Volbeat, The Firefly Pokémon. It communicates with others by lighting up its rear at night. It loves Illumise's sweet aroma. It lives around clean ponds. At night, its rear lights up. With their taillights lit, Volbeat fly in a swarm, drawing geometric designs in the night sky. They move their nests if their pond water becomes dirty.
Volbeat was never a particularly noteworthy Pokémon. Its most redeeming quality was access to Tail Glow, a uniqueness that has been somewhat destroyed with the addition of Nasty Plot. The ability to Baton Pass the aforementioned Tail Glow was its main reason for use, but once again, the addition of Nasty Plot means there's a few more Pokémon available with the ability to Baton Pass what are effectively Tail Glow boosts.
Losing its uniqueness aside, it does face problems with its stats clashing with its move-pool. Its stats suggest it should be using its physical attack, but its move-pool clearly favours special attacks (most evident from its access to Tail Glow). This unfortunately means that its passable Attack stat will usually go to waste, and it'll be forced to rely on its rather pathetic Special Attack stat.
Illuminate: has no in-battle effect, so it's an ability that should be entirely forgotten when looking for a competitive Volbeat.
Swarm: boosts the power of Volbeat's Bug moves by 50% when its HP drops below 1/3rd. Since Bug moves are Volbeat's main choice of offence, it's quite a useful boost.
Tail Glow Baton Passer
- Tail Glow
As mentioned in the overview, Baton Passing Tail Glows tends to be the main incentive for using Volbeat. Of course, Volbeat faces some new competition in this department (primarily from Plusle and Minun, although Togekiss and Ambipom as well in the Standard environment), but it still remains its main choice.
As well as providing it with something to Baton Pass, Tail Glow also gives it the ability to viably use its special move-pool. Bug Buzz is a nice new addition to Volbeat's move-pool, and benefits from STAB and possibly a boost from Swarm. Thunderbolt can also additionally benefit, which scores a nifty super-effective hit on Flying types.
Choosing between Substitute and Thunderbolt (or any other special move) is pretty much up to preference. Substitute is a much more support orientated option. As well as being an additional thing to pass, it provides a defensive buffer, blocks status moves and can be used to activate pinch berries. On the other hand, an additional special move allows Volbeat more 'sweeping' possibilities, and gives it more varied offence to use against Hazing opponents.
Its Attack stat is the more desirable of its offensive stats, making Choice Band a viable option. With Volbeat being expected to use special moves (because of Tail Glow), there's something of an element of surprise to go along with it, although once that element of surprise wears off, Volbeat is far from the strongest Choice Band user amongst UU Bug types.
U-Turn is an interesting new STAB addition. As well as getting a strong hit, it allows Volbeat to switch out on the same turn. This'll basically allow Volbeat to get in a hit and then switch to a counter immediately afterwards.
Brick Break or Focus Punch are its main choices for dealing with Steel types (as well as other Pokémon weak to Fighting moves, of course). Brick Break obviously provides a more consistent source of damage whilst Focus Punch relies on predicting the opponent's next move to land successfully. Zen Headbutt is a useful move for catching Fighting and Poison types, both of which are resistant to its Bug moves.
Trick and a Choice item is a well known crippling strategy. The most useful application of it is to send the Choice Band onto a defensive Pokémon or a special attacker, leaving them with the negative side-effect of being locked into a single move at a time, whilst not benefiting from the positive side-effect of boosted physical attacks.
EVs and Nature:
Volbeat's EV spreads are pretty straightforward. As a Baton Passer, its primary stat is its Speed, so full focus should be given to it. As a sweeper, a choice can be made between boosting its offence or Speed. Because of its poor defensive stats, it usually isn't worth a significant EV investment in its defensive stats.
Hidden Power [Rock], Shadow Ball, Aerial Ace, Silver Wind, Encore, Thunder Wave, Roost, Moonlight, Solarbeam, Helping Hand.
Hidden Power [Rock] and Shadow Ball present it with special attacking alternatives to Thunderbolt. Hidden Power [Rock] is one of the better options, getting super-effective coverage against Flying and Fire types (both resistant to Bug moves), as well as Ice and Bug types. Shadow Ball has pretty decent strength, but its coverage against Ghosts is the only notable coverage it gets, since Psychics are covered by its Bug moves.
Aerial Ace is a physical alternative it has access to, which gets some decent coverage on Fighting and Bug Pokémon, although its weak base power is unattractive.
Silver Wind is an alternative to Bug Buzz, if you want to take a 10% chance on an all-round stat boost. There's a very significant drop in power however, which is a lot to give for a 10% chance.
Encore can give Volbeat the opportunity to use stat-boosts, and works quite effectively as a crippling move against some opponents.
Thunder Wave can cripple some opponents, but it's a bit of a filler and on most of Volbeat's move-sets, it has better uses for that move-slot.
Roost and Moonlight present healing options, which are usually of little value to such a fragile Pokémon. Moonlight is only more worthwhile than Roost if Volbeat has a good chance of receiving some Sunny Day support. If that is the case, then Solarbeam is obviously an option as well.
Up against Baton Passing sets, actually beating Volbeat one-on-one is less of a problem than it is to faint it before it Baton Passes any stat-boosts. Faster Pokémon with super-effective moves are obviously desirable to use against Baton Passing variants, since they can strike it before it passes. Bug Buzz is really the scariest thing it has access to, so the likes of Fearow and Typholsion can deal with it comfortably. At base 193 Special Attack, even those without a Bug resistance (or a weakness to its other special moves) shouldn't run into too many troubles.
As far as Hazers and Pseudo-Hazers are concerned, there's a few decent options. Altaria can Haze it comfortably, whilst Nidoqueen, Ninetales and Hariyama can Roar or Whirlwind it away easily. If it lacks Thunderbolt, Mantine can Haze it, as can a lot of other Water and Flying types.
Choice Band variants can be beaten comfortably with prediction. Without a Choice Band, physical variants don't pose too large a threat (since 269 Attack doesn't pack a particularly scary punch).
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