Underrated NU Movesets

By Zebraiken. Art by Arkeis.
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Since the tier shifts, the NU metagame has changed an incredible amount. NU has become more offensive than ever, with Scolipede and Jynx threatening to set up all over defensive Pokemon and Primeape becoming the best scout in the tier. We're also hitting that point where the metagame is starting to settle and people sit back and just rely on stale cores that they see other people use on the ladder; this is a time for new and creative sets to shine and capitalize on all the monotony. In hopes of helping people deviate from the Jynx + Primeape + Scolipede teams that are currently all the rage on the ladder, here are a few ideas for sets that are proven to be effective but are a little out of the ordinary; use them as a base for your own teams, or perhaps as inspiration to create your own underrated movesets!

Some Underrated Movesets

Substitute + Endeavor Tauros

Tauros @ Life Orb
Ability: Sheer Force
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly nature
- Rock Climb
- Zen Headbutt
- Substitute
- Endeavor

Tauros has historically been just "above average" in terms of strength in the BW NU metagame and has never really stood out from its fellow Normal-types. Sheer Force is a phenomenal ability, but even with it in tow, Tauros doesn't quite pack that brutal wallbreaking power that other Normal-types like Zangoose or Braviary do. It can't boost its stats outside of the mediocre Work Up, and it doesn't even have an accurate STAB move to rely on with Sheer Force. This inability to bust through popular defensive walls has made it ineffective in the last couple metagames, where bulky offense has reigned and Pokemon such as Alomomola, Musharna, and Regirock sat atop the usage stats. Tauros has never before been able to even scratch defensive Pokemon—Substitute + Endeavor attempts to alleviate that fact, and it does so with surprising effectiveness.

SubEndeavor Tauros is designed to use Tauros's offensive capabilities to force the opponent to go to their bulky Pokemon and then to whittle down their health with Endeavor so that a teammate can KO and break through the opponent's core. Now that frailer Pokemon such as Jynx and Primeape are becoming much more popular, Tauros can nab a lot of free Substitutes by scaring them out (if they try to stay in, Tauros can simply OHKO them). Here's the kicker, though: unlike most Substitute sets, SubEndeavor Tauros doesn't need a free turn to set up a Substitute, since it doesn't necessarily rely on being behind one to be effective. In fact, if you were to predict a switch but instead get your Substitute broken by a ballsy opponent that wants to stay in, they're just bringing you closer to minimum HP so Endeavor can do its job later in the match. Substitute is a fantastic tool that lets Tauros manipulate its HP and catch free turns on Pokemon switching out, as well as allowing free setup on defensive Misdreavus. Though SubEndeavor Tauros looks like a gimmicky set that's purely for wallbreaking, it's surprisingly consistent and almost always useful. For example, it helps significantly with teams that struggle against bulky boosters such as Bulk Up Braviary or Calm Mind Musharna, since it can use Substitute to bring itself to low HP and then mash Endeavor so that another Pokemon can take the weakened threat out.

Some of you might be wondering why Zen Headbutt is being used on this set in lieu of Earthquake. Earthquake is the best coverage move that Tauros has, but Zen Headbutt is definitely the optimal move here. It's boosted by Sheer Force, which means no Life Orb recoil (this is important when Tauros is low in HP!); it also prevents the Tauros vs Misdreavus matchup from being a stalemate and allows Tauros to beat Haunter. In practice, Earthquake is weak against the Pokemon you'll want to target with it; for example, Tauros does a paltry 35% on average against standard Regirock. Everything that you'd want to hit with Earthquake is devastated by Endeavor, anyway. Also, it's important to not stick the 4 spare EVs into HP here—Tauros's HP number needs to be indivisible by 4 so that it can make four Substitutes and lower itself to minimal HP.

If you plan on using SubEndeavor Tauros, you must realize it's not the end-all, be-all solution for offensive teams that have trouble with bulky Pokemon. It has to essentially sacrifice itself to take out a single Pokemon (though you can do more than that if you play well with it or your opponent plays poorly), and if the opposing team has more than one wall then it'll be an uphill climb. 136 HP / 196 Atk / 40 Def / 136 Spe with a Jolly nature is a much bulkier spread that can be used to prevent Alomomola from breaking Tauros's Substitute with Waterfall, although this forces it to lose a significant amount of power and speed and is less effective against offensive teams. Running such a bulky spread certainly isn't a necessity, though; SubEndeavor Tauros does just as well with the standard 252/252+ spread. This set should be paired with physical attackers, since Tauros lures and breaks most physical walls for such Pokemon. Normal-types are ideal partners (especially those that have coverage to hit Rock- and Steel-type Pokemon, since those are still bothersome for Tauros), though you obviously have to worry about typing synergy and beating Pokemon like Gurdurr if you do so. Teammates that can break down Golurk are also appreciated since it's the biggest thorn in Tauros's side; Swords Dance Samurott and Sawsbuck are both such Pokemon and appreciate Tauros's ability to bust through walls.

Mr. Klang (Magnet Rise)

Klang @ Eviolite
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 72 HP / 248 Atk / 188 Spe
Adamant nature
- Shift Gear
- Gear Grind
- Return
- Magnet Rise

The inclusion of Klang here may come at a surprise to a lot of people—it had its glory days back when Cinccino ran circles around the tier and Klang was one of the best checks to Cincy in the game, but the previous metagame was rather unkind to it. It's a common theme through these underrated sets, but Klang capitalizes on the offensive nature of this metagame very well and doesn't have to worry so much about breaking through Alomomola, Tangela, Musharna, or any of the other defensive behemoths. Even though Klang has a somewhat paltry Attack stat, it has a fantastic typing for NU and Eviolite grants it reasonable bulk, giving it plenty of chances to boost (and it needs to). It's certainly still a step down from NU Klinklang back in Round 0, but conditions for Klang are better than ever, since the presence of Jynx hampers Water-types such Samurott and Ludicolo a lot.

While Klang's Steel typing is a virtue on its own as far as setup opportunities go, its real trump card is the use of Magnet Rise. Magnet Rise gives Klang numerous chances to set up and boost, since many Pokemon rely on Ground-type moves to hit. Klang can thus simply set up Magnet Rise in the face of common Stealth Rock setters such as Piloswine or Golem and watch them fumble around as they can't even dent Klang anymore. After a single boost, Klang can outrun Scolipede (the spread also includes enough to outspeed Zebstrika, which would otherwise outspeed after a boost and deal a significant amount of damage with Overheat), use Magnet Rise to evade an Earthquake, and proceed to use Scolipede as setup bait.

The EV spread can be altered to adopt more bulk, depending on what you want to outrun after a single boost. At the very least, Klang should run 92 Speed EVs with an Adamant nature, which is enough Speed to outrun Jynx, Primeape, and Sawsbuck after a boost. Klang doesn't truly need to run more Speed than the listed spread gives, since there are very few Pokemon faster than Zebstrika in the first place, and none of them are particularly relevant or will be able to touch Klang anyway. Admittedly, Klang is still quite weak even after a boost or two, and this inability to beat anything remotely defensive is its major flaw. Klang's teammates should be those that can consistently eliminate physical walls for Klang, because it does rather poorly against a well-constructed defensive team and can't boost fast enough to break through them. Jynx and Ludicolo both can hit most physical walls super effectively and also beat Water-types, which are a major obstacle for Klang in general. Eviolite Gothorita is an interesting partner, not just because it's equally as one-dimensional as Klang and can only set up on defensive walls, but they actually have remarkable synergy with one another. For example, Gothorita can switch in freely on Alomomola and Gurdurr, which are two of Klang's best counters in NU, and trap and kill them to make it easier on Klang later in the match.

Substitute + Shell Smash Gorebyss

Gorebyss @ Leftovers
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 48 HP / 252 SpA / 208 Spe
Modest nature
- Substitute
- Shell Smash
- Surf
- Signal Beam

Gorebyss was actually the first Pokemon ever suspected in NU—it was unanimously voted not broken—but has since faded into the background. On paper, it's a perfectly dynamic sweeper with a great stat spread, boosting move, and coverage, but has never really made an impact beyond the initial fervent cries to ban it. Part of Gorebyss's spiral into irrelevance was the emergence and popularity of Choice Scarf Rotom-A, which just barely outspeeds Gorebyss at +2 and OHKOes it. Ludicolo also came onto the scene, providing a great offensive check to Gorebyss that could fit onto many teams rather easily. But with Rotom-A on the downswing (and with a newly viable means of dealing with Ludicolo), Gorebyss's time to shine has come.

Gorebyss's primary issue has always been trying to find a moment to set up, and that's why Substitute makes it so much more dangerous. It's so threatening after a single free turn that any knowledgeable player will do anything they can to prevent it from using Shell Smash. For example, Thunder Wave on Regirock was actually initially used to keep Gorebyss from switching in and setting up on the former, but Substitute allows it to both effortlessly dodge Thunder Wave or capitalize on Regirock switching out in fear of being KOed (and certainly, if it stays in you can just KO it with Surf!). Substitute alleviates Gorebyss's problems with being easily revenge killed; it can now hide behind a Substitute as Rotom-S or similar Choice Scarf users come in and nail them with Surf or Signal Beam as they break the Substitute. Gorebyss can only run one coverage move alongside Substitute, and Signal Beam is preferable over Ice Beam. The two have similar coverage, but Signal Beam allows Gorebyss to run through Jynx and Ludicolo (which is wonderful, since most offensive teams will really only rely on one or the other to keep Gorebyss in check).

The listed spread gives Gorebyss enough Speed to outrun Swellow after a Shell Smash. Unboosted Gorebyss is outsped by even the slowest Misdreavus, meaning it can use Shell Smash without fear of taking extra damage from its lowered defenses (or it can use Surf to do a chunk of damage if you're expecting to be Taunted). It outspeeds most other walls such as Alomomola and can set up a Substitute before they can status it. SubSmash Gorebyss could use a standard 252 SpA / 252 Spe spread with a Timid nature, but you'll find that the extra Speed is often unnecessary, because most Choice Scarf users are neutered by Gorebyss's ability to set up a Substitute as they switch in.

Gorebyss pairs well with U-turn Primeape and Swellow, which both lure in bulky physical walls for it to set up on and can U-turn into Gorebyss to make the transition seamless. Gorebyss still does have trouble punching through specially defensive Pokemon such as Roselia, Lickilicky, Regice, and Altaria; while none of them are particularly common, the presence of any single one on the opponent's team means that Gorebyss is going to be hard-pressed to make an impact on that match until it's gone or it's carefully worn down. Primeape and Swellow certainly help, but it's also important to carry Stealth Rock and force such Pokemon to take so much residual damage and an attack or two on their switch-ins that eventually you can use Shell Smash as they come in and proceed to sweep their team.

Bulky Pivot Gurdurr

Gurdurr @ Eviolite
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Adamant nature
- Drain Punch
- Mach Punch
- Stone Edge
- Ice Punch / Knock Off

Gurdurr plays the role of a bulky pivot for slower offensive teams that currently have trouble keeping up with the pace of the new metagame. Gurdurr was actually projected to do poorly in this meta by a number of top NU players, but on the contrary, Gurdurr single-handedly beats all of the new drops—Primeape doesn't even dent Gurdurr with a Choice Scarf Close Combat, Jynx is nearly OHKOed after Stealth Rock damage with an Iron Fist-boosted Mach Punch, and Scolipede can't touch Gurdurr and is OHKOed in return. To add to that, Gurdurr fares remarkably well against several threats that have become popular recently, like Carracosta.

You won't find the opportunities to set up with Bulk Up in this heavily offensive metagame and you don't really want to, since it restricts your coverage and utility for a move that will not be helpful in 9/10 battles. Stone Edge is a necessity for Gurdurr to quickly KO Scolipede (if you don't use Stone Edge, it'll just stack a few layers of Spikes while you're trying to KO it), and Drain Punch and Mach Punch are obvious STAB moves that provide Gurdurr with semi-reliable recovery and surprisingly strong priority. The move in the fourth slot depends on the makeup of the rest of your team; Ice Punch is strictly to deal with Golurk and provide a more accurate option for Flying-types, while Knock Off is more useful if your team struggles with Tangela, Misdreavus, or other common switch-ins that rely extensively on their items for bulk or recovery.

If you're using Gurdurr, you'd best be heavily prepared for Musharna moreso than any other Pokemon, because it can simply switch in and do whatever the hell it wants to Gurdurr without any retribution. As such, you should focus on being able to handle Musharna reliably with your teammate selections. Don't think you can slap Skuntank on your team and then stack your team with Gurdurr and other Pokemon that struggle with Musharna; it's a good answer to be sure, but it's remarkably weak and doesn't always even beat Musharna one-on-one. Most of the new drops discourage or impede Musharna in some way, making them good options for teammates—Jynx can Lovely Kiss Musharna or cripple it with Trick, Scolipede has STAB Megahorn, and Primeape can U-turn as Musharna comes in.

Gurdurr is absolutely helpless in the face of most physically defensive Pokemon, such as Alomomola and Weezing. Knock Off gives it some utility against bulky Pokemon, but in general Gurdurr is dead weight against teams with such Pokemon because it can't do anything to dissuade them from freely switching in time after time. Teammates such as Life Orb Jynx and Swords Dance Scolipede can set up on or threaten out most of Gurdurr's common switch-ins, and even the SubEndeavor Tauros set mentioned earlier in this article pairs well with Gurdurr. You can also use Toxic at the risk of losing coverage against either Golurk or Scolipede; while neither would really be optimal, Toxic at least allows Gurdurr to do something to threaten Pokemon such as Alomomola or Tangela, though this doesn't make it any easier for Gurdurr to break through bulky Poison-types such as Weezing or Garbodor.

Now what?

Don't be afraid to deviate from standard sets and try out whatever you think has potential. Of course, new sets will flounder miserably more often than they're successful, but there's no harm done in looking for a cool new way to beat everyone. The metagame will only get boring and stale if you let it be, so grab a favorite Pokemon or two and build your own sets—maybe you'll find the next best thing!

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