted Lens, or Life Orb, you will find that for the most part, the moves you Pokemon knows work just as well in the Raid Zone as everywhere else. However, many things are different, so it is important for you to familiarize with these differences

These differences fall mainly under three categories:
  • Things which cannot be used in raids
  • Things which work differently in raids
  • Things which can only be used in raids
Things which cannot be used in raids: Some moves and abilities would make a boss fight significantly easier. If one could, for example, debuff down to -6 all of the boss's stats (even Accuracy!), Soak it to make it a Water-type, or give it Truant via Entrainment, most fights would be either ridiculously easy or would all revolve around the same (broken) strategy. Therefore, bosses have a long list of immunities to moves, abilities and other effects which is meant to shield them from such cheap tactics. You are adviced to read through the ASB General Thread in order to get an idea of what works and what does not. While the long list may look intimidating at first, you will soon realize the rationale behind its content and, eventually, you will no longer even need to refer to it.

Things which work differently in raids: There are two main ways in which a move may work differently in raids.
On the one hand, a move may have a reduced effect, to keep it from being broken. For example, Leech Seed's absorption is capped at 3 per action in raids, and Water Gun only increases the BP of Electric-type attacks by 3.
On the other hand, a move or ability may have a brand new effect alongside its old ones. Generally, such new effects have something to do with threat (§1.2). It is important for you to learn these effects, as threat management is a key aspect of raid fights. For example, knowing that all your Pokemon can reduce their threat with Double Team can make the difference between victory and defeat. And the last thing you want to do with your Stratagem is to use Power Gem on that Ho-Oh and mistakenly gain its attention!

Things which can only be used in raids: There is a variety of items (and even Pokemon!) which can only be used in raids. Check §2 to learn more.

§2. The rewards. What do I get for winning a raid?

Say that, after a cautious preparation and a flawless execution, you and your partner finally manage to take down that mean boss and win the raid. Congratulations! So, what do you get for your hassle?

§2.1 Non-raid-related rewards

Each trainer gets 2 CC for every boss fight in the raid (so, normally 2 or 4). Moreover, each Pokemon gets 1 EC, 3 MC, and 1 AC for every boss (or 4 MC if they have maxxed EC/AC, or maxmoves/15 CC if they have maxxed movepool). Finally, each trainer gets an additional amount of KOC (normally 4 or 8 per boss, depending on the mode and the specific boss), to be used either as CC or as EC/MC/AC for any of the Pokemon he/she owns up until the moment his/her raid is over.

Moreover, if you beat one of the more recent raids (from the current or the previous expansion), you can claim an additional amount of CCs based on the fight you just concluded.

However, as you are about to see, most kinds of raid rewards can only be employed in raids. Knowing each of them will be an important part of planning your progression (§4.2)

§2.2 Glyphs

All raid bosses always reward victorious players with at least one glyph. Glyphs are special items that players can equip to their Pokemon in addition to any other item. Each Pokemon can only be equipped with one glyph at maximum.

Glyphs are named after a certain move - for example, Glyph of Flamethrower, or Glyph of Agility. They can be used to modify the special properties of the move in question. For example, equipping Glyph of Flamethrower to a Pokemon causes the Pokemon to cause 50% less threat when using Flamethrower. The bonuses from these glyphs are rarely gamebreaking, but they are often useful. Sometimes, a well-used glyph may be what you need to make that strategy you are planning for your next raid work.

If you want to learn which glyphs are available, what they do, and how to get them, please check this spreadsheet.

§2.3 Artifacts

Raids are a dangerous place. With every expansion, enemies become tougher, stronger, and meanier. So, how to keep up when all you have is a Life Orb and little else? Thankfully for you, raids may allow you to gain much stronger items. These items possess stats and effects which go above and beyond any other item in the game, and may allow you to fight these dangerous bosses on equal terms. These fabulous items are called artifacts.

Artifacts are essentially items which you can only use in the Raid Zone. Similarly to Mega Stones, they cannot be stolen or knocked off. You can obtain them in a variety of ways:
  • Defeating a boss in combat. This is the most common way to get an artifact. In fact, many players plan their raid progression (§4) on the bases of the artifacts dropped by these bosses.
  • Buying them: Some artifacts may be bought from raid shops. In order to do so, you must make a post on the ASB General Thread and say which item you intend to buy. Note that these artifacts commonly require either a certain reputation standing (§2.5) or a special kind of currency which you can only get by beating bosses or finishing quests (§2.4)
  • Completing quests: Quests are special tasks which you can perform in order to obtain a certain reward. You do not need to announce that you are taking a quest, but make sure in advance that you are eligible for the quest you are undertaking. Some of the best artifacts in the game can be obtained only from quests
  • The ASB Gym League: There is a special kind of artifacts which can only be obtained by winning badges against ASB Gym Leaders. These artifacts are called heirlooms and, while they tend to have slightly below-average stats compared to other artifacts, they tend to grow stronger the further you progress in the Raid Zone, so you will find them to be really useful if you can get them.
If you want to learn which artifacts are available, what they do, and how to get them, please check this spreadsheet. For heirlooms, you should instead check the ASB Raid Zone General Thread.

§2.4 Badges

Bosses generally reward victorious players also with a special kind of item called badge, such as Badge of Valor or Badge of Light. These items are useless in themselves, but are a very sought-after currency by raiders, because they can be traded in the raid shop (ASB Raid Zone General Thread) for powerful artifacts.

§2.5 Reputation

Many factions in the Raid lore are involved with the battles you will fight. Therefore, winning a boss fight will often not only win you items, but will also make you more famous and respected to a certain faction. Eventually, these factions may decide to entrust you with exclusive glyphs, artifacts, moves, and even quests, often asking nothing more in return than a few currency counters.

In gameplay terms, reputation is a number associated with a player and a faction. By beating certain bosses (commonly, any of the bosses that belong to a certain expansion), players can increase their reputation standing with the faction in question. The higher their reputation is, the better stuff they can get from this faction. Moreover, unlike the raid shop in the ASB Raid Zone General Thread, this stuff can be bought simply with CCs, as long as you meet the rep requirements.

§2.6 Quest items

If a boss is involved in a quest, and you are eligible for that quest, the boss will also reward you with an item which allows you to progress or complete that quest. Some bosses may even reward players with items which begin quests, instead. Basically, if you get that item, you become eligible for a new quest you could not undertake before.

§3. The Tactics. How to Beat Bosses?

Now that you have a basic ideas of what raids look like, and what you get from them, it is time to start learning how to beat them. Winning raids require a combination of careful teambuilding, proper planning, and even case-by-case analysis. Naturally, each fight is different from the other, and so it is important to learn single fights if you want to become a good raider. However, many of the skills which make a player excel in raids apply to all of them. This is what this guide is about.

§3.1 Team building! What do I need to bring to a raid?

Like most fixed challenges (such as TLRs and gyms), there are some cautions which typically apply to most raids. For example, if all bosses in a raid are Water-type, bringing Electric- and Grass-types is crucial. In fact, this is even more important than everywhere else. While you might manage to beat a TLR or a gym with "goodstuff" teams, type advantage is absolutely required in raids. Without it, you will often find yourself unable to finish off bosses before you wipe out. This is not to say that you CAN'T bring a Pokemon which is not an Electric- or Grass-type to a Water-type boss fight, but you should do so only if the Pokemon in question has a particular combination of features which makes it useful despite the type disadvantage. In general, especially at the beginning of your raid career, you should stick to type advantage religiously.

That being said, there are some extra concerns which pertain especially to raids. As we have said before, in fact (§1.1), bosses in raids behave very differently from normal opponents. Some of the tactics you may be used to elsewhere in ASB could be totally useless in raids. On the other hand, Pokemon you would have never considered otherwise may turn out to be superstars in the right boss fight. So, how to build a good raid squad?

Tip #1: You need only a very specific set of moves

When you prepare for a gym or a TLR, you commonly need a wide range of moves on your Pokemon. Coverage, "tricks", and moves you can fall back on if your main artillery is disabled or subbed for - all this is part of any good TLRer/Gym challenger's arsenal.

Raids are different, though. For once, in raids you generally don't need coverage. Say for example that you are fighting a Tyranitar boss and you opted to bring your Conkeldurr for that fight. Conkeldurr has a wide array of useful coverage moves, such as elemental punches or Payback... but why would you use them in place of your STAB, against a Tyranitar boss? Similarly, even if a move like Sleep Talk would seem essential everywhere else, you would not need it in most raids unless you plan to use Rest (and that's hardly a good plan in most cases, by the way).

So, which moves would you need on your raid mon?
  • 2-3 of its best STAB attacks. Accurate and efficient moves like Flamethrower or Brick Break should generally be preferred to their more inaccurate or risky counterparts such as Fire Blast or High Jump Kick, unless you plan to fix your accuracy through some means. The rule of thumb is that, the moment you click your move, it should generally have 100% accuracy, as even one miss can cost you victory in raids. If the Pokemon in question is required to take hits from the boss, priority moves may help, too.
  • The key support moves. This may appear somewhat of a broad category, but in reality, you will find out that only a few support moves are useful in all raids:
    • Party-wide protections, such as Reflect, Light Screen, and Aurora Veil. Depending on the fight, Safeguard may come in handy too
    • Field effects. Depending on your raid composition, Trick Room may be a must. Weather and terrain moves should also be considered in some fights.
    • Double Team. Unless your Pokemon has a better alternative, such as Minimize or Camouflage, you should have this move. Threat control is crucial.
    • Healing moves, such as Heal Pulse, Recover, and Aqua Ring. Depending on the fight, Heal Bell/Aromatherapy may be important, as well.
    • If your Pokemon is intended to take hits from bosses, Taunt and high-threat moves are recommended. Protect and Endure are not a must, but they may come in handy at times if you screwed up somehow and need to buy some time (but beware of blocking your own Heal Pulses with Protect!)
    • Setup moves: Most setup moves, such as Bulk Up or Swords Dance, are generally not worth the effort. However, a few of them should not be overlooked. Belly Drum in particular is especially powerful in raids, as bosses will not focus the BD user like a normal player would. Other setup moves one should keep an eye out for are speed increasing moves (like Dragon Dance, Rock Polish, and of course Tailwind), and attack-based boosts like Power-Up Punch or Contrary Superpower/Leaf Storm.
    • Helping Hand, while not crucial, can help you get threat on the right Pokemon at the beginning of a fight (but beware the high energy cost).
    • Status ailments. Sleep is obviously useless, but paralysis and burn can be useful in many battles (but beware of Facade!). Keep in mind, though, that these effects commonly last only 6 actions on bosses, so you will need to re-apply them throughout the fight

As you may have figured out, that's not a particularly long list. In fact, it may very well be possible to buy a mon and check all the marks with its starting moves already! As raids often require you to change your squad completely (or almost) everytime you undertake a challenge, this is a real time saver - especially when raids require you to use "obscure" Pokemon you would not otherwise use elsewhere, such as Pikachu or Sunflora.

Tip #2: You need to organize your raid in roles

Often, when you prepare for a TLR, you need generalist Pokemon. You don't know who will be up when you need them to, and with only 3 slots to work with, you can't afford one-dimensional Pokemon. Therefore, in TLRs, you end up preferring Pokemon with good offensive presence, varied movepool, and balanced stats. Even if they're jacks of all trades, the combination of their talents allow them to succeed.

The opposite is true in raids. Due to their rather predictable battle flow and their tight damage/healing constraints, jacks of all trades have no room in your raid team. This is not to say that you cannot have versatile Pokemon in a raid - for example, Gardevoir might be able to perform well as a healer, as a damage dealer, or even as a tank in some situations (we'll say more about these roles in a moment). But the fact is, such Pokemon derive their versatility not from being average in all, but from being master in all (or at least some) of their specialties.

So, which roles do you need in a raid team? Pokemon can be broadly classified in three categories:
  • Tanks: Tanks are the Pokemon which take the blunt of the bosses's damage. Tanks typically have high defensive stats, threat generating tools (such as Taunt, or the Pressure ability), and auspicious typing, to allow them to take on the boss without dying horribly like their frailer allies.
  • Healers: The job of healers is to prevent their allies from falling to the boss's wrath - the tank, primarily, but often the damage dealers as well. This can be done in a variety of ways. The most obvious one is with straight-up heals such as Heal Pulse, Milk Drink, and Softboiled. However, defensive tricks such as screens and Aurora Veil are important as well, and so is the ability to support the team through other means. Clerical support, Helping Hand, field effects... basically, any support move can fit here. Healers are generally not as pressed as their allies for stats, though a good speed (which can be attained through paralysis, Agility, Trick Room, or sheer stats) helps, as it makes things easier to have your healer act before the boss.
  • Damage dealers: As the name suggests, damage dealers are there to destroy the boss with their high-powered offense. And indeed, with healers and tanks taking care of the boss, damage is often all you need. Even Pokemon with shallow movepools but incredible attacking stats, like Excadrill, can fit the bill. In fact, you will often find them to constitute the bulk of your attacking force.
As a rule of thumb, you need 1 tank, 1 healer, and 2 damage dealers for most Normal raids, and double those numbers for Hard raids. Note, though, that depending on the boss, and on the strategy of your choice, this basic formula can be tweaked accordingly. People have beaten difficult raids without any healer in the past, for example. However, this may require a very specific strategy, and some fights simply do not allow you to stray from this basic build.

§3.2 Battle! The opening!

Here it begins. Round one. You versus the boss. Your team is ready to kick ass. So... how should you start the fireworks? This is where good team building saves you nasty surprises.

Even if many bosses are different in some way, your plan A is almost always the same: get your tank on top of the threat list. This cannot be stressed enough. Even if your damage dealers appear to be able to take a stray hit, things can go downhill very fast if you allow the boss to pick its own target. For example, a certain Pokemon may cause the boss to select a spread move like Earthquake, or an evasive move such as Dig. In fact, the job of your tank is not only to take the boss's moves without dying, but also to make sure that none of these annoying moves figure on the boss's attack slate (§1.1)

So, how to achieve this objective? The easiest way, of course, is to make sure that the tank outpaces the boss and hits it hard. But this is not always an option. Many tanks, in fact, are not the fastest Pokemon around. Bosses, on the contrary, tend to be quite a speedy bunch (with several of them sporting 100+ speed stats). This is where priority moves come in handy. Moves such as Aqua Jet and Mach Punch can do just enough to get the boss's attention. Then, all you have to do is to follow up on the next action with a powerful threat-grabbing move like Revenge or Payback, and you're all set (naturally, if you have an ability like Pressure to make your priority move generate extra threat it's even better).

But what is the rest of your team doing? As you see, this maneuver in fact requires the team to generate next to no threat for a whole round. And in many fights, you just cannot afford to waste that much time. However, there are many ways around this issue. One common way is speed control. While the tank uses its weak priority move, another team member uses Trick Room, Tailwind, or paralysis. Then, the tank manages to deliver a second blow first on action two, securing its top spot on the threat list even if damage dealers don't just sit there idly for an entire round. Alternatively, delayed attacks such as Dig, Fly, or even Future Sight can make sure your action does not go to waste (beware, though, that many of them - such as Revenge and Skull Bash - cause a high amount of threat!). You should also not forget that most non-attacking moves cause no threat. Set up moves, weather moves, and status ailments can help you making use of an action without drawing threat. Helping Hand can also speed up the threat grabbing process, and should be considered unless energy is an issue.

Does this exhaust all the scenarios? Unfortunately not. Sometimes, for example, there might be more than one boss, and priority moves tend to not be spread moves. In cases like this, you might want to divide your targets among your damage dealers (or even your healer, if it's bulky enough), and let your tank perform a powerful spread attack like Eruption or Blizzard to get threat from all. This is done to ensure that the RNG does not cause the 2-3 bosses to gang up on the wrong target, or simply to pick a fight with a Pokemon which invites an Earthquake or Surf. In these cases, your best solution is to build your team in a way which makes this more dangerous and "random" approach sustainable. As your experience improves, you will manage to refine your opening skills as well.

§3.3 Battle! The mid-game!

Ok, so, now the boss is safely focused on your tank. Your healer has it all under control, and your damage dealers are ready to get dangerous. Is it all a walk in the park, from here? Well, sadly, nope (but then again, it would not be fun if all raids were won on round one, right?). Although a good opening is crucial in giving you a chance, it's in the mid-game that you build your road to victory.

Just like how the tank makes or breaks the opening, damage dealers and healers are the protagonists of the mid-game. Each of them needs to play in the right way, or you may end up finding out that you lost before you even realize what is going on. In particular, energy management is your main concern during this phase. However, how you achieve it slightly differs depending on the Pokemon's role.

Ideally, your damage dealers should never need to chill. In most cases, it is preferable to employ low energy cost moves, such as Flamethrower, Incinerate, or even Ember, than their high powered alternatives like Fire Blast or Blast Burn. Moreover, you will need to save enough energy for the late-game (§3.4). So, how to avoid the need for chilling? Generally, all you need to do is just to alternate your "safe" STABs. An Ice Beam + Aurora Beam routine, for example, consumes 10 energy per round. This means that you can go for 9 straight rounds before you need to pause. Most boss battles will not even last that long. Should you ever find yourself in a match longer than that, "weaving" a few Powder Snow in your rotation may lessen your energy consumption considerably, without losing as much damage as you would have if you had chilled.
Keep in mind, though, that such longer fights are commonly built in a way that allows you a few "safe" moments for chilling. While saving energy is important, if you finish your fight with your damage dealers above 50 energy, you probably could have ended it sooner. The last thing you want is to lose to an enraged boss with your damage dealers still having plenty of energy to go strong. Make sure you know how many rounds of fight each boss entails, and plan accordingly.

Healers are a bit of a different story. Unlike the damage dealers, in fact, healers cannot fully plan their energy consumption, because their job tends to be reactive in nature. Moreover, healing moves tend to be very expensive, and do not have cheap alternatives. As a result, healers might need to chill more often than damage dealers - and at the same time, they need to be a bit more cautious with their energy pool. While a damage dealer can afford to plan its moves so to end with 1 point of En by the end of the fight, a healer commonly cannot.
Does this mean that you can chill to your heart's content, with your healer? Unfortunately, this is where the ASB Raid Zone differs importantly from its "MMORPG" inspirations, such as World of Warcraft and similar games. In the latter, if you're the healer, you often do not do anything BUT healing. In fact, if the fight is safe and under control, you are expected to just sit there and recover your energy (or mana, or w/e) while the damage dealers do the fight.
ASB healers, on the other hand, are a more hands-on position. Even if your healer is mainly there to heal, it should be ready to support the offense as well - either directly, or through other means such as Helping Hand. Bosses with tight enrage timers, in fact, often require healers to be up there on the frontlines with other damage dealers. In some fights, the only difference between a damage dealer and a healer is that the latter has Heal Pulse in its movepool.

Roles aside, this part of the fight is also where specials commonly begin to rear their ugly head. Unlike openings, which tend to be quite standard despite the variety of encounters, mid-games vary wildly among encounters. While the aforementioned guidelines apply more or less to all encounters, specials might force you to adapt this scheme in unexpected ways. Some fights, for example, may require "bursts" of damage to deal with a minion summoned by the boss, or heavy heals to deal with a particularly nasty damaging effect. Whenever you plan your mid-game, it is thus important that you know how the boss's specials will affect your schedule. The best players, with some experience, manage even to react to "unknown" specials in scout runs, revising their plan on the fly. But while you are learning the ropes, you should try to focus on planning ahead.

§3.4 Battle! The late-game!

After these two sections, you might think that you're set. And in fact, this is how some bosses go - secure threat, plan your damage dealing routine, keep team topped with heals, and go from there. Bosses are rarely gracious losers, however. Many of them, in fact, like to turn red and throw everything they have at the players once their HP drops below a certain threshold or after enough rounds passed. At this point, one may wonder: if the tanks are the protagonists of the opening, and damage dealers/healers rule the mid-game, then who are the MVPs of the late-game? The answer is simple: everyone. Each role has something to do in this phase.

Tanks will often be very worn out at this point in the game. Moreover, many bosses increase their damage output in this phase. Healers might be low on energy, crippled, or focused on keeping other party members alive. Often, this means that tanks have two choices: (1) burn through all their energy to keep themselves up and damage the boss; or (2) go out in a blaze of glory. Sometimes, you will end up having to do both.
Many tanks come with recovery options of their own, such as the eponymous Recover, or even Drain Punch or Ingrain. You should not really use them in the early game, as the tank should focus on increasing its threat - a lazy mid-game tank can easily lose threat in the late-game, and that can spell doom for the whole raid. However, if your tank behaved well so far, it should have a substantial edge in threat over its allies. It is thus safe for it to employ such recovery options, so as to free up the healer. Alternatively, the tank might need to brush up its offensive arsenal, to pick up new minions spawned at the last minute, or to burn through the last few HP points of the boss. It can even use its recovery moves offensively, healing up in order to draw threat from all new enemies. As tanks often lack solid spread damaging moves, this method can be a lifesaver.
And naturally, a time comes for the tank to bite the dust. Indeed, sometimes it is best to sacrifice the tank, rather than throwing away energy in heals which could be better employed in attacks. This is especially true if the tank is already low on energy, and/or one of the damage dealers has enough HP to take the last few hits from the boss. Knowing the tradeoffs of sacrificing the tank at the right moment can make the difference in the most difficult fights, and your early raid experiences will help you ironing this skill out before you really need it. Often, it's as much a matter of gut feeling as it is of cold math.

Healers will have their hands full in this phase, as well. Tanks are dying, damage dealers are pressured, and the energy to manage all these tasks is few. How to play out this phase depends mainly on how important are each of the raid members. Not having heals for everyone, in fact, the healer needs to choose who needs to live, and who can be sent to its demise with no remorse. Moreover, the healer needs to weigh the opportunity cost of a heal, compared to its other options. Like the aforementioned tanks, in fact, it may be better off just attacking. Alternatively, a timely Trick Room or Tailwind may give the team that extra round it needs to prevail.

As for damage dealers, they can pretty much go nuts. With few rounds left and no threat issues, it is time to call out the big guns. However, just as said about the healers, beware of your other opportunities. Sometimes, a Tailwind/Trick Room, a Dragon Dance, or even a Taunt could save the day more than an attack.

As you will find out by experience, late game depends more than anything on what the boss does. Some lategames (such as Moltres in Wildfire Plateau) revolve around bosses hitting harder than ever. Other times, instead, bosses rack up disruptive effects (like Zapdos in Cliff of Thunder). Bosses in later expansions can do even wilder and stranger things. More than anytime else, it is in late-game that your ability to improvise and react is put to test.

§4. The Strategies. How to build a progression?

Well then, young player! Now you should be equipped with enough knowledge to try your hand in a raid and, maybe, even come out victorious. However, this is not what marks a great raider. After all, everyone is able to beat one or two raids, given enough time and effort. Nay, the great raiders are the ones who manage to turn their first victories into a winning path, which brings them to the top of the game among other "progress" players. Think about it - what is more satisfying, or likely to grant you fame and notoriety? Beating a raid people were clearing years before you joined ASB? Or winning a raid nobody ever won before, braving against seemingly impossible odds?

Assuming you prefer the latter, you might still need something more if you want to reach such levels. Naturally I cannot assure you that you will, but moreso than anything else in ASB, raids are about preparation and experience rather than talent. Whether or not you feel you are "gifted" for this, you may eventually find out that, with the right tips, you can go further than you originally expect. So, here are some pointers on how to become a full-fledged raider.

§4.1 Choosing your partner

Unlike most other ASB challenges, you cannot do raids alone. And due to the progressive nature of raids (as I will explain below), it is quite detrimental to change partners over and over. Indeed, if you ask around on the #raidzone Discord chat or elsewhere, you will discover that the few successful raid teams have ventured together for months, even for years. An important part of building your success, thus, is choosing the right partner for the job.

You might think that skill is an important criterion, and to a certain extent it is. There have been raids in the past where people seemingly forgot that Earthquake targets their allies as well, or that Protect blocks Heal Pulse, or that you cannot use High Jump Kick under the effects of Gravity. Nothing is more frustrating than having a partner who ignores the basics of ASB battling, or that you need to coach even for the most minute details.

However, you should beware of overestimating this aspect, too. There have been several raiders, in the past, who managed to perform remarkably well despite being hardly known for their tournament experiences. And conversely, known ASB "big names" managed to fail spectacularly in otherwise "doable" raids. At the end of the day, after all, while raids require skill, it is not exactly the same skillset you need everywhere else.

What makes a good partner, then, other than skill? First and foremost, reliability. Raids take time, especially if you're planning a progression. Nothing kills your will to play more than having your partner causing a DQ right when you're about to snatch victory, or going inactive after your first 1-2 victories. Sure, you cannot predict life's contingencies, and sometimes such misfortunes are inevitable. However, if you notice that a player has a shaky activity record, you perhaps would want to reconsider your allegiances - even if this player is a known gym/tourney/TLR/whatever battler.

At the end of the day, especially if you are a beginner, you might want to look for somebody like you - with a similar interest in this roleplay, and the same beginner status. As tempting as it may sound to ask a more experienced raider to "tutor" (that is, railroad) you through 1-2 raids to learn the ropes, it is unadvisable for many reasons. First of all, many of the better players already have a partner, and would thus not be interested in forming a stable partnership with you. Most importantly though, many of the better players would find it faster to just broadcast you your orders and tell you what to do without even consulting you. Sure, it may sound convenient at first, but you will hardly learn anything by playing like this. And most importantly, in this way, it is not really YOU who are playing and winning raids. If you traded your mons to a person and that person won a tourney with your mons, would you feel like you won a tournament? You be the judge.

Choosing a "younger" partner may not only allow you to actually learn the game, but would also give you better chances of actually forming a stable partnership which will bring you to the peak of the game.

§4.2 Planning your progression. Which raids to do?

So, you chose your partner. You have an idea of how to build a team, and how to battle bosses. There's only one issue: there are so many raids! And some appear downright insane! So, where do I begin?

If one were to do every single raid from the beginning to the top of current progress, it'd take years before he/she could even try his/her hand at some real "progress raids". And to many, this might sound less than satisfying. Fortunately, though, the Raid Zone is built in a way which, while it does not allow new players to jump straight to the newest content, permits them to take several "shortcuts".

First, ask yourself: why are some raids too hard for me? Is it because I lack the skills? Well, yes, to an extent. But most importantly, you just lack the "gears" - artifacts, glyphs, and so on. These items (§2.2; §2.3) possess stats which go far beyond what normal ASB items can do. A standard ASB item, for example, could increase the damage of a Fairy-type move by 3. An artifact, on the other hand, could increase it by 5, 7, or more, while granting a wide array of additional effects. Needless to say, a raid built under the assumption that a person has all its mons equipped with such artifacts will be mathematically impossible for a beginner, regardless of how "skilled" he or she is.

This begs the question: which raids require artifacts? And how many, or how powerful artifacts? The answer is much less disheartening than you might imagine.

The large majority of currently released raids do not actually require any artifact whatsoever. In fact, artifacts did not even exist before Isle of Lost Relics was released (the artifacts dropped by Stormrage Mountain bosses were added years after their release, when IoLR was already coming to an end). This means that, even without artifacts, you should be able to deal with any Stormrage Mountain raid, as well as all the Isle of Lost Relics raids, except Shrine of the Old Gods (that being said, some IoLR raids can be quite hard without any artifacts... but they can be done without them or with few of them, and have in fact been cleared years ago this way by the top players of that time).

Refreshing, one might think. However, this still leaves a lot of choice. Which raid should one choose, first? And how many raids should one clear before trying the jump to the current content? The best way to make the decision is to look at the rewards. As explained before (§2), raid bosses reward victorious players with a variety of raid-only prizes, including glyphs, artifacts, and reputation. Here is the catch, though: glyphs and artifacts tend to be very specialized. Glyphs boost only one move, generally. Artifacts, on the other hand, often give a large boost to one specific type - two, more rarely, but almost never beyond that. This means that one might end up finding that his/her awesome stock of Water- and Psychic- type artifacts is utterly useless if he/she wants to take on, say, Celebi. It is thus important to choose raids based on the artifacts and glyphs they give you. Which types you need? Well, it depends on the boss you need to take on. You may want to check the current progression, ask other players on Discord, and read through raid threads.

What I would suggest is a sort of "inverse approach", such as: "I want to beat X. To beat X, I need xyz-type artifacts. Such type artifacts can be obtained by the following bosses/reputation factions..." and so on. You will generally not need to iterate more than once or twice, though - for example, if you want to take on, say, Celebi (one of the bosses from the latest expansion), you could get good Ice, Flying, and Fire artifacts from the likes of Syclant (Raging Shore, IoLR), or Moltres (Wildfire Plateau, Stormrage Mountain). Neither boss requires artifacts to win (though one may consider doing Moltres first to have an easier time with Syclant, of course).

Finally, keep in mind that all raids drop badges (§2.4), which you can use to get whatever artifact you might need. So, even if you are really new and cannot do that specific progression you imagined, consider looking around and asking players on Discord about which raids you might be able to take on, regardless of what they drop as rewards. Not only will you get badges that you can expend however you want, but you will also gain invaluable experience in the process.

§4.3 Planning your progression. "Eternal" rewards

Most raid rewards are obviously very specific: glyphs, artifacts, etc. These rewards will be useful only in some raids, not in others, and may also be "outclassed" as soon as better stuff comes out. However, there are a few important "eternal" rewards: these rewards are not necessarily "better" than the others, but they have the benefit of not being linked to a particular raid or challenge. They will always be useful, and when in doubt about what to do next, you might want to check this list:

  • Berry harvesting: You can obtain this by beating Central Processing (Isle of Lost Relics), on any mode, and completing the "Taking on the Programmer's Job" quest. This allows you to equip your Pokemon a berry in addition to any other item. While most berries have seemingly limited effects, even an extra +10 energy from Leppa Berry, on top of your other item, can be a very useful boon. Furthermore, there are some raid-specific berries which provide even more powerful effects.
  • Empowered Mega ring: You can obtain this by beating Flower Paradise (Hour of Twilight), on any mode, and completing the "The Fate of Flower Paradise" quest. This allows you to mega evolve your Pokemon, even if they're not holding their Mega stone. Mega Pokemon are pretty much akin to uber Pokemon that players are allowed to use... except they cannot use an item, normally. This benefit removes that requirement, and is thus a great help for any raider out there.
This list may obviously be updated as new content comes out


Maybe you still have many questions and doubts, regarding raids. Maybe you are still unsure about whether or not you are cut out for this RP, at all. If so, I would suggest you to try and ask around on #irc - you will find out plenty of people (including me, obviously) who can advice you in your first steps. Your insight may also help me expanding this document and making it more helpful and comprehensive.

But most importantly... dare to be badass. Raids are out there for you to challenge them. It may be tempting to play it "safe", doing all the easy raids and telling yourself you are good. No one stops you, of course. But those raids out there? The ones you feel are impossible? They are not. They just wait for someone with big balls (and skills, and artifacts) enough to bring them down. Will that someone be you? The choice is yours.

Welcome to the Raid Zone!

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