Smoke and Mirrors: An Introduction to Zoroark in BBP
Zoroark’s trademark ability from the cartridges, Illusion, remains intact in Smogon BBP. With it, Zoroark can take on the appearance of any other Pokemon on its team to fool the opposing Trainer. To activate the ability, the Zoroark’s user privately messages the Referee that they would like to send it in disguised as a different Pokemon. The opponent is not notified. The match continues. Only at the end of a round in which Zoroark is struck by an opponent’s attack does the Illusion fade.
In the cartridge games, Zoroark is a fast, fragile, and hard-hitting Special Attacker. It often equips Choice Specs in Singles because it ends up spending all four of its move slots on coverage moves. However, here in Smogon Battle-By-Post, where Pokemon may know all the moves they can learn at once, this sneaky fox Pokemon’s whole stock of tricks gets to shine. And what a repertoire! On any sendout of any Pokemon, the opponent must worry about a disguised Zoroark’s disruptive moves like Imprison, Taunt, Torment, or Knock Off ruining their gameplan. Or the Zoroark can use a move like Dig or Bounce to avoid incoming attacks altogether. And finally, once the Illusion has been broken, the Zoroark can use U-Turn to return to the bench, ready to disguise itself anew. In BBP, Zoroark can call upon all these moves at any time, so they become threats the opponent has to plan for constantly.
How would a devious trainer use this to their advantage? First off, Zoroark is a Pokemon you’ll want to send out on a round where the opponent must order first. This will put immense pressure on your opponent by giving you the opportunity and tools to capitalize on any mistakes they make. Also, Zoroark’s main appeal is its wide and tricky movepool, so try disguising it as another, equally disruptive Pokemon for maximum effect. Teammates like Gengar or Sableye (which are notorious for having extensive 100+ move arsenals to draw from) are already difficult to deal with but are made even more troublesome by the threat of a disguised Zoroark. Finally, try to include Zoroark in teams of Pokemon which cover its weaknesses. Aegislash and Kitsunoh stand out as particularly suitable partners because their shared Ghost/Steel typing is resilient against Fairy, Fighting, and Bug-Type moves -- types Zoroark is weak to. Having partners like these will make the opponent hesitate to use their powerful Super-Effective moves when attacking.
Like every Pokemon, Zoroark has its shortcomings though. For instance, because of its mediocre offenses it often loses in matchups where it can’t capitalize upon its Illusion ability. Fighting-Types demolish it by using Drain Punch, a powerful move which hits it Super-Effectively and heals the user at the same time. And (this is particularly annoying) in BBP held items are public knowledge, so sometimes Zoroark may end up equipping a useless held item like a Mega Stone just so that it doesn’t give away its Illusion.
If trying to bluff out your opponent and punish their mistakes sounds like your kind of thing, give Zoroark a spin! Because Zorua is a LC Pokemon, newcomers joining Smogon BBP can claim a Zorua as one of their three starting Pokemon if they wish.