Relicanth, The Longevity Pokémon. It is a species that existed for a hundred million years without ever changing its form. This ancient Pokémon feeds on microscopic organisms with its toothless mouth. Its body withstands the enormous water pressure of the ocean depths. Its body is covered in tough scales that are like craggy rocks. It was discovered during a deep-sea exploration.
Relicanth didn't get an easy start in life. Water is a good type, Rock is a good type, but they don't go particularly well together. Compounding this further, the Water type family tree is overcrowded, presenting a lot of competition that makes it harder for Relicanth to carve a spot for itself in a team.
The generation switch gave Relicanth a bit of a helping hand. The physical-special split gave it a STAB Water move to abuse, which can be quite synergetic with Rain Dance and its Swift Swim ability. The other option it was afforded was the very powerful Head Smash, which pairs nicely with Rock Head. A final little bonus comes from Rock Polish, giving it another option (alongside Swift Swim) to boost its rather inadequate Speed.
It's still stuck in the Underused tier, bordering on Never-used, but it is much improved and a quite viable option.
Swift Swim: doubles Relicanth's Speed in rain. This gives it great synergy with Rain Dance, which can double its Speed and gives a 1.5x boost to its Water moves.
Rock Head: prevents recoil from affecting Relicanth. Importantly, this makes Head Smash a very viable move, with Double-Edge also becoming a usable option.
- Head Smash
Stacking the huge power of Head Smash with STAB and a Choice Band boost is quite an appealing option. It'll put a great sting in most opponents, and of course, with Rock Head, the recoil won't come back to bite you. Waterfall and Earthquake afford it pretty decent type coverage to go alongside it, and Double-Edge, despite lacking any super-effective hits, provides a very respectable Base 120 Power move to use when all else is resisted.
Choice Scarf is the other route to take this same move-set. Speed is one of Relicanth's major letdowns, and whilst it won't have the wall-tearing power of Choice Band, it can edge its way passed the 330 mark and outrun much of the UU and NU tier.
- Rain Dance
As noted earlier, Relicanth has a lot of synergy with Rain Dance. It doubles its Speed thanks to Swift Swim and gives a 1.5x boost to Waterfall.
Double-Edge and Waterfall makes for quite an effective partnership, since the Normal-Water combination is only resisted by Empoleon and Shedinja (and Dialga but that's a situation that should never arise).
In the final move-slot Relicanth has room for another attacking option. Earthquake affords it a lot of added type coverage whilst Head Smash provides a very powerful STAB, however that 50% recoil can really bite when Relicanth doesn't have Rock Head.
Life Orb is a nice option for a power boost, however it'll eat at Relicanth's HP, and Relicanth does favour its HP for abusing some of its useful resistances. Mystic Water is a recoil-free power boost to Waterfall, and with STAB and Rain Dance factored in, the extra 20% can make a rather sizable difference. Wet Rock extends the duration of Rain Dance by three turns, which is useful for extending Relicanth's window of sweeping opportunity and possibly for supporting the rest of Relicanth's team.
- Rock Polish
Rock Polish is an alternative way for Relicanth to boost its Speed. The main advantage here is you can keep the Rock Head ability, making the most out of the very powerful Head Smash. Supporting this powerful move are three viable options, STAB Waterfall, Earthquake and Double-Edge.
Life Orb adds a big chunk of power, which helps, since without any boosts, Relicanth's Attack stat is rather average. Leftovers just adds some recovery, which is nice to pair up with Relicanth's resistances.
Relicanth's resistances have been alluded to in previous move-sets, but Rest-Talk is Relicanth's best means to abuse them. It has a very high Defence stat and high HP so physical walling is a viable route for it. Once again, you have room for Rock Head and that makes room for Head Smash. You have only one move to pair up with Head Smash, and unfortunately you won't be able to obtain perfect type coverage with the two moves, but any of the three makes for a viable partner.
EVs and Nature:
Stealth Rock, Aqua Tail, Yawn.
Not too many Pokémon in the Never-Used tier can use Stealth Rock, so the fact that Relicanth can throw up a layer makes it quite a useful option for team support.
Aqua Tail is an alternative option to Waterfall. You get a little more power for a little lese accuracy, but Waterfall tends to be more favoured for its consistency.
Yawn can force some switches, which is relatively useful but somewhat superfluous, especially when vying for a move-slot ahead of some of its other options.
Relicanth has three major problems: weaknesses, Special Defence and Speed. Rock and Water mix together for a few useful resistances, but it also picks up a lot of weaknesses along the way; without Swift Swim or Rock Polish, Relicanth is almost always going to strike second; and its Special Defence is very easy to expose.
STAB Head Smash can really hurt, so it's a matter of finding Pokémon who can endure that and then hit back. Poliwrath and Quagsire resist Head Smash and can absorb Waterfalls, and both can hit back with STAB moves (albeit against Relicanth's stronger Defence stat). Torterra doesn't manage a Waterfall resistance, but a STAB Grass move, great Defence and a Rock resistance is enough to throw it into the reckoning. Hitmontop (especially thanks to Intimidate) and Hariyama also make decent counters, being able to take Head Smash and most of the rest of what Relicanth can throw at them.
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