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F.E.A.R. is a last-resort strategy used in competitive battling since Generation IV, normally usable only once per battle. A "F.E.A.R. Pokémon" is a Pokémon compatible with a certain moveset capable of defeating a full-HP opponent at virtually any level (most notably level 100) while it itself is only at level 1 or 2, the reason for this strategy's bragging rights.
F.E.A.R. generally stands for:
- Focus Sash
- (Quick) Attack
- Rattata (Rattata are not the only Pokémon that can use F.E.A.R; multiple Pokémon can fit this role.)
The original term, coined by strategists as humor, was "F***ing Evil Annoying Rodent".
The strategy (and original profanity-laden term) was originally conceived on GameFAQs' Pokémon Diamond Message Board in early 2007. That same year the strategy entered infamy when it was used in a recorded online battle between players "Untouchable" and "Marriland", the admin of the popular fan website of the same name.
How to use F.E.A.R.
After one of the player's Pokémon faints, the F.E.A.R. Pokémon can be sent out against an opponent's Pokémon with (preferably) full HP. During the first turn, the F.E.A.R. Pokémon will use Endeavor, and the opponent will most likely use an offensive attack to try to defeat the F.E.A.R. Pokémon (assuming, of course, that the opponent isn't aware of this strategy). The F.E.A.R. 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 the Pokémon uses Endeavor, the HP of the opponent's Pokémon will equal the HP of its own (which is now, assuming Focus Sash triggered, equal to 1). During the following turn, the F.E.A.R. Pokémon can use a priority move to wipe out the remaining 1 HP of the opponent's Pokémon. Focus Sash will not work twice, so a Pokémon can only use this strategy once.
From Generation V onward, the Ability Sturdy was altered to function like a Focus Sash, but can activate multiple times providing the Pokémon regains all of its HP. With this change came new notable users of F.E.A.R.; a level 2 Probopass can use Pain Split to wear down the opponent's HP whilst healing itself, while Aron can use a combination of Endeavor and a held Shell Bell for multiple uses of Endeavor. Generation V also introduced Solosis, a Pokémon able to combine Magic Guard and Endeavor, but also set up Trick Room for its allies. As of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, an Endeavor-tutored Togedemaru with Sturdy and a Shell Bell can perform F.E.A.R. in the same way as Aron before it, and can additionally learn Spiky Shield, allowing it to finish off weakened opponents that make contact.
While an impressive strategy, F.E.A.R. is simple to counter. The following are several ways to counter the F.E.A.R. strategy:
- Knowledge: The simplest strategy and perhaps the most effective. If the 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 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. However, if the F.E.A.R.-using player predicts correctly, this problem can be solved using Pursuit.
- Ghost Pokémon: As Ghost types are immune to Normal- and Fighting-type attacks, Endeavor and Quick Attack are useless against them.
- It should be noted however, that a F.E.A.R. Kangaskhan or Taillow* with Scrappy will still be able to use Endeavor against a Ghost-type Pokémon.
- A Pokémon with an increased priority attacks (with exception of Fake Out and First Impression): if the opponent uses an increased-priority move at the same time as the F.E.A.R. Pokémon does, the large difference in level will almost always result in the opponent's Pokémon landing the hit first, leaving the opponent with little HP, but leaving the F.E.A.R. player with one Pokémon down. However, from Generation V onward, Feint and Extreme Speed have +2 priority, and are not countered by +1 priority moves.
- If the foe acts last due to battling in Trick Room*, holding a Full Incense, using a decreased-priority move, or doing something similar, its attack will leave the F.E.A.R. Pokémon with approximately 12 hit points after the first turn and the F.E.A.R. Pokémon will only have 1 hit point, causing an easy sweep on the second turn.
- A move that damages foes upon switching in (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.
- Note that Doduo, Taillow, Starly, Togekiss, and Shaymin in its Sky Forme are immune to Spikes.
- Moves, status conditions, Abilities, and weather 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 or Abomasnow activates its Ability.
- Note that F.E.A.R. Phanpy, Aron, Corsola, Wormadam (Sandy and Trash Cloaks) and Swinub are immune to sandstorm (and the last one to hail as well.)
- Embargo and Magic Room prevent the foe from using any item, in this case Focus Sash and Shell Bell.
- Do note that, somewhat counter-intuitively, Knock Off will NOT serve to KO a F.E.A.R. Pokémon if it is at 100% HP unless Embargo is in effect. The F.E.A.R. Pokémon's Focus Sash will be knocked off after it has been successfully activated, and the Pokémon will still be able to use Endeavor to reduce the foe's HP.
- Black Sludge*, Leftovers, and a HP-restoring Berry return some HP to the user's Pokémon, and more than likely, more than the opposing F.E.A.R. can deal with its increased-priority move.
- 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.
- Shedinja and its Wonder Guard Ability will make Endeavor unable to hit.
- Note that Sucker Punch and Shadow Sneak can be used to KO Shedinja, but only after its probably existent Focus Sash has been activated or otherwise rendered useless.
- Multi-strike moves, such as Bullet Seed and Triple Kick, will continue hitting after the Focus Sash or Sturdy triggers, causing the strategy to fail.
- In Double and Triple Battles, having multiple Pokémon use moves that will hit the F.E.A.R. Pokémon will cause it to faint, since the Focus Sash will only activate for the first attack. However, Follow Me, Rage Powder, and Greninja's Mat Block can aid the F.E.A.R. Pokémon.
- Although Sturdy acts like a Focus Sash from Generation V onward, the Abilities Mold Breaker, Turboblaze and Teravolt ignore this effect, countering any attempt to use F.E.A.R. with Sturdy.
- As Endeavor makes contact, the F.E.A.R. Pokémon can be finished off when its opponent is carrying a Rocky Helmet or has the Ability Rough Skin or Iron Barbs.
- Pokémon with the Ability Queenly Majesty or Dazzling are unaffected by opposing F.E.A.R. Pokémon's priority moves.
- When Psychic Terrain is in the effect, Pokémon that are on the ground will not be affected by priority moves.
List of F.E.A.R. Pokémon
|#||Name||Gen||Priority move||Access of Endeavor||Notes||Lowest possible level|
|0019||Rattata||IV||Quick Attack, Sucker Punch||Level||Pokémon most well-known to utilize this strategy. Not countered by Shadow Sneak.||1|
|0025||Pikachu||IV||Quick Attack, Feint*||Event||Can only know Endeavor either when received as a Shiny Pichu event from Generation IV or as a PGL Pikachu from the Pikachu Cup Online Competition event in Generation VI. For the Pichu, it is shiny and obtained at level 30, then requires at least one level to evolve. For the Pikachu, it is not shiny and obtained at level 10. F.E.A.R. Pikachu are always in Cherish Balls. Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves (Generation V on), and can hit through Protect. Not countered by paralysis (Generation VI onwards).||31/10|
|0056||Mankey||IV||Vacuum Wave||Tutor*||Can only know Vacuum Wave via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver.||1|
|0062||Poliwrath||IV||Vacuum Wave||Tutor*||Can only know Vacuum Wave via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver. For the lowest level, it must be caught as Poliwhirl at Route 22 or Viridian City in HeartGold and SoulSilver. Not countered by Aqua Jet if Ability is Water Absorb.||10|
|0084||Doduo||IV||Quick Attack||Level||Not countered by Spikes, Toxic Spikes, or Shadow Sneak.||1|
|0115||Kangaskhan||IV||Sucker Punch||Breed||Not countered by Shadow Sneak. Not countered by Ghost-type Pokémon if Ability is Scrappy.||1|
|0128||Tauros (Paldean Form Aqua Breed)||IX||Aqua Jet||Breed||15|
|0151||Mew||IV||Sucker Punch, Vacuum Wave||Tutor*||Can only know Sucker Punch or Vacuum Wave via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver.||5|
|0220||Swinub||IV||Ice Shard||Tutor*||Not countered by Sandstorm or Hail.||1|
|0222||Corsola||IV||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Can only know Sucker Punch via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver. Not countered by Sandstorm.||1|
|0231||Phanpy||IV||Ice Shard||Breed||Not countered by Sandstorm.||1|
|0232||Donphan||IV||Ice Shard||Breed||Not countered by Sandstorm. If Ability is Sturdy, Focus Sash can be replaced with another item (Generation V on). Donphan normally needs to reach level 25 to evolve, but in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it is possible to use the White Flute and encounter a wild level 24 Donphan via DexNav from the Hoenn Safari Zone, possibly with a single random Egg move included (which can be Ice Shard).||2524|
|0235||Smeargle||IV||Any priority move||Sketch||Smeargle learns almost any move via Sketch, including Endeavor and all priority moves. Not countered by Shadow Sneak. Not countered by confusion if Ability is Own Tempo.||1|
|0237||Hitmontop||IV||Quick Attack, Vacuum Wave, Bullet Punch, Mach Punch, Sucker Punch, Feint*||Level||Can only know Sucker Punch via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver, prior to Pokémon Sword and Shield in Generation VIII, which can be learned by leveling up. Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect (Generation V on).||20|
|0276||Taillow||IV||Quick Attack||Level||Not countered by Spikes, Toxic Spikes, or Shadow Sneak. Not countered by Ghost-type Pokémon if Ability is Scrappy (Generation V on).||1|
|0335||Zangoose||IV||Quick Attack, Feint*||Tutor*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect (Generation V on). Not countered by Shadow Sneak. Not countered by poison if Ability is Immunity.||1|
|0390||Chimchar||IV||Vacuum Wave||Tutor*||Can only know Vacuum Wave via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver. Not countered by burn.||1|
|0391||Monferno||IV||Vacuum Wave, Mach Punch, Feint*||Tutor*||Can only know Vacuum Wave via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver. Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect, but increases lowest level to 26 prior to Generation VII. Not countered by burn.||14|
|0413||Wormadam||IV||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Can only know Sucker Punch via Move Tutor in Platinum or HeartGold and SoulSilver (Generation IV to VI). Not countered by Sandstorm or Hail if Ability is Overcoat (Generation VI on). Sandy and Trash Cloaks are not countered by Sandstorm. Trash Cloak is not countered by poison.||20|
|0427||Buneary||IV||Quick Attack||Tutor*||Not countered by Shadow Sneak. Not countered by paralysis if Ability is Limber (Generation V onwards).||1|
|0468||Togekiss||IV||Extreme Speed||Tutor*||Extreme Speed is not countered by +1 priority moves (Generation V on). Not countered by Spikes or Toxic Spikes. Prior to Generation VI, was not countered by Shadow Sneak||2|
|0492||Shaymin||IV||Quick Attack||Tutor*||Can only know Quick Attack as Shaymin Sky Forme at level 28. Level 30 Shaymin can be found at Flower Paradise in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum if the player has received Oak's Letter. Level 15 Shaymin is only available as Japanese or Korean event Shaymin in Generation VI. Sky Forme is not countered by Spikes or Toxic Spikes.||30*/28*/15*|
|0498||Tepig||VI||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Not countered by burn.||1|
|0546||Cottonee||VI||Nature Power||Level||Nature Power has +1 priority with Prankster, becomes Tri Attack in link battles. Countered by Dark-type Pokémon (Generation VII onward).||1|
|0550||Basculin||V||Aqua Jet||Level||Not countered by Pokémon with Dry Skin, Storm Drain, Water Absorb, Dazzling, or Queenly Majesty if Ability is Mold Breaker.||1|
|0556||Maractus||V||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Not countered by Aqua Jet if Ability is Water Absorb or Storm Drain.||1|
|0566||Archen||V||Quick Attack||Level||Not countered by Sandstorm, Spikes, or Toxic Spikes.||1|
|0580||Ducklett||VII||Aqua Jet||Tutor*||Not countered by Spikes or Toxic Spikes.||1|
|0652||Chesnaught||VI||Feint||Tutor*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect.||36|
|0659||Bunnelby||VI||Quick Attack||Tutor*||Not countered by Shadow Sneak.||1|
|0675||Pangoro||VII||Bullet Punch||Tutor*||Not countered by Dazzling or Queenly Majesty if Ability is Mold Breaker. Not countered by Ghost-type Pokémon if Ability is Scrappy. For lowest level, it must be caught at level 24 in SOS Battle due to Pancham's call in Route 10 in Pokémon Sun and Moon.||24|
|0676||Furfrou||VI||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Not countered by Shadow Sneak.||1|
|0701||Hawlucha||VII||Feint||Tutor*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect. Not countered by Spikes or Toxic Spikes. Not countered by Dazzling or Queenly Majesty if Ability is Mold Breaker. Not countered by paralysis if Ability is Limber.||1|
|0744||Rockruff||VII||Sucker Punch*||Breed*||Can only know Sucker Punch in Generation VII. Not countered by Sandstorm. Not countered by confusion if Ability is Own Tempo.||1|
|0745||Lycanroc||VII||Sucker Punch, Accelerock, Quick Attack*||Breed*||Not countered by Sandstorm. Can only know Sucker Punch in Generation VII as Midnight Form. Cannot know Accelerock and Quick Attack in Midnight Form.||25|
|0761||Bounsweet||VII||Feint||Breed*||Can only know Feint in Generation VII. Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect. Not countered by sleep if ability is Sweet Veil, or by any status if Ability is Leaf Guard and harsh sunlight is in effect.||1|
|0763||Tsareena||VII||Feint||Breed*||Can only know Feint in Generation VII. Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect. Not countered by sleep if ability is Sweet Veil, or by any status if Ability is Leaf Guard and harsh sunlight is in effect. Not countered by any priority move if Ability is Queenly Majesty.||19|
|0766||Passimian||VII||Feint, Quick Attack||Tutor*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect.||1|
|0775||Komala||VII||Sucker Punch||Tutor*||Not countered by Shadow Sneak. Not countered by any status condition due to the Ability Comatose.||1|
|0777||Togedemaru||VII||Spiky Shield||Tutor*||Not countered by Sandstorm, poison, or paralysis. With the Sturdy ability, Focus Sash can be replaced with another item such as Shell Bell. Spiky Shield will only deal damage if the opponent attempts to use a contact move, but deals a set percentage of the opponent's health if successful, which will generally finish them off after Endeavor even if they've gained a small amount of health in the mean time, such as from Leftovers.||1|
|0802||Marshadow||VII||Feint, Shadow Sneak, Sucker Punch||Level||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect. Not countered by Quick Attack, Mach Punch, Vacuum Wave, Feint, or Extreme Speed.||50|
|0807||Zeraora||VII||Quick Attack||Tutor*||Can only know Endeavor via Move Tutor in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Not countered by paralysis.||50|
|0940||Wattrel||IX||Quick Attack||Breeding||Not countered by paralysis, Spikes, or Toxic Spikes.||1|
Catching Pokémon with F.E.A.R.
By using F.E.A.R. while skipping the priority move, players can lower a target Pokémon's HP to 1, similar to using False Swipe, and more easily catch it than by battling it normally. After the wild Pokémon's HP has been lowered to 1, the player may freely begin throwing Poké Balls and have a high chance of successfully capturing the Pokémon. A Cottonee may also inflict a priority paralysis (with Prankster) to further increase the catch rate.
- In Pokémon Sword and Shield, Black Belt Brian in Hammerlocke has a level 2 Cottonee that uses a F.E.A.R. moveset and holds a Focus Sash. Defeating Brian gives the player a Focus Sash as a reward.
- While Golisopod is able to learn both Endeavor and Sucker Punch, it is incapable of using F.E.A.R. due to its Ability, Emergency Exit.
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