NU Spotlight: Kangaskhan

By Agent Dell. Art by ZapDraws.
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Historical Background

The interesting perception about Kangaskhan in itself is that it is one of those Pokémon who possessed a lot of potential in virtually every generation that it was introduced upon by virtue of fact of its typing, stats, and movepool. The mystery behind this, however, is that its potential had always reached a fine line between a metagame-defining Pokémon and something that was particularly outclassed by other variants of Pokémon who shared similar roles. Common examples included Tauros in RBY OU and Snorlax in GSC, ADV, and even DPP OU under the role of a bulky offensive Pokémon. As of result, most of that potential unfortunately resulted in a shattered, formerly glowing spotlight when people rapidly discovered that it either faced major competition or was just out-shined by most of its superior brethren. This locked Kangaskhan out of potentially good niches in OU metagames and ultimately sent it to lower tiers.

Despite this, Kangaskhan's history isn't all bad news! When taking a closer look at its presence in the lower tiers, we can generally see that it is often recognized for the ability to stand out in most tiers outside of OU that didn't give it much competition with other Normal-type Pokémon. For example, it is known as a metagame-defining Pokémon in ADV UU. DPP UU was also a pretty nice showing for it, being one of the premier Normal-type bulky offensive Pokémon with a quite beneficial ability in Scrappy that reduced the number of would-be counters (primarily Ghost-type Pokémon) by a significant stretch.

When looking into the scene of the BW(2) tiers, it is to be noticed that Kangaskhan is still to this day suffering from being outclassed by other Normal-type Pokémon such as Snorlax, Blissey (and Chansey), Togekiss, Smeargle, and even Cincinno, which immediately puts it on the path to the NU tier. Even in the NU tier, it underwent several rounds of being generally eclipsed in favor of other popular and more effective Normal-types in the metagame. The reasoning behind this at the time involved the metagame's emphasis on bulky offense. Players preferred consistent power to better muscle through bulkier teams, meaning other Normal-types such as Cinccino, Swellow, and Zangoose often outshined poor Kangaskhan. As a result, Kangaskhan was neglected to the point where it experienced very low usage even in the lower tiers.

In the later stages of the metagame (especially at its current state), the metagame has increasingly shifted towards more frail offensive Pokémon, a situation that favors Kangaskhan. Its access to priority has become a lot more useful since sheer power became less and less relevant and Ghost-types grew in influence in a tier where Normal-, Fighting-, and Psychic-types became increasingly popular. Such drastic changes have resulted in Kangaskhan growing into a top force in the NU tier even to this day.


Kangaskhan's qualities show it to be a solid offensive Pokémon with a well-rounded stat distribution. It never particularly outshined anything notable in a particular stat, but its stats are good enough for it to execute its job. Kangaskhan's biggest niche in the NU tier involves the use of its priority in STAB Fake Out, which works well in combination with Sucker Punch. Kangaskhan also sports a very impressive physical movepool (and special, as expected of most Normal-type Pokémon) that grants it the ability to perform a variety of roles as a bulky offensive Pokémon. Such options include STAB moves like Body Slam, Return, and Double-Edge, as well as coverage moves like Earthquake, Drain Punch, and to a lesser extent, Focus Punch.

Despite its relatively offensive nature, Kangaskhan also sports a variety of support moves such as Wish, Toxic, and Circle Throw that can be put to good use in other situations. These options are generally less popular than more offensive sets, but they are still viable choices should Kangaskhan wish to support its team.

Kangaskhan also has access to two excellent abilities in Scrappy and Early Bird. The former is generally superior and thus seen more because the ability to hit Ghost-types with Normal- and Fighting-type moves allows Kangaskhan to better use its bulky offensive sets. While Early Bird deserves consideration for its ability to mitigate sleep—especially in the wake of BW's new sleep mechanics—it's generally more situational and less beneficial in the long run.

Playing with Kangaskhan

While Kangaskhan is not the most versatile of Pokémon, there are a number of viable ways to use it. A typical moveset for Kangaskhan consists of Fake Out, Double Edge, Earthquake, and Sucker Punch with maximum Attack and Speed investment and either an Adamant or Jolly nature. Items of choice typically include Silk Scarf, Life Orb, Choice Band, and Leftovers. This set fully takes advantage of Kangaskhan's ability to revenge kill a good variety of threats in this frailer, more offensive metagame while also being able to break through a nice portion of the tier due to Scrappy and its solid coverage. Kangaskhan is made even more attractive in comparison to other physically attacking options thanks to its ability to bypass one of the most prevalent defensive threats in the tier, Misdreavus.

Kangaskhan is not limited to just that one set, though it doesn't have a huge number of other options. It is capable of making use of Toxic as a means of surprising and crippling its common counters such as Regirock, Tangela, and Alomomola. Kangaskhan just uses Fake Out and Double-Edge the majority of the time anyway, so it doesn't really take away from its offensive potential at all if you decide to run Toxic over Sucker Punch. Kangaskhan can theoretically run a defensive set, though it is generally inferior to its more offensive options. If you do decide to take the route of using defensive Kangaskhan, it should be noted that Wish is illegal with Scrappy, Circle Throw, and even Body Slam, taking away much of what makes Kangaskhan stand out among other Normal-types.

While Kangaskhan tends to rely on a few of its moves to dish out the majority of the damage it deals, it requires some degree of prediction to be effective in determining whether it should use its priority, STAB, or coverage moves. However, Kangaskhan is not a difficult Pokémon to make proper use of at all. It is actually a relatively easy and safe Pokémon to use between its good bulk, speed, and high Base Power moves, making it a low-risk, high-reward Pokémon overall. Kangaskhan's priority capabilities especially shine against offensive teams, as it can often pick off threats with the combination of Fake Out and Sucker Punch. Against more defensive playstyles such as balance or stall, it isn't nearly as reliant on its priority and thus should primarily focus on making use of its strong STAB and coverage moves to wear down opponents.

Playing against Kangaskhan

Exploiting and ultimately beating Kangaskhan is deceptively difficult. One must take into account how much it defines the presence of offense in the current metagame, as the combination of Fake Out + Sucker Punch, well-rounded bulk, good coverage, and the ability to prevent Ghost-types from walling it thanks to Scrappy proves troublesome to offensive and defensive teams alike. Offensive teams are often easier to prey on with these traits, as it allows Kangaskhan to revenge kill a wide variety of threats and take advantage of the lack of good switch-ins to its STAB Double-Edge. Despite Kangaskhan's numerous advantages, however, the NU tier still has a good number of Pokémon that can reasonably handle it.

The list of Pokémon that can reliably handle Kangaskhan generally consists of physically defensive pivots that either resist its main STAB or possess naturally high defense, with the latter being generally better bets as a majority of them can also take advantage of the recoil that Kangaskhan often receives upon using Double-Edge. Such options include most bulky Rock- and Steel-types that can prevent Kangaskhan from freely spamming Double-Edge while also being able to shrug off a timely Earthquake. Regirock, Metang, Carracosta, and Golem can wear Kangaskhan down considerably or even force it out. Most other bulky or defensively-oriented Pokémon that sport good physical bulk are good answers to Kangaskhan, since one of its shortcomings is its over-reliance on Double-Edge to deal significant damage due to its average-at-best 95 Attack. This gives it a very difficult time of breaking through pivots such as Alomomola, Tangela, Gurdurr, Musharna, Piloswine, Weezing, and even Golbat.

Generally speaking, you will have less issues upon facing Kangaskhan with the use of more defensively-inclined teams, as its priority becomes less useful and its overall damage output becomes substantially easier to exploit. If your team, however, doesn't have room for a Pokémon that reliably beats Kangaskhan, your best bet would be to outpredict Kangaskhan's attacks. Seeing as Kangaskhan can become somewhat predictable in its use of Fake Out or Sucker Punch, one could attempt to switch into something that doesn't mind taking a hit and can immediately retaliate or take a Double-Edge upon doing so. This is one of a number of ways of playing around Kangaskhan, which also include crippling it with status or simply revenge killing it.

Fitting Kangaskhan into your Team

Kangaskhan is nearly the definition of a self-sufficient Pokémon, and thus often functions as more of a glue to add to your team rather than something to build a team around. Kangaskhan does appreciate teammates that can threaten some of its counters, specifically various physical walls that prevent it from making use of its priority and attacking options effectively. Perhaps the single best form of support for this role is Shadow Tag Gothorita, which can find timely opportunities to trap and easily dispatch physical walls or set up on them with Calm Mind. Special Attackers such as Jynx, Eelektross, Seismitoad, and Samurott also perform a good job of breaking through though common physical walls, as they are often able to switch into a majority of Kangaskhan's counters and proceed to take advantage of them. As far as passive support goes, Kangaskhan does appreciate Spikes support to add to its damage output. Scolipede, Garbodor, and Roselia are excellent choices for this role, and they are also able to cover Kangaskhan's Fighting weakness and set up Toxic Spikes to further cripple physical walls. Defensively, it is also an important idea to make sure you can cover Kangaskhan's Fighting weakness to make your team less vulnerable to revenge killing.

Due to Kangaskhan's self-sufficient nature and its ability to take advantage of offensive teams quite nicely, it's often difficult to justify reasons not to use it, as it can easily fit onto most kinds of teams. Kangaskhan fits onto teams that appreciate the use of priority to check a wide variety of offensive threats, while also being able to otherwise hit decently hard when necessary. Kangaskhan is often a perfect fit for most standard offensive cores with winning conditions that require sweeping the opposing team. In return, Kangaskhan also appreciates offensive cores' natural ability to break through walls, making its job substantially easier.


After countless times in which it struggled to stand out, Kangaskhan can finally be renowned as one of the most metagame-defining Pokémon in the NU tier. Despite the general presence of its counters, Kangaskhan is still a definite, iconic force to be reckoned with. Its ability to put a damper on many popular sweepers shaped the way people structure their teams as a means of avoiding being KOed by Kangaskhan. While it has often been known for taking its own path in the grand scheme of success, given the proper support, Kangaskhan can continue its legacy as a driving force in the metagame. With that being said, I'm not sure why you are still reading this, as you have the mighty and mischievous kangaroo to harness for success in the NU tier!

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