The Beginner's Guide to Pokémon Showdown

Discuss anything related to Pokémon Showdown!

Postby ShellShocker » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:00 pm


This version of the Beginner's Guide to Pokemon Showdown is currently outdated. You can find a much more recent copy by clicking here.


Old Version:

If you're in this thread, chances are you're new to the Pokémon Showdown simulator and perhaps competitive battling in Pokémon as a whole. If so, welcome to the community; we're glad to have you here. The aim of this guide is to introduce new users to the way in which Pokémon Showdown works and the scope of this guide is to increase knowledge of how the website operates as well as integrating new members into the community. In order to do so, the guide will be cut down into four main sections: The Basics, Settings, Teambuilder / Battling and the Community.

  • The Basics
Pokémon Showdown is a website created by Zarel which is designed to simulate the conditions WiFi Pokémon cartridge games in a more stable environment which creates an easier and more fast environment to be involved in the competitive setting. There are four main areas of the website and each have their own use. When you first hop onto the website perhaps the first thing you will notice is the the main menu section. This can then be divided into different sections of the site in which you can take links to each of the chat rooms (particularly the Lobby), the look for a battle button and the teambuilder. Other parts of Showdown can also be navigated to from here, such as the Ladder and Credits. All of these navigation buttons are held on the left and right hand side of the page. For reference, below is an image of the main lobby section.


On the right side is the chat in which members can discuss pretty much anything. The most well known and largely used chatroom is the Lobby. It is best to check out the rules before you jump straight into it. One will also notice a massive userbar on the left of the chat in a hierarchical and then alphabetical order. At the top of the list are all of the Pokémon Showdown staff who help moderate the chat and the battles. Below is a listing of each Rank with its name and function. Take note that while ranked users in the lobby have all of these powers, it can differ in private or public chatrooms apart from the Lobby.

Staff FAQ wrote:
Drivers (%) can:

Use informational commands such as !rules, !data, and !avatars.
Mute users.
Talk in moderated chat.
Make announcements in a contrasting font.
Check users' alternate accounts

Moderators (@) can:

Do all of the above.
Ban and kick users.
Set moderated chat up to +.
Check logs of past moderator actions.

Leaders (&) can:

Do all of the above.
Force ties and wins in battles.
Promote users up to @.
Set moderated chat to any level.
Make unsigned declarations.

Administrators (~) can:

Do all of the above.
Access the debug console, allowing them to fix bugs, implement new features, and alter the server from Pokemon Showdown.
Promote users up to ~.

Pokémon Showdown Staff FAQ

The other group you may see are Voices. Voices, otherwise referred to as Voiced users, can be identified from their + symbol in the chat and users may be voiced for two reasons. Primarily, voices can be given the symbol if they complete a Voice Challenge; these challenges require a user to reach a certain ranking in a tier. It must be noted that voice challenges are currently not running. The other method of obtaining voice is to be a good user and influence in chat by helping other users and evoking intelligent discussion. Generally users will become voices before they are promoted to the above ranks which allow greater powers. Users with Voice can use commands with an exclamation point (!) to broadcast the information to the entire chat.

Even though one one needs to be voiced to declare commands, one may use commands with a slash (/) to show data to only oneself. In the Lobby chat there are also a number of commands you can use. Below is a list (the top ones are the most commonly used and useful):

Useful commands:
/msg OR /whisper OR /w [username], [message] - Send a private message.
/rating - Get your own rating.
/rating [username] - Get user's rating on all of the ladders they have battled in.
/learn [pokemon], [move, move, ...] - Displays how a Pokemon can learn the given moves, if it can at all.
/calc - Provides a link to a damage calculator
/dexsearch [type], [move], [move],...
Search categories are: type, tier, color, moves, ability, gen.
Valid colors are: green, red, blue, white, brown, yellow, purple, pink, gray and black.
Valid tiers are: Uber/OU/BL/UU/BL2/RU/NU/NFE/LC/CAP/Illegal.
Types must be followed by " type", e.g., "dragon type".
/data [pokemon/item/move/ability] - Get details on this pokemon/item/move/ability.
/nick [new username] - Change your username.
/challenge [username] - opens up the option to send a battle challenge to another online user
/blockpm - Blocks other users from PMing you. Cannot block messages from staff.
/unblockpm - Unblocks other users from PMing you.

There are also a lot of miscellaneous commands which can be used. Variations of the below that perform the same action also exist.

Other/Misc. commands:
/reply OR /r [message] - Send a private message to the last person you received a message from, or sent a message to.
/ip - Get your own IP address.
/ip [username] - Get a user's IP address. Requires: @ & ~
/avatar [new avatar number] - Change your trainer sprite.
/whois [username] - Get details on a username: group, and rooms.
/ignore [username] - negates messages from and ignores another online user.
/effectiveness [type1], [type2] - Provides the effectiveness of a [type1] attack to a [type2] Pokémon.
/user [username] - opens up a small tab which gives you the option to challenge, PM and check the rooms / rank of another online user
/analysis [pokemon], [generation] - Links to the Smogon University analysis for this Pokemon in the given generation.
/smogdex [pokemon], [generation] - Same as above.
/groups - Explains what the + % @ & ~ next to people's names mean.
/opensource - Links to PS's source code repository.
/avatars - Explains how to change avatars.
/intro - Provides an introduction to competitive pokemon.
/cap - Provides an introduction to the Create-A-Pokemon project.~
/om - Provides links to information on the Other Metagames.
/weakness [pokemon/type] - Returns the type weaknesses for a specific Pokemon or type.
/away - Blocks challenges so no one can challenge you. -- | Deactivate it with /back.
/back - Unlocks challenges so you can be challenged again.
/faq [theme] - Provides a link to the FAQ. Add deviation, doubles, randomcap, restart, or staff for a link to these questions. Add all for all of them.
/clear - Clears the chat that you're currently in of all text
/restarthelp - Gives information regarding server restarts
/om month - Links to explanation of the Other Metagame of the month

Set up highlights:
If you've spent any time in the lobby you notice users refer to a concept of 'highlights'. Essentially highlights are words that trigger a message to appear at the corner of your screen, akin to private messages. You may choose to highlight on specific words such as your name so that you know when people are directing discussion, questions or answers towards you specifically. Below is a list of the commands you can use to set up your highlights.

/highlight add, word - add a new word to the highlight list.
/highlight list - list all words that currently highlight you.
/highlight delete, word - delete a word from the highlight list.
/highlight delete - clear the highlight list

Set your timestamps preference:
Timestamps are tags added at the beginning of text which show when a message was delivered. Bolded below is an example of a timestamp:
Example wrote:[20:42:17] ShellShocker: Hello world

The '[20:42:17]' tells you that the message was delivered at 8:42pm. Timestamps can be used for both lobby discussion, private messages or both. You may limit timestamps to display in different formats as well. For instance, if you only want to show the hour and time, editing this through the commands can be useful.

/timestamps [all|lobby|pms], [minutes|seconds|off]
all - change all timestamps preferences, lobby - change only lobby chat preferences, pms - change only PM preferences
off - set timestamps off, minutes - show timestamps of the form [hh:mm], seconds - show timestamps of the form [hh:mm:ss]
In addition to these, you can also use /forfeit or /join battle-battletier-roomnumber to join a room.

Room commands:
/rooms [username] - Show what rooms a user is in.
/roomauth - Shows the particular staff for a room in a pop-up
/roomhelp - Gives information on all commands that a staff member in a room can use
/roomban username - bans user from the room
/roomunban username - unbans user from the room
/roomvoice username - appoint a room voice & /roomdevoice username - remove a room voice

  • Settings
Pokémon Showdown also allows users to customize their settings to their own preference. In order to change those settings, a person should navigate their cursor to the top right of the main menu and hit on the Cog button to open up the settings menu. Below is an example of what this looks like.


In this settings menu you can change multiple options. As of yet, one can change their avatar (the image you show in battle), change their background, disable animations and other miscellaneous options such as Chat Preferences. Most of these changes are purely aesthetic and there might be more customization available in the future. Other options or chat commands can also be found using the /help command. To give you an idea of what else you can do, you can also choose to block challenges (type /blockchallenges into chat) or message other users by typing /msg [username], message. If you wish to turn the lobby chat off, simply type /lobbychat off into the main chat or close the tab at the top.

  • Teambuilder & Battling
This section will cover the two main aspects of battling: the team
builder menu and joining / playing a battle on the simulator. Some tiers on the simulator will not require you to create a team and let you jump straight into battle. An example of this is the very popular 'Random Battle' mode, or, as it is commonly referred to, 'Randbats' for short. Other tiers and gamemode, such as OU, Ubers, RU and NU will require the user to create a team that coincides for the rules of that tier. If you'd like a listing of what you can and can't use for each tier, click here. In order to create a team, click on the 'Teambuilder' button in the main menu. The images below shall show you where to find this and what the teambuilder looks like.



(1) Add a new team (2) If you accidentally delete a team you can undo the delete (3) Gives more information (4) Edit the team (5) Delete the team (can be undone)


(1) Select the format for your team (2) Click on a section of a Pokemon for more information or to edit it more in-depth (3) Move a Pokemon's slot (4) Delete the Pokemon's slot


(1) Use a suggested EV spread after inputting moves (2) Shows base stats of a Pokemon before EVs/nature (3) Select a nature (4) Shows total stat after all calculations (5) Input a specific amount of EVs (scroller may also be used)

In the teambuilder you can create a new team from scratch or import a text version of one from the Internet. When you go to create your team, you can click on the boxes and type in information for your Pokémon which lets you edit their held items, gender, happiness, level, EVs, movesets and everything related.

When you're finished with your team, you can jump out of the teambuilder with a saved team and then select the tier you wish to play in the main menu (left hand side). Select the team you wish to use from a drop down box if you have multiple teams and then hit 'Find a Battle' to be put into a queue for a battle of that tier. This segways us nicely into the next section of this part: Battling.

When you search for a battle and the team you're using is not rejected by the server, you'll be sent into a battle. From this point you'll either be thrown straight into a battle or into the Team Preview. Team Preview occurs in the majority of tiers in which you'll be given time to choose your leading Pokémon based on your opponent's team. After you've made your choice, the battle will begin almost identically to in the actual games themselves. Here's what
the team preview and selecting a move look like in game:

Thanks to TalkTakesTime for helping me out here.

The actual process of clicking buttons and switching out in battling is fairly straightforward, but if you're interested in learning more about the battling itself, you should consider signing up to the Smogon Mentorship Program or asking the friendly users of Chat. Feel free to create a forum thread if you have any concerns or just go straight in it and learn by experience.

  • Community
This final section is a deeper explanation of the community aspect of Pokémon Showdown as well as a more detailed explanation of how users are promoted through user ranks. First of all, the community of Pokémon Showdown is broken down into two sections: the Chat rooms and the Forum. If you're reading this, then congrats! You've already found the forum or have been linked to this thread. Chat rooms are divided into multiple rooms where the main room is the Lobby chat. The Lobby chat in the main menu is where a lot of discussion goes on regarding multiple topics. Sometimes users will be discussing aspects of competitive Pokémon or having a friendly discussion on other video games. The lobby chat is open for users to socialize with each other and ask questions pertaining to the simulator itself. Topics of discussion in this chat can also change rapidly, depending on what is brought up.

If you have any questions, it bring them up in the lobby chat and chances are you'll ideally be helped with a speedy answer. If not, try putting up a thread in the forum so that forum goers have a higher likelihood to respond to harder questions. Take note, though, that while asking in lobby chat is generally faster, you shouldn't spam up the Lobby with your question as it can be very disruptive.

So now you know how the Lobby chat works, let's take it back a notch and look and chat rooms as a whole. When you first join Showdown you may be sent into the lobby chat. If you click on the plus (+) button on the rooms tab, you'll be given the option to join alternate chat rooms. Below is a picture.
(note that I'm using a custom skin for the site so it may appear slightly differently to you)

Circled in red is the plus button which lets you open another chat. For the majority of users you will see something along the lines of this image with a section for official chat rooms (the main lobby chat) as well as a listing of unofficial chat rooms which are not directly affiliated with Smogon and have different staff to the Lobby chat. Previously the Tournaments chatroom was an official chat room. This has since been amended. The Tournament chat room, one can participate, advertise and host tournaments that take place using the simulator and this room is dedicated to supporting tournaments.

Regarding unofficial chat rooms, may discuss other metagames, other internet sites, Pokemon leagues and everything in between. Each unofficial chat room is generally also accompanied with a separate staff list. While Lobby staff have power in unofficial public rooms, only select users may have authority in private rooms.

One may use the Pokemon Showdown! section of the Smogon forums to give Room Suggestions. This subforum is available here and comes with its own set of rules. If you'd like to suggest that a specific type of room be added, ensure that you can back it up with some good reasoning. Listed below are instructions on how to suggest a room.
Hugendugen wrote:As I'm sure you're all aware, we now have rooms on Pokemon Showdown. These are split into three different categories: Official, Public and Private. An Official Room, such as the Lobby, is featured at the top of the room list and is moderated only by Pokemon Showdown staff. Public Rooms appear on the room list, in order of activity, and are moderated both by Pokemon Showdown staff and their own mods, appointed by the room owners. While they may also have their own set of rules, the standard Showdown rules still apply here. Finally, Private Rooms are not listed anywhere and can only be joined with the /join <roomname> command. They have their own authority and their own set of rules, though of course the users must still respect the rules of other rooms that they visit.

These rooms can only be created by PS Admins, so the Room Suggestions subforum will give you the opportunity to suggest a room that you think would make Showdown a better or more fun environment. Before posting, keep in mind that each room will slow the server slightly, so we are only accepting ones that we think are necessary and that we suspect will be active. Note that we'll only make language rooms if there's a current member of staff willing to help run it. Also make sure to check that a similar room doesn't already exist. These submissions can only be viewed by the person who creates the thread and the Pokemon Showdown staff, so don't be shy.

When suggesting a room, please use the following format:

Room name:
Which type of room: (Official/Public/Private)
Suspected number of users:
Why you think the room should be made/what it would add to the server:

And that's it, feel free to make your suggestions!

We've already briefly gone over the user ranks, but now let's look at them in more detail in case you're still wondering how it works or if you are still curious.


Above all else, the major role of the majority of the groups is to enforce the rules of Pokémon Showdown. Voiced users aren't actually staff of the site, but will sometimes respond to questions that users have, depending on how they were voiced. Drivers enforce the rules of Pokémon Showdown with some powers that are restricted and these powers rise as users become Moderators, Leaders and then Administrators (if at all).

According to the Staff FAQ, below is a list of ways one can be promoted. Take note that just because you fulfill these requirements doesn't mean you will instantly become ranked and that these requirements exist to set a standard and help users
understand what they can do to contribute to the site. Following these dot points will not ensure that you're added to staff. Rather they are guidelines which can help you understand how you can become auth.

    - Be on Pokemon Showdown regularly and contribute regularly to the chat. Being a staff member requires both a high level of activity and quality. Being on the chat regularly gives a good indication of your intelligence and will ensure, with good behaviour, that you earn respect from other users.

    - Do not flame, be argumentative, or be a poor user in general. You obviously won't be given any power if you insult
    other users, break rules, or otherwise make more work for the staff. As well as the above, sycophancy is not beneficial, and will not aid your cause.

    - Know what you're talking about when answering questions or having discussions. Although you don't need to be a great battler by any means to be a staff member, it does help if you know the metagame, so as to make it easier for you to help others.

    - Show that you are mature and level-headed enough to have the privilege of power, and the responsibilities that come with it.

    - Moderators have the power of banning users for long periods of time, and to earn this power, you must show that you are level-headed enough to only use this and other Moderator powers when absolutely required.

    - Most importantly, gain the respect of the users and staff members. You will only be considered for a staff position when you have the respect of all of the Pokémon Showdown staff and users.

Remember not to break the rules or beg / ask other ranked users for a rank. If you work hard at it, you might have a chance to be able to help enforce the rules of Showdown and keep the community to be free of harm from malicious users.

  • Useful & Relevant Links
Pokémon ShowdownSmogon's official competitive simulator & the basis of this guide. Smogon is a Pokémon website and community specializing in the art of competitive battling. Pokémon Showdown uses Smogon's tiering system.
Honkalculator 4000The official damage calculator used for finding how how much damage Pokémon take from other specific Pokémon.
Everyday Guide to the PS Ladder's Basic MechanicsA guide to the Ladder system. Created by CoolStoryBrobat.

  • Conclusion
Whether you're entirely new or a veteran of Showdown!, hopefully there was something you could take away from this guide or use it as reference for new users. This short introduction to how Showdown works wasn't created in order to make you a pro battler, but rather help integrate new users into a somewhat intimidating and complicated system at first glance. If you have any more queries don't be afraid to bring them up in the Showdown chat or ask on the forums. Thank-you for showing an interest in reading and supporting the community. Good luck!
Last edited by ShellShocker on Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:52 am, edited 33 times in total.
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Postby TestingSubject » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:32 am

High quality guide, 10/10 gj shell :D
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Postby Slooowpoooke » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:56 am

Wow, this is an amazing guide! I'm sure this will help many new players!
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Postby Kingler12345 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:59 am

Great job, shellshocker.
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Postby Mrs. Sexy » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:30 am

Thanks so much. :mrgreen:
∞ Once A PRO , Always A PRO
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Postby Exclaimer » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:17 am

The only downside to Gardevoir is how much it's sexualized. It's absolutely frekkin disgusting.
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Postby ShellShocker » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:28 am

I updated it with a list of commands and fixed some spelling and word errors.
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Postby Argetbrisingr101 » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:10 am

/rank and /rank [username] also work to find peoples rankings, you could add those as alternatives like you did with the /msg
"When life gives you lemons, sell them and buy other people's lemonade." ~Argetbrisingr101
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Postby Goddess Briyella » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:59 am

Come hang out with us in the "Little Cup" room on PS!
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Postby TBFBri10 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:39 pm

Argetbrisingr101 wrote:/rank and /rank [username] also work to find peoples rankings, you could add those as alternatives like you did with the /msg

/ranking and /ranking [username] also work.
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Postby ShellShocker » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:46 am

/ladder [name] also works, but I don't feel it necessary to specify every variant when unnecessary.
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Postby PokeGyarados » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:51 am

Nice guide, pretty detailed :) 9.9999/10
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Postby wiitle » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:53 pm

Mad props to ShellShocker. Good job mate.
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Postby Seed » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:16 am

Yeah this is cool. Deserves the sticky
a game inspired by dubstep?

If Pokemon is any example, I can explode at will.
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Postby Hugendugen » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:46 am

This is seriously impressive.
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Postby ShellShocker » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:08 am

Thanks guys! If you notice any typos or have any suggestions feel free to PM me or post in the thread and I'll get back to you.
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Postby the last magikarp » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:20 am

/smogdex [pokemon/item/move/ability] is missing
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Postby ShellShocker » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:22 am

It does the same thing as /analysis but I added it. Cheers.
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Postby Doggiepawslm » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:07 pm

Why doesn't the drop-box for me to select a team I created show when I want to select it?
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Postby pokemonfanya » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:43 pm

it there friending can i chosse who to battlle
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Postby ShellShocker » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:46 pm

Currently a friend system is not implemented but I'm pretty sure it is on the to do list. If you'd like to challenge someone specifically at the moment you can use the /challenge [username] command or scroll down through the userlist and find them.
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Postby Sturdynips » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:35 am

Very comprehensive guide! Although now that the voice challenges are over it would be a good idea to remove the part about gaining voice through a challenge
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Postby Kingler12345 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:21 am

Yeah. I heard there was an LC challenge a while ago. I hope it comes again.
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Postby Level 51 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:46 am

This is a really cool guide and great job about that, but it might be a good idea to add something about the new room system - possibly detail the official rooms (lobby & tournaments)?
like fruit punch but with bullets instead of fruits
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Postby Doggiepawslm » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:05 pm

Can you add what each format abbreviation/name stands for, please?
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