A Counter Attack is a mechanic that absorbs normal attacks and immediately strikes back at the opponent. By default, they can be activated by pressing X + A. All fighters have a standard counter attack and can be charged, enabling it to pierce other counters. They can be also cancelled to perform a Counter Attack Dash Cancel. Unlike Normal Attacks, Counter Attacks do not do much damage, so it is not advised to use them solely for offense.
Despite being available to all fighters, Counter Attacks vary between Pokémon to Pokémon. Some hit the opponent around them (Chandelure), most only hit opponents on the direction they're facing (Braixen), while one is a low stance move and is technically considered a projectile (Mewtwo). In addition, some have faster Counter Attack speeds while others are slower.
A Counter Attack is actually a two-part mechanism involving two sub-systems. Understanding these sub-systems are important to predicting the behavior and interaction of Counter Attacks in the Attack Triangle. These sub-systems are: Counter armor (the "absorbing" part), and counterattacking (the "striking" part).
Counter armor Edit
Any move with counter properties have this armor. When it is active, this armor absorbs and negates most Normal Attacks coming its way. An active counter armor surrounds a fighter with a blue grid-like effect for every Normal Attack it intercepts. Certain stances can evoke this effect as well. Standard Counter Attacks always provide a counter armor upon activation. Different Counter Attack speeds are analogous to the time where counter armor is active; longer Counter Attacks provide longer counter armor time.
After absorbing Normal Attacks, the fighter proceeds to the next sub-system: Counterattacking. This is the part where a fighter actually "strikes" the opponent. Technically speaking, counterattacks behave the same way as Normal Attacks, but lack the ability to crush grabs. Hitting an opponent with a counterattack while doing a Normal Attack results in a Critical Hit. One must take note that counter armor is no longer active during this sub-system.
Interaction with the Attack Triangle Edit
Normal Attacks Edit
Under normal conditions, Counter Attacks will win over a Normal Attack. This is due to the fact that counter armor prevents a fighter from being damaged by it, as well as a counterattack causes a Critical Hit to a normally attacking character. Eventually, the counter armor will disappear and they will be prone to Normal Attacks again. To exploit this part of the triangle, a fighter must land a Normal Attack whose time lasts longer than their counter armor, or hit them when it has disappeared.
Some moves and Support Pokémon have the ability to pierce counter attacks. Moves of this category include all charged Counter Attacks, Mewtwo's Hyper Beam, all of Chandelure's attacks, Emolga, and Yveltal. Most Normal-type Burst Attacks can also pierce counters and can only be stopped by blocking.
Grab Attacks Edit
Counter Attacks lose to Grab Attacks under normal conditions. The opponent is rewarded with a Critical Hit if they grab a Pokémon with an active counter armor. For this to happen though, a grab should come in contact with the target. Because doing a grab does not provide invincibility over counterattacks, a grabber is most likely to be hit by the latter, preventing the target from being grabbed.
Command Counters Edit
In addition to the standard Counter Attack, there are moves with similar properties of Counter Attacks, such as absorbing damage and interacting with other moves as per the Attack Triangle. These moves also share the same blue glow of Counter Attacks and have some unique properties. Some examples of moves with Counter Attack properties are Lucario's Extreme Speed, Garchomp's Stone Edge, and Charizard's Fire Punch.