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Drifblim was a nice UU Pokémon in DPP, used over other Ghost-types mainly due to its access to Baton Pass. Its main set was ChestoRest, which allowed it to gain an Unburden boost after healing all damage and status off. Mismagius and Rotom were used more, but that didn't stop our beloved balloon from being a key Pokémon in some matches, getting fast Shadow Balls off against the opposing team.
Drifblim didn't receive much love at the beginning of BW. He sat close to the 200s in the first OU month, passing ingloriously by UU and RU the following months at the 100s on usage. Then, at the beginning of NU, it was used a little more, staying steady for some months on the 50s and experiencing a big temporal drop to the 118th position on January 2012. Then, after February, it raised in usage again, its Acrobatics set being all hyped staying on the high 20s for two months, only to then slowly go back to the mid 30s, where it currently stays.
Drifblim is a very unique Pokémon; it has a great HP stat that helps its puny defenses, a very extensive movepool, the ability to burn the foes that threaten it, and Destiny Bond to get rid of a last opposing Pokémon before it dies. It can use a wide array of supporting moves, from the weather moves Sunny Day and Rain Dance with Weather Ball to Memento. It can even use a combination of Recycle and Chesto Berry on a bulky set or run Flare Boost to get a high Special Attack and deal significant damage; but what's better about Drifblim is its ability that lets it become one of the fastest Pokémon in the whole tier.
While its Special Attack is a not very spectacular base 90—and its Attack is even worse, the ability to use a Gem for a first strong attack or a Berry to recover its HP and then start firing off fast attacks is something that makes it special. Drifblim can spread status with ease with its Acrobatics set to disrupt the opposing team, while a SubCM set can set up on many NU Pokémon to then sweep an entire team. It can run several coverage moves such as Thunderbolt, the utility move Clear Smog, and the useful priority attack Sucker Punch.
Besides Unburden, Drifblim's major asset is its versatility, for it can run very different sets and players will never know for sure which one you are running until it's too late. AcroBlimp needs physical walls to counter it, which will be burned on the switch-in, while SubCM and its variants require special walls, Normal-types to stop the Shadow Balls, or a fast and powerful Ghost-type that can survive a hit and KO back. No one is ever fully prepared for a Drifblim, since there's way too many possible sets it's running, and even the main two sets are so different that they require totally different counters.
There are two main ways of playing Drifblim. First we have the most known set nowadays, AcroBlimp. It's a physical attacker that will cause a lot of trouble to any unprepared team, and even to those who think that they are prepared. Despite the raw power of Acrobatics, the main point of this set is utility. Drifblim will be luring physical walls and Rock-type attackers, which it can burn on the switch and then run away, halving their damage output. It will help in breaking down walls for more offensive Pokémon, burning them and using a strong Flying Gem Acrobatics. Drifblim needs to set up on Pokémon that have been already hit such as a 50% HP Golurk or a Flying-type weak Pokémon like Ludicolo or Sawk, since it can switch on a Choice Band Close Combat to set up. Once the Speed boost from Unburden has been gained, Drifblim will spread burns and damage until its health has been lowered to a critical point, where it will use Destiny Bond to take one last Pokémon out. It has the ability to spinblock if it does this to a spinner trying to defeat it, such as Armaldo, which may trouble Drifblim but is rendered pretty much useless after a burn and entry hazard damage. Other dangerous Pokémon that it can lure to burn are the dangerous Skuntank and Regirock.
Playing with SubCM is a whole new story. SubCM is meant to straight up sweep. You have to take care of non-Choice Sawk, which can Ice Punch Drifblim to oblivion, and you will also have to deal with counters first. It's something obvious and intuitive, but it's not always done. Drifblim can switch on Musharna, which will most likely switch out or try to Toxic it at the same time it uses Substitute. Then Drifblim will use a Ghost Gem Shadow Ball to deal huge damage and then outspeed even Choice Scarf users. It can use the fast Substitutes to Calm Mind once or twice, then it'll be hitting really hard and fast. Shadow Ball and Hidden Power Fighting have perfect coverage, but if you wish Drifblim to defeat some threats by itself, you could run Thunderbolt instead of Hidden Power Fighting to get past Alomomola, Braviary, or Samurott. You will need Stealth Rock and team support to push Regice, a powerful threat, into the 2HKO zone. Gardevoir will help Drifblim do its job, since it will remove Drifblim's counters.
First of all, you have little chance of scouting Drifblim. If it's burning your physical attacker, it's probably an AcroBlimp. If it's setting up Calm Minds, it'll be SubCM. When you realize which set it's running, it might be already too late. Sometimes players will not use it until late-game with either set, so that's not a good way to confirm it's SubCM. All in all, it's a very difficult Pokémon to counter. There are very few Pokémon that can reliably switch into either Drifblim set, and one of them is Alomomola, which will get burnt and worn down, but Drifblim will beat it eventually. Pokémon that can phaze Drifblim out to get rid of Unburden and possible Calm Mind boosts are your best bet, if they can survive two hits in the worst case—switching in and negative priority Roar or Whirlwind. While phazers are most likely getting burned, the Unburden boost can only be gained once. Bulky Electric-types such as Eelektross or Ampharos, or Lairon and Bastiodon are the best phazers to deal with it. Musharna should not try to deal with Drifblim, as the latter can Disable its Moonlight and you should avoid that possibility until you're sure it's not running Disable.
The best way to deal with AcroBlimp is to make it waste its Flying Gem. You need to make it believe it can safely deal the first Acrobatics and you need to avoid its burns; this is easier said than done, of course. AcroBlimp does not really have any solid counters, as it can go around them with its moves, so you will require some prediction to deal with it. The best way to dispose of AcroBlimp is to lay Stealth Rock and force switches—you can try to lure it out with one of your weakest Pokémon—then do a double switch to one of its faster checks to either force it out again so the entry hazard damage piles up or try to KO it. Take into account that you should not risk a Choice item user, since Drifblim could set up a Substitute and Disable your Choice user to force it to Struggle, and that would be giving the opposing team a great advantage.
SubCM Drifblim will avoid entering the field until it knows it's going to stay to sweep. Your best bet is to save your counter to the very end of the match. Once SubCM Drifblim is on the field, it will take any chance to set up a Substitute to then boost itself with Calm Mind and then start spamming Shadow Balls. You will need Prankster Substitute or a fast Dark-type that can take a couple of Shadow Balls and scare it off or Pursuit it into oblivion—not an easy task either. Even if you try to KO it through high super effective damage, take in mind that it will deal severe damage too. After an Unburden boost, it can outspeed Rotom-S and Rotom-F and 2HKO with the help of Stealth Rock damage.
Drifblim can fit on a lot of different teams. There's no need to build around it, as Drifblim can act itself as the team glue. AcroBlimp helps breaking down walls for offensive teammates such as Sawk and lures out and ruins Pokémon such as Skuntank and Regirock, so all Pokémon that are countered by these greatly welcome Drifblim as a teammate. Pokémon that have trouble with Steel- and Rock-types will welcome the having burns spread; all Swellow, Braviary, Zangoose, and Kangaskhan can be unstoppable after Drifblim has wreaked havoc.
SubCM Drifblim will take different help. SubWisp Gardevoir helps it by burning the Rock-types and physical attackers in general that threaten it, helping it to set up a Substitute and Calm Minds with ease once these can barely hurt it. Gurdurr can take out Rock-types with ease and tackle Skuntank; it can even deal with Liepard. The same can be said about Sawk.
If you run Disable or plan to use Destiny Bond on opposing Rapid Spin users, Drifblim can act as a decent spinblocker, helping teammates that are weak to Rock-type attacks, such as Charizard, or other Ice- and Bug-types. It will work very well with Armaldo, since it's weak to Rock and won't be able to spin many times, so getting rid of the opposing spinner will make it easier both to maintain Stealth Rock on the opposing field and spin them away from yours.
Drifblim is a very special balloon that has a very extensive movepool and very unpredictable sets, and it can fit on most teams with ease. It can spread status, destroy Fighting-types, deal with common spinners, and help your sweepers do their job. All in all, Drifblim is an excellent Pokémon you should try, for it can tear teams apart when used right.
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