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The NU metagame has gone through quite a bit of changes in its lifetime, but none quite as dramatic as this. At possibly the most controversial time possible, both Miltank and Slowking (two staple stall team Pokémon and Fire-type resists) leave NU, while the tier is introduced to the new event Flare Blitz and ExtremeSpeed Entei. Not only did this deal a fatal blow to stall, but it re-introduced an old threat in NU with newer, stronger guns. The strategy, once introduced by Smogon user Leman, of "Triple Fires" is now bringing a physical powerhouse into the mix, and has never been so deadly. Counters to the deadly Fire combos are now nowhere near as great as Slowking was. Flash Fire users' frail Defense and weakness to Entei's Stone Edge means that once they are revealed, they aren't going to be lasting that long. Bulky Water-types, such as Walrein and Politoed, attempting to fill the gap left by Slowking, are burdened by their weak Defense or Stealth Rock weakness, along with both lacking reliable recovery other than Rest.
The Fires aren't the only thing to worry about in NU, however, as we give a big welcome back to Drifblim, Qwilfish, and Nidoqueen. These three Pokémon bring back the previously dead strategy of Spikes and Toxic Spikes stacking, as well as adding another Rapid Spin blocker to the mix. With judging how offensive the NU tier has become, strategies such as Spikestacking offense, weather offense, balanced offense, and just offense in general are now dominating the tier. Offensive juggernauts such as Espeon, Tauros, Primeape, Typhlosion, Swift Swimmers, and Chlorophyll users have now become as common as ever, thus making one hard-pressed to find a way to deal with all these threats on one team. However, with all the recent changes in NU, several new and effective sets have surfaced to combat this violently offensive metagame.
If one is stumped or just can't find that next Pokémon to fit on their NU team, we have compiled some very effective movesets that could pull you out of that rut. Now without wasting anymore of your time, we bring you some surprising sets to use in NU.
Regigigas @ Leftovers
Ability: Slow Start
EVs: 252 HP / 176 Def / 80 SpD
Impish Nature (+Def, -SpA)
Although walled entirely by Ghosts, Regigigas makes a great team supporter and late game sweeper thanks to its insane bulk and array of crippling moves. Regigigas is extremely hard to stop once it gets under a Sub—Thunder Wave and Confuse Ray make it very difficult for the opponent to even attack Regigigas. Should they succeed in landing a hit without succumbing to paralysis or confusion, opposing Pokémon are met with a powerful STAB Return, while Regigigas attempts to Substitute again and pressure the opponent through hax. After a Thunder Wave and Confuse Ray, they only have a 37.5% chance to hit Regigigas. The EVs allow for Regigigas to bypass a regular Sludge Bomb from a defensive Vileplume under a Sub. It is also capable of Subbing through support variants of Sandslash as well.
With Slowking moving up into UU, there have been a lack of decent bulky Water-types in UU that can cover the majority of moves that Charizard and Magmortar utilize. As they are often pack moves such as HP Grass and Thunderbolt, even Pokémon such as Quagsire and Phione find themselves struggling against Fire-type powerhouses. Though Regigigas doesn't particularly like a STAB Fire Blast, Regigigas usually succeeds in crippling or forcing out both Pokémon through Thunder Wave. Paralyzing these threats makes it much easier for many slower NU Pokémon to pick them off, such as Rhydon or Medicham.
Regigigas alone is reason enough to pack a Ghost-, Rock-, or Steel-type in teams in order to prevent getting swept. However, Magneton and Skuntank make great partners to Regigigas due to their ability to take out Steel- and Ghost- types effectively.
Haunter @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature (+Spe, -Atk)
-Hidden Power Ground / Destiny Bond
Being one of the few choices for a viable Ghost-type in NU, Haunter is definitely a Pokémon who should not be overlooked. With its extremely useful immunities to Ground-, Fighting-, and Normal-type moves, along with its excellent Special Attack and Speed, it can easily find itself a spot on many different teams. However, one must remember to be cautious while switching in or attacking with Haunter. Because it suffers from such frighteningly frail defenses, any attack that Haunter does not resist or is immune to will likely do a lot of damage, many times an OHKO. Dedicated special walls such as Politoed and Regice will be able to stop your attacks as you can't even 3HKO them, while they can 2HKO you back and Rest off any damage dealt to them. This shouldn't deter you away from using Haunter, though, as it does definitely have its strong points that are worth utilizing.
With the NU tier being plagued with common threats such as Scarf Primeape, Medicham, and CB Tauros, Haunter can be a very useful Pokémon to counter this. Simply having Haunter on your team will prevent your opponent from sweeping you with the aforementioned threats. With a small amount of prior damage, it is also possible to OHKO these Pokémon with your respective STAB move. When you are not in direct need of these immunities, Haunter also functions as a generally powerful special attacker. Normal-types hoping to switch in and absorb a Shadow Ball, outspeed Haunter, and OHKO it, will be met with a STAB Sludge Bomb powerful enough to OHKO the likes of Persian and Dodrio. Meanwhile, Shadow Ball takes care of Psychic-types and Pokémon who resist Sludge Bomb, as well as destroying opposing Ghost-types. Although Substitute may seem suicidal when considering Life Orb recoil every attack, it is pretty much a necessity. It helps deter attacks and status moves that would otherwise faint or cripple the frail Haunter, along with easing prediction by a long shot, which is key when using Haunter. Haunter's not going to last that long anyway. The final slot attempts to deal with NU's premier Psychic and Ghost-type trapper, Skuntank. Hidden Power Ground has a chance of OHKOing the dark skunk with Stealth Rock, while also having the benefit of hitting other Pokémon who resist both of Haunter's STAB moves for super effective damage, such as Magneton, Mawile, and Probopass. Destiny Bond, however, tries out a more extreme approach for dealing with Skuntank. It works as a lure then sacrifices itself in order to bring Skuntank down with it, as well as being useful for taking out other slower Pokémon who Haunter doesn't have enough power or energy to take down. Although these moves have a decent shot at taking out Skuntank, one must remember that the stinky skunk posses both Sucker Punch and Pursuit, two moves that would destroy Haunter should they land, which can make it difficult to decide which move to use. Basically you can switch out or Substitute if you predict a Sucker Punch, or attack if you predict a Pursuit (Pursuit will always OHKO with Life Orb, even when you aren't switching out). Destiny Bond users should be wary of Taunt, however, as it is a common move on Life Orb Skuntank.
Haunter also has a handful of other support options that it could use over the last slot. These options include Explosion, Hypnosis, Pain Split, Will-O-Wisp, and Toxic. Explosion is useful for scoring some heavy damage on special walls coming in to absorb Haunter's attacks, but is generally too weak to OHKO any non-frail Pokémon without a good amount of Attack EVs, which takes away from its much-needed Special Attack. Hypnosis offers sleep support, although its 60% accuracy is very risky. Pain Split allows a way for Haunter to be more reckless in using Substitute and attacks, as you can Pain Split off the damage while stealing a great deal of HP from the special walls who switch in to wall your attacks. You can sometimes even get away with taking a hit then Pain Splitting again, as special walls tend to have such low attacking stats that even Haunter can probably survive at least one attack. Will-O-Wisp and Toxic offer ways to defeat or cripple its previously mentioned counters. Will-O-Wisp bypasses Sucker Punch, burning Skuntank and rendering it useless; although you may faint on the way out as two Pursuits could still pack a punch on Haunter, you can easily pick off the roasted skunk with another Pokémon. In the same way, special walls who lack Rest or a way to get rid of status will be susceptible to poison and quickly fall after a few turns.
Entei @ Choice Band
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
-Iron Head / Hidden Power Grass
A month ago, a Choice Band Entei would have been a joke. Sure, Entei has a very respectable 115 base Attack stat, but the fact that its strongest move was an non STAB Return was anything but respectable. However, thanks to the recent event in Japan, Entei now has what players have been asking for since the beginning of D/P, and then some!
With Entei's new moves, Flare Blitz and ExtremeSpeed, it can finally become a true physical attacking monster. Flare Blitz alone can 1-2HKO EVERYTHING in the metagame who doesn't resist it, while still being able to 2HKO a fair chunk of those that do. The added benefit of Flare Blitz is that most Fire-type counters, such as Politoed or Thick Fat Walrein, are more focused on Special Defense rather than Defense, so Entei hits them very hard on their weaker defensive side, despite resistances. Opposing Fire-types, who either resist or are immune to Flare Blitz, are all OHKOed by Stone Edge, except for Torkoal and Camerupt, both of whom are still 2HKOed. ExtremeSpeed helps aid Entei's modest Speed, while being one of the strongest priority moves in NU. Since Flare Blitz can take a toll on Entei with numerous recoil damage, ExtremeSpeed is a good move to use if you know your opponent is going to use Sucker Punch. Because most Sucker Punch users tend to be slower than Entei, such as Skuntank and Cacturne, ExtremeSpeed will go first, causing Sucker Punch to fail while you go in for the 2HKO, taking no direct damage whatsoever. The last move attempts to deal with problematic Rock-types who pretty much wall this set. Iron Head 2HKOs all but the most defensive Golem, Rhydon, and Cradily, while Hidden Power Grass 2HKOs nearly all Golem, Rhydon, Relicanth, and non-Careful Quagsire, assuming sandstorm isn't in play.
One drawback of this set is that the only nature available for this event Entei is Adamant, and while that is far from a bad nature, it takes away some of its unpredictability. The legendary dog also suffers from the unfortunate curse of being a Fire-type. While this comes with the benefit of being a physical attacker immune to Will-O-Wisp, it also gives it a weakness to Stealth Rock. Even with its impressive bulk, recoil damage and entry hazards will wear down its HP very quickly, so Entei greatly appreciates Wish or Rapid Spin support.
Shedinja @ Focus Sash
Ability: Wonder Guard
EVs: 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant (+Atk, -SpA)
Shedinja is a fairly stong Pokémon in NU, and although it faces the problem of residual damage and super effective hits, there is considerably less secondary damage in NU than most metagames. Shedinja makes a decent Pokémon in that it can stop many weather attacking Pokémon in their tracks. Rain and sun offense are very viable strategies to use, with Pokémon such as Shiftry, Qwilfish, Exeggutor, and Gorebyss as potent sweepers to name a few. Shedinja can easily set up on Qwilfish thanks to Wonder Guard, while also OHKOing Exeggutor and Shiftry with X-Scissor. Other common NU Pokémon who Shedinja can usually set up on are Glalie, Regice, and Kangaskhan. With a Focus Sash equipped, Shedinja can survive at least one onslaught and continue to sweep.
However, Stealth Rock and the occasional hail or sandstorm team can cause trouble for Shedinja. As a result, it is wise to run a Rapid Spinner in combination with Shedinja, such as Sandslash, Armaldo, or Hitmonchan. It might also be a good idea to use Sunny Day or Rain Dance with one of your Pokémon who benefit from it in order to nullify the residual damage from hail and sandstorm in order to give Shedinja a safe switch in. Though Shedinja still requires quite some support from the team in order to not die out fast, it is well worth it. Shedinja makes for a good anti-metagame Pokémon as well as a decent revenge killer thanks to Focus Sash and its priority moves, which make it last longer in battle than one might think.
Walrein @ Leftovers
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 240 HP /16 SpA /252 SpD
Calm nature (+SpD, -Atk)
Walrein is often forgotten as a defensive wall because of its incredibly popular Ice Body set. However, that Walrein set relies on Snover, who is often a liability. The EVs on this set are quite simple: it has maximum Special Defensive EVs with a Leftovers number (plus one point to limit Stealth Rock damage) with 240 HP EVs. The rest is thrown into Special Attack.
This set is incredibly effective at doing what a bulky Water-type needs to do: check Fire-types and other Water-types. Typhlosion's Eruption and various other Fire-type attacks merely tickle this Walrein set due to Thick Fat, while Walrein has a strong enough Surf to OHKO them back. Water-types without Toxic themselves have no hope against beating Walrein before getting stalled by Toxic and Protect. The problem with most bulky Water-types is that they are often set up bait; however, Walrein packs Encore to counter this.
Without Ice Beam, Walrein has no way to deter most Grass-types from switching in due to them either being part Poison-type or carrying Aromatherapy. Walrein also has trouble beating Fighting and Electric Pokémon if they switch in on Encore, Protect, or a revenge kill, though it can likely take an unboosted STAB Thunderbolt if needed.
Sharpedo @ Life Orb
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 252 Atk / 80 SpA / 176 Spe
Lonely nature (+Atk, -Def)
-Hidden Power Grass
Sharpedo is one of the hardest Pokémon to switch into in the NU metagame. With useful resistances (though it has pathetic defenses) and an immunity, it's not that hard to switch in. Once Sharpedo is in, the opponent faces a very tough decision, generally about what Pokémon they are going to sacrifice.
Sharpedo hits like a truck with excellent Attack and Crunch. With 252 Attack EVs and a Lonely nature, Sharpedo can 1-2HKO a huge portion of the metagame. Pokémon such as Politoed are easily 2HKOed by Crunch, while most sweepers are OHKOed. Most Fighting-types, even if they predict correctly, usually fall to Crunch followed by an Aqua Jet finisher. Pokémon who resist Crunch or have very high Defense are nailed by STAB Hydro Pump backed by a very respectable Special Attack stat. With a Lonely nature and 80 EVs, Hydro Pump always OHKOes Sandslash, for example. Hidden Power Grass is there to hit specific Pokémon who aren't OHKOed by Hydro Pump or Crunch. Quagsire, for example, has high enough Defense to survive Crunch, but is also immune to Hydro Pump. Hidden Power Grass lets Sharpedo OHKO most of the defensive Pokémon in NU who would otherwise survive.
The real kicker of the set is Aqua Jet. Trying to switch a faster sweeper into Crunch or Hydro Pump is already hard, but switching into Crunch followed by Aqua Jet is nearly impossible. Pokémon such as Primeape can comfortably survive a Crunch, but not an Aqua Jet after the Crunch. Aqua Jet also allows Sharpedo to pick off weakened foes and sweep late game.
With some new faces introducing themselves in NU, it is a great opportunity to get involved with a growing metagame of threats only recently discovered. You can play NU ladder matches on Doug's Create-a-Pokémon Server, which also sports an LC ladder as well. NU is one of the most unexplored areas of competitive Pokémon, and it requires many people to try new and innovative sets in order to spice up the game. So, get out there and start playing!
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