F.E.A.R. is a last-resort strategy used in competitive battling, 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.
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 Quick Attack 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.
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.
- A Pokémon with Quick Attack, Extreme Speed, Sucker Punch, Ice Shard, or other automatic, first-hit effects: 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.
- 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.
- If the F.E.A.R. Pokémon is holding a Shell Bell with the Ability Sturdy, moves which remove or negate items, such as Magic Room or Trick, can disrupt the strategy.
- 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.
|#||Name||Priority move||Notes||Lowest possible level|
|019||Rattata||Quick Attack, Sucker Punch||Pokémon most well-known to utilize this strategy.||1|
|025||Pikachu||Quick Attack, Feint*||Can only know Endeavor either when received as a Pichu from the 12th movie event or as a Pikachu from the Pikachu Cup event. 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*, and can hit through Protect.||21|
|115||Kangaskhan||Sucker Punch||Not countered by Ghost-type Pokémon if Ability is Scrappy.||1|
|151||Mew||Sucker Punch, Vacuum Wave||5|
|220||Swinub||Ice Shard||Not countered by Sandstorm or Hail.||1|
|222||Corsola||Sucker Punch||Not countered by Sandstorm.||1|
|231||Phanpy||Ice Shard||Not countered by Sandstorm.||1|
|232||Donphan||Ice Shard||Not countered by Sandstorm. If Ability is Sturdy, Focus Sash can be replaced with another item.*||25|
|235||Smeargle||Any priority move||Smeargle learns almost any move via Sketch, including Endeavor and all priority moves.||1|
|237||Hitmontop||Quick Attack, Vacuum Wave, Bullet Punch, Mach Punch, Sucker Punch, Feint*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect.*||20|
|276||Taillow||Quick Attack||Not countered by Ghost-type Pokémon if Ability is Scrappy.||1|
|304||Aron||Other/None||Give a Shell Bell, Sturdy and Sandstorm support, can be used multiple times.* Not countered by Sandstorm and poison.||1|
|335||Zangoose||Quick Attack, Feint*||Feint is not countered by +1 priority moves and can hit through Protect.* Not countered by poison if Ability is Immunity.||1|
|390||Chimchar||Vacuum Wave||Not countered by burn.||1|
|413||Wormadam||Sucker Punch||Not countered by Sandstorm or Hail if Ability is Overcoat.* Sandy and Trash Cloaks are not countered by Sandstorm. Trash Cloak is not countered by poison.||20|
|468||Togekiss||Extreme Speed||Extreme Speed is not countered by +1 priority moves*||2|
|546||Cottonee||Nature Power||Nature Power has +1 priority with Prankster, becomes Tri Attack in link battles.||1|
|550||Basculin||Aqua Jet||Not countered by Pokémon with Dry Skin, Storm Drain, or Water Absorb if Ability is Mold Breaker.||1|
|566||Archen||Quick Attack||Not countered by Sandstorm.||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.