Ready for a whole NU metagame?

By Oglemi. Art by V0x.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »


"So wait, you're telling that there's another tier below RU?" Yep, there sure is. Welcome to NU, where the worst of the worst battle out to prove that they exist for something. NU is characterized by Pokemon that, while they have niches in other tiers and aren't necessarily complete crap (well, most of them anyway), they just aren't good enough to warrant significant usage in the upper tiers. So, what kind of Pokemon can you expect to see in the depths of the usage barrel? Take a look below to find out!

Oh, one other thing. With the recent tier shifts a large majority of this article became obsolete, so to remedy that I've added a subsection within each section entitled "What to expect now with the tier shifts." This section will describe the metagame after the tier shifts and the effects that the shifts will have within each section.

Where are my Dragons??

One of the most stark differences from the upper tiers you'll notice when you start playing NU is that there is an almost complete absence of Dragon-type Pokemon, with Altaria and Druddigon being the only fully evolved Dragon-types in the tier. There are other NFE Dragons to choose from, such as Dragonair, Shelgon, Gabite, Zweilous, and Fraxure, but in general, meeting up with any variety of Dragon is a relatively rare occurence. Below is probably one of the best Dragons available to you, and a real force to be reckoned with in NU, especially with the abundance of Grass- and Fire-type Pokemon. Every team you make should be prepared for this beast.

Altaria @ Life Orb
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Dragon Dance
- Outrage
- Earthquake
- Roost

While it may seem unorthodox to take Altaria on the offensive, Altaria is the fastest Dragon-type in the tier with Dragon Dance, making it also the most dangerous Dragon after a single boost. The idea of the set is to switch in on the multiple Grass-, Fire-, and Electric-types of the tier that can't really hurt you, or any offensively weak defensive Pokemon, and boost with Dragon Dance. From there, Altaria is free to fire off its incredibly powerful Outrage. If the opponent happens to have a Steel-type, blast it away with Earthquake. Roost occupies the last slot to make use of Altaria's other major perk over the other Dragon-types in the tier: its awesome natural bulk. It's inadvisable to use this last slot for a Fire-type attack, since there are no Levitating Steel-types, Ferroseed is in RU, and Shedinja is a non-threat for the most part. Natural Cure is the real icing on the cake for Altaria, as it rids it of any harmful status, particularly burn and paralysis, when Altaria switches out, which it will probably be doing a lot of anyways due to the confusion that Outrage causes. The only real downside to using Altaria is its weakness to Stealth Rock, which all of the other Dragons in the tier are neutral or resistant to.

So how do you take on such a menacing (albeit adorable) Pokemon in a tier almost devoid of any Steel-types (which I will get to in a moment)? Well, it isn't easy, that's for sure. Klinklang, Rhydon, Regirock, and Magneton are all able to tank an Outrage in a pinch and blast Altaria, though they all need to be extremely wary of Earthquake, and should avoid switching directly into Outrage. Eviolite Tangela avoids the 2HKO from a +1 Outrage, especially with the help of Leech Seed, and can generally annoy Altaria. However, be warned that if Sleep Clause is in effect, it can become set up bait for Altaria the next time the two meet. Choice Scarf Sawk can outspeed +1 Altaria and KO it with Stone Edge, though it can't really switch into Outrage either. Pokemon with Ice Shard, such as Piloswine, Lapras, and Sneasel, can revenge kill Altaria as well if you're desperate. Quagsire is probably your best bet when met with an offensive Altaria. The derpy salamander completely ignores any Dragon Dances Altaria may have accumulated, thanks to Unaware, and can take it out with Stone Edge.

What to expect now with the tier shifts:

Combating Offensive Dragon Dance Altaria just got far more difficult. Rhydon, Klinklang, and Magneton all moved on up to RU, leaving the amount of Pokemon that can comfortably tank Outrage suddenly barren. Regirock still stands out as a fine candidate to not only tank Outrage, but also KO Altaria in return with Rock Slide or Stone Edge. Golem and Gigalith are both able to do the same, but are less able to take an unexpected Earthquake. Thankfully, most of the Pokemon that are able to revenge kill Altaria have stayed in NU, so that method of handling the blue demon is still viable.

Where are my Steels?!

HAHA there are no Steels! Well, no good ones anyway. Yep, the upper tiers have taken basically every usable Steel-type out of NU, leaving us with rust-ridden piles of scrap that should be ashamed to call themselves Steel-types. OK, that was a bit harsh, but when I say there isn't much to choose from, I really mean that. Klinklang and Magneton are about the only ones worth considering on any real competitive team, but there are other options including Metang, Lairon, Probopass, and Bastiodon, or if you're really gutsy, Mawile and Wormadam-S.... And you thought I was kidding.

Surprisingly though, Klinklang and Magneton are actually really good choices for most competitive teams, with Klinklang being one of the most dangerous physical sweepers and Magneton one of the best defensive pivots. When building a team, definitely take these Pokemon into consideration. As the only reliable Steel-types in the tier, they are probably the only things stopping the remaining Dragons from ruling with an iron fist (excuse the pun).

Magneton @ Eviolite
Ability: Magnet Pull
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 Spe
Modest Nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Substitute
- Charge Beam
- Hidden Power Ground / Hidden Power Ice
- Thunderbolt

SubCharge Magneton can become extremely threatening under the right conditions. Magneton makes arguably the best Klinklang counter in the tier, and even uses it as set up bait. Magneton's typing is amazing and allows it to set up a Substitute on a large portion of the metagame. The Hidden Power type comes down to personal choice. Hidden Power Ground gives probably the best coverage, since it blasts away opposing Magneton and Lanturn, as well as getting a super effective hit on Fire-types, such as Magmortar and Emboar, looking to take out Magneton with Fire Blast or Flare Blitz, though Thunderbolt will hit them for more damage. Hidden Power Ice is usable too, since it gets near perfect coverage alongside Magneton's Electric STAB; it's also a really nice way to take out Dragon Dance Altaria locked into Outrage, as well as Dugtrio on the switch. Thunderbolt may seem like an odd choice for the last slot, due to the fact that you're already using Charge Beam, but it is substantially stronger than Charge Beam and acts as Magneton's sweeping move once you've accumulated enough boosts.

What's one to do when faced with a Magneton? Well, if it's switched into your Klinklang, then your goose is effectively cooked unless you have a lot of Pokemon left on your team that can revenge kill it. Sending in Dugtrio at the first sign of Magneton might seem like a good idea, but this is only an option if you can catch it on the double switch. Otherwise, most Magneton will set up a Substitute the second they switch in, and if they're carrying Hidden Power Ice or Flash Cannon, then your Dugtrio is going to be in trouble. If their Magneton is using Hidden Power Ground, though, then your Dugtrio is going to be better off. Sawk easily smacks Magneton around with Close Combat; just make sure that Magneton hasn't accumulated very many boosts by the time you bring Sawk in. Throh can phaze Magneton out with Circle Throw and doesn't much mind even Magneton's boosted attacks, while Gurdurr can replenish any health it may lose from Thunderbolt with Drain Punch and come out on top. Finally, Fire-types can incinerate Magneton into oblivion, though they really really need to be careful of Hidden Power Ground. Good Fire-types to roast Magneton with include Magmortar, Emboar, and Camerupt. Camerupt gets special mention, as it's immune to Thunderbolt and has Solid Rock to lessen the blow from Hidden Power Ground.

What to expect now with the tier shifts:

Well, now there really aren't any more Steels. Both Klinklang and Magneton have moved on to bigger and better things in RU, leaving NU without any very reliable Steel-types to choose from. From the remaining pack, Probopass, Bastiodon, Lairon, and Metang stand out as being the "best", but they all share one glaring weakness in common: lack of any offensive presence. The best way to take advantage of these Pokemon is to use their typing to your advantage and rack up entry hazard damage from Stealth Rock. Lairon and Bastiodon are more effective in this role thanks to their access to Roar. Just be thankful that Magneton and Dugtrio aren't around anymore to spoil your fun when using these sluggish Steels, though Probopass may end up being a thorn in their side yet.

Where the f@#$ are my Rapid Spinners?!?!?!

I think you know where I'm going with this by now.... But yeah, good luck finding a decent Rapid Spinner to use on your team. Armaldo, Cryogonal, and Smeargle stand out as the only ones available that aren't complete crap in some other aspect, with the others available being Torkoal, Wartortle, Tentacool, Staryu, Delibird, and Spinda. Quite a collection don't you think? Not only that, but these Rapid Spinners face one major problem: spinblockers, particularly Misdreavus. Due to this, NU also has the distinction of being one of the most entry hazard-laden tiers out there. If you feel that your team is particularly entry hazard weak, then you're going to have to invest in one of the above spinners, and I'll lay out arguably the best one for you.

Armaldo @ Leftovers
Ability: Battle Armor
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Rapid Spin
- Rock Blast / Stone Edge
- X-Scissor
- Earthquake / Stealth Rock

Armaldo distinguishes itself from the other spinners in the tier by being the only one able to pose any sort of significant offensive presence. It even has great natural bulk backed up by Leftovers. Its typing is terrible, but then that's why it's in NU. Bug / Rock does give Armaldo some great offensive STABs to work with, and makes it so that the only spinblocker that can comfortably switch into it is Misdreavus. Rock Blast received a nice buff this generation, and it's chosen over Stone Edge for its ability to break Substitute and damage the opponent, and for the extra PP it has over Stone Edge. However, Stone Edge is a safer option that hits for consistent damage over the course of the battle. X-Scissor is a great STAB move for Armaldo, and it takes a nice chunk out of Tangela and Exeggutor. The last slot can either go to Earthquake to complete Armaldo's awesome type coverage, or to Stealth Rock.

As stated before, Misdreavus is a huge thorn in all of the spinners' sides, due to several factors. Firstly, it's nearly impossible to OHKO Misdreavus thanks in no small part to Eviolite. Secondly, it has Will-O-Wisp to stomp out any chances that Armaldo might have had of getting past it with Rock Blast or Stone Edge. Thirdly, Misdreavus has access to Heal Bell, which makes all possibilities to wear her down with Toxic moot. And lastly, Misdreavus has access to Calm Mind, which stops any attempts that Torkoal, Cryogonal, or Wartortle may have had of getting past her as well. In short, if using a spinner on your team, you absolutely need a way to get past Misdreavus. One of the most direct ways is to blast her with STAB Dark- or Ghost-type attacks, though you need to be wary of Will-O-Wisp. A good way to avoid this is with Substitute or Taunt, making Absol and Skuntank excellent choices to depose of the screaming banshee. Haunter and Lampent can KO Misdreavus in a pinch with Shadow Ball, and Lampent even gains from switching into Will-O-Wisp thanks to Flash Fire, but either one is hard pressed to tank a Shadow Ball themselves.

What to expect now with the tier shifts:

Surprisingly, the tier shifts have probably effected Armaldo and the other spinners in a positive way. With Roselia, Scolipede, and Smeargle leaving the tier, three of the biggest Spikers are now absent, making spinning slightly more unimportant. Unfortunately for Armaldo and Cryogonal, their biggest nemesis in Misdreavus still resides in the tier, so spinning may indeed take a backseat in the new metagame.

Fire-, Grass-, and Flying-type Kings of NU

So where have all of the lonely Grass-, Fire-, and Flying-type Pokemon who have been deemed unworthy in the upper tiers, solely because of their typing, gone? Why, to NU of course! NU is full of these types of Pokemon due to the fact that they have simply been left behind because of their typing. Below I'll give an example of 3 of the most dangerous Pokemon of the aforementioned types and how to prepare for them.

Magmortar @ Life Orb
Ability: Vital Spirit
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Fire Blast
- Thunderbolt
- Focus Blast
- Hidden Power Grass

Exeggutor @ Choice Specs
Ability: Chlorophyll
EVs: 156 HP / 252 SpA / 100 Spe
Modest Nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Leaf Storm
- Psychic
- Hidden Power Ice
- Sleep Powder

Swellow @ Flame Orb
Ability: Guts
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Facade
- Brave Bird
- Protect / Quick Attack
- U-turn / Pursuit

Can you say no safe switch-ins? Yeah... Swellow is probably the easiest one of the above to "counter;" Magneton, Rhydon, Regirock, Gigalith, Golem, and Alomomola are all capable of weathering several hits from the kamikaze bird and coming out on top. If your team is lacking a sturdy physical wall not named Tangela, then you're going to be in big trouble when Swellow shows its face.

As for Magmortar and Exeggutor, there really are no Pokemon that can safely switch in without the possibility of being taken out by one of their coverage moves. The problem with Magmortar stems from the fact that not only does it have a massive Special Attack stat and awesome coverage, it's also faster than basically every wall in the tier, meaning that even if you can tank one of its Fire Blasts, you still have to be able to weather the next coverage move as well. Specially defensive Lanturn and Lampent stand out as about the only true safe switches into LO Magmortar, with Lanturn taking only 36.6% - 43.2% from Hidden Power Grass and being able to OHKO it back with Hydro Pump, and Lampent taking negligible damage from Thunderbolt and even benefitting from Fire Blast. Specially defensive Camerupt can easily switch into Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Grass, survive the following Focus Blast, and take out Magmortar with Earthquake or Earth Power, but Camerupt has about one chance to do this. Beyond that, there are Pokemon that can take one or two of its moves, but will likely fall to the other coverage moves, such as Mantine, Audino, Quagsire, Throh, Probopass, and Dewgong. Thankfully, Magmortar can be somewhat easily revenge killed, particularly by Dugtrio, Cinccino, Scarf Sawk, and Aqua Jet users, such as Basculin.

Exeggutor is a little harder to deal with for one major reason: Sleep Powder. Even if you find a good switch into Exeggutor's massively powerful Leaf Storm or Psychic, that switch-in has to be very wary of accidentally switching into Sleep Powder. A word of caution: don't switch a Steel-type into Exeggutor; Leaf Storm easily 2HKOes Klinklang and most Magneton. So, what is able to take a Choice Specs Leaf Storm and live to tell the tale? Specially defensive Altaria stands out from the pack thanks to its 4x resistance, access to Roost, and ability Natural Cure, which even lets it switch into Sleep Powder. However, Altaria has a very hard time taking a Specs-boosted Psychic, and an even harder time with Hidden Power Ice. Roselia, Amoonguss, Golbat, and Masquerain can all easily eat Leaf Storm, but they too need to be extremely wary of Psychic. Overall, Skuntank and Murkrow are probably your best bets when faced with an Exeggutor, since they can take a Leaf Storm and are immune to Psychic; and Skuntank doesn't even mind Hidden Power Ice, and can easily dispose of Exeggutor with Pursuit or Crunch.

What to expect now with the tier shifts:

Thankfully, Swellow still has a lengthy list of checks and counters, including Regirock, Gigalith, Golem, Alomomola, Lairon, Probopass, Bastiodon, Carracosta, Magcargo, Metang, and Relicanth. Of those, Regirock, Alomomola, and Carracosta stand out as Pokemon that have more utility outside of just countering Swellow.

The same can still be said for Exeggutor as well. Specially defensive Altaria, Golbat, Amoonguss, Skuntank, and Murkrow are all still in the tier to check it.

Magmortar on the other hand is a different story entirely. Lanturn, Dugtrio, and Slowking have all moved up to higher tiers, leaving the list of Life Orb Magmortar checks frighteningly short. Camerupt and Lampent are still in the tier, and specially defensive Altaria can check Magmortar sets without Hidden Power Ice, but overall, expect to see a whole lot of Magmortar in this new NU.

NFE's power grab

The item Eviolite probably comes into play more in NU than in any other tier apart from Little Cup, thanks again to the sheer amount of NFEs in the tier. Thankfully, Eviolite makes a whole metric ton's worth of otherwise pathetic Pokemon viable, and when building a team, always keep an open mind to NFEs. There is such a wide variety that you're bound to find one that can fill a gap in your team. Below are some of the most well known, and ones you should definitely be prepared for when taking a dip into NU.

Rhydon @ Eviolite
Ability: Rock Head
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Stealth Rock / Substitute
- Stone Edge
- Earthquake
- Megahorn

Roselia @ Eviolite
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 SpD
Careful Nature (+SpD, -Atk)
- Spikes
- Synthesis
- Giga Drain
- Leech Seed / Sleep Powder

Rhydon stands out from the crowd of NFEs available as being one of the few that is not only reliable defensively, but poses a strong offensive presence as well. The set listed makes use of both of these traits; use Rhydon's bulk to easily set up Stealth Rock and then blast the opponent with the appropriate move. Rhydon fills an important role in NU as being one of the few good Dragon Dance Altaria and Swellow checks, as well as an effective Absol, Klinklang, and physical Mesprit check. Unfortunately, the rest of the metagame isn't very kind to Rhydon. The multitude of Water-, Fighting-, and Grass-types in NU walk all over Rhydon, and there is no shortage of Pokemon that can easily tank one of its attacks and fire back for super effective damage.

Roselia fills an important niche in NU as being one of the few extremely effective Spikers available. And in a tier where spinners are difficult to use, Roselia's Spikes will usually be around the whole match. While there are no shortage of Grass-types to choose from, Roselia separates itself from the pack by providing not only Spikes, but also performing as a solid specially defensive core. Definitely keep Roselia in mind when building a team, and it will usually be the determining factor in whether or not you want to run a spinner on your team. Beware of offensive versions as well; while Roselia is typically known as a defensive Pokemon, it still has a nice base 100 Special Attack to fire off powerful STAB Leaf Storms and Sludge Bombs. When met with a Roselia on the battlefield, aim for its physical defense with Fire-, Flying-, Ice-, or Psychic-type moves. While it's very sturdy on the special side, just about any non-Grass-type physical attack will bring it down. Taunting it is also effective to stop it from laying Spikes or putting your Pokemon to sleep with Sleep Powder.

What to expect now with the tier shifts:

The void left by both of these Pokemon is going to be hard to fill.

Regirock, Golem, Gigalith, and Carracosta stand out as the best Pokemon able to stand in for the rock rhino. All are able to reliably set up Stealth Rock, save for Carracosta, and still pose a decent offensive presence. Carracosta in particular stands out due to its access to Shell Smash, which can be all the more devastating due to both Gorebyss and Huntail residing in the tier as well. Regirock will probably come out as the most used of the four, however, due to not only its sky-high Defense, but its decent Special Defense as well. It also has access to two very useful moves in Thunder Wave and Drain Punch, giving it a bit of an edge over its competition.

As for Roselia, the list of reliable Spikers in NU is now exceedingly short. Cacturne and Garbodor look to be the only real decent users of the move left, with Maractus, Glalie, and Whirlipede filling niche roles. As for its Grass / Poison typing, Amoonguss can easily stand in for Roselia, and has its own advantages over the thorny flower in Spore and a solid Defense stat, along with a decent Special Defense.

Get out there!

NU is still a metagame in the making, and a completely unique one from the upper tiers. I hope this guide has convinced you to at least give NU a try, and I promise you you'll have a ball with any team you make.

« Previous Article Home Next Article »