Out Of Style: Why Assault Vest Can't Be Slapped on Just Anything

By Molk. Art by Bummer.
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Assault Vest is one of the items introduced in the sixth generation of Pokémon with a competitive use: it boosts the holder's Special Defense stat by 50%, but in return, the holder can only use attacking moves. At first this looks like a pretty good tradeoff, but believe it or not, using this item often isn't worth it over better options. In this article I'll be explaining why, contrary to the belief of new players, Assault Vest isn't an item that you can simply slap on every offensive Pokémon and expect to work. I'll also show some examples of poor Assault Vest users, and give examples of what Pokémon can actually use Assault Vest effectively. This particular article will be geared towards the RU tier, but the general point of this article should apply to every other tier as well, although the Pokémon in question will be different.

But Wait, What's Wrong With Assault Vest?

Although the general tone of this article might suggest otherwise, I'll get this out of the way early: Assault Vest isn't an objectively bad item. There are definitely cases where the right Pokémon can use the item effectively, but that's the thing; you need the right Pokémon to make it worthwhile at all. New players in all tiers have a tendency to simply slap Assault Vest onto every Pokémon in sight, often hampering the Pokémon's effectiveness in the process by not using better options and not getting the full benefit out of the item itself at all. If you're going to use Assault Vest right, you need to think long and hard about whether the Pokémon in question actually works well holding one.

Types of Pokémon That Shouldn't Be Using Assault Vest

(1) Frail Pokémon

This is by far one of the most common mistakes I see with Assault Vest. A 50% Special Defense buff on a frail offensive Pokémon might seem like a good idea on paper, but it really doesn't play out effectively in practice. For starters, a frail Pokémon holding an Assault Vest will often still be too frail to take a hit even when holding the item. Things like Assault Vest Durant will still be dying to pretty much every special attack thrown at them even with the buff to their Special Defense, which means it really isn't worth it. On top of this, there are several items that function significantly more effectively for Pokémon like this, including Choice Band, Choice Specs, Choice Scarf, and Life Orb. By giving Assault Vest to frail Pokémon, you're missing out on all the added benefits the aforementioned items could give you, all for a Special Defense buff that, at least on a Pokémon with defenses that low, probably won't even matter in the end. While these Pokémon aren't as frail per se, Pokémon that rely on Close Combat in particular also fit into this category, as the drawback of the move itself is completely counterproductive with what Assault Vest is supposed to accomplish.

(2) Pokémon that rely on their support movepool

So you've scratched frail Pokémon off your list of Pokémon to slap an Assault Vest onto, and started to look at the more defensive/supportive side of the tier to find a Pokémon that can effectively hold the item. The problem? Assault Vest's drawback makes it so a Pokémon that's holding it can only attack and not use useful support moves such as Stealth Rock, Spikes, Toxic, Thunder Wave, Taunt, Sleep Powder, Will-O-Wisp, and Recover to support its team and keep itself alive for longer. No matter what anyone else tells you, the Special Defense buff simply isn't worth it on these Pokémon when you end up losing access to moves this valuable in the process. For example, this means that Assault Vest Qwilfish is completely unable to set up those valuable Spikes you should be using it for in the first place, while Assault Vest Whimsicott loses out on its entire plethora of support moves to abuse Prankster with, pretty much defeating the purpose of using Whimsicott in the first place. Assault Vest Amoonguss and Assault Vest Hitmontop might not look quite as bad as the former two at holding Assault Vest (the former was even believed to be a solid holder of it in the first month of the XY metagame, although of course that simply isn't true in RU now), but the former sorely misses its access to Spore, while the latter is unable to use Toxic and Foresight to get past the various spinblockers in the RU tier, making it much less effective at what its actually aiming to do: Rapid Spinning away entry hazards.

(3) Pokémon with low offensive stats

Given that attacking is the only thing a Pokémon holding Assault Vest can do, a Pokémon that can use that item effectively should be able to deal as much damage off the bat as possible. Still, Assault Vest finds its way onto Pokémon that simply don't have the initial offensive presence to utilize it effectively. Pokémon such as Registeel and Lanturn might seem good on paper with an extra buff to their already good defenses, but they simply don't hit hard enough to make running a fully offensive set without an item boost a viable option. Pokémon that rely on boosting moves to sweep also fall into this category. Pokémon such as Drapion and Slurpuff might be perfectly fine sweepers, but if they need a Swords Dance/Dragon Dance/Belly Drum boost to do so reliably, they obviously aren't good users of Assault Vest as they can't use these moves as long as they're holding it.

(4) DOUBLADE (and NFEs in general)

Just... no. Putting an Assault Vest on Doublade is one of the worst possible things you could do with it. Not only does Doublade lose access to Swords Dance to boost its Attack stat while using the item, but it also misses the chance to use Eviolite, which does the same thing to Doublade's Special Defense stat while also giving the same boost to its already excellent physical bulk and still allowing it to use Swords Dance. The same applies to every other NFE in the game as well; there's no reason to use Assault Vest on them when Eviolite's around.

So What Pokémon Should Be Using Assault Vest?

Now that I've shown what kind of Pokémon make bad Assault Vest users, now it's the time to explain what Pokémon can actually hold the item effectively. The select few Pokémon that should be holding Assault Vest are slow, bulky tanks that can afford to take a hit and dish out some major damage in return. These Pokémon should have a method of recovering their HP in the form of moves such as Drain Punch and Giga Drain, or the ability Regenerator to recover HP passively. If they can't do this, they can still get away with it if they have resistances to common special attacking types such as Water, Electric, Grass, Fire, Fairy, and Psychic (so not Rhyperior), all while not fitting or only minimally filling the qualities stated in the previous sections. Three good examples of RU Pokemon that fit the qualities of a good Assault Vest user are Slowking, Druddigon (a scream echoes from TROP's homeland, Guatemala), and Escavalier, all of which sport the item excellently.

The Exception:

At first glance, Reuniclus might look like it fills all the qualities of a good Assault Vest Pokémon. It's bulky, hits hard, and has a great ability in Regenerator to keep itself healthy. However, Assault Vest still isn't a good item on it. Why? Because it has other things it'd rather be doing than using an Assault Vest. By holding an Assault Vest, Reuniclus loses out on three of its most important moves: Calm Mind, Recover, and Trick Room. While Reuniclus can get away with not using these in theory, it really misses the ability to break through defensive teams, Recover HP on the spot without switching out, and turn the tables on faster offensive teams, respectively. Tacked onto this unfortunate case is the fact that, while Regenerator is a fantastic ability for sure, Reuniclus's other ability, Magic Guard, is simply better overall. Lastly, Assault Vest Reuniclus receives competition from Assault Vest Slowking, which has more special bulk as well as important resistances to Fire-, Water-, and Ice-type moves.


In conclusion, Assault Vest is an item that might look good on paper, but in practice, mindlessly throwing it on every Pokémon you see simply isn't a good idea. Assault Vest does have its uses on a select pool of Pokémon, but you need to be careful to make sure your choice is worth its salt.

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