Howdy. Being that it's been almost a generation and some three RUTL's since i last posted one of these, I felt it only right to touch down on this metagame. Recently myself and a fair few others have been pleasantly surprised at just how enjoyable the Rarelyused metagame has become, and at the risk of sounding overly prideful I might argue that it is in strong contention for the best SM tier; the balance that has been struck at a time where power creep has become so evident in the lower tiers that we can hardly, if ever, respond to all threats in a conventional fashion is pleasantly surprising, and in spite of obvious centralization we have maintained a fairly significant level of diversity. Bearing all that in mind, we've reached a juncture where both the tier is shifting in a meaningful way and the tour scene around it grows barren, and to that end i figure it as good a time as any to retire a team. At this point in my "career" I would say I'm well over the hill as a player, mulling around mostly as a tastemaker of sorts, and to that end I figure feeding back into the tier in this way is really the only thing i can do for all the tour slots I've held up over a more competent up-and-comer.
The following team is one that has not seen any major tour success or ladder achievements, existing dominantly as a conglomerate of various sets and concepts I have in recent months advocated for in the era of SM RU spanning from the mid-to-late period of SPL right until about the end of RUPL. In this way i feel the team very much captures the zeitgeist of the metagame, including perhaps facets that, if i may be so bold, i feel i popularized. The first inklings of this team could be traced back to the halfway point of SPL, a time where Spike usage had hit a market low. Personally, I had viewed Spikes to be one of the ultimate facilitators to what might have been seen as the best overarching concept at the time, the overload-based bulky offenses (think Gardevoir /Ttyrantrum / Shaymin). While Bronzong was the steel of choice at this time, the deceptive impact of that extra hazard damage on the secondary and tertiary checks really made the difference in games, and I felt these teams had every ability to ensure this. Ultimately though, the log line was to build a balance team that made use of more proactive options to 1-up the tendency of most to "beat fat". At a glance, the final result of this is fairly mundane and run-of-the-mill, and i would agree with that assessment, but nonetheless I deemed there were enough unique characteristics to share it here. I won't disclose my speed creep but know that it was included, make your own judgement call here if you choose to use it.
Steelix @ Steelixite*****Atlantic City
EVs: 212 HP / 56 Atk / 196 SpD / 44 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Ice Fang
In spite of Steelix's obvious prowess as a defensive pokemon, I feel as though it has more than ever before showcased itself as a Pokemon that only truly shines when the builder is extremely cognizant of the pace being set; for as natural as it has become for your average RU player to build their offenses in such a way that exploits passive play from Steel-types, even moreso is it to punish those lacking recovery. This notion can too be observed in Escavalier, a pokemon that in theory is a massive asset to bulky offenses and balances but finds itself caught up in this same scenario wherein a key mispredict or simple aggressive push from the opponent opens the team up to their follow-up Meloetta or, perhaps more applicable to Steelix, Tyrantrum. While Bronzong and Registeel are similarly susceptible to these tactics, access to leftovers alongside the likely protect grant them an ability to rebound almost entirely unseen in the alternate steels, which to me has led me away from utilizing Steelix in a fully defensive context, as it has been observed in the majority of contexts prior to this metagame.
I touched upon the broader details of this set in a post during the the tail end of SPL, citing my dissatisfaction with the circulating standard of Curse + Heavy Slam in a metagame bereft of teams that desperate to keep hazards off that they would immediately instigate a Gligar solo attempt (particularly in a metagame that was so often relying upon Rotom-C instead). As i might view it, this Steelix is perfect in a capacity that allows for but doesn't necessarily mandate fast-and-loose play; it remains dangerous enough to present a tangible risk when attempting to hard switch a [Defog] Rotom-C or lock Head Smash with Tyrantrum, but can just as quickly be foddered out to keep a Salazzle or Dragon Dance Flygon and / or Zygarde from attempting a run of it. It's role as a Volt Switch immunity plays similarly to this, as poisoning a Rotom forme can generally be viewed as a 1-for-1 trade, but lend itself to a strong end-game from either Milotic or Noivern. Moreover, Steelix's ability to prompt non-STAB choice locks from Tyrantrum offer a window to Necrozma to set up a la The Art of Peer Pressure, granting it a fairly complex array of support options to the team beyond the immediate. the given EV spread outpaces Doublade and 2HKOs after 2 Stealth Rock or 1 Spikes switch, while surviving (amongst various other things) 3 Specs Moonblasts from Gardevoir.
Milotic @ Leftovers*****Used Cars
EVs: 252 HP / 244 Def / 12 SpD
- Ice Beam
- Dragon Tail
More than anything other Pokemon, I would argue that Milotic defines SM RU, to the point where its brief falling off in the latter end of SPL can in retrospect be observed almost exclusively as fatigue and paranoia that someone would find a way to exploit it (but somehow the world was not yet ready for Perish Trap Jynx). As i see things, Milotic is representative of the ideal bulky water, capable of teching itself both in investment and moveset to tackle pretty much anything you'd need of it, all while maintaining the recovery, moderate speed, and type purity to avoid being totally overturned by meta trends. Speaking of, I feel this most recent upheaval in usage is too a product of metagame trends, which once again stems from a matter of activity as a Pokemon; the accepted standards once ran on Milotic, commonly some combination of Toxic, Haze, Refresh, and Mirror Coat in the final two slots, have to me continued to be viable in certain contexts, but as broad standards have failed to account for a shift in immediacy certain threats have prompted teams to respond with.
Again this is a team I touched upon in the thread linked earlier, and the emphasis on making more direct pushes is evident here. Even Ice Beam and Dragon Tail to me and the folks that play with and against it are something of a game changer, cutting down the ability for the plethora of Grass-types to pivot in exponentially and drastically effect the way bulky offenses look to play and pivot around it should they be lacking such a Grass, including the possibility of partial trapping. Competitive as a tool on defensive sets is something that I was not seeing explored much prior to this point, but is all the more overbearing for Defog balances, as the ability to maneuver around a durable, passively +2 Pokemon becomes as strong a penalty as Spikes balances can realistically incur upon opposing teams. Synergistically, I find this set to be about as perfectly paired with Spikes Roserade as one could hope, as the the major conceit of this set becomes the inability to truly provide status absorption, with even the typical Scald burn really reaping long-term benefits for the opponent in a way that is not as consistent with Marvel Scale variants. The given EV spread is incredibly straightforward, with the Special Defense investment being just enough to avoid the 2HKO from Modest Nidoqueen's Earth Power and Timid Blastoise's Dark Pulse after Stealth Rock.
Roserade @ Life Orb*****Open All Night
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 116 HP / 44 Def / 120 SpA / 228 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Giga Drain
- Sludge Bomb
As I had mentioned prior, Spikes Roserade was more-or-less a fundamental component to the working concept I went into building with; even at the peak of Spikes usage on Roserade, I oftentimes observed it being more of a secondary to it as an attacker, which to me vastly undersells the utility of it. Seemingly in contrast to many of the choices made throughout this team, the Roserade I use takes a step back from its typically very offensive roots, running a set built around a level of long-term sustainability due primarily to the importance of its role on the team as a Spiker and status absorber. Initial variants of this team ran a mildly different set, being slightly slower with Black Sludge, however in time this too was opted out for a more offensive variation with Life Orb. While not widely applicable, the combination fo bulk, Speed, and power Roserade possesses makes it uniquely effective in incorporating Life Orb this way, allowing it to secure its performance against Pokemon such as Shaymin, Blastoise, and Gardevoir. Beyond these match-ups, it is oftentimes resigned to playing much as a purely defensive spiker would, given it's resistance set and Toxic immunity really does provide numerous opportunities, especially as Registeel returns to favour.
The EV spread here is moderately convoluted, but serves very specific purpose to its role on the team. The given investment in HP allows it to live both Modest M-Blastoise's Ice Beam after Stealth Rock damage and Modest LO Nidoqueen's Ice Beam from full, with the supplementary Defense EVs specifically allowing it to survive Jolly Choice Band Zygarde's Thousand Arrows from full, though it provides supplementary value against Pokemon such as Insect Plate Golisopod and Swords Dance Virizion. Speaking offensively, the major threshold this spread hits is the ability to 2HKO 4/0 Nidoqueen from full, but also allows for favourable odds in OHKOing fast Blastoise after Stealth Rock, standard Shaymin from full, and ensures Virizion after Stealth Rock and a layer of Spikes and offensive Noivern after Stealth Rock and Poison damage. Naturally Hidden Power Fire is an option to some extent with this set, but given the more passive [and by extension Spike-prone] nature of most Steel-types in this tier, it does generally behoove the use of Sludge Bomb, which allows Roserade to much more actively apply pressure to the Grass- and Dragon-types that you will find making more dangerous use of free turns. Speed is obviously crucial to accruing value from these benchmarks, and I would argue that almost any Roserade below 285 Speed is ineffectual at this point, and given this I decided the most optimal mark was 300 Speed for both Rotom-A as a tool to punish Defog and Entei simply as a bonus.
Noivern @ Leftovers*****Reason To Believe
EVs: 168 HP / 40 Def / 88 SpA / 4 SpD / 208 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
While I'm always incredibly hesitant to make a serious claim to a significant trend or set (naturally I'll continue to take credit for RU by and large), Noivern is probably one Pokemon I can feel confident in claiming I brought to relevance; nobody had touched this Pokemon until the point where I brought it during Snake Draft, and the continued, zealous advocation for it during SPL and RUPL I feel really brought it to the forefront of conversations. This Pokemon is very emblematic of the continued push for more active balance building I've been preaching in this thread, as its Speed, moderate power and disruptive ability allows it to play in a variety of ways that allow it to a variety of purposes for a team. Contextually, I was striving to apply pressure to Steel-types and maintain as much defensive utility as possible, which can be achieved effectively through the use of Leftovers and Taunt + Roost cycles. As unbecoming as it may be, the route of PP stall is an exceedingly valid one for Noivern in winning 1v1 against Steel-types, as can be observed in games such as this one, and with the fourth moveslot as liberated as it is with sets like this I have considered a plethora of options I might deem broadly viable, including Whirlwind, Moonlight, Flamethrower (to 'fish' for burns in the interim turns, alongside obvious coverage purposes), and itemless Thief. However, I ultimately decided upon what I might deem an equally under-appreciated utility pick in Protect, which not only significantly increases the validity of the PP stall angle it takes against a Bronzong or Registeel, but greatly hinders the opponent's ability to effectively navigate Noivern through revenge-killers. Being situated in its unique position of typing and Speed, being able to respond well offensively to a Noivern is an investment, requiring players to oftentimes commit to a very exploitable choice lock to keep it at bay (a la Flygon Outrage, Entei Extremespeed, Roserade Sludge Bomb / HP Ice), a challenging prospect even without the implications set by the hazards laid here. Protect furthers this burden, severely punishing double switches and coverage moves striving to target the switch while similarly undercutting the value of, say, a Shaymin being switched out in favour of Tyrantrum to punish the Noivern with Stealth Rock damage.
As with the first two sets here, I have discussed the broader merits of this set in a post-SPL thread, but speaking broadly this set is striving to soft-check Fire-, Fighting-, and Grass-types primarily, with the Special Attack investment OHKOing 4/0 Bewear from full and Roserade after either Stealth Rock or a Life Orb hit. Naturally the other move options listed have their value over Protect, in addition to the most 'standard' Super Fang, though contextually I have myself most satisfied with the team's performance as is. Life Orb sets to me feel ill-advised given just how Noivern tends to function in the context of the team, with value of its defensive capabilities and ability to punish defensive play serving to much best further the team's game plan. Perhaps too it will soon be worth investing in a max Speed variant as Noivern becomes a staple of the metagame, but at this time I would rather preserve the authenticity of the original team, and given all the prerequisites to pulling a speed tie KO out of such an adjustment with a less offensive set, I feel the loss is minimal enough.
Necrozma @ Psychium Z*****Mansion On The Hill
Ability: Prism Armor
EVs: 136 HP / 160 SpA / 212 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Calm Mind
- Photon Geyser
- Heat Wave
- Rock Polish
In theory, Necrozma is the Pokemon this team gravitates around; the offensive battery strives to support it, the defensive backbone is structured to acquiesce turns for it to set up and thereafter have no problems completing the game, the individual bits and pieces all congeal in such a way that allows Necrozma free reign in the mid-to-late stages of the game. While perhaps not an obscenely commonplace pokemon, a phenomena I personally linked to the ban of Durant and will not get into here to avoid excessive rambling, I have very little to say about this Pokemon and set because the concept here is as tried-and-true as anything. Psychic-types alongside Spikes, or to speak more broadly to this notion of Steel-type overload that I have been touching upon for however long and it still works just as well now. While the Steel-type aspect of it may have grown somewhat less literal with time, the general notion of Pokemon with reasonable defensive synergy and the ability to force damage upon similar defensive Pokemon, may they be actual Steel-types or simply sturdier type-neutrals with the expected sustainability to outlast one, but perhaps not two or more of these elements is very easily traceable 2+ generations back (it was most prominantly embedded for me in BW2 OU, though I'm sure it's different for everybody).
As a mono-Psychic here, Necrozma does not offer the same kind of early-game implications as the remainder of the team beyond application as a loose Fighting-type check, but instead serves to present that game-closing potential you require of a team such as this, boosting once or more off a -2 Roserade or an Earthquake-locked Tyrantrum, amongst various other examples. What might be deemed fairly unique to it as a double dancer is its ability to net and thereafter utilize multiple boosts, rather than simply picking as it suits the situation as you might see with something like a Rock Polish + Hone Claws Tyrantrum, being able to boost Speed on the switch to a Pokemon such as Shaymin or Gardevoir that would commonly seek to trade hits here and using both sides of the subsequent Calm Mind boost to muscle through the situation. As for the specifics of the EVs, the Speed is meant to outpace Base 100 Scarf users after a Rock Polish, while the Special Attack allows it to almost always (think 93.8%) OHKO standard Milotic with a +1 Shattered Psyche after Stealth Rock and 1 round of Leftovers recovery. The remaining HP investment allows it to avoid the 3HKO from Tyrantrum Earthquake (as well as the OHKO from Head Smash after SR + Spikes), the 2HKO from Life Orb Shaymin at +1 off everything but a double max roll, and of course a favourable shot at avoiding the KO from Insect Plate Golisopod after Stealth Rock.
Pangoro @ Choice Band*****Johny 99
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 16 HP / 184 Atk / 120 Def / 188 Spe
- Knock Off
- Drain Punch
- Bullet Punch
Pangoro is to me, and perhaps the playerbase at large, the most difficult Pokemon to quantify in many respects. As Bewear entered the tier, Pangoro lost quite a bit of footing in terms of setting up a definitive, unique niche in the metagame, and as I've seen has yet to truly reestablish footing. However, i do feel as though the Choice Band set offers a somewhat unique position over Bewear, most demonstrable in the more spammable secondary STAB and access to priority that effectively targets two of the more notable balance breakers in the tier in Tyrantrum and Gardevoir. While Pangoro doesn't inherently apply pressure to the same Pokemon the team has been striving to isolate and force damage upon, his is a unique case in that as a beater it tends to push advantage regardless of a lack of more distinct focus. In contrast to other common STAB Knock Off users such as Drapion or Mandibuzz, Pangoro is capable of making damage stick, deterring a Pokemon like Steelix from making a fairly safe pivot and imposing far more significant risk on bulkier Pokemon looking to pivot a hit and double out as to regain momentum. In a somewhat similar fashion, Pangoro's performance as a banded Fighting-type is perhaps the strongest of his ilk in the Gligar balance match-up, as his ability to more-or-less avoid any need of prediction in favour of using Knock Off once and Fighting STAB in almost every other situation, as Gligar will from thereon in outspeed and be unable to either Roost or effectively whittle with Earthquake on it, which becomes exceedingly significant.
Ultimately, Pangoro's role on the team is perhaps the most mercurial here, but to speak broadly it serves as a secondary Rock resistance, a loose check to conservative boosters such as Snorlax and Doublade, and the primary facilitator of early-game momentum. This Pokemon will be the double switch of choice in order to push advantage, as responses such as Fairy-types and Gligar tend to feed the team exactly what it wants, conceding hazards in the case of the former and both providing a Competitive boost or opening up a heightened potency of Ice Fang Steelix in the case of the latter. Again somewhat unconventional, the spread reflects the need for Pangoro to play into certain pokemon with a degree of safety. Specifically, the bulk investment allows it to survive Tyrantrum Superpower after Stealth Rock, 2 Head Smashes after 1 layer of Spikes (alternatively 2 Stealth Rock switch-ins), and Life Orb Shaymin's Seed Flare from full just as an added precaution against one of the most threatening Pokemon in the metagame. As I might see it, the fact that Pangoro cannot crack that 240 Speed ceiling is reason enough to consider non-max, and as I had mentioned before being slower than Gligar can be to its benefit. Currently it aims for minimum Speed Milotic, which by extension allows it to outpace Snorlax whilst paralyzed, which as mentioned can come into play with the end-game Curse match-up.
Overall I am fairly satisfied with the end result of this concept, and I view it as a decent example of how to build balance 'right' at this point in the metagame. I obviously don't even play games nowadays, but the reception of it by others that have picked it up has been positive thus far (including a fair amount of use from obii and bugzinator to 'win' a subforum tour before bugz' alt was discovered), and it is probably the first team I have been giving to folks as an entry point into the metagame. So as my nearly-2K post, I'd like to thank all the folks that keep me coming back around, brewing is fun but I'm not sure I'd have stuck around as I have were it not for all the people I've been given the opportunity to interact with over these past however many years. Hope to see y'all around, and thanks for reading.