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.
A Good Moveset for Salamence would have to be this:
Hidden Power [Flying]
Adamant & Jolly
Strategy Using Salamence
With the Dragon Dancing variation of Salamence being rather difficult to set-up until the later stages of a battle the Choice Band version of Salamence proves to be a popular staple of competitive teams. With a fairly nice array of resistances (and one immunity), as well as Intimidate, Salamence has a fairly easy time switching into opponents, and with that huge attack stat combined with Choice Band and a nice move pool it's an immediate threat to many opponents. Prediction is the key with Choice Band Salamence, for the most part a fair amount of prediction is required to get Salamence in and a fair amount of prediction is required when choosing your attack, since Choice Band locks your offence to one move you need to make the move you use count: firing off Rock Slides against a Steelix is worthless as is firing off Earthquakes at a Zapdos.
Hidden Power [Flying] is Salamence's strongest STAB boosted physical attack and is usually favoured over Aerial Ace for the power (as Aerial Ace's unique "never miss" ability rarely comes into play since Evasion is rarely used by Competitive Battlers). Earthquake is an obvious choice move, as is Rock Slide. The final move is usually the only area of difference between Choice Band Salamences. Flamethrower can 2-hit-KO Skarmory, who completely walls two of Salamences attacks and can shrug off the third, as well as hitting most Steel Types pretty nicely. Double-Edge is proving to be relatively popular, with an Adamant Nature and Max Attack you can expect to 2 or 3 hit KO a lot of Salamences counters (Swampert, Milotic and Suicune), and the 120 power is more than a STAB HP Flying's 105. Brick Break is simply another physical move that Salamence gets and can use, it hits Tyranitar stronger than Earthquake would and hits Blissey, Regice and Snorlax stronger than a HP Flying to name a few opponents it will find use against.
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
Pretty straight-forward. Hidden Power [Flying] has IVs available to it that allow for a 31 Speed IV meaning that at Max Speed you can successfully outrun or at least tie speed with other opponents in the Base 100 category provided they don't use a nature boost (such as Zapdos, Celebi and opposing Salamences to name a few). Adamant is usually preferred for the significant power boost but Jolly can be helpful as the Speed boost will place you above most of the opponents in the Base 100 Speed category as well as surprising any opponents running 300 speed just for the sake of outrunning most Base 100 opponent's.
More defensive EV spreads are frequently proposed and used. It's not uncommon to let Salamence's speed drop down to 270 (enough to outrun Adamant Heracross) to boost up it's defences or HP, especially when it's your only counter to Fighting types (such as the aforementioned Heracross), without Leftovers Salamence can't switch into attacks forever, although if it is your only counter a different variation of Salamence can be beneficial.
Other Optional Sets
Salamence @ Leftovers / Lum Berry
The Dragon Dance variation of Salamence and a strong contender for the 'standard' Salamence. Rather than breaking down teams like the CB Salamence does this Salamence does reasonable damage throughout the game but shines at the late-game where it can go for clean sweeps when it's counters are sufficiently weakened (or taken out completely). After a Dragon Dance very little will out-speed it un-boosted and it's' Attack stat will match that of a Choice Band Salamence, letting it sweep with HP Flying and Earthquake. It's final move is up to preference, Rock Slide stops Zapdos and Aerodactyl from being able to stop you, Flamethrower stops Skarmory from walling you.
As far as the EVs are concerned, you want at least 264 speed (to be able to outrun Jolteon and Aerodactyl (and pretty much everything else) after a single Dragon Dance), close to Max Attack and dump the rest in HP. 368 is a good HP stat to aim for a strong leftovers recovery but isn't necessary. Hidden Power [Flying] has several IV spreads so you'll want to adjust your EVs accordingly to make sure you keep your speed at 264 (or more) and that you reach your desired HP stat.
Salamence @ Leftovers
"Ele-Mence" as it's usually dubbed. With a potential 350 Special Attack and a fairly strong move-pool of Special Attacks it's somewhat surprising that Special Salamences aren't popular, although the main (and obvious) reason is that it's outclassed by physical variations who have access to Dragon Dance and Choice Band. It's three 'staple' moves are pretty obvious, in the last slot it has a small bit of choice: Crunch hits Ghosts and Psychic but there aren't many who cause Salamence problems anyway. Hidden Power hits Water types, who do cause trouble for Salamence, but only for 20 more Base power than a STAB Dragon Claw would hit them for (although Hidden Power [Grass] can cause a lot of damage to Swampert). Both border on being filler moves but most would lean in favour of using Hidden Power [Grass] to counter the common Swampert.
Salamence @ Leftovers
Salamence (M) @ Leftovers
Wish is something Salamence picked up from the NYPC specials, so it's certainly not a wide-spread option for people playing on their cartridge, but amongst those with access to one it proves to be very popular. Salamence is a fairly strong Wish-Passer and despite it's usual stereotype as a sweeper it can be a very strong defensive Pokémon when considering its resistances, stats and Intimidate. I've seen several variations of Wish-Mence (even a Choice Band Salamence using Wish) but the most common appear to be the Toxic/Flamethrower and EQ/HP Flying variations.
Toxic is popular as it makes all of Salamence's common counters (bulky water types) wince and works rather nicely in tandem with Protect and Wish-stalling against other opponents, although some people will go with the two attack route (and usually an appropriate boost to it's offensive stats). Protect works with Wish in what borders on being similar to Recover or Softboiled, only with the additional advantage of extra Leftovers recovery and the ability to foresee your opponents next move (which can be vital against Choice Band users). Protect isn't vital to the set but it's certainly the standard.
As for the EVs, again, variation is common place. Max or close to Max HP, is pretty much a given, 384 (max lefties recovery) is the minimum to shoot for. As for Speed, 240 or 241 is a good area to shoot for as far as small EV costs go, it's just at little extra assurance against Metagross and the Pokémon who hang out in its speed group. Minor investments in either offence is fairly common, although certainly not overwhelmingly high amounts, Wish-Mence's Base is usually enough to carry it's offensive stats since it isn't sweeping. The rest of the EVs as well as the Nature can go to the defences. Some people prefer to go for balanced defences whilst others will favour one defence over the other, for the sake of the example EV spread I've shown one working strongly on it's physical defence (which in my opinion is it's strongest defensive stat).
Other Optional Moves
Aerial Ace, Fire Blast, Roar, Substitute, Iron Defence, Sleep Talk, Rest, Dragonbreath. Aerial Ace is weaker than (a full strength) Hidden Power [Flying] but if you occupy Hidden Power with a different type or simply can't obtain it Aerial Ace will have to suffice. Fire Blast is a popular option over Flamethrower, since 90% of the time it's only use is countering Skarmory (and occasionally Forretress) the additional Power boost is sometimes worth it, I'd dare to say that Fire Blast is seen more often than Flamethrower on Salamence since 85% accuracy is pretty reliable.
Roar is just one of those moves that so many things get but don't use, Salamence included. There's situational occasions where it'd useful but when you look at it's fantastic move pool there's very little reason to bother with something so situational.
Substitute is seen over protect occasionally on the Wish sets and once in a while you'll see it on the Dragon Dancer or the Ele-Mence. It blocks statuses, gives Salamence a defensive buffer and to an extent lessens the need to predict when using Salamence, the main thing knocking it out of favour is the fact that Salamence has a great deal of moves to use and not enough move slots to spare.
Iron Defence is just another move it picked up at NYPC, although it's rarely used. There's a handful of sets that you could 'try' to use it on but that 4x Ice weakness really prevents stat-up stalling from being effective.
Rest + Sleep Talk is a popular combination on a lot of Pokémon and the Wish-Mence set has proven that Salamence can be a good defensive Pokémon. With a lot of Pokémon running around with Hypnosis (or something similar) having something absorb Sleep Status can be vital to a team and Salamence is a reasonable candidate for the job. The main fault with this is when compared to the Wish-Mence it just doesn't offer it's team as much support but it has comparable survivability, one set simply does a similar job better. It's really only worthy of consideration if you 'need' a Sleep Absorber but even then there's other Pokémon better suited for the job.
I'm just mentioning Dragonbreath in the same way I would mention Body Slam on Snorlax, although essentially no one uses Dragonbreath on Salamence competitively (whilst Body Slam Snorlax is rather common). It has a 30% chance of paralysis but is mainly killed off the power drop when compared to Dragon Claw (90 vs. 120). I doubt it'll ever catch on but then again I also doubt Roar will ever catch on so it's still 'sort of' worth a mention.
Strategy Against Salamence
As you can see from the giant wall of text this PotW has turned out to be, Salamence is a pretty versatile Pokémon. Whilst it primarily attacks from the physical end of things it certainly has viable options on the special side as well and can even act as a defensive support Pokémon with the Wish variations.
As a general rule of thumb, Pokémon dubbed as "bulky waters" are counters for most Salamence sets. This applies to Swampert, Milotic and Suicune mainly but occasionally applies to other waters such as Vaporeon and Blastoise. Short of Choice Band Double-Edge those three can usually take three hits or more from any of Salamence's attacks and pose an immediate threat with Ice Beam. They will be beaten down by it's attacks eventually, especially against Choice Band variations, but played intelligently they will be reliable counters. It's worthy of note however that they will not take kindly to Toxic from Wish-Mences, especially when combined with Protect and possibly Sandstorm and Spikes.
Up against Choice Band Salamences you can rely fairly well on prediction, pretty much any good competitive team should have Pokémon available that can absorb hits from it's attacks, Metagross and Steelix are nice for their Flying and Rock resistances and there's a wide array of choice for Earthquake resistance and immunity.
Up against Dragon Dance Salamences the aforementioned bulky water types are guaranteed counters provided they're healthy, even after a Dragon Dance Salamence will usually only do 30-60% (depending on your EVs and choice of bulky water) so you can still hit back with an Ice Beam KO. If Salamence doesn't have Rock Slide a handful of Pokémon can wall both HP Flying and Earthquake, Zapdos being the main one as well as Aerodactlyl to an extent. If Salamence lacks Rock Slide Regice can also stand-up to it. If Salamence doesn't have Flamethrower (or Fire Blast) then Skarmory can wall it and Roar it away.
Some other common Pokémon, such as: Donphan, Claydol, Starmie and Flygon, can stand-up to one or more Dragon Danced attacks and fire back and KO a weakened Salamence. Claydol normally carries Ice Beam which can usually do about 70% damage to Salamence, Starmie can get a 1KO with Ice Beam, Flygon and Donphan can pick off weakened Salamences with Rock Slide. Surprise use of Counter can work as well, although it certainly isn't reliable it's a nice back-up for desperate situations. Pokémon like Forretress, Snorlax and Blissey can Counter reliably and normally get the KO with a handful of health remaining. Dusclops and Weezing can usually survive its attacks and fire off a Will-o-Wisp, although it runs the risk of missing just the threat of it is usually enough to force a switch.
Salamence has a habit of switching into Fighting types such as Heracross and Medicham, as well as Choice Band users when it expects an Earthquake (such as Metagross and Rhydon). It really shouldn't need to be stated but good prediction can really decimate Salamence. Most fighters carry Rock Slide which lands for a nice super effective hit. Metagross can pound it with Meteor Mash, which is also aided by the fact that Clear Body protects it from Intimidate, and just about every self-respecting Choice Band user has some way to hit Flying types like Salamence for a big hit.
Much like prediction the last bunch of things for handling Salamence really don't need to be stated but are stated simply for the sake of completeness:
- Salamence has three weaknesses, the big one is Ice obviously and is quite clearly the most abused weakness. Random Pokémon with Hidden Power [Ice] can usually KO it, normally by surprise. As a result it isn't uncommon for people to try and scout what Hidden Power you're using just to be on the safe side. It's weakness to Dragon attacks is rarely exploited, in Standard Competitive play Salamence and Dragonite are really the only Dragons you will frequently encounter and both tend not to bother with Dragon attacks, but Dragon attacks are super-effective and will hurt. Rock is it's other weakness, it's somewhat guarded by it's Intimidate trait but Rock attacks will still cause it a lot of pain.
That pretty much sums Salamence up, it's been an incredibly influential Pokémon in the 3rd generation's competitive battling scene. I'll be amazed if people manage to even make it this far down this wall of text to be able to read this far, When I first started writing this out I REALLY did not expect it to be this long but it's a testament to Salamence's strength that this much can be said about it. 10 bucks also says Joe hasn't read this far.
A good Contest Moveset for Salamence would have to be this for the Beauty Contest best with Modest, Mild, Rash or Quiet Nature:
Strategy Using Salamence
If you do the attacks in this following order you should have very few problems; 1st - Aerial ace, 2nd - Sunny day, 3rd - Flamethrower, 4th - Aerial ace, 5th - Hyper beam
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