Voltorb (Poké Monday 7/3/17)

Type: Electric

Base Stats:

  • 40 HP
  • 30 Attack
  • 50 Defense
  • 55 Special Attack
  • 55 Special Defense
  • 100 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Soundproof Voltorb are immune to sound-based moves.
  • Static Voltorb, when attacked by direct contact, have a 30% chance to paralyze the attacker.
  • Aftermath Voltorb, when fainted by a contact move, cause the attacker to lose 1/4 of its HP. (Hidden Ability)

Notable physical attacks: Explosion, Foul Play (via ORAS tutor), Sucker Punch (via Gen IV tutor)

Notable special attacks: Charge Beam, Discharge, Mirror Coat, Signal Beam (via ORAS tutor), Thunder, ThunderboltVolt Switch

Notable status moves: Light Screen, Magic Coat (via ORAS tutor), Rain Dance, Reflect (via Gen I transfer), Taunt, Thunder Wave

Notable Z-moves:

  • Gigavolt Havoc (Electric) – Converts one use of Thunder into a base 185 special Electric-type attack (or Thunderbolt into base 175).
  • Savage Spin-Out (Bug) – Converts one use of Signal Beam into a base 140 special Bug-type attack.

Overview

Voltorb has the highest base Speed of any legal Little Cup Pokémon…but not much else. And don’t be fooled; this does not mean that Voltorb is the sole fastest Pokémon in Little Cup—rather, given any non-Speed-hindering nature, Voltorb is tied in Speed with base 95s, namely Elekid and Diglett. More importantly, Voltorb won’t be tearing holes through teams with its unusable base 30 Attack and rather low base 55 Special Attack, nor will it be taking many hits with its merely average 40/50/55 defenses, and its special movepool basically consists of Electric STAB, Hidden Power, and Signal Beam. Therefore, its best role…well, there are still no Drizzle users in Little Cup (what the heck, GameFreak), and Voltorb makes a great Rain Dance lead with its high Speed and repertoire of useful Electric STAB. In particular, Thunder is its strongest attack and bypasses accuracy checks in the rain, while Volt Switch allows its teammates to bask in the rain that it sets up.

Set

Voltorb @ Damp Rock
Ability: Static
Level: 5
EVs: 36 HP / 36 Def / 236 SpA / 196 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Rain Dance
– Thunder
– Volt Switch
– Taunt

Weather may not be nearly as prevalent as it was in prior generations, but don’t turn a blind eye to it, and don’t turn a blind eye to this Voltorb either. With a Timid Nature and full investment in Speed, it keeps up with base 95s and stays ahead of base 90s and 85s (notably Meowth, Ponyta, Abra, Taillow, Staryu, and Buizel), allowing it in most circumstances to quickly set up Rain Dance and proceed to either wreck face with Thunder or defer to another team member with Volt Switch. Another tool for making use of Voltorb’s Speed is Taunt, which prevents it from being setup fodder in the face of hazard setters.

As for its Ability, Static is the most fear-inducing of the three choices, serving as a “Think twice before throwing out contact moves” tag of sorts (more so than Aftermath, which can be avoided through careful planning while Static activates randomly).

With the above EVs and Nature, this set has the following stats:

21 HP
7 Attack
12 Defense
15 Special Attack
12 Special Defense
20 Speed

Other Options

A set with Life Orb and Hidden Power Ice alongside Electric STAB (preferably Thunderbolt over Thunder) gives Voltorb more of an offensive presence. This, however, faces competition from Elekid, which is slightly stronger and has better coverage at the expense of slightly less physical bulk and a lack of Taunt.

Speaking of Taunt, because Little Cup is oriented less towards setup/utility and more towards raw power than level 100 metagames, it might be preferable in most situations to have Thunder Wave over Taunt in the suggested set. It may be slightly less accurate than in former generations, but it still does a better job against purely offensive threats. If you decide to run Thunder Wave, then you might consider Static redundant, in which case Aftermath is the next most viable Ability option.

Explosion might not seem like a very appealing option considering the nerf as of Gen V and Voltorb’s low Attack stat, but consider the following:

36- Atk Voltorb Explosion vs. 36 HP / 0 Def Diglett: 18-22 (100 – 122.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

It has to bank on a Speed tie to pull this off, but it’s a cooler method of dealing with Diglett than just setting up Rain Dance and fainting. And, considering Voltorb’s Speed, it’s easier to provide a safe switch-in opportunity with Explosion than with Volt Switch.

Thanks to the Virtual Console releases of Red, Blue, and Yellow on 3DS, Voltorb has access to both Light Screen and Reflect (but only with Aftermath), although dual screens are obsolete thanks to the rise of Defog as of Gen VI and the introduction of Alolan Vulpix (which gets Snow Warning + Aurora Veil, the latter being a combination of both screens that can only be used in hail).

Problems and Partners

Problems

Ties in Speed, is Ground-type, and cannot be easily avoided thanks to Arena Trap. Be very careful of this thing, especially if not running super-effective Hidden Power.

Can prevent Voltorb from setting up its weather by virtue of Prankster Taunt, and can potentially set up their own weather if needed.

Depending on Hidden Power choice (usually Ice, but it can be something different—like Grass, Ground, or Fire), Voltorb will likely be walled by a particular subset of threats. Chinchou and Magnemite resist Ice, Onix resists Fire, and Foongus (and other Grass-types, but especially Foongus) resists Grass.

Oh, and don’t forget about this item. It’s not of much use to Voltorb, but precisely because of that, beware Choice Scarf users at base 34 Speed or above.

Partners

Water-types are the most obvious candidates for taking advantage of Voltorb’s capability of setting up rain, and also for dispatching whatever Ground-types may cause grief for Voltorb. Mantyke is particularly helpful for its immunity to Ground-type attacks, although Shellder’s physical bulk is helpful to pack as well. While Corphish, Skrelp, and Carvanha might not have as good synergy with their stats or typing, their strong offensive prowess is considerable even if Voltorb doesn’t carry Rain Dance. Carvanha’s Dark typing can also be helpful for denying Prankster shenanigans like nobody’s business.

In other situations, a Grass-type might be preferred, such as if encountering a Chinchou or requiring a more reliable switch-in to Earthquake. Both offensive and support-oriented varieties exist, such as Snivy and Cottonee respectively.

Offensive variants of Voltorb are not super strong, so having some form of hazard setter can be helpful for the residual damage provided. Onix and Dwebble stick out as effective users, each having Sturdy to be used in conjunction with Berry Juice, the former having a rather high Speed itself and performing well against opposing Electric-types, and the latter having further hazard stacking in the form of Spikes.

And you know, just having a physical attacker (particularly of the Fighting-type variety) around can be nice for Voltorb; otherwise, the likes of Munchlax would be problematic.

Archeops (Poké Monday 6/5/17)

 

Type: Rock/Flying

Base Stats:

  • 75 HP
  • 140 Attack
  • 65 Defense
  • 112 Special Attack
  • 65 Special Defense
  • 110 Speed

Ability: Defeatist – If Archeops’ HP is below half, its Attack and Special Attack are halved.

Notable physical attacks: Acrobatics, Aqua Tail (via ORAS tutor), Earthquake, Endeavor, Head Smash (Egg move), Knock Off (Egg move), Stone Edge, U-turn

Notable special attacks: Ancient Power, Dragon Pulse (Egg move), Earth Power (Egg move), Focus Blast, Heat Wave (via ORAS tutor)

Notable status moves: Defog (Egg move), Roost, Stealth Rock (via ORAS tutor), Switcheroo (Egg move), Taunt

Notable Z-moves:

  • Continental Crush (Rock)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Head Smash into a base 200 physical Rock-type attack (or Stone Edge into base 180).
    • Special – Converts one use of Ancient Power into a base 120 special Rock-type attack.
  • Supersonic Skystrike (Flying) – Converts one use of Sky Attack (via ORAS tutor) into a base 200 physical Flying-type attack.
  • Tectonic Rage (Ground)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Earthquake into a base 180 physical Ground-type attack.
    • Special – Converts one use of Earth Power into a base 175 special Ground-type attack.
  • All-Out Pummeling (Fighting) – Converts one use of Focus Blast into a base 190 special Fighting-type attack.
  • Inferno Overdrive (Fire) – Converts one use of Heat Wave into a base 175 special Fire-type attack.
  • Z-Taunt (Dark) – Grants +1 Attack with one use of Taunt.

Overview

Ever since its debut in generation 5, Archeops has been one of an infamous set of Pokémon who are hindered by their Abilities. Its statline is offensively oriented, consisting of a hefty base 140 Attack, a decent base 112 Special Attack, and a comfortable Speed tier of 110. As such, its Ability is a huge detriment. Assuming full offensive investment with a Speed-boosting nature, the effect of Defeatist will render Archeops’ Attack and Special Attack equivalent to base 45 and 31 respectively, making it even weaker than Minior above half HP. It doesn’t help that Archeops is not the bulkiest thing around with its 75/65/65 defenses. Sure, it can take advantage of recovery options in Roost and pinch berries, but: In the case of Roost, can it really sacrifice a moveslot and risk the possibility of being brought below half HP again (or worse)? In the case of pinch berries, can it really afford to dedicate its item slot to one? Oh well, at least it has access to Endeavor, which becomes more effective at lower HP values, in spite of Defeatist’s effect.

Ability aside, consider Archeops’ movepool. Although it consists of utility options in Defog, Stealth Rock, and Taunt; along with Ground coverage complemented by Dark and Water on the physical side and Fighting, Fire, and Dragon on the special side; Archeops is lacking in reliable STAB. Stone Edge is strong (and has the bonus of a high critical hit ratio), but its 5 PP and 80% accuracy hold it back from being a perfect STAB move. (Head Smash is in a similar boat, but with more base power at the expense of 50% recoil and a normal crit ratio.) As for Flying STAB, it has to resort to Acrobatics for reliability or Supersonic Skystrike for power, both at the expense of a precious item slot (granted Acrobatics sets can run a pinch berry if so desired). Oh, and the special side is even worse. To be curt, its special STAB literally consists of Ancient Power. That’s right, no Power Gem, no Hurricane, no Air Slash, not even freaking Air Cutter, just Ancient Power. Having a 60 BP move with 5 PP as its only special STAB is, if nothing else, what holds it back from using its Special Attack stat for anything but coverage.

That’s how it is, and that’s how it’s always been. The transition to Sun/Moon gave Archeops nothing but Z-moves, although that in itself presents some interesting wallbreaking options such as 200 BP physical STAB (which is especially nice on the Flying side), stronger coverage moves, and Z-Taunt—which has the potential to shut down utility- and setup-reliant foes while amping up its offensive potential.

In summary, Archeops is an offensive threat at half or more HP, but its Ability is a severe detriment when it kicks in. Beware priority (especially Accelerock, Aqua Jet, Bullet Punch, and Ice Shard) and Choice Scarf users. Keep Stealth Rock at bay if Archeops is not your only Defogger.

Sets

Set 1: Lead

Archeops @ Focus Sash
Ability: Defeatist
EVs: 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Stealth Rock
– Taunt
– Endeavor
– Head Smash

A set that takes full advantage of Archeops’ lead potential. Uses Stealth Rock to put pressure on the enemy team, Taunt to prevent opponents from setting up, Endeavor when it falls to a low HP value (preferably 1 thanks to Focus Sash), and Head Smash as a strong STAB move preferable over Endeavor in some situations (namely, against Ghost-types, at full HP, and at low enough HP that the recoil will KO it).

EVs are offensively focused, with particular emphasis in Speed to take full advantage of its Speed tier. No bulk investment is needed due to the nature of the set, and the lack of such investment makes it easier (if only slightly) to activate Focus Sash and maximize the potential of Endeavor.

Set 2: Z-Move Attacker

Archeops @ Darkinium Z / Flyinium Z
Ability: Defeatist
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Taunt / Sky Attack
– Stone Edge
– Earthquake
– Roost / Knock Off / U-turn

As far as Archeops is concerned, Z-moves are the only real improvement in the transition from Kalos to Alola. Two particularly notable Z-moves are Z-Taunt (Taunt with a +1 Attack boost) and Supersonic Skystrike from Sky Attack (its most powerful Flying STAB). Whatever Z-move it runs, it will most likely depend on Stone Edge for Rock STAB (because the recoil of Head Smash isn’t quite as worth risking when it comes to non-lead sets) and Earthquake for coverage. As for the fourth slot, that depends on team needs. Roost helps Archeops stays out of Defeatist range, Knock Off provides the ability to remove opposing items, and U-turn works for scouting the opponent (but is ill advised with Z-Taunt).

In non-lead sets, lesser bulk is not better because there is no incentive to be below half HP. Dumping the remaining 4 EVs in Special Defense is preferred because:

  1. Running 4 HP EVs would mean that it only takes two Stealth Rock switch-ins to enter Defeatist range, while it otherwise takes three.
  2. Porygon2 with Download is a possibility (at least it seems so at the time of writing; if it actually isn’t, investing in Defense would be preferred because most priority moves are physical).

Other Options

On offensive sets not running Z-Taunt, Archeops can afford to run a defense-hindering Nature, dump its 4 EVs in Special Attack, and use Earth Power as an alternative Ground coverage move to hit Aggron, Regirock, and Steelix harder than Earthquake can. Focus Blast is slightly stronger than Earth Power and has a good chance to 2HKO Regirock, but Earth Power is more reliable in terms of accuracy and PP. Continental Crush from Head Smash is an alternative 200 BP STAB that notably scores an OHKO on 252/0 Eelektross and generally hits Electric- and Rock-types harder. Itemless Acrobatics is Archeops’ most reliable Flying STAB and, unlike Supersonic Skystrike, is not a one-off technique. Acrobatics can also be run alongside a pinch berry such as LiechiSalacSitrus, or Mago and the like (the last of which are improved in Sun/Moon in that they now restore half HP when the holder is at or below 1/4 HP).

A Choice set with Switcheroo could allow Archeops to sabotage the opposition in potentially a more vile way than Taunt could, although item-switching moves have become even less effective with the introduction of Z-Crystals. Archeops can also provide Defog support if needed, but such support requires utmost wariness in all situations.

Problems and Partners

Problems

First and foremost, beware of faster threats. Cinccino is particularly menacing, as it packs Skill Link Rock Blast for not only dealing hefty super-effective damage, but also breaking through Focus Sash with utmost ease. Lycanroc may not be able to break through Focus Sash, but it has super-effective STAB priority in Accelerock to compensate.

Speaking of priority, watch out for these guys too. They are the next most likely candidates for carrying STAB priority that, if nothing else, will easily leave Archeops in Defeatist range and therefore crippled unless it has a pinch berry activate or can find an opportunity to Roost.

Sceptile may not have super-effective STAB, but it does have a faster Taunt to prevent Archeops from setting up Stealth Rock. Sableye is a worse case, boasting access to Prankster Taunt and Will-O-Wisp for shutting down Archeops like nothing else.

In addition, anything that can take a hit and retaliate in such a way to either bring Archeops to Defeatist range or help bring Archeops to Defeatist range can become a problem. However, such problems are more manageable if Archeops runs a high-power Z-move or any variety of Taunt.

 

Partners

Lanturn resists 4/5 of Archeops’ weaknesses (i.e., all excluding Rock), doesn’t particularly mind burn, is immune to paralysis, and can provide Heal Bell support if Archeops finds itself afflicted with such status conditions. It can also use Thunder Wave for its own form of paralysis, as well as Volt Switch to prevent it from being a momentum drain.

Because Archeops is weak to Stealth Rock, it is inevitable that hazard removers be included here. Claydol is only resistant to 2/5 of Archeops’ weaknesses, but it is decently bulky, extremely hazard-resistant (being a Ground-type with Levitate), and can set up its own Stealth Rock. Hitmontop only resists 1/5, but with access to Foresight, it can potentially get a Rapid Spin off against anything. Be careful using Shiftry, because it’s kinda frail, resists 2/5 of Archeops’ weaknesses (sadly not including Rock), and can potentially be counterproductive with Stealth Rock variants of Archeops.

Actually, it’s tough to think of partners for Archeops. I guess just consider what would go well with Stealth Rock and/or how the rest of the team would ideally be molded based on the moves that Archeops runs. That is to say, because of Archeops’ offensive potential coupled with its frailty, it’s better to ask not what your team can do for Archeops, but what Archeops can do for your team.

Mudsdale (Poké Monday 5/8/17)

Type: Ground

Base Stats:

  • 100 HP
  • 125 Attack
  • 100 Defense
  • 55 Special Attack
  • 85 Special Defense
  • 35 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Own Tempo Mudsdale cannot be confused.
  • Stamina Mudsdale have their Defense boosted upon taking direct damage.
  • Inner Focus Mudsdale are impervious to flinching. (Hidden Ability)

Notable physical attacks: Close Combat, Earthquake, Heavy Slam, Payback, Rock Slide, Rock Tomb

Mudsdale has no notable status moves.

Notable Z-moves:

  • Tectonic Rage (Ground) – Converts one use of Earthquake into a base 180 physical Ground-type attack.
  • Continental Crush (Rock) – Converts one use of Rock Slide into a base 140 physical Rock-type attack.
  • All-Out Pummeling (Fighting) – Converts one use of Close Combat into a base 190 physical Fighting-type attack.

Overview

As a Poké Ride, Mudsdale’s purpose is to walk on rocky surfaces. Competitively, its most distinguishable role is as a tank. That is to say, its offensive prowess is hindered by its low Speed, and it lacks utility options for making use of its 100/100/85 bulk, but base 125 Attack allows it to hit hard with Ground STAB and such. As another plus, Mudsdale’s unique Ability in Stamina is helpful for allowing it to take physical attacks as long as it remains in play.

However, Mudsdale’s typing, while hitting five types super-effectively on the offensive side and only being weak to three types on the defensive side, has some noticeable cons to it. First, on the defensive side, its three weaknesses are rather common, especially among special attackers. Second, on the offensive side, its STAB can easily be avoided by Flying-types and users of Levitate, while Mudsdale doesn’t quite have the coverage to supplement its STAB. Lack of Stone Edge makes its Rock STAB weak; Close Combat is rather redundant coverage with Earthquake (especially since both have two resistant types in common: Bug and Flying); Heavy Slam, while mostly strong, isn’t quite up to snuff coverage-wise; and Payback, arguably its best bet coverage-wise, is situational (notably, Bronzong, the main Pokémon it hits super-effectively, is naturally slower, meaning the attack is normally only 50 base power against it).

To summarize, Mudsdale is a physical tank with a unique Ability but relatively poor coverage.

Sets

1: Choice Band

Mudsdale @ Choice Band
Ability: Stamina
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Adamant Nature
– Earthquake
– Close Combat
– Heavy Slam
– Rock Slide

This set lumps all of Mudsdale’s best attacking options into one set. Earthquake is its best STAB, Close Combat notably deals extra damage to Ice- and Normal-types, Heavy Slam hits for maximum base power against most things that resist Earthquake, and Rock Slide deals the highest possible damage to Mantine.

EVs and Nature are centered around Attack and bulk, particularly the former. Stamina is the Ability of choice because its other options are more situational.

2: Rest + Sleep Talk

Mudsdale @ Leftovers
Ability: Stamina
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Impish Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Tomb
– Rest
– Sleep Talk

The combination of Rest and Sleep Talk is, sadly, Mudsdale’s most reliable means of regaining HP. Moreover, all it can really do with its bulk is whittle down the opposition with Earthquake (which still does decent damage even off uninvested Attack) and use Rock Tomb for Speed control. At any rate, the set and physically defensive investment thereof serve to take better advantage of its exclusive Ability.

Other Options

On the Choice Band set, Sleep Talk can prevent sleep move abusers, particularly Gallade with Z-Hypnosis, from completely shutting it down. On the defensive set, Toxic can be used over Rock Tomb in case Speed control is not particularly helpful. Everything else (basically only Payback) has pretty much already been mentioned.

Problems and Partners

Problems

Special attackers, particularly those with super-effective STAB, can pose a problem to Mudsdale. In fact, Mudsdale has no super-effective coverage against any of the three above, and all three (yes, even Alolan Exeggutor) outspeed.

Burn abusers can also be problematic if Mudsdale lacks Rest. Mantine is immune to Earthquake and has super-effective STAB, while Cofagrigus has great physical bulk and means to attack Mudsdale’s weaker defense.

In general, Mudsdale is not invincible. For this reason, even physical attackers, if they have the means to set up and/or deal heavy damage with their raw power, can wear it down if given the opportunity.

Partners

 

While a problem, Mantine can also serve as a partner. The two complement each other well typing-wise—Mudsdale resisting all of Mantine’s weaknesses while Mantine resists one of Mudsdale’s weaknesses and is neutral to the other two—and stat-wise (as in, Mantine’s special tankiness complements Mudsdale’s physical tankiness). Mantine can also Defog away Toxic Spikes if needed.

Rotom is the only thing currently legal in Mudsdale’s tier that can single-handedly deal with the Water-types and Ghost-types that are problematic from a defensive standpoint. Its access to Volt Switch has potential to provide a free switch opportunity, although only in particular situations.

Other than that, anything that can keep special and/or super-effective attackers at bay, or anything that promotes longevity of a tank by some other means, is a good partner for Mudsdale.

Rapidash (Poké Monday 4/10/17)

 

Type: Fire

Base Stats:

  • 65 HP
  • 100 Attack
  • 70 Defense
  • 80 Special Attack
  • 80 Special Defense
  • 105 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Run Away Rapidash have a 100% chance of escaping non-Trainer battles. However, this Ability is useless in competitive play.
  • Flash Fire Rapidash are immune to Fire-type moves and, under circumstances where they would normally take one, their Fire-type attacks are boosted by a factor of 1.5 instead. This boost only occurs once per switch-in and cannot be Baton Passed.
  • Flame Body Rapidash, upon being hit by direct contact, have a 30% chance of burning the attacker. (Hidden Ability)

Notable physical attacks: Drill Run (via ORAS tutor), Flare Blitz, Low Kick (Egg move), Megahorn, Smart Strike, Wild Charge

Notable status moves: Morning Sun (Egg move), Will-O-Wisp

Notable Z-moves:

  • Inferno Overdrive (Fire) – Converts one use of Flare Blitz into a base 190 physical Fire-type attack.
  • Bloom Doom (Grass) – Converts one use of Solar Beam into a base 190 special Grass-type attack.
  • Gigavolt Havoc (Electric) – Converts one use of Wild Charge into a base 175 physical Electric-type attack.
  • Z-Will-O-Wisp (Fire) – Grants +1 Attack with one use of Will-O-Wisp.
  • Z-Hypnosis (Psychic) – Grants +1 Speed with one use of Hypnosis.

Overview

For Rapidash, not much has changed in the transition from the previous generation to the present. It’s still the same fast-ish attacker in PU with reliable recovery and odd coverage as it was back then. That said, Sun/Moon did bring a few new tools to the table:

  • Smart Strike: Coverage against Fairy-types that’s less redundant than Poison Jab…and another option for Rock-types, I guess
  • Z-Crystals:
    • Firium Z – used in conjunction with Flare Blitz for recoil-free but still powerful STAB, or with Will-O-Wisp for a one-time Attack boost
    • Grassium Z – used in conjunction with Solar Beam for a strong option against the likes of Quagsire and Whiscash
    • Electrium Z – used in conjunction with Wild Charge in a similar vein to Flare Blitz
    • Psychium Z – used in conjunction with Hypnosis to make one use perfectly accurate and with a Speed boost (not that the latter is needed all that much)
    • Groundium Z or Buginium Z to perhaps bring a bit of accuracy to its slightly inaccurate coverage options in Drill Run and Megahorn respectively

Well, actually, that’s about it. The most notable new tool definitely has to be Z-Will-O-Wisp, and Rapidash is one of the most effective users of the Z-Move, let alone in its tier.

Set

Rapidash @ Firium Z
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Will-O-Wisp
– Flare Blitz
– Wild Charge / Morning Sun
– Drill Run / Morning Sun

Firium Z allows Rapidash to choose between base 190 recoil-free Fire STAB or, better yet, a perfectly accurate Will-O-Wisp that boosts its Attack (but only once per battle, of course). That aside, Flare Blitz is its STAB of choice for the sheer damage output thereof. Primary choices for coverage moves are Wild Charge for Water-types and Drill Run for Fire- and Rock-types. On the other hand, it could forgo one of its coverage moves in favor of Morning Sun, which allows it to stick around longer in spite of its recoil move(s). EVs and Nature are offensively focused with particular emphasis on Speed, while the Ability of choice is Flash Fire for the extra immunity and the potential to power up Flare Blitz.

Other Options

In terms of non-Z-Moves, Low Kick is its only option to 2HKO offensive Golem, Smart Strike is its strongest option against Carbink, and Megahorn notably hits Lunatone and Solrock.

Solar Beam, when converted to Bloom Doom, constitutes its most hard-hitting option against Water/Ground types, and it also works wonders against Water/Rock types such as Relicanth. For example:

4- SpA Rapidash Bloom Doom (190 BP) vs. 248 HP / 8 SpD Quagsire: 576-680 (146.5 – 173%) — guaranteed OHKO

4- SpA Rapidash Bloom Doom (190 BP) vs. 248 HP / 8 SpD Relicanth: 576-680 (142.9 – 168.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Z-Hypnosis provides a one-time, perfectly accurate sleep move to cope with defensive threats (Altaria for example) and make it harder to revenge KO by Choice Scarf users and such (or, perhaps, to mitigate Sticky Web).

Problems and Partners

Problems

Physically defensive Altaria can easily take any of Rapidash’s hits, even if Rapidash is at +1 as a result of Z-Will-O-Wisp, and has a decent chance of 3HKOing with Dragon Pulse. That’s without mentioning the recoil of Flare Blitz and Wild Charge on Rapidash’s end, and Altaria’s end has another huge benefit in Roost.

Floatzel is naturally faster than Rapidash and threatens with Water STAB. Perhaps another justifiable reason to run Z-Hypnosis.

The rest of the list depends on what Rapidash is running. If it only runs two offensive moves, it gets walled by a particular subset of Pokémon (Dragon-types and particular Fire-types in the case of Flare Blitz + Wild Charge, and several Flying-types in the case of Flare Blitz + Drill Run). Without Bloom Doom, Rock/Ground and Water/Ground types become problematic. Without Smart Strike, Carbink is tough to break. Without Megahorn, Solrock and Lunatone can be problematic.

Partners

As is the case with all offensively oriented Pokémon weak to Stealth Rock and prone to other hazards, hazard control is one of the best forms of support. Wartortle and Prinplup, which carry Rapid Spin and Defog respectively, are especially favorable, as they resist Water-type moves and do not share any weaknesses with Rapidash.

Knowing that Altaria and Floatzel are the main two problems listed, examples of Pokémon that can take care of both are Politoed and Lapras with Water Absorb. They can take Floatzel’s STAB and Ice Punch, and Altaria is hit with Ice coverage. Lapras is particularly adept in dealing with Floatzel thanks to Freeze-Dry.

Grass-types, particularly those with special attacking potential, can be helpful to Rapidash not running Bloom Doom (and maybe even those that do run Bloom Doom). Be warned that Simisage needs a Choice Scarf to be able to combat Floatzel, and Exeggutor should not be sent out lightly.

Chingling (Poké Monday 3/13/17)

Type: Psychic

Base Stats:

  • 45 HP
  • 30 Attack
  • 50 Defense
  • 65 Special Attack
  • 50 Special Defense
  • 45 Speed

Ability: Levitate makes Chingling immune to Ground-type moves, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes. Additionally, it prevents Chingling from being trapped by Arena Trap.

Notable special attacks: Dazzling Gleam, PsychicPsyshock, Shadow Ball

Notable status moves: Calm Mind, Heal Bell (via ORAS tutor), Recover (Egg move), Thunder Wave, Trick (via ORAS tutor), Trick Room, Wish (Egg move), Yawn

Notable Z-moves:

  • Shattered Psyche (Psychic) – Converts one use of Psychic into a base 175 special Psychic-type attack (or Future Sight into base 190).
  • Twinkle Tackle (Fairy) – Converts one use of Dazzling Gleam into a base 160 special Fairy-type attack.
  • Never-Ending Nightmare (Ghost) – Converts one use of Shadow Ball into a base 160 special Ghost-type attack.

Overview

Hoo boy, it’s once again time to play the “what does this nonviable-looking Pokémon have that no one else does” game. To be honest, all I can think of is that Chingling is the slowest Ground-immune Trick Room user with access to a recovery move. It’s also one of surprisingly few Psychic-types in the tier with Fairy coverage in Dazzling Gleam, which grants it much better coverage than the standard Signal Beam or Hidden Power Fighting (granted HP Fighting is the most likely option for hitting Pawniard).

What more needs to be said about this? It’s literally a bell that doesn’t get Heal Bell naturally…it looks a bit similar to Pac-Man…and Healing Wish is something that its evolution gets that it wish it had… Yeah, that’s about it. Not much of a sight to behold, this one.

Set

Chingling @ Colbur Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 5
EVs: 156 HP / 116 Def / 236 SpA
Quiet Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Trick Room
– Psychic
– Dazzling Gleam
– Recover

Ladies and gentle…not ladies, for the first time since transitioning from Gen VI to Gen VII, I…only have one set to suggest for the Pokémon of the Poké Monday. That’s because only four components really distinguish it from any sort of crowd: its Ability Levitate, a decently slow Trick Room, Fairy coverage in Dazzling Gleam, and reliable Recovery for longevity. Along with the three aforementioned moves, it should obviously run Psychic STAB because that’s usually the best chance it has at ever exerting any offensive presence.

Minimum Attack and Speed with Quiet Nature is the ideal fare for a purely special Trick Room user, and Colbur Berry is the suggested item to make Chingling less vulnerable to Knock Off and Pursuit. To further patch such vulnerability, extra physical bulk (with 156 HP EVs to ensure that its HP hits 23, a number not divisible by 8) is given by the leftover EVs from the obligatory maximum Special Attack investment.

Other Options

Chingling actually gets Knock Off via ORAS tutor, which it can use instead of its coverage to be less of an attacker and more on the utility side. However, notice that Dark-types would completely wall it if it were limited to Psychic and Knock Off in terms of attacking options. (That wouldn’t be good, considering the high possibility of Pursuit trapping.)

Speaking of options resisted by Dark-types, Shadow Ball also fits this criterion, but the quirk about it is dealing neutral damage to Steel-types and super-effective damage against opposing Psychic-types.

Now, if it wanted to get by Dark-types (particularly Pawniard), it could run Hidden Power Fighting, but do keep in mind that it does not OHKO the bulky attacker set without hazards.

Its movepool seems to imply that it can also pull a clerical role with Wish and Heal Bell, but Spritzee does that better.

Problems and Partners

Problems

I cannot stress this enough: Watch out for Pawniard! It’s immune to Chingling’s Psychic STAB, neutral to standard Fairy coverage, and can threaten with its Dark STAB.

Honedge resists most of Chingling’s options and has a slim chance of avoiding a 2HKO from Shadow Ball (specifically the lowest possible damage roll paired with a damage roll other than the highest possible, given 0/36/220 Adamant with max Atk), while Shadow Sneak and Iron Head both easily 2HKO (OHKO after Swords Dance).

Frillish can easily OHKO with Shadow Ball, and the tank set (236/116/76 Bold) is not 2HKO’d by any of Chingling’s options.

All in all, if using the specified Trick Room set, do consider that 45/50/50 isn’t the greatest bulk around. Strong special attacks—such as Modest Carvanha’s Hydro Pump, mixed attacking Houndour’s Fire Blast, and especially Gastly’s Shadow Ball—will destroy it. Calcs for proof:

236+ SpA Life Orb Carvanha Hydro Pump vs. 156 HP / 0 SpD Chingling: 23-29 (100 – 126%) — guaranteed OHKO

196 SpA Life Orb Houndour Fire Blast vs. 156 HP / 0 SpD Chingling: 23-29 (100 – 126%) — guaranteed OHKO

196 SpA Gastly Shadow Ball vs. 156 HP / 0 SpD Chingling: 32-38 (139.1 – 165.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

I mean, Psychic is a rather vulnerable type in general, being hit super-effectively by U-turn and Dark-type attacks, and this vulnerability is more easily exploited when Chingling’s Colbur Berry is consumed.

Partners

As a Trick Room user, Chingling’s best partners are naturally slow ones, particularly those that can absorb one or multiple of its weaknesses. Spritzee is especially notable, resisting Chingling’s Dark and Bug weaknesses while also being able to set up Trick Room (and, with its Fairy STAB, allowing Chingling to afford to run Hidden Power Fighting or Shadow Ball). Honedge quad resists Bug and, if Chingling goes down to a Ghost-type, can threaten to revenge KO with Shadow Sneak. Munchlax is immune to Ghost and neutral to Chingling’s other weaknesses, and it benefits greatly in Trick Room by virtue of being the literal slowest thing in the tier, but be warned that it doesn’t like Knock Off (granted, neither does Honedge).

Because Trick Room only lasts five turns, having a Trick Room team does not necessarily mean that everything has to be slow. Mienfoo is an example of something fast that supports Chingling well, taking Bug- and Dark-type attacks comfortably while threatening Dark-types with its STAB. Pawniard is another example, resisting Ghost- and Dark-type attacks while being able to threaten Ghost-types with its Dark STAB.

Abomasnow (Poké Monday 2/13/17)

rng-abomasnow

Type: Grass/Ice

Base Stats:

  • 90 HP
  • 92 Attack
  • 75 Defense
  • 92 Special Attack
  • 85 Special Defense
  • 60 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Snow Warning Abomasnow, upon switching in, conjure a hailstorm lasting five turns.
  • Soundproof Abomasnow are immune to sound-based moves. (Hidden Ability)

Changes upon Mega-Evolving (with Abomasite):

  • +40 base Attack
  • +30 base Defense
  • +40 base Special Attack
  • +20 base Special Defense
  • -30 base Speed
  • Snow Warning Ability

Notable physical attacks: Earthquake, Ice PunchIce ShardWood Hammer

Notable special attacks: Blizzard, Energy Ball, Focus Blast, Giga Drain (via ORAS tutor), Ice Beam

Notable status moves: Leech Seed (Egg move), Swords Dance

Notable Z-moves:

  • Bloom Doom (Grass)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Wood Hammer into a base 190 physical Grass-type attack.
    • Special – Converts one use of Energy Ball into a base 170 special Grass-type attack (or Solar Beam into base 190).
  • Subzero Slammer (Ice)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Ice Punch into a base 140 physical Ice-type attack.
    • Special – Converts one use of Blizzard into a base 185 special Ice-type attack.
  • All-Out Pummeling (Fighting)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Brick Break into a base 140 physical Fighting-type attack (or Focus Punch (via ORAS tutor) into base 200).
    • Special – Converts one use of Focus Blast into a base 190 special Fighting-type attack.
  • Tectonic Rage (Ground) – Converts one use of Earthquake into a base 180 physical Ground-type attack.
  • Z-Grass Whistle (Grass) – Grants +1 Speed with one use of Grass Whistle.
  • Z-Role Play (Psychic, via ORAS tutor) – Grants +1 Speed with one use of Role Play.

Overview

So, um…Pokémon Bank got updated recently, although sadly without another free trial, and so the floodgates are now open. Unfortunately, held items cannot be transferred, and the only available Mega Stones in Alola are those of native Pokémon, the Kanto starters, and the Hoenn legendaries (granted the latter don’t technically have Mega Stones, but that’s beside the point). For that reason, Pokémon like Abomasnow are rendered unable to Mega Evolve legally until their respective Mega Stones are released as entry gifts for online competitions. That is a shame because Abomasnow’s regular stat distribution is mediocre, and with the rise of Alolan Ninetales (and, albeit less importantly, an improved Vanilluxe), it is no longer the fastest or most viable Hail setter in the game.

Speaking of the improved Vanilluxe (improved in that it now gets Snow Warning as an extra Ability choice alongside Ice Body), it has better offenses and fewer weaknesses, but it’s slightly less bulky, has fewer resistances, and is very much lacking in the coverage department (especially with the lack of secondary STAB). As for the other new Snow Warning user, Alolan Ninetales, that one is hands-down the best of the bunch because of its access to Aurora Veil (which none of the other Snow Warning users, surprisingly including Aurorus, possesses), secondary Fairy typing, nice base 109 Speed, and access to Nasty Plot for its own brand of offensive prowess.

With that in mind, Abomasnow isn’t nearly as notable for its Snow Warning Ability as it was in days of old, especially since it cannot legally Mega-Evolve as of now, but it is one of few viable users of its alternative Ability: Soundproof. This notably allows it to block Boomburst, Clanging Scales, Chatter, Z-Grass Whistle, Hyper Voice, Parting Shot, Perish Song, and Z-Sing. Not the greatest viability helper in the world, but it’s something.

So, for the time being, Abomasnow is better suited for lower tiers. Moreover, even if Abomasnow could Mega-Evolve, its Mega form would never see the light of OU, considering it was one of the seven lowest-tiered Megas in the previous generation (the others being Audino, Banette, Camerupt, Glalie, Houndoom, and Steelix) and it doesn’t help that turn order is now determined after Mega Evolution (which actually makes Mega Banette and—to a lesser extent—Mega Glalie more viable). I mean, 90/105/105 bulk and 132 for each attacking stat (with priority, even) is great and all, but the base 30 Speed, Ice typing, and use of a usually adverse weather effect really hurt Mega Abomasnow’s viability.

Sets

1: Z-Grass Whistle (pre-Abomasite)

Abomasnow @ Grassium Z
Ability: Soundproof
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Grass Whistle
– Swords Dance
– Wood Hammer
– Ice Punch

Z-Grass Whistle is a neat little tool against balanced teams. When Grass Whistle is enhanced by Grassium Z, the move becomes perfectly accurate and grants a +1 boost to the user’s Speed when used (even if blocked by some Ability like Soundproof). Because of this, Abomasnow can put a slower Pokémon to sleep, gain +1 Speed, potentially boost its offensive prowess with Swords Dance, and sweep any team without a bulky Fire-type or anything faster than base 114 (or base 60 with Choice Scarf). The dual STAB combination of Wood Hammer and Ice Punch hits anything not mono-Fire or mono-Steel. Also note: If Z-Grass Whistle is not needed, Grassium Z can instead be used to turn Wood Hammer into a base 190 Bloom Doom, which, unlike Wood Hammer, is perfectly accurate, lacks recoil, and does not make contact.

Ability choice is Soundproof to block various harmful moves (including its own Z-Grass Whistle if it gets affected by Magic Bounce/Coat) and to not bring usually adverse weather, while EVs and Nature are focused offensively for maximum Speed and as much Attack as possible.

2: When Abomasite comes out…

Abomasnow @ Abomasite
Ability: Soundproof
EVs: 8 HP / 68 Atk / 252 SpA / 180 Spe
Mild Nature
– Blizzard
– Giga Drain
– Earthquake
– Ice Shard

This is just a rehash of a mixed set analysis from the previous generation, because even if Abomasite were to become legal, Mega Abomasnow would be not much different if at all from the previous generation. (I mean, turn order is now determined after Mega Evolution as mentioned earlier, but that’s not much of a change because Abomasnow is quite slow regardless.) Blizzard boasts perfect accuracy under hail and hits hard off of base 132 Special Attack with STAB. Giga Drain is its best bet for secondary special STAB, which allows it to hit Water-types and gain back HP, all without having to use its other attacking stat. Earthquake grants coverage against Fire- and Steel-types, notably including potential switch-ins of Alolan Marowak and Metagross. Ice Shard grants Abomasnow STAB priority, which somewhat helps its sluggish Speed.

Ability choice is Soundproof for the same reason as before. (Even though Snow Warning would give it 100% accurate Blizzards without M-Evo, it’s much more worthwhile to have the move immunities and to not have to pass around harmful weather before M-Evo.) Mild Nature (preferred over Rash because Abomasnow has a better time dealing with special attackers than physical attackers with maximum Special Attack investment allows it to hit as hard as possible with its Blizzards and Giga Drains. The Speed investment serves to creep past Relaxed Swampert, the HP investment gets it up to 323 HP (which gives it slightly more HP for Stealth Rock switch-ins), and the rest is dumped into Attack for stronger Ice Shards and Earthquakes.

Other Options

On the first set, Earthquake can be used as alternative coverage over Wood Hammer for grounded Fire- and Steel-types, albeit at the expense of strong STAB, coverage against bulky Water-types, and the ability to use base 190 Bloom Doom. Either that, or you could have Earthquake over Swords Dance, granting the utmost of its physical coverage at the expense of offensive presence. Additionally, Role Play, if obtained via transfer, can be used as a Speed-boosting alternative to Grass Whistle. While this doesn’t put the target to sleep and precludes the possibility of Bloom Doom, it works for fun shenanigans if used upon forcing a switch or similar misplay. For instance, imagine having Wood Hammer with the recoil prevention of Rock Head from an incoming Aggron…

On the mixed set, Wood Hammer and Focus Blast are alternatives for Giga Drain and Earthquake respectively. The former is its strongest option against Blissey but induces recoil instead of giving HP back; while the latter hits off of Abomasnow’s more invested attacking stat and hits particular Levitate / Air Balloon users but is far less accurate and leaves the set walled by some Fire-types such as Victini and Alolan Marowak.

To mix things up, you could also use special attacks on the Z-Move set, or Swords Dance on the Mega set. Using special attacks on the Z-Move set would mean more powerful Ice STAB (Ice Beam) and safer Grass STAB (Giga Drain); at the expense of weaker Grass STAB, less accurate and arguably worse coverage (Focus Blast), and lack of a power-boosting option. On the other side, Swords Dance with Mega Abomasnow grants it stronger physical attacks (including priority) albeit at the expense of Blizzard (or any Ice STAB stronger than base 40, for that matter).

As another alternative, Leech Seed can be used in lower tiers to pull off a more defensive set. I mean, its bulk and Speed are respectable enough for its tier, right? (At the time of writing, Abomasnow is currently NU.) It’s worth noting that Abomasnow is one of a handful of Leech Seed users with STAB that’s super-effective against Grass-types (which are immune to Leech Seed).

Problems and Partners

Problems

Abomasnow’s only 4x weakness is Fire, so Fire-types are an obvious threat, particularly those that can withstand its hits (e.g., Torkoal and Rotom-Heat) or are faster than it under all circumstances (e.g., Salazzle). Rotom-Heat is particularly notable as it resists all of Abomasnow’s notable attacks not named Focus Blast. (Well, there is Rock Slide (for base 140 Continental Crush if running Rockium Z), but that option is not very viable otherwise.)

Other bulky/fast attackers that can take advantage of Abomasnow’s many other weaknesses are also problematic. Mega Venusaur and Mega Aggron in particular work well for counters, being neutral or resistant to all or most (respectively) of Abomasnow’s attacks and able to retaliate with Sludge Bomb / Hidden Power Fire and Heavy Slam / Iron Head respectively.

Partners

Because of Abomasnow’s 4x weakness to Fire, a Flash Fire user would be a usable complement, potentially pressuring the opponent into thinking twice before bringing out the lighter. In lower tiers, Ninetales and Flareon are the best special and physical candidates respectively, while Chandelure is the candidate for higher tiers (unless Mega Abomasnow falls a tier below). Chandelure’s Ghost typing also allows it to switch into Fighting- (and Poison-)type moves with ease.

Another thing to note about Abomasnow is that it is weak to Stealth Rock and prone to any form of Spikes, so running a form of hazard control is imperative. In lower tiers, Claydol can take Rock- and Fighting-type attacks while hitting Fire- and Steel-types with its Ground STAB. In higher tiers: Empoleon resists all of Abomasnow’s weaknesses except Fire and Fighting, while Abomasnow can take Electric- and Ground-type attacks, and Empoleon has the ability to Defog hazards away and hit Fire-types super-effectively; while Starmie actually resists Fire (and Steel as well) and can also hit Fire-types with super-effective special attacks (and can run Reflect Type in case of problematic type match-ups).

Abomasnow may no longer be the best Hail setter around thanks to Alolan Ninetales, but Mega Abomasnow’s inevitable Snow Warning Ability can actually be helpful to at least one member of the team, thanks to the introduction of a new Ability in Slush Rush. Currently there are only two users: Beartic (secondary Ability) and Alolan Sandslash (Hidden Ability). Beartic has greater raw power, but Alolan Sandslash has arguably better typing and coverage (as well as Speed).

Feraligatr (Poké Monday 1/16/17)

rng-feraligatr

Type: Water

Base Stats:

  • 85 HP
  • 105 Attack
  • 100 Defense
  • 79 Special Attack
  • 83 Special Defense
  • 78 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Torrent Feraligatr, when at 1/3 max HP or less, have 50% stronger Water-type attacks.
  • Sheer Force Feraligatr have 30% stronger moves with secondary effects, but said secondary effects have zero chance of occurring. In addition, such moves no longer trigger item or Ability effects that activate after attacking (such as Life Orb recoil, Red Card’s switch-forcing effect, and Emergency Exit). (Hidden Ability)

Notable physical attacks: Aqua Jet, Crunch, Earthquake, Ice Punch (Egg move), Rock Slide, Superpower, Waterfall

Notable status moves: Agility, Dragon Dance (Egg move), Swords Dance

Notable Z-moves:

  • Hydro Vortex (Water) – Converts one use of Waterfall into a base 160 physical Water-type attack (or Aqua Tail into base 175).
  • Subzero Slammer (Ice) – Converts one use of Ice Punch into a base 140 physical Ice-type attack.
  • Supersonic Skystrike (Flying) – Converts one use of Aerial Ace into a base 120 physical Flying-type attack.
  • Tectonic Rage (Ground) – Converts one use of Earthquake into a base 180 physical Ground-type attack.

Overview

Interior Krookodile Feraligatr
Bank will be updated sooner or later

When? I don’t freaking know. All sources say January 2017, but with nary an exact day/time provided. Why does this matter? Well, currently, Feraligatr cannot be obtained with its hidden ability in the seventh generation, which is a shame because its hidden ability is essentially the reason for using it in the first place. Moreover, even without its hidden ability, Feraligatr can only be obtained currently by evolving a Totodile obtained through Island Scan, making it rather exclusive in terms of accessibility.

But hey, at least the situation is not as bleak as the fifth generation, wherein there was absolutely no way to obtain Sheer Force Feraligatr; nor the sixth generation, wherein it was unobtainable until 2015 (to put that into perspective, X&Y were released in 2013, and ΩRΑS were released in 2014). Rather, it’s all up to the imminent Pokémon Bank update to provide the luxury thereof. (Speaking of which, I hope it comes with another free trial, because I don’t want to have to pay to be able to transfer all of my 6th-gen Pokémon to Alola.)

Bank talk aside, Feraligatr is one of the three fully evolved Johto starters, which each have well rounded stats with two particularly high stats. In this case, the high stats are Attack and Defense, making Feraligatr strong physically and respectably bulky (especially on the physical side). Moreover, Water is and has always been a great type offensively and defensively (well, notwithstanding the fact that Water attacks prior to the fourth generation are all Special), defensively being weak to two types and resistant to four types, and offensively being super-effective against and resisted by three types each. Abilities like Water Absorb, Dry Skin, and Storm Drain have somewhat reduced the offensive viability of Water-types, but the latter still remain a prominent force in the metagame as a whole. So, even in the absence of Sheer Force, physical Water STAB coming off of base 105 Attack is no joke. Couple that with access to Swords Dance and Dragon Dance, the latter of which somewhat compensates for the fact that Speed is its lowest base stat at a mediocre 78. With Sheer Force, it gets even better; with the triumvirate of base 104 (before STAB) Waterfall, base 97 Ice Punch, and base 104 Crunch, it can run recoil-free Life Orb while only being completely resisted by Water/Fairy, Water/Dark, and Water/Fighting types.

(As a side note, what’s with the name? Why is it still “Feraligatr” and not “Feralligator”, even though the Pokémon name character limit was extended to 12 in the sixth generation? It makes a guy like me wonder…)

Sets

1: Pre-Bank

Feraligatr @ Icium Z
Ability: Torrent
EVs: 24 HP / 252 Atk / 232 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Dance
– Waterfall
– Ice Punch
– Aqua Jet

This is Feraligatr’s best bet without Sheer Force. To make the best use of Torrent, it is advised to run dual STAB in Waterfall and Aqua Jet. Speaking of making use, Dragon Dance is always a helpful tool for Feraligatr, patching up its mediocre Speed and strengthening its decent Attack. Ice Punch is used for coverage; although it leaves this particular set walled by Water-types, it takes care of the other two types that resist Water (i.e., Grass and Dragon) and is therefore arguably the best solitary coverage option for its Water STAB.

As for other aspects of the set, Icium Z is used to significantly strengthen one use of its relatively low BP coverage. As an example of how this can come in handy, Tapu Bulu without Defense investment get OHKO’d by +1 Subzero Slammer. Speaking of Tapu Bulu, the EVs and Nature serve primarily to stay ahead of Tapu Bulu (Choice Scarf at +1, other variants at +0) while maximizing Attack and adding a little bulk with the leftover EVs. (The Speed investment also lets it cut past base 135 after a Dragon Dance.)

2: Post-Bank

Feraligatr @ Life Orb
Ability: Sheer Force
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Dance
– Waterfall
– Ice Punch
– Crunch

If Sheer Force were legal, this is what set Feraligatr would run. As mentioned before, the Ability in question powers up its coverage triumvirate of WaterfallIce Punch, and Crunch while also negating the recoil (and only the recoil) of Life OrbDragon Dance is the usual thing, but now the set is fully invested in Speed.

Why? Well, the availability of Sheer Force Feraligatr would imply that Pokémon Bank has been updated, right? If that were the case, that would also imply the availability of Heatran. Heatran are capable of putting Choice Scarf to good use, and the primary reason to run maximum (or at least 248) Speed on Feraligatr in the post-Bank era is to prevent it from being revenge KO’d at +1 by Choice Scarf Heatran. In a choice between 248 Speed and max Speed, it’s generally better to run max to ensure that it doesn’t lag behind other Feraligatr.

Other Options

Earthquake is another variety of coverage option to run alongside Waterfall and Ice Punch. Although this grants Feraligatr coverage only resisted by Water/Bug and Rotom-Wash, as well as the strongest possible option against Toxapex, the issue is that Earthquake is not boosted by Sheer Force and therefore induces recoil if used with Life Orb (Bulldoze is a thing, but the loss in power is not nearly worth negating Life Orb recoil), not to mention using it as a solitary coverage move with its Water STAB leaves it walled by Grass-types and a wide variety of Flying-types. Frustration/Return can be used as alternative solitary coverage on the pre-Bank set, hitting most Water-types for more damage than its other coverage options, but it does less damage to what Ice Punch hits super-effectively and is only 12 BP stronger than not-very-effective Torrent-boosted Waterfall (plus, Breakneck Blitz with Return and Normalium Z is only 160 BP, which is nothing compared to how Subzero Slammer compares to Ice Punch). Aqua Tail is an alternative STAB for the Torrent set (not the Sheer Force set, because Aqua Tail is weaker than Sheer Force Waterfall and is prone to Life Orb recoil) for 10 more BP at the expense of 10% accuracy and the 30% flinch rate…perhaps not the best trade-off. Superpower is Feraligatr’s strongest option for Ferrothorn (and Water/Dark types), but it is not boosted by Sheer Force and lowers Feraligatr’s Attack and Defense after use.

In terms of non-attacking options, Swords Dance can be used to break down sturdy walls, although it would have to give up Dragon Dance or a coverage option to put such a move to use.

As a gimmick, you can try running a special set with Ice BeamFocus Blast, and a choice of Water STAB between Scald and Hydro Pump (the latter being slightly stronger but less accurate), along with Agility for pure Speed boosting (because it does not have a special Dragon Dance counterpart). You get arguably worse coverage, however, being walled by Water/Poison, Water/Psychic, and Water/Bug alongside Water/Fairy. It would be better if Feraligatr’s base Special Attack was higher than 78, but eh…

Problems and Partners

Problems

Bulky Water-types, particularly those with extra Fairy typing (i.e., Primarina and Tapu Fini), can take hits from Feraligatr and do as they please. The Fairies can hit Feraligatr’s weaker defensive stat with their Fairy STAB (or Energy Ball in the case of Primarina), while Toxapex can set up Toxic Spikes and/or induce poison.

Pyukumuku is another notable option in the bulky water department, particularly because it has awesome natural bulk and, given its access to Unaware, can completely ignore Attack boosts. Couple that with Toxic, Counter, and Recover, and you’ve got yourself the most capable Pokémon of instigating a war of attrition against the gator.

Bulky Grass-types, particularly those neutral to Ice Punch, can also take hits and retaliate with super-effective Grass STAB. Mega Venusaur is particularly effective, attacking the weaker stat and being weak to none of Feraligatr’s possible coverage options barring Supersonic Skystrike, and Ferrothorn is capable of residual damage alongside the usual damage it deals (thanks to Iron Barbs and/or Rocky Helmet).

Turtonator is also a viable defensive option, boasting respectable 60/135 physical bulk; neutrality to all coverage options barring Earthquake and Rock Slide; access to Will-O-Wisp; and possibly even a surprise Bloom Doom. Mega Charizard X works in a similar vein; it may be slightly less physically bulky, but its overall potential is much better.

If Feraligatr is at +1, only these two Pokémon are capable of revenge KOing with super-effective STAB without requiring a Choice Scarf. (Because Electrode has a paltry base 80 Special Attack, however, it might need something to boost its offensive prowess (or just a bit of prior damage).)


Assuming Feraligatr hasn’t set up, however, it has much more to worry about.

Sturdy Electric-types (there are no Sturdy Grass-types) can also be considered situational checks to Feraligatr (although Magnezone generally prefers to run Magnet Pull), “situational” meaning “in a perfect world without hazards or prior damage.”

Partners

Speaking of hazards, any sort of sweeper can definitely appreciate hazard support. Feraligatr in particular would prefer the sorts of hazard setters that are special attackers and/or can take care of problematic Water- and/or Grass-types.

Dual screen support is also appreciated by sweepers, Feraligatr being no exception. Shown above are just a few examples of potential users. (For dual screens, Latios > Latias because of Memento.)

Or, you know, you could leave the opponent guessing which variety of support will be involved. (Paralysis support is also much appreciated.)

While already mentioned as a problem, Mega Venusaur can also be seen as a partner because of its ability to deal with Water-, Grass-, and Electric-types alike; its natural bulk; and its status as a special attacker.

Heck, Grass-types in general are usable allies for the gator.

If Turtonator and/or Mega Charizard X are problematic, try this.