Salamence, The Dragon Pokémon. It becomes uncontrollable if it is enraged. It destroys everything with shredding claws and fire. It came about as a result of a strong, long-held dream of growing wings. It is said that this powerful desire triggered a sudden mutation in it's cells, causing it to sprout its magnificent wings. To express its joy, it flies and wheels all over the sky while spouting flames from its mouth.
In the 3rd generation Salamence was a great Pokémon, it was definitely at the top tier of standard play and this generation will probably see Salamence continue to be a great Pokémon with the fairly nice array of new toys handed to it.
The special and physical split significantly improved Salamence's power. On the physical end of things STAB Dragon Claw is a big step up from its flying attacks. Dragon Claw is only resisted by one type (Steel) and it deals a fairly nice chunk of damage as well. On the special side of things Dragon Pulse was added, which his a slight step up in power from Dragon Claw in the last generation. It also got Draco Meteor, a Dragon typed 'Overheat'.
With the addition of Choice Specs Salamence is significantly more threatening as a special attacker. Choice Band continues to work nicely for it as well. It also gained Roost which will increase its long-term survivability.
There really was very few negative changes for Salamence. The main one is the addition of Stealth Rock, which will chop off a big chunk of Salamence's HP each time it switches in whilst it's active. A couple of Pokémon got Ice Pebble which has the potential to OHKO and will always strike first, and a fair few physical attackers have gained Ice Punch to deal with Salamence. Stone Edge will also take a significant bite out of Salamence, it's a lot more powerful than Rock Slide was and has a high critical hit ratio.
Intimidate: is Salamence's only choice and it's generally a great choice anyway. Every time Salamence switches into an opponent, barring the interferences of a trait or Substitute, it will cause its opponent to take an attack drop. Intimidate is part of what makes Salamence such a good Pokémon to switch into Fighting types and in general it gives Salamence a lot more survivability against physical attackers. It should also be noted that in 2v2 play Intimidate will effect both of your opponent's Pokémon.
- Draco Meteor
Largely thanks to Jumpman16's efforts, this set has made runs around the competitive battling community and is quite likely to become one of the standard ways to go with Salamence. With a good ability, a fairly nice array of resistances, good speed and good offensive capabilities, Salamence is a perfect example of a Pokémon suited for using Choice items, in this case Choice Specs.
Draco Meteor is perfect for the 'hit and run' strategy that Choice Specs embodies. With STAB and only one type capable of resisting it Draco Meteor is perfect for putting dents in your opponents team at the early stages of a battle.
Since only one type resists Dragon Attacks (Steel), Flamethrower is a necessity. If you prediction is accurate you can hit incoming Steel types for super effective damage. Hydro Pump is probably the only move here that could be considered 'expendable', but it hits Heatran nicely and will out damage Draco Meteor against Pokémon who take super effective damage from it.
Most people are aware of the general rule of thumb that one should not use two damaging attacks of the same type on the same Pokémon. Dragon Pulse and Draco Meteor are one of the few exceptions to the rule. Draco Meteor is the move to be used early on in the battle for beating holes into your opponent whilst Dragon Pulse is used later on in the battle for sweeping purposes, generally picking up the scraps. Since Draco Meteor cuts Salamence's special attack in half it isn't suited for the purposes of sweeping and in turn Dragon Pulse creeps into the set.
EVs and Nature:
Max Speed and Max Special Attack is simple and effective. The only change really worth considering is changing from Modest to Timid, giving it a speed boost that'll set it above a handful of Pokémon, but generally speaking the Special Attack boost is more useful.
- Dragon Claw
Choice Band set-up for Salamence. It's played the same way as the Specs Mence: get in, hit hard and get out safely. Dragon Claw and Earthquake cover the large majority of opposing Pokémon and does fairly large chunks of damage off of Salamence's powerful Attack stat and Stone Edge hits fliers (and has the additional bonus of a high critical hit chance).
The last move slot is up to personal preference. Flamethrower covers the two Pokémon who are likely to stand up to this set: Skarmory and Bronzong. Draco Meteor is a generally strong Special Attack and whilst it won't do as much damage as you would've gotten from the Specs set it'll still do plenty of damage. Salamence has a bunch of other physical attacks that could be used in the final slot but they generally don't cover any important opponents so they get pushed aside to the sidelines.
EVs and Nature:
You may want to consider changing the nature to take away from either Defence or Special Defence in order to boost the power of Salamence's special attacks and it's possible to run a plus Speed nature, but aside from that there isn't much else to change up.
Dragon Dance Mence
- Dragon Claw
The Dragon Dancer, definitely a force to be reckoned with. With a single Dragon Dance behind it Salamence has an Attack stat that matches the Choice Band set and enough Speed to outrun almost every opponent (barring Choice Scarf).
It's pretty simple to use, wait for your opponents team to be weakened to the range where Salamence can sweep, kick off a Dragon Dance and proceed to win. It's slightly harder this time around since Choice Scarf and Ice Pebble are going to cause some issues with getting straight sweeps but it should still be fairly workable. So long as you can weaken (or faint) anything that threatens this set's odds of sweeping then you can expect things to go well. Prior to sweeping Salamence can also play a duel-role as a supporter and back-up wall. With Leftovers recovery, some HP EVs and possibly Roost the Dragon Dance Salamence is a lot bulkier than its Choice counterparts, making it much more effective at plugging defensive gaps.
Dragon Claw, Dragon Dance and Earthquake are givens. The last move slot is up to preference:
- Stone Edge is probably Salamence's third best physical attack. It has a high critical hit chance and a lot of power although its questionable accuracy lets it down somewhat.
EVs and Nature:
Dragon Dance Salamence wants at least 270 Speed, just enough to outrun Max Speed Adamant Heracrosses (and after a single Dragon Dance, enough to outrun Scarf variations of the aforementioned Heracross). Max Attack is nice to have and whatever is leftover can be thrown into HP.
It's not uncommon for a Dragon Dancing Salamence to run a more defensive EV spread, Salamence has the potential to survive for a long period of time, especially when you consider Roost. Attack EVs can be dropped a fair bit to put more focus on defensive stats if it's preferable for the role Salamence will be playing in your team.
Life Orb/Mixed Mence
- Dragon Claw
Salamence can attack effectively from both ends of the spectrum and with Life Orb it can do both at once. Life Orb gives 1.3x offensive increase, a slight bit less than the 1.5x from the Choice Items but still very respectable, and more importantly it gives the boost to both and doesn't lock you to a single offensive manoeuvre. In exchange Salamence will lose 10% of its HP with each offensive attack, although this can be partially mitigated by Roost.
The main advantage of this set over the two choice sets and the Dragon Dancer is the fact that it poses an immediate offensive threat and can't simply be shut down by predicting correctly. Sending a Metagross into a Dragon Claw is all well and good but when it's followed by a Flamethrower or Earthquake you'll run into problems, problems that you wouldn't face with the Choice sets.
As a user of a set like this it's really about mixing and matching the moves you want. Salamence has a fairly diverse move pool and whilst I would say those three are its top three offensive options it can certainly be changed around to include the likes of: Dragon Pulse, Stone Edge, Hydro Pump or Draco Meteor.
EVs and Nature:
Choosing EVs for a set like this will always be difficult, but it will depend highly on the set you're running. Max Speed is worth the investment and then the rest of the EVs can probably focus on your preferred offensive stat (so if you were to run Dragon Pulse over Dragon Claw you would obviously want to run Rash and 252 Special Attack).
It's preferable to sacrifice Special Defence when selecting a nature for a Salamence designed like this since it will be using both offences as its core form of offence. Since Salamence frequently switches into Fighting, Bug and Ground Attacks (which are predominantly physical) it would be preferable to not sacrifice Defence, leaving Salamence with only Special Defence to sacrifice.
- Dragon Claw
It could be argued that it's a travesty to waste Salamence's amazing sweeping capabilities by turning it into a defensive Pokémon but it's more than capable of pulling it off. A good defensive trait, great HP and good defences as well as a recovery move make it perfectly possible to run an effective bulky Salamence.
Roar is a handy move to stop opponents from being able to set-up against you, and as an added bonus when combined with Spikes and/or Stealth Rock you can also pick up some passive damage. Toxic on the other hand makes most bulky opponents regret switching into Salamence, since Toxic damage can begin to add up very quickly. Since most people expect a sweeping/offensive Salamence, switching in a bulky Pokémon is common practice and Toxic can allow the surprise factor to work in Salamence's favour.
For the sake of example this set has been demonstrated with the Dragon Claw and Earthquake combination, but Dragon Pulse and Flamethrower also work nicely in tandem on a set like this.
EVs and Nature:
As mentioned just now it's perfectly viable to run a special attacking variation of this set. All that needs to be done is to change the nature to Bold and shift the handful of Attack EVs to Special Attack.
Bulky Salamence wants at least 384 HP (and possibly max) to gain the maximum benefit from Leftovers recovery as well as gain a large benefit from Roost. Since Intimidate and its typing makes Salamence very adept at switching into physical attackers you'll most likely want to favour Salamence's physical defence but it's possible (although not highly advised) to run a heavily special defensive variation of the same set.
A bulky Salamence wants at least 241 Speed, which can be obtained for a very minimal investment of Speed EVs. 241 is just enough to set it above Adamant Metagrosses as well Timid Magnezones. It may be worth considering knocking Salamence up to 244 Speed, just to be sure to outrun the occasional Jolly Tyranitar as well. Small investments in Speed can make a difference once in a while.
- Dragon Claw
Wish was a special move picked up from NYPC that Salamence can make great use of. Salamence can switch into play easily and set-up Wish for a team-mate (or even itself). Wish and Protect work together nicely for a similar effect that would be received from Roost. Protect can also serve nicely anyway for scouting an opponents move set (especially against Choice Specs/Band/Scarf opponents) and will give Salamence a free turn of Leftovers recovery. When combined with Toxic it's also an extra turn of damage done to an opponent.
Generally speaking this set would be played in the same way as the aforementioned Bulky Salamence, with the same options for changing up its offensive choices. The main difference is this set can help heal team-mates and is quite proficient at that duty. Hopefully with Wifi and Emerald Cloning Wish Salamences will become a little more wide-spread so that this set will become an option for more people.
EVs and Nature:
Wish-Mence follows the same EV design as Bulky Salamence so generally the same options apply to Wish-Mence.
Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Lum Berry, Hidden Power [Flying], Aerial Ace, Fire Blast, Crunch, Zen Headbutt, Shadow Claw, Brick Break, Fire Fang, Thunder Fang.
Choice Scarf could be used on either one of the Choice sets. It may seem counterproductive to use a Choice Scarf on Salamence since its Speed is already good anyway but Scarf serves two purposes: most obviously, to outrun the Pokémon that would naturally outrun it, and secondly to outrun other opponents using Choice Scarf. Striking first is a very big factor in battles and even though Salamence usually has the luxury of striking first anyway, the Choice Scarf boost has the potential to be a difference maker once in a while.
Life Orb was covered previously in its own set but I'm mentioning it again since it's an option on all of the sweeper Salamence sets. In comparison to the Choice Items, Salamence exchanges the versatility to change between different moves for a slight drop in power and a 10% 'recoil' on every offensive move it uses. Since Salamence is pretty bulky without any effort it's somewhat wasteful to pick off some of Salamence's HP but it is an option. On the Dragon Dance set it will make sweeping much easier and will give Salamence a pretty strong punch prior to Dragon Dancing. Also, when combined with Roost the 10% 'recoil' can also be mitigated.
Lum Berry is quite a helpful option on Salamence. Most people will come to expect three different possibilities: Salamence will be equipped with a Choice Item, Leftovers or Life Orb. When your opponent sees no Leftovers recovery and no Life Orb 'recoil' they'll be instantly led to believe Salamence is carrying one of the Choice Items. Using a Lum Berry can mislead them greatly and has the potential to turn the tide of a battle with the surprise factor, and as an added bonus it gives Salamence a buffer against surprise status attacks (which Salamence loathes). It's somewhat situational in its use and depends highly on the intelligence of your opponent but Lum has potential.
Hidden Power [Flying] is another Special Attacking option for Salamence. Generally, offensive Flying moves don't cover a particularly vast array of opponents and with Dragon Pulse and Draco Meteor hitting Fighters fine and Flamethrower destroying Bug and Grass types there isn't much reason to use it. Still, it gets STAB and hits strongly enough to be considered worth use.
Aerial Ace is the physical answer to Hidden Power [Flying]. At least on the physical sets it isn't having its glory stolen by Flamethrower and Draco Meteor, but it still has to contend with Salamence's other options. It isn't a bad move choice but Fighting, Grass and Bug types are generally not threatening to Salamence and can be dealt with using Dragon Claw. Aerial Ace will do more damage to them but Salamence usually isn't in a huge hurry to eliminate Fighting, Grass and Bug types anyway.
Wherever Flamethrower has been mentioned Fire Blast could always go in its place. It's the accuracy versus power debate. On the physical sets Fire attacks usually only serve the purpose of eliminating Skarmory and Bronzong however so Salamence can usually afford the occasional miss against them.
Crunch, Zen Headbutt, Shadow Claw and Brick Break are four 'okay' physical attacks that Salamence has access to. Crunch and Shadow Claw aren't too bad since they hit a reasonable number of Pokémon (Cresselia, Starmie, Slowbro, Dusknoir, Celebi to name a few) but over all the moves are generally on the sidelines for not doing enough damage or not having enough type coverage.
Fire Fang and Thunder Fang are a bit like the four aforementioned moves but weaker. The main reason to consider Fire Fang is for it to take Flamethrowers place for hitting Bronzong and Skarmory, but in 90% of cases Flamethrower would do more damage anyway. Generally speaking the only time to consider Fire Fang is on Band-Mence, and only if you have an atrociously bad Special Attack IV. Thunder Fang on the other hand hits the ever common water types for super-effective damage, but even with the super-effective power boost going in its favour it only 'just' beats out Dragon Claw for damage. It's an option but just barely.
Salamence is incredibly difficult to counter with the new additions it's gotten in D/P. It can viably use Choice Band, Choice Specs, and Choice Scarf. It can use physical offence, special offence or both at once and to top it all off it has a recovery move, a good trait and fairly nice defensive stats. The only hole in Salamence's game is the gaping wide 4x Ice weakness.
Up against Choice Specs Salamence: only two Pokémon can safely switch into it without risking taking over 50% from at least one of its moves. Blissey and Empoleon. Blissey can pretty much recover off any damage taken with Softboiled and the most damage it'll take is about 40% (from Draco Meteor), so barring bad luck with crits it's an entirely reliable switch-in on most Specs-Mence's. Empoleon resists Specs-Mence's Dragon attacks as well as Hydro Pump and will take about 30% damage from Flamethrower (assuming Max HP/Max SDef). Both Pokémon have access to Ice Beam so they'll be an immediate threat to any Salamence that takes its chances staying in play.
If you lack one of those two Pokémon then you're down to a prediction game, the one consolation against a Pokémon with a Choice item is it can be out-predicted. If you have a Steel Pokémon with good Special Defence then it can be relied upon to take Dragon attacks, and of course it can be supported by a Pokémon capable of handling any potential Hydro Pumps or Flamethrowers.
Since Choice Specs Salamence needs to switch a lot and will rarely carry Roost, setting up and maintaining a set of Stealth Rocks will prevent Salamence from switching into play easily, chipping off 25% of its HP at each switch-in. Sandstorm hurts Specs-Mence a lot as well since it won't have Leftovers recovery to cancel out the damage.
Up against Choice Band Salamence: there isn't a single safe switch-in. Skarmory and Bronzong are the best switch-ins against it but both are severely hurt by Flamethrower. Skarmory doesn't resist Stone Edge but providing it doesn't crit it can handle it fine. Bronzong resists all three of Band-Mence's core physical attacks.
The rules that apply to dealing Specs-Mence also apply to Band-Mence. Predict which moves it'll use and switch to an appropriate counter. Once again it is unlikely to have Roost and definitely won't have leftovers recovery so a set of Stealth Rocks will hurt it severely and Sandstorm will slowly chip away at it. Band-Mence also hates to be Burned so if you can catch it with a Will-o-Wisp it will make it a lot easier to handle.
Up against Dragon Dancing Salamence: using any Pokémon with durable defence and Ice Beam works fine. The bulky waters are the main candidates here: Swampert, Suicune, Milotic, Slowbro etc. Other possibilities include Pokémon such as Cressilia, Dusknoir, bulky Ground types with an Ice or Rock attack and a few others. In general, switch-in as it Dragon Dances and either KO it or make it run with Ice Beam (or a Rock Attack). Of course a DD-Mence that has been played intelligently won't Dragon Dance off the bat so you will be required to keep your counter healthy throughout the match (preferably at 65% or more health at least). After a single Dragon Dance Salamence can expect to do 50% damage or more to most bulky Pokémon who don't resist Dragon Claw (and of course those who do are weak to at least one of its other moves), so maintaining a healthy counter is essential.
In a pinch you can rely on Pokémon who can out-speed DD-Mence and KO it. Although they usually can't switch in safely (because they risk being hit hard by one of its un-boosted attacks) they can KO it if they get into play undamaged, either by switching in after a KO or by predicting the use of Dragon Dance.
Ice Shard is a prime candidate for this role. To 1KO Salamence with Ice Shard without STAB requires approximately 530+ Attack at least, which is achievable on Pokémon using Life Orb or Choice Band. With STAB you only need to be within the 350+ Attack stat range, which is much more reasonable in comparison and can be achieved without the aid of Choice Band or Life Orb.
Since Ice Shard is the only Ice attack with a priority modifier the rest of the moves generally require the user to be equipped with a Choice Scarf, since after a single Dragon Dance Salamence outruns pretty much all its opposing threats. With about 300 Attack Ice Punch can get a KO and with approximately 230 Special Attack you can expect to KO it with Ice Beam.
Stealth Rocks and Sandstorm make DD-Mence easier to pick off but unlike the Choice-Mences this Salamence is likely to have Leftovers and can possibly have Roost, making it slightly sturdier than its counterparts. Still, the same things apply: Stealth Rocks hurts and Sandstorm cancels out the effects of Sandstorm. If you can hit it with Will-o-Wisp it severely reduces DD-Mence's sweeping capabilities.
Up against Salamence's in general: prediction helps a lot. Salamence usually gets in play by switching into Fighting, Bug or Ground Attacks, since most users of those attacks have Stone Edge walloping it as it comes into play will take a huge chunk out of it. The aforementioned Stealth Rocks weakness chips off 25% of its HP every time it switches into play and Sandstorm (or Hail) will either chip off 1/16th of its HP each turn or cancel out the effects of Leftovers. If its got a Life Orb equipped it'll be forced to Roost frequently or KO itself with the 'recoil' damage. Bulky Salamence's are nowhere near to being as scary offensive threats as the sweeping variations so their damage can be mitigated.
Salamence detests being paralysed since it greatly reduces its Speed and in turn, its sweeping capabilities. All physical variations detest Burns since, not only does it do damage but it also halves the damage it can do with physical attacks. Every Salamence is heavily exposed by Ice attacks, they were covered in fairly great detail in the section covering DD-Mence but once again: Ice Punch, Ice Beam and Ice Shard are all incredibly helpful against Salamence. Its Rock weakness is also exposable, Stone Edge and Rock attacks in general will all hurt a fair bit, especially with STAB.
It should be a general rule of thumb for every good team out there that it will have a way of dealing with all variations of Salamence: Special, Physical, Dragon Dance or Mixed. It's an incredibly versatile beast and deserves to be feared.
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