he of many honks
Despite not being especially powerful, bulky, or fast, Skuntank is one of the most influential Pokemon in the NU metagame due to the Pursuit support it provides. By removing opposing Psychic-types such as Slowking, Gardevoir, Grumpig, and Hypno from the match, Skuntank opens the door for NU's dangerous Fire- and Fighting-type attackers to sweep opposing teams uncontested. On top of that, Skuntank's STAB Sucker Punch is one of the strongest priority attacks in the tier, and it also has access to Explosion, ensuring that it has plenty of value even in matches where your opponent doesn't have any Psychic-types to trap. You won't see Skuntank sweeping teams singlehandedly or walling all of your opponent's attackers, but it offers such unique and important support that it's worth considering on nearly any team.
name: Offensive Trapper
move 1: Pursuit
move 2: Sucker Punch
move 3: Crunch / Taunt
move 4: Explosion
item: Black Glasses / Life Orb
evs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Skuntank provides invaluable Pursuit support for any team that aims to sweep with Pokemon like Charizard, Typhlosion, or Medicham, all of which have very few counters once opposing Psychic-types are removed. This set also has plenty of offensive utility on top of trapping thanks to its powerful Sucker Punch and Explosion. Sucker Punch does heavy damage to most offensive Pokemon, making Skuntank a valuable revenge killer. Crunch is Skuntank's most reliable attack; it has good neutral coverage, lacks any drawbacks, and doesn't require any prediction to use. It may seem a little bit strange to have three Dark-type attacks with no coverage moves, but that's often all Skuntank needs in order to do its job. However, Taunt is an alternative to Crunch that shuts down your opponent's attempts to cripple Skuntank with status, stall with recovery moves, or set up on Skuntank after it's successfully trapped its target. Taunt also reduces the level of prediction needed to use Pursuit and Sucker Punch by limiting the possible actions your opponent can take. Finally, Explosion is an excellent way to send Skuntank out of the battle after its job is done. Don't be too eager to blow Skuntank up early in the game, though, especially if you might need its Sucker Punch for revenge killing later.
[ADDITIONAL SET COMMENTS]
Skuntank has several coverage options it can run to take out specific targets, replacing Crunch or even Sucker Punch if your team doesn't need a priority move. Poison Jab is a solid alternative STAB move that hits most Pokemon that resist Dark at least neutrally, most notably allowing Skuntank to OHKO Shiftry and Cacturne. Fire Blast OHKOes Magneton while still covering Shiftry and Cacturne. Hidden Power Ground also OHKOes Magneton while also 2HKOing opposing Skuntank. Finally, Hidden Power Grass and Hidden Power Ice hit most Ground-types significantly harder than Skuntank's STAB moves, but keep in mind that they are quite weak without Special Attack investment; Hidden Power Grass doesn't even OHKO Whiscash, for example.
Black Glasses is the preferred item if Skuntank is running three Dark-type attacks, while Life Orb is the better choice if Skuntank is carrying a coverage move. Even without a coverage move, Skuntank still sometimes appreciates the extra power that Life Orb brings, especially when it's trying to revenge kill with Sucker Punch or KO a wall with Explosion, but the recoil damage can make it more difficult for Skuntank to successfully trap the Pokemon that it wants to. For example, after Skuntank has taken a single round of Life Orb recoil, Life Orb Haunter will always OHKO with Hidden Power Ground with Stealth Rock damage, and defensive Slowking's Surf will always 2HKO. Lum Berry is another decent option to prevent Pokemon like Gardevoir and Slowking from crippling Skuntank with a burn or paralysis as it switches in, but this set is usually better off with a power-boosting item.
An Adamant nature is highly recommended, since power is much more important than Speed in most cases when using Pursuit or Sucker Punch. However, switching to a Jolly nature does help Skuntank in a few specific matchups against opposing Pokemon with base 80 Speed, most notably in order to attack Gardevoir before it can burn Skuntank with Will-O-Wisp and to prevent Medicham from bypassing Sucker Punch with faster priority moves. If you opt to use Fire Blast or Hidden Power for coverage, switch to a Lonely or Hasty nature in order to avoid lowering Skuntank's Special Defense, since most of the Pokemon that it wants to switch into use special attacks. Skuntank's EV spread is very flexible. When you're using Life Orb, a simple spread with maximum Attack and Speed is the best choice, but when using Black Glasses you should consider shifting a few EVs into HP or defenses to take advantage of Skuntank's decent bulk. For example, a spread of 12 HP / 240 Atk / 32 SpD / 224 Spe will guarantee that Skuntank survives Life Orb Haunter's Hidden Power Ground after Stealth Rock damage while still outspeeding neutral-natured Pokemon with base 80 Speed.
Skuntank is the ideal teammate for Pokemon that appreciate having opposing Psychic-types removed. Medicham and Hitmonchan both benefit greatly from being able to spam their Fighting-type STAB moves freely. Jynx and Fire-types such as Charizard and Typhlosion appreciate Slowking and Grumpig being out of the way. Floatzel notably lures Slowking in and can use Baton Pass on the switch to bring Skuntank in to trap it. Rain Dance Gorebyss suddenly becomes very threatening with Slowking out of the picture. Perhaps the simplest template for building an effective offensive team in NU is to combine Skuntank with one or more Fire-types and a spinner, as with Psychic-types and entry hazards out of the way it is very difficult to stop Pokemon like Charizard and Magmortar.
name: Bulky Trapper
move 1: Pursuit
move 2: Sucker Punch
move 3: Crunch / Taunt
move 4: Explosion
item: Shuca Berry / Lum Berry / Black Sludge
evs: 176 HP / 80 Atk / 252 SpD
By focusing on Skuntank's decent bulk and cool defensive typing, this set aims to allow Skuntank to comfortably switch in and trap or counter not only Psychic-types but also certain other special attackers such as Haunter, Shiftry, and Vileplume. Pursuit is Skuntank's most important move, allowing it to trap and remove defensive Psychic-types in order to open the gate for a teammate like Charizard or Medicham to sweep. Sucker Punch is a useful tool for hitting faster Pokemon, especially since this set doesn't attempt to outspeed most offensive Pokemon. Crunch is a reliable attack to fall back on when your opponent might try to play around Pursuit or Sucker Punch. Taunt prevents your opponent from crippling Skuntank with status or using recovery moves and has nice synergy with Sucker Punch, but keep in mind that this set's lack of Speed investment means Skuntank can't use Taunt to prevent Pokemon like Whiscash from setting up. Poison Jab is also an option in this slot to make Skuntank a solid counter to Shiftry and Cacturne. In the last slot, Explosion is a great tool to ensure you get value out of Skuntank even when there's nothing left for it to trap.
[ADDITIONAL SET COMMENTS]
This set is very customizable depending on what you want Skuntank to counter. With the listed EV spread and a Shuca Berry, Life Orb Haunter's Hidden Power Ground will never 2HKO Skuntank even after Stealth Rock damage, making Skuntank a guaranteed counter. Shuca Berry also allows Skuntank to survive an Earthquake from Tauros or Whiscash and respond with Explosion. On the other hand, Lum Berry makes it safer for Skuntank to switch in and trap Gardevoir, Slowking, and Dusclops, especially if you also carry Taunt to prevent them from further attempts to cripple Skuntank with Will-O-Wisp or Thunder Wave. If neither of those seems necessary, Black Sludge is a great option to help Skuntank stay healthy and better tank weak or resisted hits. For example, with Black Sludge and the listed EV spread, defensive Slowking's Surf doesn't even 3HKO Skuntank, giving you much more leeway in case you mispredict whether Slowking will switch out or stay in and attack. Feel free to adjust the EVs to help against other targets, keeping in mind that Skuntank's high base HP and low base defenses often makes it better to invest in Defense or Special Defense before investing in HP. One other benchmark worth noting is that investing 24 EVs in Speed allows Skuntank to outspeed neutral-natured Cacturne and Crawdaunt and positive-natured Golem and Marowak, which may pay off if your team lacks good switch-ins to any of those Pokemon.
Aside from Fire- and Fighting-types such as Charizard and Medicham that always appreciate Skuntank's Pursuit support, choosing which teammates to use with Skuntank depends on what Pokemon you've tailored this set to beat. If Skuntank is using Poison Jab to counter Grass-types, it fits nicely on teams with defensive cores that are weak to Grass-type moves, such as Regirock + Slowking. On the other hand, Shuca Berry Skuntank's ability to reliably switch in on and remove Haunter makes it a good teammate for Normal-type attackers such as Choice Band Tauros and Curse Lickilicky. Treat Skuntank as a glue Pokemon; almost any team will have some weakness that Skuntank can help it overcome with the right set.
Skuntank can hold a Choice Scarf to reliably revenge kill Pokemon that would normally outspeed it, such as Jynx, Haunter, and Choice Scarf Gardevoir, and Explosion can take out one opposing offensive Pokemon in an emergency. Skuntank is an effective support Pokemon on dedicated Sunny Day or Rain Dance teams. It can set up either weather and use Explosion to get a sweeper in quickly and safely, and its Pursuit support is very useful for eliminating one of the biggest threats to weather teams in Choice Scarf Gardevoir. Rain Dance teams in particular should almost always use Skuntank as one of their supporters, since they also benefit from having Slowking weakened. Memento is an alternative to Explosion if you need to give a teammate such as Belly Drum Linoone or Nasty Plot Shiftry in the sun a free turn to set up.
Checks and Counters
Since Skuntank's primary goal is to trap and remove Psychic-types, the most efficient way to "counter" it is to not include any Psychic-types on your team. That obviously isn't always the right teambuilding choice, but anytime you do bring a Psychic-type, you have to accept the possibility that it will be trapped and eliminated by a Skuntank. The important thing is to build a team that won't completely fall apart in the event that its Psychic-types get trapped. For example, don't rely on Slowking as your only answer to Fire-types. You should also play cautiously with your Psychic-types until you know your opponent doesn't have a Skuntank; switch back out immediately if you predict that your opponent might switch Skuntank in, or at least don't use a move like Psychic or Toxic that will let it switch in for free. Once Skuntank is in, you can always try to outpredict it; stay in when you expect it to use Pursuit, switch out when you predict Crunch, and recover or use a status move if you think it will use Sucker Punch.
When it's not trapping your Psychic-types, Skuntank is relatively easy to counter, although it can take many of its counters down with it by using Explosion. Bulky Rock-types such as Regirock, Cradily, Rhydon, and Probopass are all good counters that can shrug off Skuntank's Dark-type moves and also survive Explosion. Magneton, Hitmonchan, and Poliwrath resist Skuntank's primary moves and force it to use Explosion or switch out. Ground-types such as Sandslash, Gligar, and Whiscash similarly force Skuntank to use Explosion or flee. Skuntank threatens many faster Pokemon with Sucker Punch, but physically bulky attackers such as Tauros and Pinsir survive easily and OHKO back, while others like Jynx and Charizard can use Substitute or other non-attacking moves to dodge Sucker Punch and come out ahead.