Doubles Spotlight: Amoonguss

By Pwnemon. Art by Kadew.
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When Amoonguss was released to the battling public in September 2010, the overall reaction was very lukewarm. His decent stats and tailored movepool made him fairly solid, and some eager Dream World players theorized that he could work well in a core with Slowbro. But overall, he was nothing special and ended up as a poor sap spamming Spore and walling decently in NU. However, all that changed when BW2 rolled around and Amoonguss was gifted with one of the best abilities in the game, Regenerator. Just kidding, it didn't really. He's a niche anti-meta pick in OU and UU, but the theorymon with Slowbro kinda fell through and left Amoonguss poor and alone. Now he's a poor sap spamming spore and walling decently in RU—what a difference!

However, while Amoonguss has been an ugly duckling (emphasis on ugly) in singles play, he has seen constant use in VGC. When all the standby Follow Me users were banned in VGC11, Amoonguss was there to fill the void as the bulkiest Pokemon with Rage Powder. Some hoped that there would be a resurgence of Togekiss in '12, but like an annoying toe fungus, Amoonguss stuck around, as his bulk, low Speed, and access to both Spore and Rage Powder made him an invaluable partner for any Trick Room setter—or a great tech for any team that was having Trick Room troubles, as he could often put the opponent's entire roster to sleep. Besides that, the introduction of Politoed gave him yet another role, as his bulk and typing really gave standard rain headaches. Even today, Amoonguss is a Pokemon who everyone must be prepared for in VGC, as he has a consistent presence in high-level competition.

And things are almost as good for Amoonguss in Doubles as in VGC. Sleep Clause certainly limits his utility, but this loss is compensated by the lengthening of battles in a 6v6. With many opportunities to switch in and out over the course of a battle, Regenerator has much more potency in this format and makes Amoonguss one of the bulkiest Pokemon you'll find.


Amoonguss is the Breloom of Doubles: At first glance, he really doesn't have much going for him, but he sports a beautiful blend of exactly the stats and moves he needs to get the job done time after time. His movepool is pretty skimpy, and he will very rarely waver from his flagship set of Rage Powder / Spore / Giga Drain / Protect, but then again, he doesn't need to. 114 / 70 / 80 defenses may not be the best in the tier, but they allow him to survive virtually every attack with the right investment—including such behemoths as Dragon Gem Latios's Draco Meteor, Choice Band Kyurem-B's Dragon Claw, and Life Orb Thundurus-T's Hidden Power Flying—ensuring an entirely free turn for his partner after a Rage Powder (assuming your opponent doesn't pack spread moves). His embarrassing base 30 Speed may seem like a pain, but it gives him a blazing fast Spore under Trick Room (which he probably just helped set up via Rage Powder), or, if that's your style, can even outrun Terrakion when fully invested under Tailwind. Speaking of Spore, it puts immediate pressure on the opponent as it virtually ensures a KO in a format this fast-paced. And in lieu of 'reliable' recovery, which is all but useless in Doubles, Amoonguss gets truly powerful HP regeneration in his ability, which lets him switch out and back in for double the fun!

Of course, playing with Amoonguss isn't all sunshine and rainbows. His typing leaves a lot to be desired in a metagame with so many prominent Flying- and Dragon-types. I'd be lying if I called Giga Drain anything more than a way around Taunt—barring significant investment, it can't even 2HKO Politoed. And after Sleep Clause has been activated and your setup has been assisted, he can really only switch out or spam Rage Powder until he's met by merciful death. He's not for offensive teams that can't afford to lose a little momentum, but if you're looking for a Pokemon that offers sturdy, consistent setup support, Amoonguss is a strong choice.

Playing with Amoonguss

When you're using Amoonguss, the first thing to realize is that Amoonguss's survival is not your goal. Of course, there will be times when you'll know you need another setup opportunity later in the game with him and can't afford to throw him away, but be careful that you don't end up keeping him alive because you can—it's easy to wind up with him as your last Pokemon if you're not careful, and he hardly screams "win condition." In most cases, his health should be a low priority, as he gets his job done early in the game—he's about as close to a suicide lead as I've seen in Doubles, and his main objective is to support his teammates by being their meat shield. Apart from that, playing with Amoonguss is very intuitive. Rage Powder when you need to deflect attacks and Spore when you are scared by an immediate threat. Protect's main utility is in blocking Fake Out, not in stalling turns, as no smart opponent would intentionally double-target an Amoonguss unless he hasn't yet used his Spore (and really, your Amoonguss fainting just means a free switch).

Playing Against Amoonguss

Amoonguss's one-dimensionality is his greatest weakness. I'll mostly address how to deal with Amoonguss in the lead slot here (however, the same principles should more or less apply elsewhere), because that's really where he's most useful as a setup assistant. Honestly, he's probably going to succeed at his job of redirecting hits at least once, so unless you magically happen to be running the exactly right Pokemon for the job, such as Trick Room Imprison Chandelure, you should just accept what's going to happen and dedicate yourself to making it happen only once. If you are able to predict Amoonguss well and play around him, he will probably not cause you too much trouble. If you predict that he is going to use Rage Powder, don't Fusion Bolt the Jellicent; Dragon Claw the Jellicent so that when Amoonguss redirects, he gets nailed. (Don't directly Dragon Claw the Amoonguss, though, because he might predict this and use Protect—despite what I just said—frustrating your plans and extending his reign of terror). If he's probably going to Spore your Tyranitar, then use Protect with Tyranitar and Earthquake with Excadrill. Speaking of Earthquake, spread moves are another nice way to get around Rage Powder—provided your spread move of choice hits Amoonguss's partner for great damage, so you obviously shouldn't bank on it. Another common strategy on many teams that you will probably try to use to beat Amoonguss setup leads exactly once is Fake Out. Let me save you the loss you'd get for doing it and say it doesn't work; they always pack double Protect if you lead with a known Fake Out user. Of course, you can use this to your advantage and set up a countermeasure for whatever they're trying to do (or just in general set up), but Fake Out on its own isn't going to stop much of anything. Overall, Amoonguss exists solely to be a nuisance, and the quicker he is dead, the less you have to bother with playing around him.

Fitting Amoonguss Onto Your Team

Amoonguss fits best and only on teams that need Rage Powder support for whatever reason—typically and most often this is to set up Trick Room, though he could also be to support a frail attacker (not Deoxys-A though; he'll die to a stray Icy Wind) or other setup which for whatever reason needs to avoid hits like the plague, such as a gimmicky Perish trap team. Be sure you don't blindly pick Amoonguss for a support role he's not fit for, either: oftentimes Togekiss can do a similar job better, depending on the circumstances. Amoonguss fits better on teams that eschew finesse, momentum, and mindgames in exchange for hitting opponents hard and fast; in this way, he's kind of like the Deoxys-D of Doubles. Depending on the partner you're pairing him with, and, more generally, the team you're running him on, Amoonguss's EVs are highly customizable to survive almost any hit you really need him to, which provides you with a last-ditch Spore counter to a plethora of otherwise highly threatening Pokemon. However, compare using him in this role to running a Pokemon with Explosion: it may clear the way to a victory and you should be ready to use it, but it's not pretty and banking on it won't lead to long term success. Instead, Amoonguss prefers to be able to Spore under Trick Room, where he doesn't have to tank a powerful hit first—the very same Trick Room he helped set up with his Rage Powder support. A good team for Amoonguss lets him help himself as well as his partners.

A common lead pair that I'd like to talk about because it is just so darn effective is Jellicent + Amoonguss; it's far from perfect or unbeatable, but it should lend you an idea of what a good Amoonguss use looks like. Jellicent's role is to set up Trick Room; Amoonguss aims to make that happen and make the transition to the next Trick Room sweeper as painless as possible. A standard Jellimoonguss lead would follow a pattern something like this:

Obviously, there are plenty of holes in the way this lead operates; there are plenty of holes in the way any pair of Pokemon operates and believing the myth of a 'perfect pair' will only get you burned. But as pairs go, this one is pretty darn good: Amoonguss helps set up Trick Room by absorbing hits or Taunts or whatever, then proceeds to use the Trick Room he helped set to further support Jellicent. And by the time he fades away softly, the opponent's team is hopefully softened up and ready for a Trick Room sweep. That's how Amoonguss rolls.

Get Out There!

Hopefully, you have gleaned a little insight as to the role of Amoonguss in the Doubles metagame. But even if you haven't and you're still confused, or already knew all this, or were drawn to this article because your terrible aesthetic sense led you to actually like this ugly 'shroom, I can only offer you the same advice: go play some Doubles! (Seriously, it's like OU except our weather wars are fun. What's not to like?)

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