Gen 1 Sandslash (OU) [QC 2/2] [GP 1/2]

May

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Taken over from Gen1UUFan's analysis here.

[OVERVIEW]
Sandslash is often overlooked in RBY OU, but it realizes a dangerous niche with its unique combination of typing, movepool, and Speed tier. After a Swords Dance, Sandslash can 2HKO every Pokemon in the tier, and it is just fast enough to outpace many crucial threats, including Rhydon, Chansey, and Exeggutor. As a Ground-type, it is frailer than Rhydon and Golem, less powerful to start, and doesn't resist Normal, making it a poor pivot. However, it can sweep, is faster, and beats the two one-on-one by virtue of its Ground neutrality. As a Swords Dance user, its winning matchup against Rhydon, Electric immunity, and consistent STAB Earthquake make up for its lower offensive stats. In particular, its Thunder Wave immunity provides both a consistent entry point for sweeping and a partial safeguard against sweep-ending paralysis, a weakness that plagues all other viable Swords Dance users. Overall, though, Sandslash is frequently defined by its shortcomings. No Normal or Flying resistance means it can't be a primary physical tank or a firm Zapdos answer, unlike Rhydon and Golem. It has low Speed, low Special, a plethora of weaknesses, and merely respectable power before setup, which leaves it easily forced out and picked off. Most notably, the excellent Starmie can harry it in all stages of a battle. Unlike all other viable Swords Dance users, it misses the crucial OHKO on Chansey after a boost. Still, with paralysis support and against slower teams, Sandslash can be a very potent offensive weapon while checking Rhydon, Zapdos, Jolteon, and Golem in emergencies.

[SET]
name: Swords Dance
move 1: Swords Dance
move 2: Earthquake
move 3: Body Slam / Rock Slide / Substitute / Submission
move 4: Hyper Beam

[SET COMMENTS]
Set Description
=========
Swords Dance is obligatory for Sandslash's niche. STAB Earthquake provides great neutral coverage and heavily chunks the majority of the metagame after a boost. If running Body Slam, Sandslash can use Body Slam into Hyper Beam for the best odds to 2HKO Exeggutor at +2—one of its most valuable advantages over Rhydon and Golem. Body Slam also allows Sandslash to fish for paralysis on its common switch-ins, which can help it or Tauros sweep late-game. Alternatively, Rock Slide can cover Flying-types and the rare Pinsir, but it's no stronger than Earthquake against Pokemon like Cloyster, Lapras, and Exeggutor. Further, Body Slam into Hyper Beam still 2HKOes Zapdos at +2. Despite its poor accuracy, Submission allows Sandslash to secure an OHKO on Tauros at +4, as well as occasionally OHKOing Chansey at +2 and Snorlax at +4. Tauros often spells the end of Sandslash sweep, so Submission is a valuable option to consider. Substitute can be used over a coverage move, as it can afford Sandslash a free turn against a paralyzed foe, though it can be difficult to set up Substitute further amplifies Sandslash's unique ability among Swords Dance users to defeat Zapdos, as Drill Peck only breaks it around 30% of the time, which may let Sandslash set up safely and effectively sweep after winning one-on-one.

Sandslash can effectively check most Rock- and Electric-types, but—with the exception of Jolteon—doing so will usually prevent it from sweeping late-game. Therefore, you must determine whether a trade or the potential for a sweep is more valuable. To stay healthy to sweep, Sandslash is best brought in on Thunder Wave, partial-trapping pivots, or double switches as opposed to directly into attacks. It greatly benefits from being hidden until late-game when it is in a position to sweep. If Sandslash is forced onto the field before a sweep is likely, it should generally lead with Body Slam to chip and potentially paralyze its checks, as using Swords Dance is rarely useful before the opponent's team has been fully scouted. When saved until late-game, Sandslash can greatly benefit from an opportunity to boost to +4, which allows Earthquake to secure OHKOs on Chansey and Starmie and OHKO Tauros a majority of the time. Additionally, +4 Hyper Beam OHKOes Zapdos about 60% of the time and Exeggutor about 40% of the time, limiting their ability to impede a sweep. Be aware that calculations for +4 Hyper Beam assume it hits and doesn't critically hit, a combined 78.09% chance, so it's riskier in practice.

Sandslash is at its most dangerous with paralysis support, and it has good synergy with many paralysis spreaders, including Zapdos, Starmie, Snorlax, and Chansey. The offensive prowess of Zapdos and Starmie in particular often forces paralysis on the opponent's team, either neutralizing foes like Jynx, Alakazam, and opposing Starmie or providing setup opportunities against slower foes like Chansey, Snorlax, and Exeggutor. Sandslash will then greatly enjoy coming in on these foes. In return, Sandslash can set up on and threaten the slow Special tanks that limit them offensively, as well as effectively checking the Rock- and Electric- types that threaten them if a Sandslash sweep seems infeasible. Its reduced physical tanking capabilities versus Rhydon and Golem, as well as its Ice weakness, make Cloyster an ideal defensive partner, and Sandslash feasts on the Thunderbolts Cloyster draws in. Additionally, Sandslash shares many switch-ins with Tauros, including Cloyster, Exeggutor, Slowbro, Snorlax, and Starmie, so it often clears the way for a Tauros endgame even if it cannot sweep. Lastly, Sandslash is prone to being crippled by Body Slam paralysis, so Reflect Snorlax can also be effective to block that paralysis and generally help with physical tanking, despite its lower immediate physical bulk. In return, Sandslash threatens an immediate OHKO on Gengar and heavily pressures Rhydon and Golem, which can give mono-Normal Snorlax issues. Snorlax is also invaluable for drawing in, pressuring, and paralyzing Cloyster throughout a match, which is essential to the success of Sandslash.


[STRATEGY COMMENTS]
Other Options
=============

Sandslash has other moves that seem appealing, but all of the legitimate options have already been discussed. Rest could theoretically help it defensively, but it's too slow and burdened by weaknesses. A traditional physical tank set would be outclassed by Rhydon, Kabutops, or even Snorlax. Slash is a good move, but Kabutops uses it better, and it has poor synergy with Swords Dance. Seismic Toss is simply too weak to use, even before setting up. Toxic discourages partial-trapping and forces out Reflect users, but it's too fringe and has many better users. Sand Attack can fish for safe turns to survive attacks or set up, but it's an overly inconsistent gimmick for spending a moveslot.

Checks and Counters
===================

**Ice-types**: All OU Ice-types can easily OHKO Sandslash. Cloyster is particularly threatening, as it outspeeds Sandslash and tanks its hits for easy momentum, though with accuracy factored in, Blizzard only has about a 60% chance to OHKO from full health. Further, Cloyster can get overburdened as a check to many threats, and lure options like Thunderbolt Tauros and Self-Destruct Snorlax can remove it. Lapras has less physical bulk and is outsped, making it vulnerable if worn down, but it can comfortably survive a +2 hit and always OHKO with Blizzard. Articuno and Jynx fold to boosted Rock Slide and Earthquake, respectively, but they outspeed and safely revenge kill Sandslash.

**Starmie**: Although it requires the rare Hydro Pump to OHKO Sandlash without a critical hit, Starmie is nonetheless the most common impediment to a Sandslash sweep. Great Speed, high Special, and Recover all help Starmie check Sandslash consistently. It can have some difficulty switching in, though, as it detests being paralyzed by Body Slam and takes a solid chunk from Earthquake. Starmie also takes upwards of 74% from a +2 Earthquake, meaning Sandslash can often power through if Starmie is worn down and/or paralyzed.

**Tauros**: Tauros tends to stop Sandslash dead in its tracks late-game by 2HKOing with Blizzard, serving as one of its biggest obstacles. However, it takes more than 60% from a +2 Earthquake, which can let the opposing Tauros easily win the vital mirror matchup. Oddball sets lacking Blizzard have a more difficult time, as Sandslash can sometimes survive two Body Slams into Hyper Beam. If Sandslash can boost to +4 Attack, it has good odds to OHKO Tauros with Earthquake or Submission, a feat that can often be game-deciding.

**Grass-types**: Although its improved matchup against Exeggutor is a major advantage of Sandslash over other Ground-types, overall it is far from guaranteed to win one-on-one. Hyper Beam misses, full paralysis from Stun Spore, and Mega Drain recover can potentially let Exeggutor win. Even when Sandslash KOes Exeggutor, it often ends up paralyzed by Stun Spore or in Tauros's Blizzard or Hyper Beam KO range. Exeggutor can, however, end up worn down throughout a match, letting Sandslash get past it more safely. In a pinch, +2 Body Slam into Hyper Beam will KO Exeggutor 84% of the time assuming both moves connect, while Earthquake or Rock Slide instead of Body Slam drops the odds to ~45% without the possibility of paralysis. If Exeggutor manages to switch into an unboosted Sandslash without taking heavy damage, the matchup shifts dramatically in Exeggutor's favor. Explosion and Mega Drain can also allow Exeggutor to force a direct trade. Beyond Exeggutor, Sandslash is completely vulnerable to Victreebel and Venusaur, being outsped and usually OHKOed while failing to OHKO either at +2, though neither enjoys switching in considering their neutrality to Earthquake and dislike of paralysis.

**Fast Special Attackers**: Alakazam can easily revenge kill weakened Sandslash, halting a sweep. Its prevalance in the lead matchup means it is often paralyzed, though, allowing Sandslash to OHKO it risk-free when set up. Jynx has a similar dynamic. Sandslash can try to set up on them late-game if they are paralyzed, especially with Substitute, but this is risky.

**Flying-types**: Sandslash is a shaky counter to Zapdos. It can't 2HKO Zapdos unboosted, unless it runs Rock Slide, and doesn't resist Drill Peck, making it significantly more vulnerable switching in and after setting up. Other Flying-types have better matchups still, as Moltres threatens a burn and 2HKO with Fire Blast, while Articuno OHKOes Sandslash with just Ice Beam. Dragonite performs the best, rarely OHKOed at +2 without the inferior Rock Slide, and Sandslash is susceptible to Wrap and easily 2HKOed by Surf or Blizzard. Even niche Flying-types such as Dodrio and Gyarados can give Sandslash quite a bit of trouble. Rock Slide can substantially threaten these Pokemon, especially Moltres and Articuno, but neither are standard.

**Paralysis**: Sandslash is immune to Thunder Wave but still vulnerable to Body Slam paralysis and Exeggutor's Stun Spore, both of which cripple its effectiveness. Swords Dance can somewhat compensate for this if the foe is also paralyzed, as using it will reapply their Speed drop, rendering them slower. That being said, losing its already-middling Speed tier is a death sentence with Sandslash's vulnerability to special attacks, especially considering the prevalence of Ice Beam and Blizzard on slow Pokemon like Chansey, Lapras, and even Snorlax. Even independent of the Speed drop, any full paralysis turns are particularly devastating for a sweeper.

[CREDITS]
- Written by: [[Gen1UUFan, 477337], [May, 236353]
- Quality checked by: [[Amaranth, 265630], [May, 236353], [FriendOfMrGolem120, 424525], [Zokuru, 263906]]
- Grammar checked by: [[Finland, 517429], [, ]]
 

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