Animé-style battling is a text-based forum game, not quite unlike a play-by-post RPG, in which players can select a team of Pokémon and battle other trainers. Sounds basic enough, and probably similar to the video game series, but it's quite different—as one might infer from the name (animé-style battling) the battles in ASB play out almost like narrations of matches from the animé. They are a bit more intricate than "spam Tackle", "use Defense Curl and then Rollout" or "Baton Pass a Substitute and some speed boosts to Tyranitar". ASB is more than just knowing the bog-standard effects of attacks and pressing a button. You have to take into consideration whether Attract will really work on your angry and jaded opponent. You need to decide whether or not Ember might actually be a more beneficial choice than Flamethrower in the long run. You need to think about how much energy your Pokémon exerts in that outer-space arena, as you don't want it to use up too much of its oxygen performing strenuous attacks. ASB gives you all of the Pokémon you love but in a more involved, active manner that requires entirely new strategies. And I might be saying so myself, but it's a lot of fun.
Maybe you think it sounds like a lot of fun, too, and since your favorite Pokémon forum happens to have a league you decide to give it a shot. So you spend a little time checking it out, read a few battles, glance through the registration thread. But maybe things start to seem a little more confusing the more time you spend looking at them. Or maybe you think you're really ready to get started, but the ASB staff or other members have to correct the numerous mistakes you didn't realize you were making. It can definitely be puzzling, perhaps even overwhelming, because there are a lot of rules to follow and you have to approach Pokémon battling in a way you probably haven't before.
This guide was written to help demystify what goes on in an animé-style battling league (ASBL for short). It can never be a completely comprehensive guide explaining exactly how any given thing will work in any possible situation, because different forums run their ASBLs in different ways. The basics, structure and strategy behind it all are pretty much the same no matter where you go, however, and after reading this you should have enough general knowledge to do well as you learn the nuances of your specific league.
Feel free to gloss over sections that discuss things you're already comfortable with and jump straight to anything you're still unsure of.
- Anatomy of an Animé-Style Battling League
Animé-style battling leagues are generally comprised of several subforums, each with a different purpose; they also have several members who fulfill various staff roles and keep the game running smoothly. Finding your way around and understanding what happens where thanks to whom isn't too difficult, but this section will give a brief general overview of the typical structure, what you might find in each area and the staff members to look out for if you want to get anything done. Remember that different leagues may structure things in different ways, so you'll need to double-check with your own league to make sure you know exactly what's what.
The ASBL's main forum is where all battles take place. Not much more to it than that. Whether those threads are started by battlers or by referees, and how challenges are arranged in general, will vary from league to league, but once the terms of engagement have been agreed upon, this is where the action will be.
An ASBL's administrative area is more or less its most important section. It generally houses the rules (you are planning on reading those, right?) and all threads involving acquisition and management of money and Pokémon—and you can't do anything in ASB without money and Pokémon. As a result, this will probably be your first stop after deciding to join a league, and a forum you'll visit pretty frequently after that. Common threads include a bank thread (for tracking players' money), a Pokémon registration thread (for tracking changes to players' teams), an absence thread (for telling people you'll be away for a while) and a referee thread (for anything ref-related, from accepting new refs to handling their paychecks). Documentation and assistance are also typically found here, and this should be the first place you go when you want to understand how an attack works or if you need to ask a question.
Not all ASBLs have additional services beyond purchasing and evolving Pokémon, but those that do will generally have a "business" area. This may be in the same forum as the administrative area or it may be separated out. Some ASBLs even allow user-created businesses that offer interesting new ways to gain or modify Pokémon. These additional businesses are extraneous, and it's entirely possible to enjoy ASB without touching any of them, but their services can enhance your ASB experience for a bit of extra customization or fun.
The above three sections cover most of what goes on in an ASBL, but there may be other features that are available to members. There might be a separate forum for contests or tournaments, for example, or for gym battles. The league might have an archive that keeps records of old battles or events for posterity. Sometimes user-owned businesses will have their own forum, too. Note that some leagues will just intersperse these with threads in other forums rather than separating them out (user-owned businesses in the administrative area, for example, or gym battles taking place in the main battle area).
These are the users who are responsible for managing the entire game. They are typically moderators of some sort, and they perform the usual moderator duties in the ASB forum—locking threads, editing posts, settling disputes, things like that. More importantly, they are the people who make and enforce the ASBL's rules, add new things to the league, and act as arbiters in the event of an argument or rulings question. They are also in charge of hiring the rest of the ASB staff, and they may perform the same duties other staff members do (reffing, approving, etc.).
Referees are users who have been hired to oversee and conduct battles. You can't do any fighting without a referee there to keep things moving! Refs interpret the moves the trainers in their battles have ordered, calculate how much damage the Pokémon take and write up an engaging description of how the round transpired; they also hand out prizes to the winners when battles are over. Most leagues have several tiers of referees based on experience, with veteran refs generally receiving higher pay and getting more perks for their work. If the league has contests, it will generally allow members to become contest judges as well (this may or may not be a distinct position from that of a general battle referee, but it entails many of the same responsibilities). More information about exactly what referees do is given later in the guide.
These are the members who help manage bank accounts and additions/modifications to trainers' teams, among other things. Sometimes the head referees are the only ones responsible for approval and maintenance, but in other leagues they hire regular members to help them out.
Some ASBLs allow members to open their own businesses and provide auxilliary services beyond whatever the basic management threads do; they get to keep whatever profits they make from their business. The types of businesses that are allowed depend on which general services are already offered by the league itself, but can include things from teaching a Pokémon a new move to customizing its appearance to purchasing new Pokémon through various "games". Most businesses are owned and managed by a single user, but some may have co-owners or staff of their own if the business is too much for one person to handle.
Oh yeah, those things. You're going to need a couple if you actually want to get any fighting done. If you want to get any winning done, or at least not make a total fool of yourself in battle, you're going to need to understand how Pokémon work in this game.
In the video games Pokémon are defined by several statistics, some visible and some hidden to the player: attack, special defense, base happiness, things like that. ASB does away with most of those, since you never hear anyone bringing up "base defense" or anything in the animé and they'd just overcomplicate things anyway. Generally speaking, the only "stats" a Pokémon has in ASB are "health" and "energy", and both of those are identical for every single Pokémon.
Health is ASB's equivalent of HP, and it determines how much stamina a Pokémon has left. Health is expressed as a percentage out of 100; when a Pokémon's health reaches 0%, it faints and can no longer participate in the current battle. The most common way for a Pokémon to lose health is by taking damage from attacks, but other situations that can damage a Pokémon might arise: it could fall from a great height, for example, or a branch can fall from a tree and hit it. The only reliable way to restore health is through healing moves like Rest, Slack Off, Aqua Ring and Giga Drain; most ASBLs do not allow items, and even those that do prohibit common healing items like potions and full restores, but you may also have access to things like berries.
Energy, like health, is expressed as a percentage out of 100. Energy is roughly equivalent to PP in that it determines how long a Pokémon can keep attacking, though energy is not linked to any specific move—rather, it is a gauge of the Pokémon's fatigue, with 100% being ready for anything and 0% being too tired to move a muscle. Some ASBLs have a Pokémon faint when it reaches 0% energy, while others let it stay conscious but force it to rest until it regains a little bit; be sure to check with your league (or your ref, since it may also vary between referees) so that you understand what the rules for "energy-KOs" are. Energy is depleted every time a Pokémon uses a move, with more powerful or potent moves draining more energy than weak or simple ones. It can also be depleted if a Pokémon does something else that is strenuous but not technically an attack, like running across a field or climbing a tree. Energy can be restored by the use of a special ASB-only move called "chill" or "relax", though the amount restored is typically small. Some ASBLs allow you to use health-draining moves, like Drain Punch and Dream Eater, to siphon energy from your opponent instead of health.
Base speed is probably the only ingame statistic that is not completely ignored, as it helps give a referee a general idea about which of his or her battlers should be moving first on any given action—Weavile has a higher base speed than Bastiodon, so Weavile should logically act before its much more ponderous opponent. (Some referees determine attack order in other ways, however, and do in fact disregard base speed.) Only a few refs actually make use of the other base stats while working, myself included, and even then it isn't in a way that drastically skews a Pokémon's strength based on how high its little invisible numbers are. How I handle base stats in my reffings is beyond the scope of this article, but if you are curious then an explanation is provided here. Long story short, you as a player don't need to worry about base stats. Raticate is just as good as Tauros, I promise.
A particularly important note is that most ASBLs also ignore Pokémon levels. Tracking experience from level 1 to level 100 is just too tedious and time-consuming, and nobody wants to worry about any of that. The moves Pokémon know and how they evolve, as you will see detailed in the following sections, are handled in different ways. Those few ASBLs that do incorporate levels into their game drastically simplify the system, reducing the number of levels that can be gained and cutting experience requirements by rather a lot; even then, the levels don't affect as much as they do in the games. Again, this is not something you need concern yourself with.
Your Pokémon will also have genders, assuming that they aren't genderless species like Bronzor. If your ASBL allows the use of abilities (and not all of them do), then you'll need to choose one of those when registering your Pokémon as well; you probably won't be allowed to change it later, so choose carefully. You can nickname your Pokémon if you like. Most ASBLs let you customize the appearance of your Pokémon, as long as any changes are strictly aesthetic—this can be as simple as making the Pokémon shiny, or you can make up your own color scheme and markings if you're so inclined. Changes that would actually alter the way a Pokémon behaves, such as giving it wings or making it larger, are generally not allowed, though a few ASBLs may allow you to request such changes under certain circumstances. More details about these alterations can be found in the "Customization" section later in the guide.
Ah, and now we get to the fun part. In a single sentence: A Pokémon can use any move that it can legally learn in the Pokémon video games.
That's right—any move. Well, almost any move. There are a few restrictions, and those restrictions will vary from league to league, but by and large the attacks a Pokémon can use are not limited to any particular learning method or any specific number. Since levels are ignored in ASB, Pokémon are not restricted to only the moves they would know at level X or level Y. They can also use any move they would have access to via TM or tutor, or even breeding. They can use moves they would have known in any generation they existed in. Evolved Pokémon can use moves that only their unevolved forms learn (e.g., Infernape can use Nasty Plot because Chimchar learns it). Some ASBLs even allow moves learned only in special games like XD: Gale of Darkness, or moves that came from special events like Pokémon Center giveaways or Wi-Fi downloads. New games can add new moves to a Pokémon's potential movepool, although most leagues wait until the game is released in English and the new moves are better understood before letting members use them. The only moves that are never allowed under any circumstances are moves that a Pokémon should not legally have, such as glitch moves or real moves learned through glitches.
Rarely, a Pokémon in the animé or some other media will use a move that its ingame counterparts cannot—Ash's Bulbasaur has used Whirlwind and Dig, for example. These moves are generally not allowed either, but some ASBLs might permit them. When in doubt, ask first.
Sounds like a lot to keep track of, doesn't it? Thankfully, there are plenty of resources that list all of the moves a Pokémon can potentially learn. A good online pokédex or similar website will do so, often in one location so you don't have to look through several different pages to see everything available to you. I personally find Psypoke's the best for the purposes of ASB, though veekun and Bulbapedia are also pretty thorough and are excellent references in general. It may help to check more than one pokédex once in a while, too, especially since some of them are missing data here and there (veekun does not currently have event move data, for example). Generally speaking, though, if it's listed on that Pokémon's pokédex page, it is perfectly legitimate in ASB.
Whichever resources you use, you don't have to worry about memorizing your Pokémon's moves. All you need to know is that pretty much all of them are available to you in battle, and that this large selection gives you ample opportunity to experiment and strategize.
In some leagues it is possible to teach your Pokémon additional moves it cannot normally learn in any game, or even make up a brand new move of your own. The "Customization" section explains those in more detail.
So how do you get these versatile, violent little critters, anyway? Your primary method of Pokémon acquisition will be your ASBL's team registration thread or other official shop, which will let you purchase any Pokémon currently legalized in your league. This generally means any non-legendary, non-glitch Pokémon that is at its lowest stage of evolution (Pichu, not Pikachu, etc.). Pricing may vary—some leagues charge the same price for every single Pokémon, while others scale the price based on a Pokémon's strength or rarity ingame. When you first join a league you will be able to get a starting team, usually consisting of four to six Pokémon and usually free; some leagues instead expect you to use the money in your bank account to buy your first Pokémon. As mentioned in the "Stats" section above, you'd choose a gender, an ability (where applicable) and perhaps a nickname for any Pokémon you're buying, and then wait for the ASB staff to approve it.
At its most basic, evolving a Pokémon works in the same way that buying a new one does—you post in the team registration thread stating that you wish to evolve one of your Pokémon, and after providing the relevant information (gender, etc.) you'd wait for it to be approved. These evolutions have to be earned, however, and how you go about doing that varies wildly between leagues. Some charge money for evolving a Pokémon; some require that the Pokémon to evolve has battle experience; some require a combination of both. The money, experience and any other requirements can change depending on how the Pokémon would evolve ingame, or the evolution methods may be ignored entirely and the cost/experience required for evolution is the same across the board. Handling evolution is one of the things that no two ASBLs seem to do the same way, so it's on you to make sure you understand how it works in your case.
Victorious trainers receive prizes at the end of the battle. This is typically a monetary reward in your league's respective currency, but in some places includes a "free catch or evolution". You can use this as a voucher for a free Pokémon, or as a free pass to evolve a Pokémon instead of having to battle with it or pay for it.
If your league has user-owned businesses, consider checking those out as well. Some users may create a business that lets you buy or win certain Pokémon in more interesting ways than just purchasing them—there might be a "Safari Zone"-style catching game or a lottery, for example. Some businesses also let you evolve your Pokémon, especially in leagues where Pokémon that evolve using things like items or unused mechanics are treated differently from those that evolve by level.
Many animé-style battling leagues allow trainers to tweak a few aspects of their Pokémon for a bit of added personalization. At its most basic and widespread this customization can involve making a Pokémon shiny, or else otherwise changing its color or appearance (different colors, scars on the face, tiger stripes, etc.). Just about every league will permit these changes as long as they are entirely cosmetic and do not affect the way the Pokémon would perform in battle, and you don't need special approval for them. A few leagues allow you to take things a little further, however, and request or earn customizations that do change the way a Pokémon performs—a robotic limb, a set of wings, even a brand new move that no other Pokémon knows.
The last of these, the unique, user-designed move, is probably the most common customization allowed. This type of modification is known as a signature move, or sig move for short. You can come up with a new move that allows your Pokémon to do something it never could before as long as the approval staff thinks it's feasible and not overpowered—it's one thing to have your Luxray create a huge thunderstorm overhead, but it's another thing entirely to give it the ability to turn itself invisible and fly. You'll need to list the damage it does, the energy it costs, the effects it has, what it looks like when performed, what type it is and more. Your ASBL should have sig move guidelines and a template that should help you out while planning, and you can always look at other approved sig moves for more hints (as long as you don't copy their ideas—it's not a signature move if another Pokémon can already do something just like it!). Think about your sig move carefully, because Pokémon are generally only allowed to have one, and you may not be allowed to change your mind about it after it's been approved.
Another common customization is teaching your Pokémon an existing, canon move that it can't normally learn. This is usually done at a user-owned business. These moves are generally restricted by type (no teaching your Charizard Surf) and may have other limitations (Glaceon doesn't have hands and therefore can't logically use Ice Punch), but they open up several new options for your Pokémon as well.
Physically altering a Pokémon's body and thus changing some of its attributes, whether via "type-change surgery", "robotic prosthetics" or something else, is a great deal rarer. Such changes generally involve partially or completely changing a Pokémon's type, or perhaps granting it access to new moves and then limiting access to some of its old ones in return. Most of these changes are purchased at user-owned businesses and come in set categories, although a scant few ASBLs allow you to make something up on your own (called something like a "signature modification" or "sig mod", and following many of the same guidelines and restrictions as sig moves).
Short answer: whichever Pokémon you like. "Some of your favorites" is probably a good place to start.
As I said earlier, there's pretty much no such thing as a "bad Pokémon" in ASB, and even Pokémon like Rattata or Sunkern can win battles pretty handily as long as their trainer knows what he or she is doing. You will never be at a disadvantage just because your opponent chose a Garchomp to battle your Furret. (In fact, assuming that both players were of approximately equal skill, I would actually give the edge to Furret thanks to its more diverse movepool and single weakness that Garchomp would have trouble exploiting.) Choose whatever you like or whatever you feel like experimenting with—many Pokémon play differently in ASB than they do in the games, so something you never would've tried on your ingame team may be surprisingly fun to use here. This isn't the place to get into a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each Pokémon in ASB or which ones make the best starters. If you can't narrow your list of favorites down to a reasonable starter team size, don't have much of a preference or are just curious as to how different Pokémon perform, though, then the quick overview linked below should provide some decent suggestions for your first teammates. (Or newer teammates, even.)
- Normal-types. Normal is, without a doubt, the single most diverse type in the Pokémon universe. Normal-types may not be able to deal super-effective damage with their STAB attacks, but they learn so many other moves of so many other types that they can easily make up for this shortcoming with an attack for every occasion. Can't reach that swimming Water-type out there? Fry it with Thunder. Struggling against a mighty Dragon-type? No worries, you've probably got Ice Beam. Flamethrower, Solarbeam, Brick Break, Shadow Ball... the list of powerful moves that most members of this type learn goes on ad infinitum, and they often have a large selection of defensive moves and annoying moves as well. Having an immunity and only one weakness (albeit a common weakness) doesn't hurt, either. Some Normals, like Rattata, Tauros and the many Normal/Flying-types, are slightly less diverse than their bretheren, but even those pack quite a few nasty surprises. Strong, adaptable, well-rounded and easy to use—you cannot possibly go wrong with a Normal-type on your starting team.
- Psychic-types. While they aren't as versatile as Normal-types in the movepool department, Psychics still boast a wide variety of attacks, both offensive and defensive. More importantly, they're psychic. Their ability to attack, defend or modify their environs using only their minds is exceptionally powerful and not to be underestimated. Typechart-wise, Psychic-type attacks are resisted by only two types and unable to damage only one other, meaning that Psychic Pokémon can take advantage of STAB to just plain hurt a large number of opponents; they can also hit Fighting- and Poison-types super-effectively, which, as you'll see below, comes in pretty handy. Once you're a bit more comfortable with the ASB format you can start using your Pokémon's telekinetic abilities in other ways: you can lift and throw large objects at a distance, you can hold your opponent in place, you can even attempt to combine Psychic moves with other attacks to change their appearance or behavior. Coming up with creative uses for psychic powers is fun and rewarding, and Psychic Pokémon are always unpredictable and hard to counter.
- Dragon-types. Dragon is one of the rarest types in the games, and with good reason: these things are terrifying. They have only two weaknesses (one of which is Dragon itself—and remember, that's a rare type!), they have a lot of useful resistances, and Dragon-type attacks are only resisted by the almost-as-uncommon Steel-type. Dragon is also another type that tends to come with a diverse movepool, with useful moves like Flamethrower, Thunder Wave and Surf being quite plentiful. Many fully-evolved (and even unevolved) Dragons can fly and swim, making them suitable for almost any arena. Just be aware that their rarity tends to make them expensive in most ASBLs, and depending on how your league handles team acquisition you may have some difficulty getting your hands on a dragon of your own; they may also be tricky or time-consuming to evolve, again depending on the league in question.
- Fighting-types. Fighting is widely regarded as one of the best types in the game. Fighting-type moves hit a staggering number of Pokémon for super-effective damage and Fighting-type Pokémon's weaknesses are relatively uncommon. Many Fighting-types are limber and agile, meaning that they can adapt to many arenas, and their impressive physical strength is helpful for tossing things around or breaking free of most restraints. Fighting-types boast fairly diverse movepools, often carrying the elemental punches, Earthquake and Rock-type moves at the very least; several also learn things like Flamethrower and Thunder, which are ignored in the games thanks to the average Fighting-type's horrible special attack but are a lot more useful in ASB.
- Poison-types. Poison isn't usually a type you see on a list of recommendations, but I find that these Pokémon are more versatile and useful than they're given credit for being. Though Poison itself is not a stellar offensive type, many of its members actually learn a surprising number of useful off-type moves and all of them are masters of the game of attrition. Many of their moves can inflict poison, obviously, and a good number are also capable of causing paralysis, burning, confusion and even sleep—since status conditions in ASB stack rather than override one another, a Poison-type can completely cripple its foes with ease. Almost every Pokémon known to man learns Toxic, but Poison-types can generally make use of it at a lower energy cost thanks to their natural affinity for it. And given that Toxic is used very often in ASB, the fact that Poison-types are completely immune to it can't be overlooked. They also learn other interesting supportive moves, like Haze and Gastro Acid; a few can even explode if everything really goes south. Other types are probably best for an all-out assault (though some full-grown Poison-types, like Arbok, Nidoking/Nidoqueen and Drapion, are more than capable of doing that as well), but if you're into torturing your opponents with a slow, agonizing death then look no further.
- Steel-types. There isn't much that can do a lot of damage to a Steel-type, and they're the fastest way to bring an otherwise dangerously destructive opponent grinding to a halt. Of particular note is the fact that Steel resists many common attacks and attack types, not the least of which are the Normal-, Psychic- and Dragon-types mentioned above, and Steel itself. They are weak to Fighting, however. Steel Pokémon are completely immune to Poison as well, meaning that they aren't susceptible to the painfully-common Toxic. The only major problems with the Steel-type are its lack of offensive diversity and low overall speed (though notable exceptions, such as Aggron and Lucario, do exist), but in the end those problems are negligible—your opponents will be coming to you, not the other way around, and when they get there they'll have to struggle with the fact that Steel-types can both dish it out and take it in spades.
- Pokémon introduced in the first generation. Remember when I said that most ASBLs allow Pokémon to use any move they have ever been able to learn, including moves they used to learn in older games but may not in newer ones? If you think about that for a moment, you'll realize that this means that the longer a Pokémon has been around, the more moves it has access to. Druddigon, which debuted in Gen V, can only use moves that it could learn in Gen V because the species didn't exist back when other moves were available by TM, etc.. Absol, however, was introduced in Gen III, and so it can learn moves that were only available in that generation (such as Body Slam, a Gen III tutor move) as well as things that were added to its moveset later. By extension, a second-generation Pokémon would have even more moves, and a first-generation Pokémon would have still more. As of the fifth generation, a first-gen Pokémon has a staggering five generations' worth of moves to choose from. TMs and tutor moves have changed so frequently throughout the years that they provide older Pokémon with a lot of quirky options people usually overlook—witness, for example, Rattata with Water Gun and Arcanine with Teleport. A Gen I Normal-type in particular makes a dangerously diverse and unpredictable foe.
- Single-stage Pokémon. Fully-evolved Pokémon are generally much more powerful and versatile than unevolved Pokémon, but you can't use them without taking the time to raise their unevolved stages. Unless, that is, you get one whose unevolved stage is its fully-evolved stage! Single-stage Pokémon, like Kangaskhan and Pinsir, often have access to wide movepools and impressive strength, bulk and speed right off the bat—no waiting required. Precisely because single-stagers are so powerful, some ASBLs have restrictions in place that prevent you from overloading your starting team with them. A team consisting of Lapras, Rotom, Absol and Heracross would be a real force to be reckoned with, after all!
Don't let this list dictate all of your starter choices, though! These suggestions are useful, but there are plenty of other strong and diverse Pokémon that I just don't have the space to mention—browse through a pokédex and see for yourself. Also remember that you can generally have a large number of Pokémon in your team, and that you can always purchase or earn other Pokémon down the road. You've got plenty of time to experiment with your favorites or with newer things you'd like to try out, so don't stress about your starter choices.
This, of course, is why you're actually here: you want to know how to take your shiny new pokemans and use them to beat other people into submission. Animé-style battles work very differently from ingame battles, so if that's all you're familiar with you'll need to adjust your usual approach.
Before we go any further, I'd like to take just a second to point out something that sounds obvious but still manages to confuse some new ASBers. Yes, you are posting on a forum instead of mashing buttons on a game system. Yes, your Pokémon has a much larger set of moves at its disposal. Yes, animé-style battles are supposed to involve more logic and more appropriate physics than the games generally do (more on this in a little while). You are still playing a Pokémon game. A simple change in battle format does not invalidate all of the basics you learned back when you first got into the series. The type chart still applies as it does in the games—Fire is super-effective against Grass and not very effective against Water; Ground is still immune to Electric (no, no "aim for the horn" allowed). Sometimes there are new ways to use moves that you previously thought were useless, but that doesn't mean that Rock Smash is magically going to do more than piffling damage to the double-resistant Scyther. Shuckle is still really, really slow, and Ninjask is still really, really fast. Ember does a little bit of damage and Overheat does a massive amount of damage. These basic fundamentals, and others like them, remain consistent and should still be kept in mind when playing. The things that are actually different will be explained below as we walk through the inner workings of an animé-style battle.
So you've got your Pokémon and a basic idea of how they work… now what? How do you go about beating the money and dignity out of the league's other trainers with your new ‘mans? This section breaks down the essential parts of a battle, beginning with the structure on which all battles are based.
Animé-style battles are divided up into units of time called rounds. A round consists of all players giving the commands they want their Pokémon to use, and then the referee posting the results of those commands. The next round begins after the referee's update.
Rounds are further divided into smaller units of time called actions. A player has three actions per round and can use them however they see fit, so long as those uses fall within the rules of the battle. (Rarely, some leagues may increase or decrease the number of actions available to a player each round.) Using a single attack takes up one action; this effectively means that each player can use three attacks per round. There are also other things that can count as an action, like focusing on dodging an attack or climbing a tree. Simple movements, like heading forward a few steps to get closer to the opponent, usually do not take up an entire action.
There is no such thing as a "turn" in ASB, aside from a general use like "Player 1, it's your turn to issue commands"; it's best that you don't use the term to avoid confusion. In most leagues, any attacks whose ingame descriptions refer to "turns" should be interpreted as though they read "actions" (though a few attacks may substitute rounds for turns instead).
For the most part, rounds and actions are only used to keep track of which player should be doing what, and they don't vary much on their own. Some attacks or other conditions may modify this, however. More often, battles will involve rules that make use of these time divisions: for example, each round there may be a 25% chance that a random Pokémon will take some damage from some debris being tossed around by the wind. Which segues nicely into the next section…
One of the greatest distinctions between animé-style battles and battles in other media is the wide variety of conditions under which you can duke it out. Ingame battles are effectively exactly the same whether you're in tall grass, a gym or out at sea, and only a few moves are affected by this (Secret Power, Camouflage, etc.). You're also limited to the available locations in whatever region you happen to be traveling through. In ASB, however, you can set up a challenge literally wherever you like and based on whatever tickles your fancy. You can battle in a simple "Indigo Stadium"-style arena with some grass, a pool and no fancy stuff, or you can battle in outer space, or the in old West, or on Cinnabar Island right as its volcano erupts and causes the destruction seen in GSC/HGSS, or in the castle lair of your favorite boss from another video game franchise, or atop a giant pizza sailing through the sky. (I have actually reffed a battle that took place atop a giant pizza sailing through the sky.) You can have simple battles with no frills or distractions, or complicated battles in which the arena is actively trying to kill you and your Pokémon—just about anything goes, and you are limited only by your imagination. Just do be sure to describe the arena as best you can, so that your opponent and your referee understand what they're getting into and how everything will work.
Rulings are guaranteed to vary from battle to battle, with each challenge tweaked to the current preference of whoever issued it. Complex arenas, like the erupting volcano mentioned above, will probably come with several conditions and restrictions specific to them—perhaps you can only use Pokémon that could logically tolerate that kind of heat, or you might have to worry about flying rocks raining down on the battlers from above. Additional conditions can be imposed just because the challenge issuer felt like it, whether or not they relate to some feature of the arena.
The most common rules and conditions you'll see, however, are simpler, more administrative details. The number of players that will battle and the number of Pokémon each player will be using needs to be laid out beforehand, for example. Most battles have a "DQ time", or disqualification time, which tells players that they will be disqualified and forfeit the battle if they don't post needed commands within a set number of days (usually around five to fourteen days). Some battles use "damage caps", which help control the pace of battle by setting a limit on the amount of damage a Pokémon can take in one round—the common cap of 35%, for example, means that a Pokémon will take damage as normal until it has taken 35%, after which it will be unharmed by anything else that hits it for the rest of the round. It is also fairly common to ban some moves from use, such as one-hit KO's like Guillotine or moves that recover health like Slack Off. The arena conditions may prohibit certain moves as well (for example, no Dig allowed if the battle takes place on an indestructible platform, no weather-inducing moves allowed if the battle is indoors, etc.). You may also see people ban certain Pokémon on occasion. Again, this may be due to the nature of the arena (a Wailord would not fit in a tiny room of ten cubic feet), or may simply be because the issuer doesn't want to face something or other. It is common, for example, for brand-new players who have just purchased a team to ban evolved Pokémon, as they feel that their untested, unevolved Pokémon would be at too great a disadvantage. Your league may require certain conditions, and at the very least you can't get by without declaring how many players will be involved and how many Pokémon they'll use, but aside from that you can make up just about whatever rules you'd like to try.
You can see some examples of interesting arenas on this page, and are in fact welcome to use them in your own battles if you like. Personally, I would advise that players brand new to the game avoid anything with too many complicated rules and start out with something less distracting while they learn the ropes, but hey, if you feel you're up to the challenge…
Players take turns giving their Pokémon commands by posting in the battle thread. The referee will say which player is to make the first move, at which point that player should post and explain what he or she would like his/her Pokémon to do for each of its three actions that round. All that is required is a list of the three actions that should be performed, usually given like this: Action 1 ~ Action 2 ~ Action 3. If you would like to clarify how the actions should be performed, you can do so in a sentence or paragraph or two above the command string. So, ordering a Charmander to attack a Totodile might look like:
Charmander, I want you to start by using Scratch on Totodile. Then, since she will be hiding behind those rocks, follow her back there and use Smokescreen to make sure you mess up her accuracy. Finally, back away a bit and launch a Dragon Pulse at her.
Scratch ~ Smokescreen ~ Dragon Pulse
The paragraph above the string is an ample opportunity to get descriptive or creative, or even roleplay a little bit if you like; the only thing that is really necessary, though, aside from clarification you think the ref will need to make sure he/she gets your commands right, is the string itself.
After the first player posts, the second player does the same thing. When both sets of commands for the round are in, the referee will take the commands and write up a description of how the round went down. The ref's role is described in detail in the next section. When the description is up, the player who acted second in the previous round will now issue commands first, and the player who went first last time will go second. Command order alternates like this until a winner has been decided.
This posting system does mean that your opponent can see your attacks, yes, and they are allowed to issue commands that would counteract or exploit loopholes in yours (again, as long as this still falls within the stated rules). Rest assured that even though your opponent has an advantage by attacking second in one round, however, you will have the advantage of attacking second next round and can work around their attacks appropriately. Note that editing your attacks after your opponent has posted is considered cheating, so don't do it (unless your ref asks you to for clarification) or you'll risk disqualification. Just take it on the chin and remember that, again, you'll have the advantage of foresight next time.
The Pokémon themselves will carry out their actions in an order dictated by their base speed stat (Weavile will attack before Bastiodon, etc.), unless moves with modified priority (like Quick Attack or Vital Throw) are used. Some refs may handle speed order differently, but base speed is more common. Both Pokémon will perform their first action first, then both will perform their second action, then both will perform their third action, after which the round ends and the player who attacked second will now start it off with new commands.
An ASB referee is roughly equivalent to a forum RPG moderator in that he or she takes the commands given by the players and writes a description of what has transpired during the round. Refs are required to make said description substantial and engaging; the battle should read like a transcript of an animé episode battle or a scene from a work of fanfiction, not a brief summary or the mechanical "POKÉMON used MOVE!" of the video games. A reffing (as the battle updates are called) should be fun, and it should clearly explain why things happened the way they did. It is also the ref's job to keep the battle moving smoothly; this includes calculating changes to damage and energy, staying on top of turn order, noting how things like the arena are affecting the outcome, and making sure that battlers are following rules and correcting or admonishing them when those rules are broken.
Referees also include summaries of the pokémon's current status before and after each round description, providing an easy way for you to keep track of how your Pokémon is feeling and see at a glance where you stand in battle. If you step out of line, they will remind you to fix whatever needs fixing. If you have a general question, or if you don't understand why something turned out a specific way, ask your ref for clarification.
The game is called "animé-style battling" because, like the Pokémon animé, it removes battles from the context of the video games and tries to make things more realistic (within reason; no, "Swellow thunder armor" is not allowed, so have fun electrocuting your own Pokémon). The description provided by the referee each round is supposed to be several paragraphs long and go into detail about the execution of the actions performed. And there is more for you to consider than just PP, base stats and type advantages, especially since some of those, like base stats (other than speed), are not used in this game.
ASB is open enough that complex strategies and outlandish arenas are allowed and even encouraged, but, as explained in the "ASB is Still Pokémon" section above, it is still Pokémon at heart and the basic rules still apply. You should be able to approach most attacks the way you normally would, only using them in groups of three instead of one at a time.
That said, you do not necessarily have carte blanche when it comes to attacking in this game–since it is in a more "real-world" context, most of the rules of the real world start to come into play. For example, having your Marshtomp use Surf while wandering through the Route 111 desert is perfectly acceptible in the video games. But wait… aren't you in a desert? Where did that water come from, anyway? It's assumed that something like Water Gun is used with some sort of internal water sac, but the same doesn't hold true for Surf; you can't just make a tsunami appear out of nowhere. As such, a move like Surf requires that a large external source of water, such as a large pool or lake, be present in order to work. Blissey might be able to learn Seismic Toss, but it has tiny arms and is not very physically strong. Do you honestly think it could lift a Snorlax, which weighs half a ton? A Blissey's Seismic Toss would probably fail against such a large foe. If the battlefield is littered with large rocks and your opponent hides behind one, you'd better make sure that you can aim your attacks around it–otherwise you'll be slashing stone and not your foe, and that's not terribly productive.
A stricter adherence to realism doesn't have to be a limitation. In just the same way that an environment or situation might prevent you from doing something the games would allow, it can allow you to do things that are not possible with the limited command system in the games. Non-attack actions, such as climbing trees, have already been mentioned, but there's a great deal more you can do. Perhaps you're battling in an arena with a closed roof, and so weather conditions such as rain logically wouldn't affect your Pokémon. If the arena has been described as having sprinklers, however, then maybe you could try doing something to set them off and create an impromptu Rain Dance that way. If you feel that your repeated Fly attacks aren't doing enough damage, you could ask your Pokémon to climb to an even greater height before striking—this will give it more room to build up speed and momentum, thus adding a little more force to the hit. If something is preventing your Pokémon from using normal attacks, you could even look for something to throw. (Note that trying to damage your opponent with something that isn't an attack usually won't do as much damage as an actual attack, and you shouldn't necessarily forgo attacking entirely in favor of finding things to throw—you simply need to be aware that things like this can be options if need be.) It might even be possible to use attacks that you formerly thought were "useless" in new ways. Flamethrower might be nice for direct damage, but you might find a situation in which you'd like to use Ember to scatter hazards around your opponent's feet. Use Rock Smash to shatter an actual rock on the field that's between you and your opponent, or to break free of the Rock Tomb rocks that are pinning you to the ground. The number of possibilities is staggering, and as long as you're creative and have a healthy dose of common sense you should see options and strategies available to you at every turn.
It is important that you realize the potential limitations (and advantages) of your pokémon, your moves and the arena in which you are battling. Don't try to overthink things, however, especially not in your first battle. If something might work differently than you're expecting, or if you need clarification, you should ask a referee before attempting it.
And there you have it. The basic structure and proceedures of animé-style battling. Hopefully it has cleared up any confusion plaguing new players; alternatively, if you just wandered over to this page wondering what on earth the point of the "Animé-Style Battling" section of the website was in the first place, then hopefully it has caused you to consider giving this exciting game a try. There's a lot more to be said on the matter, and I will continue to expand this guide as time goes on; it will also eventually include information on becoming a referee or using more advanced tricks and strategies. For now, this should be more than enough to get you started. Good luck!