Monday, July 4, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #16: Old Pokemon Five

Devious, cunning, and king of all crows, the newest Pokemon to be spotlighted, Murkrow.
Darkness Pokemon

H.P.: 60
Attk: 85
Def.: 42
Sp.A: 85
Sp.D: 42
Spe: 91

Abilities:  Insomnia: Not a bad ability by any means, but of course Murkrow has better options. If you’re running an offensive set (god bless) and you’re afraid of being put to sleep, this one’s for you.

Super Luck:  A manageable ability to use for an offensive set, with Super Luck upping your chances of landing a critical hit, you can definitely rejoice in finding Murkrow’s sub-par attacks KO-ing foes that would not otherwise be done in. Another good offensive ability on another bad offensive Pokemon.

Prankster: By far Murkrow’s best choice. Acquired from the Dream World, Prankster gives any “status” move (one that does not directly attack the opponent) +1 priority, and with a decent array of useable support options in Murkrow’s repertoire, I think it’s easy to find great amounts of enjoyment in running this.  

            Analysis: Murkrow was, until the introduction of its superior (in almost every way) evolution, a quite decent Pokemon in the lower tiers. 91 Speed and 85 offensive stats, coupled with an excellent Dark-type STAB and usable movepool made it one little wicked bird worth the teamslot if you like potential gimmicks. The creation of Honchkrow in D/P pushed Murkrow even further into the abyss, however, as with nearly improved versions of each of the above mentioned assets, most notably 125 base Attack and 105 Special Attack, Murkrow’s only upper-hand against its boss-ridden evolution was the fact that it was a bit faster.
            Enter fifth generation, where Honchkrow is just as good as the last, (though its tiering might argue otherwise) and Murkrow is surprisingly on par with it. The reasonings for this, though neither Murkrow’s stats  nor its movepool have changed, are twofold. First, with the new Eviolite, Murkrow becomes able to take hits quite well (believe it or not), though this asks for investment in HP and only one of its Defensive stats to fully utilize this effectively. Second, and most significantly of all, with Murkrow’s new ability in Prankster, as well as a quite effective arsenal of support options, it becomes a devious little crow able to stop setup sweepers/powerhouse threats/stallers in their tracks.
            That is correct; with the right mix of team support, moveset dedication, and good prediction on your part, Murkrow can become a valuable addition to any form of team (in any tier) without vying for any form of competition with its evolutionary Boss-crow.

Potential Sets:  
**The majority of these sets will rely on Prankster/Eviolite, as that seems to be Murkrow’s most effective strategy now. They are not limited to this, however.**

1.      SweepStop
252 HP/252 Def/4 Sp.Def
Bold @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
-Thunder Wave
-Roost/Night Shade/Torment/Featherdance

Priority Taunt, Haze and Thunder Wave are the perfect tools for stopping many of today’s most dangerous threats, and Murkrow does this with almost laughable ease thanks to the surprising amount of bulk Eviolite provides it. This set is ideally dedicated to stopping setup-ers like Salamence, Gyarados, and Volcarona in the higher tiers, as well as fast/powerful Pokemon that don’t always rely on setup to cause some devastation, i.e. Latios, Terakion and Hydreigon. Taunt is effective in preventing your opponent from setting up, while it also allows you to stop the likes of Ferrothorn and Forretress in their tracks. Haze is there in case you come in after your opponent has set up a bit, and Thunder Wave cripples anything that relies on its Speed to take care of business, while the percentage of being fully paralyzed is a welcomed bonus. The last moveslot may be filled with a number of other great options to aid in your support/sweep stop. Roost is obvious and ideal in some situations, as it optimizes Murkrow’s longevity. Torment is nice if your opponent doesn’t have too many moves to damage Murkrow from the beginning, and Night Shade allows for Murkrow to be able to stall out/drain some of the opponent’s HP. Featherdance is there if you’d like to ensure certain physical attackers don’t get very far in terms of doing damage, and is essentially viable in forcing switches.
While Murkrow’s defensive stats are garbage, max HP hits 324 which is not too bad, and with Eviolite and 252 EVs, either of Murkrow’s defensive stats caps at 301, which allows it to take hits surprisingly well. The problem here, however, is that Murkrow is by no means a mixed wall. With max HP and max Def or Sp.Def Krow unfortunately suffers from its other defensive stat being on the weak end, and so if your Murkrow is designed to take Physical hits well, you’re almost forced to switch out when a powerful Special Sweeper is sent in.
Otherwise, this set is primed for the brand new competitive metagame, and from experience this set works very well in RU, UU, and even the almighty OU.

2.      Parafusion Krow
252 HP/4 Def/ 252 Sp.Def
Calm @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
-Thunder Wave
-Confuse Ray
-Roost/Torment/Night Shade

An awesome set for stopping stall in its tracks, spreading some status, and just overall being annoying, the Parafusion set works wonders with Murkrow’s new assets. In being both Confused and Paralyzed, your opponent is much less likely to attack you than it is to not attack you, which creates the perfect opportunity for you to freely bring in a sweeper or another powerful Pokemon to start wreaking havoc on your annoyed foe. T-Wave/Confuse Ray are the crux of this set, as Taunt allows you to stop Pokemon that would try to stop you from having some fun. Again, the last slot is up to choice, with each move fitting very nicely into this set. Roost is for recovery, and if Krow has taken some damage in battle, you’re gonna want it to live as long as possible. Torment, on the other hand, further adds to the annoyance factor of this set, as not only does your opponent now have a 25% chance of attacking, but it won’t even be allowed to use the same move twice in a row! Night Shade makes this set perfect for stall, as with Taunt (to prevent recovery) and the Parafusion combo, foes like Ferrothorn and Reuniclus will have nothing left to do but stay in and die, or abandon ship and give you the switch advantage.

3.      PerishTrap
252 HP/4 Def/252 Sp.Def
Calm @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
-Mean Look 
-Perish Song
The ever-wonderful Perish Trapping strategy returns! This time around, it’s borne by a Pokemon with usable defensive potential (yes I said it!) and priority on both of the moves! The ideology of this set is simple; switch Murkrow in on a Pokemon that’s been giving you trouble (or will give you trouble) and give him a Mean Look so that he cannot switch (as long as Murkrow is in play). Next, proceed to Taunt or, if not quite necessary, Perish Song to seal his fate. Now, for the next three turns your goal becomes keeping Murkrow alive so at the very last second you may switch it out, felling your opponent. Roost and Substitute work perfectly well together in this set, as after one Sub and a Roost, it’s already time for you to switch.
Of course, this set is not without its flaws. Because Murkrow is only slightly bulky in one of its two defenses, you must ensure that the Pokemon you are trapping cannot hit you on your weaker side, lest you faint and ruin the whole plan in doing so. Also, as always, Stealth Rocks are of a great concern with Murkrow in general, and must be accommodated for in your use of this bird.
If you can get past these setbacks, you can guarantee at least one kill per match. This is a particularly excellent way to get rid of Pokemon your team otherwise wouldn’t be able to handle. You can also use Perish Song alone to force switches, and essentially to prevent sweeps.

4.      Offensive Choice Scarf
Naughty @ Choice Scarf
252 Atk/240 Sp.Atk/16 Spe
Ability: Insomnia (or Super Luck, if you wish)
-Sucker Punch/Retaliate 
-Brave Bird
-Heat Wave
-Hidden Power Ice/HP Grass/Dark Pulse

An offensive set is easily outclassed by Honchkrow due to the insane deficit in offensive stats between Murkrow and its big-beaked friend, but there is one other thing Murkrow has that Honchkrow would do anything for. This is a 91 base Speed stat. While nothing phenomenal, a Choice Scarf shapes Murkrow into a decent Revenge Killer and late game clean-upper, if nothing else. The minor Speed investment allows Murkrow to hit 333 with Choice Scarf, outpacing base 100’s and 101’s. The full offensive investment is to get the most out of its meager, decent-at-best Attack and Special Attack, while the moveset is quite self-explanatory. Dual STABs in Sucker Punch and Brave Bird are other assets to an offensive set, with Heat Wave and Hidden Power rounding off for coverage.
            Again, this set is nothing spectacular, but it definitely works if played well, and if you are looking to use something not commonly seen these days. Personally, I’ve always liked Murkrow, so I might try out a set like this one in the lower tiers.

5.      Life Orb
Hasty @ Life Orb
252 Atk/4 Sp.Atk/252 Spe  OR 4 Atk/252 Sp.Atk/252 Spe
Ability: Insomnia or Super Luck
-Sucker Punch/Dark Pulse
-Brave Bird
-Heat Wave
-Hidden Power Ice/Hidden Power Grass

Basically the same as the last set, with the tradeoff of some Speed for the ability to switch moves freely. S-Punch and Brave Bird again are excellent STAB moves, but that’s nothing that hasn’t been said before. I find this set inferior in comparison with the Scarf set, but to each his own… 

Conclusion: Murkrow has definitely improved quite a bit this generation, and while it’s not much more powerful than it has been in prior generations, its support movepool, wonderful new ability in Prankster, and the new Eviolite all give it an edge over Pokemon that it might have been competing with in the lower realms of 4th gen. Its major drawbacks are definitely its weakness to Stealth Rock and limited bulk, but if you can see past these with well-thought-of team support, you can definitely see Murkrow show surprising success in contending with many of 5th Gen’s most popular monsters.

 Competitive Usability: 8 out of 10 

I’ve always liked it. While disappointed to find that you had to wait until you beat the Elite Four in G/S/C to obtain it, I found myself greatly pleased in finally capturing one of these little beasts. Its design is wily and almost comical; definitely fitting of a Dark/Flying typing. With a crooked beak and a witch’s hat, Murkrow (and to extent its badass evolution Honchkrow) is definitely one of the coolest, most unique bird Pokemon out there.

Aesthetic Design: out of 10

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