Pokémon Biology: Specialized Combat

Panelists included Bummer, Birkal, Lady Salamence, Layell, Superpowerdude, and Theorymon. Art by Bummer.
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Some people immerse themselves in physics and quantum theories. Others delve deeper into chemistry and chemical manufacturing. Science can take various forms in order to break free from assumptions and dig out the real facts, and one such fact is that you're here, now, because you want to know more. About the world of Pokémon, about species you've only heard about in Pokémon for Beginners, about biological marvels which can easily fit into the Poké Balls you can find down in your local store. Prepare yourself before this educational voyage through time, space, and complete bigotry as we'll be covering this theme: Specialized Combat.

While virtually every Pokémon has an extensive movepool that allows for multiple sets and strategies, there are some species which, for various reasons, are renowned for a particular battle approach, to the extent that they become defined by it. The questions the panel will aim to answer are:

  • How are their specialties performed?
  • What advantages do their specialties give them in battle and their natural habitat?
  • What makes the chosen species so adept at their respective specialty compared to other species?
  • How would they fare in battle without them?

The panel consists of Birkal, Lady Salamence, Layell, Superpowerdude, and Theorymon, represented here by Rotom, Salamence, Sneasel, Zangoose, and Wobbuffet, respectively.


Sound Production


Exploud is truly one of the most remarkable creatures in the world of Pokémon. It's not a novel idea to use sound in order to communicate; many species of birds have evolved specialized calls that range from loud alarm calls to low mating chants. Even some primates utilized sound; it's estimated that some monkeys can howl for distances over two miles. In comparison, Exploud can make sounds that are heard for six miles. And you have to take into account that likely is a measurement of Exploud in the grasslands. Typically, they prefer to live in caves, which serve as nature's amplifiers. Exploud is a beast of unparalleled power when it comes to producing sound.

When hidden in the bowels of a cave, I wouldn't be surprised if many other cave inhabitants went deaf. This brings into question the nature of how they communicate with one another. It would be intriguing to see if they also had modified hearing organs that allow them to direct in as much sound as is reasonable. If they had the standard hearing of a human, they would likely go deaf just by listening to themselves over the course of a day. Furthermore, you have to wonder how nearby Zubat handle this disruption in their echolocation. Hearing an Exploud's booming voice rebounded off the cave wall must be the audio equivalent of having a floodlight suddenly shone directly at your face. They must go absolutely nuts whenever Exploud is communicating.

Lady Salamence

At first glance, Exploud seems to be an animated amplifier. Naturally, this cannot be true, as Exploud can make sounds without assistance. It's well documented that caves are Exploud's natural habitat, which implies how important Exploud's special powers are to it. Caves seem to be a perfect location for this loud Pokémon, as echoes are easily created within them. Their voice already carries approximately six to seven miles on average, but within these hollow mountain halls, their roars can reach a staggering level of intensity.

For purely scientific reasons, I 'found' an Exploud that is unable to utilize sound moves. After observing this disabled Exploud in battle, I can safely say that Exploud would have a problem without a voice. Being 4'11" and weighing only 185 pounds, Exploud doesn't exactly have the physiology to intimidate many Pokémon, with the exception of the Zubat within their caves. Sure, it could defend itself for a while against bigger Pokémon, but being unable to use its specialty would be a very large disadvantage to it.

While a normal Exploud is probably too dangerous to research extensively, it's safe to assume that the vocal cords of an Exploud are incredibly advanced, far more than humans', able to make all sorts of noises, from low pitched squealing it uses to talk with fellow Exploud to deep roars able to shake land it uses in battle.


Exploud's voice attacks are incredibly potent due to the nature of the sound created. The tubes from various parts of the specimen's body have the ability to create different noises. If you were to take a long cardboard tube and blow from the top, you would create only a single tone. As the many tubes that extend from Exploud's body are of different length, it's possible for it to immediately create many different tones from a single starting point. If we were to go further with our cardboard tube example, holes in the pipe walls allow us to create even more tones. Surprisingly, Exploud is capable of the same thing through pores that are able to expand and contract by will. So while Exploud is renowned for its incredibly loud noises, the species is also known to create very high pitched sounds that can scare away intruders from its territory.

These tubes are also a defense mechanism against its own species, and even itself. Imagine for a moment living in a house with people who only shout. It would give instant headaches and nobody would be able to sleep at all. To deal with this cacophonous mayhem, Exploud can remove sound vibrations from its body and pass them through another pipe. This ensures that it can live and thrive in caves with its fellow species without suffering too much from the sound wave bombardment.


Exploud is a Pokémon well known for the loud sounds it emits. What really interests me about Exploud's screams is that Exploud doesn't perform these noises with its mouth alone. In fact, Exploud has many holes on its body which help to push out the sound along with its mouth, which is the reason why they can create such intense noise. This certainly makes Exploud's scream a dangerous attack. Not only because of the sheer volume, but also the fact that these holes cover Exploud's whole body, making the noise affect all Pokémon in close proximity, and not just those in front of it.

It's hard to tell how Exploud can hear sounds, as it has no visible ears, but Exploud seems to be immune to any kind of harm or effect caused by sound moves thanks to its ability Soundproof. While some Pokémon are known to utilize their voice in battles, such as Meloetta, no other Pokémon uses it with the such bellowing power like Exploud. With the holes on its body along with its spacious mouth, it can truly produce sound at an unrivaled pitch.


Horde Control


Vespiquen is quite an unusual Pokémon. What really intrigues me the most about Vespiquen is her ability to control a horde of underlings to do her bidding. Research has shown that Vespiquen achieves this through the use of various pheromones. I have reason to believe that these pheromones are released from a gland in the center of Vespiquen's honeycomb structure, which can be placed in 3 categories: Attack Order, Defend Order, and Heal Order. The pheromones released cause a behavioral change in Vespiquen's underlings, causing them to either defend or heal their queen or attack the opponent.

I'm especially curious as to how Heal Order works. The official Pokédex entry states that "the user calls out its underlings to heal it. The user regains up to half of its max HP." However, the way the underlings heal Vespiquen is unknown. My theory is that her underlings carry a special kind of liquid from Vespiquen's honeycombs, which is used to feed and rejuvenate her. This move is quite similar to how Miltank can use Milk Drink to heal itself, except Vespiquen doesn't have a pheromone command to feed this liquid to fellow Pokémon, as opposed to how Miltank can give its milk away.


Combee hives may have the most inconsistent behavior of any Pokémon society I have ever seen, and a large part of that seems to be because their behavior is dependent on the Vespiquen's personality.

Unlike most Combee colonies, the hives found in the Sinnoh region usually have a Vespiquen who won't make rash decisions, instead opting to consult a council of female Combee I'd like to call the Combee Congress. While the Combee Congress does allow Vespiquen to make informed orders, it also has the nasty side effect of making this hive's reaction time fairly slow, meaning that hundreds of Combee were often lost to simple threats such as a few hungry Staravia.

The Unova hive, on the other hand, was honestly the most terrifying thing I have ever researched! This hive's Vespiquen was much more like an evil dictator than a queen. Any Combee that arrived "late" would be brutally executed in front of the others as an example! This Vespiquen's army itself was extremely bloodthirsty, as even Pokémon like Excadrill found their flesh completely stripped from their bones within seconds of entering the hive! In a bizarre twist, another female Combee evolved into a Vespiquen during my observations. This led to what I can best describe as a civil war, with the new Vespiquen's army quickly decimating the smaller loyalist army. As it turns out, a Vespiquen without a hive is very similar to one you would find in Pokémon battles, so the kicked out Vespiquen was easy prey for a female Ursaring. On the bright side, the Teddiursa cubs seemed to enjoy the rare delicacy!


The queen bee could theoretically be the strongest Pokémon in existence. It has been known that a single Vespiquen can have thousands of Combee as part of her hive. A horde of this size would be able to topple the strongest of opponents in a similar fashion to how eating a thousand RageCandyBars would give you diabetes. The problem lies in two factors. First is that Vespiquen are natural laissez-faire style leaders and will allow their underlings to perform hive duties as necessary. The second aspect is that Combee are incredibly driven by the need to find and collect as much flower nectar as possible. They will travel incredible distances to acquire the nectar from flowers in bloom from all sorts of regions. Thus, a single hive can have honey ambassadors from as far as Almia to Unova at any given time. Wild Vespiquen will have a dedicated guard unit of around 10 Combee to protect the queen. Caught Vespiquen may have as low as three. However, with the use of their signature attacks, these Vespiquen can attract their traveling hive members even from within their Poké Balls, who may switch in and out with the nearby dedicated guard. This guard of Combee are also trained to avoid the general area of the Vespiquen's Trainer as necessary, since having a gang of bee Pokémon constantly buzzing around is a major travel nuisance.

Lady Salamence

Despite being viewed as a strange species with unusual characteristics, I personally don't believe Vespiquen is such a confusing Pokémon, or at least in relation to other species like Ditto or Machamp. Vespiquen releases pheromones into the air, acting as a message to the members of the hive to either defend her, attack the invader, or heal their queen, all of which require too many words to describe completely and exceed the limit of this episode.

Supposedly, Vespiquen will only attack if the Combee are unable to defend the hive. After watching a hive defend itself against Pokémon that I released—ignore the fire over there—the Vespiquen didn't seem able to defend properly after the Combee fell. Not being able to deploy its unique skills, it could only use a handful of attacks, surprising even me by using the move Power Gem, originating from the jewel on its head which is where I assume the pheromones are released.

What confuses me personally, however, is the fact that people are unable to tap into the power that Vespiquen holds. Whether through commands, through engineering non-Vespiquen produced pheromones, or even through illegitimate methods, Combee will simply not respond to those commands. Interestingly enough, should one have the trust of a Vespiquen, he or she can easily command the Vespiquen to use those moves, thus commanding the Combee to do what a Trainer never could.




Hitmonchan are by their very nature a competitive species, and are thus used to being punched in the head. Repeatedly. While this may be damaging to the mental capacity of the average human, the Hitmonchan species have in their design a method of suppressing the brute force of boxing gloves to the face. The secret lies in their large face and the spikes on their head which almost resembles hair. When hit by an object in the face, all vibrations travel from their face up along the head's surface and are split through these spikes, thus protecting the brain from forces that would make you or I babble about Psyduck in a pond while sitting comfortably in a hospital bed.

The true strength of Hitmonchan lies within the three elemental punches of fire, ice, and thunder. It has been proven that a Hitmonchan can learn all three of them, even at the exact same time. Most researchers believe they must master one element before they may move onto the next, but the greater lesson is that all three punches and their respective element are not separate. Instead, they are part of a great synergy, and each one complements the other to complete the circle. While many Trainers prefer to have only one or two of those punches within its complete moveset, it is generally understood that Hitmonchan first need to control the elemental punches before they'll be able to execute advanced fighting techniques properly.


Hitmonchan has a very one-dimensional approach to fighting. This is because Hitmonchan's preferred method of attack is punching. One might think that this would disadvantage Hitmonchan, should he find himself in a battle, but one can be surprised at how versatile this Pokémon can be with that strategy alone. Hitmonchan are so adept at using their fists as weapons that they can fire off a multiple array of attacks, from lightning-fast punches that can burn the opponent, to powerful punches thrown in a corkscrew motion that are capable of breaking through concrete. Hitmonchan can seriously threaten an opponent just by using his hands, as even hits which only graze the opponent can cause substantial damage.

My goal was to find out how exactly can Hitmonchan learn how to punch so well, and after a lot of research I think I found my answer. Its undying motivation and mountainous habitat allows it to train relentlessly to hone its punching skills. Their training includes pummeling rocks until they crumble and running up mountains to train their cardiovascular fitness. An ancient myth states that Hitmonchan has the spirit of a boxer, and with that spirit it never gives up. Should this be true, it definitely explains why Hitmonchan can punch so well, having characteristics of a world champion boxer.

Lady Salamence

When I first saw a Hitmonchan, I wondered how this Pokémon is a male only species. Then I wondered how such a species could survive in a world of Pokémon with super speed, energy beams, or even such amazing hand-eye coordination that they would be able to avoid even a black belt's attacks? When one realizes how well equipped Hitmonchan is, that person will understand why it is, in fact, a fierce contender.

From numerous studies, from simple eye observations to precise timekeeping, several theories have been produced about this punching Pokémon. For example, it is rumored that a single touch of the fists of a Hitmonchan will cause a burn (which I was too afraid to test), although that may be a collective effect from an indefinite number of punches performed in an instant. There are many other theories and facts about Hitmonchan, such as its ability to punch through concrete, or that it needs to rest after a mere three minutes of intense fighting. But to be honest, when it's punching dozens of times a second, nothing should theoretically last for more than thirty seconds, at best. Sadly, my equipment is unable to prove or reject any of them, because Hitmonchan keeps breaking them.


Using fists in battle is not a novel idea; humans have been doing this since the dawn of time. In fact, it's become instinct for humans to see a clenched fist as a universal response for feeling threatened. Much like a smile, a laugh, and raising open-palmed hands are symbols that are understood around the world, a fist is understood just as well, if not better due to the innate response of defense. And no Pokémon has studied fighting with fists more thoroughly than Hitmonchan.

Despite its incredibly flabby arms, it's estimated that Hitmonchan can punch faster than is visible to the naked eye. I much prefer to use that definition over the classic "faster than a bullet train" Pokédex entry; the fastest bullet train recorded runs at around 185 mph, while an average punch can be well over 700 mph. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Hitmonchan spins its fists while punching. I'd imagine that this is similar to a human fist rotating from parallel to perpendicular, but since Hitmonchan punches at a much greater speed, the result of the twist might have expounded effects. That small flick of the wrist might occur at such a high speed that it allows Hitmonchan to learn Rapid Spin by punching away the hazards. Regardless of my hair-brained theories, Hitmonchan is a force to be reckoned with thanks to its mastery of one of the most ancient fighting techniques.


Pain Retribution


Wobbuffet has always been a strange case in Pokémon biology. We've always known the simple facts, such as how Wobbuffet uses Counter and Mirror Coat by inflating its body, or how Wobbuffet that were unlucky enough to not learn either move as a Wynaut are quickly consumed by their family. However, basic mysteries remain, such as how these species survive with such a risky battle tactic. After spending over 4 years studying this strange creature, our research team has made some startling discoveries that could change the way this Pokémon is viewed forever!

From my observations, all Wobbuffet populations had a bizarre culture centered around enjoying pain. Wobbuffet usually greet each other by bashing their heads against rocks, while mating rituals involve diving head first off of cliffs. Wobbuffet's hunting behaviors were further examples of this species' suicidal behavior, as a hunting group will often trap their prey with Shadow Tag and then proceed to play a dangerous game of chicken, with the Wobbuffet who was closest to death getting the most food.

I was perplexed by how such a suicidal species could be so common, but it became clear when I observed Wobbuffet nests. Female Wobbuffet lay up to 50 Eggs a week, and most of the offspring survive because female Wobbuffet employ an extremely effective tactic of luring prey in and then using their Shadow Tag power to trap them in their nest, giving the many hungry Wynaut plenty of food to help them grow into strong and pain-loving Wobbuffet!


"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Newton was a smart fellow but he certainly never met Wobbuffet, as every amount of force initially exerted upon it will return with twice the power. The evolution of this species has proven to be quite rapid in the face of its near extinction. The rapid development of their Shadow Tag ability has proven to assist in stabilizing their population, allowing the species to maintain a strategic, if suicidal, advantage over their opponents. In the past, any species with Shadow Tag was not allowed to flee another Pokémon with Shadow Tag. During these dark days Wobbuffet would trap each other, sometimes completely accidentally. Even during these accidents, Wobbuffet are so stubborn that they will continue to trap each other with Shadow Tag until one of them passes out. Nowadays, most Wobbuffet aren't affected by Shadow Tag from others of its species, indicating that they may have grown immune to the effects of their own ability over time.

Pokémon rights activists have recently discovered many criminal enterprises where Wobbuffet are forced into tight living spaces and then subjected to a small electrical jolt which would become Mirror Coated, all in an attempt to generate energy. This was discovered when a Pokémon Center noticed the repeated visits of Trainers carrying nothing but six Wobbuffet. When a team of Pokémon Biologists examined the abused species, they appeared to be less humorous than usual Wobbuffet. While they do seem to enjoy the pain of reflecting attacks, even they know when they are being abused. The species clearly has enormous power despite being incredibly docile.

Lady Salamence

Wobbuffet is one of the more forgotten Pokémon, relegated to the spot in any Trainer's mind where the Trainer questions the existence of such a bizarre Pokémon. If natural selection applies to Pokémon (particularly when it comes to the likes of Kabuto), Wobbuffet would be long gone. But it isn't, implying that it's something more than just a blue punching bag.

Wobbuffet is pretty much the poster child of this episode, being possibly the only Pokémon featured that is completely useless without its specialty. When Counter and Mirror Coat are removed from consideration, it's left with moves like Splash, Safeguard, and Destiny Bond. Splash, as any Trainer worth his name knows, is absolutely useless, possibly even detrimental. Safeguard allows it to defend against status moves. Why are you afflicting Wobbuffet with poison? Just kill it already. Destiny Bond is the only move that can kill something, but at the cost of its own life. Now, you'll have hopefully noticed that I said Wobbuffet learns Splash. Only a few other Pokémon know this move, and as you would think, many of them live in the oceans, lakes, and rivers. I personally believe that Wobbuffet and Wynaut used to be water-based species, and eventually became colored blue in order to blend in better with the ocean.


Wobbuffet's attack methods in battle are quite different to that of any Pokémon ever discovered. Its ability to absorb the opponent's attacks and deal damage back is something only it has mastered. After observing my Zangoose battle a wild Wobbuffet, it seemed that whenever my Zangoose would attack, Wobbuffet's body would inflate, absorbing the damage dealt. Wobbuffet could then shoot out an attack from its body while it slowly deflated. From what I gather, Wobbuffet's brain is located in its tail, and when Wobbuffet is about to get attacked, its tail quickly messages the body to relax, causing Wobbuffet to grow larger in size.

Another intriguing thing about Wobbuffet is how it only lives in dark places such as caves, so it can more easily protect its tail from an opponent by hiding it out of sight. Because Wobbuffet's body is so difficult to damage, it's only natural to think that Wobbuffet's tail is where it really feels pain. If introduced to a well-lit area, it will often thrash about wildly in a desperate attempt to keep its tail safe. Wobbuffet has been observed to faint if their tail is directly attacked, although the offender can faint as well if under the influence of Destiny Bond.


Tool Assistance


Farfetch'd populations have been rapidly declining across the world; most of the species can be found in traveling swarms to protect themselves as a flock. As a Pokémon species, I love Farfetch'd, because they are delicious. Although there are now heavy fines for hunting them out of season, I did enjoy their tasty meat as a child in Kanto. The leek they carry just makes it so tempting to want to cook them rather than train them. But I digress. Trainers should train, love, and cherish their Farfetch'd and raise them into competent fighters; it gives the dark meat a great kick to it when added into a soup. Getting back to the point, Farfetch'd are very effective combatants of digestive problems when eaten on rotisserie.

It's actually not even my fault that I want to eat these birds so much; psychological studies have shown that Farfetch'd holding leeks look so much more appetizing. A follow up study was performed and Farfetch'd were given pocket knives disguised as a leek. The Farfetch'd proved to look less tasty to predators and proved to be lethal in combat. The normal leek would only increase the critical hit ratio of a Farfetch'd, while the blades doubled the attack power and significantly increased the odds for landing a critical hit. While the research with the leek-blades has ended and were removed, if Farfetch'd ever acquired even a remotely more powerful weapon, it would be a terrible force to behold.


Making fun of Farfetch'd may be a pastime among people today, but Farfetch'd weren't always the butt of Pokémon jokes. There are many old legends pertaining to Farfetch'd's amazing prehensile wings grasping objects other than a useless stick, such as Skarmory feathers, Mamoswine tusks, and even Absol scythes! Because of this, scientists hypothesize that the weapon of a Farfetch'd is imprinted on birth. This led to a Unova military project based around teaching newborn Farfetch'd to use weapons, such as assault rifles, then led by General Surge. However, because Farfetch'd greet their Trainers by lightly using their stick, this translated to Farfetch'd "lightly" spraying bullets at their Trainer's faces! With more human casualties than Farfetch'd casualties, the military considered this to be one of their most embarrassing projects ever, and demoted General Surge all the way down to Lieutenant!

Wow, I sure went off on a tangent... anyways, Farfetch'd are among the most endangered species of Pokémon on the planet. Not only is a Farfetch'd stick almost completely useless vs. its natural predators, they are also very slow fliers, which makes them easy targets for poachers. It doesn't help that Farfetch'd are among the most tasty Pokémon as well, so in 1996, the Kanto Congress passed the Farmfetch'd act, which set up farms so Farfetch'd meat could finally be legal. While this still failed to help Farfetch'd much from its natural predators, some breeders have been attempting to reintroduce Farfetch'd to the wild, and hey, at least we can now legally have a delicious roasted Farfetch'd at Thanksgiving dinner!


Farfetch'd are well-known to always be carrying some sort of stick. Whether it be just a branch off a tree or a vegetable, Farfetch'd are very fond of their stick and will defend it valiantly. Farfetch'd's wings are designed so it can hold its stick firmly, where each wing has multiple slits on the edge of it creating opposable "fingers."

Farfetch'd's official Pokédex entry states that "it can't live without the stalk it holds. That's why it defends the stalk from attackers with its life." However, Farfetch'd are known to eat their sticks in emergency situations, although they immediately begin searching for a replacement. As humans, it seems weird how a Pokémon can be so attached to a lifeless object. I went out to do some research on Farfetch'd's strange obsession and to hopefully find out what exactly happened if Farfetch'd were to lose its stick. Don't worry, though; no Farfetch'd were harmed during my research.

I discovered that the Farfetch'd's sticks are a symbol of honor and any Farfetch'd without one is seen as an "outcast," or insignificant if compared to other Farfetch'd with a stick. Seeing as the stick is also a Farfetch'd's primary weapon, a Farfetch'd wielding a stick can easily force a stick-less Farfetch'd to do its bidding. I believe that the statement "it can't live without the stalk" is because of how some Farfetch'd become very depressed when at loss of a stick, and could end up dying prematurely due to the treatment from other Farfetch'd.

Lady Salamence

We were supposed to research Marowak. However, it seems that Farfetch'd is much more dependent on its leek than Marowak its bone. Farfetch'd knows numerous moves which requires it to wield its stick appropriately, such as Leaf Blade and Fury Cutter, which really goes to show how versatile this Pokémon is with its chosen weapon. A possible reason Farfetch'd depends on its leek so much is that it's close to being born with it, despite this going against nearly every law of nature, from the law of gravity to the law of being born without having a plant placed in your arms. It's been seen before that when someone or something is introduced to something as a young'un, it tends to stick with it or them for the rest of their life, embedding that presence into each and every fiber of its being.

Some wonder if Farfetch'd could survive without a leek, but let's face it: it can hardly survive even with a leek. Farfetch'd is so unequipped for combat that it's a wonder how they've managed to survive for so long. Thankfully, their mating ritual isn't shows of strength or endurance, but rather shows, dances, and fancy stick tricks to attract their mates.

Final Words

And with that, we've reached our budget for this episode. We thank all of the panelists for showing up, and we hope all of you viewers learned something remotely valuable from this presentation. Back to you guys in the studio!

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