Swampert, The Mud Fish Pokémon. It is very strong. It has enough power to easily drag a boulder weighing more than a ton. This Pokémon also has powerful vision that lets it see even in murky water. It predicts storms by sensing subtle differences in the sounds of waves and tidal winds with its fins. If a storm is approaching, it piles up boulders to protect itself. It swims as fast as a jet ski. Its arms are rock-hard. With one swing, they can batter down its foe. It makes its nests at beautiful beaches. It can swim while towing a large ship. It bashes down foes with a swing of its thick arms. ť
Swampert was a staple Pokémon in its 3rd generation battling career, and the same remains true for the 4th generation. Swampert's a blessed Pokémon. For a start, its type combination is wonderful. From the perspective of a Ground type, the Water typing sheds its Ice and Water weaknesses; and from the perspective of a Water type, the Ground typing gives it an Electric immunity. The only negative to come out of this is a quadruple Grass weakness, and with the additions of Grass Knot and Energy Ball, this weakness is a bit more exploitable than it was in the past generation.
All-round, its stats are good, Speed aside. Strong Base Stats in both defences and a strong HP stat makes it an ideal defensive Pokémon, fitting the moniker “Bulky Water” to a tee. The addition of Stealth Rock has been a double-blessing, since its Rock resistance makes it a more attractive defensive choice (due to reduced passive damage) and its ability to throw up its own Stealth Rocks make it an attractive supporting choice. Offensively, whilst it shows clear favouritism to its Attack stat, it's competent at attacking from both ends of the offensive spectrum and comfortably (and frequently) runs mixed move-sets.
Swampert is an all-round reliable Pokémon. That's why it became a staple and why it remains a staple. The fact that some Pokémon opt for Hidden Power Grass over Ice is a testament to its popularity, and the fact that it can survive the odd Grass hit is a testament to its defensive stability. It's not a Pokémon you'd build a team around, but it's a wonderful addition to any team.
Torrent: boosts the power of Water moves by 50% when Swampert's HP falls to 33% of less. Being a slow defensive Pokémon, it doesn't get all that much out of this ability. By the time it's activated, Swampert is usually within KO range; but on the odd chances it does get to use this ability, it's a nice little bonus.
Mixed Attacker / Stealth Rock Support - “MixPert”
This was the same move-set used frequently in the 3rd generation, just with the added bonus of providing Stealth Rock support. It's universally known as MixPert, so expect me to refer to it as that from now on.
Earthquake is the obvious starting point. It hits with the stronger Base Stat and in general is a good move for power and type coverage.
Despite the addition of physical Water and Ice moves, as well as a higher physical Base Stat, using special Water and Ice Moves is usually preferred. In the case of Ice Beam, this mostly comes down to consistent and strong Base Power (since Ice Punch and un-boosted Avalanche lag behind). The fact that it isn't hindered by Intimidate is a nice bonus too. As for Surf, the primary target for Water moves are Ground types, who tend to have good Defence and poor Special Defence (see Donphan, Hippowdon and Rhyperior for prime examples). You also get a stronger hit on Skarmory and Forretress, as well as any other physically-inclined wall.
Physical Attacker / Stealth Rock Support
It's MixPert without the mixed aspect. As noted with MixPert, the primary advantage of using special moves is the improved damage on Pokémon who are lacking in the Special Defensive department. You do lose out on that, but you gain the ability to hit with your stronger offensive stat for general attacking.
Avalanche doesn't have the same reliable Base Power as Ice Beam, but if you get hit before using it, it doubles up to a very nice 120. Waterfall provides a second reliable STAB to go alongside Earthquake, which is nice for the levitators who aren't Ice or Rock weak (such as Azelf and Gengar). Stone Edge on the other hand is stronger than un-boosted Avalanche on Flying types (as well as the Fliers who aren't Ice-weak) and particularly neat for getting a good hit on Gyarados, who has free reign on the standard MixPert move-set.
Curse Tank - “CursePert”
Once again, unanimously known by a nickname that I'll refer to it by. The term Tank generally refers to a half sweeper half defender, which CursePert is, and does a solid job of it too. One Curse is enough to give it pretty formidable offensive stats and keep its defence nice and tidy. Low Speed generally makes a clean sweep highly improbable (as it is for most Pokémon classified as Tanks), so be prepared to take hits as you dish them out. Earthquake provides the main attacking threat, supported by either (or both) Avalanche and Waterfall. One of the main letdowns is a lack of healing, which can be compensated for with Rest at the risk of two turns sleeping.
Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary here. Swampert is a good all-round defender but it lacks reliable recovery. Rest and Sleep Talk try to fill in for that fault. Earthquake is obviously a given. You could consider Waterfall, but Water-Ground is generally an unfavourable combination, whilst Ice-Ground (with Avalanche) and Rock-Ground (with Stone Edge) will both provide pretty good coverage.
EVs and Nature:
Max HP is always the way to go. MixPert (and its physically-inclined likeness) will prefer Defence, since they perform the “Bulky Water” role, which tends to take more hits from the physical side than the special side. You can generally neglect your attacking stats, but if you don't want to rely on Stealth Rock to give you an OHKO on Salamence, around 60 Special Attack EVs should help ensure it. You can usually rely on your Base Attack to keep Earthquake strong, so no EV help is needed there.
With the Curse set, your Special Defence earns some favour, just to soften up neutral hits like Surf and Psychic. Don't neglect Defence entirely (since you'll need to take hits before Curse), but the EV distribution is a bit more even. As for Rest-Talk, with a source of recovery you can drop some of those defensive EVs for Attack, but you aren't going with any EV spread that's drastically different.
Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Roar, Protect, Mirror Coat, Counter, Substitute, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Endeavour.
Hydro Pump is favourable over Surf for the potential 2KO you can get on Skarmory (as opposed to the 3KO you would get with Surf). You can still get around Skarmory with some Roost-Earthquake prediction, but Hydro Pump is a nice sure-fire way to get that desirable 2KO, which is enough to merit a mention. Since Earthquake is your core STAB move, you can get away with your secondary STAB move being less reliable.
Earth Power is a special alternative to Earthquake (thanks Platinum). MixPert and other physically-inclined variants are the popular ways to go with Swampert however, so sadly, this new move-tutor addition is pretty sidelined.
Roar is an alternative to Stealth Rock as a supportive option (in this case, Pseudo-Hazing, sending stat-boosters away). If you already have some Stealth Rock support, it's worth a glance. The same goes for Protect, which can scout out Choice moves, surprise Grass moves (like Grass Knot Metagross) and generally buys you a turn of free Leftovers recovery.
Swampert gets both Mirror Coat and Counter. It can generally survive any hit, physical or special (barring STAB Grass moves), so it has the potential to bounce back with either of these for a shock KO. They're a bit situational, but both are worth consideration.
Swampert gets 101 HP Substitutes, so it can play around with Blissey's Seismic Tosses and take advantage of the Sub-Punch strategy.
Swampert can cobble together a usable Choice Band or Choice Specs move-set, but just because it can doesn't mean it should. They're usable, but not heavily advised. Even less advised is Endeavour, which can make for an odd novelty move-set when combined with a Sub-Salac strategy.
Grass types are generally the best at this. Ice Beam is super-effective, but most Grass types have a respectable enough Special Defence stat to sponge a hit or two from Swampert's undistinguished Ice Beams. Celebi is the most popular one, easily stalling it out with Leech Seed and Recover even if it's running Psychic instead of a Grass move. (Land) Shaymin is just as competent at this job, same for other 'not-so-popular' (UU) Grass types like Venusaur and Meganium. Of all the Grass types on show, Ludicolo is probably the best counter, soaking up Ice Beams with extra comfort due to its dual-Water type.
Gyarados has its way with MixPert, as well as any Swampert that lacks Stone Edge. Stone Edge does pose a problem when it's present, but without it, Gyarados can play with Swampert at will, scoffing at its weak Ice Beam attempts. Cresselia faces Swampert with similar luxury, also without the Stone Edge problem but lacking a Dragon Dance to truly strike fear in Swampert's heart.
Dusknoir and Spiritomb can generally sponge hits and cut Swampert's Earthquake threat with Will-o-Wisp. Pain Split does neatly against Swampert's high HP too.
Most other “Bulky Waters” with a recovery move can beat Swampert one-on-one, since Swampert takes their STAB Surfs neutrally and lacks a reliable recovery move of its own. Milotic with Recover and Vaporeon with Wish-Protect are the two main ones, with Sleep Talk Suicune following up as an additional Bulky Water option.
Zapdos can handle Ice Beam, and even sit there sponging Ice Beams if it's equipped with Light Screen; but it needs Hidden Power [Grass] to pose a true threat in reply.
CursePerts can be a bit tricky, but a lot of the aforementioned Pokémon will still get the job done, particularly the Grass types when they hit at its exposed Special Defence stat. In addition, several of the aforementioned counters have access to Hazing and Pseudo-Hazing moves, giving them a chance to rid it of its boosts too.
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