Two generations later, Huntail stills finds itself dwelling in the deep, dark depths of NU, grabbing a few kills every now and then to survive. The generation shift, however, generously gave Huntail the tool it needs to be a top-tier threat: Shell Smash. Unfortunately, sweeping with Shell Smash boosts is the main reason for using Huntail, and sure enough, there are some Pokemon that may seem to outclass it in this regard. For instance, Gorebyss is more often seen than Huntail due to having a higher Special Attack stat, and Carracosta boasts dual STAB and a higher Defense stat, making it easier to set up a sweep.
Despite having competition with these threats, Huntail is nothing short a threat once it sets up. To add to its ability to break through many types of teams, Huntail boasts several advantages over its fellow Shell Smash users, mainly its higher Speed and the ability to use physical attacks effectively. Think of Huntail as a hybrid; it is able to use both physical and special attacks (albeit out of necessity) while being less susceptible to the revenge killers that plague Carracosta. As a Shell Smash user, Huntail should definitely not be ignored as a prime threat in the dark chasm known as NU.
Since Huntail's options are quite restricted due to its small movepool and the existence of Gorebyss and Carracosta (both of whom specialize in pure special and physical sweeping, respectively), a mixed Shell Smash set is the best way to utilize its great offensive capabilities. With the boosts that Shell Smash provides, neutral-speed natured Huntail outruns just about every unboosted threat in NU with the exception of Electrode. With the provided attacks, Huntail also achieves great coverage and power, able to slice through offensive and most defensive teams alike. Attaining the boosts is a fairly easy task thanks to Huntail's decent physical bulk, though it is advised to switch it in after a teammate has fainted to increase its chances of surviving attacks and boosting.
Between a boosted Crunch and STAB Waterfall, little besides dedicated walls are able to resist, let alone survive, this combination of attacks. Most physical walls and other defensive Pokemon (Grass-types in particular) are taken care of by Huntail's chosen special move. The choice between Ice Beam and Hydro Pump depends on which targets are more important to KO for your team; Ice Beam allows you to decimate Tangela and other physically bulky Grass-types, while Hydro Pump gets STAB and wrecks most physical walls.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Huntail has many options, but other Pokemon happen to outclass several of its potential sets. The existence of Gorebyss, who sports a larger Special Attack stat, rules out any reason to use Huntail for dedicated special sweeping. A purely physical set is also limited by a small selection of physical moves, only two of which are worth using with Shell Smash. Bounce, Return, and Ice Fang are practically the only other usable physical moves because of their decent coverage with Waterfall. Since the combination of Shell Smash and Baton Pass is banned, Huntail can opt to use other boosting moves for a Baton Pass set. At this point, however, you might be better off searching for a more capable Baton Pass user.
Checks and Counters
Any status easily cripples Huntail; paralysis and burn lower the Deep Sea Pokemon's attacking capabilities, while poison cuts its lifespan, which is already short due to Life Orb recoil. Additionally, if Huntail cannot KO a threat in time, that threat has an opportunity to respond through either attacking or using status-inducing moves. The most reliable Pokemon that can do this are Pokemon with a high Defense stat and no exploitable weaknesses such as Carracosta, Alomomola, and Weezing. If Huntail lacks the appropriate special coverage move, it will find itself unable to OHKO dedicated defensive Steel-types if it lacks Hidden Power Fire, or specially-defensive Grass-types if it is missing Ice Beam. On the offensive side of things, any positive-natured Choice Scarf user faster than Sawk is able to outspeed and possibly KO Huntail. A Huntail with lowered defenses can also be finished off with non-Water-type priority moves.