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Editor's Note: This article was written in mid-September, assuming HGSS changes would not be implemented until the release of ShoddyBattle 2. As a result, this article is all theorymon. Look forward to a follow-up next issue with LonelyNess' firsthand HGSS battling experiences!
HeartGold and SoulSilver are finally out and, while the new additions to Pokemon's movesets has not been very dramatic for the OU scene, UU Pokemon have gotten a ton of new toys to play around with through new Egg moves as well as through tutors. It is difficult to say what will actually be successful in the HG/SS metagame, but we can surely try and predict a few new sets and their potential impact on the tier.
Aggron (M) @ Choice Band Ability: Rock Head EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Naughty nature (+Atk, -SpD) - Head Smash - Earthquake - Aqua Tail - Hidden Power Grass
Aggron now has access to the ridiculously powerful Head Smash, which makes it quite the potent Choice Band user. This set is unwalled in UU, while Hidden Power Grass may seem an odd choice, even unboosted 252 HP Quagsire is 2HKO'd, and, assuming it never gets a chance to use Recover, it will be promptly destroyed next switch in by two Head Smashes or Earthquakes. The only problem? A lack of viable switch-ins. The amount of things that this Pokemon can feasibly switch into amounts to Chansey, Stall Altaria, choiced Normal-type attacks, Swellow, and Psychic- or Ghost-type not packing a super effective Hidden Power (which are few and far between). Expect a lot of changes in common Pokemon's movesets in order to not give this guy free switch-ins. For example, Ambipom's choice in coverage moves becomes even more hard pressing. Does it use Brick Break over Payback and beat Aggron in exchange to losing to Rotom and Mismagius? Can it afford to drop Payback at all (what with Mismagius' new Nasty Plot), meaning it will no longer have access to U-turn, one of the few things that actually differentiates itself from other Normal-type Pokemon? Will it really give up Taunt for an all out attacking set making it setup bait for any strong defender looking to get Stealth Rock? Needless to say, the sheer power of this new threat will shake things up.
Mismagius (M) @ Life Orb Ability: Levitate EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk) - Shadow Ball - Hidden Power Fighting / Hidden Power Ground / Thunderbolt - Substitute / Thunderbolt - Nasty Plot
Mismagius got one of the most significant move gains in HG/SS, Nasty Plot. With Nasty Plot, Mismagius can now burst through old coutners with newfound power. Where Calm Mind Mismagius had troubles getting strong enough fast enough, Nasty Plot Mismagius has no such problem. You do have a number of choices to make however. If you forgo Substitute for an all out attacking set, you will lose to any user of the move Sucker Punch, as well as you your ability to set up in front of Chansey and other Pokemon with Seismic Toss as their sole attacking move. Dropping Thunderbolt immediately turns Honchkrow into a counter, especially if you're running Hidden Power Ground over Fighting. Without Hidden Power Ground, more defensive versions of Drapion will bring the set troubles. Getting rid of Hidden Power Fighting makes taking down Kangaskhan and Miltank a bit more troublesome. And getting rid of either Hidden Power in order to run Shadow Ball / Thunderbolt / Substitute / Nasty Plot makes Registeel a viable tank of its attacks. The problem however, is that these Pokemon are pretty much the ONLY ones who can hope to take an attack from Mismagius. No longer can you rely on dubious checks that can take a +1 Shadow Ball, because now the power level of Mismagius has risen drastically. Mismagius will be frightening indeed.
Walrein (M) @ Leftovers Ability: Ice Body EVs: 220 HP / 240 Def / 48 Spe Bold nature (+Def, -Atk) - Substitute - Protect - Brine / Blizzard / Toxic - Super Fang
Now here is a Pokemon who just might near broken, despite the fact that you have to run the NFE Snover in order to use it. The argument against Walrein before HG/SS was that even if it sets up, your death will be a slow one, which gives you ample time to take it out. The problem now is that Walrein gets Super Fang, which cuts your life in two right from the start, accelerating your "slow death". Assuming neturality to Stealth Rock, and no leftovers with Hail on the field, you could be down to only 37.5% health in one turn, and 31% even after the next inevitable turn of using Protect. Heaven forbid there be any other entry hazards, such as Toxic Spikes or regular Spikes. With full Spikes, neutrality to Stealth Rock, and no Leftovers, you could be down to as low as 18.75% health on a single turn... and then you die to poison + Hail damage on the turn when Walrein uses Protect. Also, with your health almost assuredly being below 50%, Walrein can utilize the move Brine to hit you with a 130 Base Power move (before STAB) that isn't held back by terrible PP, like Blizzard, which is also reliant on Hail. Truly hellish.
Kingler (M) @ Life Orb Ability: Hyper Cutter EVs: 80 HP / 252 Atk / 176 Spe Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA) -Agility -Swords Dance -Crabhammer -Return
Kinger finally gets a way to raise its Speed in some way that isn't named Salac Berry. With its newfound Agility, Kingler will be a real threat to both offensive teams and defensive teams alike. When employing a double boost set with both Agility and Swords Dance, you gain the ability to adapt your sweeping strategy depending on what team you happen to be facing. Agility up first if you're facing an offensive team; with these EVs you outspeed any Pokemon with base 91 Speed or lower using a Choice Scarf (meaning even Timid Choice Scarf Rotom and Roserade fail to outpace you). Against Stall you can use Swords Dance first and absolutely wreak havoc with your base 130 Attack stat and incredibly strong STAB Crabhammer. Having perfect coverage with only two moves only sweetens the deal, allowing Kingler the ability to pack both setup moves without losing any offensive coverage in the process.
Arcanine (M) @ Leftovers Ability: Intimidate EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 6 Spe Impish nature (+Def, -SpA) - Flare Blitz - Extremespeed - Toxic / Roar - Morning Sun
Now that Arcanine has access to a reliable recovery move, its very respectable defenses and Intimidate ability make it a very apt physical wall. Even super effective hits can't hope to break Arcanine. Here are some calculations that help demonstrate its bulk:
Steelix, 0 Atk Earthquake vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 27.08% - 32.81% Jolly Swellow (Guts activated), 252 Atk Facade vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 36.98% - 43.75% Adamant Hitmontop, Life Orb, 252 Atk Fake Out vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 10.94% - 13.02% Adamant Hitmontop, Life Orb, 252 Atk Close Combat vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 32.29% - 38.28% +2 Jolly Scyther, Life Orb, 252 Atk Aerial Ace vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 54.95% - 65.10% Adamant Choice Band Nidoking, 252 Atk Earthquake vs 252 HP / 252 Def Arcanine w/ Intimidate: 61.46% - 72.40%
Flare Blitz may seem counter-intuitive on the set, but it is necessary in order to make Arcanine a viable threat to your opponent, as Fire Fang (Arcanine's next best physical Fire-type option) is incredibly weak, especially when Arcanine isn't boosting its Attack stat at all. It also allows you to hit the few Pokemon who are immune to Toxic for super effective damage. ExtremeSpeed allows Arcanine to take on Life Orb attacks, healing off damage with Morning Sun, which forces Life Orb damage, and once they're in KO range, use priority to kill the opponent without any residual damage whatsoever.
Whiscash (M) @ Leftovers / Life Orb Ability: Anticipation EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA) - Earthquake - Aqua Tail / Waterfall - Stone Edge - Dragon Dance
Crawdaunt (M) @ Life Orb Ability: Hyper Cutter EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 244 Spe Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA) - Crunch - Aerial Ace - Waterfall - Dragon Dance
Both of these Pokemon gained the move Dragon Dance. The former gets excellent type coverage, whereas the latter gets dominating power. The only problem with both is that they have terrible starting Speed stats. Even after a Dragon Dance, they are not guaranteed to outspeed even neutral natured base 115 Speed Pokemon, and outspeeding any Choice Scarf Pokemon at all is completely out of the question. At the very least, Whiscash has fantastic typing and is quite bulky even with no investment, giving the possibility of maybe getting more than one Dragon Dance. Crawdaunt is a bit less lucky in that it suffers weakness to the priority moves Mach Punch and Vacuum Wave. It also has, unfortunately, even less Speed than Whiscash and has none of its bulk. Nevertheless, these two could both potentially sweep unprepared teams.
Lapras (M) @ Leftovers Ability: Water Absorb EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 6 SpD Bold nature (+Def, -Atk) - Perish Song - Surf - Protect - Block
The beauty of this set comes from its conjunction with other Lapras sets. The threats of Curse, Dragon Dance, and Special sets will often cause players to bring in less than optimal answers to the above set. The most common switch-ins are Milotic, stall Roserade, Registeel, Clefable, and Toxicroak. This set punishes these switch-ins by trapping and killing them easily. However, if your opponent is running a particularly offensive team, or if they figure out your plan and bring in something like Shed Shell Chansey, this set will fail. However, luckily these switch-ins are suboptimal for the physical or special sets, so the longer this set stays under the radar, the more effective it will be. Think of this like SpecsMence: the more people who expect it, the less viable it actually is.
Quagsire @ Leftovers Ability: Water Absorb EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def Impish nature (+Def, -SpA) - Earthquake - Waterfall - Ice Punch / Curse / Yawn - Recover
Think Gastrodon, but better. Yes, the premier physical wall of pre-merge UU is back with a new toy: Recover. With this it can finally attempt to reclaim former glory as one of the best physical walls in the Underused Metagame. It has the benefit of walling pretty much any and all Rock-type Pokémon (whereas previously the amount of viable Rock-type resisters was slim) as well as giving Stall teams a new answer to Rain Dance teams and, most importantly, Kabutops (something that plagued stall before Quagsire). Expect Quagsire usage to skyrocket and for good reason. This thing is ridiculously bulky and, now with Recover, it is going to be a pain to take down.
Cradily (M) @ Leftovers Ability: Suction Cups EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD Careful nature (+SpD, -SpA) - Rest - Sleep Talk - Rock Slide - Curse
Looks a lot like CurseTalk Regirock, doesn't it. So what's the difference? No Water-type weakness, and all for the small price of added weaknesses to Ice- and Bug-type moves. You wouldn't think that the lack of a Water-type weakness would matter that much, but, unlike Regirock, Cradily does not get destroyed by by Milotic or Slowbro. You get the picture here. It's Regirock, but with a hell of a lot better Special Defense and typing. And while the Bug-type weakness is unsavory, they're generally STABed and unable to OHKO, meaning that you can Rock Slide the user to oblivion. This is going to be the new standard set-up Pokemon on sandstorm teams, and you'd be a fool not to prepare for it because, without the abilities to hit it on the Special Defense side or phaze it away, you can, and will, be swept.
There are a number of movepool additions that are sure to affect usage, but not nearly as drastically as the above ones do. Clefable and the Eevee line all got Heal Bell, meaning that they can all use a true Cleric set by passing both Wishes and healing status ailments plaguing the team. Weather Ball saw some great distribution in Victreebel, giving new hope to a Sunny Day sweeping set, as well as on Drifblim making setting up different weathers (and most likely being a staple on Hail teams) an exciting new prospect. Venusaur got access to Power Whip, making the Swords Dance set even more threatening, and SubSalac sets incredibly frightening opponents. Feraligatr no longer has to fear priority users on SubFlail sets, as it now has access to Aqua Jet, which can help dispatch weakened opponents as well as get in a last hit against opposing priority users. Baton Pass teams now have Mr. Mime to pass Nasty Plot to its endgame sweeper, which will undoubtedly speed up the chain passing. Jynx also gained access to Nasty Plot, although its coverage and typing leave a bit to be desired. A faint nagging in the back of your brain saying "why am I not using Houndoom for this" constantly arises. Dragon Dance Tropius will be an interesting gimmick, but with only 68 base Attack and 51 base Speed stats, you'll often be wanting more in terms of both power and speed. Rock Blast Cloyster will be an interesting alternative to Slowbro as a 100% counter to Azumarill, as now with 180 Atk EVs, 4 Rock Blast hits will break a Substitute from Azumarill with the 5th causing Azumarill to flinch on its Focus Punch. This should give teams plenty of chances to take advantage of Cloyster's support movepool. Brave Bird Honchkrow will certainly rip faces off, but, with the added recoil, don't expect it to be an insanely popular option. Lastly, new Encore users in Primeape and Poliwrath ought to curb some of the new distribution of the move Curse, as well as perhaps give these Pokemon new viability as set-up stoppers.
All in all, HeartGold and SoulSilver gave UU a number of new strategies to employ and I for one am excited to see what these changes do to the tier.
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