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The XY generation brought with it many interesting and unique additions to competitive battling, one of the most important of which is Assault Vest. To say the least, Assault Vest provides battlers with a new means of styling their Pokémon; quite literally, in fact. Upon dressing up your companions with this bulletproof vest, their Special Defense stat increases by half of their original stat, instantly making them that much better at handling special attackers. However, this increase comes with an interesting cost: Any Pokémon equipped with an Assault Vest can no longer use non-damaging attacks. This essentially means that this piece of clothing was not tailor-made to be used by walls such as Skarmory and Blissey, who heavily rely on non-damaging attacks to be effective, but instead was designed for Pokémon that fit tanking roles, or similar. This article puts Assault Vest in the spotlight and showcases some of the most prominent users of it in the OU metagame.
Granted, it appears as though Goodra just got off the set of Dragon Tales, but despite this it's equipped with many qualities that make it an effective specially bulky pivot. "Goomy pls..." you might sneer, but this should be no surprise when you consider Goodra's whopping base 150 Special Defense, which reaches a gargantuan stat of a couple of points below 600 when equipped with an Assault Vest, as well as its decently high base 90 HP. A big difference between Goodra and other Assault Vest users is its ability to phaze, thanks to Dragon Tail. Due to its monstrous bulk, which allows it to be a prominent check to many of OU's special attackers, Barney's long-lost twin can take full advantage of the switches it typically forces to rack up entry hazard damage and potentially phaze in a Pokémon it still threatens. Furthermore, along with Goodra's high base 100 Attack (though uninvested) and Sap Sipper, it is great at absorbing sleep and Grass-type moves, giving it the opportunity to whip its foes with even stronger Dragon Tails. That dopey look on its face shouldn't give you a reason to chuckle at the sight of it either, as Goodra still packs quite a punch with its Draco Meteor and Fire Blast coming off of a base 110 Special Attack. To top it all off, two of the most dominating Fairy-types in OU, Togekiss and Azumarill, are both hit hard with Thunderbolt, which also covers additional Water- and Flying-types, although Sludge Wave is a viable answer over it to drench Fairy-types in general.
Scizor is commonly seen in a purely offensive role, able to cause headaches through either spamming Choice Band-boosted STAB U-turns or bolstering its Attack stat to impressive levels via Swords Dance and attempting to sweep. However, Scizor can easily make use of Assault Vest to make it an effective pivot against a number of special attackers. You might initially think Scizor isn't even a respectable specially defensive tank to begin with, what with its rather low base 70 HP and 80 Special Defense, but when its HP and Special Defense are invested in and coupled with Assault Vest, Scizor reaches great defensive stats of 343 and 349, respectively. This is all Scizor needs to deal with the threats it commonly switches in against, such as Starmie, Gengar, Alakazam, Latias, Reuniclus, and Slowbro, and either Pursuit, Bullet Punch, or U-turn against them with relative comfort; even Alakazam's Hidden Power Fire, which Alakazam could use in an attempt to revenge kill Scizor, only manages a reasonably comfortable 58% on average. It should also be noted that Magnezone, one of the most effective Scizor revenge killers, can't deal enough damage to prevent Scizor from smacking it with a powerful Superpower or even U-turning out of its magnetic field—even a Choice Specs-boosted Hidden Power Fire fails to OHKO. Furthermore, unlike other common Assault Vest users, Scizor's access to a scouting move in U-turn enables it to effectively fish for the opponent's switch-in after threatening something out and keep the momentum in your team's favor. You also cannot forget Scizor's Technician-boosted Bullet Punch, which remedies its middling Speed and provides your team with decent revenge killer support. While it is one of the more uncommon Assault Vest Pokémon, this metallic insect can fulfill a specially defensive pivot role to great success.
Due to Conkeldurr's sole Fighting typing and lack of a powerful STAB move in Close Combat, it's often been brushed under the carpet in favor of more threatening Fighting-types, such as Lucario, Keldeo, and Terrakion. Furthermore, its pitiful Special Defense and the rampant use of powerful special attacks in BW2 made it a very difficult Pokémon to use effectively. However, when wearing an Assault Vest, Conkeldurr is equipped with an excellent set of tools that differentiate itself from other Fighting-types in the XY metagame. With this piece of army clothing, Conkeldurr reaches an excellent defensive spread of 351 HP/227 Def/343 SpD alongside a whopping 416 Attack stat, which allows it to smash enemies left and right with its concrete pillars. Its now above average Special Defense helps Conkeldurr tank special attacks it was never able to in BW, such as Heatran's Fire Blast, Rotom-W's Hydro Pump, and Thundurus-T's Thunderbolt. This ogre is also one of the few Assault Vest users capable of recovering lost health through the use of Drain Punch. Not only that, but Conkeldurr's pitiful Speed is accommodated for with Mach Punch, making it a great revenge killer as well. Pair these moves with Ice Punch, which takes out common Pokémon resistant to Fighting such as Landorus-T and Gliscor, and Conkeldurr finds itself laughing hysterically as the opponent struggles to tank its trauma-inducing punches. Conkeldurr is not even hampered by status effects, notably Will-O-Wisp, thanks to its Guts ability, allowing it to act as a reliable status absorber for offensive teams. Finally, Conkeldurr makes fantastic use of the Knock Off buff, obliterating the likes of Jellicent and Gengar with it, while hindering the effectiveness of physical walls. The introduction of Assault Vest has undeniably changed the outlook of Conkeldurr's future—no longer will it be neglected and frowned upon, as this big-nosed Pokémon will surely turn your frown upside down.
Snorlax, having widely been known as one of the most notorious special tanks in the game for its whole lifetime, gives a whole new meaning to the term when equipped with Assault Vest. Boasting a staggering Special Defense stat of 479 along with a 461 uninvested HP stat, no living thing exists that can penetrate through Snorlax's special bulwark. Mega Lucario, the strongest special attacking Fighting-type in OU with its base 140 Special Attack, cannot even muster a 2HKO against Snorlax with its STAB Aura Sphere. Like Snorlax's tremendous girth, its offensive presence is nothing to scoff at either, as it packs a high base Attack stat of 110 and reasonably powerful coverage attacks to hit the majority of non-defensive Pokémon for great damage; not to mention spreading paralysis status to alleviate Snorlax's Speed issues if Body Slam is chosen. Earthquake and Fire Punch provide answers to the many metagame-infesting Steel-types, such as Heatran, Jirachi, Klefki, and Ferrothorn, making Snorlax even more of a nuisance than you would expect. Aside from Snorlax's rather obnoxious existence, one of its greatest selling points is its ability to effortlessly Pursuit trap a whole slew of Ghost- and Psychic-types. Whether it be Gengar, Alakazam, Latios, or Starmie, this overweight monstrosity guarantees that it absorbs the incoming hit with joyous laughter and punishes the attacker in return for thinking that it had any remote chance at harming your team.
Looking at Amoonguss, it's evident that it simply doesn't give a damn about what it's up against; it's a true soldier at heart. One of the fundamental issues with using Assault Vest is the complete lack of recovery options, making many users of such an item succumb to the effects of wear and tear; however, Amoonguss is one of the few that can alleviate this flaw with Regenerator. Due to this fantastic ability, Amoonguss is capable of continuously sponging special attacks throughout the match without significant cause for worry. Its base 114 HP and 80 Special Defense make it exceptionally bulky with Assault Vest included—not even taking 75% damage from Heatran's Life Orb Fire Blast is quite impressive. An issue with Assault Vest Amoonguss, though, is that it loses out on using the best sleep-inducing move in the game: Spore. However, this should not be deemed a major concern, as Spore is far less powerful in XY, and the tools this resilient fungus has in its arsenal completely make up for it. With Giga Drain, Amoonguss can further compensate for its lack of Black Sludge. Clear Smog ensures Amoonguss can easily prevent almost any special attacking booster from sweeping you; it can even survive a +1 Life Orb Volcarona's Fiery Dance and thus remove its Quiver Dance boost. Foul Play serves a great purpose of preventing physical attackers from setting up against the arrogant mushroom by allowing it to hit physical attackers—which it isn't necessarily built to deal with—very hard. This is especially effective as the common Steel-type switch-ins, such as Scizor and Excadrill, no longer resist Dark. Hidden Power Fire or Hidden Power Ice round off Amoonguss's coverage, the former scorching bulky Steel-types such as Ferrothorn and Forretress, and the latter spearing through Dragon-types such as Garchomp and Salamence.
In the past generation, Excadrill was a dominating force in the OU metagame. Between its base 135 Attack, Swords Dance, and ability in Sand Rush, it held the power to completely dismantle entire teams with its overwhelming offensive presence, resulting in its inevitable banishment from OU. However, with Pokémon XY's release, this metal mole has been given a second chance to wreak the havoc it always did prior, albeit in a different style. Instead of mowing through teams like it was known to do—which is now somewhat less easily done with the weather nerf—the introduction of Assault Vest shined a new light on Excadrill's unique attributes. With Assault Vest bolstering Excadrill's measly Special Defense stat to above average levels and its already high base 110 HP, Excadrill becomes one of the best, if not the best, bulky spinners in the OU metagame. The substantial increase in special bulk gives Excadrill the ability to survive a plethora of super effective special hits from some of OU's strongest attackers, allowing it to take on the likes of Gengar, Alakazam, Latias, Goodra, and Rotom-W, much to the opponent's surprise. Best of all, Excadrill's high Attack stat, even when not fully invested in, lets it hit especially hard; its Mold Breaker ability further increases the difficulty of dealing with Excadrill's STAB Earthquake. The introduction of Fairy-types strengthens Excadrill's viability as well, as it is able to switch in against the likes of Togekiss and Sylveon with ease and proceed to bash their skulls in with its Iron Head. Combining these traits with Assault Vest makes this drill sergeant a phenomenal Rapid Spin user and bulky pivot, tanking hits it never previously did and viciously retaliating with its own.
Even before Assault Vest hit the stores across Kalos, Tyranitar had excellent special bulk to work with, being able to survive many special attacks, super effective or not. However, with Assault Vest's release, Tyranitar is undeniably the most effective and burliest user of it in OU. Not only does it get increased special bulk from Assault Vest, Tyranitar's bulk is further increased by the sandstorm it summons. This means it instantly has more than twice as much of its original Special Defense stat instantaneously, being blessed with an astronomical Special Defense stat of 738. When accompanied with Tyranitar's base 100 HP, it's safe to say that nothing can OHKO it with their special attacks. To put this into perspective, consider the following damage calculations:
Even with that overwhelming specially defensive potential, this behemoth of a Pokémon is by no means a sitting duck. Claiming a superb base 134 Attack stat, a workable base 95 Special Attack stat, and an enormous offensive movepool to play with, Tyranitar is able to maintain offensive momentum whilst brushing off Draco Meteors, Thunderbolts, Ice Beams, and Earth Powers as easily as the physically impenetrable RODAN. Furthermore, it holds the title of arguably the most effective Pursuit trapper in the game, Tyranitar easily pulverizes nearly any Ghost- and Psychic-type, as well as dealing great damage to Pokémon neutral to Pursuit in general. Finally, with its coverage options in Earthquake, Stone Edge, and Fire Blast—even Ice Beam for pesky Dragon-types—you cannot simply ignore the effect that Tyranitar has coming out of boot camp.
As hopefully demonstrated in this article, Assault Vest as an item has significant merit in competitive Pokémon. Not only does it further broaden how a team can be built, it allows you to experiment with different means of dealing with particular threats; in this case, special attackers. The great thing about Assault Vest is that it's not only limited to the OU tier either, meaning that this can be taken advantage of in every other tier and can possibly make previously weaker or below average Pokémon into legitimate threats that need to be watched for. Hopefully this article inspires you to look into the various ways to use certain Pokémon and the effect they can have on their respective metagame and, more importantly, the outcome of a match.
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