Marowak, The Bone Keeper Pokémon. Originally, it was weak and timid. After evolution, its temperament becomes violent, and it begins to wield bones as weapons. This Pokémon is out for vengeance on its natural enemy, Mandibuzz. It throws bones like boomerangs to try to take it down.
Everyone knows the story of Marowak, the tragic tale of a Pokémon terrorized by Team Rocket, turning it into a vengeful being. Ignoring the question of how other Cubone get the skull they wear, Marowak's tragic tale extends to its capabilities in a competitive setting. Marowak lives and dies by its signature item, the Thick Club, doubling its Attack and giving it a niche as an incredibly powerful wallbreaker with its signature Bonemerang. As incredible as this sounds on paper, Marowak suffers from the curse of being a slow and not particularly bulky Pokémon without the defensive typing to make up for it. An easy thought may be to simply use it on a Trick Room team, but unfortunately Marowak finds itself outclassed even in that category, including but not limited to its Alolan cousin. The prevalence of Knock Off also makes life dangerous for Marowak since losing its Thick Club renders it nearly useless for the rest of the battle, so its reliance on its signature item is also its undoing. With the introduction of Alolan Marowak there's unfortunately not a lot of reason to use Kantonian Marowak, since whatever niche it did have is almost entirely overshadowed by everyone's favorite fire dancer.
Rock Head: Does not receive recoil damage from recoil-causing damages. This is a decent ability but Double-Edge is all that Marowak really gets to take advantage of this, so it's not a major boon.
Bonemerang gives Marowak a niche over other Ground-types hitting as hard as Earthquake but trading a little bit of accuracy for the ability to break past Substitute, Sturdy, and Focus Sash users. Bonemerang is also not weakened by Grassy Terrain unlike Earthquake. Knock Off provides coverage against Ghost- and Psychic-types but most notably provides utility in removing held items, allowing it to more effectively punish switches. Double-Edge may seem like an odd coverage move, but in conjunction with Rock Head it provides a 120 power coverage move with no drawbacks or risks, which grants useful neutral coverage. Stone Edge is an alternative if hitting Flying-types in particular is more important, though it's a less safe option overall. Swords Dance allows Marowak to boost its impressive Attack to insane levels in order to function more effectively as a wallbreaker, though it can be difficult to utilize without proper support such as Trick Room. Substitute is a safe option that not only punishes switches, but also protects Marowak from status. Stealth Rock allows Marowak to support its team though its usefulness depends on the team and whether or not something else is already running Stealth Rock.
The EV spread maximizes Marowak's damage output while helping remedy its pitiful HP stat. An Adamant nature is preferred to give Marowak as much Attack as possible, though a Brave nature is a viable alternative if utilizing it on a Trick Room team. Thick Club is the only item Marowak should ever run, as its Attack is mediocre without it. Rock Head should be used if running Double-Edge in order to avoid taking recoil damage, but otherwise Battle Armor should be used as none of Marowak's other abilities do anything for it.
- Fire Punch allows Marowak to hit Steel-types that aren't weak to Bonemerang, such as Ferrothorn and Skarmory, though it lacks power compared to its other coverage options.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Marowak has not seen much usage in VGC, only appearing occasionally on a Trick Room team. Although it does not have a particularly deep movepool, its signature item, Thick Club, does give it good attack to threaten the opponent with strong ground-type attacks.
Lord of Bones
-Bonemerang / Earthquake
A classic Trick Room set. Max HP and attack is typical of a Trick Room sweeper to give it power and bulk, and a Brave nature (ideally with a 0 speed IV) maximizes its chances to go first under Trick Room. Thick Club is the only item that Marowak should ever use. Lightningrod is not a perfect ability for Marowak, as it is already immune to electric attacks, but it can keep a teammate safe from powerful electric attacks.
Bonemerang is Marowak's signature move and its strongest single target attack. Earthquake is a viable option for spread damage if Marowak can safely use it next to a partner, such as Cresselia or Telepathy Oranguru. Rock Slide or Stone Edge is a similar issue of whether you want spread damage (with flinch chances) or more power. Fire Punch hits grass types that resist your ground attacks super-effectively, and Protect is of course necessary in doubles, especially if Marowak needs its partner to set up Trick Room.
Alolan Marowak, The Bone Keeper Pokémon. The bones it possesses were once its mother’s. Its mother’s regrets have become like a vengeful spirit protecting this Pokémon. Its custom is to mourn its lost companions. Mounds of dirt by the side of the road mark the graves of the Marowak.
Alolan Marowak appears to struggle from a similarly tragic story that stops making sense when considering there are multiple Alolan Marowak in the world, but unlike its Kantonian cousin this tragic story isn't accompanied by a similarly tragic fate in the competitive sphere. While many Alolan variants of Kanto Pokémon are unfortunately not much better or worse than the Kantonian variant, Marowak is one of the lucky ones to become much more powerful thanks to its Ghost/Fire typing. A much more threatening offensive typing as well as access to Lightning Rod gives Alolan Marowak an incredibly unique niche both offensively and defensively. Alolan Marowak also maintains access to the unique Bonemerang on top of its new signature Shadow Bone, so it's definitely not lacking in the coverage department. Alolan Marowak still suffers from some very common weaknesses to Ground-, Water-, and Rock-type moves though, so despite its fantastic resistances it still struggles to from low Speed and average overall bulk. This also results in similar struggles to Kantonian Marowak with faster threats, though a superior typing overall allows it to at least keep up with many top threats, with or without Trick Room. While it shares many of the same flaws with its family from Kanto, Alolan Marowak is definitely a dangerous threat that you don't want to ignore.
Cursed Body: When a move hits the Pokémon, that move has a 30% chance of getting disabled. This isn't a terrible ability, but Alolan Marowak has much stronger options so it doesn't have a whole lot of reason to run Cursed Body.
So Edgy it Burns
- Flare Blitz
Flare Blitz is Alolan Marowak's most powerful STAB move, providing excellent coverage and consistent power at the cost of nasty recoil. Shadow Bone provides Alolan Marowak with a secondary STAB move that doesn't suffer from huge recoil, though the power difference is very significant. Bonemerang provides useful coverage against Rock- and Fire-types, but most importantly allows Alolan Marowak to break through Toxapex and common Focus Sash users. Bonemerang's coverage is not always necessary though, and can be dropped in favor of Swords Dance to allow Alolan Marowak to break through walls more effectively. Will-O-Wisp allows Marowak to punish common switch-ins such as Landorus-T and Salamence, though the the presence of Tapu Fini can limit its usefulness. Stealth Rock is a viable alternative in a 6v6 setting though, especially on teams having trouble fitting it on another teammate.
The given EV spread maximizes Alolan Marowak's damage output while making it as bulky as possible overall. An Adamant nature gives Marowak as much Attack as possible, though a Brave nature can also be used on Trick Room teams. Alolan Marowak needs Thick Club in order to pose a threat to most foes since its Attack is mediocre without it. Lightning Rod is often the ability of choice since the Electric immunity gives Alolan Marowak more flexibility in switching into foes, though Rock Head is a viable alternative if the team already has more than enough Electric-type checks.
- Fire Punch is a viable alternative to Flare Blitz in a 6v6 if the recoil is problematic and the team can't afford to give up the Electric immunity with Lightning Rod, though there's not much reason to use it in Battle Spot.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Did I say Marowak has not seen much VGC usage? Alolan Marowak has become one of the best Pokemon in VGC 2017. While its new typing does give it weaknesses to some common doubles attacks, such as Earthquake and Rock Slide, Alolan Marowak also has an impressive list of resistances and immunities, especially with Lightningrod as an ability. Its new typing, along with two great new STAB attacks, has also made it much more of an offensive threat, even outside of Trick Room.
The Luau Entertainment!
Alolan Marowak should always hold a Thick Club, as its signature item is the main reason it can do so much damage. 252 EVs in HP with 68 in special defense give Marowak enough bulk to survive a variety of attacks (especially with Intimidate support), but most importantly, it can live a Psychic Terrain-boosted Psychic from a Modest Tapu Lele. This can be valuable as Alolan Marowak will OHKO Tapu Lele even after Intimidate. The rest of the EVs are invested into attack for the aforementioned Tapu Lele calculation, and Alolan Marowak can still OHKO a Celesteela with Flare Blitz. Lightningrod again supports the team, but this time it also gives Alolan Marowak an immunity it would not normally have. Lightningrod is fantastic in this format to shut down Tapu Koko. A Brave nature (typically with a 0 speed IV) is good for Trick Room, but Adamant is fine otherwise. Investing EVs in speed to speed-creep other Alolan Marowak or even Alolan Muk (44 EVs are needed) can be valuable, and with Tailwind support and even more investment, Adamant Alolan Marowak can start to outspeed much faster threats like Timid Tapu Lele (124 EVs are needed) or Jolly Garchomp (156 EVs are needed).
Flare Blitz is Alolan Marowak's strongest attack and can do incredible damage. Shadow Bone is another strong STAB attack, threatening Tapu Lele and Drifblim. Bonemerang provides ground-type coverage against Arcanine or Torkoal, and breaks through Focus Sashes on Pokemon like Nihilego or Salazzle. Protect is again the best move in doubles to keep Marowak safe while an opponent attacks or stall out your opponent's speed control.
Other Options & Team Ideas
-If your team is not at all concerned about electric type attacks, both Marowak forms have alternate abilities that can use useful. Rock Head on Alolan Marowak prevents Flare Blitz recoil, which can really help its longevity. Non-Alolan Marowak cannot really take advantage of this, but Battle Armor can prevent an unlucky critical hit from ruining your day.
Countering Alolan Marowak
Due to its many weaknesses, Alolan Marowak struggles with anything faster than it that runs a Dark-, Ground-, Water-, Ghost-, or Rock-type move. However, Alolan Marowak's STAB combination is difficult for most Pokémon to switch into directly, so a straight counter can be difficult to come by for some teams. Tyranitar and Hydreigon get a special mention for resisting Alolan Marowak's STAB combination and threatening back with their respective Dark-type STAB moves. Dark-types in general can threaten Alolan Marowak though few of the Dark-types not already mentioned can afford to switch into Flare Blitz. Bulkier Water-types such as Tapu Fini and Gyarados can usually check Alolan Marowak effectively, though they don't appreciate switching into Shadow Bone. Pyukumuku and Quagsire can also switch into a boosted Alolan Marowak safely thanks to Unaware, though they tend to be sub-par choices outside of specific teams. Bulky Ground-types such as Landorus-T and Garchomp can be difficult for Alolan Marowak to break through since they outspeed and OHKO it back, though they must be careful switching into Will-O-Wisp and otherwise still take heavy damage from Alolan Marowak's attacks. Knock Off users are also dangerous for Alolan Marowak since if they don't OHKO, Alolan Marowak loses the item that makes it any bit dangerous. Stealth Rock also messes with Alolan Marowak since it already has trouble staying healthy with Flare Blitz recoil, which is important since it becomes difficult for Alolan Marowak to take advantage of its resistances if it loses 25% of its HP upon switching in. Dealing with Alolan Marowak can sometimes feel like that annoying kid who beats a dead joke into the ground, but as long as you don't let it pressure you you'll find Alolan Marowak is fairly reasonable to keep in check.
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