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Isn't it fun to watch a metagame change right before your eyes? NU is like that right now—to an extent. One of the most remarkable aspects of NU is the amount of Pokémon viable in it, and the amount of new sets that appear every day. Over the past two months, NU has been through many changes: tier shifts, suspect tests, the rise in certain playstyles and Pokémon, and many new, viable sets.
The most common playstyle in NU as of now is bulky offense, because there are many good bulky attackers. Hyper offense is very good as well, but because of the lack of super fast attackers, ubiquity of Sucker Punch users, and the fact that most fast attackers are frail, many offensive teams are better off using bulky attackers such as Torterra, Samurott, Gurdurr, and Musharna. Many NU people also have a fetish for slapping a Choice Scarf on anything and everything—although that's somewhat justified as there are few Pokémon that can actually use the item Choice Scarf. Weather is also a fairly common playstyle in NU as there are various good abusers. It can easily overwhelm the opposition if used right, but the playstyle isn't very versatile, and the weather abusers won't just plow through teams by themselves against competent, prepared opponents.
Although it's rarely seen, stall isn't completely unviable in NU. There are many good defensive Pokémon in NU, such as Amoonguss and Quagsire. There are even more in the form of NFE Pokémon; thanks to Eviolite, Pokémon such as Tangela and Misdreavus become defensive behemoths. However, note that stall has a difficult time dealing with the many powerful attackers in the tier, such as Braviary, Emboar, and Ursaring. Not only that, but it would really like a few extra team slots as there isn't enough slots to cover a large chunk of the tier.
Note that NU is still figuring itself out, with the help of others. There are so many different kinds of Pokémon out there that have been neglected to the NU tier that NU is constantly changing and unpredictable—for now.
Additions: Charizard, Ludicolo, Sawsbuck
Removals: Mesprit, Jynx
In comparison to the last round of tier shifts, where NU lost around 13 Pokémon, the recent tier shifts seemed pretty insignificant. However, that doesn't mean that it didn't have a very noticeable impact on the NU metagame. The most noticeable thing that occurred as a result of the tier shifts was the rise of weather. All three Pokémon that dropped down can take advantage of weather well. In the sun, Charizard becomes an amazing wallbreaker that 2HKOes every Pokémon in the tier, most of which it can 2HKO with just Fire Blast alone. Sawsbuck is another brilliant sun abuser: it's the fastest Chlorophyll abuser by far, allowing it to outspeed nearly everything under the sun. It no longer has to worry about Pokémon revenging it, and you can even afford to run HP EVs or Adamant nature over Jolly. Sawsbuck also has Nature Power to bypass Absol, which is one of the best sun checks. Ludicolo is the only drop that can take advantage of rain. Ludicolo is a fantastic rain abuser because it can eliminate the Water-types that can take a Hydro Pump with Giga Drain. Not only that, but it also has above-average bulk, great coverage, and the ability to utilize Rain Dance without wasting a moveslot. All of these Pokémon have one thing in common: they don't need to be in weather to be threatening.
Charizard is a very good wallbreaker. It may be very weak to Stealth Rock, but it can always Roost that damage off, and sometimes Stealth Rock can even be helpful for Charizard, as it gets it closer to Blaze range. The most common Charizard set outside of the sun is Fire Blast / Air Slash / Roost / Substitute with Life Orb attached, but Choice Specs is pretty good as well. Sawsbuck is most commonly seen with a Swords Dance set; it is a very good Swords Dance sweeper with its great STABs, good Speed stat, and the ability to OHKO nearly everything after a Swords Dance boost. Good luck surviving an attack from Sawsbuck if it also acquired a boost through Sap Sipper. A Choice Band set is good as well, but lacks the ability to sweep like Swords Dance does. Ludicolo is considered the most "balanced" of the drops by most people, as it fits very well in the NU metagame. Not only does it sweep well with a Rain Dance set, but it also fits well as a wall or bulky tank. The ability to counter Gorebyss is also nice, especially with Jynx being banned from the tier.
However, that's not the end to these tier shifts. One of the most versatile Pokémon in NU moved up to RU: Mesprit. Mesprit was a boosting sweeper, a Stealth Rock setter, a supporting Pokémon, and a reliable weather inducer—it could do a lot. It was a big loss for NU, but other Psychic-type Pokémon have stepped up to fill in its old roles. Gardevoir can do most of what Mesprit could do, and as such has dramatically increased in usage. Musharna plays the role of a bulky Psychic-type, boosting and walling many top threats such as Gurdurr and Sawk, as well as being a competent Thunder Wave spreader. Future tier shifts will be interesting. Will Absol, Cryogonal, and Drifblim rise up to RU? Will the various Pokémon barely above 3.41% finally fall down? Whatever it is, RU better compensate us for taking half the tier back in January.
A few weeks ago, no one thought that anything would be banned in NU for a while. However, with the recent NU council vote, that has changed. Jynx, the first Pokémon in the new BL3 banlist, was banned 7-0. Damp Rock and Heat Rock were also voted on, but the end result was 1-6, leaving the two rocks unbanned.
What made Jynx so strong? It was the combination of Lovely Kiss, 95 base Speed, two amazing STAB moves that gave it almost perfect neutral coverage, and sparsely spread checks. Most people had to rely on revenge killing Jynx to beat it. Nothing faster could switch into the Life Orb + Nasty Plot / Ice Beam / Psyshock / Focus Blast set. Everything slower could just get Lovely Kissed if Jynx failed to OHKO them for Jynx or another Pokémon to pick off later. After all, because of BW sleep mechanics, a Pokémon who is sleeping is essentially down for the count unless you have a Heal Bell / Aromatherapy user, or if said Pokémon carried Sleep Talk.
However, of course Jynx had a few flaws; otherwise, it would have been banned shortly after the tier came out. The main reasons people didn't want Jynx banned were the fact that it struggled to switch in safely, had trouble breaking through a few Pokémon (such as Grumpig and Hypno), was somewhat easy to revenge, and died pretty quickly through Life Orb recoil, Stealth Rock, and any attacks that it managed to survive. Despite these flaws, Jynx could usually kill or incapacitate two Pokémon fairly easily, and didn't really mind not being able to switch in or the fact that it can be revenged somewhat easily.
At first, there was quite a lot of pro-ban stigma for the two weather rocks. The power and speed boosts in both weathers made certain sweepers very hard to stop and a lot stronger. Many walls struggled to tank the powerful, 7-turn assaults. As such, people thought that banning Damp Rock and Heat Rock would help nerf weather—a 4-turn extremely powerful assault is much less threatening than a 7-turn one. However, after a while, people started realizing that weather isn't impossible to handle. Yes, it was very hard to wall, but many weather sweepers relied on their weather. If you outlasted the initial assault, you could usually win as long as you prevent them from setting up again. Many weather sweepers rely on their weather; if the weather is removed, they are much, much less threatening. Priority could always take care of the weather sweepers too. Another thing that made weather less threatening was the fact that the playstyle was very straightforward and predictable. Not only that, but there are a couple of Pokémon that could wall most of the Pokémon on weather teams, such as Ludicolo and Flareon for rain and sun, respectively. These flaws were a bit too much for a playstyle that doesn't even see much use to justify banning to most people. The council's justification in this vote can be found here.
The council votes in the future will be interesting. Will weather rocks be suspected again? Will Sawsbuck prove to be too much for NU to handle? What about Charizard, Absol, and Braviary? It will surely be a wild ride.
Base 125 Special Attack is absolutely amazing, especially in NU. It can be a very effective wallbreaker with Choice Specs and a offensive Calm Mind user with Life Orb. It can also support or be the bane of weather with Choice Scarf and Trace, allowing it to outspeed nearly every weather abuser. Gardevoir can even run a more defensively oriented Calm Mind set and support its team with dual screens thanks to its high Special Defense stat. Yes, Gardevoir is that versatile, and that is why it has been steadily increasing in usage.
Before, people used to use Mesprit as their "utility Psychic-type". Now that Mesprit moved up to RU, people have been using Gardevoir as a replacement. Gardevoir trades bulk, Levitate, U-turn, Ice Beam, and Stealth Rock for better Special Attack, Trace, Memento, Will-O-Wisp, and Wish. It was always a good Pokémon; now, it's even better, and will likely continue being a top threat.
Many Choice Band users have been increasing in popularity in the last few weeks. Kangaskhan is one of them, and it offers a balance of power, bulk, and Speed which other Choice Band users don't. Despite only having a base 95 Attack, Kangaskhan can still easily break through walls with its powerful Double-Edge. Scrappy makes Kangaskhan even better at wallbreaking, allowing it to use Double-Edge on Ghost-types, 2HKOing Misdreavus. Kangaskhan can also use a Life Orb set utilizing Fake Out and Sucker Punch well. Kangaskhan is the most powerful Fake Out user in NU, and not even Ghost-types are immune to it. Another effective set is SubPunch. A Focus Punch user that can get past Ghost-types is quite unique; however, unlike most Focus Punch users, Kangaskhan isn't part Fighting-type. Kangaskhan will surely continue increasing in usage, solidifying its niche as an effective Choice Band, priority, and SubPunch user.
It is not an unknown fact that Rampardos has the highest Attack stat in the game after Deoxys-A. Despite being slow and frail, Rampardos has an excellent niche in NU as a very strong wallbreaker and Sturdy bypasser. It is important in NU to make sure that Stealth Rock isn't set up. Rampardos can easily OHKO Golem with Choice Band Superpower thanks to its amazing Attack stat and Mold Breaker. Rampardos is a very effective Pokémon on offensive teams as nothing can switch-in—not even Tangela or Quagsire—and it cleanly OHKOes every Stealth Rock user other than Regirock and the occasional Stealth Rock Torterra. Be sure to watch out for the swarm of wild Rampardos while you play NU!
Samurott was always an excellent Pokémon, but for some reason, it dipped down in usage... that is, until recently, as Jynx was banned. Now that Jynx is banned, special Samurott sets have more room to flourish. The only Pokémon that really threatens them is Ludicolo, and Samurott could always go mixed and use Megahorn to beat it. The viability of Swords Dance can't be ignored either—most people actually prefer using it over special Samurott. Samurott is one of the only Aqua Jet users in NU, and is the strongest one. Aqua Jet is useful for taking out Pokémon such as Magmortar and Charizard. It's not only Aqua Jet that makes Swords Dance Samurott worthwhile—Samurott's excellent Attack stat and coverage makes Swords Dance Samurott even better. Pokémon such as Altaria are still pests, but they can be dealt with. Samurott has been rapidly increasing in usage and is a huge threat to various NU teams.
I don't know what's more of a challenge: OHKOing Tangela with an unboosted physical attack, or OHKOing Musharna in general. Musharna is really that bulky. With astounding bulk, great Special Attack, and recovery in Moonlight, it's hard to justify why Musharna isn't being used a lot more. Musharna fits perfectly well in the offensive-natured NU tier by spreading Thunder Wave, walling powerful Pokémon such as Sawk and Gurdurr, setting up Calm Minds, and dealing powerful hits on its own. Musharna can even use Life Orb effectively; after all, base 107 Special Attack is excellent. It struggles with Pokémon such as Skuntank and Absol, as well as powerful Choice item attackers, but Musharna is still a brilliant and effective NU Pokémon that is sure to continue increasing in usage. Think of it as the Cresselia of NU (when Cresselia was in RU) that is quite a lot less bulkier, but noticeably stronger.
Choice Scarf used to be the most prominent set on Braviary. While it is quite slow, and Choice Scarf helps compensate for that, the Choice Scarf set was not Braviary's best, as it failed to outspeed certain threats that other Choice Scarf Pokémon outspeed, such as Shell Smash Gorebyss, and it didn't capitalize on Braviary's amazing wallbreaking ability. It's still a good set, of course, but now Choice Band is much more commonly seen on Braviary. Choice Band Braviary is nearly impossible to wall; in fact, everything in the tier is 2HKOed by it. Even the mighty Regirock gets 2HKOed. Often, you can just use Brave Bird and watch things get KOed. It's so strong that the NU council considered banning it, but it was quickly disregarded as a suspect after considering a few of its faults. Often, Braviary will only have 2-3 chances to come in thanks to Stealth Rock and Brave Bird recoil. Not only that, Braviary also sits at an undesirable Speed tier of base 80. However, despite its faults, Braviary is a very good wallbreaker that is becoming a more prominent threat in the NU metagame each day.
With the rise of Golem, several niche checks have begun popping up to stop it from freely setting up Stealth Rock and doing whatever it wants. Torterra is by far the most reliable of them, resisting both Rock Blast and Earthquake, as well as cleanly OHKOing Golem through Sturdy with Bullet Seed. Torterra is not only limited to beating Golem, though: it can set Stealth Rock on its own and functions as an excellent tank with its 95 / 105 / 85 defenses, solid typing, and access to Synthesis. Offensive Torterra sets are just as effective, combining great coverage with good bulk and power. Choice Band sets will break through any walls not named Torterra, while Rock Polish sets will clean up any team that lacks a Choice Scarf user (and even some slower Choice Scarf users, such as Sawk and Rotom-S!).
Marowak has largely flown under the radar in BW, but has become a popular anti-lead, utilizing Bonemerang to help deal with the increase in Golem leads. With a Thick Club attached, Marowak's Attack stat eclipses even the strongest Pokémon in NU, and it can 2HKO nearly any wall around. Despite its terrible Speed, Marowak can force out most walls that are weak to Ground-type attacks, such as Garbodor and Flareon, and prop up a Substitute, hammering whatever switches in next with a STAB Earthquake or a recoil-free Double-Edge. It can also take advantage of its Speed alongside a teammate with Trick Room, allowing it to outspeed and 2HKO the entire metagame, save incredibly bulky Pokémon such as Tangela.
While initially dismissed due to its Stealth Rock weakness and an assumed inferiority to other special walls, such as Lickilicky, Regice has found a new lease on life as of late. It's incredibly specially bulky and is one of the best options to take on fast special sweepers, due to its ability to paralyze them with Thunder Wave and smack them around with BoltBeam coverage. Gorebyss, Haunter, Altaria, Ludicolo, and even Exeggutor, will all fall short of taking down Regice and subsequently be paralyzed and KOed. Regice is surprisingly durable for an Ice-type, even tanking some neutral physical hits if necessary. All of this damage can build up rather quickly, especially if Stealth Rock is up—however, Regice can make effective use of its lone recovery move by holding a Chesto Berry, giving it a one-time reset on its health and status conditions.
Relicanth is one of only two fully-evolved Pokémon with the fabled Rock Head + Head Smash combination, yet it had hardly ever seen the light of day in NU due to its mediocre Speed and dismal typing, giving it four weaknesses to incredibly common attacking types. Relicanth was often bypassed in favor of other utility Rock-types, such as Regirock and Golem, which generally handled Pokémon such as Swellow better thanks to their better defenses and access to priority and Sturdy respectively. However, Relicanth has made somewhat of a comeback, as people have discovered the immense might of its Head Smash. When equipped with a Choice Band, Relicanth has a 67% chance of 2HKOing Tangela with Head Smash after Stealth Rock damage, which is an incredible feat. Relicanth also sits at a nearly perfect base 55 Speed stat—it's still slow enough to function well in Trick Room, and it's fast enough to outrun Choice Scarf Sawk and Rotom-S after a Rock Polish boost. Relicanth is also actually bulkier than Golem, making it a more reliable answer to Swellow and friends, and much harder to revenge kill; Absol's Sucker Punch will only shave off 50% of its HP at most.
With Jynx's banning, many teams lack a reliable answer to Shelgon. It can sit in front of several popular physical walls and boost to its heart's content, thanks to a great all-around typing and impressive bulk, which is provided by Eviolite. Shelgon also reliably tanks attacks from most of the physical attackers in the metagame, including but not limited to: Golem, Swellow, Sawk, Torterra, and even Emboar. Shelgon's claim to fame is the effective use of a RestTalk set—it gets recovery, and Sleep Talk allows it to continue boosting with Dragon Dance or even use Outrage without the downside of being locked in or getting confused! Outrage gets fantastic coverage in NU, as the only Steel-types commonly used in NU are unable to do anything to slow Shelgon down at all. While Shelgon can't be slapped onto just any team, it definitely holds its own against many of the physical top-tier threats and can certainly serve as the glue that holds a team together.
Say hello to NU's resident stallbreaker. Akin to Mew in OU and UU, Golbat effectively shreds through stall teams and even bulky offensive teams. It can Taunt any attempts at setting up, and slowly stall entire teams out with Toxic Spikes support, or even without Toxic Spikes support if it carries Toxic over Super Fang. Equipped with an Eviolite, Golbat's average 75 / 70 / 75 defenses become incredibly tough to bust through, and its surprisingly fast base 90 Speed allows it to outrun and Taunt most Pokémon in the tier, even without Speed investment. Golbat also has Super Fang, which is very helpful for weakening Pokémon. Its typing is critical to its defensive prowess, giving it 4x resistances to Fighting-, Grass-, and Bug-type moves, as well as an immunity to Ground-type moves. Golbat can also remove some of its weaknesses temporarily with Roost, making it even harder to break through. It can even do a number to offense teams before going down, although it's much easier to beat when it can't stall out most of the team.
Seeing a player send out Golem as the "lead" Pokémon—even if the opposing team has a very good matchup over it—isn't uncommon. Why would someone do that? Are they insane? No, getting up Stealth Rock can really be that important. It's similar to suicide leads in DPP. Charizard, Braviary, Swellow, and Magmortar are greatly crippled by Stealth Rock and are much easier to handle when it is up. Many other top tier Pokémon are weak to the floating rocks as well, including some of the best Rapid Spin users: Cryogonal and Armaldo. Stealth Rock doesn't even suffer from the "NU (Toxic) Spikes syndrome": Pokémon that set up Spikes aren't very widespread or good; Pokémon that Rapid Spin them away aren't very widespread or good.
Now, this wouldn't be such a big problem if there were good Rapid Spin users. However, there are very few viable Rapid Spin users. Most Rapid Spin users are also weak to Stealth Rock themselves, which is a major reason why they fell down to NU in the first place. Luckily, using Rapid Spin isn't the only way to deal with Stealth Rock.
The best way to "deal" with Stealth Rock is to just have as little Pokémon that are weak to it as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done, as some teams will require the usage of those Pokémon, and many of the best Pokémon in the tier are weak to Stealth Rock. If a team needs those Pokémon weak to Stealth Rock and they do not have room for a spinner, one other tactic can be used: offensive pressure. By preventing the Stealth Rock user from setting up Stealth Rock, for at least part of the game, you don't have to worry about making careful switches. Powerful Choice Band users such as Emboar and Sawk can OHKO pretty much every single non-Sturdy Stealth Rock user... wait a minute, Sturdy! That makes it significantly harder to prevent Pokémon from setting up Stealth Rock... unless you use Pokémon with the Mold Breaker ability. This may sound like a silly idea, but Choice Band Rampardos does an excellent job at killing Stealth Rock users, OHKOing all of them. Choice Band Pinsir works as well. Bullet Seed Torterra, Cinccino, and Cacturne are a few other options for breaking through Golem. Also, because all of the Sturdy Stealth Rock users in NU are weak to Ground-type moves, Bonemerang Marowak can get rid of them.
Stall is often one of the most reliable playstyles in the upper tiers. A well-built stall team can persevere against almost all threats, wearing down opposing teams with a combination of entry hazards, Toxic, and flat-out walling sweepers with incredibly bulky Pokémon such as Chansey. It's notorious for being incredibly frustrating to break through, and as experienced stall players would tell you, the cause of quite a few ragequits. In NU, stall is not nearly as common as you might expect, which is quite strange considering defensive behemoths such as Tangela, Regice, and Misdreavus are everywhere. This might be because of the presence of incredibly strong, popular Choice Band attackers such as Emboar and Braviary that can stampede through even the bulkiest of walls. In order to ease prediction when facing these sorts of Pokémon, Protect has become quite a common move on stall teams. It's also useful for other reasons outside of that: Protect wastes a turn for Toxic and Leech Seed damage, Leftovers recovery, and Wish healing. Speaking of Toxic, Toxic Spikes are a very effective tool against offensive teams. Offensive Pokémon hate when they are being put on the clock, especially when most don't have any form of recovery. Few Poison-types are good on offensive teams, so you hardly have to worry about a Poison-type soaking them up. Garbodor is a very good Toxic Spikes user who can also set up Spikes; in fact, very few stall teams won't have Garbodor, as having both Spikes and Toxic Spikes in one Pokémon is just so useful. All other good Toxic Spikes users are NFEs. It's not such a pile of trash after all.
A big boon to using stall is the fact that nearly everything will last a long time. Most defensive Pokémon get some form of recovery, and if they don't, Lickilicky, Audino, and Alomomola can fix that with their enormous Wishes. Apparently, the upper tiers aren't big fans of Pokémon with Heal Bell either, because there are a ton of Pokémon with it running around in the trenches of NU. Or maybe it's the fact that Game Freak gives Heal Bell to everything that is pink and / or adorable in some fashion: Audino, Lickilicky, Miltank, Articuno, Leafeon, Misdreavus, and quite a few others are capable of using it. Perhaps part of the fun of stall is deciding which new, innovative Heal Bell user you want to use. Point is, you won't go anywhere if you just Toxic everything.
The best stall Pokémon are those that perform multiple roles. After all, you only have six team slots, and it's not like offense where you can just outspeed and KO threats to beat them. Miltank is notable for being able to spread paralysis, check many physical and special threats with great natural bulk, and Heal Bell Pokémon that are statused. Miltank can also reliably set up Stealth Rock in the face of Cryogonal, not fearing any attack from the creepy snowflake, and consistently force it out with the threat of Body Slam, something no other hazard setter can brag about. Misdreavus is the most reliable spinblocker in NU thanks to its amazing bulk. Like many other Pokémon, Misdreavus can Heal Bell off status, and it can Taunt Pokémon trying to set up. Misdreavus is an effective offensive threat as well; the threat of defensive Misdreavus can scare Pokémon away, allowing Misdreavus to set up a Nasty Plot and potentially sweep. Vileplume is another Pokémon that can serve multiple roles on a stall team; not only does it soak up Toxic Spikes and relieve statused Pokémon of their status, it can also support its team with moves such as Leech Seed and Sleep Powder. Vileplume also sports an impressive base 100 Special Attack stat, allowing it to do a lot of damage to frail attackers. Musharna is basically impossible to kill and will last very long with Moonlight; it is also very good at spreading status and can even sweep with Calm Mind if it comes down to that. Speaking of setup sweepers, Quagsire is a brilliant check to many of them thanks to its Unaware ability, and as such is a very reliable Pokémon for stall teams. It can recover any lost health with Recover and synergizes well with many common stall Pokémon, such as Tangela and Flareon.
While there are quite a few walls out there, there are also plenty of attackers that you have to handle, many of which are specifically tailored to break through certain walls (Fire Blast Absol, for example). You can't just cover threats either; you need hazards as well, otherwise you won't do much back. It's one thing to be able to wall everything, and it's another thing entirely to actually come out of the match victorious. Even worse is the fact that there are very few viable Spikes and Toxic Spikes users. When was the last time you considered Cacturne for a stall team? When was the last time you considered using Tentacool at all? Basically, you have to choose between handling everything or having all the tools of a traditional stall team, and sometimes you don't even get any of those. Stall's full potential has not been fully explored, so participate in this thread, and help define stall. Perhaps stall will become a lot more popular and prominent in the NU metagame eventually!
If you compare NU to any other tier, you'll notice that the prominent defensive and utility Pokémon down here are either greatly flawed or incredibly rare, or sometimes both. If you were to want a fully-evolved spinner, you get to pick from the truly fantastic options of Armaldo, Cryogonal, Torkoal, Delibird, and Spinda. Four out of five of those spinners are weak to Stealth Rock, and the other one is Spinda... not too great of a prospect, especially if you're looking for a spinner for a defensive team. Unlike most other tiers, NU relies heavily on NFEs to fulfill roles that the evolved Pokémon cannot do nearly as well. Many pre-evolutions of Pokémon in higher tiers reside down in NU as well, and they can perform the same roles as their more powerful brethren. Eviolite completes the gap, giving a ton of NFE Pokémon the bulk necessary to do their jobs well, and consequently gives NU a much greater sense of diversity and utility.
Tangela is the face of defensive Eviolite users in NU, notorious for walling any physical attacker that lacks a super effective move (and even some that have one!). Its Defense is nearly on par with Skarmory, and with Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, and Regenerator, it has plenty of utility to go along with that godly Defense. Tangela often forms the backbone of many defensive cores in NU simply because it walls physical attackers so reliably. Although there aren't many other NFE Pokémon that match the defensive prowess of Tangela, Seadra and Golbat have impressive physical bulk and can be used in Tangela's stead if you aren't fond of the mass of vines or are already carrying a Grass-type. Seadra doesn't mind status nearly as much as Tangela, as it relies on RestTalk for recovery, and can burn opposing Pokémon with Scald. Admittedly, Seadra does face some competition from Alomomola, but it tanks physical attacks just as well and has much more offensive presence thanks to its base 95 Special Attack. Golbat takes more of a stallbreaker role than anything, but can work well as a physical wall in a pinch, utilizing its great typing and access to Roost to tank hits.
Outside of Drifblim and Banette, every single Ghost-type in NU is an NFE, forcing bulkier teams wanting a spinblocker to look to Pokémon such as Misdreavus and Lampent. Misdreavus is largely considered the best defensive spinblocker in NU, thanks to its fantastic immunities and access to Will-O-Wisp and Pain Split, allowing it to somewhat reliably burn and recover HP. Misdreavus can also go the more offensive route with Calm Mind or Nasty Plot. Lampent is particularly notable because it can single-handedly take on the best spinner in the tier, Cryogonal, although it has a difficult time dealing with Armaldo. It's also one of the few hard counters to Magmortar, thanks to Flash Fire and an immunity to Focus Blast. Lampent isn't just limited to specially defensive sets, though; it's one of the most reliable Trick Room setters in NU, and has excellent coverage with its STAB moves alone. Although it's less common than the other two, Frillish is the only Ghost-type who has access to reliable recovery in Recover, as well as Night Shade to make up for its mediocre Special Attack stat.
Using an Eviolite doesn't necessarily mean that the Pokémon has to be a wall, though. Many NFEs can utilize Eviolite to become incredibly bulky and then continue to boost their stats by making use of their newfound defenses. Gurdurr is one of the most popular Eviolite users at the moment, and for good reason. It has impressive 85 / 85 / 50 bulk, which becomes even more fantastic once Eviolite has been taken into account. As an example, Swellow has only a 44% chance to KO a +0 Gurdurr with a Guts-activated Brave Bird; Gurdurr easily tanks such a hit with a Bulk Up under its belt. It's also largely considered the best offensive counter to Absol, which gives Gurdurr a huge niche on many teams who are otherwise hard-pressed to handle it.
As far as other bulky NFE boosters go, none are quite as popular or useful as Gurdurr, but they can be just as effective all the same. While Duosion has plenty of competition in Gardevoir and Musharna, it separates itself from the crowd with Magic Guard, allowing a Calm Mind set to break through most common stall teams and nearly every special wall without phazing capabilities. Dragonair and Scraggy both take advantage of their Shed Skin abilities, allowing them to set up, recover with Rest, and still utilize their respective two-move coverage options. Shelgon has defenses comparable to Tangela's, as well as a solid base 95 Attack and the best STAB in the tier—not even Steel-types will be able to slow Shelgon down once it gets going.
Not all NFE Pokémon are reliant on boosting moves to be threatening, though. Several have offensive stats and typing that other NU Pokémon can only dream about, but because most of them are slow and somewhat frail, the increase in bulk from Eviolite helps them tank a few hits before going down. In particular, Zweilous's Hustle-boosted Outrage is even stronger than the likes of Rayquaza and Zekrom, but what good is that if Zweilous is OHKOed before it can launch any of its assaults? Eviolite also makes Zweilous more of a team player, allowing it to check various threats such as Musharna and Duosion better; this clears the way for other powerful attackers like Sawk and Gurdurr. Although Piloswine has hardly been seen in NU until recently, it's definitely one of the best NFEs available. Its impressive base 100 Attack and brilliant offensive dual typing ensure that it's not going to sit around like a bump on a log while the opponent does whatever they want (I'm looking at you, Metang). Piloswine also has great bulk after including Eviolite—its physical bulk is almost comparable to Tangela, and it's nearly as specially bulky as Misdreavus. The ability to lay Stealth Rock only adds to Piloswine's utility, and access to rare priority in Ice Shard allows it to pick off many of the faster sweepers of the tier. At first glance, Fraxure seems to be completely outdone by its fellow NFE Dragon-types; Dragonair has Shed Skin, priority, and much better coverage, Shelgon has monstrous bulk, and Zweilous is significantly stronger after Hustle. On the other hand, Fraxure has a great base 117 Attack and several boosting moves to take advantage of it, unlike Zweilous. It also has Taunt to prevent Pokémon such as Tangela from crippling it, and Mold Breaker to smash through Quagsire's Unaware.
Earlier, I pointed out that Pokémon in NU lack many of the qualities that are abundant in higher tiers. For example, there are only four fully-evolved Pokémon who can learn Spikes in the tier: Cacturne, Maractus, Glalie, and Garbodor. This puts a hefty burden on any team reliant on entry hazards, since none of those Pokémon are particularly bulky or stable enough to reliably reset them if the opposing team carries a spinner. As a result, NFEs have become the bulky, reliable sources of utility moves that few fully-evolved Pokémon can even use. Although it has almost no offensive presence, Wartortle is easily one of the top three spinners in NU thanks to its great defensive typing and additional bulk from Eviolite. Scald burns are always helpful as well, and Haze prevents it from being complete setup bait for powerful sweepers. One of the more underestimated options on Wartortle is Foresight; there are very few NU teams that carry multiple Ghost-types, so using Foresight basically means Wartortle will always be able to spin away hazards. Tentacool plays a similar role to Wartortle, although its popularity has dipped somewhat. Tentacool can reliably set up Toxic Spikes, Rapid Spin hazards away, and even check Gorebyss with Giga Drain. Rain Dish is also an excellent ability, making Tentacool that much better when facing rain teams. Omanyte is the odd one out in this section, as it actually can maintain offensive presence thanks to a solid base 90 Special Attack, Shell Smash, and great coverage. It also has access to all three kinds of entry hazards, allowing you to pick and choose which is the most important for your team.
Get involved and ladder! NU is a fun, constantly changing metagame with a lot of interest. There's a lot to explore and it's sure to change massively over the next few months through tier changes and discoveries of new, effective sets and Pokémon. Discussions about NU is frequent on #pokemon and, of course, #neverused. There are also many interesting NU projects out there, such as Project Neverused—which aims to discover new sets and underrated Pokémon through innovation and discussion—and the various Neverused Research Weeks which aim to look into specific Pokémon and discuss them. Also, NU will be one of the 5 tiers featured in the Smogon Grand Slam. Make NU one of the tiers that gets you that turquoise trophy!
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