Claydol is best described as quite a mixed bag. It has impressive defensive stats but mediocre offensive stats, six excellent resistances but six crippling weaknesses, and a vast movepool but little to take advantage of it with. It is one of the best support Pokemon in the game, with access to Stealth Rock, Rapid Spin, and dual screens, as well as less commonly seen methods of support such as Trick Room and Rain Dance. In addition to this, it can wall a great number of Pokemon, and its defensive stats allow it to take hits from both sides and come in on a wide variety of opponents. Also, it has access to moves such as Calm Mind as well as reliable offensive moves, which includes desirable STAB Ground-type moves. It is as unpredictable as the British weather and can be quite as depressing for the opponent’s team.
On the downside however, Claydol’s many weaknesses are often its undoing. All six weaknesses are to very common types, and the Pokemon who use them are often very common as well; for example, Venusaur, Milotic, Moltres, and Mismagius are all top-flight Pokemon who Claydol is almost always beaten by. This is also the area where Claydol’s lack of offense comes back to haunt it, meaning that many Pokemon are not as threatened by it as they otherwise could be.
Rapid Spin is the core move of this set, and can be used with any team style, while Claydol's natural bulk combined with the lack of damage taken from all entry hazards allow it to get its job done with ease. Claydol can also set up Stealth Rock itself, thereby doing two support jobs in one team slot. Claydol's relative indifference to Fighting- and Ground-type moves means that it can usually afford to switch into Hitmontop or Donphan as they spin, and then either set up Stealth Rock again as they run, or kill them with STAB Psychic or Ice Beam.
Of its two STAB choices, a Ground-type move gives the best coverage. Claydol can use both physical and special moves equally well - however, while Earthquake has more power on paper, Earth Power is preferable for several reasons. Firstly, many Pokemon who Claydol will be aiming at are hit harder on the special side. Secondly, most of the important moves that Claydol should be using in the last slot are special moves, and having both moves working off the same attacking stat means that you do not have to split EVs. For the last slot, there are a number of choices depending on what you feel threatens Claydol the most. Psychic is a reasonably good secondary STAB, Ice Beam has the best coverage alongside Earth Power, while Shadow Ball is useful to hit Ghosts who try to block Rapid Spin.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Claydol has access to Calm Mind as well as STAB Earth Power, allowing it to perform the role of a bulky setup sweeper. Thanks to its good bulk and resistances, Claydol can come in on something it frightens and begin setting up. Claydol is usually weaker to special attackers, but by boosting its Special Defense stat it can survive most major assaults and return fire with its own moves. Claydol can then recover health and remove status using Rest, the major drawback of which can be negated once by using Chesto Berry for the item.
Calm Mind boosts Claydol's decent Special Defense stat while also raising its rather average Special Attack stat to make it an offensive threat. Earth Power is Claydol’s most useful special STAB option. For its second offensive move, STAB Psychic is a strong choice, as greater overall power is more important to Calm Mind Claydol than super effective coverage. Earth Power hits the Steel-types who resist Psychic, as well as Houndoom and Drapion, for super effective damage while Psychic hits common Grass-types such as Venusaur, as well as Weezing, for super effective damage. For the last slot, Rest is the primary option, giving Claydol a bit more durability, recovering lost HP, and also preventing the opponent from attempting to stall you out with Toxic.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Claydol's versatility as a lead allows it to pull off a Trick-oriented set quite effectively. Tricking is only half the fun; deciding how to capitalize on your opponent's misfortune is the second part of this set's strategy.
Stealth Rock is always welcome on any team, but the two remaining moves are more dependent on the rest of your team. The moves listed are obviously the most general, since all teams enjoy Rapid Spin support and Earth Power / Explosion allows Claydol to attack after Tricking away its Choice Scarf. However, many other utility moves can be used in lieu of these moves. Claydol has access to dual screens which can come in handy on offensive teams that employ fragile sweepers, and can use Toxic to shorten the life expectancy of enemy walls. No matter how you decide to use Claydol, its reliability as a team supporter cannot be ignored.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Claydol's pure support set is about as far as you can go in terms of team support. This set's only concern is bringing the full force of Claydol's movepool onto the opponent very early in the game and by using Claydol's impressive defensive capabilities in tandem with its excellent support movepool to make an early sweep possible by a fast, powerful boosting sweeper such as Nasty Plot Mismagius or Swords Dance Scyther.
Stealth Rock is used to support the team, allowing your sweepers to get the necessary OHKOs and 2HKOs that they may not achieve otherwise. It also breaks any Focus Sashes that your opponent may be trying to hide. Reflect and Light Screen make up the popular 'dual screen' combination, shielding your team from attacks. Explosion is your final move, and grants your sweeper a free switch after Claydol's death. Light Clay increases the duration of Light Screen and Reflect by three turns, and is the item of choice on this set, while Lum Berry is the other recommended item, allowing you to live through Venusaur’s Sleep Powder, though admittedly it could also simply attack with Energy Ball or Power Whip.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Thanks to Claydol's good overall defensive stats it makes for a top choice Trick Room activator in Underused, giving it another way to support its teammates. With a Brave nature and 0 Speed IVs Claydol reaches 139 Speed, enough to outspeed all Pokemon of base 55 Speed or higher under Trick Room, with its offensive moves able to cause some trouble to the opponent’s team.
Explosion acts as a single safe switch for your Trick Room sweeper, though generally Claydol will not want to sacrifice itself so quickly until late-game, as its bulk means it can usually set up Trick Room more than once per game. This leaves you with two moveslots, giving you a choice of combination between Ice Beam and Earth Power or Stone Edge and Earthquake. To avoid splitting EVs, as Earthquake and Explosion are both physical attacks, the "EdgeQuake" combination is the preferred set of moves here.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Claydol seemingly has an endless array of support moves. It learns both Rain Dance and Sunny Day, but its utility on these teams is limited, as it receives no boost itself from weather. Ways for Claydol to boost its stats include Rock Polish, which is generally outclassed by Trick Room, and Cosmic Power, allowing it to slowly become an impenetrable fortress over time, especially when in tandem with RestTalk, but also leave it exposed to boosting sweepers such as Swords Dance Absol and critical hits. RestTalk can be used on its own too, but this gives Claydol a serious case of moveslot syndrome.
Zen Headbutt is Claydol's only physical Psychic STAB, and having no great coverage is not usually worth the moveslot. Rock Slide is an alternative to Stone Edge on physical sets if you dislike Stone Edge’s accuracy. On the special side, Shadow Ball hits Ghosts who may try to block Rapid Spin, in particular Mismagius and Rotom, and Toxic is a nice weapon to use against the bulky Water-types who may attempt to switch in. In the same vein, Grass Knot can also be used against heavier Water-types in general.
Claydol is primarily a defensive Pokemon, and as such maximum HP is a must on all of its sets, as it will frequently be required to check opponents on both sides. After this, most of the remaining EVs should be placed in Defense, as Claydol is going to need it to take on powerful Fighting- and Ground-types. Some EVs should also be placed into Special Attack or Special Defense, and Claydol has the potential to run Speed EVs as well to outspeed slower threats since it is one of the faster walls at 75 base Speed. In particular, 60 EVs allow you to outrun 16 Speed Rash Blaziken, whom you can usually OHKO with STAB Earth Power or Psychic, as well as 0 Speed Milotic. If you wish to invest more heavily, 108 Speed outspeeds most bulky Milotic, Torterra, and 64 Speed Blaziken.
The Calm Mind set requires a great deal of Special Attack in order to maximize damage output, and Speed EVs are generally also advised here since Claydol can benefit greatly from outspeeding certain key threats and dealing damage before it can be harmed. For Trick Room, Claydol is inclined to be more offensive, so maximum Attack is usually the best choice along with a Brave nature to make it more effective under Trick Room, although a Relaxed nature is also plausible if you want a more defensive Claydol. You should also use a Speed IV of 0 in order to outspeed as many Pokemon as possible under Trick Room conditions.
Checks and Counters
The best counters for Claydol are generally bulky Water-types who can take its moves with ease; for example, Milotic works very well, taking little damage from Earth Power and resisting Ice Beam while able to hit back with STAB Surf. Spiritomb does not have any notable resistances but can block Claydol's attempts to Rapid Spin and eliminate it with Pursuit if it tries to flee. Grass-types such as Venusaur also work very well, and although Venusaur itself does not resist Earth Power, it takes little damage from unboosted Ice Beams and can outspeed and hit back with STAB Leaf Storm. Scyther is immune to Earth Power and both it and Absol can OHKO with their STAB moves, but Scyther fears Ice Beam and Stone Edge, while Absol will not enjoy taking repeated Earth Powers.
In general, most Pokemon who can hit Claydol hard can check it, as its offensive stats are not great. Mismagius is immune to Earth Power and can deal serious damage to Claydol with Shadow Ball, though it must be wary of Claydol's own Shadow Ball. Azumarill and Feraligatr can take an Ice Beam and attack back with STAB Waterfall. Lastly, if Claydol lacks Ice Beam or Shadow Ball, other Claydol may pose a problem.