Posting a streak of 248
in Super Doubles. It took more revisions and silly experiments than usual to develop the team, so we'll start with these - skip ahead for the actual team used for the streak.
QR team: https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/BT-4E60-9E3E
Battle video compilation: HERE
My first encounter with Bulu was in AI Multis
, pairing up Scarf Bulu with the AI partner's Entei3 (Choice Scarf) and Mawile4. It performed unexpectedly well on a very lucky Multis streak, and eventually I wanted to use Bulu in Super Doubles as well. I'd also been itching for Firium-Z Heatran, and trying something different so at some point I threw together a basic team to try out Bulu with.
(same Scarf Bulu set as in AI Multis at this time, might've had Rock Slide over Rock Tomb)
On paper it seemed like a decent idea with good synergy: Heatran resists or is immune to all of Bulu's weaknesses. Grassy Terrain halves the damage from Earthquake, granting Heatran a permanent Shuca Berry. Greninja can use Mat Block so Bulu doesn't get hit, while Scarf Bulu hits Jolteon before it would attack Greninja; can't forget Grassy Terrain Grass Knot pumping up Sash Greninja to unexpected power levels when appropriate, and Grassy Terrain keeping Greninja's Sash intact in Sandstorm/Hail. Then for the Mega slot, I'd already ran Salamence on teams with Greninja, and it fit into a Water/Steel/Dragon core; what could possibly go wrong?
Quite a lot, as I was about to find out. Heatran was much better in theory than in practice - mine was Timid 252 Spe, and it was still very slow and unable to use its Z-move effectively. It also shared a weakness to Thunder Wave which I hadn't considered - indeed, Tapu Bulu hates paralysis and is often rendered deadweight by the status, as it depends heavily on having a Speed advantage from Scarf to function. Heatran also did poorly against paralysis, and its non-STAB Earth Power failed to cover opposing electrics that 1) paralyzed it, 2) outsped it, 3) 2HKOd it with STAB Electric attacks and 4) were not OHKO'd by Earth Power in the first place. Time for Salamence to assist with Earthquake - wait, why isn't it dealing any damage even on super-effective hits? The halved damage on EQ ended up making the match-up against opposing Electric-types that much worse, to the point its utility in helping out Heatran was overshadowed by the drawback of being unable to KO Electric-types.
This team did not go far. I stopped using it with 3 losses before reaching Battle 50, as the weaknesses and idiosyncratic synergy made apparent that this idea was a disaster.
Back to the drawing board some time later. I'd used Greninja with different, more succesful leads in the meantime (see below) and abandoned the idea of running Greninja/Bulu, and the prescription called for a different approach to the lead combination, bringing me to another thing I wanted to try: Rockium-Z Terrakion. Previously, it required Wide Lens to function - but with Rockium-Z, it could deliver a very powerful, accurate Rock STAB while carrying an useful item. Put it next to Bulu - Bulu will halve damage from EQ and remove Fire-types that threaten Terrakion, while Terrakion can punish Fire- and Steel-types that would scare Bulu off the field. The best defense is a good offense - simple and effective. What could possibly go wrong with this idea?
Latios and Mega Scizor were stock glue that worked well with Terrakion in the past, and seemed adequate in overall synergy. This team was very short-lived - I ran into Infernape in the first 20 battles, and realized that it ties Terrakion, can't be KO'd by Bulu, and can OHKO both of my leads lol what was I even thinking theorymoning this? Realizing Fire/Fighting leads were outrageously threatening to the team and difficult to handle for all its Pokémon aside from Latios, I threw it in the trash immediately and went back to the drawing board. RIP Terrakion, may you find your Rockium-Z niche in a different team... (no promises)
Terrakion failed - it failed hard, since Fire/Fighting types exist, and it could never hope to check these. This flaw called for a different lead that genuinely matches up favorably against most Fire-types, including Infernape, Mega Blaziken, Chandelure, Charizard, Heatran, Talonflame, had speed and power to form a 1-2 punch with Bulu's Wood Hammer to grab quick KOs before opponents get to move. There was one Pokémon that checked all the boxes - a familiar face that was a shadow of its former bravery, reduced to irrelevance by Game Freak's nerf bat.
Flyinium-Z Talonflame as a lead - more damage than Choice Band Brave Bird, with no recoil. At the low price of only having priority when Talonflame has full HP - to note is that if Talonflame takes no damage on Turn 1, it can use priority Brave Bird once after first expending Supersonic Skystrike. A perfect fit for Scarf Bulu's hit-and-run playstyle - hit them before they move, and get off a priority Brave Bird after snagging a fast KO on the most prominent threat first.
What I was thinking with the back-ups I can't say, but Mega Metagross and Feraligatr were Pokémon I'd bred and briefly tried in the Maison but never got to use, and they were just begging for a test run supported by situational Tailwind from Talonflame. The back-ups quickly proved inadequate - I guess there's a reason Mega Metagross and Feraligatr didn't make many appareances on the Maison leaderboards...
Further theorymon brought on a different backline that had Lightning Rod support to cover Talonflame and neutralize T-Wave paralysis, Fake Out support, and Mega Blastoise to have the option of sweeping with Tailwind. Gimmicky - but possibly effective.
This version of the team actually wasn't terrible. It made it to around 150 wins or so, and I made several adjustments to it on Raichu's set, debating between Encore/Helping Hand/Protect with Thunderbolt/Fake Out as mandatory moves. Briefly, I also experimented with 252 Spe Talonflame, rather than 252 HP; eventually moving back to 252 HP, deciding Speed after Gale Wings had been expended was less important than overall bulk and staying power.
It still wasn't enough. After a couple of attempts, the team proved too shaky against a variety of opponents, and especially Trick Room/Tailwind from opponents were very difficult to handle as Mega Blastoise Water Spout lives by moving first, and becomes low-value when circumstances fall apart. Something else was going to have to make Bulu great again - the lead combination was surprisingly effective, for including a Talonflame that had been nerfed into oblivion. Raichu's Lightning Rod was also a step in the right direction towards covering Bulu's fatal weakness to Electric-types, Magnezone, and paralysis in general. I remember trying to run Raichu as a lead at some point, to little success - Talonflame was the right lead for this particular line-up.
I liked Raichu's Lightning Rod support, but its power without boosts was underwhelming and it was a little slow for its utility role. What about a different Lightning Rod user with more Speed and the ability to go Mega?
(This version of the team is also included in the QR team, with Manectric and Moltres as 5th and 6th members to choose from.)
You can probably see where this is going. Moltres was a Firium-Z Burn Up set I really wanted to give a try, and Gastrodon was the choice to help it out. Mega Manectric was surprisingly fun to use, but I lost to having it CH'd by Sceptile4-Mega on turn 1 and then getting run over by Rock Slide and Leaf Blade and the idea wasn't too sound. Moltres might've had a niche with Burn Up on paper setting up a strong Inferno Overdrive, but being able to only use it once was a significant issue and its other moves were weak outside that. It was also Moltres, limited by its low Speed.
This team was more of a fun try to get Manectric and Moltres on the field, and it did utilize them to some extent.
I'd tried Mat Block with Bulu before, but Rage Powder/Follow Me seemed like they could possibly cover its innumerable weaknesses and bad MUs. As a pretty strong Fire-type, Sash Volcarona could also remove Steel- and Grass-types, and double as decent offense when not using Rage Powder. For the back-line, I brought a glue lineup of Waterium-Z Wash Rotom and Mega Salamence for Rotom's defensive typing, and settled on Mence as the Mega after first trying Kangaskhan and finding it ill-fitting.
Rotom-W seemed too passive and slow for a Z-move user, so I brought in a Wide Guard/Fake Out/Close Combat/Sucker Punch Hitmontop holding Fightinium-Z. The team still didn't work - Volcarona/Bulu was a weaker lead than I had hoped, especially against opposing Fire-types and Rage Powder wasn't a silver bullet to keep Bulu safe, either. It was after this that the winning combination finally came to me.
) @ Flyinium-Z
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 252 Atk / 252 HP / 4 SpD
- Brave Bird
- Flare Blitz
The same Talonflame I used in the Maison, except with Flyinium-Z. On this team, Tailwind is a highly situational move for dealing with Speed boosters or very fast opponents such as Sceptile4-Mega, or as insurance for securing the Speed advantage when Talonflame doesn't need to attack immediately and/or has lost Gale Wings and would benefit from the Speed.
PrepTheBulu (Tapu Bulu
) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
- Wood Hammer
- Rock Tomb
- Rock Slide
- Horn Leech
Jolly Scarf to outspeed Aerodactyl, Mega Gengar, Braviary3 & friends so they don't outspeed and OHKO Bulu. I tried different moves on Bulu, eventually settling for running both of Rock Tomb and Rock Slide and dropping Superpower off the set entirely - a decision that paid off, with the Rock coverage moves both having their own utility. Horn Leech is used when it OHKOs or 2HKOs foes and locking into Wood Hammer would result in equivalent KOs with more recoil damage, or when trying to preserve Bulu's HP to prevent it from dropping into KO range, or stand its ground with recovery under Trick Room.
) @ Salamencite
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
- Dragon Claw
- Dragon Dance
Dragon Claw Mega Salamence - and it's not even on a Q.R.T.O.O. team. You might remember the rant earlier about how Earthquake's damage being halved does Bulu no favors - the move is so weak in Grassy Terrain that for the DD Salamence I still insist on using, Dragon Claw is a flat out stronger coverage move to complement Double-Edge. I considered Hyper Voice and Flamethrower, but Dragon Claw proved its value with a recoil-free option against opposing Dragon-types, and being Salamence's strongest move against Electric-types.
) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 172 HP / 92 Def / 220 SpA / 12 SpD / 12 Spe
- Earth Power
- Ice Beam
- Clear Smog
Assault Vest Gastrodon, very similar to the one I used in the Maison - except feeling blue, rebred with a Modest nature, EV'd to hit 61 Speed, and HP increased by 1 to maximize Grassy Terrain recovery at 13HP per turn, taking EVs out of Defense to get spare EVs for the changes. It still does its job of having immunities to Water and Electric with Storm Drain redirection to boost on attacks aimed at it or Talonflame, battling under Trick Room, thawing out of freezes with Scald, and having the right set of resistances for switching into Bulu's and Talonflame's major weaknesses. Earth Power deals full damage under Grassy Terrain unlike Earthquake, providing much-needed Ground coverage.
I'm quite satisfied with how this team turned out, since the odds of making Bulu work were slim to say the least, and there were a variety of hurdles with Gale Wings having been nerfed. The lead combo is simple and reminiscent of Team Leer
- priority Supersonic Skystrike hits harder than CB Brave Bird, and Bulu's scarfed Wood Hammer is one of the fastest, most powerful attacks to fire off on Turn 1. The back-ups are the same as on the old Triples team, covering Talonflame's weaknesses and doubling up on birdspam - in spite of Salamence sharing a weakness to Ice with Tapu Bulu, it's still the Mega that is best equipped for supporting Bulu's offensive playstyle.
Bulu has a lot of match-ups it struggles with. Its Grass STAB is resisted by over a third of Tree opponents, including all Fire-types, Dragons other than Garchomp and Flygon, it suffers excessive Wood Hammer recoil and has low base HP, and Grass/Fairy typing gives it weaknesses to Poison, Steel, Flying, Fire, and Ice - difficult weaknesses to cover, with risk of status and many strong attacks to fear. Rather than try to defend Bulu, leading with Z-Talonflame is more focused on hit-and-run with fast KOs and defending Bulu with a strong offense - Gastrodon completes the FWG core with good defensive and offensive synergy between the three Pokémon, and as a lead Bulu also does well against users of STAB Water attacks that would limit Talonflame's presence.
Limited control and one-dimensional offense has its limits, especially when Bulu cannot deal damage due to its main STAB being resisted - in these cases it can 1) switch out, 2) use Rock Tomb for some damage and a Speed drop with 95% accuracy, or 3) click Rock Slide and get chip damage while having a chance of lucking out with flinches. Initially I had Superpower on the set, but it failed to net the OHKOs that would've been truly valuable such as Drampa3/Bouffalant4 (Sap Sipper users) and is the worst move in the game to lock into on a Choice set. Without Superpower, Bulu is helpless against Steel-types - but in practice this wasn't really a problem, as the team is not dependent on Bulu to handle these, and Superpower is very low-value against the most threatening Steels in Metagross4-Mega, Mawile, Heatran, and Magnezone - the former two are hit harder by resisted Wood Hammer, and it lacks the power to take out Heatran which outspeeds and OHKOs Bulu on Set4, forcing it to switch out of this set possibility immediately.
The threat list for the team is quite long, since Bulu has more than a few glaring holes.
-Colress is the worst special trainer to face, with most of his sets resisting Bulu's STAB and many OHKOing it in return.
-Queenly Majesty and Dazzling, from Tsareena and Bruxish respectively, block Gale Wings attacks. Never risk using Skystrike or Brave Bird if either of these Pokémon is on the field, and consider using Tailwind then taking a non-fatal hit, or attacking with Flare Blitz to disable Gale Wings if the situation is dire and Talonflame needs to deploy its Flying STAB while these abilities are active. Quick Guard I never encountered during this streak; Cobalion4 is its only user, and it would usually either Protect or try to use Iron Head on Bulu.
-Metagross, Mawile, Intimidate trainers, Salamence stand out as major problems that require a lot of switching to reset Intimidate, Rock Tomb control, or getting lucky with abilities to face, and as seen in some of the losses the team can get run over rather easily by a poor match-up.
-Other threats include: Drampa3 (Quick Claw), Uxie3 (Quick Claw, 2HKOs Gastrodon with Energy Ball), Entei (may target either Bulu or Talonflame, or be Set3 with Scarf Eruption which demands Skystrike or Brave Bird immediately, Hail/Sandstorm breaking Gale Wings and limiting options, Sceptile4-Mega outspeeding the whole team and threatening Rock Slide flinches (extremely threatening if Gale Wings is not active - Rock Tomb to slow it down is an option)
-With Set3 and Set4 both being common, there's a bunch more sets that have a possibility of carrying a Grass-type move for hurting Gastrodon than in the Maison. I don't have a list of them all but Grass attacks boosted by Grassy Terrain leave Gastrodon in a world of pain, so stay on your toes and don't forget to always be aware of enemy sets. Grassy Terrain fortunately only boosts attacks from Pokémon that are grounded, so Levitate users are not boosted.
In the process of this streak I discovered that Uxie3 prefers Psyshock over Thunder on Mega Salamence - maybe this was posted earlier in the thread, but speculatively the AI is calculating Psyshock as a special move with 120BP and not accounting for its property of targeting Defense. In one of the battle videos I only won thanks to this quirk, and would have lost otherwise in a 1v1 endgame situation.
Grass Knot use on Gastrodon is slightly erratic. Sometimes the AI wants to use it, but not always, and on one occasion I saw Samurott4 fire Ice Beam into Gastrodon's slot over Grass Knot. In the Maison the AI was also somewhat broken, but I can't say if it's the same kind of busted this time around, only that something is wrong with it and it occasionally has trouble picking it as its strongest move.
I found there were quite a few pitfalls with playing this team, and whether to overkill with Z-move, or try and preserve for later in the battle is a difficult decision. My priorities in order of preference are:
1. Gale Wings on Talonflame intact, Z-move unused - this is a pipe dream, and mostly available when switching out Talonflame on Turn 1 against relatively benign leads while Bulu isn't threatened
2. Gale Wings on Talonflame intact, Z-move blown - even if Brave Bird would be enough to net a KO and Skystrike is not necessary, using the Z-move keeps Talonflame's HP at full and lets it use priority Brave Bird after. It's a tradeoff between having +1 Brave Bird, or +0 Supersonic Skystrike later in the battle - and the priority advantage tips this in the former's favor for consistent utility and speed.
3. Gale Wings on Talonflame lost and Z-move unused, Tailwind active - this is an option for rare situations where Talonflame doesn't have to attack, and can instead regain a Speed advantage using Tailwind so it doesn't mind having lost Gale Wings.
4. Gale Wings lost, Z-move used - you can't always get everything you want, and against threats that must be taken out with Skystrike ASAP this is frequently the result - with 252HP, Talonflame can survive more than you'd expect after its initial Skystrike having no recoil, and have a chance of using one more attack later.
This is Talonflame's overall plan, Bulu is also a consideration but generally a lower-importance team member and more difficult to preserve. Against Ace Trainer Lea and Ace Trainer Sylvia, every single set they run resists Bulu's STAB, and Bulu should be given little care as it's likely not worth preserving against these foes outside trying to luck out with Rock Slide. The leads lack control, so often saccing a lead and trading is the safest way to proceed when there are no safe switch options. Most commonly, Gastrodon is the switch option for both Talonflame and Bulu - it's also possible to switch it in Bulu's place to redirect Hydro Pump/Waterfall/Hydro Vortex away from Talonflame's slot. Salamence is generally more important to preserve and vulnerable to status, crits, and so forth and it may have to take Double-Edge recoil on top later, but occasionally double switching and getting in Intimidate is worth the risk.
This team was a lot of fun to theorymon and play for me despite its inherent flaws, and I'm more satisfied with this streak personally than with my Lee/Koko one. Bulu is a charming Pokémon and getting to use Talonflame after its nerf is a rare treat - I've not managed to think of anything better suited for the role yet. My goal with Bulu was to break 200 wins, and I met it after losing several times with this version (some, but not all included in the battle video compilation).
The losing battle (#249) I'm not happy about - if I had targeted Mega Venusaur instead of Whimsicott late in the battle, I had a chance of winning. But I survived many very close battles through great luck, and the streak overall met my goal so it was "about time" for Bulu to meet its maker. For now this is my last attempt with Bulu, but USUM and its tutors around the corner, the bull might just get new life and warrant a second try.
I was going to post a 606-win streak with Greninja/Xurkitree/Salamence-M/Aegislash as a placeholder, but the battle video was from an older version of the game and not uploadable lol and the time to post a full writeup of it is not today. I wasn't satisfied with this result and did more attempts, and will do more still so this team remains a work in progress; write-up and full details coming up when it's done.
Here is a fixed QR team of Team Brexit with Double-Edge on Kangaskhan making it usable for QR: https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/BT-21CF-4E1E