Like many first generation Pokemon, Golduck is blessed with a cool design and a generous movepool, but is held back by a lackluster stat distribution. Golduck's base 95 Special Attack is good, but not great, and the rest of its stats are decidedly average, making it difficult for Golduck to compete with its more specialized rivals. Luckily, Golduck does have a couple of niches in UU that help differentiate it from other Water-types. Cloud Nine is an exclusive ability that turns Golduck into a unique counter to devastating Swift Swim and Chlorophyll sweepers, while Calm Mind makes Golduck one of the few UU Water-types capable of sweeping through boosting its Special Attack. Although it's not the most threatening Pokemon around, Golduck can fill an important role without requiring much support, making it a solid choice for a variety of offensive teams.
Golduck, an otherwise decidedly mediocre Pokemon, has two things that set it firmly apart from the many other similarly molded Water-types: its Cloud Nine ability and access to Encore. This set combines both and turns Golduck into a very versatile Pokemon who can fit on many different team types, in particular those which have trouble dealing with opposing weather teams.
Cloud Nine is a brilliant ability which effectively negates every effect weather has in battle, from boosting the power of Water-type moves in rain to the Speed-doubling effect of Chlorophyll in sun. Clearly this gives Golduck a great niche in UU as a one-Pokemon answer to rain and sun sweepers alike. Encore allows Golduck to pull his weight in battles against non-weather teams, and with its good base 85 Speed, it can come in on a predicted ineffective move and force the opponent to repeat it, shifting the momentum of the battle in your favor.
The other three slots are coverage moves which allow Golduck to inflict good damage on a wide range of foes. Hidden Power Grass is especially helpful on this set as it allows a quick, clean OHKO on Kabutops and Omastar, two common rain sweepers, as well as Quagsire. Ice Beam is a reliable choice for the last slot, but if you are looking to make Golduck an even surer answer to weather teams, Signal Beam can be used to hit Ludicolo and Snover harder than any of his other attacks. It is also a stronger option against Slowbro and Slowking as well. Another option is Psychic, which gets super effective hits on Qwilfish, Toxicroak, and Venusaur, all of whom take little from Surf and Hidden Power Grass.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Golduck is perhaps the only UU Water-type that can effectively boost its own Special Attack and sweep. While Slowbro and Slowking can also set up with Calm Mind or Nasty Plot, their extremely low Speed makes it easy for opponents to halt an attempted sweep with Toxic or Haze. Golduck, on the other hand, is fast enough to outspeed the defensive Pokemon that commonly carry such moves and can often 2HKO them after a boost, making it a much harder sweeper to stop. Hydro Pump is Golduck's most powerful STAB attack, dealing heavy damage to any Pokemon that doesn't resist it. After a single boost, even sturdy Pokemon such as Spiritomb and Hariyama can be OHKOed, while Clefable and Uxie are hit for guaranteed 2HKOs. Ice Beam takes care of Grass-types as well as Altaria, while Hidden Power Grass covers Golduck's fellow Water-types. With good prediction, Golduck can 2HKO Milotic with a boosted Hidden Power Grass and avoid being stifled by Toxic or Haze. Alternatively, Golduck can use Encore in the last slot to gain free turns. While this makes setting up much easier, it comes at the cost of a coverage move. If you choose to use Encore, Psychic is a good option over Ice Beam, as it has better two-move coverage alongside Hydro Pump. The only common UU Pokemon that resist both Water and Psychic are Slowbro and Exeggutor. Unfortunately, the loss of super effective coverage makes it significantly easier for the opponent to wall Golduck with bulky Water resistors.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set takes full advantage of Golduck's excellent coverage in order to pose an immediate threat to a variety of Pokemon. With Cloud Nine, Golduck is especially effective at countering Pokemon that rely on the weather to boost their Speed and power. Fire-type Sunny Day abusers lose their instant SolarBeam and are swiftly KOed by Golduck's STAB Hydro Pump. Chlorophyll sweepers are easily outsped once their Speed boost is nullified and can be defeated with Ice Beam. Hidden Power Grass takes care of some of the most common Swift Swimmers, while Psychic rounds out the coverage by hitting Qwilfish and Toxicroak hard.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Golduck can use Encore with three attacks to fill a specific supporting role as a counter to weather sweepers and stat boosters. Even without any boosts to its Special Attack, Golduck can still outspeed and OHKO or 2HKO most weather sweepers with Surf, Ice Beam, or Hidden Power Grass, while Encore forces switches and prevents opponents from setting up. However, Golduck can make much better use of the free turns granted by Encore if it has Calm Mind, so it's usually best to stick to that. Golduck can also use a defensive Calm Mind set with Rest and Sleep Talk or a Chesto Berry, but physical attackers can still easily revenge kill Golduck, so such sets would have to be saved until very late in the match.
Aqua Jet is a STAB priority move, which is always a helpful asset in UU, but Golduck can't really spare a moveslot for it and lacks the physical power to use it effectively without heavy investment in Attack. Golduck has a nice physical movepool, including Waterfall, Aqua Tail, Ice Punch, Low Kick, Zen Headbutt, Shadow Claw, and Return, so a fully physical set could be used; however, with mediocre Attack and the unreliable Screech and Psych Up as the only options for boosting the power of its moves, it won't be very effective.
Signal Beam can surprise Ludicolo and hit Exeggutor, Shiftry, and Slowbro harder than Golduck's other moves, but any other potential targets take more damage from Hydro Pump or Ice Beam. Focus Blast can be used to nail special walls such as Registeel and Clefable harder than Hydro Pump would, but Golduck can often beat them after a boost anyway, so it's usually not worth risking the shaky accuracy. Golduck has access to several support moves besides Encore, including Light Screen, Hypnosis, Yawn, Toxic, Confuse Ray, and Whirlpool, but if you want a support-oriented bulky Water-type, there are many better options available.
Checks and Counters
Golduck's counters depend heavily on what moves it is running. Chansey can usually come in on any set and stall Golduck out easily, but if Golduck happens to have Cross Chop or Encore, it will force Chansey right back out. Unless Golduck has multiple Calm Mind boosts under its belt, Registeel can switch in and paralyze Golduck, neutralizing it as an offensive threat, but will often take heavy damage in the process. Ludicolo cannot switch into a boosted Ice Beam or Psychic, but shrugs off Golduck's other moves and can OHKO back with Seed Bomb. If Golduck lacks Psychic, Toxicroak can usually force Golduck out with powerful physical attacks, although a boosted Ice Beam will hurt. Without Calm Mind, Golduck will be unable to break through Milotic and other bulky Water-types. Golduck's Defense and Speed stats aren't particularly impressive, so speedy physical attackers such as Leafeon, Scyther, and Primeape can all revenge kill it easily.