Whichever way you look at it, Mienshao is simply fabulous. However, this weasel possesses much more than mere aesthetic grace to back up its claim of being a dangerous threat in the Dream World metagame. Mienshao's base 125 Attack and 105 Speed might make it appear to be yet another run-of-the-mill Fighting-type physical attacker, but it sports a usable base 95 Special Attack stat that allows it to get past would-be counters such as Gliscor with Hidden Power Ice. That's not all: access to a powerful STAB Hi Jump Kick, a fantastic ability in Regenerator, and U-turn make Mienshao a potent hit-and-run attacker that can tear gaping holes in the opponent's team. It even receives Reckless from the Dream World, jacking up the power of Hi Jump Kick to obscene levels. However, the presence of Shadow Tag Chandelure means that Mienshao must exercise extreme caution when using Hi Jump Kick, particularly on a Choice set. Mienshao's poor defensive stats also allow most neutral STAB moves to deal heavy damage if not OHKO. Still, don't let that deter you from using Mienshao; with the proper support, it can run away with games easily.
Mienshao makes for a fantastic scout, momentum grabber, and offensive pivot that can also check some of the top threats in the metagame. Though dedicated leads are rarely used because of Team Preview, Mienshao functions very well as a lead in particular, giving you valuable early-game momentum. This set can be a great addition to dedicated VoltTurn teams, but it also functions as a good team ''glue'' in general. What really sets Mienshao apart from other U-turn users such as Scizor, however, is its access to Regenerator, as it can repeatedly come in, Fake Out for some residual damage, scout the opponent's next move with U-turn, and bring in the appropriate counter, healing off Life Orb recoil and other residual damage with Regenerator.
Mienshao is one of the few fast threats with access to both Fake Out and U-turn, and the combination of these two moves is a potent scouting tool. Fake Out allows Mienshao to inflict ''free'' damage on most threats and pick off weakened faster opponents, also revealing the presence (or absence) of Leftovers recovery. This eases prediction immensely, as you can now judge whether or not Mienshao should switch out or stay in and fire off a powerful Hi Jump Kick. U-turn shifts the momentum in your favor, allowing you to scout the opponent's move and switch to a counter. It also deals heavy damage to Psychic-types such as Starmie and Latias switching in to soak up Hi Jump Kick. Hi Jump Kick is Mienshao's most powerful STAB move: it has an incredible 195 Base Power after STAB, and can 2HKO most neutral foes easily. However, Mienshao will lose 50% of its health if the opponent uses Protect or switches in a Ghost-type, meaning prediction is key when using Hi Jump Kick. This is compounded by the presence of Shadow Tag Chandelure in the metagame, which can trap, outspeed, and OHKO Mienshao if it is running a Choice Scarf. Running Stone Edge in the last moveslot rectifies this issue, as this allows Mienshao to KO Chandelure as it switches in while also destroying threats such as Volcarona. However, if Gliscor is a more problematic foe to your team, you can run Hidden Power Ice instead of Stone Edge to OHKO it after Stealth Rock damage; Mienshao can still escape from Chandelure with U-turn, allowing a teammate such as Tyranitar to trap it with Pursuit.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With a Choice Scarf, Mienshao functions as a check to powerful boosting sweepers such as Volcarona, Thundurus, and Salamence as well as slower Choice Scarf users such as Genesect while retaining the ability to scout and pile up offensive pressure on the opponent. Unlike other Choice Scarf users such as Terrakion, the presence of entry hazards does not particularly impede Mienshao, as it can repeatedly switch in and scout the opponent with U-turn, healing off any damage taken with Regenerator upon switching out. This gives Mienshao valued longevity and thus allows it to function as a offensive pivot for the majority of the game, although it must be careful when switching in as it takes heavy damage at the very least from most neutral STAB moves. Running a Choice Band is also an option, as Mienshao can then function as a wallbreaker that muscles through physical walls such as Skarmory while retaining a high Speed stat thanks to its good base 105 Speed.
Hi Jump Kick is this set's main attraction, and for good reason. Once bulky Ghost- and Psychic-types have been removed, Mienshao can sweep unhindered with Hi Jump Kick, or at the very least, weaken the opposition to a point where its teammates can clean up the remains. U-turn is, as always, a highly useful move to have on a Choice set, gaining momentum and allowing Mienshao to deal heavy damage to Psychic-types switching in to take Hi Jump Kick. Stone Edge OHKOes common Chandelure switch-ins while also allowing Mienshao to take out sweepers such as Dragonite (after Stealth Rock) and Volcarona. Hidden Power Ice is purely for taking out Gliscor as it switches in, allowing Mienshao to sweep with Hi Jump Kick later. It goes without saying that caution should be exercised when using Hidden Power Ice, as Chandelure can still come in after a KO and use Mienshao as setup bait.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
One must not forgot that Mienshao, like most of its Fighting-type brethren, also has access to Swords Dance, allowing it to run a very effective Swords Dance set. Though switching in can sometimes be an issue for Mienshao, it can easily set up a Swords Dance as a Pokemon it threatens, such as Ferrothorn, switches. To give an example of this set's power, Mienshao cleanly OHKOes Skarmory after a Swords Dance. This set works best as a late-game sweeper once faster checks have been eliminated, but unlike many other boosting sweepers, Regenerator gives Mienshao multiple opportunities to set up and attempt a sweep.
Hi Jump Kick is Mienshao's weapon of choice, OHKOing or 2HKOing a large portion of the metagame. Stone Edge gives Mienshao excellent two-move coverage, dealing heavy damage to the Psychic- and Ghost-types that resist or are immune to Hi Jump Kick, respectively; notably, it OHKOes common Chandelure switch-ins attempting to make Mienshao take Hi Jump Kick recoil. The last slot is usually given to Hidden Power Ice for OHKOing Gliscor, which can easily take a boosted Stone Edge and deal heavy damage in return with Earthquake. However, Baton Pass is also an option for the fourth moveslot, catching opponents who expect Mienshao to attack off-guard; it can even free up a moveslot for another physical sweeper to run an additional coverage move.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While the other sets aim to sweep on their own and apply offensive pressure on the opponent, this set utilizes Mienshao's excellent Speed and mixed offensive stats to support its teammates by luring in and taking out walls and Baton Passing Substitute; this can help a teammate to set up and sweep, even though Mienshao's Substitutes aren't exactly large. Baton Pass teams make excellent use of this set, but it fits in just as well on bulky offense teams with sweepers such as Dragonite and Volcarona that would love having a Substitute to take status and obtain more boosts. However, Mienshao is not limited to only supporting its teammates, as it can still dish out heavy damage with its powerful STAB Hi Jump Kick and thus maintain a strong offensive presence.
Substitute blocks crippling status and eases prediction for Mienshao, enabling it to take a hit and KO back with the appropriate move or Baton Pass to a teammate to maintain momentum; this also makes Mienshao a fine check to VoltTurn teams as it can take stray U-turns even without a Substitute thanks to its resistance. However, leaving Mienshao in on Volt Switch if it doesn't have a Substitute up will be unwise, as it takes heavy damage. Baton Pass maintains momentum and also helps Mienshao to escape from Chandelure as it switches in to trap and KO Mienshao. Hi Jump Kick is Mienshao's best STAB move, hitting anything that doesn't resist it very hard; as mentioned earlier, it gives this set a strong offensive presence and ensures it isn't crippled completely by Taunt.
The last moveslot has two options, and the choice between these two depends on the type of support which you want Mienshao to provide to its teammates. Hidden Power Ice is preferred as it enables Mienshao to lure in and OHKO Gliscor, paving the way for a teammate such as Terrakion to sweep. It also breaks SubDisable Gengar's Substitutes, and with Mienshao's access to Substitute and Baton Pass, Gengar will find it difficult to reliably check it. Running Hidden Power Ice means that Mienshao is walled cold by Chandelure and Jellicent, though; if these Pokemon pose a greater threat to your team, you can run Stone Edge to OHKO the former and deal heavy damage to the latter; Jellicent will thus be forced to use Recover, meaning you can safely bring in a Pursuit user such as Tyranitar and trap it. However, this will greatly reduce the effectiveness of this set as a Gliscor lure, so use Stone Edge only if Gliscor isn't a threat or you have teammates that can take it out easily.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Though Mienshao's wide movepool gives it access to to several other moves, most of them are unusable or inferior to the given options in some way. It can run an Endure + Reversal set with a Salac Berry, but Mienshao is very frail, and the ubiquity of sandstorm and priority moves obviously makes this exceedingly difficult to pull off. Acrobatics + Flying Gem is another combination which might appear to be effective, but giving up Life Orb and a coverage move is not a good idea. Drain Punch can be used as a substitute for a STAB move that also provides recovery, but Hi Jump Kick's power is too good to pass up, and besides, Mienshao already has Regenerator for recovery. Mienshao also has access to other physical options such as Payback and Poison Jab, but they are weak and provide redundant coverage. Expert Belt is an option on most sets to bluff a Choice item, but without Life Orb, Mienshao will miss out on the crucial 2HKO on physically defensive Skarmory.
As far as alternative boosting options are concerned, Mienshao has access to Calm Mind and Work Up, which can be put to use with special attacks such as Aura Sphere, Grass Knot, and Hidden Power on a special or mixed set, but such sets are far too weak to be effective. Finally, Bulk Up can be used to boost Mienshao's Defense along with its Attack, but powerful physical attacks from the likes of Terrakion will OHKO Mienshao even after a Bulk Up; such a set is also outclassed completely by the Swords Dance set. However, it must be noted that Mienshao can reliably Baton Pass Bulk Up or Work Up boosts to its teammates with its high Speed.
Checks and Counters
Though solidly countering Mienshao can sometimes be difficult due to its access to U-turn and Baton Pass, there are several Pokemon that easily keep it in check. Ghost-types such as Chandelure and Jellicent come to mind immediately as they can switch in on Hi Jump Kick and cause Mienshao to lose 50% of its health, but the former must be wary of Stone Edge. Still, Choice Scarf Chandelure can trap and eliminate Mienshao as long as it switches in safely; Gengar, while it can't trap Mienshao, outspeeds and OHKOes with Shadow Ball too. Though rare, Golurk walls any Mienshao set without Hidden Power Ice cold, and can set up a Rock Polish as Mienshao switches out. Mienshao's poor defenses also make faster threats great checks as long as it isn't behind a Substitute; these include Latios, Thundurus, Terrakion, and Keldeo. Mienshao can OHKO or 2HKO a large portion of the metagame with its powerful attacks, but bulky attackers such as Latias can take any of its attacks and KO back with a STAB move. Gliscor walls any set without Hidden Power Ice cold and can also take boosted Stone Edge comfortably with its excellent physical bulk, 2HKOing in return with Earthquake. Finally, status such as paralysis or burn will also cripple Mienshao for the rest of the match, making bulky status inducers such as Jellicent and Jirachi great checks.