Pokémon that exceeded your expectations in-game despite looking bad initially?

Sorry if a thread like this already exists.

I will sometimes use a Pokémon that I'm not really expecting to be very good overall just because it's the most convenient way to do something, or because I'm looking for a change of pace. I picked up a Geodude and trained it up in HG even though I knew it wasn't going to be that strong because I needed Ground coverage and it was the most readily-available thing, for example. Occasionally, I'll be surprised by the strength or general usefulness of one of these Pokémon, and this thread is dedicated to those unlikely playthrough heroes.
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To get us started, I'd like to talk about Umbreon in White 2. In my most recent playthrough, I picked up an Eevee in Castelia City and evolved it into an Umbreon because it seemed like it would fit well on my team, but I didn't really know what to expect from it. Due to incompetence, I wasn't able to evolve the Eevee until it had missed the opportunity to get Faint/Feint Attack, and I was worried about Umbreon's damage output based on its stats. However, it actually ended up being very good anyway because I got the TM for Payback a little bit later. I gave Payback to Umbreon, and then gave it a Full Incense so it would almost always move last, which allowed it to deal a surprisingly high amount of damage, especially on Pokémon weak to Dark moves. I was a little worried that it wouldn't be able to sustain that damage output for long because it had to get hit every turn, but it has great defenses and was able to wall quite a few Pokémon after it got Moonlight. I also gave it Flash, and much fun was had cheesing stuff with that. Flash was probably the only reason I was able to beat Iris, because Umbreon was the only Pokémon on my team that could live an attack from Hydreigon and it was able to get enough accuracy drops for the rest of my team to exist on the battlefield without immediately being wiped off the face of the planet.

Overall, Umbreon was much better than I expected, and I would definitely recommend it for people who want to mix things up in B2/W2. What stories do you have of Pokémon that exceeded your expectations like this?
 
A group from the last two games I played.

:bw/unfezant:

Pidove in the first BW games.

Now, now, I know there are better choices of a Normal-type or a Flying-type Pokémon, but knowing its limited movepool and the criticism it gets... it actually does quite well.

Sure, it's kind of difficult to use in the first half, but once you reach to Driftveil City you get the holy trinity of Return, Fly, and the Silk Scarf. And it was a surprisingly good cleaner for me, outspeeding nearly everything and 2HKOing them as well. A pleasant surprise.


I deliberately wanted to use Pokémon I had never used on a playthrough before, so most of my party was composed of Pokémon traditionally considered to do bad in the stories.

:bw/dunsparce:

It's not to the same extent as Unfezant in BW1, Dunsparce, while not a cleaner, was also useful with a Silk Scarf-boosted Return. While the rest of the movepool was Glare, Coil and Roost (and thus it was completely incapable of damaging Ghost-type Pokémon), whatever it could hit with Normal-type moves was fair game.

:bw/shuckle:

Power Split from Shuckle breaks the AI. Power Split, Toxic, switch, and profit from the opponent's inability to deal much damage. That's all I want to say. It's unfortunate that it shows up SO late in the game though.
 
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My prime example is Whiscash in R/S. I was doing a Nuzlocke with odd encounters(not a rando) and got a Barboach outside Meteor Falls. It was god-mode. EQ at level 31, Surf after Norman, surprisingly useful coverage and utility moves, and decent stats. Like, it's clearly budget Swampert, but it's also budget Swampert. Given that it's normally the lowest tier in competitive in every gen, I was expecting a millstone around my neck, instead I got the cornerstone of my team.
 
About two or so years ago, I did a little challenge across all the mainline games because people like to say how easy of a series Pokemon is. But just how easy is Pokemon?

So I decided to use some of the worst Pokemon I could obtain naturally in each game across the entire series using a combination of Smogon tiers, in game tier lists, and my own knowledge of Pokemon viability, and see if I could beat each game with them and how long it took me to do so. I also set some restrictions such as no items in battle (because what would be the point of this if I just spammed Hyper Potions until a favorable situation came up) and no leveling up beyond the gym leaders/champions Pokemon. I would also complete every non battle facility event as well (such as Round 2 of the E4 if applicable).

Anyways, I got around to UltraSun and UltraMoon and Carbink tends to get a bad flak as it's a pretty bad Pokemon. A great base stat total hampered by awful min-maxing and a bad defensive typing. Despite USUM being arguably the hardest entries across the mainline series, Carbink was crucial to many battles as it had just enough utility to prove useful in the Totem battles and even had moments where it could set up for a sweep. I ended up taking Carkbink through the entire game with me whereas "stronger" Pokemon such as Rampardos, Leafeon, and Raichu I ended up dropping.
 
I expected Mareanie and Snover to be bad defensively in Shield before evolution and they evolve at Levels 38 and 40. After that, I knew Toxapex would be good and hoped that Abomasnow's typing wouldn't screw it over.

Somehow, Snover's many weaknesses weren't much of a problem even though she was my third Grass type (I wanted Snow Warning and to use the Pokemon that was my first Shiny, even it it meant my team sucking.) and Grass Whistle was removed from the game, which would've been really nice against the Grass Gym. Maybe it was because the AI doesn't switch and I could bring her in when it wasn't bad, which is more often that you think with 7 weaknesses, or maybe it was because I caught Coalossal and Marnine after the third gym. (I'd be saying Coalossal would be another that was better than expected if I didn't get why so many people say that Rock/Fire sucks defensively. He was really good, but then again, his typing has good synergy with Grass types due to resisting each other's weaknesses, including both of his x4s, and I had 3 Grass types.) Snover's bulk didn't let me down even. It'd make more sense if Eviolite was patching it for most of the time, but that's not until the Fairy Gym. If having the bulk of an unevolved Pokemon was going to show, it would have shown long before then. Leech Seed, Leftovers, and Protect are overpowered if they can make frail Pokemon into effective walls.

You'd think Marnine would be very good because it evolves into the unkillable Toxapex, but Toxapex is insane because gaining +90 in both Base Defenses from evolution more than makes up for not adding to its low Base HP. I lead with her for extra Exp and that backfired when I used Hail against a Haunter in the Ghost Gym and it used Mean Look. Hail was her only "offense" and she had Base 50/62/52 Defenses... Needless to say, I thought she was already dead. She was able to endure Haunter's attacks and her own Hail (which was canceled out by Black Sludge) with enough HP to be able to Recover until Haunter fainted. (To be fair, Haunter's attacks were Night Shade and Payback.) I even had time to use Toxic Spikes! ...Which was useless against the trainer's other Pokemon, Drifblim. In hindsight, I should have had more faith in her because Marnine's bulk is about the same as Snover's.


It's a move instead of a Pokemon, but Swagger is the biggest thing that was better than I expected to me. Confusion sucks. It can affect anything so I have to use Butterfree's Supersonic at the beginning of Status Moves Only, but I hate it. I even hate it in games before it was nerfed from a 1/2 chance of hurting yourself to 1/3 in Gen 7. It doesn't always do anything and it usually doesn't do a lot when it does because it's like they're using a Power 50 Attack on themself. The only way I keep using Confuse Ray or Supersonic is if I was already using a Pokemon that can learn them for other moves, Like Ninetales for Will-O-Wisp. Finding the TM in Soul Silver and having a spare move lead me to teach Forretress Swagger as filler and it wasn't only tolerable because of raising their Attack, which makes confusion do much more, but it's a very usable "offense" with a Pokemon that's physically bulky enough to take boosted attacks, like most Steel types or Wooloo. It gets even better if you can use Screech while waiting for them to hurt themself and usually makes it a 2HKO or even a OHKO if you have to use Swagger multiple times. Seeing them OHKO themself is always fun.
 

ScraftyIsTheBest

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Speaking of Snover, I actually used Abomasnow in my latest run of Diamond as a late-game catch and tried to have it on my team. It was surprisingly good, as despite its overall meh stats and exploitable typing it has two very strong 120 STAB moves coming off of solid 92 offenses, and between Blizzard and Wood Hammer, Abomasnow has really good coverage for Sinnoh. It can hit pretty darn hard coming off of its decent offenses, and Ice Shard was also very good as a form of priority every now and then. It does really well in that one water route leading to Victory Road, and does really well against Water Pokémon in general. Abomasnow is especially useful in the Elite Four, and imo it's surprisingly one of the best and most useful options you can bring to the E4: it completely wrecks Bertha by slaughtering most of her team with Wood Hammer, and Blizzard allowed it to hit Aaron's Beautifly and Vespiquen hard as well as Flint's Drifblim. It's also got a ton of usefulness against Cynthia, since it murders her Gastrodon in DP and takes neutral damage from Milotic's Ice Beam, and Wood Hammer can just muscle through Milotic. Its Ice STAB is of course really good against her iconic Garchomp: my Level 50 Abomasnow managed to 2HKO it with some support as well as Blizzard+Ice Shard, and it had just enough bulk to barely survive a Brick Break. Surprisingly useful Pokémon that while not amazing, has a lot of situations where it can be clutch.


Cryogonal is not a Pokémon that I use often in BW because of how rare it is and a long time ago I assumed little of it because of how shallow its movepool is. I managed to stumble across one by pure chance in one of my recent BW runs and I decided to catch and use it in preparation for Iris (and also because I personally really like Cryogonal). Its utility movepool and good Speed came in handy in addition to its Ice STAB: it's a super risky Pokemon because it has the physical bulk of glass, but it has its clutch uses against Brycen and some of Team Plasma, and of course it does super well against Iris and her gym. It's a good fast Screens user which I felt came in handy in many cases, such as helping my Serperior or Haxorus set up Coil or Dragon Dance more quickly. Against the E4 it has some handy uses against Grimsley's Krookodile, Caitlin's Sigilyph, and Shauntal's Cofagrigus+Golurk. It also has uses in taking on Ghetsis's Hydreigon: and I managed to single handedly 1v1 his Hydreigon with my Cryogonal by setting up Light Screen which allowed it to endure two Fire Blasts and 2HKO back with Ice Beam. Very useful ally to have on my team. It continued to have its uses through Screens and possibly Confuse Ray which provided some nice utility. I'm glad I decided to catch this mon on a whim and in truth find it to be a very reliable and dependable teammate to have on my team: it won't win battles on its own, but it has some nice things to contribute to many matches.


Avalugg in XY is a pretty odd choice for a Pokémon, and it has the typical problem of a defensive, slow Ice type even though Ice is a poor defensive typing: the textbook example of Ice-type's issue of having slow bulky Pokémon despite that build matching poorly with Ice-type's qualities. Despite that, Avalugg really delivered when I used it in some of my playthroughs of Y. In spite of Avalugg's poor defensive typing, it still takes physical hits like an absolute boss. You don't need resistances to take hits with Avalugg: in this case, you do it with sheer bulk alone. It's so bulky it can even endure hits from Talonflame and Aegislash in the E4, and Avalugg can retaliate using its surprisingly great offensive movepool and good Attack to KO back in return. Once I used it to lure in Malva's Talonflame and KO it with Rock Slide. Avalanche can be pretty great as STAB too against Drasna to KO her mons while they don't KO Avalugg in return. Avalugg has some nifty coverage moves in Gyro Ball, Rock Slide, Earthquake, and vice versa which help it serve as a tank with good coverage, and even though it has a not good defensive typing, it's so bulky physically it doesn't care: it just takes even super effective physical hits and survives, which is in and of itself an impressive feat.

(Yes, I know all three of these are Ice-types)
 

Brambane

burn the midnight oil
is a Contributor Alumnus
So I am going to talk a bit about Nuzlocking GSC and HG/SS because despite the atrocious EXP curve in the games, they have the most ridiculous in-game power spikes outside of Gen VI's Mega Evolutions in any Pokemon game. When trying to play with as few deaths possible with limited items, going first and OHKOing as much as you can without needing to set-up is the most optimal strat, and both these games have tools that support this strategy while letting you use weird ass mons.

In Gen II, since the Zephyr badge grants 10% bonus Attack and the Plain Badge grants you a 12.5% boost to Normal-type moves, pretty much anything with a reasonable Attack stat is fantastic. The way Johto is designed is outside of Morty's Gym, Jasmine's Gym, and a few errant hikers and late-game Rocks (lmao Bruno's Onix), Ghosts, and Steel, you are pretty much free to spam Return. Nothing resists Return + Surf in Gen II, which is why Feraligatr is so obviously good. But there is also Furret, who is reasonably fast, has STAB Return, enough Attack to work with, Shadow Ball, and learns Surf for all those Geodude/Onix that get in your way. And Furret is the low end of the spectrum. You get a Tauros or a Miltank and OH MAN the game because so much easier, especially Miltank since it also gets Shadow Ball and recovery. Seriously the cow is amazing.

Gen IV means free Choice Specs after the fourth Gym, which turns otherwise garbage into pure gold. Giarafarig is seriously one of the best Pokemon in the game. It comes just in time for Morty if you do the Mt. Mortar skip, knows Psybeam on arrival or soon after, gets Psychic at level 37, and can be taught Shadow Ball. It's Speed and Special Attack are great for Choice Specs, but even something slower and weaker like Hypno gets the job done. I had a Hypno in my most recent run that solo swept Will and Bruno with Choice Specs Shadow Ball and Psychic. Dewgong is in a similar boat, despite its mediocre Speed and offenses the combination of STAB Surf and Ice Beam make it fantastic with Choice Specs, especially if you missed out on Lapras. Tinted Lens Venomoth is worth mentioning since you get Sludge Bomb reasonably earlier, and Venomoth's 90 base Speed puts it in the "fast" category as far as in-game is concerned.
 
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Maractus in B2/W2. I used one on my team in-game in Black 2 and I did not expect all that much from it, but it performed very well. A base Special Attack of 106 is pretty good, and base 86 Attack is decent too. It doesnt have an amazing movepool, but Giga Drain and Synthesis allowed it to heal itself with ease whenever it was needed. It also had Water Absorb to get healed even more and make it immune to Water-type moves, which was very useful when it took part in Double battles together with my Jellicent which had Surf. Then it finally had Sucker Punch for priority and coverage, as well as Needle Arm for a Physical Grass-type move. I remember that Maractus was solid on that playthrough, considerably better than I had expected.

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Lilligant in US/UM. I used it on my team in-game team in Ultra Moon and it was the MVP of said team, no doubt. It is pretty fast and strong, and while it doesn't have the best movepool in the world, it had just the right moves it needed to function. Quiver Petal Dance with Own Tempo let it wreck havoc, it could also use Giga Drain to heal itself and Sleep Powder to create setup opportunities or support the rest of the team. That said, I did trade over a Sun Stone to evolve it earlier, so I could get both Giga Drain and Quiver Dance on it during the main game. But that was just the recipe for success it needed to break the game in half. Lackluster coverage is not an issue when you can get to +6 with ease and sweep everything afterwards.

Those are the two main ones which were better than I had expected. Another one I had in mind was Leafeon in US/UM, but I wouldn't say it performed better than I had expected. For some reason, I have been having great success with Grass-types in many recent games. I'll post here again if I can come up with more Pokémon that were better than I had expected.
 

Yung Dramps

awesome gaming
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A lot of people playing Gen 4 casually get locked into using a very rigid selection of Pokemon like Infernape, Garchomp, Staraptor, Luxray and so on, and I find that to be a huge shame because the Platinum dex is really tightly made and open to experimentation, with Noctowl being a prime example of this. It isn't a secret S rank by any means, it definitely has a very rough time against really any physical attacker, but it has just as many notable traits like good special bulk letting it adequately use Roost, Hypnosis to cheese past tough matchups and a very competent STAB in Air Slash. It also has some really cool matchups, the prime one being Fantina's Mismagius with Noctowl being one of the few things that can really take it on without getting blown to pieces, albeit requiring some potions to keep healthy.
 
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A lot of people playing Gen 4 casually get locked into using a very rigid selection of Pokemon like Infernape, Garchomp, Staraptor, Luxray and so on, and I find that to be a huge shame because the Platinum dex is really tightly made and open to experimentation, with Noctowl being a prime example of this. It isn't a secret S rank by any means, it definitely has a very rough time against really any physical attacker, but it has just as many notable traits like good special bulk letting it adequately use Roost, Hypnosis to cheese past tough matchups and a very competent STAB in Air Slash. It also has some really cool matchups, the prime one being Fantina's Mismagius with Noctowl being one of the few things that can really take it on without getting blown to pieces, albeit requiring some potions to keep healthy.
This one is interesting to me because I used one in HG and thought it was complete ass. It was always just a little too weak and just a little too frail to be that helpful against anything. It was the weak link on a team that already wasn't that good, and I ended up boxing it at the E4. Maybe it has better matchups in Platinum or something, but my Gen 4 Noctowl experience was pretty shit.
 

Brambane

burn the midnight oil
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HG/SS Noctowl is alright, but its super prone to getting stat screwed. Anything with a base stat 65-90 range can vary wildly in performance based on IVs and nature. Unfortunately both of Noctowl's most important stats, Speed and Special Attack, fall right into that category. Sure, you can EV train, but that's either a huge time sink or you can apply that argument to every Pokemon, which doesn't exactly help Noctowl stand out.

With that being said, if you can get one with reasonable Speed and Special Attack, it can put in work with Choice Specs Shadow Ball, Extrasensory, and Air Slash. The Shadow Ball TM has a lot of Pokemon vying for it and Noctowl is definitely not making the top ten list of optimal Shadow Ballers in HG/SS; the option is open for it at least. It also can do some stuff with Roost and Reflect, which is pretty niche in no healing item Nuzlockes, but I usually don't bother with those kind of strats since it leaves you prone to getting randomly crit. The lack of STAB on Extrasensory is kinda poopy for Bruno too, who can be swept by Hypno with similar offensive stats.

Side note, Insomnia Noctowl rolls Morty and prevents Chuck's Poliwrath from clicking Hypnosis on you, which is cool.
 
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HG/SS Noctowl is alright, but its super prone to getting stat screwed. Anything with a base stat 65-90 range can vary wildly in performance based on IVs and nature. Unfortunately both of Noctowl's most important stats, Speed and Special Attack, fall right into that category. Sure, you can EV train, but that's either a huge time sink or you can apply that argument to every Pokemon, which doesn't exactly help Noctowl stand out.

With that being said, if you can get one with reasonable Speed and Special Attack, it can put in work with Choice Specs Shadow Ball, Extrasensory, and Air Slash. The Shadow Ball TM has a lot of Pokemon vying for it and Noctowl is definitely not making the top ten list of optimal Shadow Ballers in HG/SS; the option is open for it at least. It also can do some stuff with Roost and Reflect, which is pretty niche in no healing item Nuzlockes, but I usually don't bother with those kind of strats since it leaves you prone to getting randomly crit. The lack of STAB on Extrasensory is kinda poopy for Bruno too, who can be swept by Hypno with similar offensive stats.

Side note, Insomnia Noctowl rolls Morty and prevents Chuck's Poliwrath from clicking Hypnosis on you, which is cool.
That explains a lot, actually. My memory's not super clear, but I think my Noctowl had a nature that lowers Special Attack. I'm not used to natures mattering much in casual Pokémon, so I didn't bother to get another one with a more optimal nature.
 
Talking about Noctowl reminded me of a Darumaka I had in a Black Nuzlocke. (It was only a matter of time before someone talked about a Pokemon everyone else already knew was good. :P) I knew it wouldn't suck because of its insane Attack, but I thought it'd be held back a lot by having a Modest nature. Nope, still a living nuke. (The next Nuzlocke gave me another Modest Darumaka. Also a living nuke.)
 
When I played Platinum, I let the RNG pick my starter. The RNG gave me Turtwig. And boy was that mon fun to use. Because I'm one of those people who spams the crap out of their starter in-game, I had a Torterra by the time I got to Fantina, and IIRC, I soloed her with Bite.

Also, Magnezone pulled its weight in the same playthrough despite its crap movepool.
 
Oh, man, I could have a field day talking about various mons that exceeded my expectations, but I'll limit myself to 3:


Earlier this year, I decided to replay Platinum with a fresh new team of six mons I had never previously used on an in-game playthrough. I needed a Water-type, but I had already trained Empoleon, Gastrodon, Floatzel, Seaking, Gyarados, Golduck, Tentacruel, Azumarill, Quagsire, Octillery, Pelipper, Whiscash, Milotic, and (to an extent) Bibarel before. So it was basically either this or Mantine (which isn't available until near the end of the main game). Well, it turns out Lumineon was surprisingly fun to train even with the hodgepodge of other Water mons out there; it levels up super fast (only 600,000 Exp. Points to reach Level 100), has a couple of interesting tricks available to it such as Silver Wind and Payback, and once I reached Celestic Town and got both HM03 and the Choice Specs, it managed to circumvent its lousy Sp. Atk stat and drown its opponents easily (TM13 later on helped too). So while I'd be about as likely to recommend using Lumineon in a serious battle as I would be to recommend teaching an Avalugg Overheat, I had a lot more fun training mine than I ever would've thought I could before.


My first playthrough of Moon was blind, so aside from what I had seen in the trailers, I didn't know what to expect from any of the new Pokemon. My first assumption when I saw Ribombee was that it was going to be the Ledian of Gen 7; a banal and underwhelming mon with base stats to match. Well, sometimes I like being proven wrong. Certainly the only notable base stats it has are its Speed and Sp. Atk, but it puts both of them to fantastic use. It evolved just before I reached Lana's trial, and once it did and gained Pollen Puff, it found a permanent place on my team. Notable moments included thrashing Totem Lurantis and Kommo-o (the latter thanks to the Fairium Z I had just gotten), and making Nanu into a non-entity. So while in hindsight I'm not surprised that Ribombee was able to do all of that, when I initially caught a random Cutiefly for its 4x Fighting resistance to use against Hala, I would never have imagined it becoming a permanent member of my team, let alone one of my favorites of Gen 7.


Here's a brief dossier of how Morpeko became one of my all-time favorites (icons indicate how I felt about it at the time):
  • A new trailer reveals that a type combination I've wanted to see for almost 20 years is finally being utilized:
  • But it's on a Pikachu clone with a silly gimmick:
  • "Hey, this Morpeko I just caught has higher Attack and Speed than my Obstagoon":
  • "But its other stats are abysmal":
  • "What the hell, I'll give it a shot. Hey, it can learn some pretty interesting attacks":
  • "Aura Wheel is that strong? AND it also raises its Speed? Holy shit, this thing's pretty awesome:
    x2
  • Morpeko used Max Lightning! It's super effective! The opposing Charizard fainted!:
    x100
Yeah... something like that. And ever since, it has been my favorite electric rodent by a light-year and second favorite mon from Gen 8.
 

NuttyRabbit

Banned deucer.
I've run into a few surprising MVPs during my time with the franchise, so here's just a few

:Bw/Archeops:

When I first played Pokemon Black, I was drawn towards the Archen line because of my love of prehistoric animals and because I thought it looked cool. Upon seeing its ability however, I thought "oh great I'm gonna have to baby this thing and it'll suck". Oh how wrong I was. How utterly, utterly wrong. From the word "go" this thing was an absolute monster, tearing through route trainers left and right, crushing N, crushing my rival, and even completely and utterly soloing Skyla and her gym without taking a hit thanks to its nuclear Acrobatics. And this was BEFORE it evolved, mind you. After it evolved, all bets were off as it just tore through everything in its path. If I wanted, I could have easily dropped everyone else and just solo'd with it it was THAT good.

:RS/Pelipper:

From one Flying type to another, Pelipper was something I ended up using during my most recent Emerald run which really surprised me. I had picked up Wingull early on since I wanted both a Water and Flying type and this was the only good Water early on and only early game Flying type I hadn't used and I just expected it to be a passable HM slave. What I didn't expect was for it to be an utter beast, tearing through routes and even a shocking amount of bosses (Roxanne, Brawly, Flannery, Winona, even Tate and Lisa) with its combination of good STAB, great coverage in Ice Beam and Shock Wave, and overall decent stats. It ended up basically being the MVP which is insane considering I had Manectric, Hariyama, AND Sceptile on the same team.

:xy/Electrode:

Electrode is something rather rare for me: a Pokemon I've used twice (I usually prefer to only use something once for the sake of variety), once in Omega Ruby and once in my Sapphire nuzlocke. Both times I used it to fill a slot I had no idea what to do with and both times it came in clutch for me thanks to its insane speed and strong STAB. Sadly I had to sacrifice it in Sapphire to help me take down Glacia's Walrein but between both games, it's found itself a nice, special place in my heart.

:rs/Roselia:

Yet another Pokemon I used in my Sapphire nuzlocke, Roselia was another slot filler I didn't expect to do much. Turns out, a great level up movepool paired with decent stats made it shockingly good and fun to use. Between Leech Seed/Sleep Powder/Growth/Gigs Drain it was hella nasty to deal with and unlike Electrode, managed to stick around to the very end.

:dp/Abomasnow:

Last but not least is Abomasnow. The snowman was, like the others, an on-the-spot addition to the team, in this case my Platinum team. I had no idea what else to add to my team like the other cases, but I also wanted something for Cynthia and I figured this would be the best available option given my conditions (Sinnoh Pokemon only, no type overlap). While it barely did anything for most of the main game and faltered vs Bertha thanks to a Gliscor Fire Fang (which I foolishly thought it would take), when it came time to take on Cynthia, it came in clutch, managing to finish off her Garchomp after Empoleon couldn't...and then jt proceeded to take out her Milotic...and finish off her Togekiss...and even her Roserade. Yeah needless to say it overperformed and surpassed my expectations. While not as amazing as the other mons here, Abomasnow was a pleasant surprise, albeit one I wouldn't recommend using normally because training it is hell
 

Brambane

burn the midnight oil
is a Contributor Alumnus
:RS/Pelipper:

From one Flying type to another, Pelipper was something I ended up using during my most recent Emerald run which really surprised me. I had picked up Wingull early on since I wanted both a Water and Flying type and this was the only good Water early on and only early game Flying type I hadn't used and I just expected it to be a passable HM slave. What I didn't expect was for it to be an utter beast, tearing through routes and even a shocking amount of bosses (Roxanne, Brawly, Flannery, Winona, even Tate and Lisa) with its combination of good STAB, great coverage in Ice Beam and Shock Wave, and overall decent stats. It ended up basically being the MVP which is insane considering I had Manectric, Hariyama, AND Sceptile on the same team.
I want to piggyback on this one because I have done a fair number of vanilla Emerald Hardcore Nuzlockes and seen a bunch of tier-lists where Pelipper is ranked pretty low. This Pokemon is a run changer, it is so unfathomably good in the midgame that only Marshstomp/Swampert and "me click Dragon Rage/Strength now" Gyarados surpass it. Wingull is admittedly pretty mediocre against Roxanne (not a particularly hard fight anyways unless you picked Torchic and you get extremely bad RNG) and Wattson (who is always awful unless you have Geodude, Shedinja, Marshtomp or Breloom) but the rest of its MUs are insane. Every other gym is a positive match-up for Wingull due to its potential coverage, combination of Toxic + Protect for Norman's Slaking, and even STAB Aerial Ace for Juan's bullshit Double Team spamming Kingdra. It also is a generally good Pokemon for the Maxie fights since it outspeeds Camerupt. It's not that great for the E4, but by that point you should have Pokemon you've kept safe in the bank for the Elite Four (i.e. the Whismur line is generally unexceptional early-midgame in Emerald and more of a liability in zero-death attempts, but is extremely useful for Phoebe thanks to Shadow Ball + Howl + Taunt/Substitute) that are ready to pick-up the slack for Pelipper. A very safe Pokemon in a game where there are a lot of scary major fights.

Speaking of Emerald, Grumpig is cool. Access to Rest via level up saves you a TM for ChestoRest shenanigans, Thick Fat + Calm Mind can be clutch vs Glacia if your Speed isn't stat screwed, and it gets Psychic at level 37. And like most CM users, its sets up for days on Juan's Luvdisc, but its horrid Attack means you take dinky damage from hitting yourself in confusion, assuming you aren't Own Tempo of course. Girafarig is also good, especially with Substitute + Calm Mind. Curse can't go through Substitute in Gen III, so it makes sweeping Phoebe an absolute breeze thanks to Crunch. It can also Baton Pass if you are extra tryharding.
 

Early game rodents are infamous for falling off as you go through the game, but Alolan Raticate really surpassed these expectations in Ultra Sun. Its biggest perk by far is Hustle. In a game where the Normal Z-crystal is obtained near the start of the game, this is often a free power boost. It gets a super strong STAB in Hyper Fang to really abuse this early on, and then things get even crazier at Akala Island where you can get Last Resort for a ridiculously strong Breakneck Blitz. I was able to OHKO the Totem Araquanid and Lurantis with it. While in typical earlygame rodent fashion it does get worse after this, I was surprised at how well it held up. It still has that Z nuke for most things, and its balanced stats...kinda work? With speed EVs on so many boss Pokemon, more typical glass cannon spreads often fall flat for me as they fail to outspeed and get OHKOd. Having its speed transferred to its defenses lets it consistently take a hit, and it's still fast enough to outspeed slower things. Combined with a strong STAB Sucker Punch (obviously inconsistent when you venture out of the Z-crystal zone, but just don't miss :pimp:) and Bulk Up that eventually becomes Swords Dance, I found a lot of random uses for Raticate, despite how terrible it seems on paper.
 
For me, it'd be Beautifly.

I was amazed by how good they turned out to be in ORAS Nuzlockes with access to Gust, Absorb (and stronger variants), and Quiver Dance. Unfortunately I could never keep one alive until the end of the game in any of my Nuzlockes, but one survived past Winona and then got killed by some NPC. I'd like to think I've gotten much better at this stuff so maybe the next time they'll survive past the E4, it could happen.
 
Glaceon (Pt)
1626064495088.png

There are many reasons why this could go wrong. Yet it isn't that bad. You get the TM for Secret Power in the same city you receive Eevee. If you get one with Adaptability, which shouldn't be hard since you can reset till you receive one with it, Secret Power + Quick Attack does serious work. Secret Power's secondary effect activates more often than I thought. If you augment its move set with Dig, it can rack up easy experience and Special Attack EVs against the Magnemites in and around Canalave City, right as it begins to struggle. It does start to tail off around level 33 or so but you're almost there.

Once you power through to Glaceon around level 40, it can't be overstated how hard this thing's Ice Beam hits. Icy Wind is also a tactically useful move to use in combination. I think people underestimate Ice types in-game where they're definitely not great defensively, but they're terrific offensively.

Glaceon is also one of very few Pokémon who can take down Cynthia's Garchomp one on one. Some like Weavile might not out speed at level 50, and even if it does, might not kill with Ice Punch which will allow Garchomp to KO back with one Earthquake in return. Others, Water types such as Gastrodon and Golduck, might not kill with Ice Beam even while wearing Choice Specs. Glaceon gets this critical job done reliably with no issues, easily surviving one Flamethrower or Earthquake and KO'ing back with Ice Beam.

Probably my second favorite Pokémon after Infernape so call me biased, but Glaceon definitely exceeded my expectations.
 
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Glaceon (Pt)
View attachment 357883
There are many reasons why this could go wrong, Yet it isn't that bad. You get the TM for Secret Power in the same city you receive Eevee. If you get one with Adaptability, which shouldn't be hard since you can reset till you receive one with it, Secret Power + Quick Attack does serious work. Secret Power's secondary effect activates more often than I thought. If you augment its move set with Dig, it can rack up easy experience and Special Attack EVs against the Magnemites in and around Canalave City, right as it begins to struggle. It does start to tail off around level 33 or so but you're almost there.

Once you power through to Glaceon around level 40, it can't be overstated how hard this thing's Ice Beam hits. Icy Wind is also a tactically useful move to use in combination. I think people underestimate Ice types in-game where they're definitely not great defensively, but they're terrific offensively.

Glaceon is also one of very few Pokémon who can take down Cynthia's Garchomp one on one. Some like Weavile might not out speed at level 50, and even if it does, might not kill with Ice Punch which will allow Garchomp to KO back with one Earthquake in return. Others, Water types such as Gastrodon and Golduck, might not kill with Ice Beam even while wearing Choice Specs. Glaceon gets this critical job done reliably with no issues, easily surviving one Flamethrower or Earthquake and KO'ing back with Ice Beam.

Probably my second favorite Pokémon after Infernape so call me biased, but Glaceon definitely exceeded my expectations.
Glaceon, while definitely not something you’d seriously use in competitive, do put its high Defense and Special Defense and especially big Special Attack by Ice-type standard in good use in-game, especially with a super hard-hitting Ice Beam.

It helps that Sword and Shield allows you do evolve Eevee into Glaceon just with an Ice Stone (like how Leafeon, the other Gen 4 Eeveelution, can now be evolved with a Leaf Stone), and if you play your cards right with the help of miner NPCs and capturing an Eevee, you can get a Glaceon as soon as right before the first Gym!

Here's a brief dossier of how Morpeko became one of my all-time favorites (icons indicate how I felt about it at the time):
  • A new trailer reveals that a type combination I've wanted to see for almost 20 years is finally being utilized:
  • But it's on a Pikachu clone with a silly gimmick:
  • "Hey, this Morpeko I just caught has higher Attack and Speed than my Obstagoon":
  • "But its other stats are abysmal":
  • "What the hell, I'll give it a shot. Hey, it can learn some pretty interesting attacks":
  • "Aura Wheel is that strong? AND it also raises its Speed? Holy shit, this thing's pretty awesome:
    x2
  • Morpeko used Max Lightning! It's super effective! The opposing Charizard fainted!:
    x100
Yeah... something like that. And ever since, it has been my favorite electric rodent by a light-year and second favorite mon from Gen 8.
As gimmicky it is, the compensation worked well in-game, and the fact that this is one Electric Rodent that can take down Leon’s G-Max Charizard in one hit through Dynamaxing despite the stats is legendary by itself.

What’s your top 1 favorite Gen 8 Pokémon? I assume that it’s either Dragapult or Obstagoon going by your signature,
 

NuttyRabbit

Banned deucer.
I want to piggyback on this one because I have done a fair number of vanilla Emerald Hardcore Nuzlockes and seen a bunch of tier-lists where Pelipper is ranked pretty low. This Pokemon is a run changer, it is so unfathomably good in the midgame that only Marshstomp/Swampert and "me click Dragon Rage/Strength now" Gyarados surpass it. Wingull is admittedly pretty mediocre against Roxanne (not a particularly hard fight anyways unless you picked Torchic and you get extremely bad RNG) and Wattson (who is always awful unless you have Geodude, Shedinja, Marshtomp or Breloom) but the rest of its MUs are insane. Every other gym is a positive match-up for Wingull due to its potential coverage, combination of Toxic + Protect for Norman's Slaking, and even STAB Aerial Ace for Juan's bullshit Double Team spamming Kingdra. It also is a generally good Pokemon for the Maxie fights since it outspeeds Camerupt. It's not that great for the E4, but by that point you should have Pokemon you've kept safe in the bank for the Elite Four (i.e. the Whismur line is generally unexceptional early-midgame in Emerald and more of a liability in zero-death attempts, but is extremely useful for Phoebe thanks to Shadow Ball + Howl + Taunt/Substitute) that are ready to pick-up the slack for Pelipper. A very safe Pokemon in a game where there are a lot of scary major fights.

Speaking of Emerald, Grumpig is cool. Access to Rest via level up saves you a TM for ChestoRest shenanigans, Thick Fat + Calm Mind can be clutch vs Glacia if your Speed isn't stat screwed, and it gets Psychic at level 37. And like most CM users, its sets up for days on Juan's Luvdisc, but its horrid Attack means you take dinky damage from hitting yourself in confusion, assuming you aren't Own Tempo of course. Girafarig is also good, especially with Substitute + Calm Mind. Curse can't go through Substitute in Gen III, so it makes sweeping Phoebe an absolute breeze thanks to Crunch. It can also Baton Pass if you are extra tryharding.
Funny you respond to my post and then mention Grumpig, because Grumpig is another Pokemon that served be extraordinarily well despite my expectations for it.

Though I didn't use the ChestoRest shenanigans you mentioned when I used it in my Sapphire Nuzlocke, I did make use of the Thick Fat+ CM combo to just utterly dominate route trainers and tank my way through Juan with Psychic/Shock Wave (and before it, Tate and Liza thanks to Shadow Ball which allowed it to basically solo the fight, albeit slowly).

Also on the note of Pelipper, you say it's not good for the E4 and generally I'd agree, but at the same time mine did end up doing extremely well vs Drake thanks to Ice Beam and generally tanking way more hits than it should've. It wasn't able to solo him, but it did well enough to the point where Sceptile could clean up with 0 issues. But otherwise I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of it. It's really, really underrated in-game imo because like you said, it just stomps through the mid-game and can hold its own well into end-game (and like I said, it can still perform decently well in the E4, mainly vs Drake).
 

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