Thursday, April 21, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #8: Old Pokemon Two

An old friend from the Ruby and Sapphire days, the monstrous force of Salamence.

Tier: OU (as of January 2012) 

H.P.: 95
Attk: 135
Def.: 80
Sp.A: 110
Sp.D: 80
Spe: 100

Abilities:  Intimidate: One of the best abilities in the game, Intimidate works wonders for a Pokemon like Salamence whose defensive stats are somewhere in between decent and pretty darn good. The best part is, no matter what role Mence is serving on your team it will always welcome a -1 Attack drop on any of your opponent’s Physical monsters.

Moxie: (DW) The new addition to Salamence’s arsenal, Moxie is really no less wonderful than Intimidate. If anything, it seems to be tailored more toward a Pokemon that receives STAB from Dragon moves and has a Speed and Attack like Mence’s. Simply put, after Salamence KO’s an opposing Pokemon, it automatically receives a +1 Attack boost. That means if you already have a Dragon Dance or two up, it’s almost definitely game over. Of course, this does come with its share of downsides; in choosing Moxie over Intimidate you won’t be able to take hits nearly as well. Also, the ability only activates if Salamence itself is the one to KO the opponent. This means if the opponent faints by residual means, such as Poison or Leech Seed damage, and Salamence is still on the field, it will not score the +1 boost. While these are only minor setbacks it is safe to say that no matter which ability you choose for this red-winged wonder, Salamence will definitely benefit.

            Analysis: One of the top-tier, metagame-defining threats of both the 3rd and 4th generation of Pokemon Competitive Battling, Salamence possesses nearly every trait imaginable of a great Pokemon. Seriously, its design is fantastic (a monstrous draconic blue beast), its stats are unbearably good, and its typing and movepool are impeccable in terms of offensive capability. With all these perks, you’d think it’d be easy to talk about something with this much potential, but the fact of the matter is that this is actually one of the most difficult Pokemon to analyze.
            Reasons for this center around the fact that Salamence is just so versatile it really has become quite difficult to prepare for. Sure, its crippling Ice weakness is something to take advantage of when facing it but inevitably the fact remains that with such a large movepool and such wonderful mixed stats, it’s difficult to pinpoint which Salamence set you are facing in battle. That is, until your Gliscor is demolished by a Draco Meteor, expecting the physical variant. Or maybe you could switch in Ferrothorn to take little-to-no damage from the Outrage and then proceed to Leech Seed stall? No, Salamence almost always carries Fire Blast nowadays. It’s reasons such as these, that it can effectively utilize a Dragon Dance and a Mixed set, that sent it to Ubers toward the end of the last generation, as it feasibly had no counters at all.
            With the introduction of Black and White Mence gets a fresh start, and while in terms of usage there are other powerful threats out there now, one should never underestimate the power of this monstrosity. For if you do, it may be the last move your little Pokemon ever make…

Potential Sets: 
*Note: All of these sets can be altered between Intimidate and Moxie to fit your preference, although some (the ones that are specified) will work better with one over the other.
  1. MixScarf Mence
252 Atk/252 Sp.Atk/4 Spe
Naughty/Rash @ Choice Scarf
   -Outrage/Dragon Claw
   -Draco Meteor/Stone Edge 
   -Fire Blast/Flamethrower

            This set is quite interesting in that it relies on Salamence dealing great amounts of damage to the opponent while retaining its quickness. With close to no speed investment at all, this set may seem a bit odd, but Choice Scarf makes up for this lack of investment and allows Mence to hit as hard as possible from both sides of the spectrum, breaking walls and opposing sweepers alike. With the given EVs and Natures, 355 Speed is attained, which is enough to outspeed any non-Scarfed, unboosted base 110’s. This set boasts nearly flawless coverage, having the potential to hit everything in the game for at least neutral damage (except Heatran holding an Air Balloon). If you still yearn for more Speed, however, a Naïve nature may be employed, which will boost to 388 Speed, although both of the offensive stats will be a bit weaker than they have the potential to be.

  1. DD MixMence
4 Atk/252 Sp.Atk/252 Spe
Naive @ Leftovers/Lum Berry
   -Dragon Dance
   -Draco Meteor 
   -Fire Blast/Earthquake

Similar to the last one, this set makes use of Salamence’s superb coverage and stats, this time being boosted by one of the best moves in the game, Dragon Dance. With the given EVs, Steel-types will not be able to switch in with ease, as you setup and attempt to sweep. After a DD or two, there will be no difficulty in smashing through any form of opposition. The preferred item here is Lefties, for the reliable means of recovery, especially when setting up some Dances, though Lum Berry can be held to ward off unwanted poisons/burns, and even the confusion plagued after a few turns of Outrage. Also, while Intimidate is the ideal ability for this set, Moxie may also be used to speed up the setup process and destroy things in less turns than would otherwise be required (that is, considering Mence knocks some Pokes out).

  1. SalaBand
4HP/252 Atk/252 Spe
Jolly/Adamant @ Choice Band 
   -Outrage/Dragon Claw
   -Fire Fang 
   -Stone Edge/Crunch

            Definitely a great option for a fast Pokemon with such a massive Attack stat and a Dragon-type STAB. Outrage will be the move of choice here, demolishing just about anything that doesn’t resist it and isn’t a heavily invested physical wall. Dragon Claw may be used for less power but better durability, as relying on not hurting yourself in confusion after an Outrage has expired is not always the best source of luck in a battle. Moxie looks like a great choice for this set, as it is not unlikely for a Banded Outrage to knock something out, resulting in a +1 gain. With Jolly/Band, a +1 gain nets 754 Attack….yeah…not much more needs to be said about that.

  1. SalaSpecs
4Atk/252Sp.Atk/252 Spe
Naïve/Rash @ Choice Specs
-Draco Meteor
-Fire Blast
-Hydro Pump

            Yes, there are better Dragons to attempt a Specs Draco Meteor, but not one of them can run a MixedSpecs set like Salamence can. So in the end, if your opponent knows you are Specs and unwittingly sends in their Blissey, you can take pleasure in watching it fall to an unsuspecting Outrage.

  1. Big, Bulky Dragon
252 HP/180 Def/76 Spd
Jolly nature @ Leftovers  *Intimidate
- Dragon Dance
- Roost
- Dragon Claw
- Earthquake

Bulky Salamence with Intimidate can take physical hits all day. Moreso with Roost and Leftovers. While this set takes a bit longer to hit as hard as the other sets do, or even be as fast as the other sets are, you’ll find it is much easier to setup a few Dragon Dances when the opponent can barely even damage you.

  1. SalaMox
252Atk/252Spe/4 Sp.Atk
Naughty/Naive @ Leftovers/Life Orb/Lum Berry  *Moxie
   -Dragon Dance
   -Dragon Claw
   -Fire Blast

The moves in this set are not much different than in the previous sets, but it is definitely played a lot differently. I’ve found this one fills a good role in the lead position, as Salamence will likely be able to take the opponent’s lead down, perhaps even setting up a DD in the process, and then proceed to sweep the rest of the foe’s team. Any of the three mentioned items will work here, as the all benefit Mence in several ways.  

Conclusion:  There are so many good qualities about this Pokemon it is hard to consider that it has any flaws at all. This is perhaps one of the prime reasons it went Uber at the end of 4th Gen. But while it’s looking as good as ever in OU now, it’s definitely not irrational to assume that might happen again. It hasn’t gotten any worse in the generation shift and while it hasn’t gotten much better (really, only a few things have) it remains cemented on its pedestal from whence it came; in the Ruby and Sapphire era. With that being said, Salamence is just as amazing as ever it has been, and if you are in search of a powerful, relentless monster for your team, there is no better place to look.
In terms of design I have always loved Salamence. It is the epitome of what we would conceive to be a Dragon; it is something like the Dragon of all Dragons in Pokemon. Its blue coloration is awesome, and even though it resembles more of a pastel blue or a baby-blue, the fierce grin and sharp eyes really make you not want to make fun of him. The red wings and accents on the tale and face are also very nicely done.

Competitive Usability: 9.5 out of 10 

Aesthetic Design: 9 out of 10 

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