If you can overlook Skuntank's appearance, you'll find that it's one of the most useful utility Pokemon in the tier, as it can fulfill a number of offensive and defensive roles for a team simultaneously. First and foremost, Skuntank is certainly the most foolproof response to the myriad of Psychic- and Ghost-type Pokemon in the tier, boasting STAB Sucker Punch and Pursuit off of a respectable base 93 Attack stat. In combination with its unique typing and its focused support movepool, practically any team can benefit from Skuntank's smelly services. For example, offensive teams love Skuntank's ability to revenge kill weakened sweepers, such as Haunter, Swoobat, and Swellow, and the disruption it can cause stall teams with the use of Taunt. Meanwhile, defensive teams really appreciate Skuntank's ability to completely shut down threats such as Misdreavus and Duosion that would otherwise give them headaches, as well as the removal of Toxic Spikes every time it switches in. Skuntank can also act as an emergency check to dangerous wallbreakers such as Choice Band Braviary and Zangoose with its Aftermath ability and cause them to kill themselves.
Unfortunately, Skuntank has somewhat been a victim of its own success, contributing to the popularity of Hidden Power Ground on many of the Pokemon it traps, as well as that of Fighting-type Pokemon such as Sawk and Gurdurr, which can take it on without problems. Skuntank does not do well against hard hitting Pokemon in general, and it isn't exactly the strongest Pokemon around. Nevertheless, Skuntank is still extremely effective as a stabilizing influence for your team, providing a solid response to a variety of threats, and if you have a free position available, Skuntank won't disappoint (unless you expect it to bring refreshments).
This is Skuntank's flagship set, presenting an ultimatum to all Psychics, Ghosts, and other spiritual influences within the tier. When Gardevoir, Haunter, Exeggutor, Musharna, Misdreavus, Kadabra, Duosion, and Swoobat run their usual moves, they will find themselves completely helpless should Skuntank be given the opportunity to switch in. If they try to outrun Skuntank and attack it directly, Sucker Punch will stop them in their tracks. If they try to switch out, Pursuit will hit them for the same amount of damage, crippling them at the very least. If they try to set up against Skuntank or stop it with Will-O-Wisp, Taunt will prevent them from doing so, and if they try anything else, Crunch will hit them for the same consistent damage regardless of their actions. Although its effectiveness is governed by how well its user can strategize and predict the opponent's moves, if played correctly, Skuntank is almost unstoppable in completing its task.
Skuntank's inherent bulk, alongside its unique defensive typing, ensures that it can switch into practically any attack from its targets, survive the blow, and destroy its opponent immediately after. For example, Choice Specs Exeggutor only deals 58.04-68.39% with Leaf Storm, failing to 2HKO after Black Sludge, which lets Skuntank Pursuit trap it with ease. Meanwhile, Gardevoir has no hope of OHKOing Skuntank with a Life Orb Focus Blast, even at +1, without hazards on the field. Even Golurk can be removed if you can bring Skuntank into anything other than Earthquake, as it usually favors Drain Punch over Hammer Arm as its Fighting-type move of choice. Meanwhile, Skuntank's Poison typing removes Toxic Spikes to aid defensive teammates and makes it immune to Toxic itself, which makes it hard for defensive teams to cope with it in combination with Taunt.
However, Skuntank is somewhat less imposing when used outside of its niche. Sucker Punch is still able to revenge kill (and Pursuit is still able to trap) targets that are neutral to the attack, such as Zangoose and Swellow, but requires them to be weakened first, either through entry hazards or the recoil from their items or attacks. Likewise, while Dark-type moves have good neutral coverage in the tier, Skuntank won't be doing much damage to bulky targets due to its only decent attacking power, so Fighting-, Steel-, and other Dark-type Pokemon can wall Skuntank effortlessly. Poison Jab's main purpose is to expand on this neutral coverage while hitting Tangela super effectively, but unfortunately it does nothing to help against Probopass and Bastiodon. Both attacks in the third moveslot are useful for hitting opponents that try to switch into Skuntank, as Sucker Punch and Pursuit will let them switch into battle without taking any damage. Overall, although it has its flaws, this set can completely stop its targets in their tracks and seize control of the match from the opponent in the process.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While this set is somewhat less reliable at trapping and killing its conventional prey, it specializes in luring in Pokemon that usually wall it, such as Tangela, Alomomola, and Probopass, and dealing heavy damage with unexpected special attacks. Sucker Punch and Pursuit remain present for their excellent utility and are no less powerful than on any other Skuntank set, letting it revenge kill frail opponents easily, although the lack of Crunch and Taunt makes it harder to stop setup attempts. Meanwhile, Sludge Bomb is Skuntank's most powerful special attack, and with the given EV investment and a Life Orb boost, it manages to OHKO Tangela 100% of the time, even without any residual damage, a significant improvement over Poison Jab's damage output. Likewise, while it falls just short of 2HKOing Alomomola, if the move's 30% poison chance activates, then Alomomola will not be able to stall Skuntank out with Wish + Protect. Skuntank can also pull other tricks from its special attacking movepool for specific targets. Hidden Power Ground is the best option for slowly breaking down Probopass and Bastiodon, as well as other Skuntank, all of which lack reliable recovery. Meanwhile, Fire Blast secures the 2HKO on Torterra, as well as Vileplume after Stealth Rock. By running mixed attacking options on Skuntank, it can take some of the pressure off of physical sweepers such as Samurott, Swellow, and Fraxure, letting them wreak havoc later on in the match.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Skuntank has quite an expansive movepool, and while Sucker Punch / Pursuit / Crunch / Taunt is the optimal configuration for trapping Psychic- and Ghost-type Pokemon, there are plenty of other moves that it can also use. Substitute allows Skuntank to block status attacks from slower users and also has the advantage of blocking attacks from physical sweepers that could normally break through it. With a Substitute, most opponents will have to attack twice to KO Skuntank, which means that they have to take two Sucker Punches instead of one, which can prove quite difficult after some residual damage. However, the issue with this strategy is that it doesn't help Skuntank get past physically defensive Pokemon; the likes of Golem and Probopass won't mind taking an extra hit to get rid of the Substitute, so Skuntank fails to utilize its Substitutes particularly well. In addition, there is little room for Substitute on Skuntank's moveslots. Haze can be useful when dealing with opponents that have already set up, such as Musharna or Misdreavus, but in most cases the best course of action is to switch Skuntank into them before they become threats. It also learns Roar if you want a phazer on your team, but this usually contradicts Skuntank's other roles and thus isn't particularly useful. Night Slash is an option, but Crunch is generally better thanks to its more consistent power. Meanwhile, Toxic can cripple walls that attempt to tank Skuntank's attacks, and can be a good option if you lack other Pokemon with the move on your team.
Skuntank also has access to various suicide options such as Explosion and Memento, which it can use well thanks to its above-average Speed stat, especially when invested. The former will inflict over twice as much damage as Sucker Punch on most neutral targets, and while it doesn't help break through the Rock- and Steel-type Pokemon that can generally ignore Skuntank's attacks, it can OHKO bulky offensive Pokemon such as Braviary and when used with Life Orb. Memento, on the other hand, cuts the opponent's attacking stats in half, allowing Pokemon such as Gorebyss or Samurott to set up more easily against offensive teams. Both of these options are best used by a high-Speed set and are more suited to offensive playstyles in general. Skuntank can also have a go at running a few other movesets. With a Choice Band equipped, it has a lot more power and can use Pursuit more effectively against neutral targets, but Choice-locked Sucker Punch is easy setup bait, and thus Skuntank loses the utility of one of its greatest assets. If you're desperate for recovery, Skuntank can use Rest alongside a Chesto Berry to give it a one-time kick start; Sleep Talk is also present, but it places too many constraints on Skuntank's attacking movepool to make RestTalk a viable strategy.
Aftermath is by far the best ability for Skuntank, as it compensates for its low attacking power. The 25% extra residual damage it inflicts on opponents is highly appreciated and can clean up revenge kills that Skuntank isn't quite powerful enough to secure. Furthermore, a low-health Skuntank can switch into opponents such as Sawk to deactivate their Sturdy or Focus Sash, making them much easier to respond to. While the flinches that Stench can provide are useful, the 10% activation rate is highly unappealing and not consistent enough to be considered a viable option. Finally, if you have a keen eye for good Pokemon, you'll avoid using Keen Eye.
Checks and Counters
With Skuntank's good special bulk, excellent typing, and STAB Sucker Punch and Pursuit, it can be very hard to stop Skuntank from fulfilling its role of eliminating any Pokemon weak to its attacks. Running Will-O-Wisp on Haunter, Drifblim, or Gardevoir will at least cripple Skuntank before it can kill them off with two Pursuits, provided they run enough Speed EVs to use the move before Skuntank can Taunt them. Running Hidden Power Ground on Skuntank's targets can also throw it for a loop, but if it runs the specially defensive EV spread, this will rarely be sufficient to KO the skunk before it KOes your Pokemon in return. If your Pokemon runs Substitute, Skuntank can potentially be outplayed if it goes for Sucker Punch, letting your Haunter or Gardevoir escape with its life. Drifblim also has a fighting chance to avoid being trapped, as it can outspeed and KO specially defensive Skuntank with fully invested Acrobatics after Stealth Rock damage. However, this only works if the opponent decides to use Pursuit or Taunt, as Sucker Punch will destroy Drifblim if its user mispredicts. Overall, the best way to preserve your Psychic- and Ghost-type Pokemon against a Skuntank user is smart and conservative play. Don't attempt to sweep with Pokemon such as Calm Mind Musharna or Gardevoir until Skuntank is removed, and you'll generally find that your Psychics and Ghosts will remain safe.
Thankfully, Skuntank is far easier to deal with when it's outside of its comfort zone. Pretty much anything that resists Dark-type attacks or has good physical bulk is usually a safe bet. Gurdurr can set up with ease and quickly become an imposing force. Using Poison Jab to hit the latter neutrally has a 30% chance of backfiring and activating Guts, which is seriously bad news for the Skuntank user. Bulky Ground-type Pokemon such as Torterra and Golem easily OHKO Skuntank with their STAB attacks and take little from Crunch or Sucker Punch thanks to their excellent Defense stats. Likewise, Regirock and Carracosta can take hits all day from Skuntank and wear it down quickly. In addition, all of the previous four checks are able to set up Stealth Rock as Skuntank switches out. While it can use Taunt to prevent this, it risks being OHKOed or 2HKOed by STAB attacks regardless, and generally it shouldn't risk itself to prevent hazards from being set up. Miltank is especially good at annoying Skuntank, as not only can it take its attacks with ease, but it can also outspeed Skuntank and use support moves before it even has a chance to stop it, seizing defensive momentum in the process. Probopass and Bastiodon also take next to nothing from any of Skuntank's attacks apart from Hidden Power Ground, but they can't really do anything to prevent Skuntank from Taunting them and switching to a better match-up.