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NU is easily the most diverse tier in all of competitive Pokémon. You can use anything from monkeys to dogs to even tapirs! But why would you want to use these things when you can use one of the coolest animals in the world? That's right; we're talking about birds! Join me, Treecko, along with my trusted avian enthusiast, Agent Dell, as we look over the coolest birds of NU.
Braviary is easily the coolest bird Pokémon in NU. Its glorious red, white, and blue color scheme makes every American tear up a little bit when they see it. You can literally hear "The Star-Spangled Banner" play when it enters the battlefield. Also, much like America, Braviary comes out guns blazing, sporting a massive base 123 Attack stat, ready to strike from the moment it is released from its Poké Ball. Ironically though, Braviary is actually typically found running a more conservative (no pun intended) Substitute + Bulk Up set, which forfeits the immediate power of its other sets in exchange for the ability to gather boosts reliably in order to sweep opposing teams. Of course, its old and reliable Choice Scarf and Choice Band sets have a lot of power, but our eagle would typically prefer to wait in the wings before striking its foes.
As the two tailed, highly acrobatic swallow soars its path towards the NU tier, Swellow represents quite an impressive presence of its own. Swellow's color scheme and design represents a scene of never holding anything back against the competition, which explains the niche of its set. Guts makes Swellow a very hard-hitting Pokémon overall, capable of OHKOing a huge number of offensive Pokémon that don't resist a boosted Facade. This makes Swellow similar to a falcon, ready to barrage anything that stands in its path—that is, if anything is even daring enough to try. The fact that it is quite match-up reliant by virtue of typing (it tends to be walled by most Rock- and Steel-type Pokémon) makes it crucial to wait for the right moment. Nevertheless, Swellow sports a fine presence as one of the most offensive of its avian brethren in the tier, and thus should not be underestimated.
Articuno is one of the most interesting of its avian kind as the only legendary Pokémon, which grants it the highest BST of our fellow birds and thus gives it many opportunities to shine its wings towards victory. It is able pack a mighty breeze towards opposing teams with the brute force of its STAB Ice Beam and Hurricane. Its great stat distribution also makes for quite the sturdy avian that can outlast a lot of other Pokémon and can even go the route of stalling out opposing Pokémon with the help of Roost and Toxic. Articuno is a fairly versatile Pokémon on its own, but the undisputed flaw of Stealth Rock putting a major chip in its wings can cut a lot of its durability and opportunities of threatening opposing Pokémon. It is important when utilizing this bird to work around its typing and stats towards the best of the player's ability, thus learning how to tame it in battles.
As many know by now, the NU tier has recently been gifted with another bird, Mandibuzz. There have been a lot of different perceptions about this bird's potential ever since we were prepared for it to drop down. Most have agreed it to be a waste of a drop, seeing as it is a rather unorthodox Pokémon to play with and that it doesn't hold much of any weight towards balancing the viability of one of the most dangerous Pokémon in the tier, Jynx. Recently, we have discovered that it does indeed have a number of niches; it is a great stallbreaker that is capable of beating a lot of Pokémon 1v1 thanks to its great defensive stats and useful support moves to toy around with. One of these options is Foul Play, which allows it to counter one of the most common Pokémon in the tier, Golurk. Other options include a decently fast Taunt, Roost, or Toxic, which allows it to play the role of a very bulky Pokémon that can stall a lot of Pokémon and is quite daunting to take down. After exploring some of its options, Mandibuzz has quickly grown to become a pretty acceptable bird to utilize in the tier with many more mysteries to come as more players begin to make use of it on their own.
Who would've known that the NU possessed a number of viable birds that mostly dwell within a seemingly damp environment? Meet Swanna and Pelipper, whose differences between the other birds speak for themselves and allow them to function with interesting niches of their own thanks to cool movepool options.
Swanna has always been a deceptively underrated Pokémon of its own, hence its generally poor usage. One interesting fact about it is that its STAB coverage is un-resisted in the NU tier, which definitely complements its general nature of a highly offensive Pokémon. It has solid Speed, a typing that allows it to check quite a few specific threats, and is able to break through a lot of teams by easing prediction with its known SubRoost set that uses a powerful dual-STAB of Surf and Hurricane, which also allows it to punish a lot of switches and avoid status. Swanna is also able to utilize other interesting options that allow it to perform different roles for itself and the team, such as Rain Dance or Tailwind. Swanna's frail nature and tendency of being able to force a ton of switches best fits with the support of entry hazards, which allows it to use its power to great effect and achieve the number of KOes that it needs.
Pelipper was almost always previously perceived as a novelty Pokémon that didn't have much of anything to stand out. One thing that definitely separates it from its competition is how well it is able to utilize its bulk with its great defensive typing, usable defenses, access to Roost, and a variety of utility moves such as Scald, Hurricane, Toxic, and U-turn. While the presence of Stealth Rock can be annoying at times when it’s necessary to pivot against certain threats, its general combination of moves makes it a difficult Pokémon to take down without actively targeting its 4x weakness to Electric. With this, Pelipper is able to function as quite the sturdy bird, and can find a worthwhile addition to teams in needs of its useful resistances.
An article about the birds of NU would not be complete without a mention of our hatchlings, Murkrow and Natu. Aside from being the cutest Pokémon on our list, Murkrow and Natu also play effective support roles, especially for LC Pokémon, and this is mainly due to their fantastic abilities that are difficult to come by in NU.
Murkrow is a very interesting Pokémon in NU. With its ability, Prankster, along with the added bulk provided by Eviolite, no other Pokémon, not even others with Prankster, can perform quite the same role that it can. With a large array of support moves, such as Thunder Wave, Toxic, Roost, Taunt, FeatherDance, and even Perish Song, you never quite know what you're encountering when you see a Murkrow in the opponent's Team Preview. While Murkrow still may be frail, even with Eviolite, it's quite the annoying little baby bird.
Speaking of annoying birds, Natu, a Pokémon which had never previously seen serious competitive play, is a viable choice for a teamslot on your NU team thanks to its Dream World ability, Magic Bounce. With this ability, Natu can switch in on status moves, Stealth Rock and Spikes, phazing moves, and even Taunt! Unfortunately, Natu is very similar to Murkrow in that its bulk is lackluster, even with Eviolite. Natu does have some cool resistances thanks to its Psychic / Flying typing, but most Stealth Rock users in NU share a Rock-type STAB to hit Natu for super effective damage. Still, Natu is undoubtedly one of the cutest birds in NU with some potential for competitive play!
While our baby birds may have Eviolite to help them get their jobs done, these three birds don't have much of an excuse to see play. Truth be told, they are all pretty bad, and they probably won't see the light of day on an NU team—outside of silly Baton Pass teams looking to sweep with them, of course.
The least bad of the three, without question, is Chatot, the only non-legendary Pokémon to be banned from Nintendo's official VGC format. You'd think a Pokémon banned from a Nintendo format would be great, but that's definitely not the case. It was banned because of its signature move, Chatter, which allows players to use a recording for Chatot's attack. You can only imagine the kinds of things that players came up with for the move. In NU, it sees almost as much play as it does in VGC—virtually none. While Chatot has access to cool moves, such as Heat Wave, Hyper Voice, and Nasty Plot, it struggles to find the opportunity to set up because of its frailty. Maybe Game Freak will give us an evolution for Chatot, a la Murkrow to Honchkrow, but until that happens, Chatot will remain a mockery of a Pokémon.
Dating back to RBY, Farfetch'd has always been a laughing stock of a bird. It was only available back then through in-game trades. This led to players wanting to use Farfetch'd to be stuck with terrible nicknames for it. It's difficult to strike fear into the hearts of opposing Trainers with nicknames such as "DUX" and "CH'DING." Much like Chatot, Farfetch'd has an array of cool moves, such as Leaf Blade, Brave Bird, and Swords Dance, with few chances to make use of its cool moves because of its frailty. Perhaps we'll get a Farfetch'd evolution to help out with this, but Game Freak usually isn't too keen on giving the people what they have wanted for ages.
Finally, we arrive at the most legendary Pokémon in NU, Delibird. This poor thing has been the butt of several jokes since its inception. As if its signature move, Present, a move that has a chance to heal its opponents rather than damaging them, wasn't bad enough already, the fourth generation of Pokémon brought along Stealth Rock to cripple it even more. Add onto this that its Dream World ability, Insomnia, is just an iteration of one of its original abilities, Vital Spirit, and you've got one of the most laughable Pokémon in existence. I don't care if you want to make your friends laugh by giving it +6 in every stat through Baton Pass; there's really no reason to use this thing on a serious team.
Birds are without a doubt the coolest animal in the world—even in the Pokémon world! Now that we've covered all of the important birds that NU has to offer, the next time you're faced with building a new team for the tier, you'll know how to use the coolest animals to your advantage. Now flock on over to the NU ladder with your bird-filled teams and try them out for yourself!
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