Aerodactyl, The Fossil Pokémon. A ferocious, prehistoric Pokémon that goes for the enemy's throat with its serrated saw-like fangs. A savage Pokémon that died out in ancient times. It was resurrected using DNA taken from amber. It appears to have flown by spreading its wings and gliding. With sharp fangs, it is very vicious. Aerodactyl is a Pokémon from the age of dinosaurs. It was regenerated from DNA extracted from amber. It is imagined to have been the king of the skies. A Pokémon that roamed the skies in the dinosaur era. Its teeth are like saw blades. ť
Being an exclusive member of the 130 Base Speed club is Aerodactyl's signature. Its Speed caps out at 394, making it faster than pretty much every Pokémon it's likely to face in the Standard environment. Unfortunately, Choice Scarf took a lot of the shine off of that exclusiveness. It is one of the fastest Pokémon before you account for items, but when items are accounted for, Aerodactyl doesn't always enjoy that luxury. In fact, since Scarf-Heracross sets the Speed benchmark at 403, most Pokémon are shooting for 404+, giving them the edge over Aerodactyl.
The generation shift has been odd on Aerodactyl. It used to be a fast Choice-attacker, but now its popular role has changed to a “Suicide Lead.” Nevertheless, its new gimmick is enough to keep it in touch with the Standard environment, and it just about holds onto the “Overused” classification.
Pressure: causes the opponent to lose 1 extra PP for each attack it lands. It's not great for an attacking Pokémon, but it isn't useless, and it can be some consolation if your Aerodactyl is felled by a Stone Edge, knowing that you've drained 2 PP instead of just the 1. After all, low PP moves can end up out of the equation in an extended battle.
Rock Head: removes the recoil off of recoil moves. Sadly, this doesn't affect Life Orb recoil, and the only recoil move Aerodactyl carries that's worth consideration is Double-Edge. If you have Double-Edge, use this ability; otherwise, stick with Pressure.
- Stealth Rock
This move-set is all about getting that Stealth Rock up, and hopefully, getting out of dodge still relatively intact. Aerodactyl isn't alone in thinking it can raise Stealth Rock up on the first turn, and that's where Taunt comes in. Choice Scarf may have taken some of the shine off of being in the upper echelon of Base Speeds, but when Choice Scarf isn't a factor, Aerodactyl is faster than almost every other Pokémon in the Standard Tier. This means that it can Taunt almost every other Pokémon before they make a move, thereby preventing them from setting up Stealth Rock, or any other kind of supportive/disruptive move for that matter. Focus Sash is a must, since you never know if your opponent will call your bluff on Taunt and attack, or even be equipped with a Choice Scarf and be able to strike before you. You start the game out at 100%, so with a Sash equipped you're guaranteed to last the first turn. As an added bonus, you're immune to the effects of Sandstream, so at least you won't end the turn having your last piece of HP being chipped off.
You round off the move-set with some offensive moves. Even at 1 HP, you're still fast and a decent offensive threat, so even if you've burned up your Sash, the game isn't over. STAB Stone Edge is another gift from the generation shift and pairs with Earthquake for a respectable offensive combination.
- Stone Edge
Just like the old days, here's some all-out offence for Aerodactyl to work with. Good Attack, great Speed and a varied move-pool; it's pretty obvious. Life Orb lets you swap between your attacks at the cost of some HP whilst Choice Band gives you a slightly improved boost but locks you into the same move repeatedly. Considering the Stealth Rock weakness, Aerodactyl probably can't be switching in and out often enough to make Choice Band a worthwhile venture, so Life Orb is the more favourable in most cases.
Ignoring item choice, the classic Stone Edge-Earthquake combination is essentially a necessity. Some good type coverage and a nice strong STAB move to boot. What you do with the final two move-slots is variable. Ice Fang is nice for hitting the 4x weak Dragons and Gliscor, and has some relatively nice type coverage, but suffers from weak Base Power (a super-effective Ice Fang is weaker than a neutral Stone Edge). Aqua Tail is a nice and powerful way of tearing a chunk of HP out of bulky Ground types (see Hippowdon, Donphan and Gliscor). Pursuit is available for hunting down weakened runners, which is a nice trick to have up your sleeve. Fire Fang is your best option for hitting Bronzong, and you get additional 4x hits on Scizor and Forretress if Bronzong doesn't sell it for you.
EVs and Nature:
This has got to be the simplest time I've ever had doing this section. Max Speed and Jolly are always musts, since you're using Aerodactyl for its Speed. Since you won't be playing the defensive side of the game all-too-often, you're best off using those excess EVs making your Attack stat as strong as it can be.
Rock Slide, Double-Edge, Crunch, Aerial Ace, Curse + White Herb, Substitute, Protect, Roost.
The contest between Rock Slide and Stone Edge is almost always won by Stone Edge, but Aerodactyl is one of those few exceptions that can justify using the former over the latter. Rock Slide is weaker, but a little more accurate and a little bit better off when it comes to PP. The other thing it has is the ability to flinch, a 30% flinch rate to be more precise. Since Aerodactyl is almost always the faster Pokémon, it can almost always take advantage of that flinch rate. It isn't enough to sell Rock Slide as the STAB of choice, but its few bonuses over Stone Edge allow it to contest for a place on the main move-sets.
Double-Edge (with Rock Head) is the strongest 100% accurate move Aerodactyl has at its disposal. No super-effective hits knock it out of favour, but it is a 120 Base Power move with 100% accuracy, and so shouldn't be dismissed entirely. Crunch is slightly stronger than Stone Edge against Cresselia and Dusknoir, and does benefit from better PP and reliable accuracy, so it pitches in a challenge for a move-slot. Aerial Ace is Aerodactyl's strongest Flying move, but at a meagre 60 Base Power, even with STAB its worth is very questionable.
Curse and White Herb is a situational, one-off combination that offers an Attack and Defence boost, with the White Herb wiping out the negative effects Curse has on Speed. Round it off with three attacking moves and you have something of a sweeper on your hands. Of course, Life Orb achieves a pretty similar effect, only without the turn spent stat-boosting or the move-pool occupied by Curse.
Substitute, Protect and Roost are all moves inclined towards abusing Pressure. Pressure-abuse isn't Aerodactyl's area of expertise, but it can give it a try.
With its Rock resistance and neutrality to all of Aerodactyl's frequently used moves, Swampert is probably the best counter. Donphan and Hippowdon follow in similar footsteps but need to beware of Aqua Tail. Cresselia can also get the job done, despite facing Stone Edge without a resistance. The same goes for Gliscor, although it has the added fear of Ice Fang and Aqua Tail. Bronzong's only fear is Fire Fang. If Fire Fang is absent, Aerodactyl can do little more than scratch at its armour.
If you're faced with the suicide lead, chances are it will succeed at its primary purpose. On the bright side, if you play things correctly, you can at least weaken it to 1 HP, and then it's relatively easy pickings (albeit easy pickings that can still probably attack you before you can attack it). When you're dealing with the non-suicidal variants, then you can cripple Aerodactyl with Stealth Rock, paralysis and burn.
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