Buff, Buff, Pass: Baton Pass in NU

By Django. Art by Volmise.
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In a tier filled with Pokémon that just fall short of being effective in higher tiers, it seems that Baton Pass would be a very threatening and effective strategy, as it allows these Pokémon to overcome their drawbacks and thus overpower the opposition. There are also many viable users of Baton Pass which are also generally good Pokémon in NU, so the concept is certainly something to consider. On the other hand, NU is an exceptionally fast paced metagame, with Pokémon hitting like trains around every corner. This means that a Baton Pass user can really struggle to find an opportunity to set up. Additionally, the only Magic Bounce user in NU is Natu, which obviously means that any team with a phazer can be a huge issue to Baton Pass in any form, whether it be a dedicated chain or a single Pokémon.

Standalone Users


What article on Baton Pass would be complete without Ninjask? It is the very definition of the move, and seems to be made purely for the purpose of buffing its teammates. With Swords Dance and Speed Boost, it can pass both Attack and Speed boosts simultaneously, and a single free turn can lead to Ninjask getting +2 Attack and +1 Speed to a teammate, so tread carefully. It also gets Hone Claws, which can be used if you are really desperate to pass to Hustle Zweilous, but Swords Dance is generally superior. Even if you don't get a chance to use Swords Dance, Ninjask can still effectively pass a small Speed Boost by using either Protect or Substitute, as its massive Speed stat means it will outrun everything at +1. When it comes to potential recipients, the list could be endless, as almost everything will appreciate a Speed boost. Pokémon with good physical coverage moves are ideal, particularly Sawk, Marowak, or Golurk. Being able to take a hit as they switch in would also be ideal. Ninjask has to watch out for anything with Roar or Whirlwind, as it has close to zero offensive presence. Bastiodon in particular is a thorn in Ninjask's side, and sets up Stealth Rock to severely limit Ninjasks freedom while switching in. Pokémon with super effective multi-hit moves are also a danger, particularly Golem and Piloswine.


Musharna stands out as possibly the best option to use when looking to pass Calm Mind. With its huge bulk and access to Moonlight it can set up on almost anything that lacks a STAB Dark-type attack. It also hits relatively hard at the same time, so it can be a danger to teams even without using Baton Pass. If you want to use a full on Baton Pass set then Barrier exists, but it doesn't particularly need the defensive boost. As for receivers, Combusken makes a very interesting partner. With Speed Boost it can eventually outrun much of the tier, while Calm Mind boosts will help it to hit exceptionally hard and STAB Fighting-type attacks help to ward off Dark-types plaguing Musharna. Any powerful special attackers will be dangerous partners; Samurott, Ludicolo, Electabuzz, and Regice all spring to mind. Regice can also use Rock Polish to overcome its poor Speed. Unfortunately, phazers stop Musharna dead, with Bastiodon yet again being a full stop to it. Alternatively, Musharna can be stopped by trying to KO it when at a reasonable level of HP, and Absol is one of the rare few that can do this. Skuntank can also use Taunt to stop it from using Baton Pass and begin to wear it down from there.

Sawsbuck / Leafeon

These two are grouped together as they achieve essentially the same thing: passing Swords Dance boosts and potentially Substitute. They differ in the details, such as Sawsbuck having Sap Sipper while Leaeon has much better physical bulk to work with when setting up. Both Pokémon are commonly seen running Swords Dance in NU so they can find opportunities to set up as they normally would, such as forcing out Golem and other slow Rock-types. Baton Pass allows them to work around Pokémon that would otherwise hard wall them, such as Tangela, and pass to a much more appropriate answer such as Emboar. +2 Emboar is nigh on impossible to wall, with the only near answer being Alomomola, who is just set up on again by Leafeon or Sawsbuck. If the opponent is using a Fire-type like Torkoal as their answer to these Grass-type sweepers then they can also pass to Pokémon such as Samurott, who shares similarly good synergy with Sawsbuck and Leafeon.


With access to both Prankster and Tail Glow, Volbeat has carved out a great niche in the NU metagame. Despite its seemingly poor bulk, it can still easily get passes off as it only needs to survive a single hit before using Baton Pass. Prankster also means it can ignore using Speed EVs and invest purely in defenses. Furthermore, priority Rain Dance means it makes a great supporting teammate for the likes of Ludicolo, Seismitoad, or Mantine, and dealing with any of those at +3 under rain can be almost impossible. This maneuver does require three turns of setup though, during which the opposing team can put themselves in an even better position. Regice is an alternative receiver who can be passed to in just two turns, while also using Rock Polish to boost its own Speed. Volbeat is considerably harder to stop from passing because of priority Baton Pass, but Roar will still work just as effectively.

Baton Pass Chains

While the above users of Baton Pass can work easily in a standard NU team, it is just as possible to run a full Baton Pass chain, which can catch many teams unprepared and cause a game to effectively be over in the first few turns. Ninjask is absolutely paramount to the team's success, as getting Speed into the chain is essential for everything it does from setting up Substitutes, tousing Taunt, to getting further boosts. Without enough Speed the whole thing can fall apart.


After Ninjask, a Pokémon that can set up on both Golem and Piloswine is essential, as these Pokémon are huge threats to Ninjask. Gorebyss easily tanks their multi-hit moves and sets up Iron Defense, meaning the rest of the chain won't have to worry about them. It also gets Agility and Amnesia, but Ninjask should be able to cover Speed while Special Defense is normally better to leave to a Calm Mind user. Backup for either of these can never be a bad thing though. Aqua Ring also allows the chain to set up more Substitutes, but can be very hard to fit onto Gorebyss's moveset.

Mr. Mime

Mr. Mime is another Pokémon that should be on every single Baton Pass chain purely because of Soundproof. Stopping both Perish Song and Roar is far too valuable, particularly when no Magic Bounce user is really available. Roar is also used far more than Whirlwind, so stopping that goes a long way to preventing your chain from being phazed. Mr. Mime is also not useless outside of Perish Song, as it can also pass along boosts from Calm Mind, Barrier, and even Nasty Plot. Access to both Taunt and Encore also means it can prevent opposing Pokémon from setting up for free and block Whirlwind if it is already on the field.


With Intimidate and its Steel typing, Mawile can be essential in stopping powerful Normal- and Flying-types from overpowering the chain before it gets enough Defense boosts. As an additional advantage, it comes with an immunity to Clear Smog, which could be a potential threat to the chain. While doing this, it can also pass Swords Dance and Iron Defense, and having another user of Taunt can never be a bad thing. The choice between Swords Dance and Iron Defense really depends on what the rest of your team can pass and what you are passing to, so be sure to consider your whole team when deciding between them.

The Recievers: Musharna and Cradily

Once the necessary boosts in Speed and either Attack or Special Attack are passed, these two become absolutely deadly. They are already exceptionally bulky, so any defensive boosts gathered along the way can really be viewed as a bonus and can make them a nightmare to take down. Both Musharna and Cradily also get instant recovery in Moonlight and Recover respectively, which stops them from being slowly worn down while they sweep. As for this sweeping potential, Musharna excels on the special side. Stored Power seems to be made for Baton Pass teams, and is absurdly powerful after the necessary boosts, while its stellar bulk with Heal Bell and even Baton Pass to let the team accumulate more boosts make it a fantastic choice as a receiver. It can even use Calm Mind itself if the chance didn't present itself for the team to do so. Cradily on the other hand makes use of its physical attack to sweep. With Suction Cups it can prevent any attempts to phaze the chain. While phazing is admittedly rare, this insurance is still fantastic. It does not get Baton Pass though, so once you pass to Cradily you have to be certain you are ready to sweep. Its STAB moves provide good coverage, while Recover is always a handy tool to have. It can also use Swords Dance to increase its deadliness. There are other receivers of course, such as Octillery, but in general these two possess the most beneficial attributes required of a receiver.

Playing against Baton Pass

Despite how effective Baton Pass is it can still be beaten with efficiency. Haze is the absolute best answer to it, and will never fail to work unless to opponent has a Taunt user on the field. Unfortunately, not many common NU Pokémon have access to the move, and those that do are average at best. Golbat and Murkrow are the best options for going down this route, but Haze also has the disadvantage of not seeing much use against non-Baton Pass teams. Murkrow in particular is a surefire answer to Baton Pass as priority Perish Song means they cannot Baton Pass to Mr. Mime before hearing the song. It also has Roost to keep itself healthy throughout the match. In a similar vein, priority Taunt and Encore can be absolutely devastating, with Liepard in particular having access to both and Prankster. Without carrying one of these niche counters, your best bet is to set up alongside the chain. Using Shell Smash with Gorebyss Turn 1 against Ninjask can cause huge problems, for example. The way the Baton Pass team plays is also very predictable, so you should use that to your advantage. Additionally, without Smeargle and its ability to use Ingrain and Baton Pass, as well as no Magic Bounce user with Baton Pass, phazing is dangerous. Roar is, however, blocked by Mr. Mime, so if you can fit a Whirlwind user onto your team that would be ideal.

So now that you've read about Baton Pass, go out and try it! Actually, on second thought, please don't, I hate playing against Baton Pass and seeing it regularly on the ladder would be horrible. Do remember to prepare for it while teambuilding though, as we all know someone out there will go and try it out, and auto-losing on Turn 1 against it can be exceptionally frustrating.

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