Z-Moves: Do's and Don'ts

By erisia and DennisEG.
« Previous Article Next Article »
Z-Move Art

Art by TeraVolt.

Introduction: What are Z-Moves?

Z-Moves are Generation 7's gimmick of choice and require a special Z-crystal to be used in a Pokemon's item slot. Only one Z-Move can be used per team in a match, and while they're not compulsory it's usually worth fitting one onto your team somewhere. Damaging Z-Moves take a regular physical or special attack and give it a much higher Base Power, without any of the primary or secondary effects. Status Z-Moves are completely different, taking a regular status move and adding new effects that make the move significantly more powerful as a one-off. You can run multiple Z-crystals on a team, but once you use a Z-Move, the other(s) become unavailable, so it's generally not advised. Z-Moves also can only be used once per battle. With the basics being covered, here are some points to consider about how to use Z-Moves and in what circumstances you should and shouldn't use them over other options. We've also provided a few sample sets so you can start building around these new threats immediately!

DO use Z-Moves to lure in typical checks with a strong coverage or STAB attack.

Damaging Z-Moves can often have double the strength of typical attacks such as Shadow Ball, Dark Pulse, and Shadow Claw, giving users of these moves a much more powerful one-off hit that can overwhelm checks. Any drawbacks are also ignored with Z-Moves, so moves such as Focus Blast, Draco Meteor, and Solar Beam can be used more reliably as potent coverage options without having to worry about poor accuracy, stat drops, or charge turns. Here are some Pokémon that make particularly good use of the power and coverage these damaging Z-Moves can provide:


Magma Storm is a powerful STAB attack that lets Heatran trap switch-ins such as Rotom-W, Slowbro, and Tapu Fini. Z-Solar Beam is then an extremely powerful hit that usually KOes these bulky Water-types in conjunction with Magma Storm recoil; this set is particularly viable on Heatran, as there is no opportunity for the Water-types to switch out. This can be highly helpful for teammates such as Landorus-T and Terrakion that might otherwise struggle to break through these Water-types.


Mimikyu has plenty of setup opportunites thanks to its good typing and Disguise, but even a +2 Shadow Claw can sometimes be lacking in power against targets such as Skarmory and Toxapex. Ghostium-Z turns Shadow Claw into a 140-BP Never-Ending Nightmare that can heavily cripple these targets before securing the KO or forcing a switch after they expect to tank a hit. As Mimikyu often runs a Lum Berry to deter status users, it can usually pull off this trick reasonably well, as these targets would be loath to switch out to avoid the hit and potentially let Mimikyu boost up even further.


This set is an excellent example of using Z-Moves offensively, as it both gives Landorus-T a strong secondary STAB attack and lets it lure in typical checks such as Tangrowth and Tapu Bulu. This lets Landorus-T break through teams more effectively and allows a teammate such as Mega Gyarados to secure a sweep much more easily with these bulky targets being removed. Alternatively, it can sweep itself by running Rock Polish, with Fly's drawback being less significant after Landorus manages to land a 175-BP Supersonic Strike.

Of course, almost any offensive Pokémon can run a Z-Move to provide a more powerful STAB attack or coverage move to lure in specific checks. Some other good examples include Fightinium Z Kartana (using Sacred Sword to deal with Skarmory), Normalium Z Volcarona (using Quiver Dance and Hyper Beam to cripple the likes of Gyarados, Mega Charizard X, and Toxapex at the same time) and Fairium Z Magearna (using Fleur Cannon and Soul Heart to spam extremely powerful Fairy-type attacks while minimizing stat drops).

DON'T use Z-Moves expecting beneficial secondary effects from damaging moves and most good status moves.

It can sometimes be easy to forget that damaging Z-Moves do not carry over any favorable secondary effects from their base moves, so don't expect your 100-BP Breakneck Blitz from a Rapid Spin to be able to remove any hazards, or for a 100-BP Hydro Vortex from your Azumarill's Aqua Jet to land before that Tapu Koko strikes back. You're much better off using these Z-Moves with strong base attacks, where potential drawbacks such as charge turns and stat drops are nullified. It can also be tempting to assume that using a Z-crystal in conjunction with already good status moves such as Quiver Dance, Recover, and Stealth Rock will make them even more effective, but this is rarely the case. The vast majority of good status moves simply remove stat debuffs with their Z-power or provide minor, inconsequential boosts to Defense or Special Defense, not justifying the cost of running a Z-crystal as opposed to, say, a White Herb or Leftovers. Make sure to look up a status move's Z-effect before committing it to your team; the best ones are usually those that boost Speed and open up new opportunities for slower Pokemon, or provide an offensive niche such as Z-Mirror Move (gives +2 Attack while potentially KOing the target with the Z-Move corresponding to their last attack) or Z-Me First (gives +2 Speed while potentially KOing the target with the Z-Move corresponding to the attack they selected that turn).

DO use status Z-Moves to provide Pokémon with new or improved roles.

Many status Z-Moves significantly buff their old moves, such as Memento, Parting Shot, and Belly Drum, vastly increasing the utility of their users. Meanwhile, other status moves receive entirely new effects that let Pokémon fulfill previously unavailable roles, such as a setup sweeper or improved defensive tank. Here are some examples that are currently turning heads on the ladder:


Z-Belly Drum restores the user's HP before subtracting the 50%, ensuring that Azumarill can be used throughout the game and still pull off a sweep in the late-game without issues. It also prevents foes from being able to block Belly Drum by intercepting it with faster attacks, unless they manage to outright KO Azumarill. Once Belly Drum is set up, Azumarill can break down the opposing team between its powerful wallbreaking moves and potent Aqua Jet.


Z-Electric Terrain not only buffs Xurkitree's Electric-type attacks by 50%; it also provides a +1 boost to Speed, allowing it to clean up weakened offensive teams with its immensely powerful Thunderbolt. While Xurkitree is already a good wallbreaker due to its naturally high Special Attack and access to Tail Glow, this Z-Move makes it much more effective against offensive teams where their main checks to it are faster, non-priority attackers such as Dugtrio and offensive Landorus-T.

Alolan Persian

Although a niche choice, Alolan Persian can see some use due to its decent physical bulk thanks to Fur Coat, high Speed, and access to Z-Parting Shot, which not only decreases the Attack and Special Attack of the opposing Pokémon while switching Alolan Persian out but also fully restores the recipient's HP as it switches in. This turns Alolan Persian into a viable pivot for recoil heavy wallbreakers such as Tapu Bulu or setup sweepers that want a second shot at life such as Dragonite and Mega Charizard X.

Again, this doesn't nearly exhaust the list of new threats created by status Z-Moves; other examples include Z-Happy Hour Jirachi (which makes Iron Head and Heart Stamp flinches much more threatening due to the +1 boost to Attack and Speed, as well as buffed defenses), Z-Heal Block Latios (using the +2 Special Attack boost and lock on recovery to lure in Chansey and other specially defensive tanks and beat them with Psyshock), and Z-Memento Whimsicott (which cripples any threatening foe that isn't a Dark-type via Prankster while also bringing a teammate back to full health).

DON'T use Pikachu.


While 10,000,000 Volt Thunderbolt has a lot of numbers in its name and Catastropika has the highest BP of any Z-Move around, these moves are generally worse than regular attacks coming off Pikachu with a Light Ball, which still isn't worth using in any serious metagame anyways. Keep this one on the cartridge. That said, keep in mind that some other useful Pokémon get signature Z-Moves; Mew can use a 185-BP Genesis Supernova that doubles up as a powerful Psychic-type attack and a one-time setting of Psychic Terrain after the move lands to help support its teammates. Alternatively, Alolan Raichu can come in after Tapu Koko and land a devastating 175-BP Stoked Sparksurfer that also paralyzes any incoming target, punishing non-Ground-type switch-ins such as Mega Charizard X or Tapu Bulu. However, you should always choose a Z-Move to suit your team, not the other way around, as there may be matchups where you can't afford to rely on a one-off move to win.

DO use Z-Moves to add versatility to a Pokemon.

Because most Z-crystals are not tied to specific moves, they can have multiple uses on Pokémon that have more than one move of the corresponding type. This can give Pokémon the extra flexibility they need to be effective and add role-compression to a team without necessarily compromising on power or coverage. This is often the most efficient way of using Z-Crystals, ensuring that they can be used in a variety of different circumstances. Here are some Pokémon that embody this flexibility:

Porygon Z

Z-Conversion boosts all of Porygon-Z's stats by +1, making it an extremely powerful, fast, and bulky sweeper while also changing its primary attacking type. Thunderbolt turns Porygon-Z into an Electric-type and thus makes it immune to paralysis, Psyshock lets Porygon-Z break through special walls with ease, while Shadow Ball gives Porygon-Z decent neutral coverage between two moves and a good defensive typing, which allows it to use Recover effectively. Meanwhile, Ice Beam and Hidden Power Fire can be used to fill gaps in Porygon-Z's coverage, depending on its STAB attack of choice. Alternatively, Normalium-Z can be used to boost Tri Attack and land a 160-BP hit in a pinch.

Hoopa Unbound

Z-Snatch provides Hoopa-U with a +2 boost to Speed, potentially letting it sweep weakened teams, especially under the influence of Psychic Terrain. It could also potentially nab Hoopa-U an extra stat boost or some recovery depending on how lucky the user is, with both physical and special sets being similarly viable. Meanwhile, Darkium Z can also be used to provide a super-powerful Dark-type attack if Hoopa-U doesn't have the opportunity to boost.


Z-Rain Dance not only boosts Manaphy's STAB attacks and grants it temporary immunity to status, it also gives Manaphy a +1 Speed boost that potentially lets it get past usual threats such as Tapu Koko and Mega Alakazam. Alternatively, Waterium Z can be used together with Surf after a Tail Glow boost to give Manaphy an immensely powerful 175-BP Hydro Vortex that will OHKO most non-immune Pokémon outright. Many other Pokémon can also use Z-crystals in a similar way, including Firium Z Sunny Day Heatran, which can either use Sunny Day to get the +1 Speed while boosting Fire Blast and enabling Solar Beam or simply throw out a 185-BP Inferno Overdrive instead.

DON'T use Z-Moves when you don't need to.

While Z-Moves are indeed powerful, there is significant opportunity cost to using them, both in terms of fitting them onto your team and when using them during battle. As stated earlier, while you can run Z-crystals on all of your team members, only one Z-Move can be used per match, so this essentially forfeits these remaining item slots afterwards and is rarely worth doing. Secondly, while most Pokémon appreciate a stronger one-off STAB attack that a Z-Move provides, others rely more on other items to be effective, such as Gliscor and Scizor. A Pokémon may also prefer the overall damage boost from Life Orb, which affects all of a Pokemon's coverage moves and can often be preferable to a larger boost to a single move; Protean Greninja is an excellent example. Another key point is to conserve Z-Moves until they have a chance to make the most impact in a match; Z-Conversion Porygon-Z might be a powerful threat, but it is significantly easier to deal with in the early-game, when the opponent still has a healthy team to respond with. Similarly, as Z-Moves can only be used once per match, be wary of using them if the opponent can easily play around them by switching in an immune Pokemon, such as bringing Mega Sableye into a Shattered Psyche, Breakneck Blitz, or All-Out Pummeling. Flinches, paralysis, and confusion also waste your one Z-Move opportunity, so don't risk using Z-Moves unnecessarily under these conditions and others! And while Protect doesn't completely block damaging Z-Moves, it can reduce the damage from them to the point of them being a non-issue, especially if the Protect user also has reliable recovery. While it is difficult to determine with certainty whether a Pokémon is running a Z-Move or not in the early game, as sets become more standard, plays like this may become more commonplace.

Get out there!

Like them or not, Z-Moves are going to be one of the defining features of the Sun and Moon metagames, so make sure to prepare for them either when building your own teams or trying to defend yourself from the opposition. We hope that this article has provided some good understanding about which ways Z-crystals can be useful and in what situations you're better off just using regular items. DennisEG has provided an offensive team that makes good use of Steelium-Z Kartana to lure in and OHKO checks such as Mega Venusaur and Landorus-T after a Swords Dance boost.

Kartana Keldeo Alolan Marowak Tapu Koko Latios Landorus Therian

Kartana @ Steelium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Sacred Sword
- Swords Dance
- Leaf Blade
- Smart Strike

Keldeo-Resolute @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Justified
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 1 Atk
- Secret Sword
- Scald
- Hydro Pump
- Hidden Power Electric

Marowak-Alola @ Thick Club
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 120 HP / 252 Atk / 136 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Bonemerang
- Will-O-Wisp
- Shadow Bone
- Flare Blitz

Tapu Koko @ Zap Plate
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def
- Thunderbolt
- Hidden Power Ice
- Dazzling Gleam
- Volt Switch

Latios @ Soul Dew
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 32 HP / 224 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Defog
- Draco Meteor
- Psyshock
- Roost

Landorus-Therian @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 224 Def / 8 SpD / 24 Spe
Impish Nature
- U-turn
- Stealth Rock
- Earthquake
- Toxic

HTML by scpinion | Script by Toast++.
« Previous Article Next Article »