NU Cores

By DTC and Zebraiken. Art by paintseagull.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »


It's become pretty common knowledge that the most successful teams aren't built by throwing together some random Pokémon and hoping that they'll work out. Every successful team should have a core: a backbone of effective Pokémon that play off of each other's weaknesses and turn the tide of the match in your favor. This is especially true in NU, where there are so many potential threats that trying to piece together an effective core can be a daunting task. Don't worry, though—this article is here to introduce you to a few of the best cores around, so you can hopefully find something you like and get involved in NU! Note: you can import all of the sets listed right to Pokémon SHOWDOWN! or Pokémon Online.

Gurdurr + Musharna + Skuntank

Gurdurr @ Eviolite
Ability: Guts
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Bulk Up
- Mach Punch
- Drain Punch
- Ice Punch
Musharna @ Leftovers
Ability: Synchronize
EVs: 240 HP / 252 Def / 16 SpD
Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk)
- Calm Mind
- Moonlight
- Heal Bell
- Psychic
Skuntank @ Leftovers
Ability: Aftermath
EVs: 252 Atk / 220 SpD / 36 Spe
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Pursuit
- Crunch
- Sucker Punch
- Taunt

While it's not exactly the same as a Fire / Water / Grass core, the posterboy of synergistic typing, a core composed of Dark-, Fighting-, and Psychic-type Pokémon works in a very similar fashion. Skuntank, Gurdurr, and Musharna are three of the best Pokémon available, and together they form one of the most reliable cores in NU, able to hold its own against nearly any style of team thanks to the tools that each individual member brings. Each individual member has incredible offensive synergy with one another, keeping counters to the other two at bay. For example, Skuntank keeps boosting Psychic-types such as Gardevoir from having their way with Gurdurr and Musharna, while Gurdurr can set up on the Steel-types that resist the STABs of the other two and provides useful priority for the sluggish core.

Balanced teams often look to this core, as it reliably handles many of the most prominent threats in the metagame. Powerful, fast sweepers that balanced teams tend to struggle with, such as Cinccino, are kept in check with the priority that both Gurdurr and Skuntank provide. Skuntank also carries Taunt to prevent defensive Pokémon such as Alomomola, Amoonguss, and Tangela from using their status or recovery moves, which is really important in order to maintain control over the game. If a status move slips out and Skuntank gets burned or Gurdurr gets put to sleep, Musharna can come in later and use Heal Bell to rid them of status. Gurdurr is the most offensive of the trio, and setting up a timely Bulk Up can often allow it to tear apart the opposing team with its coverage, bulk, and priority. With proper play and preservation of the core throughout the match, it can wear and tear on the opponent's team until something is KOed and a part of the core suddenly has the ability to sweep.

That doesn't mean that it's perfect, though; while somewhat bulky, all three Pokémon rely mostly on their few resistances and immunities to work well together. Incredibly powerful Pokémon like Choice Band Emboar and Braviary 2HKO every member of the core with Flare Blitz and Brave Bird respectively, while they can do little in return. One of the best additions to this core is a sturdy defensive wall that can handle these Pokémon, such as Alomomola. Alomomola synergizes pretty well, as it's able to pass Wishes to Skuntank and Gurdurr, who don't have reliable recovery, and it really appreciates Musharna's Heal Bell support. Entry hazards are a thorn in the side of this core, as it relies on constantly switching around to deal with troublesome Pokémon. Even just a single layer of Spikes is enough to turn a 3HKO on Musharna into a 2HKO, and then something like Choice Band Sawk is free to run rampant over the rest of the team. A spinner such as Armaldo would definitely make a good addition, preventing Garbodor from stacking up Spikes and wearing down your team.

Cinccino + Golurk

Cinccino @ Life Orb
Ability: Skill Link
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Tail Slap
- Bullet Seed
- Rock Blast
- U-turn
Golurk @ Choice Band
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 172 HP / 252 Atk / 84 Spe
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Earthquake
- Shadow Punch
- Ice Punch
- Drain Punch

BW2 and the June tier shifts brought a lot of new changes to NU, and two of the most important were the additions of Skill Link Cinccino and Golurk. Cinccino suddenly became a much more reliable sweeper thanks to its plethora of multi-hit moves, while Golurk became the premier offensive spinblocker and one of the best Choice Band users thanks to its strong STAB moves and good coverage. While there are quite a few checks and counters to Cinccino, it can take advantage of U-turn to switch Golurk in for free and wreak havoc. Many people rely on Rock- or Steel-types such as Regirock and Probopass to handle Cinccino, which Golurk can easily switch in on and then proceed to smash. With Golurk's power and coverage, it can usually eliminate at least one opposing Pokémon every time it enters the fray, and eventually open the path for a late-game Cinccino sweep.

As an offensive core, Cinccino and Golurk still need quite a bit of support to be successful. They struggle trying to break through the bulkier physical walls in the tier, such as Tangela and Alomomola. Golurk can't 2HKO Tangela with Ice Punch or Alomomola with Earthquake unless Stealth Rock is up and it gets two high rolls, but both can simply switch out after finding out that Golurk is Choiced and take advantage of the incoming move. As a result, entry hazard support is phenomenal with this core and allows Golurk to 2HKO everything in the tier, as well as capitalizing on all the switches that the pair forces. Both Garbodor and Cacturne can provide Spikes support and can also rely on Golurk to spinblock and keep their hazards up. While Cinccino is one of the fastest Pokémon available in NU, priority is a huge issue for this core. In particular, Sucker Punch Absol runs through both Cinccino and Golurk, OHKOing both after Stealth Rock damage. Samurott also does similarly, although Cinccino fares a bit better against it. Amoonguss handles both Pokémon easily, and can provide paralysis support for Golurk or slower team members.

Cinccino and Golurk create a lot of pressure on the opposing team, so it'd be a good idea to include some Pokémon that can take advantage of the holes that the two Pokémon create. Emboar makes for an excellent teammate, beating many priority users, breaking down troublesome walls such as Tangela, and absorbing Will-O-Wisps directed at the other two. Also, keep in mind that Choice Band Golurk is heavily prediction-reliant, especially against a well-built team, just like any other Pokémon with a Choice item. Making the incorrect prediction can give your opponent a free turn, which could very well mean the end of the game for you. You can always remove the Choice Band and use Leftovers or Expert Belt if you prefer, but be aware that the drop in power is enormous.

Zangoose + Swellow

Zangoose @ Toxic Orb
Ability: Toxic Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Facade
- Close Combat
- Night Slash
- Quick Attack
Swellow @ Toxic Orb
Ability: Guts
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spd
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Facade
- Brave Bird
- U-turn
- Quick Attack

Zangoose and Swellow act as a double status Orb abuser core. Together, they can easily break down the walls in NU and sweep late-game. Zangoose smashes through walls incredibly easily with its wallbreaking prowess and can beat the Rock- and Steel-types that counter Swellow. Swellow is weaker than Zangoose but much faster and better at cleaning up once everything is weakened. They both die very fast but the destruction they leave behind is incredible.

This core will usually be seen on either momentum teams or Normal-type spam teams. Momentum teams usually have 2 or more slow U-turn and Volt Switch users such as Eelektross to get powerful Pokémon such as Choice Specs Exeggutor, Zangoose, and Swellow in safely, while Normal-type spam teams are teams that have 3 or more Normal-types and partners that go well with them. Both Swellow and Zangoose also appreciate the same support: hazards and a slow U-turn/Volt Switch. Additional wallbreakers such as Choice Band Emboar are nice. Taunt Samurott is another adept wallbreaker that can also keep Stealth Rock away. You really don't need to support these two that much, as they're already very powerful, but it's always nice to have. Zangoose is being suspected for a reason.

Very bulky Rock-types such as Regirock and Carracosta are a pain because Zangoose can't OHKO them with Close Combat and Swellow is totally walled. Alomomola counters Swellow and Zangoose has a hard time getting past it. Alomomola can easily stall them out with Wish + Protect. Stealth Rock is also pretty crippling for this core because they already die very fast and it takes 25% health away from Swellow, which it probably won't be able to get back. If they can't get a free turn to activate the status Orb, they're much weaker. It's very easy to wear this core down, just don't let them do massive damage to your team in the meantime.

Amoonguss + Alomomola

Amoonguss @ Leftovers
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk)
- Spore
- Giga Drain
- Clear Smog
- Hidden Power Ice
Alomomola @ Leftovers
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def
Impish Nature (+Def, -SpA)
- Wish
- Protect
- Waterfall
- Toxic

Colloquially dubbed "Regen" cores, this is the type of core that a team can be easily built around and is one of the few viable defensive cores in NU. Unlike the other cores in this article, this core is very hard to wear down thanks to both Pokémon having the ability Regenerator. Regenerator allows them to easily switch in and out of threats and not worry about having to recover with a move. Both Pokémon synergize really well with each other, with only a Flying- and Psychic-type weakness between them—and most NU Flying-types can't even get past Alomomola.

The movesets can be changed to your liking. Every Amoonguss should use Spore and Giga Drain, but the last two moves are up to you. Clear Smog is useful for stopping set-up sweepers; Hidden Power Ice hits a few Pokémon hard such as Emboar and Altaria; Sludge Bomb is Amoonguss's most powerful STAB; Stun Spore cripples fast Pokémon; and Protect is useful for scouting Choice users, stalling Toxic damage, and gaining Leftovers recovery. Amoonguss can also use Rocky Helmet over Leftovers to hurt physical attackers, especially Cinccino. Alomomola isn't as versatile as Amoonguss as it has to use up 2 moveslots for Wish + Protect, but it can use Scald over Waterfall and a Bold nature for that 30% burn chance. Unfortunately, Scald from Alomomola will hardly do much damage to anything, coming off of a laughable base 40 Special Attack.

Audino is the best partner to this core as it checks a few troublesome threats such as Gardevoir, has Heal Bell, and completes the Regenerator core. Skuntank can trap the annoying Psychic-types that threaten this core. Rapid Spin and hazard support is always nice because this core will be forcing a lot of switches and switching a lot itself.

While this core does a great job against a lot of Pokémon, it has a few flaws. Many bulky Pokémon with Substitute can set up on either Alomomola or Amoonguss and beat the core, such as Substitute + Roost Articuno, Substitute + Calm Mind Gardevoir, and Substitute + Swords Dance Lickilicky. Most Psychic-types, such as the aforementioned Gardevoir and Musharna, which are pretty common in NU, do well against this core. Powerful attackers such as Life Orb Torterra can break through both Amoonguss and Alomomola fairly easily. Once Alomomola is weakened a bit, many Flying-types and Normal-types can break through both it and Amoonguss. Since this core will be switching out a lot, setting up Spikes and Stealth Rock will make sure they don't get too much health back from Regenerator.


These cores are just examples of some of the best cores that have proven to be effective time and time again. Many more are out there. Feel free to use these cores on your next NU team or even make your own!

« Previous Article Home Next Article »