Wow. . .it’s been quite a while, folks! I’ve been keeping up with the site, but I haven’t posted anything in some time. I’ve been posting more on Retry Level, so you can always look for me there. It’s been a tough balance between the two sites!
I’ve been wanting to do a new Starters Untamed for some time now. Pokémon X and Y released some of the most interesting changes to Pokémon games that we’ve seen in a very long time, so I’ve been eager to write about my thoughts and experience in the competitive play realm as they have changed drastically. With the introduction of the new fairy typing, negated resistances of the powerful steel typing, and mega evolutions have brought in so many new strategies into the mix that at first it was quite overwhelming. Because of the huge influx of new concepts brought to competitive play, there are still pieces that have yet to be fully analyzed and tested out. The analysis of this generation of starters will be purely opinionated and, as always, up for (constructive) debate.
This generation’s starters are probably the most interesting that we’ve ever seen. Each contain their complementing dual type that helps counter their opposing foe. Not only that, each starter has their own hidden ability and attacks unique to their own species (aside from Klefki). First up we have Chesnaught, the spiny armor Pokémon. This is the first time we’ve had a non-reptilian grass starter, which has received some mixed feedback (especially from its’ deceptive transition to an awkward looking final evolution). This beefy, intimidating rodent (?) is dawned with the grass/fighting typing, an interesting match up only seen in Breloom and Virizion. It’s stats cater primarily towards a physically strong Pokémon that excels in tanking and physical offense. It’s HP/ATK/DEF clock in at 88/107/122 respectively, which is nothing to take lightly. However, the remaining SpATK, SpDef, and SPD stats are relatively low, only reaching 74/75/64, which leaves Chesnaught vulnerable to the numerous special sweepers that plague competitively play. Its typing, however, acts as a double edged sword. It has plenty of resistances and types that its strong against, but it also comes with six common weaknesses, which include the new fairy typing.
What I love most about Chesnaught is its movepool. It comes with all of the best physical grass type moves like Seed Bomb and Wood Hammer, and it can also learn plenty of useful TMs like Dragon Claw, Stone Edge, Swords Dance, and Earthquake. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Chesnaught is its access to its signature move, Spiky Shield. This moves acts exactly like protect, but damages the opponent if physical contact is made. If playing a more defensive Chesnaught, this combined with Leech Seed can really throw off your opponent by maintaining health and consistent chip damage.
Overall, Chesnaught is a decent addition to the grass type starters and works well up there with the likes of Torterra as far as being a physical tank. Its typing doesn’t really do it any favors, but access to Spiky Shield and other great attacks make it a worthy addition to any team.
Next up we have Delphox, the magical fox Pokémon. Fennekin was easily the fan favorite when the starters were released. We awaited eagerly to see what its final evolution would look like, and Delphox came to us as quite a surprise. Its probably one of the most human-like Pokémon that we’ve seen, and the addition to its magical wand gives it loads of character (not to mention its cry is absolutely horrific). Unfortunately, what Delphox has in aesthetics, it lacks in its abilities as a solid Pokémon. It has the stats of a decent special sweeper, clocking in at 114/100/104 SpAtk, SpDef, and SPD respectively. Its defensive stats aren’t doing it any favors, which make Delphox quite frail if up against a strong, quick opponent. Its typing, fire/psychic, is not the greatest as it leaves it open to the common ghost and dark types, which often out-speed it. Its movepool is a bit of a mixed bag and seems to have lost its identity somewhere in its creation. Should Delphox play its role as a special sweeper? Is it more of a support attacker? It doesn’t have the speed to function well in the sweeping department, and its not defensive enough to remain a support teammate.
I’d have to say that Delphox is sadly the worst of the three starters. It doesn’t excel in any one role in competitive play, which leaves it open to plenty of counters and switch ins. It’s unfortunate as it’s such a cool Pokémon with great concepts and a great design, but it falls short in being anything offensive or anything supportive. There are simply more Pokémon out there to fill this role that can do the job much better than Delphox.
This leaves us with Greninja, the ninja Pokémon. Greninja was probably the biggest surprise for all of us; not many of us were expecting a ninja with its tongue used as a scarf. Greninja not only excels in the coolness factor, but its also a fantastic Pokémon to use. The best of the three starters, really. These are the stats that Delphox should have had; 103/122 in SpAtk and SPD, which allow Greninja to outspeed most of the standard metagame. Its attack also clocks in at 95, which make it a formidable candidate as a physical sweeper, too. Its typing, water and dark, provide far more benefits than counters, however it does leave it open to the new fairy type that plagues the battlefield. Better yet, its movepool is everything we could have hoped and dreamed for in a sweeper. Access to moves like Dark Pulse, Ice Beam, Surf, Grass Knot, U-Turn, Toxic Spikes, and Acrobatics make it difficult to see what Greninja is going to throw out at you.
What makes Greninja so amazing is not just its diverse movepool and useful typing. Its ability, Protean, is arguably one of the most useful Pokémon abilities out there. Protean changes Greninjas type to whatever move it uses. For example, using Ice Beam will change you to a pure ice type. Next, use Grass Knot to change yourself into a pure grass type. This makes Greninja essentially impossible to counter, and it also makes every single move a stab move. This ability alone makes Greninja one of the most versatile Pokémon you can use in a competitive team.
However, Greninja is far from being in the uber tiers. Thankfully, GameFreak balanced out its stats by making it extremely frail, with its HP, Def, and SpDef clocking in at a mere 72/67/71. Also, Greninja isn’t exactly the most powerful attacker out there. It can be a bit difficult for it to 1HKO opponents that are specially defensive or physically defensive, leaving Greninja open to counter measures. Tanks like Blissey and Ferrothorn can take whatever Greninja throws at them (save for attacks not specialized in their defensive stat).
What do you guys think of this generations starters? Do you have a particular favorite? Agree or disagree with my analysis? I’m curious to see how the future generations of starters will compare to this generation. We saw a ton of changes in Pokémon X and Y, most of them necessary to keep the series alive. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more positive changes in the future!