Starters Untamed: Unova


Hi, everyone!  Mr.Bojingles here. It’s been quite some time since I’ve surfed Pokejungle (let alone write an article). Some might remember me being in Europe for a while finishing school. Well, since then I’ve finished and landed a pretty decent job on salary. However, I’ve taken a teaching job in South Korea! I leave next month and will more than likely be there for at least two years, if not more. Hooray, Asia! I’ll be sure to take pictures of any Poke-paraphernalia that I cross paths with (Misty body pillow, anyone? Lulz). But in the meantime, I’ll be sure to increase my activity on PJ on both the message boards and articles.

[reveal title=”Read about Serperior” ]Anywho, it’s time for the juicy stuff! First up, we’ve got our grass starter; the Regal Pokémon Serperior! When they say regal they do really mean regal. Remember the good old days of Smugleaf? Well, the name definitely suits it. The final evolution of this grass line sure is, well, pretty. I like how it looks out of all of the other starters. Again, you all know I’m partial to grass types, but Serperior truly does look the best. But how does Serperior hold up to its two fire and water counterparts?

Being a pure grass type, it leaves Serperior open to some common weaknesses. Fire and ice are blatantly used in the metagame, so one needs to handle this regal serpent with care when sending it out on the battlefield. For some reason GameFreak decided to expunge about a million new, but more importantly GOOD, bug types, which was an often overlooked type until now (the only real exception is Scizor and the more uncommon Heracross). So that adds three potential threats that can deal some severe damage to Serperior. Typing aside, its stats are a completely different matter. When the final stat distribution was released for the starters, I seriously gasped. At first glance, Serperior’s stats seem just downright horrible: mediocre attack, special attack, and HP, which all clock in at 75. It has decent defenses, boasting 95 for each stat. Its speed is what Serperior really focuses on, and that’s at 113; STILL not that high. Not only that, but its movepool is as shallow as shallow can be (Gamefreak really needs to change it up with their grass types). Aside from the random offensive grass and normal type moves, it learns Dragon Tail (which can actually be somewhat useful for force switching in stealth rock, spikes, etc.). I was floored at how crappy Serperior came off to be. It didn’t help much that I wasn’t a fan of the other starters, so now the one that I actually liked just plain sucked. That is . . . I discovered something interesting about this tricky grass type. . .

Again, let’s take a gander at Serperior’s terrible movepool. Sure, there’s hardly any type coverage. But what this poke is built for is support. Now most may be thinking “Oh lord, another Meganium”. This is not the case, however. Serperior ends up being the fastest SubSeeder in the game (SubSeeder is a competitive term for the usage of Substitute and Leech Seed). Not only that, but his defenses make him rather sturdy, especially for a grass type. This is the one main moveset that I’ve been using for Serperior; Leech Seed, Substitute, Protect, Leaf Storm/Leaf Blade (whichever you prefer. I like Leaf Blade as it doesn’t lower my stats). Here’s what you do – first, before the battle, slap some Leftovers on Serperior. The first thing you should do when the fight begins is seed your opponent. Sure you might get damaged,

but again due to his bulk he could very well survive even a super effective hit. The next attack that is used depends on your HP. I would go for a Protect next. This will guard you from any potential damage/statuses. Your opponent has health leeched, and you get recovery from the equipped Leftovers. Next, use Substitute. Again if your opponent attacks, no HP damage will be done to you other than the Substitute. Your opponent’s HP is leeched, you gain some from Leftovers. Now use Protect. . .from here on switch from using Protect and Substitute. Between the usages of these two attacks, you will always heal the amount of damage inflicted by Substitute, thus allowing you to drag on the fight until your opponent has its entire HP drained. Pretty cool, huh? I’ve tested this out while dueling my friend’s level 100 Zoroark and I killed it just from using this stall method. Now, just to make things better, Serperior get’s what I think is one of the most useful Dream World abilities: Contrary. This reverses the stat changes afflicting Serperior. Your opponent uses Leer? Well, you just got +1 defense instead of -1. Serperior uses Calm Mind? You get -1 to special attack and defense instead of +1. What benefits Serperior is the usage of Leaf Storm. This will up its special attack by two whenever it’s used instead of subtracting two. After a few Leaf Storms, even contending grass types get damaged pretty well.

Now, this moveset is definitely not invincible. A grass type like Serperior’s worst enemy is, well, other grass types. Ferrothorn is one that comes to mind. Not only does it negate Leech Seed, but grass attacks do a mere 25% damage. Combined with its elite defenses, Serperior ends up being pretty useless. So with that said, Serperior is definitely and interesting Poke to use. Just snag yourself a defensive natured Snivy at the beginning of the game and you’ve got it made.[/reveal]

[reveal title=”Read about Emboar” ]Next is the fire pig Emboar. To my surprise (and many others I would assume), this is the third installment containing a fire/fighting type starter. To be quite honest, I’m sick of them. At least tack on a nifty secondary typing (weren’t we all crossing our fingers for a fire/dark starter?) or leave it pure fire. But I digress. Emboar is by far my least favorite of the starters. Tepig’s design was just so darned cute, but quickly got ugly as he evolved even in his second stage. To me it just seems, well, sloppy. Being the third fire/fighting type, Emboar has a lot to live up to. Blaziken quickly became uber tier with its speed boost ability and Infernape was always a great offensive contender. Emboar is the least useful of the two, and for many different reasons. His typing is more or less a double edged sword – fire has common weaknesses, but his secondary typing gives him much more coverage to take care of those pesky dark and rock types, as well as giving him some neutrality to weakness. The biggest thing that hinders him is his poor stat distribution.

Emboar is the typical glass cannon; high attack, low defense. His attack stat peaks at an astounding 123, allowing him to 1HKO most anything that is weak to his attacks. His special attack is decent as well, scoring a solid 100. This gives Emboar some versatility with his attacks to catch opponents off guard. Lastly, his HP stands at 110, which is abnormally high for a fire type. What sends Emboar straight to the NU/UU tier is his pitiful defenses and speed, which all reach a low of 65. Smack him with a Surf or Earthquake and chances are he’s done for. Sure he has high HP, but without decent defenses it’s difficult for Emboar to take more than two hits even from neutral attacks. One should not be so careless around Emboar, though. He was built to deal damage, not take it. And dealing damage is something it does very, very well. I’ve found it hilarious when using Emboar competitively that opponents switch out their poke in fear of it getting killed. Which actually leads me to the next topic; his movepool.

I don’t know what it is with Gamefreak and their fire/fighting types, but they always seem to have such amazing movepools. Emboar is no exception. He’s equipped with some of the strongest, most versatile moves around. When I use Emboar, I prefer to have him be equipped with purely an offensive role in mind. He sports Earthquake, Fire Blitz, Head Smash, Supercharge and Wild Charge all fairly well. Not only are all of these extremely powerful, but they give him excellent type coverage. On a random note, it almost seems like Emboar was built solely for Wild Charge and other recoil moves (that high HP isn’t there to absorb hits, as we can tell). If you manage to get your hands on a Dream World Emboar, Reckless only enhances his power and fragile-ness. If you don’t have a Choice item on him, Nitro Charge is beneficial for the enhanced speed (assuming you can use one or two without getting killed). It’s risky, but it’s a chance worth taking. Enhancing the speed of this power house only makes it more frightening.

At the end of the day, Emboar is more or less thrown into the mess of other fragile, offensive fire t ypes that don’t make it far in the competitive world. If you plan on using him in-game, then by all means go for it. He’ll trash the gym leaders and elite four with ease. However, if you want to use a fire/fighting for the metagame, then you’re better off with sticking with Blaziken or Infernape.[/reveal]

[reveal title=”Read about Samurott” ]Samurott, the “formidable” pokemon, is last up on the list. Most of everyone who I’ve spoken with has been disappointment with his design. Again, the term lazy comes to mind. Oshawott turned out great, and Dewott was even better. We were all hoping for some sort of Samurai water beast using a jagged  sword that doubles as a horn (or maybe it was just me). Instead we got . . . a narwhale thing. Anyway, let’s get down to business. Aesthetics aside, Narwha- erm, I mean Samurott is the typical bulky water type. His offense is decent; with attack at 100 and special attack at 108, he can hold his own in battle. Access to Swords Dance allows him to set up for a pesky sweep. His defenses aren’t so shabby, either. He has 95/85/70 for HP/Defense/Special Defense. The only stat lacking is his speed, which drops to the lackluster 70. You might ask, “Why is his Special Defense considered O.K but his speed stat is not?” Well, kiddos, speed is more important when combined with offense than with defense. In the competitive world, speed kills. And it makes sense; the swifter you act, the more control you have in battle. His special defense and HP allow him to withstand a hit or two, maybe even from a super effective move.

Enough banter about his stats. Let’s move on to his movepool. Again, Samurott somewhat suffers (say that ten times fast) from a restrictive attack list. He comes with the aforementioned Swords Dance, then of course Surf/Waterfall for some solid STAB. Aqua Jet is a god send, due to his speed being below average. He is able to learn Grass Knot to content with those opposing and probably more useful bulky waters (such as Swampert). What distinguishes Samurott from the rest of the bunch, though, is access to Megahorn. This will deal big damage to Psychic types and, more importantly, grass types. Samurott will at least have some edge in the battle field. His abilities don’t help him with his attacks much. His default ability Torrent would be useful for the addition damage bonus. What I think is the main problem with Samurott is the fact that it doesn’t quite excel at anything. It’s not too offensive and it’s not too bulky, either. It doesn’t come with many useful support moves and only a few moves that expand his type coverage. If his speed was higher, I think it would have found a better place in the competitive world. Like with Emboar, if you’re looking for a bulky water type, you’re better off going with Swampert or even pokes like Poliwrath or Feraligatr. [/reveal]

That’s all for this article, folks! I hope you enjoyed it. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.

-Mr. bojingles

PJ’s Note: We have more fun content coming soon from Mr. Bojingles, including a series on Gym Leaders and a Nuzlocke run diary 🙂 Stay tuned!

ps- If you joined Mt. Moon for the contest, there’s currently a posting contest that was member organized with a $10 iTunes Giftcard as a reward! Details here!


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Paul studied journalism just to write better articles about Pokémon. He still resides in Tokyo, Japan.