Fearow (Poké Monday 12/19/16)

Nowi Wins To compensate for the late Whimsical Weekend post, here’s an early Poké Monday post.

 rng-fearow

Type: Normal/Flying

Base Stats:

  • 65 HP
  • 90 Attack
  • 65 Defense
  • 61 Special Attack
  • 61 Special Defense
  • 100 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Keen Eye Fearow cannot have their accuracy lowered, nor are their attacks any less accurate if the target(s) thereof have increased evasion.
  • Sniper Fearow’s critical hits deal 2.25 times the damage of non-critical hits. (Hidden Ability)

Notable physical attacks: Double-Edge (FR/LG tutor), Drill Peck, Drill Run, Pursuit, Quick Attack (Egg move), U-turn

Notable status moves: Defog (D/P/Pt HM), Roost

Notable Z-moves:

  • Breakneck Blitz (Normal) – Converts one use of Return/Frustration into a base 160 physical Normal-type attack.
  • Supersonic Skystrike (Flying) – Converts one use of Drill Peck into a base 160 physical Flying-type attack.
  • Z-Mirror Move (Flying) – Grants +2 Attack with one use of Mirror Move.

Overview

Ever since the R/B days, Fearow has always been at odds with Dodrio in terms of competitive viability, even in lower tiers. In those days, Fearow had no advantages over Dodrio except slightly better special bulk (and Mirror Move in Gens I-III), and this applied in Gens I-IV—especially IV, when Dodrio got Brave Bird and Fearow was left out (although the latter did get U-turn, which is pretty nice too). In Gen V, Fearow gained a little niche in Drill Run and remains—even to this day—the first and only Flying-type capable of learning it. By that time, Fearow was one of the few Normal/Flying birds capable of piercing through (most) Steel-types (quite literally)…but then Gen VI happened. Knock Off was buffed, Steel-types were nerfed, and that gave Dodrio another advantage. A change that came about in Fearow’s favor, however, was buffed Defog, which Dodrio lacks.

And now we arrive at the present. While Fearow hasn’t changed much this generation, at least it’s Alola-native and therefore currently available in Sun/Moon unlike Dodrio. Otherwise, Fearow would probably cry, because Dodrio got quite a handful of important buffs this generation: +10 base Speed (making it now faster than Fearow while it used to be the same Speed), Jump Kick, and even freaking Swords Dance.

Anyway, enough about Dodrio; this is a doggone Fearow analysis. As mentioned before, Fearow hasn’t changed much this generation. In fact, the only notable new tool that it obtained is Z-Mirror Move, which acts as a makeshift Swords Dance even if the Mirror Move fails. Aside from that, it’s just an offensive sort of basic bird with odd coverage in Drill Run, and it’s doomed to roam the lower tiers that Dodrio will most likely transcend when it becomes legal. But hey, at least it’s better than having to trade a Spearow for a Farfetch’d, even with Farfetch’d’s base Attack having been buffed to base 90. (Pfft, that’s it?)

Sets

1: Choice Band

Fearow @ Choice Band
Ability: Sniper
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Drill Peck
– Drill Run
– U-turn
– Quick Attack

In terms of pure offense, Choice Band is the main way to go for a Pokémon like Fearow. Drill Peck is its main STAB; while base 80 is rather disappointing considering Brave Bird and itemless Acrobatics exist, at least Fearow is still better off than Unfezant in terms of Flying STAB (and hey, no drawbacks). Drill Run is coverage against grounded Steel-, Rock-, and Electric-types; has precisely the same base power as Drill Peck; and has double the chance of inflicting a critical hit, which would lay down a lot of hurt with Sniper involved. U-turn is an escape mechanism for Fearow to put to use if predicting a switch and/or getting away from something that would normally be difficult to take down. Quick Attack serves as priority in case the situation calls for a revenge KO. EVs and Nature are focused on physical offense with particular emphasis in Speed, for obvious reasons.

2: Z-Mirror Move

Fearow @ Flyinium Z
Ability: Sniper
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Mirror Move
– Drill Peck
– Drill Run
– Substitute

Along with the same Ability, EVs, Nature, and usual coverage moves Drill Peck and Drill Run, this set contains something that Fearow would have appreciated long ago: a boosting move. While it’s not quite the Swords Dance gifted to Dodrio this generation, it’s as close as can be. Fearow will most likely not be able to use Mirror Move for its intended purpose considering 65/65/61 bulk is definitely not the best, but even if it fails, Fearow can still use it as a Z-move and give itself +2 Attack. With this, it becomes slightly stronger than with a Choice Band, and it can switch between moves. Substitute can potentially be a helpful tool in creating a setup opportunity, or perhaps to scout and make sure the opposing Pokémon knows what it’s doing.

Another thing to note: If you can’t get an opportunity to use Z-Mirror Move and need to get off an especially powerful attack, you can use Supersonic Skystrike from Drill Peck instead. Also, there is the off chance that Mirror Move might copy Hidden Power, so you may wish to plan accordingly (but thanks to Hyper Training, this does not affect its IV distribution). I personally would stick with Dark because Psychic-types are the most likely users of Hidden Power (at least in lower tiers).

Other Options

In terms of offensive options, Fearow can run Return/Frustration (or Double-Edge if transferred from FR/LG) as much stronger STAB than Quick Attack, or it can run Pursuit to potentially trap Ghost- and Psychic-types (although there are bigger fish in the pond when it comes to running Pursuit).

As a supportive option, Fearow can use Defog (if transferred from D/P/Pt) to pretend like it’s not outclassed by Dodrio. However, Fearow’s frailty and weakness to Stealth Rock make Defog a rather unfavorable option in general. Roost should similarly be used with caution if running Life Orb or a more supportive set.

Problems and Partners

Problems

Any Steel-type immune to Ground can pose a problem to Fearow by hard-walling it. Skarmory can set up on it, Celesteela can stall with Leech Seed or hit hard with Flash Cannon (depending on its set), and Bronzong can set up and/or deal hefty damage with Gyro Ball.

Airborne Rock- and Electric-types can also pose a problem, as they are immune to Drill Run, mostly resistant to Fearow’s Flying STAB, and can retaliate with their own STAB. To make matters worse, while most of them are neutral to Fearow’s Normal STAB, things like Rotom and Archeops resist (or are immune to) such STAB, and the best way to deal with them is to run Pursuit (in the case of Rotom) or U-turn out. (Archeops is particularly threatening as it also happens to be faster.)

Sturdy and faster attackers with super-effective STAB are threatening as well. Alolan Golem has two different STAB moves super-effective against Fearow, while Alolan Raichu outspeeds by 10 base points and possesses Electric STAB. Also be wary of Choice Scarf users.

Heck, even bulky things neutral to Fearow’s attacks can sit tight and do what they do best (especially Mudsdale with its 100/100 physical bulk and Stamina). Palossand may seem like it can’t do much back, but hey, Hidden Power Ice.

Partners

Either of the magnets can trap Steel-types and resist Fearow’s weaknesses, while Fearow can switch into Ground-types attacks and form a sort of VoltTurn core (if Choiced).

Fearow takes 25% HP of damage from Stealth Rock, so it could use some hazard-clearing support if it decides to go offensive (which is usually the case). Sadly, when it comes to such support, typing selection is fairly limited, so most of the supporters share weaknesses with Fearow. For example, Torkoal may be resistant to Ice, but it’s weak to Rock; and Decidueye may resist Electric, but it’s weak to Ice. Hitmonchan doesn’t share any weaknesses, but it’s not Alola-native and is neutral to Electric and Ice.

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