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Palkia certainly made a splash when it made its big entrance in the fourth generation. Even towards the end, Palkia found itself consistently in the top 10 (and even 5) spots of usage. This is not without reason, either. Dragon-types have certainly always had their way in the Uber tier, and as a Pokemon that is able to capitalize on the rain induced by Kyogre or the sun provided by Groudon, Palkia sure had a lot going for it.
The advent of the fifth generation certainly kept things much the same: Palkia still has two of the best STABs in the game, Palkia is still a beast under rain and sun, and Palkia can still sweep given a variety of conditions. Unfortunately, it didn't get many new toys to play with; but as the French say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. While it may have trouble with faster Dragon-types (including those with a Choice Scarf), unprepared teams will find Palkia squashing them with little effort.
At a glance, there's really too much good about Palkia to take in all at once. The aforementioned dual STAB, Dragon and Water, provides an immediate threat to anything that isn't extremely bulky. Pressure as an ability may not initially seem like much, but can become useful against dangerous Pokemon such as Kyogre with Water Spout. Which brings us to the topic of the big whale in charge. Palkia finds so much use as it is a diamond (or is it pearl?) in the rough of the Ubers world: not only can Palkia come in and threaten the omnipresent Kyogre with Thunder, it also gets a huge boost from the rain which Kyogre so generously provides. If that fact wasn't enough to push Palkia to the top of the Ubers food chain, it has base 100 Speed and reasonable bulk to back it up.
Part of the reason for Palkia being such a huge threat is its versatility of sets. Probably most common is the Choice Scarf set, which allows Palkia to abuse boosted Surf and 100% accurate Thunder under rain for easy revenge kills. Furthermore, Spacial Rend or a Dragon-type move of choice keeps certain set-up sweepers at bay, and should the sun be shining away, Palkia can still be a threat with Fire Blast. But Palkia isn't merely limited to a Choice Scarf set; how could one overlook 120 base Attack and 150 base Special Attack for mixed sweeping capabilities? Palkia has an extremely diverse movepool to back that up, including Spacial Rend, Outrage, Draco Meteor, Surf, Thunder, Aqua Tail, and Fire Blast. Palkia can also hit like a truck from solely the special side when sporting a pair of the latest Choice Specs, at which point it has a chance to even 2HKO Eviolite Chansey with Hydro Pump (assuming you don't miss and Chansey has taken some residual damage).
As stated, the Choice Scarf set is generally the most common set. However, the way you should play Palkia depends on what the team needs, as Palkia can conform to a variety of roles.
Perhaps Kyogre poses a monstrous threat to your team, and so you need someone to soak Kyogre's hits and then switch to one of your more dangerous setup sweepers. In this case, Palkia with Rest and Sleep Talk is your man; not only can it absorb the hits it needs to, it can also heal up as necessary, bluff a choice set with Surf, Aqua Tail, or even Outrage, and then get out of there. Perhaps you need something on the mixed side, but unlike traditional Palkia sets, you do not want it to be easily revenge killed by other Dragon-types, and you also do not want it to be dead weight against Blissey and Evoilite Chansey. In this case, a mixed set with Haban Berry would be the best choice, as it can again bluff Choice Scarf, take a Dragon-type hit and then OHKO back, and finally, 2HKO Chansey and Blissey in rain with Aqua Tail. Maybe your team fares well against Kyogre and other threats, but needs a final clean-up sweeper to capitalize on dents in the opponent's team. In that case, Choice Specs Palkia serves as a great option to spam Spacial Rend or Surf late-game.
The previously mentioned revenge killer with a Choice Scarf is not to be forgotten, though. Part of the set's importance relies on Palkia's diversity as if the opponent is not fully aware you are running a Choice Scarf set, they may have to sacrifice a Pokemon just to find out. With 492 Speed to work with (courtesy of a Speed boosting nature and Choice Scarf), there isn't much without a Choice Scarf of its own that will be outspeeding Palkia. This allows you to capitalize on what the opponent switches in to revenge kill Palkia; if you believe it would be normally OHKOed by Palkia, then they are either equipped with a Choice Scarf of their own or bluffing it, which you can generally find out by going to a bulkier Pokemon.
The nature of Palkia's diverse movepool means that under the right conditions, there is essentially no safe switch in. It is for this reason that many teams are forced to rely on revenge killing Palkia.
Steel-types that can take Water-type moves such as Ferrothorn can take anything Palkia tries to dish out in the rain. Choice Scarf Garchomp will outspeed all variations of Palkia and effortlessly OHKO (unless Palkia is holding a Haban Berry). Kingdra uses the rain Palkia loves to nab a Swift Swim boost, at which point it will outspeed and OHKO. If Palkia is choiced, its counters depend on whether its set is primarily specially or physically based. If it is special, then Blissey and Chansey will generally have an easy time; Specially Defensive Groudon can remove the rain and proceed to threaten physically based Palkia.
Other than those options, methods of handling Palkia are scarce. If the opponent is not using a Choice Scarf, then basically any Dragon-type of your own with a Choice Scarf will have to revenge kill it. Wobbufet can also work as a revenge killer in such circumstances. It can survive even a Choice Specs-boosted Hydro Pump from Palkia and OHKO back with Mirror Coat (or Counter, should a physical move be expected).
Many sets, such as Choice Scarf, absolutely need certain teammates in order to score certain KOs while remaining safe. However, Palkia has a variety of helpful resistances, and synergizes decently with some key players on rain teams, so it can certainly serve as a solid centerpiece for many teams. It is for this reason that Palkia is seen so frequently, and while it can be just fine as a revenge killer to stick on most teams, it usually performs best with certain team support. Let's take a closer look.
Palkia functions best in the rain, no doubt about it. For this reason, Kyogre is arguably the single best teammate to Palkia. Although they share their Water typing, Palkia's Dragon-type essentially neutralizes any resistances (and weaknesses) they would share. Once the windows of heaven are opened up, Palkia will have an easy time ripping unprepared, opposing teams to shreds: Thunder gains 100% accuracy, Surf gets powered up to ridiculous levels, and the opponent in many cases may have to decide what they want to die. Kyogre's notable bulk is much appreciated as a teammate.
Like any offensive Pokemon, Palkia loves Spikes and Stealth Rock support. These can often be served up by Deoxys-S, who places entry hazards like the government spends money: quickly and often. Despite the fact that Deoxys-S is generally more suicidal, Palkia doesn't really mind that, as opposing Forretress trying to spin away hazards won't like taking a Fire Blast in the sun. Still, it is advisable (especially when using rain) to pack some sort of spinblocker in this regard, which will only lead to more switching and passive damage. Ferrothorn can work to set up hazards as well; not only does it absorb Dragon-type attacks aimed at Palkia, but Palkia can handle any stray Fire-type attacks (however uncommon they may be in the rain). Forretress is in a similar vein, and has the added bonus of Rapid Spin, which may prove useful to choice variants of Palkia, who do not enjoy repeatedly taking damage upon switch-ins.
Palkia has only one weakness, but unfortunately, it's the all-too-common Dragon-type. It does belong to the club of Dragon-types who take only neutral damage from Ice-type attacks, but regardless, you will want a Steel-type to absorb repeated assaults. The aforementioned Forretress and Ferrothorn work well, can set-up hazards, and have a better chance of forcing out Dragon-types in the rain. Palkia holding a choice item face the incredible problem of set-up sweepers who like to come in on a resisted attack. Extreme Killer Arceus also likes to pull a similar strategy, coming in on a weaker move and setting up while forcing Palkia out. For this reason, Lugia makes a good teammate due to its great bulk, ability to phaze reliably, and access to reliable recovery. If Palkia doesn't have Rest, it can make great use of Wish support. Type-wise, Jirachi synergizes well, but Blissey can also serve well if the team needs the utility. If Palkia isn't going mixed, it absolutely needs a physical or mixed counterpart to handle Blissey, though many options are available there.
Of course, sun support is not to be discounted for Palkia. Many times, sun teams struggle to find an answer to Kyogre, and Palkia can function as that answer. Other dedicated answers to Kyogre, such as Quagsire or Gastrodon, struggle to fill such a niche as they share Ground typing with Groudon. Although it may be initially unappealing to lose out on its Water STAB, with a Dragon-type move and Fire Blast, Palkia hits everything except Heatran anyway.
With the release of more Pokemon than ever, only time will tell if Palkia can remain the beast it was in the fourth generation. No matter what the case may be, it is still important to either include or prepare for Palkia in every team, otherwise, you may find a large, spacial rend in your team.
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