Psychic attacks are most effective against Fighting and Poison Pokémon.
They are weak only against Psychic Pokémon.
Psychic attacks are diverse and generally reliable, but not especially
powerful. Nevertheless, this is the most feared type in the game: so much
so that the two types weak to Psychic attacks are usually shunned in link
battles. Conversely, Psychic and half-Psychic Pokémon are frequent
choices, at least in part because they are resistant to attacks of their
own type. The reason for this dominance is not the attacks themselves, but
the agents that can deliver them most effectively. Chief among these is
Mewtwo, the most powerful of all
Pokémon, but the list goes on: Mew,
Starmie are also widely used and
Psychic types have such a stranglehold on game balance in Pokémon that
it will sometimes be possible to safely sneak a Fighting or Poison Pokémon
onto your team, precisely because your opponent would never expect it.
Many Trainers do not even bother to arm their Psychic Pokémon with Psychic
attacks! After all, no one would ever be so foolish as to use a Fighting
or Poison Pokémon, while teams are usually overflowing with Psychic and
half-Psychic types. It's a high-risk gamble, though: a single Psychic from
Mewtwo will put a quick end to dreams of glory for your
Psychic and Psybeam are equally accurate, but the former is nearly 40%
more powerful and seems like the obvious choice. Indeed, it will usually
be the correct one. No systematic data exist on the average length of
Pokémon battles, but certainly most of them are over in just a few rounds,
and Psychic's lower PP may not impede your Pokémon's performance until it
has already defeated several enemies from the opposing team. However, at a
high level of gameplay Evade/Accuracy modifiers
and healing moves are ubiquitous, and it is not uncommon to see PP become
a major deciding factor in the outcome of a battle. This consideration is
especially relevant for Pokémon like
Porygon, who will often have only one
attack slot devoted to direct offense. In such cases you could address the
problem in one or more of the following ways: (a) adding another offensive
attack, (b) using as many PP UPs as possible on Psychic, or (c) retaining
Psybeam over Psychic. Let's examine whether option (c) ever makes
The respective side effects produced by these moves offer one window on
the issue. Confusion is a great thing to inflict on the enemy, but you can
only expect it to happen about twice in your full complement of Psybeam
PP. Meanwhile, Psychic has a 33% chance to lower the enemy's Special. This
is the relevant defensive stat for subsequent Psychics, so this move
literally gets stronger the more it is used.
Consider the total amount of damage that can be inflicted by each move,
assuming 100% accuracy, no switching by the enemy, and no use of PP UPs.
Excluding side-effects, Psybeam's total Power is 20 x 65, or 1300.
Psychic's is 10 x 90, or 900. However, on average Psybeam will cause
confusion twice, for an average of 2.5 rounds each time. Each round of
confusion has a 50% chance for self-inflicted damage, so average Power for
each instance of confusion is 2.5 x 44, or 110. This boosts Psybeam's
total Power to 1410. (Keep in mind that this is Power, not damage. Actual
damage is dependent upon the relevant stats of both attacker and
In 10 uses of Psychic, you can expect about 3 reductions of Special. Of
course it would be ideal to have these occur with the first 3 uses of the
attack, but let's conservatively assume that the reductions occur on the
3rd, 6th, and 9th uses. With each reduction, Psychic's Power moves through
this progression: 90 (start), 135, 180, 225. (Naturally it's not really the
Power that's changing at all, but it's mathematically equivalent to look at
it that way for our purposes.) By the 10th round, Psychic's cumulative Power
will be 1440.
This analysis suggests that if the battle becomes protracted solely
because your enemy is using a healing move, Psybeam may turn the trick
(especially if the enemy is not able to heal because of self-inflicted
damage), but Psychic is probably the safer bet. However, if the fight
drags on because of Evade/Accuracy modifiers, the matter is less
On the one hand Psybeam has a chance to confuse, which is well-suited
to this situation: neither Double Team
nor Smokescreen will help an enemy that
is beating on itself. Psychic's cumulative power advantage will be much
less, because if it only hits, say, 5 out of 10 times, on average only 2
of these will lower Special.
On the other hand, reducing the Special of a deeply entrenched Double
Teamer can have several valuable consequences. It may decide to switch
out, negating the Evade modifications. If it refuses to switch, it remains
vulnerable to subsequent Special attacks, and it's own Special
attacks will become relatively impotent, posing a threat to its PP (again,
forcing it to switch).
Finally, if the enemy (who likely as not will be at least half-Psychic
in the first place) is using an Evade/Accuracy modifier and a
healing move, there is really no choice: you should go with Psychic and
hope for some lucky Critical Hits and/or Special reductions.
The circumstances discussed above are not the only ones in which PP are
relevant, however. Suppose your Poké Cup Alakazam has used Reflect and Double Team a few times. This
represents an investment of several rounds, but he will be hard for the
enemy to uproot. Given Alakazam's massive Special and the absence of
Mewtwo, Psybeam may permit him to kick more asses before having to switch
away than Psychic. The Special-lowering property of the latter move is
much less relevant if the enemy keeps fainting and being replaced.
In the end, it is impossible to say with certainty which attack will be
better for you without knowing exactly what situations you will
face, and of course you will never have this information. However, the
analysis here suggests that on balance, Psychic stands a better chance of
getting the job done.
By the way, while Psychic is a solid TM, remember that what typically
makes Psychic attacks so powerful is the Pokémon using them. Without the
type-matching bonus, Psychic is less powerful than Surf and Thunderbolt. Something to think about if
you're considering teaching your
Electabuzz how to Psychic.
The most powerful Psychic attack is unique in that it has no effect
whatsoever unless the victim is asleep. It should therefore be
complimented by Hypnosis on your
Gengar, or by some other Sleep attack on other Pokémon. You might try
retaining Dream Eater without a Sleep attack if you know your opponent
likes to use Rest, but that's a slim basis on
which to devote an attack slot.
Despite its excellent Average Damage and ability to heal your Pokémon,
Dream Eater is probably only worthwhile against wild Pokémon and game
trainers. In link battles, and especially in Stadium, an intelligent
trainer will usually switch away a Pokémon that has been put to sleep by
Hypno or Gengar. You are probably better off using Seismic Toss after a successful
The effectiveness of Dream Eater has been severely limited in Stadium.
First of all, the maximum number of turns a Pokémon will sleep has been
lowered from 8 to 4. Secondly, in tournament rules, only one Pokémon on
the opponent's team can be sleeping at one time, which means that if a
sleeping Pokémon is switched out, half your Hypno's move set is now
Psychic is not hampered by these restrictions and is only slightly less
powerful in the general case. If it successfully lowers the Special of a
victim, it then becomes more powerful than Dream Eater, damage-wise,
although it lacks the healing side effect.