We’ve discussed the basics of battles and a lot of nitty-gritty details too, but to truly understand Pokémon battles you need to get out there and experience all kinds of exciting battles!
Until you get to that stage or if you just need a gentle reminder, here are some important tips from the Pokémon veterans over here.
Same-Type Attack Bonus
When wandering around the Internet or hanging with hardcore Pokémon fans, you may hear comments like "Milotic’s Scald has STAB" and then ponder to yourself "whatever does that mean?"
STAB stands for Same-Type Attack Bonus and what it means is that Pokémon using moves the same type as themselves will do 1.5 times more damage than usual. In Milotic’s case, it’s a Water-Type Pokémon and Scald is a Water-type move, so Scald will do 1.5 times damage in Milotic’s hands (or whatever it has for hands).
The point of STAB is to encourage and reward Pokémon for using moves of its type. For instance, a lot of Water-type Pokémon can learn Ice-type moves, so what’s the point in using Ice-type Pokémon? Well, Ice-type Pokémon will do extra damage with those same Ice-type moves.
If a Pokémon is dual-typed, it will have STAB with both types of moves, making it a very versatile Pokémon. As a general rule of thumb, having moves with STAB is preferable. However, it’s also recommended to have moves without STAB for reasons we’ll explain next…
Variety is the Spice of Life
At some point you must have thought to yourself "Hmm, these Gym Leaders sure are easy, since they all use one type of Pokémon".
The same principle also applies to yourself: always avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage by not having a varied team of Pokémon. If you have an all Fire-type team, you’re going to struggle against Water, Rock or Fire-type Pokémon, for example.
Since you can field six Pokémon and Pokémon can have two types at most, you can represent 12 of the 18 Pokémon types with Pokémon alone. For the missing types, you can give your Pokémon moves from that type, via TMs or other means.
Although this means not getting STAB, if you encounter a Pokémon weak to or double-weak to that type, you can still do double or quadruple damage. For the main quest, you don’t actually need to cover all your bases, but the more variety the better!
Hold Onto Your Hats
Unless you have a Flying-type Pokémon with the Acrobatics move, which increases in damage without a hold item, most of the time you should equip some kind of hold item onto your Pokémon. This can be done from the Item menu or Pokémon menu.
Now Pokémon can hold most items, but they won’t benefit from every item. In particular, Pokémon will not use "man-made" items such as Potions or Poké Balls, so forget about those unless you’re planning to trade such items to another game.
Instead, you want to look out for items that say in their description "when held by a Pokémon" - these are actual hold items that Pokémon can use or benefit from in battle. This also includes Mega Stones or the orbs needed to undergo Primal Reversion.
Besides Mega Stones, what else are good items to hold? During the main quest, anything really. Perhaps items that boost the power of your Pokémon’s moves, like Miracle Seed for Grass-types. Or items like the Amulet Coin or Lucky Egg to boost your post-battle earnings.
Against other players, hold items can be immensely valuable. Of note, Leftovers are great for bulky types so they can heal residual damage and basically survive for longer.
For full-on offensive types, smart trainers may opt to use Choice items (Band/Specs/Scarf) to benefit from increased damage and speed, at the cost of locking their Pokémon into one move until they switch out.
Finally, for sheer power, we can’t ignore the Soul Dew for Latios/Latias, which massively boosts their Special Attack and Defence, so much that it’s banned from official tournaments, plus the Battle Institute and Maison. But totally fair to use in the story if you get it.
At some point, you must have encountered moves that claim they "go first in battle", such as Quick Attack. During most scenarios, especially during the story, the claim holds true.
Even if a Pokémon is usually slower than the opposing Pokémon, if they use such a move, they will attack ahead of their opponent. These moves are generally known as Priority moves , because they have priority during the battle turn.
From here, some of you may be wondering what happens if both Pokémon use a priority move. Well, assuming the moves have the same priority, the faster Pokémon will attack first, as per usual.
You may notice we mentioned "the same priority"; not all priority moves have the same priority. Certain status moves such as Endure and Protect have higher priority than moves like Quick Attack. Some moves even have negative priority, meaning they will usually go last.
Priority moves are generally less important in the main story, where you can blitz through most encounters, but during battles with human players, be wary of potential Priority moves. Especially when you have low HP and think you can get away with a quick KO because you’re faster.
In this case, the opponent can surprise you with a priority move and wipe the smile off your face. Other than Quick Attack, watch out for Aqua Jet from Water-types, Bullet Punch from Steel-types and Sucker Punch from Dark-types. Besides these, certain Abilities can affect Priority too.
For instance, the infamous Prankster Ability gives status moves increased Priority - we hope you enjoy those pre-emptive Thunder Waves, Will 'o' Wisps and whatnot. There’s also Talonflame with Gale Wings , which increases the priority of its Flying-type moves.