Powerful Pixies: Who Benefited Most from their New Fairy-type?

By Syberia. Art by Yilx.
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One must go back 14 years and four generations to find the last time Game Freak introduced a new type of Pokémon. Back to a time when Smogon did not exist and battles consisted of near-endless stall played out in multicolored lines of text via bots on IRC. Back in 1999, the release of Gold and Silver brought two new additions to the type chart—Dark and Steel—to balance out the Psychic-types that dominated competitive play in RBY. The perpetual menace, Tyranitar, was born, and what has come to be known as the best defensive type in the game, Steel, was created. A lot has changed in the years and generations that followed.

With respect to type matchups, GSC and RSE were relatively balanced. Nothing at the time stood out as being overly dominant, until Dragon-types received several boosts in Diamond and Pearl. Dragon-type Pokémon and moves have existed ever since the first Pokémon games, but they were not the threatening force they ultimately became until DPP gave them a few critical tools: a boosted 120 Base Power Outrage, the move Draco Meteor, and the ability for primarily physical Dragon-types to finally use physical Dragon-type moves. Prior to the physical / special split. Salamence, for instance, had to rely on Hidden Power Flying for STAB, whereas it could now use Dragon Claw or Outrage.

In addition to being able to use both physical and special STAB moves resisted only by Steel-types, most Dragons (with the notable exception of Haxorus) possess very large movepools with which to get past their counters. The combination of Dragon, Ground, and Fire was unresisted in DPP and BW, and even running only two of those three types would leave a user walled by only Heatran or Skarmory. From the special side, not even Steel-types enjoy switching into repeated, often Choice Specs-boosted, Draco Meteors. It was because of their enormous sweeping power that Garchomp, and later Salamence, became the first non-legendary Pokémon to get kicked out of OU in DPP (RSE Wobbuffet was technically the first, but the Wobbuffet bans in third and fourth generation were for reasons other than raw gamebreaking power).

Generation V brought more of the same. Salamence was gifted with Moxie to raise its already high Attack even higher after KOing something. Haxorus received a base Attack stat only three points lower than Deoxys. Dragonite gained Multiscale, allowing it to set up with near impunity even against things it was weak to. Perhaps realizing the monster they had created, Game Freak introduced the Fairy-type in XY to try and restore balance. Resistant to dominant OU attacking types Dragon and Fighting (as well as lesser-seen Dark- and Bug-type attacks) and only weak to relatively uncommon Steel and Poison moves, this type was not only given to new Pokémon, but also retroactively applied to many from generations past. Which of these "new old" Fairy-types benefit most from this change?



Ever since the first evolutionary form of this was known as "Pikablu," I wanted it to be good. And all I was ever met with was disappointment. In GSC, it was plagued with terrible stats. That was remedied in RSE with Huge Power, but Azumarill still had no physical STAB move to work with. DPP gave it a physical Waterfall and Aqua Jet, but illegal move combinations abounded for our poor aquatic rabbit, and a generic pure Water typing meant that it would forever be outclassed by the likes of Gyarados, Swampert, Jellicent, and friends.

Azumarill was given a new Water / Fairy typing in XY, along with a new STAB move in Play Rough. With acceptable 100 / 80 / 80 base defenses, six resistances, and one immunity, Azumarill now has the ability to switch in on many foes without dying and hit back with an Attack stat higher than that of Salamence and Garchomp. The following sets make this Pokémon a force to be reckoned with in OU:

Choice Band
Azumarill @ Choice Band
Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 212 HP / 252 Atk / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Play Rough
- Aqua Jet
- Waterfall
- Ice Punch / Superpower

With a Choice Band attached, Azumarill reaches an incredible 654 Attack stat. With that kind of power, Play Rough is going to take a huge chunk out of anything that does not resist it, and can even leave quite a dent in many things that do. To give an example of its power, Play Rough will deal a minimum of 60% to 252 / 252+ Rotom-W, a common switch-in if the opponent is expecting a Water-type move. If the same Rotom-W invests in Special Defense instead, Azumarill now has a 68% chance of OHKOing after Stealth Rock. Waterfall is Azumarill's strongest option against the Steel-, Poison-, and Fire-types that resist Play Rough, while Aqua Jet is an invaluable tool for picking off weakened, faster foes. The last slot comes down to what you need to hit more: Superpower does a minimum of 80% to 252 / 252+ Ferrothorn, and has a good chance to OHKO any that do not fully invest in Defense, while Ice Punch hits Grass / Poison types, which otherwise resist every move on this set, for super effective damage. The EVs are designed to outspeed Blissey and KO it before it uses Thunder Wave or Toxic. In this case, an extra 11 points in Speed are much more useful than 11 points in HP.

Belly Drum
Azumarill @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Belly Drum
- Aqua Jet
- Play Rough
- Superpower

After a Belly Drum, Azumarill's Attack skyrockets to an absolutely massive 1744. Anything that is not a dedicated physical wall and doesn't resist Water is going to be destroyed by Aqua Jet. Play Rough and Superpower should pretty much only be used to damage predicted switches before Azumarill is in a position to set up a sweep with Belly Drum. Pulling off a Belly Drum sweep is not as easy as it might seem at first glance, and although this set has the potential to deal an incredible amount of damage, it does so less reliably than the Choice Band set.

Azumarill's terrible Speed means that once it uses Belly Drum, it is pretty much forced to go for Aqua Jet against everything or be outsped. Although the given EVs allow for the activation of Sitrus Berry at exactly 50% health (immediately after Belly Drum is used), Azumarill generally must endure a hit while setting up Belly Drum (if it has not already taken damage from entry hazards and hasn't switched into an attack) and then must rely on a 40 Base Power move to deal damage until it dies. If the opponent has any Pokémon that resist Water remaining at a decent amount of HP, they can generally survive a hit from Aqua Jet and finish off Azumarill from whatever amount of health it has remaining, and if Azumarill switches into either hazards or resisted moves too often without an opportunity to set up, it will lose too much HP to Belly Drum effectively. With these warnings in mind, though, an opponent who can do nothing as they are torn apart by a blue bunny on steroids is a glorious sight to behold!


MawileMega Mawile

Mawile, what a cute, innocent face you have, and… oh god, what is that on the back of your head? Unless you're one of the few Pokémon that can take a Play Rough followed by a Sucker Punch from the highest unboosted Attack stat in the game, it is terror. Pure, unadulterated terror.

Generation VI was unusually kind to Mawile, not only giving it a new type, but a powerful new Mega Evolution as well. Sharing the ability Huge Power with our other most improved Fairy-type, Mega Mawile hits like a truck. With an unboosted Attack stat of 678, it's capable of dealing more damage than most Choice Band users, all while being able to switch moves and even boost its Attack to obscenely high levels with a single Swords Dance. Its mediocre base 50 HP is made up for by 125 / 95 defenses, nine resistances, two immunities, and access to Intimidate (via regular Mawile) to aid switching in.

User Treecko has written an excellent competitive analysis of Mega Mawile in this month's article on Mega Evolutions. Please give it a look to discover all the ways this thing can wreck your opponent :)

Runner up: Togekiss


If Azumarill and Mawile are one trick ponies, limited to causing as much damage as they can before finally giving up the ghost, Togekiss can be seen as a jack of all trades. Possessing above-average stats everywhere except Attack and Speed, an excellent movepool for both offensive and support roles, reliable recovery, and exchanging a relatively useless Normal typing for Fairy, there is not much that Togekiss can't do at least decently well. With immunities to both Dragon and Ground, it only has to worry about non-STAB Fire-type moves from most standard Dragons and can hit back with a super effective Dazzling Gleam. Newfound resistances to Fighting (4x) and Dark (2x) afford Togekiss a few extra opportunities to switch in and spread paralysis and flinch-haxing fun.

It is not all fun and games for our little bundle of joy, though. A weakness to Stealth Rock severely hinders its ability to function as a proper wall, its poor Speed means it will usually have to take a hit before healing itself with Roost, and weaknesses to common Ice- and Rock-type attacks means that most offensive Pokémon will (or at least, potentially can) carry something capable of hitting it super effectively. Although these critical flaws have netted Togekiss "runner-up" status, that does not mean it does not have options to function acceptably in OU:

Bulky Kiss
Togekiss @ Leftovers
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def or SpD / 4 Spe
Bold / Calm Nature
- Air Slash
- Thunder Wave
- Nasty Plot / Heal Bell
- Roost

Togekiss can choose to invest in either Defense or Special Defense depending on what your team needs. The former pairs nicely with Togekiss's resistances and immunities to wall physical attackers (just watch out for Ice- and Rock-type coverage moves) and the latter capitalizes on Togekiss's base 115 Special Defense. Either way, the general purpose of this set is to absorb a hit, paralyze the opponent, and either Roost in their face or boost Togekiss's stats and proceed to flinch them to death with Air Slash. If you're not interested in Nasty Plotting, Heal Bell can be used to support your team as well as get Togekiss out of a bind if it happens to switch into an errant Toxic or Will-O-Wisp, or you could try Aura Sphere or Flamethrower to help against things that resist Air Slash, though with no offensive investment, it will not be doing major damage.

Nasty Plot
Togekiss @ Leftovers / Life Orb
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 200 HP / 252 SpA / 56 Spe
Modest nature
- Nasty Plot
- Air Slash
- Dazzling Gleam / Aura Sphere
- Fire Blast / Aura Sphere / Roost

The goal of this set, of course, is to boost Togekiss's Special Attack and sweep. The combination of Air Slash and Dazzling Gleam is resisted only by Steel-types, all of which (except Heatran) do not enjoy taking a Fire Blast. Aura Sphere is an option to get past Heatran at the expense of losing super effective hits on the likes of Metagross, Jirachi, and Aegislash. Finally, Roost is an option to keep Togekiss in the game longer (and heal off Life Orb damage if you opt to run said item), though you will lose coverage against certain threats.

The EVs given are intended to give Togekiss a bit of extra bulk for use with Leftovers while at the same time outpeeding the various Rotom formes even if they put their extra 4 EVs in Speed. Even with Leftovers, Togekiss has a chance to KO Rotom-W after Stealth Rock if it Nasty Plots on the switch, gets the flinch with Air Slash, and finishes it off with Dazzling Gleam. More offensive Togekiss can run more Speed investment, up to the maximum of 252, though another good number to hit is 248 (208 EVs) which outpaces all forms of Tyranitar as well as minimally invested base 100s like Celebi and Jirachi that like to hang around the 244-246 mark. If you run Togekiss on a team with Sticky Web, an extra stat point (a total of 212 EVs) can be used to allow Togekiss to outspeed anything lower than base 120 after the Speed drop.

Choice Scarf
Togekiss @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Modest nature
- Air Slash
- Dazzling Gleam / Aura Sphere
- Fire Blast
- Trick

With a Choice Scarf boosting its middling Speed, Togekiss can proceed to (hopefully) flinch everything in sight with Air Slash, which has a 60% chance to flinch with Serene Grace. Dazzling Gleam provides super effective coverage against Dragon-types, which Togekiss now outspeeds, while Aura Sphere is still its only way of getting past Heatran. Fire Blast takes care of Steel-types that resist Togekiss's STAB moves, and Trick can allow Togekiss to screw over a wall, support Pokémon, or setup sweeper if predicted properly. Running a Timid nature is an option, but the only things that are outsped with Timid and not Modest are Pokémon with base 130 Speed and above, which are rarely seen in OU.

Honorable Mention: Gardevoir

GardevoirMega Gardevoir

Gardevoir received the same treatment as Mawile in XY, receiving both a Fairy retyping and a Mega Evolution. Despite being used by the Kalos champion, however, it pales in comparison with Mawile in terms of raw power. Its ability, Pixilate, in conjunction with Hyper Voice, gives it a 175 Base Power (after STAB) Fairy-type move coming off of base 165 Special Attack, but middling base 100 Speed and terrible HP and Defense (base 68 and 65, respectively, and completely unchanged from regular Gardevoir) ensure that Mega Gardevoir is relatively easy to kill. It is not a bad Pokémon, per se, but when you are limited to one Mega Evolution per team, and options like Lucario, Pinsir, and Mawile exist, it is easy to overlook poor Gardevoir. If only Game Freak had not given it a completely useless 20 point boost in Attack, and allocated those points to Speed instead, perhaps it might have fared differently.

Wishful Thinking: Cresselia


Come on, admit it. You wanted this to happen. She's the Lunar Pokémon, and Fairy-types seem to have some relation to the moon by Game Freak's logic. She learns Moonblast, and the now Fairy-type Moonlight. Why, oh why, was Cresselia passed over for a Fairy retyping?

She has always been a defensive powerhouse plagued by poor typing. Gaining a Fairy typing would have removed her two main weaknesses to Bug and Dark; no longer would Tyranitar walk all over her. She would have gained STAB on a move with nothing immune to it, and already has the defenses to set up Calm Minds with impunity. Could we have seen CroCune reborn as CroCress? Alas, it was not meant to be...

Fairy-types in XY OU

Prior to the release of X and Y, it was often predicted that Fairy would be the new Dragon. With a powerful STAB resisted by only 3 types, of which Fire Pokémon typically have poor defenses and Poison is rarely seen, and weaknesses to only two uncommon attacking types, they certainly had the potential to be. It was thought that Fairies would dominate the metagame, soaking up neutral or resisted hits and dishing out damage like crazy. While this may seem like a perfect description of Mega Mawile, it has proven to be the exception, rather than the rule.

Most Fairy-types have been mediocre at best and crippled by poor stats, shallow movepools, or both. Many do not have the tools necessary to be the Dragonslayers they were meant to be. Even those that are good are balanced, and certainly not the insanely broken powerhouses some were predicting they would be. Azumarill must either lock itself into one attack or rely on a very risky strategy to do significant damage. Togekiss is weak to Stealth Rock and two very common attacking types capable of being used by most things it would otherwise wall. Even Mega Mawile has horrendous Speed and low HP. That said, neither Fairy- nor Dragon-types seem to be breaking the game so far. Perhaps the few viable Fairy-types are doing their job. In the two months of uncertainty since XY's release, only one thing is certain: it will be an exciting to see what the future brings for these two types.

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