Poké Monday 9/7/15: Darmanitan

RNG (Darmanitan)  

Standard Mode
Tier: UU
Type: Fire
Stats: 105 HP, 140 Atk, 55 Def, 30 Sp.Atk, 55 Sp.Def, 95 Speed
Abilities: Sheer Force, Zen Mode (hidden)

Zen Mode
Type: Fire/Psychic
Stats: 105 HP, 30 Atk, 105 Def, 140 Sp.Atk, 105 Sp.Def, 55 Speed
Ability: Zen Mode

Usable moves: Brick Break, Bulk Up, Earthquake, Encore, Façade, Fire Blast, Fire Fang, Fire Punch, Flame Charge, Flamethrower, Flare Blitz, Focus Blast, Frustration, Grass Knot, Hammer Arm, Heat Wave, Hidden Power (Fire, Ice), Overheat, Power-Up Punch, Protect, Psychic, Rest, Return, Roar, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Substitute, Superpower, Taunt, Toxic, U-turn, Will-o-wisp, Zen Headbutt

Overview

Zen Mode is an exclusive ability to Darmanitan that increases its BST by 60 when its HP is below 50%. This comes with a significant increase in bulk and an extra STAB in Psychic at the expense of a lot of its Speed and a bothersome switch in offensive stats. Simply put, it’s not worth it. Let’s move on.

Darmanitan is notorious for being the hardest-hitting Fire-type attacker in existence thanks to its ridiculous base 140 Attack and its Sheer Force ability…or at least it used to be, but with the rise of Mega Evolutions, perhaps it has met its match. For example, Mega Charizard X gets Tough Claws, which grants the exact same boost in power as Sheer Force while leaving the burn chance of Flare Blitz untouched, while Mega Houndoom gets Solar Power, making its Fire Blast hit harder under the sun than it would after a Nasty Plot. What keeps Darmanitan special, however, is its freedom of item choice, meaning you could slap a Choice Scarf on it to patch up its below average Speed, or a Choice Band to augment its nuking power. (I mean, Mega Charizard X gets Dragon Dance, but it’s OverUsed, so no use using it as a comparison factor.) Also, it doesn’t need setup; it can just come in (on something that fears it, of course), click Flare Blitz, and deal some massive damage. What’s more is that it can sustain plenty of recoil damage from its Flare Blitzes thanks to its high base HP. Of course, Flare Blitz isn’t Darmanitan’s only tool; it also has access to U-turn, along with a number of strong coverage options. Sadly, it lacks the ability to hit bulky Waters (notably Suicune) for super-effective damage (unlike Victini (with Bolt Strike) and Houndoom (with SunnyBeam)), it’s weak to Stealth Rock, and its frailty and below average Speed make it easy to revenge KO.

On a more frivolous note…this Pokémon has “MAN” in its name. That should say enough about how strong it is.

Set

Darmanitan @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sheer Force
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Flare Blitz
– U-turn
– Rock Slide
– Earthquake

Choice Scarf Darmanitan is a solid revenge killer with a deadly combination of speed and power that can punch holes through the opponent’s team. Flare Blitz is its main attack, which has its base power boosted to 160 (with the negligible side effect of removing burn chance) thanks to Sheer Force. U-turn should only ever be used as a scouting move for predicting a switch or some other obvious play; no matter the target, STAB Sheer Force Flare Blitz always has a greater damage output than U-turn. Rock Slide mainly serves to hit opposing Fire-types like Rotom-Heat, but it also hits Flying-types like Salamence for significant damage. (Also note that Sheer Force Rock Slide has the same base power as Stone Edge, with half the chance of missing!) Earthquake breaks through Dragalge and Mega Ampharos, and it presents a more reliable way to hit opposing Fire-types (given they’re grounded).

As for the EVs and nature, Jolly is preferred over Adamant to prevent Darmanitan from falling behind fellow Choice Scarf users with base 83-95 Speed (e.g., Krookodile, Porygon-Z, Heracross), its offensive EVs are maxed out for obvious reasons, and the remaining 4 EVs are put into Special Defense so that Porygon2 with Download will receive an Attack boost upon switching in.

Other Options

Rather than a Choice Scarf, Darmanitan can go a fully offensive route and carry a Choice Band, boosting its already fearsome power to colossal levels, but the loss in Speed makes it harder to bring in against an offensive team, plus it still has to invest fully in Speed with Jolly nature to keep up with the aforementioned 83-95 group. Life Orb can be used to freely switch between attacks (and for the ability to use odd support options in Taunt and Encore), but the power boost is less significant and it sustains 10% HP in recoil if it uses an attack not boosted by Sheer Force (and the only viable moves it gets that are boosted by SF are Flare Blitz and Rock Slide).

Superpower can be used to destroy Snorlax, which can soak up Flare Blitzes for days, but it serves little other purpose otherwise, and it has the obvious drawback of reducing Darmanitan’s stats when used. Aside from that, there is the choice of the support options mentioned earlier, or Power-Up Punch as an odd way of boosting its Attack without an item. (With PUP, it should run Expert Belt or Flame Plate to boost its super-effective or STAB moves, respectively, for freedom of move choice and avoiding Life Orb recoil, and U-turn should not be used. I say it’s odd, though, because Darmanitan’s frailty makes it difficult to set up.)

Sample Team

http://pastebin.com/YKGvKCSU – It won its only battle, but that win was by forfeit.

This team contains:

  • Darmanitan (set above)
  • Galvantula for Sticky Web (which supports Specs Yanmega) and Electric offense
  • Ampharos (Mega) as a switch-in against Water-types
  • Florges for pure bulk and supporting Mega Ampharos
  • Donphan for hazard control and Stealth Rock
  • Yanmega with Choice Specs and Tinted Lens for sheer special offense
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