Intro to NFE Battling
After battling for possibly months in Standard Pokemon battles, you start to think that there's more to competitive battling than just OU and UU. You start to wonder if using less-used Pokemon such as Marshtomp or Kadabra would suffice for a more interesting Pokemon battle, but you fear that the higher stats of the tiers you normally play in would just be too much for such Pokemon. Not to mention that a break from the same tiers and same 30 Pokemon that you have been battling for months wouldn't hurt, either.
Welcome to the world of NFE battling! While NFE has the same idea of other battle styles, such as prediction, strategy and team-building, there are combinations and Pokemon in this style of battling that would usually never work in other tiers, as well as being able to utilize over 100 new Pokemon that you would never dream of taking into a standard battle!
As with other tiers, strategy, prediction and the ability to use moves effectively is about the same as in other tiers. You would never use a Brave Jolteon in competitive battling. In the same sense, a Timid Munchlax would usually be a poor choice for a team member.
In fact, there are movesets and strategies that OU and UU Pokemon can utilize well, while their unevolved brethrens can manage just as well. One example of this is a Rain Dance Bronzor, rather than a Bronzong. Stealth Rock, screens and Rain Dance are still all very viable options for said Bronzor. Monferno is just as good of a mixed sweeper in NFE as its evolved form Infernape is in OU. If you take a look at the NFE strategy pages, you may notice more similarities. Priority moves are much more popular in NFE, especially in UU. This makes up for
many Pokemons' lower Speed for Pokemon like Croconaw, Piloswine, Gurdurr, Marill and Croagunk. With that said, Ice Shard and Aqua Jet are the most popular priority moves, making
Water-types and even anti-priority Water-types useful in NFE.
Stealth Rock and Spikes are still extremely viable options to utilize for a NFE team. In fact, Stealth Rock leads are still very common in NFE. However, because of the increase in Poison-type Pokemon, such as Croagunk, Gloom, Grimer, Ivysaur and Gulpin, Toxic Spikes becomes more risky to utilize in UU NFE. The lack of viable Spikes-users makes Spikes less popular in OU NFE, with only Roselia and Ferroseed being the best options for such a team. In addition, the fast-paced nature of NFE makes Toxic-stalling difficult for teams that aren't very well-planned.
NFE is an offensive and quick-paced metagame, mainly to the fact that most NFEs do this role well, while the majority of NFE walls do not have access to reliable recovery, discouraging their use. NFE walls usually pack a setup move or powerful STAB moves to accommodate for this, allowing them to set-up or take down the opponent in the little time that they can wall off their attacks.
Seismic Toss and Night Shade are two very viable and widely-used moves. Because most NFEs do not have much HP, these moves deal a considerable amount of damage, a 3HKO or 2HKO on most any NFE Pokemon. Because there is little recovery, and little immunity to these attacks, they work quite effectively in many situations.
Pokemon to Consider
Kadabra-One of the most dangerous sweepers in NFE with its very high Speed and Special Attack, along with an array of Special attacks. Life Orb Kadabra alone can sweep entire teams if one is not prepared. Sneasel, Mantyke and Chansey (in Ubers) make sound counters, as well as almost any priority move, considering Kadabra's highly exploitable Defense and HP lack.
Metang-With a bit of competition with Togetic, Bronzor takes the title as the best wall in OU NFE. Its access to Stealth Rock, Reflect, Light Screen, and Trick give it all the options it needs to be an effective utility user. Metang only has two weaknesses, both of which are easily worked around - Ground and Fire. Metang has the stats to be an effective wall, attacker, entry hazard setter and utility user, making prediction on what set it is using very hard. However, unlike Togetic, Metang doesn't get any type of recovery outside of Rest.
Electabuzz-Electabuzz is arguably the best Special sweeper in NFE, with competition from Magmar and Kadabra. Electabuzz on the other hand, doesn't carry a Stealth Rock weakness, making it harder to dent. With the access to Thunderbolt, Hidden Power, Focus Blast and Psychic Electabuzz can dent nearly anything in OU NFE. With solid defenses, Electabuzz is hard to OHKO without using a strong Ground attack, as well. Treat Electabuzz as one of the biggest threats to your team, and work with your team accordingly.
Haunter-Like Kadabra, Haunter has a very high amount of Special Attack and Speed, making it a very fast threat who isn't shaken by most priority attacks. What makes Haunter worse is its immunity to both Fighting and Ground attacks, meaning it has an easier time switching in than Kadabra. All NFE teams should have an answer to Haunter, as well.
Sneasel-Another dangerous sweeper in NFE, and the #1 most widely-used physical sweeper. The combination of Brick Break, Ice Punch and Punishment hit almost all NFEs for at least neutral damage. Combined with Life Orb, base 95 Attack and one of the fastest Pokemon in NFE, Sneasel makes one of the most dangerous revenge killers and sweepers in NFE. Its weakness lies in Mach Punch, which hammers it for x4 damage, Vacuum Wave, which falls in the same category, and residual damage from Life Orb and Stealth Rock. Machoke is a nearly guaranteed check for Sneasel.
While this list doesn't exhaust all the notable Pokemon, it is something worth considering when making a NFE team.
Generation 5 Updates:
Written by DialaceStarvy, with thanks to Markiss and SnorlaxDude
Introduction to Not Fully Evolved
Not Fully Evolved is a metagame that only allows Pokemon that can evolve to be used. In terms of the Pokemon available, there are generally more viable offensive options than there are defensive options. As a result, the NFE metagame is fast paced and punishes slow thinking. NFE Pokemon tend to have smaller movepools than their fully evolved counterparts, making them more predictable and easier to deal with. The NFE metagame therefore encourages planning ahead and creative play in order to outsmart your opponent.
Differences From Standard and Little Cup
A common mistake made by new NFE battlers is that they believe the NFE metagame plays similarly to the Standard metagame. At first glance, this might seem true because many pre-evolutions are able to viably use similar strategies to their fully evolved cousins. However, there are many cases where this is not true and there's also the fact that many popular Standard Pokemon have no NFE counterparts. These facts hugely differentiate NFE from Standard. For example, while Tyranitar is popular in Standard thanks to his ability Sand Stream and mix attacking capabilities, Pupitar lacks both and even has different typing altogether. As a result, Sandstorm teams are neither as popular nor as effective in the NFE metagame than they are in the Standard metagame. Similarly, Politoed's pre-evolution, Poliwhirl, does not receive Drizzle as an ability. The lack of certain types of threats in NFE also gives rise to others. For example, the absence of outstanding bulky Water-types in NFE means that Pokemon such as Magmar become very devastating.
Another, albeit less common, mistake beginners make is their belief that NFE plays similarly to Little Cup. This is most definitely not true. The only similarity is that both metagames only permit the use of Pokemon that can evolve. NFE is played with Pokemon up to Level 100 so stats distinguish individual species of Pokemon more than in LC. Additionally, Eviolite gives dramatically more noticeable boosts to defenses, as covered by the next section.
Eviolite is banned from the NFE metagame because it gives a massive advantage to defensive teams over offensive teams. Even the most powerful of Pokemon will struggle to 2HKO a wall with a neutral STAB attack. With Eviolite, stall basically becomes the only viable strategy, giving a very unbalanced and invariable metagame.
Banned Pokemon / Abilities
Tangela was a complete monster when used with Drought support. After a Growth boost in the sun, Tangela's Solarbeam could 2HKO even Chansey. For the one or two that truly countered him, they were easily stopped with Sleep Powder and turned into set up fodder. Due to its's amazing Defense, priority attacks were not an option either, with Choice Band Sneasel's Ice Shard not even coming close to a OHKO. Weepinbell was another overcentralized Pokemon, offering just as many problems as Tangela, with the added effect of being able to KO Chansey with Power Whip, although it was more prone to priority moves than Tangela.
With the only Drought-user being Vulpix, NFE does not miss out much on a good Pokemon by banning Drought - in spite of a shaky Hypnosis and a STAB-boosted Overheat, Vulpix's stats
certainly paint an unattractive picture for it.
Common Not Fully Evolved Pokemon
Gurdurr, despite being very slow, is one of the most threatening Pokemon in the NFE metagame. Gurdurr is usually used with Bulk Up, which turns him into a very powerful tank. This is taken advantage of with STAB Drain Punch, which allows Gurdurr to both hit hard and improve survivability. Gurdurr does not fear burns either, thanks to his awesome ability, Guts. Thanks to these traits, many defensive teams will find that they will struggle against Gurdurr.
Gligar is an excellent physical wall and one of the few solid counters to Gurdurr. With amazing typing and base 65 HP and 105 Defense stats, Gligar can take many of NFE's physical hits. This gives Gligar ample chances to set up Swords Dance and quickly become an offensive threat. Gligar can also run a stallbreaker set which takes advantage of Gligar's great base 85 Speed stat and access to Taunt and Roost.
Ferroseed is a very popular defensive Pokemon in NFE thanks to his unique and brilliant typing and access to Spikes and Stealth Rock. Ferroseed's plentiful resistances allows him to act as a reliable pivot. Along with his many support options, including Leech Seed and Thunder Wave, Ferroseed is useful to have on almost any team. Ferroseed's ability, Iron Barbs, is the icing on the cake, as it allows him to damage most physical attackers while pivoting.
Terrific base 115 Special Attack, great base 95 Speed, and useful immunities all give Haunter a spot as one of the most popular Pokemon in NFE. Haunter's most common set is Substitute + Disable, which takes advantage of Haunter's immunities to give him free turns to attack. Substitute + Disable also allows him to beat common threats such as Bulk Up Gurdurr and Swords Dance Gligar. Haunter's sweeping capabilities and ability to counter common threats makes him desirable on offensive and defensive teams alike.
Magmar is a special attacker that can hit very hard thanks to his high base 100 Special Attack stat and wielding of a STAB 120 Base Power attack in Fire Blast. Magmar can prove to be devastating to any team that cannot outrun it and players that face him will usually find that they cannot switch into him without suffering a 2HKO or OHKO. However, Magmar does have his downfalls. His Stealth Rock weakness, coupled with his reliance on Life Orb to do major damage, can severely shorten his survivability.
With by far the largest base HP stat in NFE and a great base 105 Special Defense stat, it's not that hard to see why Chansey would be popular. Chansey can repeatedly sponge almost any special attack and then pass a ridiculous 352 HP Wish to a teammate. Chansey can also spread status with Thunder Wave and Toxic and also do a good deal of damage with Seismic Toss. Chansey's downfall is her awful Defense. STAB physical attacks will almost always put a dent on her and she will rarely be able to survive a STAB Fighting attack.
Metang has access to Stealth Rock and has a respectable defensive base stat spread of 60 HP / 100 Def / 80 SpD. These traits, along with its Steel typing, make Metang similar to Ferroseed. However, Metang's ability to hit hard separates it from Ferroseed, and makes it a more popular choice amongst more offensively minded teams. Metang also has a unique list of Pokemon it can counter, which includes Haunter, Sneasel, Kadabra, and Duosion.
Weepinbell is normally a mediocre Pokemon due to its low Speed, but becomes a brilliant sweeper with Drought support. Unlike most Chlorophyll Pokemon, Weepinbell has both great Attack and Special Attack, which can both be doubled with Growth when used in the sun. Even prior to using Growth, Weepinbell's STAB Power Whip can put a dent in anything that does not resist it. Being able to hit hard on both defenses makes Weepinbell very difficult if not impossible to stop with an unprepared team. Weepinbell's Sleep Powder just makes it even more difficult.
Sneasel, being naturally the fastest Pokemon in NFE and having some very useful STAB moves, is popular as a revenge killer. Pursuit allows him to trap Pokemon such as Haunter and Kadabra and KO them regardless of their next action. Sneasel also has Ice Shard, which makes him one of the few Pokemon that can reliably check common Chlorophyll sweepers such as Weepinbell and Ivysaur. However, Sneasel's weakness to Stealth Rock and poor Defense leaves him very vulnerable to priority attackers that do not fear Ice Shard.
NFE is a hectic metagame where simply lacking tactics to get by the opponent could mean that your team will go down very quickly as a result. Players need to plan in advance what they are going to do if they wish to achieve good results. Ever-changing conditions in battles also require players to adapt and develop new tactics on the go. This makes every decision important so that you don't dig yourself into a deep hole. If you want to try a different metagame and this all sounds appealing, then NFE is for you.