Empoleon, The Emperor Pokémon. The three horns that extend from its beak attest to its power. The leader has the biggest horns. It swims with a speed that cannot be beaten by jet skis. The edges of its wings are cut from sharp glacier ice.
Empoleon, the Steel/Water Penguin Pokémon. At first glance Empoleon appears to be a somewhat 'forgettable' Pokémon, with very little about it standing out, and whilst it's true that Empoleon won't be striking fear in the hearts of battlers it has still got plenty of potential.
Firstly, and most importantly, its type combination is unique and very interesting. It has 11 resistances (two of which are 4x) and 1 immunity. It is also: unaffected by Sandstorm, immune to Toxic and resists Stealth Rock. Its Special Defence and HP stats are both pretty good, whilst its Defence stat is fairly average. All of these combined make it a fairly ideal choice to use as a Defensive Pokémon. In particular, with all those resistances, it's very useful against Pokémon equipped with Choice Items. However, with its typing comes three weaknesses: Ground, Fighting and Electric, and unfortunately all three of those types are very popular on offensive Pokémon.
Offensively, Empoleon is somewhat lacklustre. Its Speed is below average, severely reducing its sweeping capabilities, although it has Agility which has the potential to make up for it. It has a very good Special Attack stat but a fairly shallow Special Attacking move pool whilst its Physical Attack is mediocre but accompanied by a fairly diverse set of Physical Attacking options (as well as Swords Dance).
As far as its supportive moves are concerned it's fairly well off. It has some Pseudo-Hazing options with Yawn and Roar. It can set-up Stealth Rock for its team and although it lacks an all important recovery move (barring Rest) it does have access to Aqua Ring, which is better than nothing and fairs decently over an extended period of time.
Over all, like it was said in the opening, this isn't a Pokémon who's going to strike fear in the hearts of its opponents, but it's decent. It has good special walling capabilities, the ability to wall a lot of Choice Item Pokémon and fairly reasonable offences.
Something worthy of mention is it's one of only two Steel types with a Water resistance, one of only four fully evolved Pokémon with both an immunity to Sandstorm and a Water resistance (the other three being Cacturne, Quagsire and Dialga) and the only Pokémon of those four with an additional Ice resistance. At the very least it'll become a staple of teams built entirely around Sandstorm as well as a popular choice on Steel themed teams.
Torrent: is Empoleon's only trait choice. Being a defensive Pokémon, Empoleon doesn't like its HP to fall low enough to activate Torrent and with such low Speed it can't rarely take advantage of the boost. Normally this trait will see very little use but when it does see use it isn't particularly poor.
Special Wall and Team Supporter
Although Empoleon is no Blissey it can still be a decent Special Wall, reaching a potential Special Defence stat of 331and a potential HP stat of 372. Combined with its phenomenal collection of resistances, Empoleon can take a beating, even without the support of a reliable recovery move. With Stealth Rock and Pseudo-Hazing options available to it Empoleon can also lend support to its team fairly adequately.
As a Special Wall Empoloen can't be relied upon to be the primary one, since it lacks a recovery move and has three weaknesses to common moves (most notably Electric). Also, although Empoleon can take on some Special Sweepers, it can't stand up to all of them.
As far as Empoleon's move set is concerned, it should all be fairly obvious. Surf is its most reliable STAB attack whilst Ice Beam hits many Pokémon for super-effective damage and fends of many threats. Stealth Rock is Empoleon's primary method of supporting its team-mates, and with the ability to hit two of the most common Rapid Spinners (Claydol and Donphan) for super-effective damage, Empoleon can handle the job very well.
The final move can be put up to preference. Yawn and Roar offer two Pseudo-Hazing options whilst Grass Knot offers an additional (and helpful) attack.
Yawn has the advantage of potentially inducing Sleep, as well as giving Empoleon the opportunity to hit whatever the opponent switches to if they choose to switch out (to avoid Sleep). The disadvantage is that the opponent can choose who they switch to and that the move is blocked by Substitute, Traits and any pre-existing Status Conditions.
Roar on the other hand forces the switch (barring Ingrain or a Trait), randomly selecting an opponent to drag into battle. This can be unpredictably advantageous or disadvantageous, but Empoleon will not be giving the opportunity to freely hit whoever is switched in. Roar however can wipe out Substitutes, which is a very big bonus that it has over Yawn.
Grass Knot on the other hand offers Empoleon another attack to use. With Grass Knot, Empoloen can counter the majority of opposing Water Types with ease and as an added bonus it can also hit another popular Rapid Spinner, Starmie, for super-effective damage.
EVs and Nature:
Since Empoleon's primary job will be defensive, Max HP is a given (or at the very least, 368 for maximum Leftovers recovery). After that most of Empoleon's EVs will be spread to its Special Defence. Empoleon should have a Special Defence stat ranging from 300 to 331 (Max). Whatever's left, which will be very little, can be thrown into its Special Attack.
Works as a similar set to the above but with a bit more of a focus on surviving in the long term and less focus on supporting its team-mates. In the appropriate hands this set has some potential, but, like many staller sets, this set has difficulty against Pokémon who can stat-boost or have moves that nullify the effectiveness of stallers.
Aqua Ring combined with Leftovers and the use of Protect results in a fair bit of 'free' recovery, however obvious care should be used with Protect to make sure the opponent isn't allowed a free turn (to switch or set-up).
Toxic works fairly well with Protect and can wear an opponent down quickly (particularly bulky opponents).
Yawn offers some Pseudo-Hazing support to Empoleon's team-mates (and when combined with Protect against an opponent who doesn't switch, can induce Sleep whilst taking minimal damage).
Ice Beam offers an additional source of damage, and more importantly, makes Salamence and Garchomp think twice about switching into Empoleon.
EVs and Nature:
This set follows the same EV spread ideas as the Special Wall and Team Supporter set. A large focus on defences with whatever little is left thrown into its Special Attack.
A Special Sweeper set-up for Empoleon. Agility helps Empoleon overcome its incredibly low Speed stat and gives it a shot at sweeping with its three best Special Attacks.
Leftovers is preferably, since even without a focus on its defences, Empoleon is still a reliable defensive Pokémon. However, more sweeper-orientated items could be used. Life Orb gives a strong 1.3x boost to its offences but cuts some of Empoleon's HP, whilst Wisdom Glasses gives a more humble 1.1x boost but doesn't take from Empoleon's HP.
The main reason to not attempt a sweeper set with Empoleon is the fact that other Pokémon can pull it off much more effectively. A potential 353 Special Attack stat is far from poor but with such slow Speed, Agility is a must, meaning Empoleon will spend at least one turn preparing to sweep. Comparatively, in that same amount of time an Azelf could've used Nasty plot or a Raikou could've used a Calm Mind.
EVs and Nature:
Being that this set is focused on sweeping, Max Special Attack has its obvious benefits. As far as Speed is concerned, Empoleon needs at least 202. 202 Speed gives it enough to outrun much of the upper tier of un-boosted Pokémon (such as: Jolteon, Crobat and Aerodactyl) but the additional few EVs also allows it to outrun Adamant Choice Scarf Heracross, who is a major threat for Empoleon to contend with. The remaining EVs can be thrown to its HP stat, giving it slightly improved durability.
A rather bog standard Choice Specs set. The only time to seriously consider using Choice Specs on Empoleon is on a team themed around the use of Choice Items. Empoleon has a very shallow Special move pool, just barely having four viable Special Attacks.
Flash Cannon is the only new addition here, it gains STAB and has a reasonable side-effect (10% chance of lowering the opponent's SDef). However, Steel is a very horrible offensive type and one of the types it hits for Super-Effective damage is already handled by Surf (Rock types). Unfortunately, Empoleon is starved for options, only having Hidden Power to fall back on, so Specs Empoleon will usually have to settle for it.
EVs and Nature:
The EVs are fairly self-explanatory. Modest and Max Special Attack allows it to take as much advantage of Choice Specs as possible whilst Max HP gives it more durability.
A physical sweeper Empoleon very much reaches into the realm of novelty, but as far as novelties are concerned this set isn't too bad. Curiously, Empoleon receives many good options for physical sweeping, including the very important Swords Dance.
Earthquake, Drill Peck and Avalanche cover the 'cream of the crop', using two of those three alongside Waterfall will usually be the most effective way to go (although other options are present). Combined with a Swords Dance, Empoleon would be able to make its attempt to sweep.
Unlike the Special Sweeper, a physical Empoleon cannot afford the time (or move slot) to use Agility, and will be reliant on its team to slow down the opposition with paralyse. It's Empoleon's low speed that makes this set border on being a novelty, but Swords Dance combined with a potential 298 Attack is still pretty powerful, especially when the surprise factor is considered.
As with the Special Sweeper, other items come into consideration. Since this set is slow, and likely to take hits, Life Orb is a much less attractive option, but with a 1.3x boost it cannot be discounted. Muscle Band on the other hand gives a respectable 1.1x boost to physical attacks that doesn't cost Empoleon HP.
EVs and Nature:
Adamant with 252 Attack is obvious enough, even with Swords Dance Empoleon is going to need all the attack it can manage.
Being so slow, Max Speed may appear to be a wasteful option, but the Speed EVs can make a significant difference. With Max Speed Empoleon can outrun the majority of: Skarmory, Metagross, Magnezone, Suicune, Milotic and Cresselia (among others), which can become the difference between a successful sweep and a failed one.
Hidden Power, Brine, Hydro Pump, Rock Slide, Steel Wing, Brick Break, Shadow Claw, Rain Dance, Rest, Sleep Talk.
Hidden Power is Empoleon's most prominent option, giving it access to an additional special attack of any potential type. Since a STAB Surf out-damages a super-effective Hidden Power most of the time the primary Hidden Powers to consider are ones that work against types that resist Water, those types being: Water, Grass and Dragon. Since Ice Beam handles Grass and Dragon types with ease the two main Hidden Powers to consider are Electric and Grass, to hit opposing Water types. However, opposing Water types are usually hit harder by Grass Knot.
There are exceptions though:
- Some Water Pokémon only take neutral damage from Grass but will take super-effective damage from Electric (such as Gyarados and Empoleon itself).
- Some Water Pokémon take weaker damage from Grass Knot than they would from Hidden Power (such as Manaphy and Vaporeon).
Hidden Power [Electric] makes for a suitable filler to use on the Choice Specs set and a Hidden Power of the Grass or Electric type is worth consideration on the standard sets (in place of Grass Knot), but it should be noted that the advantages Hidden Power has over Grass Knot are fairly situational.
Brine and Hydro Pump present two less reliable STAB options to use in place of Surf.
Brine has a weak 65 Base Power, but when the foe falls below 50% HP that power doubles to a much more impressive 130. If you have a team themed around moves such as Sandstorm, Spikes, Stealth Rock and possibly even Toxic, dropping the foe below 50% HP should be fairly easy, making Brine a fairly attractive option.
Hydro Pump on the other hand has a significant 25 base Damage advantage over Surf but in exchange its accuracy is a much less reliable 80 and has the potential to run into PP problems. On a sweeper, where the damage boost can be of significant note, it may be worth consideration, but on most sets it's better to go with the more reliable Surf.
Aqua Jet, Rock Slide, Steel Wing, Brick Break and Shadow Claw present five additional options to use on the physical set. Their Base Power isn't particularly noteworthy but they are options nonetheless, Aqua Jet in particular has an interesting priority modifier that allows it to always strike first (barring opposing priority modifiers).
Rain Dance is an option that Empoleon has to support its team. On a team that can take advantage of the boost it can be worth consideration, especially since Empoleon itself can benefit from the boost to its Water Moves (as well as a buffer against Fire Attacks, which it doesn't resist).
Rest and Sleep Talk are moves that any defensive Pokémon can consider and use effectively. The two combined will give Empoleon a fair bit of staying power but Sleep Talk is notoriously unreliable, and using it will risk giving an opponent an opportunity to set-up against Empoleon.
Being a highly defensive Pokémon, Empoleon isn't a particular fearsome opponent that needs to be shut down immediately. Chances are the trouble it'll be causing for opponents will be through 'disruption', namely: putting up Stealth Rock, Pseudo-Hazing and walling Choice Item attacks.
The primary way to take out Empoleon is through its Fighting, Electric and Ground weaknesses, preferably by targeting its weaker Defence stat. Since Empoleon will spend a fair majority of its time switching into Choice Attacks, prediction can be key in countering it. Most Choice Band Pokémon carry a Ground or Fighting move, so catching it with one of those should be fairly easy. Choice Specs Pokémon have a slightly harder time, since not all of them have an attack of that type, but with Focus Blast being accessible by TM there are plenty that can hit it.
The only types that Empoleon takes neutral damage from are: Grass and Fire, so most of the time it'll either resist your available moves or be weak to them. If that isn't the case though, those are the two types you'll be required to fall back onto.
90% of the time, like most Water Types, Empoleon will have Water and Ice Attacks. It's also likely to carry Grass Knot as well. Aside from that though, there are very few other attacks that will cause risk. As a result there are a handful of Pokémon who can outright counter Empoleon.
Gyarados resists Water attacks and can shrug off Ice Beam, although Grass Knot has a Base 120 Power against it and will eventually wear it down, especially if Stealth Rock or Sandstorm is a factor.
Manaphy doesn't fear Grass Knot, which has a measly Base 20 Power against it (40 when factoring in the super-effective typing). It resists Ice Beam and Surf whilst it can use Tail Glow with ease in front of it and once it's done setting up, can throw Grass Knot or Energy Ball at it.
Lanturn doesn't fear Grass Knot either, since it only has a Base 40 Power against it (80 when factoring in the super-effective typing). Between bulky HP and decent Special Defence as well as STAB Electric moves, Empoleon gives it no problems.
Blissey sucks up Special Attacks with ease and can beat it down with Seismic Toss.
Snorlax sucks up the Special Attacks with ease and can hit back with Earthquake.
Regice and Registeel suck up Special Attacks with ease and can hit back with Thunderbolt.
Ludicolo can slowly drain its HP with Leech Seed and has STAB Grass attacks to hit it with.
Most Pokémon with Calm Mind and a Recovery move can build up their defences gradually until it reaches a point where Empoleon can barely touch them. Light Screen pretty much nullifies it provided the user isn't weak to Water Attacks, even super-effective Ice Beams and Grass Knots shouldn't hurt too much if the Pokémon has a decent Special Defence stat.
Empoleon's biggest weakness is its lack of a solid recovery move. The best choices it has are Rest and Aqua Ring. Without Wish support it can be beaten down overtime, however its Sandstorm and Toxic immunity as well as Stealth Rock resistance doesn't make this an easy task. Burns work fairly nicely since they nullify its Leftovers recovery and chip off its HP gradually, as do Spikes. If you can Knock off its Leftovers it'll also hurt its survivability severely.
Aside from that, just generally limiting the damage it can do to your team works effectively. It can be beaten with attrition and prediction.
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