As the release of Pokemon Black and White draws ever nearer, we pause to take a look at some of the new defensive options it brings to the competitive table. Though offensive teams undoubtedly got a big boost with this generation, defensive teams have gotten some significant increases as well, ranging from new Pokemon with useful defensive type combinations and excellent base stats, to new moves and abilities which make stalling a bit easier. Though, as usual, stall lags a bit behind offense in the metagame, Pokemon Black and White adds more than enough to stave off the endlessly repeated “Stall is Dead!” cliche.
Our first contestant is one that hits all the right notes for a defensive Pokemon, with solid stats, a wonderful ability, and a great movepool, and yet its highest stat is actually its Special Attack. Reuniclus actually works exceptionally well as a bulky setup sweeper, using Trick Room to invert its bargain-basement Speed, but its access to Recover, and Calm Mind, as well as its Magic Guard and Regeneration abilities, allow it to stall out incredibly well. And since it works so well on Trick Room teams, we’ll undoubtedly be talking about it again very soon.
Jellicent, on the other hand, is often viewed as a one-trick pony, with its unique Water/Ghost typing allowing it to counter a few very specific Pokemon, and little else. However, this mustachioed Pringles look-alike has a lot of hidden potential. For a start, it gets the unique (outside of the Dream World, anyway) ability Cursed Body, which has a 30% chance of disabling any move that makes physical contact with Jellicent. Now, 30% is indeed a bit low, but for many opponents that would hope to take Jellicent down one disabled move can be enough to force a switch. A Conkeldurr that can’t use Payback, for example, or an Electivire without ThunderPunch, would have to either switch out or attempt to wait Jellicent out as it sits there Recovering away the only moderate damage it receives from their other attacks. Of course, one thing to remember about Jellicent is that its defenses are solid, but not spectacular. In the end, this Pokemon might not really begin to shine until it gets knocked down to UU.
On the side of more raw, all-around defensive strengths, we have Ferrothorn, an early superstar of the 5th generation. As one of the few Steel Pokemon that resist Water and is neutral to Ground, Ferrothorn’s unique Grass/Steel typing alone may have earned it a place in the hearts of Trainers, but along with excellent defensive stats and a highly useful movepool, it seems poised to stick to 5th gen OU like a leech. At first glance, this Pokemon may seem to be just another defensive Steel-type loaded down with crappy Speed and entry hazards, but Ferrothorn’s Grass-typing allows for much better Special Defense than most Steels, meaning it doesn’t have to run the first time a Choice Specs user jumps into play. Ferrothorn also gets access to moves like Leech Seed and Power Whip, moves that Forretress would kill to get its lack-of-hands on. Because of these and other traits, players are finding Ferrothorn very easy to slot into teams, so it’s definitely a critter to be aware of.
Another seemingly powerful Pokemon is finding it much more difficult to make headway, however. Alomomola, the Luvdisc evolution that wasn’t, seems at first glance to have numerous advantages that would make it a highly desireable Pokemon. Its base stats grant it amazing bulk, largely thanks to a massive base HP of 165. This also allows it to take advantage of the new mechanics of Wish; rather than simply restoring 50% of whatever Pokemon is in play when Wish goes off, it now restores HP based on the Pokemon who used it. So an Alomomola with maxed out HP of 534 would restore 267 HP to the Pokemon that receives Wish, an amount which rivals some Pokemon’s maximum health. Unfortunately, Alomomola’s rather constricted movepool and the fact that it can’t make very good use of Boiling Water means that this Pokemon is often ignored in favor of Vaporeon, a Pokemon capable of doing much the same job as the floating heart.
Since the stall part of the metagame evolves so much more slowly than the offensive part, there remains a great deal of opportunity left in this area. Where at first Pokemon like Whimsicott and Amoongus were considered too specialized or even simply too weak, the metagame is now beginning to realize the benefits of each. As always, stall is not dead, just a little sluggish. At any rate, next week we’ll be talking about the new changes to weather that have been rampaging across the metagame, as well as some of the ways you too can have your own personal jet-powered leviathan. See you there!