Gardevoir, The Embrace Pokémon. It will try to guard its trusted Trainer with its life. It has the ability to see the future. To protect its Trainer, it will expend all its psychic power to create a small black hole. It apparently does not feel the pull of gravity because it supports itself with psychic power. It has the power to predict the future. Its power peaks when it is protecting its Trainer. ť
Gardevoir took quite a fall from grace in the generation shift. For a Pokémon who can hold its own in the Standard tier, you wouldn't guess it from how infrequently it's used. It's firmly accepted in the Underused tier and even then, the only thing keeping it from dropping into the Never-Used tier is simply being too good a Pokémon for such a classification. It's beyond me to explain why it's fallen so far; I suppose it just doesn't have the same appeal that it used to have when measured against the plentiful options afforded by yet another generation of new Pokémon. Regardless, by Underused standards, it's a very good Pokémon.
Trace: is the better of its two abilities. Whilst arguably situational, it can be brilliantly timed for an advantage. One of the more simplistic uses is, for example, to Trace Intimidate and cause a stat-drop to your opponent. Slightly more advanced would be to Trace a Claydol's Levitate to avoid Earth Power and take a free switch-in, and beyond that you have other little bonuses like tracing Water Absorb and getting some free recovery from an opposing Surf.
Synchronize: is similarly situational. The main thing to keep in mind is you'll rarely want to take a status, so as a consequence, you can get little mileage out of this ability, especially when compared against Trace.
Wish & Status Support
- Will-o-Wisp / Thunder Wave
Gardevoir can present itself as a disruptive nuisance, an effective team supporter and still an adequate attacking threat in one move-set with little difficulty. Will-o-Wisp and Thunder Wave provide the status threat. Will-o-Wisp is particularly attractive for ruining the physical attackers that are drawn to Gardevoir's weaker defensive stat, whereas Thunder Wave has all-round application for ruining most sweepers. Wish is obviously the core source of support, although it is also important for Gardevoir itself as the closest thing it has to reliable recovery.
On the attacking front, Psychic is an obvious given. Aside from STAB, its Poison and Fighting coverage is very valuable in an environment that is teeming with Poison and Fighting Pokémon who thrive in a tier without some of Pokémon's competitive heavyweights. The “other attacking move” is there to compliment Psychic. Shadow Ball does an effective job striking other Psychic types, who have a resistance to Psychic; as well as to Ghosts who have super-effective STAB moves at their disposal. Focus Blast compliments it by striking Dark and Steel types (respectively immune and resistant to Psychic), although its poor accuracy is a hindrance and a potential liability. Thunderbolt does neither, though it does carry neutral coverage on all of the aforementioned types; whereas either of those two-move combinations would be stopped cold by at least one type. Additionally, the super-effective hit on the large population of Water types is rather welcomed (and it's hardly like Flying types are uncommon in the UU tier either).
- Calm Mind
Calm Mind boosting is another thing Gardevoir does effectively, particularly effectively because it has a nice balance of defensive bulk and offensive power. Its already strong Special Defence can effectively “sponge” the efforts of less offensively-endowed special attackers when given that boost, and in the process it becomes better and better at sponging as well as more and more of an offensive threat. Psychic continues to pose the main threat, with a similar two-pronged set-up with one of Shadow Ball, Focus Blast or Thunderbolt supporting the STAB move.
The last move-slot can be varied slightly. Will-o-Wisp helps Gardevoir against “less offensively-endowed physical attackers”, but more importantly poses a threat to any physical attackers that would attempt to strike at Gardevoir's weaker defensive stat. Wish on the other hand compliments the defensive side of Calm Mind, and helps to offset the inevitable loss of HP experienced whilst setting up an effective base of Calm Minds.
- Reflect / Light Screen / Will-o-Wisp
As with most Psychic types, Gardevoir has access to both varieties of defensive screen and can put them into practice effectively. There's obliviously the possibility of using both screens, providing a very useful service to its team (and making the most of Light Clay's three turn boost if you chose to use it ahead of Leftovers), but on a more selfish level for Gardevoir itself, Light Screen's Special Defensive boost is useful but unnecessary. Reflect on the other hand is very useful for Gardevoir itself, compensating for its somewhat lacklustre Defence stat; and with Will-o-Wisp doubling as both a permanent threat to physical attackers and yet another means to increase Gardevoir's physical hit-taking capabilities, Gardevoir can effectively quadruple its ability to take physical hits, making the one-screen policy worth contemplating.
Psychic is there on its own this time. Needless to say, in the same way Gardevoir is aiding its team-mates, its team-mates need to aid it in compensating for Gardevoir's lacking type coverage. Wish rounds things off since this is both a move-set that's likely to take a lot of hits as well as a move-set aimed at supporting a team.
It's got one of the largest Special Attack stats in the Underused environment, so as you can imagine, it's one of the more threatening forces around when backed by a Specs boost. STAB Psychic leads the way, and Trick gives the move-set a bit of utility in regards to disruption (and sometimes it's the best means Gardevoir has to deal with an opposing “counter”). Two of the three aforementioned moves round out the move-set; each with their many aforementioned pros and cons.
EVs and Nature:
Wish & Status Support
Small doses of Speed are worth a glance. For example, it takes just 12 Speed EVs to outrun Milotic, but the serious difference makers take much more exceptional EV investments and are probably worth skipping.
Nidoking and Toxicroak (Base Speed 85) cap out at 269 Speed without a Jolly nature; so a Timid Nature with 200 EVs will get you passed them. Shooting for 280 (236 EVs, and from there you may as well go onto the full 252) could be worth it, since that'll get you passed Roserade and Moltres (Base Speed 90) when they haven't got the appropriate boosting natures.
Special Attack may as well be maxed to speed up the process of ripping into opponent's defences, with HP being boosted with the remaining EVs.
Speed could do with a fair amount of attention, since throwing up a defensive screen before an opponent attacks will mitigate a lot of damage. As excessive as it may be, a whole 184 Speed EVs, reaching to the 242 Speed zone, may be worth the effort. This'll outrun Pokémon from the Base Speed 70 tier who run 252 Speed EVs (but not a boosting nature), who cap out at 239 Speed, as well as additionally outrunning Honchkrow (who caps out at 241 Speed with the aforementioned 252 but no nature spread).
There's no need to boost its already strong Special Attack stat, so the remaining EVs can go to Defence or Special Defence.
Signal Beam, Trick Room, Taunt, Hypnosis, Mean Look, Healing Wish, Destiny Bond, Memento, Grudge, Choice Scarf.
Of the direct attacking moves that haven't got a mention yet, I'd say Signal Beam is the only one really worth considering. It provides Dark and Psychic super-effective hits all in one. Paired with Psychic you'll still have difficulties overcoming Steel types but it can still be an effective two move pairing.
Gardevoir is slow enough to benefit from Trick Room and sturdy enough to set it up reliably. No matter which Pokémon uses it, it's always a bit more dependant on the team than the Pokémon itself, and for the right team, Gardevoir can be a decent Trick Room provider.
Taunt can throw a few strategies out of viability for an opponent, although its use is somewhat situational and also somewhat limited by Gardevoir's rather average Speed stat.
Hypnosis hasn't gotten a mention yet, and maybe deserves a main move-set mention for the potential of “Double-Status.” Gardevoir can land a Hypnosis on one Pokémon and then follow it with either Will-o-Wisp or Thunder Wave (or even Toxic) on the next Pokémon, although Gardevoir certainly isn't alone in this category, nor is it outstandingly fast (which helps to pull off this strategy successfully).
Gardevoir can trap opponents with Mean Look. Its best use would be paired with Calm Mind, trapping a harmless Pokémon against it and using the opportunity to boost, although as a consequence, Gardevoir is left with a rather crowded move-set.
Gardevoir has the full set when it comes to self-sacrifice moves. Healing Wish can potentially give one of its team-mates a new lease on life, which is very useful if one of your team-mates is pretty central to your strategy. Destiny Bond can take out an opponent with correct timing (although Gardevoir doesn't have quite the desirable Speed stat to be abusing this move). Memento and Grudge are better used for setting up a team-mate for an easier time boosting (the classic beneficiaries would be Belly Drummers). Memento “sharply” (two stages) lowers Special Attack and Attack, whereas Grudge removes all the PP off of the move that dealt Gardevoir its final blow (again, more Speed would be desirable in this regard). The idea behind both is they leave a Pokémon very crippled but still in play, allowing the aforementioned team-mate a face-to-face with a weakened Pokémon that should pose minimal threat to its survival, leaving ample time to pull off a crucial boost.
Gardevoir can wield a Choice Scarf, it's just the same as the Specs move-set but with a different item. The main reason to turn away from this option is that Gardevoir makes for a rather “vanilla” Scarfer, with little differentiating it from another Scarfer with strong Special Attack or a fast Pokémon with Choice Specs.
Gardevoir is one of the strongest Special Attackers in the Underused environment, making it a bit on the difficult side when it comes to managing it. The Will-o-Wisp threat also poses a bit of a problem too, especially for would-be counters that value their physical attacks. It especially doesn't help taking out Gardevoir, since it's much more exposed to physical attacks than special attacks.
Gardevoir's offences usually consist of Psychic and another attack, usually Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball or Focus Blast. Spiritomb is one of the better potential counters, having Dark's innate Psychic immunity and an immunity to the possible Focus Blast, without carrying weaknesses to Thunderbolt or Shadow Ball. Drapion and Skuntank are also blessed with the Psychic immunity without the burden of a weakness. The rest of the Dark typed crowd is viable in the absence of Focus Blast, but a little scouting beforehand would probably be due, and for those who rely on Pursuit and other physical moves, they always need to be aware of the Will-o-Wisp risk. Very little else has a Psychic resistance without a weakness to one of its other moves, although there are plenty that can wall against a particular two move combination (for example: Steel types can wall in the absence of Focus Blast and Psychic types in the absence of Shadow Ball).
Speed is a real let-down for Gardevoir's sweeping hopes. It may pack one of the more powerful attacking stats in the Underused tier but it still falls into the realms of “slow” (and even at max Speed “below average”) when it comes to Speed stats, and its aforementioned lacklustre Defence stat is a fairly easy target to home in at (although, as mentioned, Will-o-Wisp is a threat that any physical attacking counter needs to be aware of).
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