Gengar

Type Tier
Ghost / Poison OU
Level 50 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Stat
HP
60
166
Atk
65
116
Def
60
111
SpA
130
181
SpD
75
126
Spe
110
161
  • Overused

Overview

Gengar is an interesting Pokemon. It gets a wonderful movepool with super effective coverage and kamikaze moves that can hurt pretty much anything the OU tier has to offer. However, since Shadow Ball is physical, Gengar gets no special STAB to run off that amazing base 130 Special Attack. Gengar is also very frail, and while its Ghost typing is very useful for capitalizing off foes that only run a Normal STAB for an attacking move, it's vulnerable to Pursuit and cannot take a hit that it doesn't resist. Plus, as a Ghost-type, Misdreavus outclasses it as a spinblocker, Perish trapper, and Snorlax counter because of Gengar's unfortunate weaknesses to Earthquake and Starmie's Psychic. Furthermore, its Speed, while great, is eclipsed by Raikou's and Starmie's, which leads to particularly relevant match-up problems. In spite of these issues, Gengar is the tier's best assassin, being able to take down pretty much anything it wants to with Explosion, Destiny Bond, wonderful type coverage, or some sort of surprise. To get the most out of it, Gengar users should be sure to play to its strengths, keep their prediction caps on, know how to utilize the element of surprise, and be wary of letting it take any kind of status or unresisted hit.

Name Item

Assassin

Leftovers
Moveset
~ Thunderbolt / Thunder
~ Ice Punch
~ Hypnosis / DynamicPunch
~ Explosion / Destiny Bond

This is the standard Gengar set that maximizes its ability to threaten the GSC metagame. This set hits pretty much everything hard. The Electric-type move is Gengar's pseudo-STAB and, running off its high base 130 Special Attack, is what keeps bulky Water-types with high Special Defense, such as Suicune and Vaporeon, from switching in. Thunderbolt is generally preferred because Gengar is too frail to afford to miss a lot, but Thunder is a good option for the increased paralysis chance, which is particularly useful against the speedier Raikou. Ice Punch is the next move and, aside from keeping Ground-types at bay, hits Zapdos and Exeggutor super effectively. It can also be used for its freeze chance in match-ups where the opponent cannot touch Gengar, such as when Gengar switches in against Miltank or Seismic Toss Heracross. The next moveslot is generally reserved for Gengar's method of dealing with checks other than killing itself. Hypnosis is the most generally effective move, being able to put any one counter out of commission. However, Hypnosis can be caught easily by a Sleep Talk user if it is well-predicted, so it must be used judiciously. Furthermore, if sleep is used once it cannot be used again, making Hypnosis an unreliable move for dealing with foes such as Pursuit Tyranitar. For this reason, DynamicPunch is a viable alternative, as it hits Tyranitar hard enough to 2HKO it. DynamicPunch is also good for putting Snorlax and Umbreon switch-ins into Explosion KO range after Spikes damage. Finally, the last moveslot deals with Gengar's kamikaze tactics for taking out opponents. Explosion is the preferred choice as Gengar tends to draw in sleep absorbers and physically weak special walls and because Gengar is frequently chosen specifically to KO Raikou and has no other options to do that. However, if Raikou isn't a problem, you can opt instead for Destiny Bond, which is a more reliable way to take out opposing Tyranitar, CurseLax, and Steelix. All of these are slower than Gengar, take little damage from its BoltBeam combo, and can frequently have multiple Curses under their belts, making Destiny Bond the preferred (and often game-saving) way to deal with them.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item

Perish Trapper

Leftovers
Moveset
~ Perish Song
~ Mean Look
~ Protect
~ Thunderbolt / Thunder

This set is basically the classic Thunder Misdreavus set slapped onto Gengar. Gengar's Poison typing generally makes it inferior for this role because this makes it take a lot more damage from Earthquake and Psychic, making Perish trap much more difficult to pull off. However, what Gengar has over Misdreavus is that nobody expects Perish trap from Gengar. Seriously, nobody sees this coming. Opponents will likely stay away from bringing their phazer in on a potential Hypnosis when scouting out Gengar's set and will instead frequently bring in their Sleep Talk Raikou or Zapdos looking to absorb Hypnosis or will try to stall you out with their non-Earthquake Snorlax only to find out that you just set up Mean Look and plan to kill it with Perish Song. Mean Look and Perish Song form the eponymous Perish trap combo that kills anything that can't phaze Gengar the turn that immediately follows the switch-in, and Protect allows Gengar to survive an onslaught from a Sleep Talk using Electric-type while it waits out the Perish Song turns. This is necessary, because otherwise Gengar is 2HKOed by Raikou and Zapdos, two common foes it is likely to bait and kill with this set. The last moveslot is commandeered by Gengar's Electric-type pseudo-STAB for two reasons. The first is to limit the range of phazers that would be able to switch in against Gengar to stop its Perish trap routine. Skarmory in particular is a very common phazer, as is Roar Suicune. Secondly, and more importantly, having Gengar's main attacking move allows Gengar to bluff its standard set and catch opponents off guard. This is crucial to Gengar's success as a Perish trapper, as without the element of surprise, Gengar is outclassed as a Perish trapper by the pure Ghost-type, Misdreavus. As usual, Thunderbolt is typically preferred for its accuracy given Gengar's low defenses; however, Thunder can be used for the increased paralysis chance, which can be helpful when trying to pull off Perish trap against a foe such as Roar Raikou.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>

Other Options

While Gengar has a plethora of options available, most of its alternative move options have already been discussed. However, one undiscussed option is Counter, which can bounce back non-STAB Earthquakes from Snorlax or Tyranitar, or even weaker STAB Earthquakes from Steelix or Nidoking, for a KO. STAB Rock Slides from Tyranitar or non-STAB Hidden Powers and Rock Slides from Machamp are also excellent moves to bounce back with Counter. However, Counter is a fairly situational surprise, as many Snorlax do not carry Earthquake, many Tyranitar have the non-physical Crunch to nail Gengar, Nidoking has a slight chance to OHKO Gengar with Earthquake, and most of these threats can always just use Curse to have enough Attack to OHKO Gengar. However, that last point about Curse users could be taken advantage of by pairing Counter with Destiny Bond.

Checks and Counters

Gengar has no 100% counters, as it has ways to screw over any and every potential check. The best all-around check is Raikou, as it outspeeds Gengar, can survive Explosion at full health, can neutralize the Explosion threat with Reflect, and can even use Sleep Talk to negate the Hypnosis threat or Roar to negate the Perish trap threat. Umbreon is another top check, as it does not take a lot of damage from DynamicPunch, takes only 65-77% from Explosion, and can Pursuit Gengar to death or counter-trap a Perish trapping Gengar with a Mean Look and Baton Pass set. However, Umbreon can still be killed by Explosion if it's been weakened, can be caught by Hypnosis, and Pursuit Umbreon cannot KO Gengar quickly enough to beat the Perish trap set. Dark-types with higher Special Attack such as Tyranitar and Houndoom do a better job of using Pursuit against Gengar, and Tyranitar resists Explosion while frequently carrying Roar to deal with a high-health Perish trap Gengar. However, these threats, in addition to being vulnerable to Destiny Bond and Hypnosis, are hit hard by the potential DynamicPunch. Steelix makes a solid check to Gengar as well, since it doesn't take super effective damage from BoltBeam, resists Explosion, and just barely misses out on an OHKO with Earthquake. However, Steelix can be worn down with several Ice Punches on the switch, and of course, it is weak to the occasional Fire Punch and can always be caught by Destiny Bond or Hypnosis. Snorlax also makes a great check for Gengar, especially if it has Earthquake. It takes paltry damage from Gengar's non-STAB special attacks and only takes 28-33% from DynamicPunch and 69-81% from Explosion, even less after Curse. However, without Earthquake, Snorlax has to rely on trying to outstall Gengar, making it vulnerable to the Ice Punch freeze or even the potential Perish trap KO. Even with Earthquake, Gengar can always surprise Snorlax with Destiny Bond, incapacitate it with Hypnosis, or KO a weakened Snorlax with Explosion. Quagsire makes an okay check as it does not take super effective damage from BoltBeam while hitting back hard with STAB Earthquake, although as with most things, it can be beaten by Hypnosis, Destiny Bond, or Explosion. Blissey also sponges Gengar's special moves like a champ, although it does nothing to force Gengar out, takes a lot of damage from DynamicPunch, can be killed by Explosion, and can be ruined as a Heal Bell supporter by Hypnosis.

Aside from the above checks, there are a few other Pokemon that don't match as well with Gengar one-on-one, but can still step in to tango with it if need be. Zapdos is one of these. It frequently has Sleep Talk, so Hypnosis isn't too big of a deal, and can hit Gengar hard and possibly paralyze it with STAB Thunder, although it is 3HKOed by Ice Punch and can always be KOed in return by Explosion or Destiny Bond. In addition, Ice-weak Ground-types such as Rhydon, Nidoking, and Marowak can hit hard enough to OHKO Gengar, so if they manage to switch in as Gengar Thunderbolts, it can be forced to switch out, ceding offensive momentum to you. However, one Ice Punch on the switch effectively ruins these Pokemon, and not just as Gengar counters, so do this sparingly. In addition to Ice-weak foes that can hit hard in return, anything that can take BoltBeam reasonably well can act as a Gengar counter in some form. Misdreavus, your own Gengar, Heracross (barring Fire Punch), and even Miltank can all switch into Gengar to take its hits and force it to use its surprise tactics to beat you. However, keep in mind that unless you have a way to force Gengar to switch out, such as Earthquake on Heracross or Perish trap on Misdreavus, Gengar can always stay in and just go for the freeze with Ice Punch.