F.E.A.R. is a widely-known strategy used in competitive battling, often used as a last resort. A Pokémon with the ability to have the moveset below is called a F.E.A.R. Pokémon. This Pokémon is capable of defeating a full-HP opponent at virtually any level (most notably L.100) while itself is only at Lv.1 or 2. The most common Pokémon used for this strategy is a Rattata. F.E.A.R. generally stands for:
Alternatively, it is known to stand for "F---ing Evil Annoying Rodent".
How to use F.E.A.R.
After one of your Pokémon faints, the F.E.A.R. Pokémon can be sent out against an opponent's Pokémon with (preferably) full HP (though other situations will work, albeit possibly not as well). During your first turn, have your F.E.A.R. Pokémon use Endeavor, and your opponent will most likely use an offensive attack to try to defeat your Pokémon (assuming, of course, that your opponent isn't aware of this strategy). Your Pokémon would indeed faint, if it were not holding the Focus Sash, which allows the user to hold on to 1 HP after a hit which would otherwise knock it out from max-HP. When your Pokémon uses Endeavor, the HP of the opponent's Pokémon will equal the HP of yours (which is now, assuming Focus Sash triggered, equal to 1). Have your F.E.A.R. Pokémon use Quick Attack the next turn to wipe out the rest of your opponent's Pokémon's HP. Obviously, this strategy works only once per battle, seeing as Focus Sash will not work twice.
While an impressive strategy, F.E.A.R. is very widespread, making it next to useless, as many teams are able to counter it and players are aware of how it works and how to stop it from working. The following are six ways to counter the F.E.A.R. strategy:
- Knowledge: The simplest strategy and perhaps the most effective. If your opponent knows the F.E.A.R. strategy, they won't attack as needed for it to work (a damaging move), or they will switch out for a Pokémon immune to it or easily able to counter it. Besides the other three counters listed here, a player could switch out after the opponent's F.E.A.R. uses Endeavor, leaving it with 1 HP and another Pokémon to sweep the F.E.A.R.
- Ghost-types: As Ghost-types are immune to Normal- and Fighting-type attacks, Endeavor and Quick Attack are useless against them.
- A Pokémon with Quick Attack, ExtremeSpeed, Sucker Punch, Ice Shard, or other automatic, first-hit effects: If your opponent attacks you before you can use Quick Attack, your Pokémon will not endure the hit, leaving your opponent with little HP, but leaving you with one Pokémon down.
- A Pokémon with a move that damages foes upon switching out (like Spikes or Stealth Rock) can cancel out the Focus Sash effect, thus causing the foe to be unable to withstand a one-hit KO. This only works if the F.E.A.R. Pokémon isn't released prior to that move.
- Moves, abilities, and statuses that deal damage every turn (like Sandstorm or Burn) can cancel out Focus Sash's effect. This can also work without using a turn if a Pokémon like Tyranitar, Hippowdon, or Abomasnow activate their abilities. (Note that F.E.A.R. Phanpy are immune to Sandstorm)
- Embargo prevents the foe from using any item, in this case Focus Sash.
- F.E.A.R.: Ironically, a way to combat a F.E.A.R. Pokémon is having it face another F.E.A.R. Pokémon (or some other low-level Pokémon). Having roughly the same HP, both F.E.A.R.s would do little damage towards each other. It isn't, however, practical or useful to carry a F.E.A.R. Pokémon just for the sake of combating another F.E.A.R., as both Pokémon are about evenly-matched.
The F.E.A.R. strategy can be used with the following Pokémon:
- Phanpy (with Ice Shard rather than Quick Attack)
- Smeargle (can Sketch any first-strike move and Endeavor)
The following Pokémon have possible moves necessary for the F.E.A.R. strategy, yet have no way of obtaining them at level 1.
- Hitmontop (minimum level of 20)
- Kangaskhan (with Sucker Punch; there is no possible way to breed Sucker Punch and Endeavor onto the same Kangaskhan; one must breed Endeavor onto it, then level it up for Sucker Punch)
You can see an example of this at the end of the battle shown here.