AG Spotlight: Xerneas

By Megazard and Dream Eater Gengar. Art by FellFromtheSky.
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Xerneas by FellFromtheSky


Ever since its introduction in XY, Xerneas has proven to be a metagame-defining threat in Ubers due to the sheer ridiculousness of Geomancy as a boosting move. Although it has faced some difficulty with the introduction of Primal Groudon, Xerneas has remained one of the strongest legends in the game for an entire generation. With the creation of Anything Goes, Xerneas has found another metagame to excel in, with some of its other sets getting huge buffs, as Ubers titans such as Primal Groudon and Mega Gengar have gotten noticeably worse in the presence of Mega Rayquaza.

Xerneas's qualities

Xerneas is blessed with great all-around stats combined with the Fairy typing, which allows it to check prominent Pokémon in the metagame such as Yveltal, Giratina, and the ever-present Darkrai. Geomancy takes one turn to make Xerneas the most dangerous sweeper in the game, which is only bolstered further by its Xerneas's solid coverage with powerful moves like Thunder and Focus Blast. However, Xerneas is not a one-trick deer, as it can run other defining sets such as Choice Scarf (which remains one of the best checks to Mega Rayquaza and Darkrai and still hits quite hard thanks to Fairy Aura), defensive, Choice Specs, and even all-out attacking sets.

Playing with Xerneas



Classic GeoXern returns to fulfill a similar role as it does in Ubers, able to clean up teams with one incredible boosting move at the low cost of being stuck with Power Herb. Once it's boosted up and ready to go, Moonblast can hit almost everything for an unbelievable amount of damage when combined with Fairy Aura. Focus Blast can OHKO the few Steel-types capable of surviving a Moonblast like Klefki and Steel Arceus, while Hidden Power Ground is a slightly safer option that also hits Primal Groudon and Poison Arceus at the cost of being weaker and not being able to hit Ferrothorn. In the final slot, Thunder allows Xerneas to KO Ho-Oh with Stealth Rock up or a little bit of chip damage, but it also has the option of running Aromatherapy to remove Klefki's paralysis. A few other, more rarely seen choices include Psyshock, Sleep Talk, Hidden Power Rock, and Ingrain, which can lure would-be checks or counters in Poison Arceus, Darkrai, Ho-Oh, and Pokémon with Roar such as Primal Groudon, respectively. Although GeoXern should always be running 52 Speed to beat out Choice Scarf Jirachi after a Geomancy, faster spreads with varying amounts of Speed are also an option to outspeed more foes before setting up such as Primal Kyogre and offensive Yveltal.

GeoXern's main difficulties in Anything Goes come from having far fewer setup opportunities versus common offensive builds and being susceptible to being revenge killed by various Extreme Speed users if it does manage to set up. GeoXern relies on extremely passive foes such as Water Arceus or Giratina to get off a Geomancy, but even they will occasionally carry Roar. Additionally, GeoXern needs to hold off on setting up until checks like Primal Groudon, Ho-Oh, Clefable, and Poison Arceus have been sufficiently weakened for it to sweep. Once GeoXern manages to set up, it is still forced to contend with a variety of Extreme Speed users ranging from various Arceus formes to Mega Rayquaza, which can revenge kill GeoXern if it took too much damage while setting up. All of this notwithstanding, GeoXern is an excellent sweeper that can demolish teams not fully prepared to face down a +2 +2 +2 legendary, and none of its additional faults can change the fact that any team not ready for it will lose the second that it clicks Geomancy.

Choice Scarf


Unlike the Geomancy set, Choice Scarf Xerneas is not used to sweep but to check a large number of threats and for speed control. Choice Scarf Xerneas remains one of the best ways to check Darkrai, as it will always be able to pull Moonblast with Sleep Talk. Choice Scarf Xerneas can also force foes into difficult situations, as switching out a Mega Rayquaza or Yveltal for fear of being OHKOed by Choice Scarf Xerneas could potentially lead to a GeoXern sweep if the Choice Scarf set has been effectively bluffed. While Moonblast is essential for being Xerneas's basic STAB move, Sleep Talk is always used to sponge Dark Void from Darkrai (and the occasional Smeargle) for Xerneas to act as one of the few counters to the Nightmare Pokémon. All other attacks are normally shunned, as they make Xerneas less reliable versus Darkrai. Focus Blast is an option to hit Steel-type Pokémon such as Steel Arceus and Ferrothorn, but then Xerneas has the chance to miss as Darkrai sets up a Substitute. Other options include Thunder and Hidden Power Ground, but once again, both give Xerneas a chance to fail versus Darkrai. However, additional moves will still see some use for leaving Xerneas without simple mono-Fairy coverage, as this does leave it quite easily countered by Fairy-resistant foes like Ho-Oh.

Xerneas also has a few other options that, while somewhat rarer, can be extremely effective on specific teams. Choice Specs Xerneas is a nightmare to switch into, able to cleanly 3HKO Primal Groudon and OHKO most of its common checks with the appropriate coverage move, although it sacrifices any sweeping potential thanks to its just barely too low Speed tier. All-out attacking sets perform a similar function, but they sacrifice the raw power of simply coming in and clicking Choice Specs Moonblast for the ability to switch up moves and run a mixed set Life Orb or Expert Belt set more effectively. Ho-Oh can be OHKOed with Rock Slide, and Close Combat beats back Blissey and hits Steel-types like Ferrothorn, while fully special Xerneas sets are forced to rely on more inaccurate moves like Thunder, which does not OHKO Ho-Oh regardless, and Focus Blast. Defensive sets face severe competition from Fairy Arceus, which has superior bulk, speed, and access to Recover and Will-O-Wisp, but they do have access to Aromatherapy and come with a slight surprise factor.

Playing against Xerneas

As threatening as Xerneas is, it does suffer from having a few solid counters. Primal Groudon, Ho-Oh, Poison Arceus, and Clefable all do extremely well against GeoXern, with the first three able to revenge it despite taking significant damage and the latter being able to wall it with Unaware, provided it does not switch in with Stealth Rock up. However, Psyshock can break past Poison Arceus, Hidden Power Ground or Focus Blast can revenge Primal Groudon after a little bit of chip damage, and Ho-Oh cannot survive a boosted Thunder after Stealth Rock. Steel-types like Ferrothorn are also able to check Xerneas before it sets up, and Skarmory and Lugia can phaze Xerneas with Whirlwind if Sturdy or Multiscale is still intact. As for Choice Scarf Xerneas, most of the same checks still hold, but it can also be threatened more easily by other Steel-types like Jirachi and Genesect. Mega Gengar can also trap Xerneas if it hasn't already set up, but it cannot switch into Moonblast from Choice Scarf Xerneas. And finally, both GeoXern and Choice Scarf Xerneas are heavily reliant on being faster than the opposition, so they can be extremely vulnerable to being picked off by opposing priority users, most notably Extreme Speed Arceus formes. Although this requires prior chip damage, that is not too hard to gain seeing as Xerneas needs to spend a turn setting up Geomancy. Klefki can also attempt to cripple Xerneas with a priority Swagger or Thunder Wave, but this can be unreliable and may backfire if the GeoXern simply uses Aromatherapy later.

Fitting Xerneas onto your team

GeoXern isn't exactly the kind of Pokémon that fits easily onto a lot of teams, as it requires a bit more support and doesn't have very much defensive utility. However, it can work extremely well on offensive and balanced teams more ready to support it by handling checks like Primal Groudon and Clefable and in need of a threatening sweeper that can take advantage of passive Pokémon such as Giratina and Water Arceus. Choice Scarf Xerneas, on the other hand, can be very easy to fit onto teams that merely require speed control and another check to Darkrai and Mega Rayquaza. Unsurprisingly, this encompasses quite a few balanced and offensive teams, which makes Choice Scarf fairly easy to use. It also requires checks to threats like Poison Arceus and Ho-Oh but provides more defensive utility in that it can defeat Darkrai much more reliably and isn't fairly slow before setting up. Both also appreciate checks to Steel Arceus and other Steel-types, which can be provided by some common Pokémon such as Primal Groudon and Ground Arceus.


Xerneas has been one of the most dominant threats since its addition in Generation VI and the creation of Anything Goes. Get out there and try sweeping with Xerneas yourself!

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