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 it would normally take one, its 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 190 special Psychic-type attack.
  • 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.

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.

I have been playing Pokémon Sun ((late) Whimsical Weekend #6)

(So much to write for such poor time management, so apologies for the late post.)

I made this evident in my update post before Poké Monday 11/28/16 (Mimikyu), but I have indeed been playing Pokémon Sun as of recently, and I wish to dedicate this post to elaborating upon my experience with the game.

To start, here is the team that carried me through the Elite Four:

20161127_163520

As you can probably tell by the word “Objets” (pronounced ohb-zhay) in the bottom-right, I did indeed decide to play the game in French, just as I always have ever since they introduced language selection (which was in X&Y). Although French is a second language to me (my primary language obviously being English), having the game in French isn’t too hindering, and it’s also fun that way. Besides, from what I know, the Masuda Method (a trick to increase the chances of getting a shiny from breeding) is only dependent on the language of the game from which the foreign parent originates, rather than the true nationality of the game. (My copy is North American.) So, playing the game in French is not entirely lying to myself, and it also has its benefits.

Anyway, on to describing the team (which is severely underleveled, and I will explain why later). I tried to make sure that the team was packing at least the following types: Ground, Ghost, Flying, Fairy, Steel, Dark, Fire, Water, and Grass; and, as usual, I wanted to avoid repeating types. Along with the six final team members above, there are numerous candidates that I considered and/or carried along prior to the Elite Four, and I will talk about those as well.

To bring back a certain formatting style from my Omega Ruby progress report two years prior (I can’t believe it’s been that long): Pokémon, natures, abilities, and moves will be named primarily in English with their French names in [] brackets.

Final team members

Algancre the Dhelmise [Sinistrail]
Level after E4: 49
Current level: 64
Nature: Lonely [Solo]
Ability: Steelworker [Expert Acier]
– Power Whip [Mégafouet]
– Shadow Claw [Griffe Ombre]
– Anchor Shot [Ancrage]
– Giga Drain [Giga Sangsue]

While I was considering the Grass part of my Fire-Water-Grass core (I had already decided the Fire and Water parts), this candidate was where my final decision, which I made just before the Elite Four, rested. I encountered it at level 43 and could not be bothered to grind it against wild Pokémon, so I brought it in pretty much as is. While it hits really hard and technically has three STABs (thanks to Steelworker), it is weak to rather common types (including one of its own), is extremely slow, isn’t quite up to par in terms of bulk, and has missed Power Whip way too many freaking times. Name is a portmanteau of “alga” and “ancre” (anchor), because that’s probably what I would have named it if I were in charge of the nomenclature.

snek the Zygarde [Zygarde]
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Hasty [Pressé]
Ability: Aura Break [Aura Inversée]
– Thousand Arrows [Myria-Flèches]
– Rock Slide [Éboulement]
– Core Enforcer [Sanction Suprême]
– Dragon Dance [Danse Draco]

“A legendary? Blasphemy!” I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a thought lingering in someone’s mind right now. Well, I had been using Zygarde ever since I was able to obtain the 10% Forme on Route 16, mostly because it serves as my Ground-type and has great synergy with the rest of my team. Back when it was 10%, it was very fast and reasonably strong, but also rather frail. Now, however, it serves as nothing short of a backbone for the team. Respectably bulky in spite of its defense-hindering nature, still reasonably fast in spite of its lowered Speed, and still just as strong as ever (well, with a slightly stronger Core Enforcer). Above all else, Thousand Arrows is awesome; Ground has amazing coverage as it is, and Thousand Arrows does neutral damage to airborne targets before they are smacked down. Speaking of airborne targets, Rock Slide has been helpful against some Flying-types (particularly the fiery kind) as well. The nickname “snek” is a deliberate misspelling of “snake” (based on a meme). When this Zygarde was 10%, though, it used to be named FrankerZ after the big dog on Twitch. As for 100%…well, I’m not considering advancing that far until I’m done with the current Zygarde. As I have read, if you combine all 100% of the Zygarde cells, there’s no going back. (Make no mistake, though, I have collected all 100 cells; I just opt to keep the 50% Forme around until further notice.)

Ao the Ninetales [Feunard] (male)
Level after E4: 51
Current level: 65
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Snow Cloak [Rideau Neige]
– Ice Beam [Laser Glace]
– Dazzling Gleam [Éclat Magique]
– Psyshock [Choc Psy]
– Nasty Plot [Machination]

Like Algancre, Ao was another member whom I brought on board as late as just before the Elite Four. (Ao, however, was caught at a higher level: 47.) I was considering using the S.O.S. Battle mechanic to go for one with Snow Warning, but I decided that that Ability would be too much of a hindrance to my team as a whole. As for the reason why I included this member in my team…well, to be honest, I had been considering adding Alolan Sandslash to the team ever since my first encounter with Sandshrew, but, 3/4 through the game, I did some research and came to realize a vital and disappointing fact: Alolan Sandslash is Moon-exclusive.

I usually decide what version to buy based on the cover legends and how the titles feel in general, and that led me to choose Sun over Moon; in other words, I paid no heed to any other version exclusives such as Ninetales and Sandslash. To make matters worse, this isn’t the first time I’ve chosen a Pokémon game version preventing me from getting Sandslash; in fact, I would go as far as to say that the Pokémon itself has been eluding my version choices…even as early as Gen II, where I chose Silver (and Sandslash is Gold-exclusive). In Gen III, I chose FireRed, and Sandslash is LeafGreen-exclusive. So…well, after twelve freaking years, the curse of the elusive Sandslash returns anew. (Hey, man, I like Sandslash, and it would have been a great Steel-type addition to the team.)

Anyway, rant aside, since I was so bothered at being unable to obtain Alolan Sandslash, I decided to make do with what I had and get myself an Alolan Ninetales instead. It’s no slouch in terms of offensive prowess (and serves as the only dedicated special attacker of the entire team), but it’s actually slower than Zygarde, presumably because of Zygarde’s Nature advantage and extra EVs. The nickname “Ao” reflects the blue coloration of Alolan Ninetales, and it’s also based on an original character of mine (from a story that I discussed in a former Vouiv-review post) who is elementally affiliated with Spirit and capable of freezing things. (I mean, I couldn’t think of anything else to name a male Ninetales.)

Oh, and also: I had caught an Alolan Vulpix before the one that I ultimately settled upon, but I soft-resetted afterwards because I was not willing to put up with a Jolly-natured Ninetales.

Crusch the Skarmory [Airmure] (female)
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Keen Eye [Regard Vif]
– Steel Wing [Aile d’Acier]
– Aerial Ace [Aéropique]
– Swords Dance [Danse-Lames]
– Autotomize [Allègement]

Named after Crusch Karsten from Re:Zero (my personal favorite character of the series) because of her affinity with wind and steel, this Pokémon was quite an oddity but also quite an asset to the team. I consider it to be an oddity because it possesses a terrible Nature and Ability and runs dual STAB with Double Dance (something that I never normally do in-game), not to mention I have never actually used Skarmory in an in-game team before. It has been of great help, though, with its awesome defensive typing, ability to take hits, and the occasions where it puts in work after setting up. It was caught on Route 17 at level 34, and it has served well since its debut.

Leonardo the Poliwrath [Tartard] (male)
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Modest [Modeste]
Ability: Water Absorb [Absorb Eau]
– Scald [Ébullition]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Psychic [Psyko] after E4; Poison Jab [Direct Toxik] currently
– Work Up [Rengorgement]

The Water component of my Fire-Water-Grass core ever since Brooklet Hill (granted it was after Lana’s trial), I caught this in the wild at level 14, and I was deliberately going for Water Absorb (and for a darn good reason). I also use this for super-effective damage against Normal-types thanks to its Fighting STAB (although it is a shame that I have to choose between Brick Break and Low Sweep—Focus Blast be darned despite the Nature), and Scald is arguably its best Water-type option in spite of the burn nerf as of the current generation. I had Psychic on it during the Elite Four, but after fighting Mina in Poni Gauntlet, I realized that having Psychic on Poliwrath was redundant with Ao having Psyshock, so I decided to replace Psychic with Poison Jab as I began to realize the value of having Poison coverage on the team. Work Up has come in handy on a few occasions, and my primary motive for using it is to prevent stronger Trainers from healing up if Poliwrath does less than half with any given attack. The nickname “Leonardo” comes from a chain association of Poliwrath with Battletoads and Battletoads with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought that the name “Battletoad” would be too predictable, so I shifted focus to TMNT and settled on the nickname Leonardo because both Leonardo and Poliwrath are associated with the color blue. (Another nickname idea I had was “Nyoron Cena,” but that sounded stupid the more I thought about it.)

Nyanta the Incineroar [Félinferno] (male)
Level after E4: 56
Current level: 67
Nature: Quirky [Bizarre]
Ability: Blaze [Brasier]
– Flare Blitz [Boutefeu]
– Darkest Lariat [Dark Lariat]
– U-turn [Demi-Tour]
– Flame Charge [Nitrocharge]

Goodness forbid, another anime-based nickname. It’s not even that good of a nickname for the final evolution, considering it’s awfully slow (although not as slow as Algancre) and looks more buff than its namesake, but hey, I couldn’t make a Cena reference because it’s been done before. I probably could have made a JoJo reference based on the French nomenclature of its Nature, but I haven’t watched nearly enough JoJo to dare to do so. I may have had something else come to mind, but I completely forgot, and it was probably dumb anyway.

Anyway, I settled upon the fire cat as a starter, simply because I’ve always been a cat lover. I was considering the grass owl as a secondary choice, but the second form of the evolution line turned me off. As for the water seal…to be completely honest, I just don’t like its design. I will concede that Primarina is the best final-form starter typing-wise and stat-wise, but the design is a like-or-dislike sort of thing, and I have to say that I am on the dislike side. At any rate, the fire cat has been strong throughout the entirety of its evolutionary cycle, but then it slowed down drastically when it hit the final stage of evolution. On most occasions, even Flame Charge couldn’t redeem its disappointing Speed. I think I was also using Flamethrower as primary Fire STAB before I got to Flare Blitz level, which is…perhaps not the best idea, although I would argue better than having to settle with the 95% accurate Fire Fang. The recoil of Flare Blitz is slightly detrimental, but the power side of the tradeoff is well worth the risk. Darkest Lariat is the best Dark STAB option, and U-turn in conjunction with Speed boosts from Flame Charge allows the fire cat to switch with style.

Regarding the name of Incineroar/Félinferno, I don’t really like the English or French name (especially English), but man, the German name, Fuegro, is freaking awesome.

Former team members

Note: These Pokémon are presented in reverse chronological order of being put into the PC. Also, the term “former” does not mean to imply that I did a Nuzlocke, because I didn’t. (I’m not masochistic enough to make a Nuzlocke of my first playthrough of a game.)

Doppel Jr. the Mimikyu [Mimiqui] (female)
Level: 47
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Disguise [Fantômasque]
– Play Rough [Câlinerie]
– Shadow Claw [Griffe Ombre]
– Charm [Charme]
– Shadow Sneak [Ombre Portée]

Mimikyu was something that I’d been wanting to use ever since Acerola’s trial, but when I realized how popular it actually became later on, I decided to stray away from it while making changes to the team prior to the Elite Four. I will say, though: It has served well in spite of its subpar Nature, with its extremely useful Ability and awesome three-immunity typing making it a huge help in defeating Totem Kommo-o. (I will provide further detail later.) It’s had Shadow Sneak and Charm ever since I caught it (at level 30), whereas Shadow Claw was taught via TM and Play Rough was learned later, specifically after the Dragon trial (and I had to use Dazzling Gleam for Fairy STAB in the meantime). The nickname is inspired by the character Doppel from the series Monster Musume, and the “Jr.” part of the name comes from how Mimikyu’s disguise does not perfectly mirror Pikachu (contrary to the namesake of this one in particular).

Giroeuf the Exeggutor [Noadkoko] (female)
Level: 46
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Frisk [Fouille]
– Grass Knot [Nœud Herbe]
– Dragon Hammer [Draco-Marteau]
– Sludge Bomb [Bomb-Beurk]
– Nature Power [Force-Nature]

I would have named it Girœuf if the in-game keyboard had a œ character, but alas I had to keep the “o” and “e” separate. (Regardless, I will henceforth write œuf because it looks nicer.) I had initially considered the nickname “Giriffraffe,” which is simply inserting “riff-raff” (branding for the craziest allowable posts of the KnowYourMeme forums) into the word “giraffe” (a creature that Alolan Exeggutor strongly resembles), because Alolan Exeggutor’s design is a literal meme. Later, however, I decided to keep it simple and just combine “giraffe” with “œuf,” the French word for “egg.” Like Algancre, it would have been a slow but strong and moderately bulky attacker, but I didn’t want to double up on Dragon-types and thusly ended up ditching Girœuf primarily in favor of Algancre. Speaking of Algancre, Girœuf was also caught at level 43, but since it was a temporary placeholder for the team prior to bringing Algancre aboard, it actually picked up a few levels.

Entoma the Charjabug [Chrysapile] (female)
Level: 41
Nature: Jolly [Jovial]
Ability: Battery [Batterie]
– Spark [Étincelle]
– X-Scissor [Plaie-Croix]
– Poison Jab [Direct Toxik]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]

An odd little case, this one. First of all, its nickname is based on a character from Overlord whom I didn’t care about until the Ple Ple Pleiades special, just because it’s a bug and has an oddly shaped but likely-to-devour mouth. Second, I didn’t know how to evolve it at first (because I was trying to avoid looking anything up until just before the Elite Four, at which point I would reflect upon my team ideas and whether or not they’d work), so I just left it in its secondary form and slapped an Eviolite on it. Although I caught it at level 28 on Blush Mountain and took it through (I think) the entirety of Aether Paradise, it didn’t take me long thereafter to decide that its time was up. (I replaced it with Girœuf.) Still, it was fun to use with its paralysis shenanigans, decent bulk thanks to Eviolite, and passable offense.

Puff Mama the Cottonee [Doudouvet] (female)
Level: 36
Nature: Brave [Brave]
Ability: Prankster [Farceur]
– Giga Drain [Giga-Sangsue]
– Fairy Wind [Vent Féérique]
– Leech Seed [Vampigraine]
– Stun Spore [Para-Spore]

Terrible nature and meh nickname (I would have named it “Puff Daddy” if it were male, because the cotton aspect of the Pokémon made me think of the word “puff”), but this ‘mon has been a bulky asset to the team until I decided to replace it with Entoma after obtaining Doppel Jr. (because I didn’t want to double up on Fairies). If I hadn’t traded it off, I would have kept it until it learned Moonblast, but then I recently realized that only its evolution learns Moonblast by level-up (and, unfortunately, not until level 50). Regardless, it was a valuable asset, the Grass component of the imminent Fire-Water-Grass core, since I caught it in Melemele Meadow at level 10. Leech Seed is an amazing move in-game, providing gracious recovery and helpful passive damage at the cost of 10% inaccuracy and being ineffective against Grass-types (and Dark-types thanks to the Prankster nerf), and the STAB moves do wonders in withering down the opposition. Because I didn’t bother to evolve Cottonee while I had it, it was my primary Eviolite holder until Entoma came along, and it was respectably bulky when it acquired the Eviolite. Good times.

Harem the Dugtrio [Triopikeur] (female)
Level: 36
Nature: Naive [Naïf]
Ability: Tangling Hair [Mèche Rebelle]
– Magnitude [Ampleur]
– Metal Claw [Griffe Acier]
– Rock Tomb [Tomberoche]
– Growl [Rugissement]

I caught this as a level 8 Diglett in Verdant Cavern, which I had initially named Blondie (obviously after its hair color and partially after the artist), but then I had the wild idea of naming it Harem after its evolution (because, y’know, it’s a multitude of female heads, and that’s what a harem is all about). My thought process was that it would fill the Steel-type and Ground-type needs of my team, but I came to realize before long that it was too frail considering how much damage it could deal (especially with its low BP moves) and just couldn’t pull its weight as a whole. With that in mind, I eventually set it aside and had Crusch fill the Steel-type role and 10% Zygarde fill the Ground-type role.

Praline the Oricorio [Plumeline] (female, Pom-Pom Style)
Level: 36
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Dancer [Danseuse]
– Air Slash [Lame d’Air]
– U-turn [Demi-Tour]
– Roost [Atterrissage]
– Feather Dance [Danse-Plume]

Caught at level 9 in Melemele Meadow, this ‘mon filled the Flying-type role for my team for a long time, and I wanted to believe that it could learn an Electric-type move as well, but its gimmick move Revelation Dance takes way too freaking long to learn (and it doesn’t get any other Electric-type attacks). I tried to make do with what I had, though, and I have to say: Even with a hindering nature and base 70 Attack, Acrobatics hit really freaking hard. That said, I decided to shift the moveset to one that plays more off its strengths and uses special STAB in tandem with U-turn and other supporting moves. Nonetheless, it ended up replaced by Crusch due to its way-too-long-lasting lack of secondary STAB and the change in formation of the team in general. Its nickname is based on a character of the same name in Bravely Default, specifically because of its tendency to dance, the white part of its body, and the similarity of its French name to the name Praline.

Agatha the Misdreavus [Feuforêve] (female)
Level: 30
Nature: Mild [Doux]
Ability: Levitate [Lévitation]
– Shadow Ball [Ball’Ombre]
– Psychic [Psyko]
– Charge Beam [Rayon Chargé]
– Taunt [Provoc]

Used to be my go-to Ghost-type until I obtained Doppel Jr. I encountered it at level 9 in the Hau’oli Cemetery, and its decent special offense and three immunities made it a respectable part of the team. Sadly, though, as it remained unevolved for the entire duration when I had it, it just couldn’t pull its weight as the game started to get harder (and Dusk Stone is awfully far through the game, Poké Pelago be darned). Generically named after the Poison-type member of the Kanto Elite Four who is also infamous for using Ghost-types.

MasterSensei the Machop [Machoc] (male)
Level: 21
Nature: Brave [Brave]
Ability: No Guard [Annule Garde]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Low Sweep [Balayette]
– Knock Off [Sabotage]
– Foresight [Clairvoyance]

Served as a Fighting-type attacker since obtained via in-game trade at level 9, but it ended up being replaced in favor of Leonardo. I didn’t have any real fond memories of this thing, just that it was there in case Rock-types (or perhaps Normal-types) would become a problem. It would be named Macho if I had decided to play in English, but the French counterpart is MasterSensei (apparently).

Straw the Cutiefly [Bombydou] (female)
Level: 10
Nature: Sassy [Malpoli]
Ability: Honey Gather [Cherche Miel]
– Struggle Bug [Survinsecte]
– Fairy Wind [Vent Féérique]
– Absorb [Vol-Vie]
– Stun Spore [Para-Spore]

This was my designated Fairy-type between Route 2 and Melemele Meadow, before I realized that Cottonee was a better fit for me (and arguably a better Pokémon in general). Plus, its Ability and Nature are evidently sub-optimal.

le toucan the Trumbeak [Piclairon] (female)
Level: 14
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Keen Eye [Regard Vif]
– Peck [Picpic]
– Echoed Voice [Écho]
– Growl [Rugissement]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]

This is the Route 1 bird, which I planned to keep until it reached its final evolution (hence the nickname), but I lost patience with it when an issue arose with the low BP of its STAB moves and the faultiness of its Nature (and, now that I look back at it, its Ability), so I replaced it with Praline, which had a superior typing and damage output.

Nermal the Meowth [Miaouss] (male)
Level: 7
Nature: Naughty [Mauvais]
Ability: Pickup [Ramassage]
– Bite [Morsure]
– Scratch [Griffe]
– Growl [Rugissement]

Just a seldom used 6th team member until I had a full synergetic team to assemble. Pickup is always nice, but I didn’t want to keep this around because I knew that the Fire starter would eventually evolve into a Dark-type (admittedly because I was spoiled before I started the game). The Garfield reference in the nickname is far too obvious, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything else.

Sacapatates the Makuhita [Makuhita] (male)
Level: 13
Nature: Modest [Modeste]
Ability: Thick Fat [Isograisse]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Focus Energy [Puissance]
– Fake Out [Bluff]

Haha, Modest physical attacker. This was my initial Fighting-type from Route 2 until the in-game trade Machop in the Pokémon Center thereof (although I believe I conducted the trade after completing the first trial). In spite of its terrible Nature, it served well for what it was worth. The nickname is a shortening of the phrase “sac à patates,” which can be translated to “potato bag,” because that’s just the type of wording I would use to describe Makuhita’s appearance as a whole.

Miracle the Magnemite [Magnéti]
Level: 11
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Sturdy [Fermeté]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]
– Thundershock [Éclair]
– Magnet Bomb [Bombaimant]

Of all the nicknames that I have given in this playthrough, I would have to say that this is the one that I’m the most proud of. The chief reasoning behind it is because of the song Miracles by Insane Clown Posse, which contains the phrase, “magnets, how do they work?” It also fits well because of the Ability Sturdy, which allows the user to survive at 1 HP as if by a miracle. Anyway, nickname aside, this was my designated Steel-type from the Trainer School until I caught myself a Diglett. It was fun to use while it lasted.

Profiteur the Rattata [Rattata] (male)
Level: 7
Nature: Naughty [Mauvais]
Ability: Hustle [Agitation]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Tail Whip [Mimi-Queue]
– Quick Attack [Vive-Attaque]
– Focus Energy [Puissance]

Nickname is a reference to another Bravely Default character, mostly because of the moustache, buck teeth, and black outfit. Only saw a bit of action, specifically because I fear Hustle and, again, didn’t want to double up on Dark-types.

The rest are filler members: Nom the Yungoos [Manglouton], Foxy Grandpa the Ledyba [Coxy], and Wormy the Caterpie [Chenipan]. They honestly just filled up space while I was in the process of assembling a team of six.

Honorable mentions

Pokémon that I may have considered before but did not end up making the cut:

Fire-types that I would have considered using if I hadn’t picked the Fire-type starter.

Same as above, but substitute Fire for Dark.

My teambuilding process was so immunity-centric that I didn’t bother with types like Alolan Raichu, but perhaps I would have considered it otherwise.

The Water/Flying typing and regular access to Drizzle were tempting, but I’m sure I’ve used a Pelipper before, and I didn’t plan on using one again. Besides, Drizzle would have had bad synergy with my starter.

Similarly to Alolan Raichu, my teambuilding process was too immunity-centric for this thing.

I like the idea of Accelerock, but I find pure-typed Pokémon to be less preferable over dual-typed Pokémon.

An alternative Water-type that I would have considered if not for the reasoning above.

Ground-type and has an interesting Ability in Stamina, but again, it only has one type. Moreover, I couldn’t possibly grind a Mudbray up to a comfortable level for the Elite Four at the point I was at while deciding my final team.

I was a fan of stuffed toys when I was a wee lad (and I still have pretty much my entire collection), and Fluffy is a very interesting Ability, but I had already decided that Poliwrath was going to be my Fighting-type before I could even encounter a Stufful. I won’t knock the design of this one, just because of how funny it is in the anime (and the moments with the Bewear and Team Rocket led me to appreciate its appearance more than I ever could have imagined).

Definitely an interesting ‘mon in terms of its typing and unique Ability in Water Compaction, but I had the same sort of too-little-too-late syndrome to deal with as I did with Mudsdale.

I might have considered this if not for how late-game it is (in spite of its pre-evolutions being in the demo) and if I hadn’t already been using Zygarde and Poliwrath.

Hypothetical alternative team

You know, the previous section has me thinking: What if I had chosen Moon with Rowlet as my starter? Then perhaps the final team would look more like this:


Gaebora (Decidueye)
Ability: Overgrow
– Leaf Blade
– Spirit Shackle
– U-turn
– Roost

Cocytus [Hokuto if female] (Sandslash-Alola)
Ability: Snow Cloak
– Icicle Crash
– Iron Head
– Earthquake
– Protect

Kirche (Salazzle) (F)
Ability: Corrosion
– Flamethrower
– Sludge Bomb
– Dragon Pulse
– Toxic

Ty [Saya if female] (Pelipper)
Ability: Drizzle
– Hurricane
– Scald
– Tailwind
– Roost

Teddy (Bewear)
Ability: Fluffy
– Hammer Arm
– Facade
– Shadow Claw
– Pain Split

Intérieur (Krookodile)
Ability: Intimidate
– Earthquake
– Crunch
– Rock Slide
– Taunt

Legendaries and similar

Thought I was done talking about obtained Pokémon? Nah, man. I still haven’t covered the legendaries (and similar) besides Zygarde. (Note: All of them have their default movesets.)

During the main story, of course I had to catch this. Because I didn’t have any Adamant Synchronize users at the time, I had to soft-reset for the Nature the good old-fashioned way. It didn’t take too long, considering Quick Ball had a good chance of capturing and, failing that, I could just weaken it with snek and capture it in a Timer Ball or similar. The whole legendary-catching process makes me glad for two new mechanics:

  1. Upon capturing a Pokémon and being taken through the nicknaming process, you can view its status before sending it to the PC or including it in your party. This means no more having to put up with the rest of the game’s crud before being able to access the nearest PC. I feel like checking status could stand to be before the nicknaming process, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
  2. Hyper Training means not having to worry about IVs anymore (barring Hidden Power types, and IVs kept purposely low (such as Attack for strictly special attackers and Speed for purposely slow attackers)).

I generically named this Solgaleo “King” for lack of anything better.

I don’t know whether to call this a legendary. There is only one, and it cannot be bred, but it can evolve into a Pokémon that has rather poor base stats for being fully evolved and is not banned in battle facilities or online play. Just as I have my doubts about it being a legendary, I named it “Gry” even though it’s not exactly a gryphon.

I also got the Nature for this one without Synchronize, and I went for Jolly, keeping in mind that I would evolve it into a Silvally. I mean, Eviolite Type: Null theoretically seems better, until you realize that not only is its Speed significantly lower, but it lacks reliable recovery. Taking that into consideration, my initial idea would be to run a Choice Scarf set with Return / U-turn / Parting Shot / Explosion (even though apparently Parting Shot, along with Memento, is banned from online play due to a glitch with Z-Parting Shot and Z-Memento that mysteriously causes the battle to disconnect…though I personally think it would have been a better idea to ban Darkinium Z). A set taking advantage of RKS System would be nice too, like with Ground Memory and a set of Swords Dance / Multi-Attack / Rock Slide / Fire Fang.

On the flip side, now that I reflect further on the potential of Arceus 0.5, perhaps a Timid nature could have worked with Z-Heal Block working as a makeshift Nasty Plot and benefitting its respectable Special movepool notably containing Tri-Attack, BoltBeam, Surf, Flamethrower, and Shadow Ball.

Prior to catching Nihilego was when I decided to go to the Hau’oli Market and go through the painful process of catching one Synchronize Abra for every Nature excluding Gentle, Lax, and the neutral Natures. Afterwards, it was obvious what Nature and nickname to give Nihilego. Its base stats have “Timid” written all over them, and its appearance has “Lilie” written all over it. (Her French name only has 1 L in the middle.) I decided to go for Hidden Power Ground as well, because it seemed to have the greatest coverage with its dual STAB. (I was also considering Hidden Power Fighting, but that Hidden Power is impossible on legendaries in Gen 6 and onward due to the mechanic of always having at least 3 perfect IVs.) This was reasonably easy to weaken with Leonardo’s Brick Break.

Because there were two Buzzwole in the Ultra Beast saga, I decided to get one Adamant and one Jolly, named “JOHN SQUITO” and “Protein” respectively. Base 79 Speed might not be all that impressive, but neither is base 53 Special Defense, even fully invested. It’s a shame that Pheromosa is Moon-exclusive (because Pheromosa is much more my style), but hey, at least Buzzwole presented a great opportunity for a Cena-inspired pun. I believe I weakened this one with Ao’s Dazzling Gleam and let Crusch take hits during the catching process.

Another Ultra Beast that presented itself as a pair. Obviously, I wanted both to have Hidden Power Ice, with one Timid and the other Modest. (The Timid one is named “Lanky” based on its body structure, and the Modest one is named “Créé” after another original character from the story I mentioned earlier.) This was easily weakened with the help of snek.

Okay, now this is just overkill. Not one, not two, not even three, but freaking four of the same Ultra Beast, let alone one of such a predictable nature as Kartana. Because it can really only play a role of semi-fast physical attacker based on its stat distribution, I decided to catch two Adamant and two Jolly—named “o,” “ri,” “ga,” and “mi” because I couldn’t come up with anything else. I used Crusch to weaken this one, and I have to say that Leaf Blade does impressive damage even when quad resisted.

Now this was a real pain to get, not only because of the reduced catch rate, but also because of the requirements that I imposed for it. Specifically, I wanted it to be Brave-natured with an exceptionally low Speed IV (0-2, tested based on turn order using Algancre’s Speed at the time) because…well, its stats are really weird, and I figured the best use for it would be as a Trick Room-based slow attacker. Its attacking stats are not all that impressive, but it is sluggish and lacks a reliable form of recovery, so an offensive set is honestly the best way to go with it. I was considering a set along the lines of: Draco Meteor / Crunch / Heavy Slam / Protect (with Life Orb). As for the nickname, I decided on “Utsu-P” based on their song EAT.

After the very annoying process of obtaining the right Guzzlord, it was the perfect time to redeem the event Magearna. What intrigued me most about this Pokémon is that it is the new slowest user of the rare combination of Trick Room and Volt Switch. With that in mind, of course I would go for Quiet Nature with low Speed. Surprisingly, after just a few resets, the Speed IV turned out to be in the 4-5 range! (No nickname, obviously, because it’s an event Pokémon.)

Then came the Tapus. Tapu Koko is another unfortunate case of having stats and movepool mixed up. Although its Attack is higher than its Special Attack, its physical movepool is pretty much limited to Electric/Flying/Bug (it gets Steel Wing and Thief, but those are pretty weak), whereas its special movepool is notably more colorful and actually has Fairy STAB. Sure, it could be possible to run a mixed set, but I felt like it would be better to go purely physical with a set like Wild Charge / Brave Bird / U-turn / Roost. Nicknamed “Falco” because it’s bird-like and lives on Melemele Island (which very much resembles “Melee-melee,” and Falco is a notable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee). By the way, I’m so glad that the game allows you to re-challenge Tapu Koko if you KO it after the Pokémon League.

Timid, please. Psyshock / Moonblast / Focus Blast / Taunt, or perhaps some other fourth move. As easy as it was to come up with a set for Lele, nicknaming it was not so easy. I mean, it’s supposed to be based on a butterfly, but what’s so “butterfly” about it? I dunno, I just ended up choosing its nickname based on the fact that it seems to be hiding in a pot-like shell…thing. Therefore, I named it “Magick Pot” (after an enemy in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 that behaves similarly).

Another addition to the physically-oriented-Fairy-that-doesn’t-get-physical-Fairy-STAB club. Honestly, why do they still not have a physical Fairy attack besides Play Rough? Regardless, I was debating what nature to run on Bulu, whether to just roll with Adamant or go with something bulkier, or perhaps faster in spite of its base 75 Speed. Even after a bit of research, I ultimately settled upon Adamant, and I nicknamed it “Wizpig” (after the villain of Diddy Kong Racing).

Argh, this one was such a pain to deal with. I had three difficulties in trying to get the right Tapu Fini:

  1. Catching it. I circumvented this difficulty using the Master Ball, and I will explain why. The primary reason is because of this darned move called Aqua Ring. The passive recovery makes it so that I would have to burn it to keep its capture rate in check, and obviously it’s protected from burn as long as Misty Terrain is in effect. My normal capturing process is to use Leonardo (taking advantage of the fact that Nature’s Madness is Tapu Fini’s only damaging move that works, courtesy of Water Absorb) to weaken it using Poison Jab and its STAB(s) to reduce it to as low HP as possible without KOing it, applying burn if it uses Aqua Ring. Even though all Tapus have the same capture rate (3), Fini is the only one against which I had occasions of failing to capture it before it KO’d itself with Struggle.
  2. Getting the right Nature (Timid). 50% is lower than you may think.
  3. Getting the right Hidden Power type. I was initially considering Fire based on research, but I feel like Ground has the best coverage overall. I mean, the only resistant typings to both of its dual STABs are Grass/Poison, Grass/Steel, Water/Poison, and Water/Steel; and Volcanion is resistant by Ability. Fire covers the Grass-types and hits Water/Steel neutrally, but it’s resisted by Water/Poison and (quad-resisted by) Volcanion. Sure, Shadow Ball hits all five neutrally, but Ground hits the Water-types super-effectively and the Grass-types neutrally. Regardless, of the 42 possible odd/even IV combinations on any given legendary Pokémon, 3 yield Ground, so the chances of getting such a Hidden Power are roughly 7%. (Note: Special Attack and/or Special Defense being perfect is a clear indication that it does not have Hidden Power Ground, so if it’s obvious which 3 IVs are perfect and SpA or SpD is among them, or if I see a characteristic like “Coquin” or “Un peu vaniteux” (which mean “Mischievous” and “Somewhat vain” respectively), I know to soft-reset and repeat the capturing process.)

Regardless, after many, many grueling attempts at getting the right Tapu Fini, I decided to nickname it “Kraken Zwei” as a reference to the Unlimited Fafnir light novel (specifically starting from volume 7). I don’t want to spoil too much, but the purple coloration, human-like appearance, and silvery hair are what influenced the nickname.

 

Dang, that was a lot, and it’s not even the end yet. I have yet to obtain Necrozma or Cosmog, but I will get to that shortly. Speaking of Cosmog, now that I think about it, Solgaleo with Z-Splash and Flame Charge seems awfully threatening.

Miscellaneous

My in-game identity is a male Trainer named Toru. The reason? I’ve been intrigued by that name ever since the first time I played FireRed, when I gave that name to my rival as one of the defaults. (Ah, the good ol’ days of playing as BEELEE♂…)

As for my experience as a whole, everything before the Elite Four was pretty much touch-and-go, barring a few select battles. Specifically, Totem Wishiwashi took a painstakingly long time to defeat (even with Puff Mama, which was my best bet for taking it on), and Totem Kommo-o was pure craziness. To elaborate further…

Against Totem Kommo-o, I led off with Mimikyu. Dazzling Gleam didn’t do much (especially with Mimikyu’s laughable Special Attack), and I learned that Kommo-o had Flash Cannon thanks to the Disguise. To make matters worse, Kommo-o even called a Scizor as an SOS Partner, so I just had to switch out. I switched specifically into Nyanta, which took negligible damage from Kommo-o’s Flash Cannon and Scizor’s Bullet Punch. Next, Kommo-o went for Sky Uppercut, which Nyanta survived at 1 HP thanks to its affection level and proceeded to destroy the Scizor with its Fire STAB. (I don’t remember whether it was Flamethrower or Flame Charge, but that doesn’t really matter.) Afterwards, I had to sac Nyanta to get a free switch into Leonardo, which inflicted chip damage with Psychic as Kommo-o summoned Hakamo-o and had it set up and clean up shop (mostly the former). Then I felt comfortable finally bringing Mimikyu back in, and it ended up barely surviving Flash Cannon (and apparently Hakamo-o had nothing to touch it) and securing the victory with Dazzling Gleam.

I have to say some of the music is good, especially these three particular tracks:

And speaking of the Elite Four, that is where I really started having problems. Throughout the prior stages of the game, I would use the Exp. Share sparingly, specifically only against Totem Pokémon and major Trainers such as the Kahuna, because of how ridiculous it was in Gen VI. However, when I realized how underleveled I was in comparison to the Elite Four, as well as how experience gain in Gen VII is more akin to that of Gen V, I wholeheartedly regretted not using the Exp. Share more often.

In spite of the circumstances, I did manage to push through the Elite Four without much worry (barring the way too many freaking times Algancre missed Power Whip), but the main issue was that freaking Champion. Honestly, his Primarina alone would have swept my entire team under ordinary circumstances, so I had to go into Algancre, give it my only X-Sp.Def at the time, and—get this—stall it out of Moonblasts. Yep, that was my strategy for eliminating that threat: just spamming healing items until it had used up all 15 Moonblasts. Braviary also gave me grief, considering Crusch was down (I think) and snek couldn’t take two Brave Birds, not to mention Ao wasn’t fast enough to outspeed. Thankfully, Brave Bird has the risk of recoil, which is what ultimately caused it to faint at the expense of Ao. But man, what a painful experience.

The post-game Dexio fight was also quite a bother. In fact, I was so ill prepared for it the first time around that I had to reset the game, and the last time I had saved was after beating the game. Heck, even when I actually gained some levels in the Ultra Beast saga, that Mega Alakazam darn near destroyed my team; I had to stall it out of Focus Blasts using Nyanta and Crusch, and then destroy it with a Darkest Lariat from Nyanta. Thankfully, though, that’s really all I struggled with (outside of the competitive facilities, for which I don’t even have a properly EV trained team). Now I know to actually use the Exp. Share instead of struggling to survive without it.

Another recent post-game project I’ve been considering is breeding for Snow Warning Alolan Vulpix with Freeze-Dry and Moonblast. I already did the Snow Warning part with the help of an Absol that I caught and made my designated SOS Battle abuser.

Kili the Absol [Absol] (female)
Level: 46
Nature: Jolly [Jovial]
Ability: Pressure [Pression]
– Night Slash [Tranche-Nuit]
– Bite [Morsure]
– False Swipe [Faux-Chage]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]

Having looked up information about SOS Battles, I learned that three key components are essential: Adrenaline Orbs, the right Ability, and reducing the lone target to the right HP value. Thankfully Adrenaline Orbs are nice and cheap, and the Ultra Beast saga rewards you with a whopping 1 million PokéDollars, so I could just simply buy until I had 99. As for the Ability, Absol is the easiest Pokémon to acquire with any of the three SOS-provoking Abilities (Intimidate, Pressure, Unnerve) that also has access to False Swipe. As a bonus, Absol gets Thunder Wave to prevent a potential capture target (if applicable) from calling for further help and to make said target easier to capture. As for the rest of the moveset, since Dark-type moves have good enough coverage on their own, I decided to run two STAB moves while finding the right balance between PP, power, and not hitting both targets at once. Night Slash and Bite combined have 40 PP total, each having no less than 60 BP and only hitting a single target, making them ideal in this case scenario. Leftovers (stolen from a Munchlax on Route 1) helped in that I wouldn’t have to worry as much about damage taken, because I was hunting for Alolan Vulpix in Tapu Village (which also made it easier to tell whether an Alolan Vulpix has Snow Cloak or Snow Warning). By the way, the nickname “Kili” is another Unlimited Fafnir reference, and its namesake is pretty much the reason why I like the series so much in the first place.

So, with a Snow Warning Alolan Vulpix in tow (and a female no less), I just have to get the appropriate Egg moves onto it (and a better Nature considering it’s Jolly). However, therein lies a conundrum: The only conventional way to breed Freeze-Dry onto an Alolan Vulpix is by chain breeding from Aurorus to Lapras to Delibird, and Aurorus is not native to Alola. Therefore, the only (currently) possible way to breed Freeze-Dry onto Alolan Vulpix is by getting a Smeargle to learn it. Still, therein lies another conundrum: Double Battles are not as prominent in Alola as they are in other regions. The best way to circumvent this conundrum is through the use of SOS Battles. In other words, my plan for obtaining a Smeargle with Freeze-Dry is to get a Smeargle to 1 HP, bring in Glalie (which was the easiest way to get Freeze-Dry: to simply catch a Snorunt in the wild and give it a Rare Candy), and, on the turn the 1-HP Smeargle calls in a male SOS Partner, KO the 1-HP Smeargle with Freeze-Dry, allowing the other Smeargle to Sketch that move. As for Moonblast, I initially planned on using the SOS Sketch method (as I’ll call it for simplicity) with Tapu Lele for that move (which is what led to the recent catching spree of Tapus), but I would rather EV train Tapu Lele beforehand, and that would be a real pain considering I don’t even have Pokérus yet. So, I think I would rather raise a Sylveon to learn the move at level 37 (and perhaps make sure that the Eevee is Timid for Nature transfer purposes).

Finally, here are a few closing thoughts:

  • I can think of two minor annoyances in booting up the game:
    1. On non-New3DS systems, the game (as well as the demo) takes an exceptionally long time to boot up for the first time. It’s not as bad as Nintendo Badge Arcade, but still.
    2. I don’t see why you can’t use the touch screen to advance from the title screen to file selection. I mean, the intro starts off covering the bottom screen and leaving the top screen black.
  • How glorious it is that they got rid of HMs in favor of Poké Ride. I never would have guessed such a wonderful change in mechanics.
  • Pokémon Refresh actually convinced me to get into the whole business of affection, just because of the close calls and ability to heal off status conditions during/after battle (especially the latter). Something that annoys me, though, is how affectionate Pokémon tend to fall asleep when you move things around in the PC.
  • Festival Plaza is like Join Avenue 2.0, only it’s marked with a green (!) bubble in the menu when the residents want to talk to you (which is every freaking hour). Also, the shops don’t level up like they do in Unova’s Join Avenue; they’re just randomly suggested by Sophocles every time the Festival Plaza levels up (except for a few major milestones). The green bubble triggers me at times, but I can’t really diss the feature otherwise.
  • Poké Finder is a nod to Pokémon Snap (which, although I don’t remember fondly, I watch 360chrism speedrun from time to time) in that it involves taking up to six photos of one Pokémon and getting points for whichever photo you choose. I did actually get 1,500,000 total points for the Trainer Passport stamp, and the highest score I’ve gotten for a single photo (specifically the Mimikyu photo shown below) is just above 16k.
    mimikyu
    Something I noticed about Poké Finder is that the photos taken make a different jingle for 0-1000, 1000-3000, and 3000+ ranges of points.
  • By the time of the Elite Four, I was honestly expecting Acerola to have a Mimikyu, and boy was I disappointed.
  • Something I find annoying about the game is how it lags so much on any system not named New3DS. Double Battles, Battle Royal, Z-Moves… You name it, it lags the game. But hey, at least Sun and Moon are not New3DS-exclusive games, because that would be even worse.
  • As much as they lag the game, Z-Moves are quite interesting. Supposedly the attacking moves bypass accuracy checks, and some of the status moves have interesting effects (especially Splash and pretty much anything that grants an all-stats boost (à la Ancient Power).)
  • Admittedly, I laughed at every part of the Firium Z trial. Not just the photobombing of the Hiker and Salazzle, but I found the dancing Marowak goofy as well.
  • The Poké Finder segment just before the Totem Mimikyu battle spooked me.
  • Poké Pelago is pretty cool. Collecting beans, finding wild Pokémon from out of nowhere, growing Berries in the most convenient manner possible, hunting for treasures, training Pokémon, and increasing the happiness of Pokémon…all while being reminded of Pokémon who are normally left to rot in the PC. It’s good stuff. (But y’know, I find it odd that you can get Golden Bottle Caps but not regular Bottle Caps through the treasure hunting.)
  • Speaking of Bottle Caps, I feel like a complete idiot because I thought they were undersea treasures returning from B/W (and therefore sold them whenever I happened upon them). It took me until after beating the game to realize that they’re those things that allow you to Hyper Train.
  • It’s so weird that the Move Reminder is so far into the game (just before the Elite Four), but it’s understandable considering this one actually teaches moves that Pokémon have yet to learn.
  • My top three list of favorite characters:
    1. Lana
    2. Sophocles
    3. Anabel
  • My top three list of favorite Gen VII Pokémon:
    1. Mimikyu
    2. Alolan Sandslash
    3. Bewear
  • Overall rating? 9/10. I would say it’s the best installment of the franchise (mostly because I have a high tendency to prefer newer games), but it’s still not quite perfect.

 

Phew, 8000+ words and I’m finally done. What a whimsical weekend it was indeed, considering I had to delay my post until Wednesday. But anyway, I think that’s all I have to say for now.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)