Electivire, The Thunderbolt Pokémon. It pushes the tips of its two tails against the foe, then lets loose with over 20,000 volts of power.
By the standards of the 3rd generation, Electabuzz was an Underused Pokémon. It was a good UU, but a UU nonetheless. The 4th generation has given it a new evolution, and Electivire is everything Electabuzz could've asked for. The major change is Motor Drive. Electivire's unique ability gives it an immunity to Electric attacks (including Thunder Wave), and if it's hit by an Electric attack, it gains a Speed boost. Electivire is a bit slower than its predecessor, but with Motor Drive active, very few Pokémon will catch-up to it. At a potential 379, Electivire has a very meaty attack stat to work with and a fantastic physical move-pool to match.
It's amazing what an evolution can do for a Pokémon. Electabuzz was a good UU, but Electivire is a top-tier threat and every Standard team should be prepared for it.
Motor Drive: gives Electivire a Speed boost if it gets hit by an Electric attack. With this comes an immunity to Electric attacks, including the ever troublesome Thunder Wave. Although Electivire can function fine without it, activating it significantly increases its sweeping capabilities.
The popular method of activation is to use a team-mate to lure Electric attacks (such as Gyarados). After anticipating an incoming Electric attack, Electivire can be switched in to absorb the move and receive a Speed boost. Of course, this strategy can become quite predictable, especially if the opponent is aware that Electivire is on the team, so a great deal of prediction and counter-prediction is likely to come into play.
This move-set is the standard way to go with Electivire. With those four moves it hits 13 of the 17 types in the game for super-effective damage. It's a fairly self-explanatory move-set. Cross Chop and Earthquake provide it with great type coverage whilst Ice Punch deals with the pesky Ground and Grass types that would attempt to block its STAB attacks. The main area for variations comes from picking between Thunderpunch and Thunderbolt.
Being a physical sweeper, Thunderpunch seems to be the obvious choice. It spares Electivire using a different nature and saves it needing to invest any EVs into its Special Attack. Against Pokémon with relatively equal defensive stats (such as Cresselia, Bronzong and Dusknoir), it'll do superior damage when compared to Thunderbolt.
Thunderbolt, despite being a Special attack, is still quite a viable choice. Because of the difference in Base Power, Thunderbolt will do very respectable damage with a neutral nature and minor investment of EVs. Having a Special attack also has other benefits. If the opponent has a Reflect active, Electivire can continue to be a threat and if Electivire were to be burnt, Thunderbolt would still provide it with a solid source of damage. Up against Pokémon who invest heavily in their physical Defence (such as Weezing and Forretress), Thunderbolt will do superior damage when compared to Thunderpunch.
Both have their uses and both will provide Electivire with a solid STAB move, so the choice will likely come down to personal preference.
As for the item choice, with 13 of the 17 types being hit for super-effective damage, Expert Belt is perfectly suited for Electivire. Life Orb is still an option, and the extra bit of power can turn a few 3-hit-KOs into 2-hit-KOs, but it'll chip away at Electivire's HP. Since it's exposed to all the common methods of passive damage (Spikes, Sandstorm and Stealth Rock), it's quite possible for that damage to rack up quite quickly.
Electivire is the type of Pokémon that benefits greatly from being able to switch between its moves, and a Choice item will stop that and in turn, hurt its sweeping capabilities. Nonetheless, Choice Band provides it with a very strong power boost. Choice Scarf on the other hand will set it above the large majority of opposing Pokémon, and will make it less reliant on Motor Drive.
Unlike the first move-set, this move-set is mostly about getting off a straightforward sweep. Ideally this Electivire would be saved until the late stages of a battle and would ideally be able to grab a Motor Drive boost. Afterwards, it's simply a matter of getting a Meditate boost and then finishing off the opponents team.
It's expected that Electivire will run a physical move-set, but it has a surprisingly strong Special Attack stat and a decent Special move-pool to use it with. Most of the Pokémon that'll try to counter Electivire will be tailored towards their physical Defence, giving Electivire's Special Attacks even more sting, and Cross Chop will keep the common Blissey away when they catch on that it's a Special Attacker.
Thunderbolt provides STAB and power. A few Electivire counters can be caught off-guard by Flamethrower, including Forretress, Bronzong and Steelix. Hidden Power [Ice] will provide Electivire with coverage against Ground types, and most of the ones that would attempt to counter Electivire will take more damage from a super-effective Hidden Power than they would from Ice Punch.
The move-set covers 11 of the 17 types, so Expert Belt continues to be a very favourable item choice. Life Orb gives a consistent and slightly stronger boost, but the HP loss is still highly undesirable.
EVs and Nature:
If you're going for a straightforward sweeper set, then obviously 252/252 is the way to go. If however, Thunderbolt is being used in place of Thunderpunch, the EV spread might see a little modification. Obviously, Adamant needs to be dropped in favour of a nature that doesn't hinder Special Attack (usually Lonely, +Atk/-Def). Some EVs are usually placed to bulk up Special Attack as well, although not a huge amount. 80 is the standard amount, usually taken from its Speed.
The Special Sweeper will want to use Mild to keep up Cross Chop's power, but extra EV investments are pretty much unnecessary.
As far as Electivire's Speed is concerned, 270 is the bare minimum stat to aim for, to beat out Adamant variants of Heracross (and to generally beat everything not Scarfed after a Motor Drive boost). This takes 176 Speed EVs (hence the leftover 80 that can go towards its Special Attack). Without any Special Attack, its Speed may as well be maxed. Jolly (+Spd/-SAtk) or Hasty (+Spd/-Def) are worth a glance when using max Speed EVs, since that'll send it to the 317 stat and above many common opponents.
Hidden Power [Grass], Fire Punch, Low Kick, Brick Break, Focus Punch, Screech, Taunt, Focus Blast, Psychic, Thunder Wave, Toxic, Light Screen, Discharge, Focus Sash, Counter. Hidden Power [Grass] is an option for hitting Swampert. It'll also take a larger bite out of defensive Ground Pokémon than Ice Punch would.
Fire Punch has some decent type coverage, but it'll mainly be used for getting a strong hit on Forretress and Bronzong.
Low Kick, Brick Break and Focus Punch present the alternatives to Cross Chop. Since CC has low PP and unreliable accuracy, alternatives become quite attractive.
Low Kick gets a hard hit on many of the Pokémon it'd be used against (such as Rhyperior, Tyranitar and Snorlax), although it doesn't deal with Blissey too well.
Brick Break is accurate, has good PP, but lacks a little as far as power is concerned. Breaking Reflects is a fairly handy bonus though.
Focus Punch packs plenty of power but requires accurate prediction to pull off successfully.
Screech can be used for a sweeper-shuffler. Few Pokémon will have the guts to stay in against an Electivire with their Defence cut by half, so with some Stealth Rock and Spikes support, some passive damage can be picked up as the opponent switches around. Much like Focus Punch, it's a move that benefits greatly from good prediction.
Taunt can stop the opponent from trying passive attacks, which is pretty simple. Stopping Cresselia from throwing up Reflect or Dusknoir from sending a Will-o-Wisp Electivire's way are some examples of its uses.
Focus Blast and Psychic represent the rest of Electivire's Special move-pool. They're options, but not particularly strong options.
Thunder Wave, Toxic and Light Screen are some supportive moves that Electivire has, but probably wouldn't use. The two status attacks could see some use in messing up potential counters (Toxic especially), and Light Screen could make things tough on weak Special Attackers, but they're generally hard to viably incorporate into its move-sets.
Discharge is an alternative to Thunderbolt. A little loss in power but the extra paralysis chance can be quite helpful. It's better suited for more tank-like Pokémon, but it's still an option for Electivire.
Focus Sash helps out Electivire against the huge list of Earthquake users. Being exposed to Spikes, Stealth Rock and Sandstorm reduce the viability of the item though, since any small chip of damage will render Focus Sash useless. If those can be controlled though, then Focus Sash is a fairly viable option.
Counter comes from the 3rd Gen. With Focus Sash it can pick up a quick KO, but that's pretty much all it's good for. Considering how good Electivire's move-pool is, sacrificing a move-slot and item for a quick KO is questionable.
Electivire is a Pokémon to watch out for. First and foremost, an eye should be kept open for Motor Drive. An Electivire with an active Motor Drive is a serious threat, and Electivire users will frequently try to activate it by drawing Electric attacks with their other Pokémon, only to switch in on the unsuspecting victim. Thunder Wave is included in the list of attacks that activate Motor Drive, so Thunder Wave users need to tread carefully. Even without Motor Drive, it's a significant threat, with a fantastic move-pool and a great Attack stat.
The main Electivire counters are Ground types. Even though many of them are weak to one of its attacks, the very defensive variants can handle them long enough to throw an Earthquake Electivire's way. Swampert, Rhyperior, Hippowdon, Donphan and Steelix are the main choices, although each of them needs to watch out for Special Attacks (such as Hidden Power [Grass], or in Steelix's case, Flamethrower).
Defensive Grass types can also work. Tangrowth, Venusaur, and Meganium all work and have Earthquake access. Shaymin and Celebi can also work effectively.
There's some Pokémon that can deal with it nicely despite lacking Electric resistances. Bronzong can throw up Reflect or fling Hypnosis at it, but Fire Punch or Flamethrower can cause problems though. Dusknoir can throw Will-o-Wisp in its direction. Entirely physical variants can be dealt with by Weezing and Forretress. Weezing threatens it with Will-o-Wisp whilst Forretress can KO it with Earthquake, although Forretress needs to watch out for Fire Punch. Cresselia can sponge up most of Electivire's attacks and throw up Reflect, or wear it down with Psychic whilst recovering off damage with Moonlight or Rest-Talk.
The unlikely Special Attacker is a bit weaker offensively. Some of the same Pokémon will be turned to, Cresselia and Dusknoir especially, as well as generally any Pokémon with good Special Defence and no weakness to Thunderbolt (or Cross Chop).
Without Motor Drive, whilst fast, Electivire is just a bit short of what would be considered an ideal Speed stat. If it KOs something, there's a long list of faster Pokémon who can switch-in and KO it. Dugtrio is a particularly big worry since it has Arena Trap (and gutsy ones can try and switch in on Thunderbolt, taking advantage of the immunity).
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