Featured Pokemon: Starmie

By Seven Deadly Sins. Art provided by TheMutant.
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Starmie has always been one of the most effective Pokémon in the metagame, with its high Speed and Special Attack, solid movepool, and balanced stats. In fact, Starmie is one of those Pokémon, along with Snorlax and Skarmory / Blissey, whose playstyle really hasn't changed at all since the days of RBYGSC. As one of the most balanced Pokémon in the entire metagame, Starmie has thrived in its role as a speedy special cleaner/support Pokémon.

That's not to say that it hasn't matured somewhat over the course of its life. The leap from GSC to ADV gave it Natural Cure, making it a speedy sweeper that never worries about paralysis. Meanwhile, the new EV system is double-edged sword for Starmie. On one hand, it makes it significantly harder to make Starmie bulky, since it needs Special Attack and Speed to do its job effectively. However, Starmie does far more damage to anything without investment in Special Defense, making it easier to clean up.

Diamond/Pearl brought the largest benefit. Choice Specs give Starmie a massive immediate boost of power, which combines with Surf's excellent coverage to allow Starmie to do huge burst damage. Life Orb, on the other hand, gives Starmie a solid power boost and also allows it to change moves, bringing Starmie back into the spotlight as a special sweeper and cleaner even in a more defensive metagame. Grass Knot is also nice, but rather inconsequential. Starmie also still did its support thing, perhaps better now more than ever due to its ability to deal with a now-physical Gyarados beating down the door. Even in a metagame where the defensive and offensive power is shooting through the roof, Starmie still shines in the roles that it's always held.


Starmie's Qualities

It's easy to look at Starmie's stats and see which ones are the important ones. 115 Base Speed is great in a metagame where everything sits in the 100-110 range, especially when you boast the monstrous type coverage that Starmie does. Choice Scarf isn't doing Starmie any favors though, which can sometimes hurt its usefulness in the long run. To keep with the theme of the special cleaner, let's look at some other qualities that make Starmie effective. The biggest? Starmie's massive movepool. STAB Surf/Hydro Pump is excellent in this metagame, as Water is probably the second best STAB in the game next to Dragon. Combine that with Ice Beam for Dragons and Grass-types and Thunderbolt for opposing Water-types, and Starmie's boasting nearly perfect coverage with only three moveslots. So what goes in the fourth? Recover is there for healing off Life Orb damage or letting Starmie switch in more easily. Psychic provides secondary STAB and interesting neutral coverage, while Grass Knot can hit some switchins hardest (Tyranitar and Swampert mainly). Finally, if you want to be tricky, you can Trick a choice item or an item like Flame Orb/Toxic Orb onto whatever switches in without worrying about permanent status due to Natural Cure.

However, Starmie's defensive stats definitely shouldn't be passed up. 60/85/85 defenses are solid, especially with an effective defensive typing and access to reliable recovery. Resistance-wise, Starmie packs important resistances to Fire, Water, Fighting, and Steel, with a slightly less notable resistance to Psychic. It can also provide Rapid Spin, and its high Speed lets it get the drop on Gengar and Rotom that might want to come in and block the spin. Starmie can also use its defenses to switch into notable trouble Pokémon, most notably Gyarados, and put it down with a strong Thunderbolt. Cosmic Power is available as a comedy option, and can be devatstating if your opponent doesn't get a critical hit, but don't count on it.

Playing With Starmie

Starmie is a very straightforward Pokémon. The easiest way to use Starmie is to just slap a Life Orb on with maxed Special Attack and Speed, then go nuts with Surf/Ice Beam/Thunderbolt/Recover. It's extremely hard for many teams to deal with this, and once an opposing offensive team's scarfer or Starmie check goes down, it usually spells death for the rest of the team. Starmie's resistance to Bullet Punch also makes it easy to use, as opposing Scizor can't pick it off as easily as it picks off others. Defensive teams can be a harder nut to crack. Blissey makes every special sweeper's life hell, so it is imperative that you have a way to reliably remove Blissey if you intend to sweep with Starmie. Other than that, though, Starmie can usually clean up pretty well.

Starmie also works effectively as a lead. With its large movepool, high speed, and access to Rapid Spin, it's easy for Starmie to thwart the setup attempts of are weak to one or more of Starmie's moves, and those that are hit neutrally by Hydro Pump still take tons of damage. Pokémon such as Azelf, Heatran, and even Swampert. Lead Starmie with Life Orb can both start the match with a bang and finish it with a bang, as it can thwart many leads early on, and then come back for a full sweep at the end of the game.

Choiced sets can do significant amounts of damage, especially with the option of tricking Choice Specs onto Blissey to cripple it. However, it loses the main benefit of having such impeccable type coverage, which can hurt it significantly. Choiced sets usually concentrate on throwing out powerful STAB Surf or Hydro Pump, with the second most common attack being Grass Knot. Starmie's other attacks leave it wide open to get smacked by Tyranitar, which is a common worry when using any choiced special attacker.

Defensive sets generally use Starmie's solid set of resistances to its advantage. Resistances to Water and Ice form a defensive core that lets it counter Gyarados with ease, while a resistance to Fire can allow it to switch into Heatran and threaten it. Starmie's Rapid Spin also gives it a crucial defensive tool, as removing Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes from your side of the field is never a bad thing. Starmie also has the firepower to threaten many common spinblockers, as Rotom-A doesn't especially appreciate taking a STAB Surf to the face, and can potentially be 2HKOed if it is weakened slightly.

Playing Against Starmie

The first thing to remember is that Starmie thrives on being faster than the majority of teams. As such, if you see that your opponent is packing Starmie, be on your toes and make sure that your Choice Scarf user remains alive and well throughout the match to stave off any potential Starmie sweeps. Other than that, it's important to minimize its chances to come in. Choice Band Scizor's U-turn is a good way to keep Starmie out, and can potentially catch one looking to absorb a Bullet Punch. Pivot switching can also help, using resists to get something that threatens Starmie into play as fast as possible while minimizing damage. Finally, Starmie has issues with anything that it can't OHKO. Starmie may pack some punch, but it doesn't have enough power to score some crucial OHKOs, which can be its downfall. Snorlax can get a special mention on more offensive teams, as it can switch into any Starmie and threaten it massively with Choice Band backed power.

Stall teams have Blissey, which essentially acts as the be-all end-all way to deal with any special sweeper. No matter what Starmie does, there's no way it's breaking Blissey. Latias can also do well, as its 130 Special Defense can allow it to shrug off even Ice Beams with HP investment. Beyond those two, you'll mainly want to try and keep Starmie from denting your team hard enough for something else to walk through. Toxic Spikes can help wear it down, and can prevent it from just stalling with Recover against offensively weak stall teams. Stealth Rock and Spikes also limit its ability to switch in, and can often force it to Recover instead of dealing damage to your team.

When dealing with defensive sets, the main threat is Rapid Spin. If Starmie spins away Stealth Rock, it can give powerful sweepers like Mixmence and Gyarados free reign to destroy your team. Scarf Rotom is the best way to prevent this, as it outspeeds Starmie, blocks Rapid Spin, and threatens Starmie severely with either of its STABs. However, taking advantage of this Starmie's lower offensive stats can be the best way to handle defensive Starmie. Calm Mind Latias, SubCM Jirachi, some stat boosting sweepers such as DDMence (if Starmie lacks Ice Beam) or DDGyara (barring Thunderbolt) can all use a defensive Starmie's low damage output as setup fodder.

Fitting Starmie Onto Your Team

The way to fit Starmie into the team depends on what kind of team it is, and what kind of Starmie it is. Defensive Starmie is much easier to fit into a team, simply because it needs very little support and can provide aid to many different kinds of teams. However, offensive variants of Starmie need much more help dealing with foes such as Latias and Blissey before they can execute a hard sweep.

Environmental Factors

Starmie loves Toxic Spikes. Since its eternal nemesis is Blissey, Starmie can use two layers of Toxic Spikes in tandem with Recover to simply stall out any variant of Blissey that chooses to show its face. The other hazards can be important, as it is significantly easier for Starmie to sweep when a team is weakened by Stealth Rock and Spikes. Weather-wise, Starmie's access to Recover makes Sandstorm much less of a worry for it, as it is not on as much of an impending timer as other sweepers. This is notable because Tyranitar's ability to Pursuit and remove Blissey can be indispensable.


As far as teammates go, offensive Starmie loves having other heavy hitters that can break holes in teams for Starmie to waltz through. Mixmence can put the hurt on many walls, and if your opponent's Mixmence counter is Bold Blissey taking the Outrage and Ice Beaming in return, it's likely that Blissey will be too low to effectively wall Starmie. At this point, Starmie can absorb Ice attacks that are aimed at Salamence. Many other offensive Pokémon work well with Starmie, including Heatran, which covers Starmie's weakness to Grass-, Bug-, Dark-, and Ghost-type attacks effectively, and receives Fighting and Water resists in return. A Baitran exploding on the opponent's special wall can also make Starmie's life easier. Scizor appreciates having someone to take Fire-type attacks, and it can absorb the same attacks that Heatran can. In addition, Choice Band variants can Pursuit opposing Blissey or Latias. Finally, Tyranitar can take essentially any Special attack that would be aimed at Starmie outside of Grass Knot, while Starmie can switch into Water- and Fighting-type attacks such as Latias' Surf and Gengar's Focus Blast.

Defensive Starmie is more about giving support than receiving it. If Starmie can use Rapid Spin to remove Stealth Rock, Mixmence can come in and wreak havoc without worrying about losing 25% of its HP to Stealth Rock. Gyarados can also absorb more punishment before being defeated, which helps it sweep much more effectively. If Starmie can lure in Rotom-A with Rapid Spin and hit it with a STAB Surf, it can make it easier for Pokémon such as Metagross and Scizor to sweep, while also absorbing Fire attacks for them. Essentially, anything that profits from the removal of Stealth Rock or the baiting of Rotom can profit from having Starmie on its team.

Get Out There!

Given the many ways that this star can shine, it's no wonder that Starmie is one of the few Pokémon to remain OU from the very beginning of RBY to modern-day HGSS. With a little support, Starmie remains one of the best offensive Pokémon in OU, and you're certain to be pleased with its performance.

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