Sunday, November 13, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #29: Old Pokemon Eight

  The ruler of the Ancient Skies, Aerodactyl.
The Fossil Pokemon
H.P.: 80
Attk: 105
Def.: 65
Sp.A: 60
Sp.D: 75
Spe: 130

Rock Head: Is not affected by recoil from recoil-causing moves, such as Double Edge, Brave Bird, Wild Charge, etc. This is an excellent ability for just about any Pokemon with competent enough stats to abuse recoil causing moves, but on Aerodactyl it is only sub-par. The reasoning for this is that Aero has just one move in its arsenal that allows it to abuse Rock Head (Double Edge), and while this can come in handy on an offensive set, it then becomes the sole reason for running Rock Head in the first place. If Aerodactyl got Head Smash, I think things would be a lot different for the metagame.

Pressure: Opponent loses 2 PP upon hitting Aerodactyl, as opposed to one. This ability, as I’ve stated in other posts on this site, works best with Stall sets. And since Dactyl is anything but a Stall Pokemon, Pressure seems a futile choice. It does, however, tend to work with some success on a Sashed Lead set, but on any other variant, you are probably better off running a different ability. Pressure is a good choice if you don’t know which trait to use on Aerodactyl, but there are other monsters that can flaunt it better.

Unnerve: Prevents opponent from using their held Berry when Aerodactyl is in play. The newest of Dactyl’s traits, Unnerve proves to be the most effective in a situational sense. It allows you to switch in on a Pokemon that relies on Berry usage to get the job done, and completely annihilate their strategy. This could definitely turn the battle in your favor, since a lot of Berry-holding sets are efficient in setting up for sweeps and other problematic scenarios. The problem here, though, is that Berries are quite rare in the UU scene. Furthermore, the most common user of Berries, Resto/Lum Kingdra, demolishes Aerodactyl with natural bulk and STAB Super Effective Water moves. This makes Unnerve a rather unusable trait during many battles, but when it is used efficiently, you will not be displeased. UnnerveDactyl also serves as a good check to the increasingly popular Resto Volcarona set in OU. So don’t count this as completely imbecilic an ability.

Tier: RU (as of January 2012) -previously UU


            Aerodactyl was one of the best leads in the OU environment in 4th Gen, boasting a nearly unrivaled Speed stat, excellent Attack, and a pretty good STAB combination. All of this together, with a Focus Sash equipped, allowed Dactyl to lay up Stealth Rocks just about 100% of the time, and prevent slower leads from doing the same with Taunt.

            Not much has changed about this prehistoric bird in Black and White. And while Aero is probably as good as it was back in the day, the enormous amount of increase in Speed and Power in the new metagame has essentially done no less than leave it in the dust with bigger, badder Leads to choose over it. What’s more its offensive capabilities, while beneficial in the Lead slot, prove to be sub-par on a solely offensive set. All of these reasons account for Aerodactyl’s drop from OU to UU in the four year shift, but in the latter tier is perhaps where Dactyl is best suited for now.  

Potential Sets:

  1. Sash Lead
Ability: Pressure
252 Atk/4 Def/252 Spe
Jolly @ Focus Sash
-Stealth Rock
-Stone Edge

A staple set in  4th gen, Aerodactyl returns as an effective Stealth Rock/Anti-lead-esque threat in Black and White. With one of the best Speed stats in its tier and Focus Sash equipped, Dactyl is almost always guaranteed to set up Rocks for you in battle. EdgeQuake is there for the good coverage and power it provides and, with base 105 Attack, should be doing some damage to opposing team members. Taunt is to stop things like Frosslass or Roserade, and works nicely with Dactyl’s fast Speed.

  1. AeroHoneClaws
Ability: Pressure/Rock Head
252 Atk/4 Def/252 Spe
Jolly @ Life Orb/Leftovers
-Hone Claws
-Stone Edge
-Earthquake/Double Edge

Aerodactyl’s often times overlooked offensive prowess can be made excellent use of with a Hone Claws set. The Accuracy boost works perfectly with STAB Stone Edge, and after just one HC, Edge will hit 100% of the time. Earthquake, of course, is there for coverage again, but Double Edge can be used in its stead for less coverage, but a little more power to boot. The second moveslot can be filled by several moves. Taunt prevents annoying status from stopping your sweep, and also stops fellow Taunters in their tracks, though Roost can restore Dactyl’s dwindling health, especially with Life Orb equipped. However, if you enjoy forcing switches and scouting opposition before you set up, Substitute may be the best choice to aid in your sweep.

  1. ChioceDactyl
Ability: Rock Head
252 Atk/4 Def/252 Spe
Adamant @ Choice Band/Choice Scarf
-Double Edge
-Stone Edge
-Aqua Tail/Fire Fang/Pursuit
        With its good power and ability to outspeed nearly everything in OU and UU, Dactyl makes a superb Choice user. Adamant nature is ideal here to hit everything harder than normal, and even with a Choice Band equipped, it still hits 359 Speed, which outpaces everything up to base 113’s. Of course, whether you choose Band or Scarf depends on how you want to play this set.
        EdgeQuake is here again for coverage, while Double Edge again works nicely with Rock Head, and also adds a bit more coverage as well. The last moveslot may be filled with Aqua Tail in OU, as it hits things like Landorus and Gliscor for hard damage, though Fire Fang is always nice to hit Escavalier and Ferroseed in UU. 

  1. Phazer
Ability: Pressure
252 Atk/4 Def/252 Spe
Jolly @ Leftovers
- Taunt/Stealth Rock
-Stone Edge

Again with the amazing Speed, Aerodactyl makes a pretty decent phazer. In short, this set acts as a more offensively oriented Skarmory, with the ability to force Pokemon out on the switch and gain some nice momentum, as well as rack up some hazard damage. Roost is nice to shrug off the damage of any hits you take, though with sub-par defenses you won’t want to take too many hits all at once. For this set you’ll want to switch Dactyl in on something that can’t harm it in any way, then proceed to either Stone Edge or Whirlwind on the predicted switch. For this reason, a great partner for this set is something like Roserade or Frosslass, as they can stack up the hazards that Dactyl will be forcing switches into.

  1.  Smackdown!
Ability: Pressure
252 Atk/4 Def/252 Spe
Adamant @ Life Orb
- Substitute
-Smack Down

          This set has really only ever been seen on Landorus in OU, but Aerodactyl brings some extra usability to the table with its plethora of assets over Landorus. Firstly, even with an Adamant nature Dactyl outspeeds Jolly Landorus, and reaches an Attack stat of only 10 points less than Lando. Also, Aero gets STAB on Smack Down, meaning it will do more initial damage than when Landorus does it, though it is still quite a weak move. Lastly, Aerodactyl has access to Roost, which allows it to reliably remove Life Orb and Substitute damage and increase its longevity.  
            The objective of the Smackdown spread is to safely set up a Sub on the forced switch, or blatantly predict something particular to come in, then use Smack Down to remove its Ground type immunity, hitting it then with a LO boosted Adamant Earthquake. The reason this set is quite effective is that it catches a lot of opponents off guard, as they believe their Skarmory or Bronzong can effectively wall Aerodactyl. With the given spread, however, both Skarm and Zong are 2HKOed by Earthquake after taking Smackdown damage. This set may appear to be more of a gimmick, but its surprise value, coupled with the fact that Dactyl is naturally fast and powerful, make it one to not overlook in UU, and even notably in OU.

Aerodactyl is never the first choice for an offensive threat on most teams, but given its godly Speed and mixed array of support/attacking options it makes for a uniquely mixed bag that can be quite unpredictable if used as an anomaly from what is expected of it. Give Aerodactyl a chance, and you’ll find its assets are more than enough reason to push through many top-tier monsters, even as they predict an old standard lead set.


  Competitive Usability: 
  •  130 base Speed, enough to outpace almost everything in OU and UU.
  • STAB Rock type Attacks and decent support movepool (Taunt + SR)
  • Good base 105 Attack makes for a decent sweeper.
  • Weakness to common Rock, Ice and Electric attacks (and Steel in OU)
  • Poor Defenses
Verdict:  8 out of 10 

I’ve always thought Aerodactyl to be a really cool Pokemon. It’s based off the ancestral bird that lived during the era of dinosaurs, which is always awesome, and its fierce gaze is enough to strike fear into the hearts of prey and trainers alike. I’d say Aerodactyl is about as cool as it is competitively viable; not the best out there, but still pretty darn awesome.
Aesthetic Design:  8 out of 10

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