NU Stage 10 Coverage

By boltsandbombers. Art by Tikitik.
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Altaria Artwork by Tikitik


This past fall was not a very exciting time for the NeverUsed tier, as most of the excitement and changes happened just at the beginning of August with a large tier shift in which Skuntank, Shiftry, and Hitmonchan all fell from the RarelyUsed tier and Uxie and Fletchinder moved up. With only little change in the November tier shift, the tier had been in need of something for a new spin.

Recently, a new tiering policy was decided upon and implemented, which is that Pokémon and their Mega Stones are now tiered separately, and with this, a plethora of Pokémon dropped from higher tiers to lower tiers as a result of the low usage of their base formes. With the December tier shift and policy change, Sceptile, Steelix, Pinsir, Altaria, and Camerupt moved down to the NeverUsed tier.

Tier Drops

Sceptile has quickly solidified its status as one of the best, if not the single best, offensive Pokémon in NU due to a wide variety of traits that it brings to a team. First and foremost is Sceptile's blazingly high Speed stat, which puts it above all but two (albeit one very uncommon) Pokémon in the tier, those being Swellow and Ninjask, making it extremely easy to fit onto an offensive team. Some key threats that Sceptile's base 120 Speed puts it ahead of are Tauros, Archeops, and Floatzel, all of which are now significantly easier to handle for offensive teams. Another one of Sceptile's key traits is its great versatility, in terms of movepool and general offensive capabilities. Sceptile has two main sets, each of which has very different checks and has to be played against differently, and this keeps opponents guessing until the moves are revealed. The first set is a mixed attacker with a moveset of Giga Drain, Leaf Storm, Earthquake, and Hidden Power Ice. This set has excellent early- to mid-game presence thanks to the high power of a Life Orb-boosted STAB Leaf Storm, even putting a dent in some less bulky Grass-resistant Pokémon. Other coverage moves such as Focus Blast and Rock Slide are also viable on this set to surprise the likes of Ferroseed and Scyther, respectively. Sceptile's other set is Swords Dance, which is typically seen with a moveset of Swords Dance, Acrobatics, Leaf Blade, and either Earthquake or Substitute. This set is best suited to a late-game cleaning role, as it needs the opposing team to be weakened significantly to succeed, given how the set is using Sceptile's lower attacking stat and Leaf Blade's power is nothing to write home about, especially unboosted. However, with the right situations and team support, as most of this set's checks are easily weakened or lured, Swords Dance Sceptile can easily sweep through unprepared teams. To clarify, as this set commonly runs the combination of Sitrus Berry and Unburden, Sceptile has the capability to outspeed the entire boosted and unboosted tier after the berry is consumed, depending on its EV spread. Swords Dance Sceptile can choose between bulk and Speed depending on its team support, which can give it either more setup opportunities or a better matchup versus fast threats.

Not all is perfect for Sceptile, as Pokémon that resist Grass are a rather common sight on most NU teams, and while Sceptile does have the coverage options to break past them, preventing it from spamming Leaf Storm can often be a major thorn in its side. Sceptile's defenses are also fairly lacking, which leaves it susceptible to being revenge killed by priority users such as Kangaskhan and Shiftry if it lacks Substitute.

Steelix has been an extremely valuable addition to nearly all playstyles in NU due to the numerous assets it provides for a team. Simply put, Steelix compresses a wide range of roles that are needed on a team into one slot, which gives more breathing room for teambuilding. Steelix has a unique typing that lets it check many prominent threats in NU such as Kangaskhan, Klinklang, Scyther, and Musharna, a feat very few other defensive Pokémon can accomplish. As a bulky Stealth Rock setter, having Leftovers recovery is another significant trait that other common users the move such as Rhydon and Mesprit lack, the former needing Eviolite and the latter being almost forced to run a Colbur Berry due to the prevalence of Sawk. While there are other viable Stealth Rock users that can effectively run Leftovers, they are much harder to fit onto a team than Steelix due to their passive nature. Steelix is extremely easy to fit onto nearly any team, as it syngergizes well with common Pokémon seen on balanced and defensive builds such as Weezing and Pelipper. While Steelix is most commonly seen using a bulky tank set of Heavy Slam, Stealth Rock, Earthquake, and Toxic, more offensive variants that utilize the combination of Life Orb + Sheer Force as well as coverage moves such as Crunch and Rock Slide can surprise some of Steelix's typical checks such as Rotom and Mantine.

Despite all of the numerous qualities Steelix provides to a team, it is vulnerable to common attacking types such as Water, Fire, and Fighting, but this is somewhat remedied by the fact that Pokémon Steelix is often seen alongside check these threats well. In addition, as Steelix relies on Leftovers for recovery, it can be easily worn down by repeated switches into entry hazards. Because it is common, it can often be exploited through the use of lures or being overwhelmed by well-built teams that can take advantage of those that rely on Steelix to check multiple threats.

Pinsir sports an excellent movepool between its STAB X-Scissor and coverage moves such as Earthquake, Stone Edge, and Close Combat that allow it to hit the entire tier for neutral or super effective damage. Furthermore, Pinsir has access to Swords Dance, which allows it to break through slower teams and punish passivity. In a similar vein, Pinsir can also effectively utilize a Choice Band set thanks to the aforementioned coverage movepool alongside its excellent Attack stat to act as a deadly wallbreaker by giving up Swords Dance for another coverage move. Access to Mold Breaker is a very significant and unique trait, as it allows Pinsir to bypass common defensive Pokémon that rely on their abilities to check certain Pokémon, such as Weezing and Rotom with Levitate and Quagsire with Unaware. Another important thing to note about Mold Breaker is that it enhances Pinsir's ability as an offensive Stealth Rock user, as it ignores Xatu's Magic Bounce, punishing teams that rely on Xatu as their only form of entry hazard control. Lastly, Pinsir is one of two Pokémon in the tier that run a Bug-type STAB move, letting it act as an offensive check to Malamar as well as Mushanra, two very bulky sweepers that can easily run through unprepared teams.

However, Pinsir sports only an average Speed stat for an offensive Pokémon, which leaves it quite vulnerable to threats such as Pyroar, Archeops, and Rotom-S and with few setup opportunities versus faster teams, hampering its effectiveness. Lastly, Pokémon that resist Pinsir's STAB combination are very common and this often leads to Pinsir being required to predict and use its coverage moves often.

Altaria reintroduces itself to the tier, bringing back the only fully evolved Dragon-type to have graced NeverUsed this entire generation. Much has changed in the metagame since it left at the start of ORAS when it received a Mega Evolution. From a defensive standpoint, Altaria checks threatening wallbreakers such as Magmortar, Lilligant, and Combusken. Notably, Altaria is one of only three relevant Pokémon that resist the combination of Combusken's STAB moves. Furthermore, Altaria is the most reliable Pokémon that can check Magmortar thanks to its access to Roost, an incredible asset for a defensive Pokémon. Altaria's access to other useful support moves such as Heal Bell and Perish Song further proves its worth on defensive or stall teams.

Altaria is no slouch offensively, either, despite its average base 70 Special Attack stat, which may seem unappealing for an offensive Pokémon. However, with the boost from Choice Specs alongside the high Base Power of Draco Meteor, Altaria can easily blow massive holes in unprepared teams. This is also furthered by Altaria's access to Fire Blast, which provides outstanding coverage alongside its STAB Dragon-type attacks. Altaria greatly benefits from the declining number of relevant Fairy-types in the tier, as only two of them can actually switch into Altaria's assaults. It also has access to Dragon Dance, which allows it to potentially sweep weakened offensive teams, but such a set is fairly weak unboosted and has little early- to mid-game presence.

Not all is perfect for Altaria, however. While it can patch up its low base Special Attack with its strong Draco Meteor, base 80 Speed is nothing to write home about, especially for an offensive Pokémon in such a fast-paced tier. As a defensive Pokémon, it is severely hindered by its Flying typing, which plagues Altaria with a nasty Stealth Rock weakness.

While Camerupt is definitely the hardest of the drops to fit onto a team and often provides less support to a team than others, it still has a valuable set of traits it brings to a team. Camerupt's unique Fire / Ground typing gives it a very useful set of resistances, allowing it to check threats such as Ninetales, Klinklang, and most notably Rotom. Being one of the very few Pokémon that can almost completely shut down Rotom is a great feat, which Camerupt accomplishes by preventing Rotom from gaining momentum with Volt Switch and by acting as a Will-O-Wisp absorber. Similarly to Altaria, Camerupt can effectively utilize both offensive and defensive sets, as its typing is rather good offensively due to how many common Pokémon that resist Fire are demolished by a well-timed Earth Power.

Unfortunately, Camerupt is plagued with a middling Speed stat and a crippling 4x weakness to Water, a very prominent type in the tier. Camerupt's poor Speed hurts its offensive capabilities, as it needs to sacrifice a significant amount of bulk to outspeed some slower defensive Pokémon, and from a defensive standpoint, Camerupt is almost always forced to take a hit before responding. Coupled with a lack of recovery outside of Leftovers, it is not difficult to wear down throughout the course of a match. Camerupt is also generally eclipsed by other Stealth Rock users such as Rhydon, which can check most of what Camerupt can but with greater bulk and more resistances.

Metagame Trends

Each and every one of these new drops has had various effects on other Pokémon's usage and viability. With Sceptile as the premier revenge killer on offensive teams, Floatzel has lost a significant amount of relevance. Before the tier shift, Floatzel was the go-to revenge killer with its unique Speed tier of 115 that put it above threats such as Pyroar, Archeops, and Tauros.

Faster Pokémon in general took a fairly big hit with the introduction of Sceptile, as the previous leaders of Speed in the metagame, Archeops, Tauros, and Floatzel, are now all easily revenge killed by Sceptile, which is now seen on nearly all offensive builds. However, fast teams are still viable, as they appreciate the addition of Sceptile.

The usage and viability of Xatu has been drastically affected in many ways. Firstly, it is nearly required to run Heat Wave in order to check Steelix, which means that it loses one of U-turn and Thunder Wave, two very disruptive moves that it would greatly appreciate having. In addition, with the reintroduction of Pinsir to the tier, it is not as reliable at controlling the entry hazard game as it used to be.

The general shift of the metagame also significantly decreased the viability of certain sweepers, particularly Carracosta and Klinklang. Carracosta was favored over Barbaracle due to its higher wallbreaking capabilities and access to priority, but now its middling Speed means that it cannot outspeed Sceptile after a Shell Smash, which Barbaracle can. Klinklang is much harder to justify fitting onto teams given how extremely common Steelix is, which is a complete stop to Klinklang. While it may not be very difficult to pressure or wear down Steelix with teammates, Klinklang needs Steelix entirely removed or nearly KOed to function properly. This has been reflected by these two Pokémon dropping from the A rank to the low B rank of the viability rankings.

Before the introduction of Steelix, Rhydon was the go-to bulky Stealth Rock user on most balanced teams, but now this is far from the case. Almost all teams are favoring Steelix, as it has a better defensive typing given its lack of any 4x weaknesses compared to both of Rhydon's as well as its access to Leftovers recovery, which Rhydon envies.


With all of these brand new additions and reintroductions to the tier, there is a lot of room for innovation and creativity to experiment with. What new sets and combinations will you come up with? Get out there!

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