Abomasnow, The Frosted Tree Pokémon. It whips up blizzards in mountains that are always buried in snow. It is the abominable snowman. It blankets wide areas in snow by whipping up blizzards. It is also known as "The Ice Monster."ť
Merry Christmas and yada-yada. This year's Christmas-themed Pokémon is Abomasnow.
Abomasnow doesn't really make a big splash on the 4th generation competitive battling scene. The most defining thing about it is its ability, Snow Warning. Although it's most definitely an asset for Abomasnow, for its team-mates this can be seen as an asset or a hindrance, but in most cases, it's a hindrance. With this in mind, Abomasnow may look a capable individual Pokémon, but it can be a bit of a weight for its team.
Abomasnow is unique as an Ice-Grass type, although whether that's a good thing is questionable. It does allow it two strong STABs, but it comes with seven weaknesses (including a Stealth Rock weakness and a 4x Fire weakness). On the upside, it also comes with four useful resistances (Water, Ground, Electric and Grass), and both of Abomasnow's defensive stats are respectable enough to take the odd hit from them. On the offensive, Abomasnow packs two average attacking stats (Base 92 a piece), but goes some way to compensate with high base power moves (like Blizzard and Wood Hammer). Low Speed cuts any sweeping dreams short, capping at a rather meagre 240, with little but Choice Scarf to offer compensation.
Over-all, Abomasnow is an oddball. Snow Warning can make it unattractive to a lot of teams, but at the same time, Snow Warning is one of its main attractions. It can't claim any inferiority complexes, since it is the only Pokémon in its niche. When it isn't being used for its niche, all-round average stats can be a hindrance. After all, a team won't go out of its way to accommodate Abomasnow like they would for a Pokémon like Tyranitar. Nevertheless Abomasnow does have its place, with or without a Hail theme-team. It doesn't have the luxury of slipping into the Underused environment, so it plies its trade in the Standard Environment with the Borderline (BL) tag next to its name.
Snow Warning: is Hail's answer to Sand Stream. Whilst Hail did get a nice boost in this generation, with some Ice types getting Hail-themed abilities (Snow Cloak and Ice Body) and Hail now granting Blizzard 100% accuracy (and a chance of hitting through Protect), it unfortunately remains the most awkward weather condition to build a team around. Like Sandstorm, it chips away 1/16th HP per turn, but unlike Sandstorm, only one type is immune to this, that type being Ice. Whilst a Sandstorm team is fairly viable to build (with Rock, Steel and Ground types all being immune to it), a Hail-themed team either carries the liability of too many Ice types (and the associated weaknesses) or a lot of team-mates picking up passive damage.
- Leech Seed
The classic Grass-type strategy is very viable for Abomasnow. It's pretty straightforward. Throw a Leech Seed at the opponent and use the drained HP to throw up an infinite string of dispensable Substitutes. The passive damage from Snow Warning's Hail is Abomasnow's own little twist on the strategy, adding some additional passive damage to that already drained from Leech Seed. The only types of Pokémon immune to Leech Seed are Grass types, who are nicely disposed of with STAB Blizzards, which are now 100% accurate thanks to Hail.
You can round the set off with another attacking move. Focus Punch has its useful synergy with Substitute and is a quicker way to dispose of Blissey than waiting for Leech Seed to take its toll. In addition, you're getting a gigantic thwack on Tyranitar (usually an OHKO), who will screw around with your weather conditions. Grass Knot assists with some Grass STAB, and you're getting an easy 2KO on the aforementioned Tyranitar too.
Abomasnow has some neat type-coverage, giving it some decent 'revenge-killing' possibilities. Blizzard is a must-have, of course. Wood Hammer is the preferable Grass move generally, since the supporting cast of moves is rather physically-inclined, but you always have Grass Knot as a recoil-free special alternative. Seed Bomb is weaker than Wood Hammer, but it's a physical move and comes without the recoil as well.
Earthquake disposes of most Steel types, resisters of both of Abomasnow's STABs. Well-timed use of Focus Punch just about rounds off the move-set, catching a wide variety of super-effective hits.
- Wood Hammer / Seed Bomb
Abomasnow has some Choice Band possibilities, despite suffering from pretty dismal Speed. Wood Hammer packs the strongest Grass STAB, but the recoil means you might want to give a look at the weaker but recoil-free alternative, Seed Bomb. Earthquake deals with the aforementioned Steel types, with Focus Punch serving a similar purpose with some additional type coverage as well.
You've got a mixture of Ice moves to choose from in your final move-slot. Ice Punch is as strong as it gets for physical Ice moves (sadly, not all that strong), Ice Shard has a nifty strike-first priority modifier to help compensate for your awful Speed and Blizzard is always an option just on its sheer base power alone. The fact that it adds some special attacking variety is an added bonus, since it's nice to hit those physically-inclined walls on their weaker stat.
The same as above, just with a special attacking focus. Blizzard is the staple Ice move once again, with Grass Knot generally being the preferred Grass move too. You'll need a Hidden Power to deal with Steel types. Fire is better for Bronzong, Ground is better for Heatran.
Focus Punch rounds things off again. You'll need it to stop Blissey from halting you (with the same applying to Snorlax to a lesser extent). You'll also want it for hitting Heatran too if you're running Hidden Power [Fire].
EVs and Nature:
You may as well max out your Special Attack, even if you do carry Focus Punch for a little bit of back-up. Just to spare Focus Punch being hindered by your nature, you might want to drop Timid for Hasty (+Spd/-Def) or Naďve (+Spd/-SDef) however.
Focus Blast, Energy Ball, Protect, Swords Dance, Light Screen.
Focus Blast is worth a look for the Specs set, but with Focus Punch being needed for its Blissey coverage, the desirability of two Fighting moves on one set is called into question and it generally falls to the sidelines. Poor accuracy does it no favours either.
Energy Ball is the 'reliable' alternative to Grass Knot. In general, Grass Knot hits most of the Standard environment at 80 or better strength, making it essentially as good as or better than Energy Ball. There are a few noteworthy exceptions, Vaporeon being the most prominent.
Protect has some good synergy with Leech Seed and Hail, but you don't want to go overboard with staling moves on the Sub-Seeder. Regardless, it's worth some consideration for a hybrid attacker-Seeder move-set.
A relatively viable Swords Dance can be put together. Poor Speed hinders any sweeping possibilities, but Ice Shard goes some way to compensate for its poor Speed.
Light Screen is a useful supporting move, but it doesn't really fit into any of Abomasnow's move-sets comfortably, and it doesn't really have the move-pool to pull off a supporting move-set (and Synthesis being cut to a 1/4th because of Hail doesn't help in this regard).
Steel types are quite neat counters, since they resist both of Abomasnow's STAB moves. Earthquake can cause them a worry, same for Sub-Seed stalling, but for the most part, they're your best choices. Scizor benefits from U-Turn, breaking Substitutes and at the same time switching out, breaking up any Sub-Seed strategies. Jirachi can do the same, minus the STAB. Metagross can take Earthquakes just fine, and whilst it can be Sub-Seed stalled, Bullet Punch priority can break the strategy. Bronzong and Forretress are imperfect counters, since their lack of Speed causes some severe problems against the Sub-Seeder, but are otherwise capable counters to Abomasnow's attacking move-sets. Heatran is both a Steel and Fire type, unfortunately grabbing a 4x Ground weakness in the process but having Fire STAB to slaughter it with.
Tyranitar is fearful of Focus Punch, Wood Hammer and Grass Knot, but it can switch in on Blizzards comfortably, overriding Hail with its Sandstorm and in turn, bringing Blizzard back to its 70% accuracy and causing Abomasnow to take passive damage.
Leech Seed is worth its own special section, since a lot of Abomasnow variants carry it. Only Grass types are immune to it, and they have no business switching into a Pokémon with STAB Blizzards. You can shake Leech Seed off with Rapid Spin (like with Forretress), but the opponent can just throw on a fresh one the next turn. You can switch to shake it, but the Sub-Seed strategy expects this and behind the safety of a Substitute, a fresh Leech Seed can be launched (and additionally, you might pick up some passive damage off of Spikes or Stealth Rock).
One of the better ways to counter this strategy is the aforementioned U-Turn, which lets you break the Substitute and switch out at the same time. Taunt can nip it at the bud too, since Abomasnow can't launch a Leech Seed (or Substitute for that matter) after Taunt. Smart timing with priority moves (such as the aforementioned Bullet Punch) can also open up an opportunity to hit Abomasnow when it isn't guarded by a Substitute. Otherwise, a mixture of switching to stall out PP, switching to faster Pokémon (so it can't throw up its Substitutes before being attacked) and trying not to be out-predicted is probably your easiest way around it.
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