Poké Monday 7/27/15: Pineco

RNG (Pineco) 

Tier: LC
Type: Bug
Stats: 50 HP, 65 Atk, 90 Def, 35 Sp.Atk, 35 Sp.Def, 15 Speed
Abilities: Sturdy, Overcoat (HA)

Usable moves: Body Slam, Double-Edge, Drill Run, Earthquake, Explosion, Façade, Frustration, Giga Drain, Hidden Power (Fire, Ice), Light Screen, Pain Split, Protect, Rapid Spin, Reflect, Rest, Return, Rock Slide, Spikes, Stealth Rock, Substitute, Toxic, Toxic Spikes

(not listed but also usable: Counter, Pin Missile)

Overview

Pineco. Now there’s a Pokémon you don’t see every day. Maybe because it’s so quick to explode. Don’t look down on it, though. Its primary role is to set up hazards, and it can do so with relative ease thanks to two useful tools in Berry Juice and Sturdy. With these tools, the only things that can stop it from setting up at least one hazard (be it Stealth Rock or a layer of Spikes) are 1) Mold Breaker, 2) multi-hit moves that hit more than twice, 3) flinching/freezing/full-para-ing it to death, and 4) KOing it while it’s asleep. Sadly, though, there are many things that can stop it from using any more than one move, in fact so many that I won’t bother trying to name them all.

Anyway, simply put: Berry Juice and Sturdy are essential on Pineco; you’ll never see one without this glorious combination, be it in Little Cup or otherwise. Yeah, using Pineco is actually a thing outside of LC, but there’s really only one set to run:

Pineco @ Berry Juice
Ability: Sturdy
Level: 1
EVs: 156 Atk
Lonely Nature
IVs: 0 HP / 0 Def / 0 SpA / 0 SpD / 0 Spe
– Stealth Rock
– Spikes
– Pain Split
– Rapid Spin

I’ll admit I took this one from a video uploaded back when gen 5 was fresh in everyone’s minds, but it is honestly as much as you can do with Pineco in a tier other than LC. It obviously has hazards in Stealth Rock and Spikes, but honestly the crux of this set is Pain Split. At level 1, Pineco has 12 HP, meaning, against a level 100 opponent, it can easily gain back all of its health and remove nearly half of the opponent’s HP! For example, if you were against a Choice Band Talonflame (which has 297 HP in its standard spread), using Pain Split at 1 HP would result in Pineco having 12 HP and Talonflame being reduced to 149. (I mean, there are better ways of dealing much more damage to Talonflame, but hey, it’s just an example, right?) If all goes according to plan (big “if”), Pineco will keep reducing the opponent’s HP to roughly half, over and over and over until it happens that the opponent is at or below 12 HP. You could say it’s like using Super Fang over and over without the risk of taking direct damage.

You can also do the same thing with Nosepass, Probopass, or Sawk, except Sawk doesn’t have any hazards to set up, and Nosepass and Probopass only have Stealth Rock. Nosepass has the advantage of being immune to sandstorm, not to mention Probopass has an additional immunity to Toxic, but Sawk has nothing advantageous.

That aside, Pineco’s role in LC is almost the same except with a distinct lack of Pain Split. In fact, Pain Split is pretty useless in LC anyway due to the low HP values and fast-paced nature of the metagame. Still, Pineco performs much better in its native territory than elsewhere, sporting relatively decent bulk and thus having a much easier time sticking around. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine for the gymnosperm, however. First of all, Knock Off and Fake Out are two really common moves, and both have potential to screw Pineco over; the former can render its Berry Juice useless, while the latter can deprive it of a turn, break its Sturdy, and potentially leave it in KO range. Second, it doesn’t have many offensive options, meaning it’s probably not the best hazard setter to work with.

Also, it faces competition with Dwebble as a simultaneous hazard setter and abuser of the SturdyJuice combo. Dwebble has slightly worse physical bulk but significantly higher Speed, a significantly better offensive movepool (with additional Rock STAB and Knock Off) at the expense of Rapid Spin and some other moves, and extra Rock typing which has its ups and downs:

  • + removed weaknesses: Fire, Flying
  • + added resistances: Normal, Poison
  • – removed resistances: Grass, Fighting, Ground
  • – added weaknesses: Water, Steel

So, Pineco may not be the best hazard setter around, but, at the very least, it should not be overlooked.

Set

Pineco @ Berry Juice
Ability: Sturdy
Level: 5
EVs: 236 Atk / 36 Def / 236 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Stealth Rock
– Spikes
– Counter
– Pin Missile

The item and ability are Pineco’s bread and butter. EVs and nature are focused on offense to make it easier to reduce to Berry Juice range and to get the most out of its offenses, and also to let it creep past uninvested base 40s (although from what I can think of, there is no specific purpose for this creep). Stealth Rock and Spikes are obvious choices for Pineco, as its primary purpose is to set up hazards. Counter, however, is something of an oddity. It’s a neat little surprise for physical attackers who think they can just KO Pineco and be done with it—pretty much a guaranteed kill if the move Pineco takes deals at least half damage to it. Pin Missile is the best STAB to which Pineco has access because Bug Bite does not consume an opponent’s Berry Juice (and, by extension, is only useful against Harvest Pokémon).

Other Options

Explosion is an option that deals more damage than Pin Missile, especially on Fairy-, Poison-, and Fighting-types, but not so much against Rock- or Ghost-types. Rapid Spin is chiefly for helping Pineco deal with other hazard leads if anything (it’s too prone to hazards to make a switch-in an opportunity to spin). While I mentioned that laying hazards is Pineco’s primary role, I didn’t say it was its only role; it can also set up dual screens, and the beautiful SturdyJuice combo gives it ample opportunity to do so (plus it and Magnemite happen to be the only two LC Pokémon with access to Sturdy and dual screens). Toxic Spikes can be used for even more hazards but is ill-advised as Stealth Rock and Spikes are just fine in terms of hazard stacking.

Sample Team

http://pastebin.com/EHvfHeBD — Tested several times, but the fact that I have three Stealth Rock users is kinda unsettling.

This team contains:

  • Pineco (set above)
  • Froakie for special offense and anti-lead purposes
  • Gastly for faster special offense and Trick
  • Sandshrew for hazard control and walling
  • Fletchling for priority and physical offense
  • Lileep for more walling

 

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