Be patient, my friend – In-depth analysis of the priority bracket

There is an incredible amount of moves, some of them are used to harm the opponent while others are used to inflict status conditions or set a different weather, among other effects. The execution of most of these movements is determined by the user’s speed but there are some exceptions to this mechanic.

Moves like Quick Attack or Extreme Speed are examples of increased priority. On the other side, we may find other moves with negative priority such as Roar, Whirlwind or Trick Room.

However, is not that simple because there are different brackets of positive and negative moves which are going to be covered in this article.

PriorityActions / Moves
+8Quick Claw and Custap Berry activation messages
+7Pursuit (only if opponent is switched out)
+6Charge of Focus Punch, Beak Blast, Shell Trap; Items Usage, Pokémon Switching, Escaping, Pokémon Rotation or Mega Evolution
+5Helping Hand
+4Spiky Shield, Magic Coat, King’s Shield, Protect, Detect, Snatch, Endure, Baneful Bunker
+3Crafty Shield, Fake Out, Quick Guard, Wide Guard, Spotlight
+2Ally Switch, Extreme Speed, Feint, First Impression, Follow Me, Rage Powder
+1Accelerock, Aqua Jet, Baby-Doll Eyes, Bide, Bullet Punch, Ice Shard, Ion Deluge, Mach Punch, Powder, Quick Attack, Shadow Sneak, Sucker Punch, Vacuum Wave, Water Shuriken
0All other moves
-1Vital Throw
-2
-3Beak Blast, Focus Punch, Shell Trap
-4Avalanche, Revenge
-5Counter, Mirror Coat
-6Circle Throw, Dragon Tail, Roar, Whirlwind
-7Trick Room

As you can see, this table has a range from -7 to +8. It’s worth to mention that for the +8 value we don’t have movements per se but actions caused by items that will give priority to the used movement.

Table of contents

Priority activated through items (+8)

Quick Claw is activated in the 20% of the turns in which is present. This probability seems too low to be useful when taking part in a tournament. However, there are ways of playing with these percentages.

 

For example, if we use a Ditto with this item, when it gets transformed into the opponent, it will acquire the same speed value and will lead to a speed tie (both Pokémon will have the same speed). This means that both will have a 50% chance of attacking first.   What happens if Ditto holds a Quick Claw? Possibilities of attacking first get increased: Speed Tie 50% gets mixed with the 20% of the aforementioned item. Based on the sum of probabilities formula [P(A U B) = P(A) + P(B) – P(A ∩ B)], our Ditto will increase the probability up to 60% in contrast to the 40% of the opponent. It’s not fully reliable but at least the speed tie heads or tails will play a bit more on your side.

 

The Custap Berry has the same effect on the turn. However, this item is not affected by probability. This item gets activated when the user has less than 25% of its Hit Points. It can be combined with slow and defensive Pokémon with the Sturdy ability like Skarmory. This strategy is more used on single battles because the Pokémon can use its last breath to set hazards using Stealth Rock or Spikes.

Positive priority based on mechanics (+7, +6, +5)

Below the highest value of the table we find the Pursuit move. This movement inflicts damage to a switching out Pokémon before it’s back to the Pokeball.  Furthermore, if this happens, the base power of 50 gets doubled. For example, during a battle, our Tyranitar is facing an opposing Latios. Latios is not in a confortable position on the field. The opponent switches it out but we use this movement on the same turn. Taking this into account, Tyranitar will attack before Latios can leave the field using a 100 base power Pursuit. Once the damage had been inflicted, if the Pokémon survives, it will leave the field. Due to this, we could say that switching a Pokémon out would have a priority of +6 during the blattle.

 

One level below (+6) you can find the charge of some movements such as Beak Blast, Shell Trap and Focus Punch.  This last movement has a base power of 150. However, it won’t hit the opponent if the user is hurt during the turn in which you are trying to use it. Due to this, it’s a useful move to be used when the foe is asleep, you are behind a substitute or you predict a switching.

 

As the only movement with a priority value of +5 appears Helping Hand. This is a commonly used move on double (and triple) battles as it increases the power of the user’s ally a 50%. It is mainly used by support Pokémon like Cresselia and it’s quite useful to cause an unexpected KO.

Protection mechanics (+4)

On this part of the table we find moves that are more focused on double battles as with a value of +4 we have different types of protection which are basic for this kind of battles. Protect, Spiky Shield, Detection, King’s Shield and Baneful Bunker are movements that can block damaging moves while Endure, Magic Coat and Snatch have other effects that will be later detailed on this article.

 

Protect and Detect have the same effect. There are only two differences: PP and Z-Move effect. Protect has 10 PP (max. 16) and Z-Move resets the lowered stats. On the other hand, Detect has 5 PP (max. 8) and Z-Move rises evasion one stage. Spiky Shield and Baneful Bunker also play the same role. However, if the user gets protected against an attack that would make contact, the enemy will suffer some damage (Spiky Shield) or will be poisoned (Baneful Bunker). 

 

King’s Shield is a bit more complex as it only protects against movements that inflicts damage. It doesn’t protect against Non-volatile status (Spore, Thunder Wave, Will-o-Wisp…) nor Volatile status (Taunt, Encore…). Furthermore, if the user gets protected against an attack that would make contact, foe’s attack stat will drop two stages.

 

On the other side, we can say that Magic Coat is the counterpart of King’s Shield. It doesn’t protect against movements that inflict damage but it works against status moves (Non-volatile and Volatile), entry hazards (Spikes, Stealth Rock…) and some other movements. However, that’s not all as this move can reflect these attacks to the original user. It was relatively common on VGC16 with Smeargle and Cresselia as main users. It prevented other Smeargles to use Dark Void to make both Pokémon fall asleep because the effect of this movement affects to the whole party of the user.   

 

Also with a +4 value we can find the Snatch movement. It is not really common and works taking for itself the beneficial effects of some status movements used by any of the Pokémon on the field. On double or triple battles, it only affects to the first movement whose effect can be snatched. The attacks that may be snatched are those that boost the stats like Swords Dance, the recovery movements like Rest, the protection moves like Reflect and other movements like the typical Substitute.

 

Finally, we are going to talk a little bit about Endure. It will make you resist any attack from the opponent, including One-hit KO moves like Sheer Cold. This can be combined with items like the aforementioned Custap Berry or attacks like Reversal whose damage varies depending on the remaining HP percentage of the user being possible to reach a 200 base power.

Anticipation is key (+3)

We are going to divide the +3 value into several parts.

First of all, we are going to talk about the Fake Out movement as it is one of the most commonly used on VGC. It has a base power of 40 and it only works if it’s the first movement used by the Pokémon after entering on the field. However, the most important thing is its secondary effect as it will make the opponent flinch for sure.

On the doubles format, it’s a helpful effect to get momentum (you can read more about it here) or put the opponent under pressure during the Team Preview.

 

Let’s detail this further: Fake Out users like Kangaskhan, Weavile or Mienshao can slam the brakes on common leads. The first turn on a VGC battle may be crucial and having one of your Pokémon immobilized could make you even loss the battle. This movement is usually combined with creatures that can take advantage of this turn to boost their stats like Belly Drum Azumarill or the well-known Geomancy Xerneas.

 

Now that we have understood the Fake Out attack, it’s time to talk about the Quick Guard movement that will protect the user and the ally Pokémon against priority movements used by the opponent which are below its priority value (+3).  It’s worth to say that it will also block +3 attacks if the user is faster than the opponent. For example, if Weavile, with a 383 speed value at level 100, uses Fake Out against a Crobat (which is usually faster) using Quick Guard on the same turn, the Fake Out movement will be blocked. However, if the user is Hitmontop, which is slower than Weavile, Fake Out will go first and it won’t be blocked by Quick Guard. Remember that this can be distorted by Trick Room as it inverts the order in which all Pokémon move.

 

Wide Guard protects the user and the ally from double target movements. It’s used on double battles to protect the ally from receiving attacks like Rock Slide or Heat Wave. After the VII Generation it can also prevent double target status attacks like Dark Void. This last effect helps us to introduce a similar movement like Crafty Shield. It was the only movement able to prevent double target status attacks during VGC16 making it incredible useful to be protected against Dark Void. It was a Klefki signature move but more commonly used by Smeargle as it can learn each and every move thanks to Sketch.

 

Finally, we are going to explain how a movement included on the last generation works. Spotlight makes the target of the movement to be the centre of attention so all the attacks will be redirected to it. This move has been mainly used by Clefairy in VGC18 to redirect the attacks to the ally in order to keep it safe from super effective attacks. This allows Clefairy and its Friend Guard ability to be more time in the battlefield.

Vastaguardia_ROZA

Positive simple priorities (+2, +1)

We are finishing with the positive values so let’s discuss now about the +2 value. Here we can find redirection attacks like Follow Me and Rage Powder that will attract to the user all the single target attacks below their priority value (or same value if the user is faster). However, you have to take into account that Rage Powder does not redirect attacks from Pokémon with the Overcoat ability, which belong to the Grass-type or that hold the Safety Goggles item. Finally we find another non-damaging move like Ally Switch which is well-known on the VGC format due to its possibility to generate mind games switching the position with the other Pokémon on the field.

 

On the other side, we have some damage moves like First Impression (Golisopod’s signature move, similar to Fake Out but with higher base power and without flinching possibilities), Extreme Speed and Feint. You can find a more detailed analysis for this last move here.

 

Finally, with a +1 value, we have a mix of damage movements like the classic Quick Attack, Ice Shard or Aqua Jet; as well as other non-damage moves like Baby-Doll Eyes.

Neutral and negative simple priorities (0, -1, -3)

The rest of movements that do not appear on the table have a neutral value (0). After this value, we finally have the negative range. The -1 value is the first on this list and it only consists on the Fighting-type attack Vital Throw. This move never fails (except if the opponent is using Dig, Bounce, Fly…) and it ignores the changes on the accuracy/evasiveness.

 

We are going to finish this part of the article talking about the -3 value (there are no moves with a value of -2). Here we can find the damage actions of Beak Blast, Focus Punch and Shell Trap which have been already mentioned on the +6 value where the first stage of the each movement takes place. If after this period the conditions have been met, the attack will hit the target during that turn with the -3 priority value.

Who laughs last, laughs best (-4, -5)

Let’s continue with the -4 value. Now we are going to talk about two movements whose function is similar: Avalanche and Revenge. Both moves duplicate the inflicted damage if the user has been hurt during that turn. Although these attacks are not very common, they can be used by bulky attackers as they need to tank a hit in order to attack. The first one is an Ice-type and a common user on single battles could be Avalugg who has an absurdly high Defense stat. On the other side, Machamp could be one of the most recommended users for the Fighting-type move Revenge.

 

On the -5 value, there are only two moves with a similar effect and that could be quite interesting if the prediction level of the player is optimal. Counter and Mirror Coat have the effect of reducing the target HP with the double amount of HP lost by the user during that turn. Mirror Coat will only work if the user has been hurt by a Special move while Counter will be triggered if it has been hit by a Physical move. You need to take into account that the damage is not based on percentages but on HP figures. Due to this, Chansey is a good Pokémon to use Counter. It has a poor Defense stat and a huge amount of HP so when receiving any physical hit, its HP will be harshly reduced although it may imply only a little percentage of the HP bar.

 

For example, let’s say that Chansey at level 50 is hit by Earthquake. It loses 150 HP but this represents only a 40% of its max HP. If it uses Counter on that turn, it will inflict the incredible damage of 300 HP what can mean a OHKO at that level. On the other hand, Suicune and Milotic are the most common users of Mirror Coat.

The most negative priorities (-6, -7)

In the last two values of this table (-6 and -7) several movements are included. First, with a -6 value, the moves that force the target to switch with another Pokémon from the Trainer’s party like Roar, Whirlwind, Circle Throw and Dragon Tail. The first two moves do not inflict any damage to the target while the others do it. This means that Dragon Tail is not able to force a Fairy-type to switch due to its immunity to the Dragon-type. On the other hand, the same happens with Circle Throw as it can’t hit Ghost-type Pokémon (unless they have the Scrappy ability). These movements are quite useful if we want to neutralize some stat boost as the ones that we have already seen for Xerneas or Azumarill.

 

Furthermore, these attacks are combined with Stealth Rock, Spikes or Toxic Spikes on single battles because they have an effect on the field and harm the Pokémon that switches in. It’s also important to mention that as these movements have a -6 value, they can be used before Trick Room which has a -7 priority preventing this movement to take place. 

 

Finally, as we have just mentioned above, Trick Room is the last movement on the priority scale. It is a -7 priority move that inverts the speed of the Pokémon in the field for 5 turns. This means that the slowest Pokémon will attack first during the interval of 4 real turns.

Let’s see a practical example, M-Salamence (speed: 189) under normal circumstances would be faster than Cresselia (speed: 81). However, under Trick Room this is reverted. This is applied to all Pokémon in field during the 4 turns in which it is effective, no matter if the Pokémon enter or leave it.

 

Cresselia is one of the most common users of Trick Room but other creatures like Gothitelle, Mimikyu or Bronzong may also do this function as well as other specific and unique strategies. Trick Room is quite useful to transform slow and defensive Pokémon into fast tanks during 5 turns. In absence of this movement, most of these creatures would not have any utility or at least it would be an enormous handicap.

 

You need to take into account that Trick Room only affects the Speed stat and it doesn’t modify the Priority Table. Due to this, the aforementioned movements would continue ignoring the users speed (unless both Pokémon use a movement inside of the same priority bracket. Under that situation, speed is taken into consideration as in the interaction between Quick Guard and Fake Out mentioned before).

Abilities that affect priority - From Pranksters to Queens

Aside the movements that we have already seen, we have to talk about different abilities that may have an effect on the priority movements. Here we can differentiate two types depending on the effect: positive or negative.

 

On the one hand, we have some abilities that make movements to get increased priority. This is the case of Prankster, Gale Wings and Triage.

Prankster will increase one level the priority of the status movements (Non-damage) used and the most common users are Sableye, Liepard or Thundurus. It’s important to say that not only neutral attacks get priority, the priority of any move will be increased one level no matter if they have negative or positive priority. You will need to bear in mind that after VII Generation Dark-type Pokémon are immune to moves boosted by Prankster.

 

Also on the positive side, we have to mention Gale Wings which is the signature ability of Talonflame and its evolutionary line.  This ability increases the priority of Flying-type moves by one when the user has full HP. It may allow you to set Tailwind or hit the foe with a +1 Brave Bird Z-Move on the first turn of the battle.

 

We are going to finish with the positive abilities talking about the most recent one: Triage. It’s Comfey’s signature ability and it adds a +3 value to the moves that restore HP. This includes moves that can hurt the opponent like Giga Drain or status moves like Rest.

 

On the other hand, we are going to talk about the abilities that can block priority attacks. The most known is Tapu Lele’s Psychic Surge. This Pokémon sets a Psychic Terrain when enters the battle that boosts Psychic-type attacks and protect all Pokémon on the ground against priority attacks.

 

There are two abilities similar to the Psychic Terrain effect (without boosting Psychic attacks) which are Tsareena’s Queenly Majesty and Bruxish’s Dazzling.

It’s important then to take into consideration two mechanics:


Psychic Terrain will also protect the foes, so you can’t use priority moves neither. However, Queenly Majesty and Dazzling only protect the owner of the ability and the ally so you can hit the foes with priority attacks.
Psychic terrain only protects Pokémon that touch the ground so Pokémon that fly or levitate can be hit by priority attacks. This do not happen with the other two abilities as they protect the allies no matter if they touch the ground or not.

Conclusion

We hope all the details and difficulties of the complex and vast priority world had been solved. If that is not the case, you can always leave a comment to solve your queries.

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