In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
What Are Status Conditions in Pokémon?
Status conditions are some of the best ways to twist a Pokémon battle in your favor, hampering foes with a variety of debuffs. These effects fall under two categories: non-volatile (which last even after being switched out or finishing your fight) and volatile (which end when the affected Pokémon leaves battle).
Volatile conditions are easier to get rid of, but they stack, letting you apply any number simultaneously; foes can only suffer one non-volatile condition. But with dozens of hindrances available, which moves most impede your rivals? These are the 10 best status conditions throughout the Pokémon video games!
Moves: Spore, Yawn, Rest (on yourself)
Sleep prevents a Pokémon from attacking until it wakes up, so if you inflict sleep before your target moves, you can negate their turn's action. A few attacks, like Sleep Talk and Snore, actually require the user to slumber, but these are few and far between.
While still a powerful condition, sleep has gradually been nerfed throughout generations; it no longer requires a move to wake up, causes less turns to be missed, and the sleep counter doesn't reset if a Pokémon is switched out. Sleep is also the price you pay for using the move Rest, which fully restores HP and removes other non-volatile conditions.
Encore's a rare status, inflicted only by the same-named attack. But few moves better disrupt foes, as you lock them into the last attack they used for three turns. And if you strike first, you can even change their planned move by locking them into the previous one.
This works especially well on redundant effects (like Thunder Wave) which have no benefit to consecutive use. Encore remains a useful net, but was especially deadly in prior generations, where instead of three turns, it lasted 4-8.
Moves: Fake Out, Double Iron Bash, Zing Zap
Flinching attacks work great for speedy Pokémon, because if you successfully flinch your target, they lose their attack for that turn. It only works for one round, and only if you act before them, but flinching often occurs as a secondary effect of powerful attacks, adding insult to injury.
You'll see at least one flinch-causing blow in every type except Fairy, making it hard to avoid, especially when used by creatures with the ability Serene Grace (like Togekiss), which doubles the chances of secondary effects.
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Moves: Thunder Wave, Thunderbolt, Zap Cannon
Paralysis applies two debuffs, preventing its victim's action 25% of the time and reducing their speed by 50%. Paralysis is mostly associated with Electric Pokémon, but many elements contain at least one move that can inflict the condition (like Body Slam, Lick, and Force Palm).
As of generation 6, Electric-type Pokémon are immune to the condition, shielding them against their trademark debuff.
Moves: Leech Seed, Sappy Seed
Leech Seed has solid accuracy (90) and offers two benefits. Your target loses 1/8 of their max health at the end of each turn, and your own Pokémon gains that amount. Plus, even if the original Leech Seed user faints and another takes its position, the new unit will also benefit from the lifegain.
Grass Pokémon are immune to the status, and (like other volatile effects) foes can switch out to end it, but Leech Seed works wonders when your foe's down to their last fighter or can't retreat due to...
Moves: Bind, Clamp, Fire Spin
Binding moves tend to be weak in terms of damage, but you see them across several elements, from Fire to Water to Ground. And while the initial hit isn't powerful, these moves deal reoccurring damage to your target for 4-5 turns, which adds up to some serious pain.
As icing on the cake, bound foes can't switch out (unless they're Ghost-type), negating the main drawback of a volatile effect. Bind attacks were monstrous in generation 1, where trapped victims couldn't act at all, and they're still a competitive threat today. You can increase the duration of a bind with a Grip Claw held item, or the damage with a Binding Band.
Moves: Confuse Ray, Dynamic Punch, Shadow Punch
Confusion was long king of the volatile effects, not only giving opposing attacks a 50% to fail, but also having the user hurt itself if they misfire. The damage occurs as if the unit struck itself with a 40-power physical move, meaning it's especially potent against units with a high attack or low defense.
Confusion is still a fierce debuff, but was finally nerfed in Generation 7. Now, there is only a 33% chance to thwart attacks. That said, no elements are immune to the effect, and you'll see it spread throughout many types, including Normal, Flying, and Psychic.
Moves: Will-O-Wisp, Scald, Sacred Fire
Unsurprisingly, burns typically come from Fire attacks, and Fire Pokémon are immune to them. They inflict 1/16 of a target's health at the end of each turn, but since they're non-volatile, foes can't switch out or retreat to ignore them. To make matters worse, burns also halve their victim's attack stat, a crippling blow against physical sweepers.
Similar to flinching, most burns are side effects of damaging moves, and you can even inflict them with a few Water techniques. Or, you can guarantee a burn with Will-O-Wisp, although the move itself doesn't deal damage and has questionable 85% accuracy. Burns were even better in past generations, where they inflicted 1/8 ongoing damage.
Moves: Blizzard, Ice Beam, Shadow Chill
Freezing is difficult to inflict, as few moves cause it, and the ones that do rarely have more than a 10% activation rate. However, it's a brutal effect, encasing foes in a frigid prison with only a 20% chance to escape each time they attempt a move.
Ice-types are immune (although Ice is a rare defensive element), and you can thaw frozen creatures with a damaging Fire-type attack, so most Fire Pokémon can easily escape. But for everyone else, being frozen often spells defeat, especially in the first two generations (where auto-thawing was even less likely).
1. Badly Poisoned
Moves: Toxic, Poison Fang, Toxic Spikes (when used twice)
Like burns, regular poison inflicts 1/8 damage each turn, and in past generations, it also caused injuries while traversing the field. But it lacks burn's attack-reduction, making it one of the tamer non-volatile effects, especially since both Steel and Poison Pokémon are immune.
However, a deadly variation simply called "bad poison" initially causes 1/8 damage, but doubles the amount with each passing turn. If you can stall foes with Protect or other defensive tricks, they won't last long against that ever-increasing pain. Not many attacks apply bad poison, but Toxic and Poison Fang both work well, and Toxic Spikes automatically sets it as an opposing entrance hazard when used twice (a single dose only causes regular poison). You can even inflict poison (of either type) against Steel and Poison opponents if you have the Corrosion ability active.
Tip: You can't remove bad poisoning by switching out, but doing so will reset its damage multiplier.
Removing Status Conditions in Pokémon
Statuses are fierce disadvantages, but they can be overcome in various ways. Remember that switching out ends volatile effects (although you can't if bound or trapped by Mean Look). As for volatile conditions, try removing them with moves like Aromatherapy or abilities like Shed Skin.
Remember that certain attacks gain strength when attacking a debuffed creature (like Smelling Salts and Hex), but for now, as we await more upcoming status effects, vote for your favoring tactic and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill