Spike-stacking is the newest menace to hit the Ubers scene. DPP Ubers players will (fondly?) remember the days when offense was still king, and if you wanted to build a stall team, your stall would almost invariably built off the blueprint Groudon / Blissey / Forretress / Giratina(-O). However, much has changed this generation. Probably the biggest single shift, however, has been the introduction of Ferrothorn, that Grass / Steel thorn thing that some of us love and a lot of us hate. Ferrothorn has almost slowed down the game single-handedly. Actually, that part is a bit of a lie. A lot of Ferrothorn’s utility comes because of its dream-like synergy that is had with Kyogre, the reigning king of Ubers (psh 1337 Dialga). Because Ferrothorn and Kyogre cover each other’s weaknesses so well (I’m not going to get into it here because literally pages have been written about it), they have become the flavor of the month, or really generation, and are seeing a lot of rise in play. While Ubers has not totally become a stall metagame, the pace of play has slowed down dramatically, from a hyper offense speed zone where every team packs a Scarfer and a quick lead to a metagame where bulky Pokemon and entry hazards reign supreme.
This thread is going to take a look into not only how to optimize your use of the SpikeStacking archetype, but also how to beat it!
The Spike Stackers
Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
Careful | 252 HP / 48 Atk / 208 SpD
~ Power Whip
~ Leech Seed
This is my Ferrothorn set up of choice. Some people like to run Sassy for Gyro Ball but in my opinion Power Whip is the much more useful choice. It allows Ferrothorn to hit the big weather producing ubers, Kyogre and Groudon, for much more damage than it could ever hope to with Gyro Ball, as well as hitting Palkia, a Pokemon for whom it is a great counter if Palkia lacks Fire Blast, for much better damage. Power Whip will still deal a lot of damage to Darkrai and Mewtwo so all is not lost; the only Pokemon you really miss out on are Shaymin-S, who is super rare nowadays, and Rayquaza, who you should be only staying in to Leech Seed if anything before switching out since Fire Blast / Overheat will just roast you. Leech Seed and Protect are really important in my opinion because they just add so much to Ferrothorn’s longevity. The EVs are designed so that Power Whip can break a Dark Arceus’s Substitutes, who is a bane to stall-like teams. If you’re not worried though you can just shift those EVs to Special Defense or Defense. Spikes is sort of obvious. I would avoid running Stealth Rock on Ferrothorn since there are just so many other Pokemon who can do it just as well. Plus, Spikes + Leech Seed + Stealth Rock is illegal.
Run Kyogre with this. Just do it.
Forretress @ Leftovers
Calm | 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
~ Toxic Spikes
~ Rapid Spin
~ Volt Switch
Forretress was Ferrothorn before it became cool. They share a lot of factors, even down to a 4x Fire-type weakness that is nicely mitigated when paired with Kyogre. There’s a whole thread on the differences between these two so I won’t linger here except to say that you trade off Ferrothorn’s survivability with better resistances and Leech Seed for Forretress’s Rapid Spinning abilities. In addition, you also get access to not only Spikes, but also Toxic Spikes, which will aid your stalling adventure. The last move is a tricky toss-up, as Volt Switch will let you keep momentum and escape from the rare Wobbuffet, while Toxic will let you cripple the inevitable Giratina(-O) or Ghost Arceus switch in. A nifty thing about Forretress is, with the prevalence of Kyogre, many people are forgoing running Hidden Power Fire on their Giratina-O, so Forretress can set up entry hazards on Giratina-O!
Tentacruel @ Leftovers
Calm | 252 HP / 32 Def / 224 SpD
~ Toxic Spikes
~ Rapid Spin
In a lot of ways, Tentacruel is like the horribly disfigured bastard child of Ferrothorn and Forretress. In return for giving up Spikes, you get to keep Toxic Spikes, extra recovery in Rain Dish, Rapid Spin, and Protect. It’s important to note, however, you do lose an all-important Steel typing and a lot of physical defense. Also, don’t use Tentacruel unless you’re pretty sure you can take advantage of Rain Dish, since that’s one of its main selling points. Tentacruel also has access to one of the best moves in the game in Scald, which, aside from being boosted twice due to STAB and rain, can augment Tentacruel’s Defense by burning. Just be careful to not go overboard, or else your Toxic Spikes will have to compete with some burns! Protect is on here for more recovery since Rest is unreliable and Tentacruel has no Recover equivalent. However, DO NOT use it as a crutch, as a good Ubers player will see a Protect coming a mile away and will use that free turn to his or her advantage.
Skarmory @ Leftovers
Careful | 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Skarmory is sort of the odd child here since its usage is not nearly as high as the other Spikers here, usually for good reason. It doesn’t have quite as good synergy with Kyogre as Ferrothorn, doesn’t have Rapid Spin like Forretress or Tentacruel, and doesn’t have very good Special Defense. However, it does have a few niches. First of all, it’s probably the closest thing there is to an Extreme Killer Arceus counter. Skarmory will laugh at even +2 ExtremeSpeed, not to mention Shadow Claw or (lol) Earthquake. Even Overheat will not be good enough to beat Skarmory in the rain, as it can Roost-stall with the drops. It can then Whirlwind Arceus right out. This brings me to my next point: Skarmory can phaze. Keeping your opponent switching is the crux of the SpikeStacking strategy and will weaken your opponent’s Pokemon rather quickly if they are not carrying recovery moves. The final little niche Skarmory has is with Taunt, as it can prevent status moves or other entry hazards from going up. Note, however, that Rapid Spin is an attacking move…
Giratina-O @ Griseous Orb
Naughty | 248 Atk / 252 SpA / 8 Spe
~ Draco Meteor
~ Dragon Tail
~ Shadow Sneak
~ Hidden Power Fire / Others
This is like the pinnacle of spinblocking. Draco Meteor hits really hard and is just a good all-around move. However, the magic happens later. Dragon Tail was a godsend for Giratina-O (not that it really needed it), as it lets it phaze while still doing a bit of damage or being Taunted. This works wonders with tons of entry hazards, as, in addition to blocking Rapid Spin, Giratina-O will be racking up that damage with Dragon Tail. Shadow Sneak acts as a way to clean up some foes that are on especially low health before they recover, as well as deal with on of the banes of stall, Mewtwo. The last slot is sort of up for grabs. HP Fire is good to slam Forretress and Ferrothorn, but it does lose some of its effectiveness without Groudon. Other options for this slot are Aura Sphere, which will always score a neutral hit on Forretress and a 2x super effective hit on Ferrothorn, regardless of the weather. Another possibility is Will-O-Wisp to cripple some Pokemon trying to switch into Giratina-O. Mainly preference here.
Arceus-Ghost @ Spooky Plate
Timid | 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
~ Calm Mind
~ Focus Blast
This is another type of spinblocker you can employ. Instead of helping you phaze like Giratina-O, Ghost Arceus can instantly turn into a pretty fearsome lategame sweeper if it is given the chance to set up. After some Calm Minds, Ghost Arceus will be able to not only plow through most Pokemon, but also Recover off lots of special hits. There is another set that you can use, the Support set, which trades the boosting Calm Mind and coverage of Focus Blast for Flamethrower to hit Forretress / Ferrothorn and Will-O-Wisp to check Extreme Killer Arceus or Roar for more phazing. Flamethrower, however, like Giratina-O’s HP Fire, does become a bit less effective in the rain, only 2HKOing Forretress with minimal entry hazards. One note of caution with Ghost Arceus: since it lacks Giratina-O’s Levitate, it is vulnerable to your opponent’s Toxic Spikes and Spikes. Keep this in mind when trying to switch it in repeatedly.
How to beat SpikeStacking
Ok, I just outlined one of the most fearsome strategies in Ubers. Let’s beat it now! Nobody wants Ubers to fall into a single archetype tier, as that would be pretty boring. Therefore, I’d like a lot of this thread to be about not only building the perfect SpikeStacking team, but also beating it!
Probably one of the most effective ways of beating SpikeStacking is using set up sweepers or using Pokemon who hit just silly hard. Either of these types are even better if they have a Flying type or Levitate to avoid Spikes. Here’s a favorite of mine:
Kyogre @ Choice Specs
Modest | 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 Spe
~ Water Spout
~ Ice Beam
This set is ridiculous. You’ve probably heard me say it, but Choice Specs Kyogre Water Spout is the single most powerful unboosted move in the game (V-create does less when factoring base stats and the fact that Kyogre almost always has rain from Drizzle). The current most popular Kyogre set is probably the Scarf set, which is pretty easily handled by Ferrothorn. Specs, however, will 2HKO even through Leftovers and still outspeeds, meaning that your opponent will be at a loss of how to set up their Spikes. With some brute force, you can stop their strategy right in its tracks.
Okay boys and girls, let’s get to it!