Starters Untamed: Johto

Good day PJ readers! I just want to start off saying thank you for such great feedback that was given on my previous article on the Gen I starters. It was more of a success than I initially thought, and I’m very grateful of your insights! And due to some requests I’ll be completing the rest of the starters and go from there. Each Pokémon has their own sets of uses in competitive play, so the amount of talk and debate surrounding this topic is pretty in depth.  Read it all after the break!

Anyhoo, to start off this new article we’ll be discussing the Gen II starters from the famed G/S/C versions. To begin, we’ll discuss the first of few pure grass types (for that time at least); the herb Pokémon Meganium. As mentioned, I am a pretty big grass type fan so when G/S/C came out I instantly fell in love with Chikorita. The design was awesome and yes, I do love the huge flower mane thing that its final evolution sported (so sue me!). Overall this starter is easily the most aesthetically pleasing in my book. However, upon my development in Gen II my opinions of Meganium changed . . . for the worse.

Stat wise, Meganium is just kindof. . .meh. It’s basically built as a physical/special wall, delivering decent numbers in the defense department, clocking in at 100 for each respective defense stat. Offensively, Meganium really falls behind. It’s attack stats are somewhat underwhelming and it’s rather sluggish (I mean, it is a lumbering flower dinosaur) with no way to boost its speed stat. The biggest dent Meganium has offensively is its atrocious move pool. Aside from a few particularly good STAB moves (Energy Ball, Grass Knot respectively) it gets very few attack moves that prove useful in the battle field. The only exceptions are Body Slam (which is later overlooked in the newer generations), Earthquake, and the newest addition of Dragon Tail. I could see Dragon Tail being at least somewhat useful, often phazing opponents by forcing them to switch on Spike/Stealth Rock/Toxic Spikes set ups, but there are many other pokes who work that role much more effectively. Even if it contains Earthquake in its move pool, it most likely won’t kill a fire type in one shot due to the lack of offensive stats and STAB. All you really need to do to counter Meganium is to switch in something that resists its main moves and it won’t have much be able to do much.

If there’s one redeeming quality of Meganium, and that it serves a fairly decent support role. As the newer generations came out, team battles were enhanced and supporting moves became more common. Meganium does come with some respectable bulk and its move pool has been improved on more of a defensive side. Many common Meganium builds come equipped with DualScreens (Light Screen/Reflect) and Aromatherapy. The screens are obviously for defensive set ups, and Aromatherapy can be used to heal any unwanted status effects on the team. With the constant use of Will-o-Wisp, Toxic Spikes, and other irritating moves in the battle field this could prove quite helpful. Now with the DW in play, Meganium learns Leaf Guard. This heals any and all status problems while under Sunny Day conditions. Now Meganium can serve under more of a niche role on Sunny Day teams as a Dual Screener/status healer. Basically a “medic” if you will =p

Even with these new additions, Meganium just doesn’t really cut it in competitive play. Its poor typing comes with the threat of many common attacks and its move pool isn’t allowing it to kill much any time soon. It does play a decent supporting role, but many other pokes fit in to that role much more nicely.

Next up we’ve got the infamous Eruption Pokémon (and my personal favorite fire type starter), Typholsion. I never liked fire types much before this beast came out. There’s something intriguing about his design . . . it’s simple, yet very unique. The exploding mane is what probably did me in. As the years progressed he eventually became my favorite G/S/C starter.

Not only does Typhlosion deliver in looks, he also brings some nasty prowess to the table. Just by looking at Cyndaquil’s base stat distribution you can easily tell that this fire type is built for what fire types do best; to kill things. His speed stat is nothing to scoff at, scoring a high 100. Its special attack complements his speed at an even higher 109. While its physical attack isn’t terrible, it really isn’t Typhlosion’s forte. His move pool started out strong and ends up even stronger, posing surprising threats such as Thunderpunch and Earthquake to take care of his weaknesses. While they’re physical and don’t have a STAB, Typhlosion is built for the offensive so at least one of them is nice to have just in case you anticipate a switch in. Over the years Gamefreak has don’t a nice job improving Typhlosion, giving him moves such as Focus Blast and Rock Slide. Due to his solid move pool it allows Typhlosion to take on many of its threats in competitive play. Just be sure to watch out for pokes that are quicker and have high offensive moves that he’s weak to.

Some new additions to Tylphlosion really make him shine in battle. Eruption is a great attack if used correctly, seeing as its incredibly powerful (and special based), so combine that with STAB it’ll do tons of damage even to pokes that resist it so long as Typhlosion’s HP is full. However, with the common use of Spikes/Stealth Rock, it could be very risky to rely on. A new physical attack Wild Bolt was introduced in Gen V, allowing him to hit (and hit hard) with an electric attack. It’s a better option than the common Thunder Punch (so long as you don’t mind the recoil). Many have strayed from giving him thunder type attacks. Instead, Typhlosion has found a nice spot on Sunny Day teams. He has access to the powerful grass move Solar Beam, so with Sunny Day in effect you won’t have to wait a turn for a boost. Combined with his high special attack and you’ve got one deadly force. While it might not kill certain water types (many come with defensive bulk) you might be able to take out those ground/rock types lacking in the special defense department. He also comes with a new DW ability; Flash Fire. When he gets hit with a fire type attack it’ll boost the power of his fire type moves but an insane 50%. You might ask, “Who the heck would have the right mind to attack fire with fire?” You’re right, and not many would do so intentionally. But if you play your cards right and anticipate a fire attack, just switch this sucker in to “take the heat”. Nitro Charge is a welcome addition if you’re looking for a quick speed boost (especially if he’s your lead), that way you can set up for a powerful sweep.

Typhlosion is a pretty decent Pokémon overall. He does come with some common weaknesses i.e Water, Ground, and Rock, but if you play your cards right you can create a fiery beast that is capable of sweeping teams.

And finally we have our Gen II water type, Feraligatr. I must say Feraligatr is my least favorite Gen II starter and my 2nd to least favorite water starter overall. I don’t know why, but he just never really caught my attention much. Needless to say he was the last starter that I chose (when I get the games I normally make three runs, each run picking a different starter).

Unlike the previous gen’s water starter, this guy is built mainly for the offensive. He delivers a solid attack scoring a 105 and reasonable physical bulk, having a defense score of 100. His other stats are nothing to be ashamed of either, clocking in at the high 70’s mid 80’s. He’s pretty much your standard offensive water type. At the start of Gen II, though, he really didn’t deliver much. At the time there wasn’t a physical water type attack to compliment his offense, so he was left with moves such as Surf/Hydro Pump for his main STAB. He does learn the ever-so-useful Crunch attack, which is nice to take care of those irritating psychic/ghost types (plus it’s a physical move). To enhance his physical prowess, he also learns Curse so he can become more or less a physical/offensive tank at the sacrifice of his already mediocre speed. Overall water is just a great offensive type, only coming with two resists (obviously water and also grass) and two weaknesses. Most Feraligatrs come with Earthquake and (at the time) Ice Beam to counter his opponents.

Feraligatr really doesn’t shine up until you get into the later generations. A fantastic physical water attack was finally released (Waterfall), thus allowing those water types a chance at a physical sweep. He also gets Ice Punch, which again goes well with his physical attack. Probably the best addition that works for Feraligatr is the move Dragon Dance, which raises his speed and attack by one score. Applying one or two of these and you’ve got an effective sweeper on your hands. Probably one of my favorite combos involves utilizing Dragon Dance with Waterfall and Return. I wasn’t aware of this, but the Waterfall/Return combo hits everything for at least neutral damage (Waterfall takes care of steel/ghost/rock and Return for the grass/water types). Not only that but they’re pretty powerful attacks that go with his physical stats. You can substitute Dragon Dance for Swords Dance if you feel you can do without the speed boost. Life Orbs and speed/attack boosting berries work well with Feraligatr, allowing you to maximize his sweeping abilities. With the new DW abilities, Feraligatr gets Encourage, which raises his attack’s power at the expense of their secondary effect. If you’re O.K with losing flinching from Waterfall, this is the way to go.

The one main thing that sets Feraligatr back is his number one contender: Gyarados. Gyarados sports much higher attack, slightly higher speed, and a better ability (Intimidate). He also comes with the same moves and then some, such as Stone Edge, Bounce, and Payback . He also has higher defenses (79 in defense and 100 in special defense) with better HP. The main drawback is the 4x weakness to electric and a weakness to Stealth Rock. The way I see it, play Feraligatr if you’d rather have more defense and Gyarados if you’d prefer raw power.

In essence, Feraligatr delivers fairly well on the offense. Posing a decent threat with a great move pool and the offensive typing of water, Feraligatr could be a solid asset to any offensive team so long as you have a distinct set that you’re going for. After a Dragon Dance or two, you’d better be prepared to deal with an offensive killing machine.

– Mr. Bojingles

Thanks for another great article!  Look forward to the Hoenn starters being ‘Untamed’ soon!