Published on August 22nd, 2012 | by honchkro130
Five Finger Discount: A Guide to Snatch
Snatch. Perhaps the most underused move in doubles. Most experienced players don’t even fully understand how Snatch works. Normally, when players think of Snatch, they only think about stealing moves such as Tailwind and Safeguard from the opponent. However, Snatch can steal moves from your ally Pokémon too. Stealing moves from your ally is far more easily controlled than stealing from an enemy Pokémon. But that sounds strange, doesn’t it? Why would you ever want to steal moves from your own ally?
Here’s why: applying Snatch in this way allows for a whole host of interesting strategies in doubles, allowing certain Pokémon to use moves they ordinarily wouldn’t dream of. For example, the standard Rindo Berry Rotom-W can Snatch Tail Glow from Volbeat to gain so much power in a single turn turn that even the standard Ferrothorn, one of Rotom-W’s premier counters, is easily OHKO’d by Hidden Power Fire 6.25% of the time in the Rain (100% when not raining). This same Rotom-W becomes twice as powerful as max Sp. Attack Chandelure! This is just one of the many interesting applications of Snatch in Doubles. It is somewhat difficult to use, but in the hands of a skilled player Snatch can be a powerful asset.
How it works
- Snatch has an increased priority of +4. This means if the user is hit by Fake Out (+3 priority), Snatch still works!
- When another Pokémon (ally or not) on the field uses a stat-boosting or healing move (i.e. Tailwind, Quiver Dance, Recover), the Snatch user uses the move instead. This means you can steal such moves from your opponent for your own purposes, though predicting when your opponent will use these moves is very difficult. In this respect, Snatch has a very limited application. However…
- Snatch can steal moves from your ally Pokémon as well. This is the focus of this article. Using your ally’s moves is far more easily controlled and, thus, a more competitively viable usage of Snatch.
- Because Snatch steals the first stat-boosting/healing move used, Pokémon with the Prankster ability are wonderful partners for Snatch users. Since Snatch has a priority of +4, and a Prankster boosted move receives a priority of +1, you can set up before the opponent can even move!
Notable Stat-Boosting Moves Affected by Snatch
- Calm Mind
- Cotton Guard
- Cosmic Power
- Dragon Dance
- Nasty Plot
- Quiver Dance
- Shell Smash
- Swords Dance
- Tail Glow
While any stat-boosting move from Withdraw to Howl can be picked up by Snatch, these are the most notable, offering multiple boosts at a time or significant boosts to a single stat. These stat boosting moves allow one Pokémon to either become monstrously difficult to KO or become a ruthless killing machine. The choice is up to you!
Notable Healing Moves Affected by Snatch
- Heal Bell
- Slack Off
The other major category of Snatch moves. These moves aren’t quite as competitively viable as the stat-boosting ones due to the fast-paced nature of the metagame, but if your Snatch user is quite bulky, the extra HP could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Alternatively, you can simply Snatch an HP recovery move that you predict your opponent may use after witnessing him/her use it once before in battle.
Other Moves Affected by Snatch
- Focus Energy
- Light Screen
- Lucky Chant
- Magnet Rise
- Power Trick
- Quick Guard
- Wide Guard
These are some other interesting moves that can be used passed along by Snatch. This is the category of move you’re most likely to attempt to steal from your opponent, in particular Light Screen, Reflect, Safeguard, and Tailwind are all common targets for Snatch. It’s interesting to note that both Wide Guard and Quick Guard can be stolen by Snatch, neutering opponents who rely on these attacks to block powerful spread and priority attacks. Note also that none of these moves are particularly beneficial to pass long from one of your Pokémon to the other. Light Screen, Reflect, Safeguard, and Tailwind will already effect your entire side of the field, and Substitute can be learned by any Pokémon that can use a TM. While Snatch can be useful to steal opponents’ Substitutes, especially with the rise of Substitute Heatran, these moves aren’t particularly useful for our purposes in this article.
Notable Snatch Users
- Rotom (any forme)
Now that we’ve taken a look at the types of moves that can be Snatched, let’s take a look at some of the prominent users of Snatch. With the exception of the Rotom formes, all of these Snatch abusers are quite slow, making them unlikely to be able to boost effectively under normal circumstances. However, combine any of these Pokémon with Snatch and a Prankster partner (more on that shortly) and they become priority boosting machines!
Rotom’s formes are the exception to this rule. Sitting at 86 Base Speed, they easily outspeed any of the other Snatch users, making them perfect recipients of more offensive options like Quiver Dance or Tail Glow while their natural bulk keeps them around long enough to deal damage.
While most Psychic-, Ghost-, Dark-, and Poison-types receive Snatch, not all of them make good abusers of Snatch. To abuse Snatch, the Pokémon should be bulky enough to take a hit while you spend a turn boosting and also not receive boosting abilities of its own — otherwise, why Snatch?
Prankster Pokémon deserve a special mention in this article since their ability raises the priority of Snatched moves to +1. As I’ve said before, this allows you to easily pass stat-boosting/healing moves to a partner Pokémon before your opponent can even attack! Each Prankster often has a unique set of Snatch-compatible moves that can be tailored to what you want to do. For example, in my Snatchlax combination (more on that later!), I took a defensive approach with Snorlax. Whimsicott suited my team perfectly since it had access to a Prankster-boosted Cotton Guard. Here are some notable Pranksters and the healing/boosting moves they can carry:
Tornadus & Thundurus
Nasty Plot (Thundurus only)
Of course, you don’t have to use a Prankster Pokémon to power your Pokémon up — moves like Dragon Dance and Shell Smash are only available on non-Prankster Pokémon anyhow. However, using a Prankster ensures a higher chance of successful setup. Without it, you will have to be especially careful that your boost-passing Pokémon does not get KO’d in setup.
Since the overwhelming majority of competitive players have little to no experience with Snatch, I will go over two Snatch combinations I have come up with, including EV spreads, synergy, how well they handle common metagame threats, etc., to give a better understanding of how exactly Snatch can be used competitively.
This is a Snatch combination I used in the 2012 Houston Regionals. As you might expect, it involves Snorlax using Snatch to boost to unprecedented levels alongside Whimsicott.
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 252 Attack/6 Defense/252 Sp. Defense
Item: Focus Sash
EVs: 200 HP/58 Sp. Defense/252 Speed
- Cotton Guard
- Giga Drain
I often led with Snorlax and Whimsicott in the Houston Regionals to great success. I would set up on Turn 1 by using Snatch with Snorlax and Cotton Guard with Whimsicott. Thanks to Snatch’s +4 priority and Cotton Guard’s +1 priority (courtesy of Prankster), Snorlax gains +3 Defense before the opponent can even move! Oh it was so amusing to see the look of sheer terror on my opponent’s face when they realized they couldn’t KO my Snorlax with their physical attackers… but I digress. Snorlax is famous for having wonderful HP, Attack and Sp. Defense stats, but its Achilles heel is its low physical Defense. Thanks to Snatch, Snorlax can patch up its weak physical Defense with unprecedented speed to become bulkier than Cresselia. Chople Berry, normally a staple on Snorlax, is rendered obsolete thanks to Snorlax’s now titanic Defense. Therefore Leftovers was chosen to give Snorlax slow, passive recovery that it could abuse with Protect and Cotton Guard — a much better choice than Sitrus Berry considering that Snorlax was often either the last Pokémon standing or the last one on my team to go down.
The given nature and EV spread for Snorlax is very simple yet very effective. A Brave nature allows Snorlax to “outslow” many Pokémon under Trick Room. 252 Attack EVs give Snorlax max Attack while 252 Sp. Defense EVs allow him to sponge many special attacks and round out his defensive stats. I only invested 6 Defense EVs because Cotton Guard multiplies Snorlax’s regular Defense by a whopping factor of 2.5, so I saw little purpose in further investing in its Defense. Since Snorlax already has a massive base 160 HP stat, I didn’t see any point in investing HP EVs there either.
As for Whimsicott, the nature and EV spread is rather simple as well. I wanted max Speed so that I could set up and outrun almost every Pokémon in the metagame with impunity to better support Snorlax. I gave Whimsicott 200 HP EVs so that it could stick around a little longer to continue supporting Snorlax with Giga Drain and Endeavor. The 58 Sp. Defense EVs gave Whimsicott a little extra extra special bulk so that it could endure weaker Ice type attacks.
This Snorlax in particular has walled and destroyed entire teams thanks to its boosted Defense and Leftovers. it simply refuses to die to any team that doesn’t carry the move Sacred Sword, which bypasses all Defense and Evasion boosts — I actually make a point to carry this move in every doubles team I create because of how dangerous Snatchlax (and other defensive versions of Snatch) is. To put Snorlax’s boosted Defense in perspective, thanks to Cotton Guard, Leftovers and Protect, even Jolly Focus Sash Terrakion can only 3HKO with Close Combat, allowing Whimsicott time to easily 2KO Terrakion with Giga Drain.
Note: I had Protect on both my Pokémon to not only avoid attacks, as is standard in doubles, but also to prevent Fake Out from disrupting my Snatch setup.
After setting up Snorlax, Whimsicott supports Snorlax by removing Rock- and Ground-types that often wall Snorlax with Giga Drain. Endeavor is used in conjunction with Focus Sash to take healthy opponents, especially Steel-types, down to 1 HP so that Snorlax or Whimsicott can finish them off later. However, both Snorlax and Whimsicott get walled by Steel types, so that’s why I often had a Fighting or Fire type sitting in the back of the party to come in for Whimsicott once it was inevitably KO’d.
As for Snorlax, Return is there for STAB and Crunch is there to make sure that both Snorlax and Whimsicott don’t get walled/KO’d by Chandelure. Crunch also provides valuable coverage against Psychic types such as Latios and Cresselia.
Snatchlax handled Rain teams relatively well (except for the occasional Ferrothorn) — even Haban Berry Kingdra can only do 43.4%-51.06% with a rain-boosted Hydro Pump, meaning that Snorlax is only 3HKO’d by Haban Berry Modest Kingdra in the Rain thanks to the 252 Sp. Defense EVs and Leftovers, while Snorlax deals 59.6%-70.2% back with Return to the same Kingdra, a clean 2HKO. Most rain attackers are specially based, so Snatching Cotton Guard is rather pointless, but with Snorlax’s specially defensive spread and Whimsicott’s Giga Drain, Snatchlax performs reasonably well against Rain teams. However, against Toxicroak, Cotton Guard support is necessary — after Snatch, the standard max Attack Toxicroak can only deal 29.36%-35.74% damage with Drain Punch. This means that Toxicroak can only 5HKO Snorlax thanks to Cotton Guard and Leftovers, while Snorlax can comfortably 2HKO back with STAB Return.
Speaking of Rain Pokémon, there’s one Pokémon in particular that Snorlax loves to battle: Gastrodon. Snorlax comfortably walls Gastrodon, yes, but more importantly, a few of them carry Recover, making them excellent targets to Snatch from. Normally, I deal enough damage to 2HKO Gastrodon to test if it will use Recover. If it does, I repeat the process with a partner Pokémon to bait it into using Recover again. In the same turn, I use Snatch with Snorlax to steal Gastrodon’s Recover. This way, not only do I (literally) rob Gastrodon of any chance of survival the following turn, but I also recover a hefty 50% of Snorlax’s HP in the process, making him even more difficult and annoying to take down. This is an example of one of the few times you can successfully use Snatch to steal moves from your opponent. I have rarely ever used Snatch this way, though. This goes to show how unreliable stealing moves from your opponent is compared to stealing them from your partner — I had to wait and see if the opponent would use a Snatch-compatible move before attempting to steal it.
Sun and Hail teams are similarly handled easily due to the fact that they are primarily specially based and both Fire and Ice attacks are further resisted thanks to Thick Fat, meaning that Snorlax can comfortably wall the vast majority of both types of teams. Whimsicott, unfortunately, does not like to face either type of team but its main job is to set up Snorlax with +3 Defense. After it does that, I just wait for it to be KO’d so that I can bring in a Fire- or Fighting-type (as I mentioned before) to help Snorlax take down the opposing weather team. Snatchlax actually welcomes Trick Room teams because then Snorlax can abuse its horrendous speed stat to the fullest. Not only that but Snorlax can Crunch away at the Ghost- and Psychic-types that Trick Room teams tend to bring.
Sand teams, however, are a nightmare for Snatchlax. Whimsicott loses its precious Focus Sash, meaning it can’t Endeavor, and Snorlax can’t abuse its Leftovers recovery. Common Pokémon that thrive in the sand, such as Tyranitar, Excadrill, Scizor and Ferrothorn wall both Snorlax and Whimsicott to oblivion. I can set up Cotton Guard no problem, but it does no good if I can’t attack back. Many Sand teams carry Pokémon with Intimidate, further reducing Snorlax’s effectiveness. Chief among them is Hitmontop, who not only has Intimidate to lower Snorlax’s Attack, but its Fighting Gem-boosted Close Combat still deals 51.06%-61.28% to my +3 Defense Snorlax–which is still only a 3HKO because Fighting Gem is, as you know, only used once. However, Snorlax can still 2HKO Hitmontop back (assuming Whimsicott or another partner doesn’t deal any damage for a reason such as using Protect). Most Intimidate users, however, don’t stay in on Snorlax. They simply switch in and out, cutting Snorlax’s Attack every time. Will-o-Wisp also causes problems by compromising Snorlax’s bulk and Attack. In short, Snorlax loses badly to Sand teams.
In summary, Snatch is a huge boon to a Pokémon like Snorlax, and this little addition to his movepool in the 5th generation makes him much more viable compared to other, more standard ways of using Snorlax in doubles. In a sense, Snatchlax is the doubles version of Curselax, a famous set in singles that’s very difficult to defeat without Fighting moves. Whereas Curselax slowly builds up Attack and Defense over time, Snatchlax seeks an instantaneous, massive Defense boost at the cost of not being able to boost Attack, made possible by Snatch!
Alternatively, Blissey can be used instead of Snorlax in the Snatchlax combo above with the following set:
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 HP/252 Defense/6 Sp. Defense
Pass Cotton Guard to Blissey with Whimsicott in exactly the same way as Snatchlax. While this set lacks a little offensive power, it makes up for it by having reliable recovery, BoltBeam coverage w, and a complete disregard for Burn or Intimidate.
The given nature, EV spread and +3 Defense from Cotton Guard actually allow Blissey to tank the standard Fighting Gem Hitmontop’s Close Combat all day with Softboiled, since the first Fighting Gem boosted Close Combat does 53.87%-63.81% (anticipating this obvious move, you should use Softboiled if you’ve already boosted your Defense to recover the lost HP). All subsequent Close Combats only do 36.46%-43.09%. While Blissey alternates between healing up, boosting Defense, and attacking, Blissey’s partner (Whimsicott or another teammate) can easily KO Hitmontop (or almost any other Fighting-type for that matter) thanks to Close Combat’s defense drops.
If you want to be especially mean, you can swap either Thunderbolt or Ice Beam for Minimize to be virtually undefeatable as long as your opponent doesn’t run Sacred Sword, Haze, etc., but be very wary of the fact that VGC battles have a time limit. In light of this, it’s better to not to sacrifice a coverage move.
For another example of a Snatch combination, let’s take a look at a Snatch Rotom-W used alongside a Quiver Dance Volcarona:
Item: Sitrus Berry
EVs: 164 HP/212 Defense/40 Sp. Attack/92 Speed
- Hydro Pump
Ability: Flame Body
Item: Focus Sash
EVs: 124 HP/252 Sp. Attack/132 Speed
This time, Rotom-W Snatches Quiver Dance from Volcarona to become a potent Special sweeper. Rotom’s EVs are especially bulky to ensure a successful setup — this physically defensive spread, for example, is only 2HKO’d by a Fighting Gem boosted Close Combat from the standard Hitmontop. It should be noted that with Quiver Dance boosting Rotom-W’s Sp. Defense stat, there is relatively little need to invest EVs into that stat. The 92 Speed EVs allow Rotom-W to outspeed and OHKO max Speed Terrakion with Hydro Pump after a single Quiver Dance — with a Modest nature and 40 Sp. Attack EVs, Rotom-W can even 2HKO Garchomp with Hydro Pump (whether it’s boosted by Quiver Dance or not) to protect Volcarona from Garchomp. In return, Garchomp can only 4HKO Rotom-W with Dragon Claw thanks to the physically defensive spread and Sitrus Berry, and the inevitable Rock Slide aimed at Volcarona can only 6HKO Rotom-W. In other words, Rotom-W has a relatively easy time dispatching Garchomp for Volcarona. The Modest nature and 40 Sp. Attack EVs also make it so that after a Quiver Dance, Rotom-W’s Sp. Attack stat is less than 2 points below that of max Sp. Attack Chandelure.
Volcarona’s spread is similar to that of the standard Zapdos, with 16 HP EVs shifted from HP to Speed to allow Volcarona to outrun the vast majority of standard Zapdos. There’s little point in investing 252 Speed EVs since Volcarona wouldn’t outrun anything else of significance.
Rotom-W and Volcarona synergize very well together to begin with — Rotom-W destroys Rock- and Ground-types, as well as Pokémon such as Gyarados, Heatran and Chandelure, that trouble Volcarona while Volcarona in turn KO’s Grass-types and Latios with Bug Buzz to cover for Rotom-W. Whereas Snatchlax focused on tanking many attacks, this Snatch setup seeks to overwhelm the opposition with a special sweeping Rotom-W.
This Snatch setup works well in that you don’t absolutely need to use Snatch to set up Rotom-W due to its amazing offensive and defensive synergy with Volcarona. Snatch is merely an extra tool that can be used to dismantle the opposition when the time is right–i.e. after Latios is KO’d by Volcarona. Though it depends on the opposing team, chances are that after said Latios is KO’d by Volcarona, Rotom-W will have free rein to Snatch Quiver Dance and proceed to sweep the rest of the opponent’s team with Volcarona by its side. Rage Powder could be used on Volcarona instead of Protect to support Rotom-W even more, but this greatly compromises Volcarona’s longevity.
In this combination, Snatch provides more sweeping opportunities with Quiver Dance depending on the situation. For example, if the opponent is weaker against Volcarona, it would be better to set Volcarona up with Quiver Dance rather than having Rotom-W Snatch it away. A boosted Volcarona can then easily overwhelm the rest of the opponent’s team. Conversely, if the opponent is weaker against Rotom-W, simply Snatch Quiver Dance away from Volcarona and proceed to smash the opposing team.
This combination is also notable in that no Prankster Pokémon were involved. This just goes to show that you don’t need a Prankster in order for Snatch to be viable. Also, unlike my Snatchlax combination, it’s not stopped cold by Burn or Intimidate. Both Rotom-W and Volcarona are perfectly viable without each other, ensuring that the team isn’t too reliant on Snatch. This combination of offensive and defensive synergy also allows you to NOT run these two Pokémon as leads if you don’t want to, depending on what you see on Team Preview. However, as always, be very cautious when using Snatch to pass Quiver Dance to Rotom-W as you will not be able to attack for one full turn. That is why it’s recommended to use Snatch on a turn when you predict that one or both of the opposing Pokémon will use Protect.
Dragons and Gastrodon are some of the few Pokémon that are hit only for neutral damage by this combination. Latios and Gastrodon are heavily damaged or KO’d by Bug Buzz while Rotom-W can heavily dent most dragons with a boosted Hydro Pump or Thunderbolt. This combination can work under Hail, though Hail will rid Volcarona of its Focus Sash. It is advised not to use this combination under Sand, Rain, or Sun as Rain and Sand teams brutally massacre Volcarona while the Sun weakens Rotom-W’s STAB Hydro Pump and leaves it vulnerable to the Grass-type Chlorophyll Pokémon. It should be noted, though, that Rotom-W performs well on its own under Rain and Sand while Volcarona performs well in Sunlight, so using these two Pokémon separately with other teammates is recommended to defeat opposing weather teams. This combination can also hold its own under Trick Room due to Rotom-W’s and Volcarona’s combination of bulk, resistances and offensive typing (i.e. Volcarona using Bug Buzz against Cresselia, Rotom-W using Thunderbolt against Jellicent, etc.). However, it is recommended that you stay clear of boosting up with Snatch and Quiver Dance against Trick Room teams since boosting Speed is, well, the worst possible thing to do when facing a Trick Room team. This is another example of using Snatch with discretion.
“MothWash” vs. “SnatchLax”
I touched on this earlier, but the main difference between Snatchlax and the Rotom-W + Volcarona Snatch combination is that the former relies entirely on Snatch to be effective. The latter does not. Snatchlax also has another weakness — thanks to Snorlax’s +3 Defense, it’s harder to switch out to another Pokémon for a more favorable situation because you lose the massive Defense boost in the process. The Rotom-W + Volcarona Snatch combination, while nowhere near as bulky as Snatchlax, is much more flexible, granting multiple opportunities to sweep and making switching out for another Pokémon less costly. Not only that, but Rotom-W and Volcarona are not stopped by Intimidate or burns, both of which cripple Snatchlax.
In more general terms, versatility is the key to a Snatch combination’s success. Snatch is a move that should provide your team with extra options as opposed to limiting them. While having a nearly indestructible Snorlax is awesome and fun to use, using Whimsicott and Snorlax together gives no option other than setting up Cotton Guard, making it easier for you to be out-played when it comes to best 2 of 3 Top Cut matches. On the other hand, Rotom-W and Volcarona have the option to either attack directly, boost up and sweep, steal an opponent’s move or even switch out for a better matchup. Having so many options available allows you to confuse and outplay your opponent with greater ease.
Snatch is wonderful move all right. But building an effective team that is not too dependent on it is quite difficult–more on this later.
Snatch in Summary
- Snatch should mainly be used if trying to pass along stat boosts/healing moves that are otherwise unobtainable on the Snatch user.
- If using Snatch to buff a Pokémon’s Attack/Sp. Attack stat, it is recommended to invest all EVs in HP, Defense and Sp. Defense to ensure successful setup — there’s very little point in investing in the Attack/Sp. Attack stats if you are going to boost them anyways, unless you are aiming to KO a specific Pokémon (as is the case with Rotom-W and Garchomp above).
- Due to the existence of Swagger-based teams, it is recommended to use Snatch only for Speed/Sp. Attack/(Sp.) Defense boosting or recovery purposes, as Swagger + Persim/Lum Berry is a more efficient means of boosting Attack compared to Snatch.
- If two Pokémon use Snatch, the slower Pokémon will receive the Snatched move, since the slower user of Snatch Snatches the move away from the original Snatcher in the same turn.
- If using boosting moves, you can run one or two Pokémon with Psych Up to spread the boosts among your team.
Predicting and Countering Snatch
Snatch is very difficult to predict on Team Preview — there are many Pokémon with boosting moves and quite a number Snatchers available to abuse them. Even after reading this article, the only real way to anticipate a Snatch user is to first identify a possible Snatch user (i.e.Snorlax, Rotom-W, Blissey, etc.), then look for any Pranksters the opponent may have. Then send out the leads you think will best handle the opponent’s Snatch lead since Snatch is often used as a lead combination — the battle gets much tougher if you fail to stop your opponent from setting up. Of course, the Snatch user may anticipate this thought process and react accordingly, especially in best-of-3 Top Cut matches, but that’s just another mind game competitive players have to deal with anyhow. However, if your opponent doesn’t have a Prankster, then good luck anticipating Snatch!
However, here are a few moves that can give Snatch teams trouble:
- Taunt: This will not stop the Snatch user if used on the same turn as Snatch (due to Snatch’s higher priority), but you may be able to stop the Snatch user’s partner, though this isn’t a guarantee due to Prankster and Mental Herb.
- Fake Out: If the opposing Snatch combination doesn’t double Protect, you can double target the Snatch user’s partner for the KO.
- Haze: Removes any and all stat boosts.
- Roar/Whirlwind: Same as Haze, but also lets you stop Trick Room and lets you see who else is on the opponent’s team — not as effective against Snatch teams that also carry Psych Up and/or Evasion moves
- Telekinesis: Allows all moves (except OHKO moves like Sheer Cold) to hit the target regardless of evasion — very useful in stopping those pesky Minimizing Snatchers. It also allows you to either make a teammate immune to a predicted Earthquake or lets you destroy opponents with inaccurate moves such as Stone Edge and Hydro Pump without fear of missing.
- Sacred Sword: Exclusive to the Musketeer trio. Sure, it’s weaker than Close Combat, but Sacred Sword has more utility in that it cuts right through Defense and Evasion boosts. It’s an especially great move to use against boosted Snorlax or Blissey.
- Any critical hit move bypasses Defense boosts as well, but I wouldn’t rely on the 6.25% chance of that happening to defeat Snatch.
And if you can make it viable in doubles, Unaware Quagsire can help against Snatch teams, though special care must be taken to preserve it — Snatch teams will aim to eliminate it as quickly as possible. Whimsicott in particular can easily OHKO it with a STAB 4x super effective Giga Drain.
Drawbacks of Snatch
At the beginning of the article, I stated that using Snatch to steal moves from your partner was hard to use. Here’s a review why: when you use Snatch, you are giving your opponent a free turn to attack, since
1. You must use Snatch with one of your Pokémon
2. You must also use the move that’s to be passed along to the Snatcher with the partner Pokémon
3. If using Snatch to steal an opponent’s move, you must have very good prediction skills to avoid being KO’d through misprediction.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you set up when you are confident that you can survive any attack your opponent may use. For example, don’t bother using Snatch with Rotom if you’re facing a Latios — Latios will simply Draco Meteor Rotom to oblivion while you set up. You must also be prudent when using Snatch: for example, with my Snatchlax lead, I never bothered boosting Snorlax’s Defense if I was facing special attacking leads.
As in the Rotom-W and Volcarona combination, you can use Snatch relatively safely if you predict that one or both of your opposing Pokémon will use Protect. However, you may still take potentially fatal damage in the process. Use discretion!
This is where many Snatch combinations fall apart. Simply building an effective team with Snatch is very difficult to do. When using Snatch, you must be able to use Snatch Pokémon and accompanying partners who remain effective after the surprise is revealed. For example, in a best 2 out of 3 set of matches (the typical Top Cut format for US and Canadian Nationals and Worlds), you may be able to pull off Snatch in the first match and win, but it becomes harder to utilize Snatch in the 2nd and 3rd matches since the surprise is revealed — the opponent will more than likely take precautions in order to stop Snatch from setting up. This is why it is of utmost importance that if you ever create a Snatch combination, be sure that the Pokémon used do not rely solely on Snatch to be effective.
For example, the Snatchlax combination, while powerful, is much more difficult to use successfully in a best-of-3 set of matches because it relies solely on Snatch to be effective. While very little can actually stop Snorlax from setting up, the opponent will more than likely formulate an effective strategy to counter Snatchlax in rematches.
However, the Rotom-W + Volcarona Snatch combination is much more viable because thanks to that combination’s wonderful offensive and defensive synergy, flexibility, and overall stats and movepool, Snatch is not actually necessary for either Pokémon to work together and overcome many threats in the metagame.
Effective Snatch combinations are those that don’t actually require Snatch. This seems a little odd, doesn’t it? But to prevent Snatch from becoming nothing more than a one-time use gimmick on your team, treat the move as merely an extra tool that can allow you to gain game-changing momentum at the opportune moment.
When creating a team that has a Snatch combination in it, ask yourself: Can this Snatch combination work if I don’t actually use Snatch? If the answer is no, then you should create a new Snatch combination and try again.
Also, since using Snatch to steal an ally’s move takes one whole turn, I recommend staying clear of using other setup moves such as Trick Room and Tailwind in conjunction with Snatch. For example, in my Snatchlax combination, I originally ran Trick Room with a Cresselia to support Snorlax even more after Whimsicott sets up Snorlax with Cotton Guard. However, this made my team even more dependent on Snatch and Snorlax and required another turn of setup, leaving me vulnerable to even more attacks. Needless to say, I got rid of Trick Room on my team after realizing this.
However, if your Snatch combination does not depend on Trick Room, Tailwind or some other setup move, feel free to use those moves elsewhere on your team. The point is, don’t try to do too much — if you spend too much time setting up with both Snatch and Trick Room in the same battle, you are giving your opponent more opportunities to attack!
I’d like to give a special shout-out to El Scorcho, who has reviewed this massive article multiple times. Hopefully, his thoughtful feedback allowed this article to more clearly explain the effectiveness of Snatch in VGC. He also provided me with a damage calculator used to analyze the role of Snatch in the Snatchlax and Rotom-W + Volcarona sets.
There are many, many other possibilities in doubles with Snatch, but I hope that this article shed some light on a very rarely seen move that has great effect in doubles. With BW2 releasing a move tutor for Snatch, there will be even more options available to abuse this strange move. I hope to see this move gain more usage in future VGC tournaments in new and interesting teams, hopefully in even more varied ways than listed in this article. Remember, all’s fair in love and Pokémon battles (except hacking, cheating, etc.), so get out there and start Snatching all the boosts in sight!