Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Basculin's primary advantage over other Water-types in the tier comes from its useful ability, Adaptability. Because of its ability, Basculin's Water-type moves are noticeably stronger than those of other physically attacking Water-types in the tier, such as Samurott, Carracosta, and Floatzel. In addition to this, Basculin is fairly fast, and the ability to outspeed Jynx, as well as many other dangerous offensive Pokemon such as Sawk, is a valuable asset. Despite this offensive advantage, Basculin can be relatively easy to wall with the correct Pokemon due to its heavy dependency on its STAB moves. The aforementioned Water-types also have wider movepools than Basculin, giving them an advantage in coverage, and a few also have setup options. Overall, if you need a physically attacking Water-type, consider Basculin, but be sure to utilize its niche well.
The best way to use Basculin is by using a simple Choice Band set. However, prediction is necessary to make this set work—there are many Pokemon that can absorb Water-type moves in NU, including Jynx and Seismitoad, and allowing them to freely switch in could result in them using the opportunity to set up. As a result, Pokemon such as these must be dealt with via coverage moves or with other Pokemon before Basculin can freely use its STAB moves. Waterfall is its main STAB option; because it's powered up by Adaptability, it hits fairly hard. Basculin's Aqua Jet is the strongest in the tier thanks to Adaptability, and because of this, it is powerful enough to 2HKO frailer foes, such as Primeape and even Scolipede, which discourages them from switching in to revenge kill it. Double-Edge allows Basculin to get nearly perfect coverage, hitting every Pokemon in NU bar Cradily, Shedinja, and NFEs for at least neutral damage. Furthermore, it is powerful enough to 2HKO Pokemon that absorb Water-type moves, such as non-physically defensive Seismitoad and Mantine, while easily OHKOing Jynx. Superpower is mostly filler, but its high Base Power allows it to inflict massive damage to certain foes weak to the move, including Miltank, Lickilicky, Carracosta, and Cradily.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Basculin's rather pitiful movepool leaves it with few other options. Basculin has Mold Breaker, which can be useful because it can outspeed and OHKO most Stealth Rock leads, such as Golem, with its STAB, but it is otherwise inferior to Adaptability. Ice Beam can be used to surprise Tangela and Dragon-types, but its usage stops there. Taunt can be used to nearly shut down Alomomola, but this turns into a stalemate without Toxic, as Basculin has no prayer of actually defeating Alomomola directly. Crunch is Basculin's only way to hit Frillish, but it is rare enough to practically ignore. Basculin has access to Agility, but Floatzel's access to Swift Swim makes it a better Pokemon at boosting its Speed. An Expert Belt can be used to bluff a Choice set to surprise Pokemon, notably Frillish with Crunch, when they expect a free switch, but neutral targets are hit for relatively little damage in this case. Expert Belt also has the advantage of being able to surprise most Stealth Rock leads with a combination of Waterfall and Aqua Jet, preventing them from activating their Custap Berries, which is important if you don't want to use Mold Breaker. Finally, Final Gambit is an interesting option to take down just about anything, but it is extremely risky since Basculin will faint afterwards, and its HP isn't very high without investment. It also wastes Basculin's potential to clean up late-game.
Checks and Counters
Frillish is the definition of a counter for the Choice Band set, as it is immune to everything listed on the set, only fearing the rare Crunch. Aside from that, Alomomola does extremely well against Basculin, taking little damage from all of its moves and allowing it to stall out Basculin. Tangela also takes little damage from Basculin's moves and can easily dispatch it with a Giga Drain. Other Grass-types can also switch into Basculin's STAB moves easily; specific examples are Leafeon, thanks to its massive Defense stat, and Serperior, which can set up on it. Dragon-types, such as Fraxure and Shelgon, also resist Water, and their bulk can be further augmented by an Eviolite, allowing them to set up Dragon Dance against Basculin. Although Seismitoad, Ludicolo, and Jynx risk getting 2HKOed (or in Jynx's case, OHKOed) by a coverage move, their ability to absorb to Water-type attacks (or in Ludicolo's case, its 4x resistance) allow them to switch into Basculin's STAB move, forcing it to switch out. Finally, many Pokemon can revenge kill it, including Electabuzz and Choice Scarf Rotom-S, but note that many revenge killers take a surprising amount of damage from Aqua Jet and can't switch into a Waterfall.