There's a thunder clap. Rain falls from the grey-black sky and falls hard on your face. Your opponent looks puzzled as you smile from the corner of your mouth. You arm your Pokéballs and prepare for war. Today will be your victory!
Welcome to the first official installment of Team Tactics! In this bi-weekly series we will focus on a single Pokémon and discuss how you might train it, and how it functions on a team. Keep in mind that while I consider myself fairly versed in the digital cock-fight that is Pokémon, I might not have all the answers, and I may not give you the best solution for every scenario, team, or Pokémon. I hope that when you read these articles you will use them as a template and build on them.
This week we are focusing on Kingdra, a dual-type Water/Dragon Pokémon with some interesting abilities.
Kingdra can have one of three abilities. Swift Swim doubles Kingdra's speed stat in rainy conditions. Sniper makes critical hits do 3x damage instead of 2x when they land. Damp, which prevents self-destruction moves, is a Hidden Ability that is obtainable when Kingdra is acquired from Dream World in Generation V.
Of all these abilities, I would recommend Swift Swim. Kingdra isn't the fastest Pokémon on the block, but it isn't slow by any means. With double speed in the rain, it can cause some serious damage. Heavy rain conditions give Water-type moves a 50% power boost, and when coupled with the STAB bonus Kingdra gets when it uses Water-type moves, you can easily tear through teams.
Kingdra's stats are almost completely in balance. It has a base stat of 95 in Attack, Defense, Special Attack, and Special Defense; an HP stat of 75, and a Speed of 85. This gives us quite a bit of versatility when it comes to Kingdra's role on a team. I am going to focus on two builds, both of which utilize the heavy rain condition to maximize damage and speed. As we talked about in Breeding 101, you will want to shoot for high IVs in the most important stats, and shoot for a proper nature to maximize your Pokémon's potential. So for the Special Attack Build, focus on an IV of 31 in Special Attack and Speed. Don't neglect the other stats of course, but if you aren't using physical moves, Attack doesn't matter.
Special Attack Build
Signal Beam / Flash Cannon / Ice Beam
Surf / Hydro Pump
EV Spread: 252 Special Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP, Defense, or Special Defense
Items: Damp Rock, Life Orb, Wise Glasses
Rain Dance is an easy choice as Swift Swim does no good without rain. Signal Beam has a 10% chance of confusing the target with a base power of 75 and 100% accuracy. It can be substituted for Flash Cannon, which has a 10% chance to lower your target's Special Defense, a base power of 80 and 100% accuracy; or Ice Beam which has a base power of 95, 100% accuracy, and a 10% chance to freeze your opponent. All have decent coverage and hit hard with little added bonuses. Dragon Pulse is a given for the STAB bonus it receives. It also hits non-adjacent opponents in triple battles, if that is your game. I would run Surf over Hydro Pump for the extra accuracy.
As for items, Life Orb powers up moves by 30%, but Kingdra will take 10% of its max HP in damage every time it attacks. The trade off can definitely be worth it though, because in competitive battles one hit can KO. And it usually does. If getting hurt with every attack scares you, you can opt for Wise Glasses, which boosts special attack moves power by 10%. Damp Rock is also an option as it will extend the rain condition from Rain Dance from 5 to 8 turns.
Physical Attack Build
EV Spread: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP, Defense, or Special Defense
Items: Damp Rock, Life Orb, Muscle Band, Lum or Persim Berries
Kingdra has a very limited physical move-pool to choose from. Your best bet is running Dragon Dance to boost your Attack and Speed stats, then using a STAB Waterfall to kill things. Waterfall has a base power of 80 and 100% accuracy along with a 20% chance to make your opponent flinch. Outrage hits for 2 to 3 turns, has a base power of 120 (A-MA-ZING) and 100% accuracy. But - there's always a "but" when it comes to powerhouse moves - it leaves Kingdra confused after it finishes. The only other move I would contemplate running with this set is Return, and by contemplate, I mean completely disregard as Waterfall and Outrage are going to do more hurt per square inch.
Damp Rock and Life Orb are once again great item choices. Your alternate for Life Orb would be Muscle Band. It boosts physical moves by 10%, but it doesn't have that nasty added burden of 10% damage with every attack that Life Orb brings. Lum and Persim Berries will cure Kingdra of confusion and is used in conjunction with Outrage in order to prevent the confusion aftereffect.
With Swift Swim and STAB Water-type attacks, Kingdra is right at home on Rain Dance teams. Some partners you may want to round out your team are Kyogre, Politoed, Seismitoad, Golduck, and Ludicolo.
Kyogre is a beast, and has access to the Drizzle ability which causes a constant rain condition. Basically it functions as a permanent rain dance. Send that bad boy out and watch it rain money! Well, technically just rain. Unless you are the Donald Trump of your hood. In which case, dollar dollar bills y'all. Kyogre has access to Thunder, which has a 30% chance to paralyze your opponent and 100% accuracy in the rain. But if you feel dirty using legendaries, Politoed has gained the Drizzle ability as well from the Dream World in Generation V. His move-pool leaves a lot to be desired though. But with Psychic and Earthquake, you might be able to pull off something with him.
Seismitoad has great type defenses and access to STAB Earthquake with its Water/Ground typing. Golduck has a versatile move-pool and fairly balanced stats. Ludicolo is a good addition to a Rain Dance team due to its dual Water/Grass typing. You will find that Water-type Pokémon kind of ruin your day on a Rain Dance team. Having access to a Pokémon with Grass-type moves can be a life saver. But what makes these Pokémon great for Rain Dance teams is that all of them have access to the Swift Swim ability! Go in fast and hit hard is the object of the game, and with Swift Swim, you can hit them and go out for ice cream before they even know what happened (Bring me back Vanillite)!
Whew. I know, it is a lot to take in. A novel really. Where's my Pulitzer? I hope you guys enjoyed this first installment! Be sure to leave any other Pokémon you want me to cover in the comments. I won't be announcing who I choose for any upcoming installment to force you to check back. No loitering! Where's my hose? Feel free to call me an idiot in the comments, and if you have suggestions on how I could improve this column, shout it out! Until next time, have fun dancing in the rain!