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Golem's Rock / Ground typing makes it a strong attacker that crucially hard counters Zapdos and Jolteon while resisting Normal-type attacks. QuakeSlide coverage is completely unresisted in RBY, and off its very high Attack stat, Golem can 2HKO Pokemon like Rhydon, Zapdos, and Alakazam. This makes Golem excellent at bullying paralyzed Pokemon, but what tops this all off is Explosion. Golem's Explosion, while just shy of Snorlax's Self-Destruct's strength, is terrifyingly strong, even having a chance to OHKO Starmie. Thanks to Explosion, Golem is likely to at least break even against most Pokemon, and this has kept it relevant for decades.
However, Golem is very slow and has devastating weaknesses to most common special attacks; it has to run from Blizzard, Surf, Razor Leaf, and whatnot. Even neutral special hits, such as Psychics, will deal significant damage to Golem. Further, being so slow means Golem gets forced to use Explosion in many one-on-one fights. Due to these two setbacks, Golem is very reliant on enemy teams being riddled with paralysis before it gets going. Plus, while Explosion can theoretically compensate for Golem's Speed and let it break even frequently, Golem generally shouldn't use Explosion until the opponent's Zapdos or Jolteon is accounted for, lest its team crumble. Therefore, decision-making with Explosion is difficult until Zapdos or Jolteon are paralyzed or KOed, after which it can be deployed more freely and actually exert offensive pressure. This can make its role seem a little paradoxical to the uninitiated.
Golem famously fell from RBY OU in 2019, ending a long-standing battle between it and Rhydon for places on competitive teams. Understanding this is important, as while many teams can use Golem adequately, they tend to be better off with Rhydon instead. This is because Rhydon has a higher Attack stat, which allows it to achieve damage thresholds like 2HKOing Chansey and rarely Starmie. It's also capable of sometimes 3HKOing Slowbro, defusing a key threat if it switches in on a Rest. The extra damage output against Exeggutor, Rhydon's and Golem's biggest counter and most common switch-in when present, is also a key advantage Rhydon has over Golem; Exeggutor cannot safely switch in as much as it would like against the rocky rhino. Additionally, Rhydon is bulkier despite Golem's better Defense and Special thanks to its higher HP, which also enables 104 HP Substitutes to stomach a Seismic Toss or Night Shade. This quirk helps Rhydon reliably run and use Substitute in general, which also means it can fish for Substitutes in situations where Golem is forced to use Explosion, making it even harder for Golem to justify itself on teams. Regardless, Golem's strong perks over Rhydon remain recognized: possessing the second-strongest self-KO move and outrunning Rhydon allow it to indisputably succeed over Rhydon on highly specific teams.
move 1: Rock Slide
move 2: Earthquake
move 3: Body Slam
move 4: Explosion
QuakeSlide coverage allows Golem to hit the entire RBY roster for at least neutral damage. Rock Slide potentially OHKOes Articuno, Moltres, and Jynx; it also 2HKOes Zapdos and sometimes Dragonite. Earthquake is Golem's strongest attack without drawbacks and should be used liberally; it can OHKO Gengar and Jolteon, as well as 2HKOing Alakazam and Rhydon. Body Slam lets Golem be more self-sufficient in the paralysis-spreading effort, and it's useful to potentially incapacitate its checks like Starmie and Exeggutor.
What defines Golem, however, is Explosion. The dream of a Golem player is to beat out the opposing Zapdos or Jolteon late-game, then use Explosion on the opponent's last healthy Pokemon. This is a difficult dream to attain, but not impossible. Golem should ideally use Explosion very late into a game; usually, this is when the trade is clearly game-winning and the potential Electric-type threat has been accounted for. If Golem uses Explosion before Zapdos or Jolteon is revealed, its team may fall apart. Knowing common team structures and strategies involving these Pokemon is essential to predict if Explosion is safe prior to the last Pokemon being revealed. Tauros, Snorlax, and Chansey are omnipresent, so this can alleviate prediction by a chunk. Golem should ideally use Explosion against Starmie, which normally threatens Golem's partners with its sublime coverage and Speed. Starmie should ideally be ever-so-slightly chipped or paralyzed before doing this, as an OHKO isn't guaranteed. If Starmie lacks Surf, Golem can add the chip damage itself, as a Blizzard from Starmie maxes out at 79.3% without a critical hit. If Starmie isn't present or is already KOed, Golem can also use Explosion on Chansey or Snorlax to pave the way for Tauros. Outside of this, Explosion can be a handy contingency plan in the event Slowbro snowballs out of control.
Golem is frequently pushed out by Rhydon on teams, as its Explosion and favorable matchup against its rocky friend are typically unnecessary. Parties that require these traits typically use Pokemon like Moltres, which appreciate a better matchup against both Rhydon- and Zapdos-centric teams. Outside of this, teams that can't afford to compress the self-KO role onto Snorlax with Self-Destruct, or that wish to use an Explosion user alongside it, can also utilize Golem over Rhydon. Teams that feature many Explosion users—"Boom Offense"—will always include Golem, but these rarely see competitive success due to their extreme lack of defensive utility and the level of bulk present in RBY OU.
Customizing Golem usually involves looking at what it has over Rhydon, but engaging in this tends to be a fool's errand when looking beyond Explosion. If you must customize Golem, Body Slam is the most replaceable option, but note that this means its team will need at least one more reliable paralysis-spreading Pokemon to be effective.
Golem can run Substitute to try and be like its brother Rhydon, but at that point, it's usually better to bite the bullet and use the rock-solid rhinoceros. The utility of having both Substitute and Explosion is typically just not enough. Fire Blast can burn Exeggutor switching in, effectively ruining its Explosion, but it deals just barely more damage than Rock Slide, and Golem is usually forced out thereafter anyway. Defense Curl or Harden can let Golem consistently wall Snorlax and reapply the Speed drop from paralysis, but these perks are dubious at best in respect to what Golem wants to do.
Checks and Counters
**Exeggutor**: Exeggutor can switch into Golem's Earthquake and threaten it with Sleep Powder or a very damaging Psychic, forcing it out and letting the player gain significant momentum. Mega Drain variants are particularly soul-crushing, almost OHKOing Golem while letting Exeggutor recover almost half its HP. Once Exeggutor is at half HP and paralyzed, however, it can no longer switch in, as it's in Rock Slide's 2HKO range.
**Super Effective Coverage**: It's hard to name a Pokemon in RBY OU that doesn't have a super effective move against Golem. Any Pokemon with Surf or Razor Leaf, such as Starmie, Venusaur, or Victreebel, can OHKO Golem outright. Blizzard or Ice Beam users like Starmie, Chansey, Articuno, Tauros, and Amnesia Snorlax can also deal significant-to-heavy damage to Golem. Even Rhydon's Earthquake can deal massive damage, 2HKOing Golem. Golem can usually take a single non-STAB Blizzard from full HP though, so keep this in mind in case the Golem player feels the need for a risky trade.
**Reflect Normal-types**: Reflect Snorlax doesn't care about anything Golem can throw at it, effortlessly trading blows with it. If it has Ice Beam as its fourth move of choice, the matchup becomes completely unwinnable. The best Golem can offer in the matchup is using Explosion before Snorlax can use Reflect, after Reflect has already been revealed previously in the game, but this should only be done in desperate situations. Reflect Chansey can perform similar feats, being just fast enough to use Reflect before Golem can use Explosion by default, but it should be at least a little afraid if paralyzed without having Reflect set up.
**Starmie**: While it's afraid of Body Slam paralysis, Starmie normally runs at least one super effective move against Golem, namely Surf or Blizzard. Surf OHKOes Golem outright, while Blizzard deals up to 79.8%. Unlike Rhydon, Golem can't 2HKO Starmie without a very lucky critical hit or following up an attack with Explosion. While Golem does like to use Explosion against Starmie, the matchup remains a bad situation for it in a vacuum. Golem can only outright win this matchup if Starmie has taken prior damage and paralysis, which in turn would open up offensive opportunities for other Pokemon, such as making an Alakazam or Tauros end-game far more likely.
**Cloyster**: You know it's bad when Clamp deals over half a Pokemon's HP. While Cloyster greatly fears a Rock Slide from Golem, especially if paralyzed, it can use Blizzard to potentially OHKO Golem in return, or Clamp—liberally—to scout for its switch-in.
- Written by: [[May, 236353]]
- Previous version by: [[ShuckleDeath, 273347]]
- Quality checked by: [[Amaranth, 265630], [FriendOfMrGolem120, 424525], [Sceptross, 123746]]
- Grammar checked by: [[Astra, 240732], [Lumari, 232216], [Finland, 517429], [name, id]]