Lunala, The Moone Pokémon. Records of it exist in writings from long, long ago, where it was known by the name “the beast that calls the moon.” It sometimes summons unknown powers and life-forms here to this world from holes that lead to other worlds.
As the poster child of Pokemon Moon version, Lunala is certainly no slouch. Like most game mascots, Lunala sports a fantastic stat spread that makes it hard to handle. A fantastic special attack and numerous coverage options would be nice enough on their own, but it’s also sporting just enough speed to outspeed the myriad of base 90 speed tiers that tend to be common amongst legendaries. It’s not exactly frail either, as a 137/89/107 defensive spread is certainly sturdy, and its ability Shadow Shield, which is effectively a glorified Multiscale, makes it hard to handle from full HP. However, no Pokemon is perfect, and in Lunala’s case, it has to deal with two awful 4x weaknesses to Ghost and Dark, both of which are common. Likewise, prior damage will stop its ability from working, so it has to be careful about that. None of this is enough to stop Lunala from being uber to the max though, as both its boosting and wallbreaking sets can be hard to stop. If you’re not prepared for Lunala, it may leave you in the dark.
Shadow Shield: Reduces damage inflicted on this Pokemon when at max Hit Points by 50%. It is not affected by moves or abilities that would ignore the ability such as Mold Breaker, Moongeist Beam or Sunsteel Strike - As Lunala’s one and only ability, it goes without saying that you will always be using Shadow Shield. Fortunately, it’s pretty good at what it does. It functions similarly to Multiscale, halving the damage of any direct attack received when Lunala is at full health. However, it’s even better than Multiscale since it isn’t negated by any variants of Mold Breaker. However, you’ll need to take care that things such as Stealth Rock or residual damage doesn’t break it prematurely, rendering it useless.
Fly Me to the Moon
With its high power and solid speed tier, Lunala is well equipped to run a choice set. It is capable of running a Scarf set for revenge killing and late game sweeping, or a Specs set for frightening wallbreaking abilities, but either way the moveset does not change.
Moongeist Beam is a given, considering it’s Lunala’s strongest STAB with no downsides (aside from low PP). Focus Blast may have unfortunate accuracy, but alongside Moongeist Beam it affords Lunala perfect neutral coverage, in addition to nailing the Normal and Dark types who might think they can switch into Moongeist Beam. Ice Beam allows Lunala to prey on Mega Salamence, Zygarde, and Yveltal. For the final moveslot, Psyshock is Lunala’s best option against Chansey and Blissey, who otherwise can stomach Focus Blasts and are immune to Moongeist Beam.
Max Special Attack and Speed IVs are essential for either choice item, but the nature does have some variance. Given Choice Scarf sets want to be as fast as possible, Timid Nature is always preferred. Timid’s usually the best option for Specs sets as well, but Modest Specs Lunala’s power cannot be denied, as it is capable of 1HKOing standard Lugia about half the time from full health, thanks to Moongeist Beam ignoring Multiscale.
When choosing the item, keep in mind what you’re looking for. If you want wallbreaking, a Specs set is superior. However, a Scarf set tends to be more splashable, as it is capable of outspeeding +1 base 90’s, such as Dragon Dance Rayquaza, and can also outpace Marshadow who would normally outspeed and destroy it (although watch out for Shadow Sneak if Shadow Shield is broken).
Choice sets aren’t Lunala’s only forte, as it has the power and bulk needed to abuse a Calm Mind set. Shadow Shield gives it many opportunities to set up, and its offensive prowess can force switches to give it further opportunities. Moongeist Beam continues to be Lunala’s premiere STAB attack, while Focus Blast affords it perfect neutral coverage and handles the things that can endure Moongeist Beam. For the final moveslot, Hypnosis enables Lunala to utilize Z-Hypnosis with the use of Psyhium-Z, which not only has the usual sleep applying effect, but can also give Lunala a +1 Speed Boost, which can make it harder to revenge kill and enable a sweep. On a side note, with the nerf to Darkrai’s Dark Void this generation, fewer things consistently carry Sleep Talk, so Hypnosis’s utility is heightened. However, if you don’t want to go that route, Psyshock is an option that allows Lunala to muscle past some of the premiere special walls, Blissey and Chansey. However in this case Psychium-Z may not be worth your while, and instead, Ghostium-Z/Lunalium Z can turn Moongeist Beam into an absolute nuke that few things that are not Dark or Normal types can reliable handle.
Timid Nature with max Special Attack and Speed IVs are nigh mandatory to maximize Lunala’s speed, while still giving it as much power as possible.
Other Options and Partners
-Thunder can be used to hit Ho-Oh and Kyogre a bit harder on Choice Sets, but you sacrifice more Psyshock’s ability to beat Blissey and Chansey if you go that route.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Lunala may never see any official VGC format, but its bulk and power would have made it powerful in doubles. While we did not get to see Multiscale Lugia in VGC 2016 to get an idea of how Lunala could perform with its similar ability, Moon's legendary has the coverage to put a dent in many opponents, although Mega Gengar and Yveltal especially pose a potential problem.
Third Eye Blind
An offensive Lunala set likes maximum special attack to pressure the opponent as much as possible. Timid with maximum speed ensures you outspeed the Primals and non-Timid Xerneas, but Modest gives some more power if you are able to keep Lunala healthy or back it up with speed control. Shadow Shield is the only available ability, but greatly increases your ability to take a hit at full health against most attacks. The item choice comes down to the new Lunalium Z or a Choice Specs. Both items are very offensive, but come down to whether you prefer one huge attack or more power to every attack. Specs opens up another moveslot since you will not need Protect, but Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom is insanely powerful and can ignore the opponent's ability.
Moongeist Beam is Lunala's strongest STAB move, and pairs with its Z crystal for the signature Z move. Ice Beam provides good coverage and hits Pokemon like Mega Rayquaza and Mega Salamence very hard. Psychic is the strongest psychic-type attack, but Psyshock hits physical defense, which can be useful against Pokemon like Geomancy Xerneas or Primal Kyogre. Protect is Protect, simply one of the best moves in doubles to keep your Shadow Shield active against Fake Out or stall out speed control on your opponent's side.
Other Options & Team Ideas
-Thunderbolt is generally inferior versus Psyshock against Primal Kyogre unless they are very defensively built on the physical side, but Thunder is a powerful option that will not miss in Kyogre's rain. Moonblast provides fairy coverage, and Dazzling Gleam can be considered if you want a spread move. Focus Blast and Solarbeam are additional coverage moves, but each has drawbacks.
Although Lunala is a powerful foe, it’s not invincible. Yveltal is one of the best answers to Lunala, as its typing and bulk make it difficult for Lunala to break through. Although Yveltal has to be wary of Choice Specs Ice Beam or Thunder, especially if Stealth Rock is up, its raw power can often be too much for Lunala to handle, as Life Orb Dark Aura Dark Pulse can 1HKO Lunala through Shadow Shield, although it misses the 1HKO if Lunala has accumulated any calm mind boosts. Meanwhile, it naturally outspeeds Lunala and can deal heavy damage with any dark type attack, including Foul Play, Sucker Punch, and Dark Pulse. Arceus-Dark can be a good answer to Lunala, although it does have to watch out for Focus Blast 2HKOing it (although Focus Blast’s accuracy makes this a coin flip). However, Arceus-Dark does outspeed Lunala, deals heavy damage with Judgment, and has no problem forcing out a choice-locked Lunala. Although Tyranitar loathes Focus Blast, it is capable of Pursuit trapping Lunala, especially if it’s locked into anything that’s not Focus Blast. In addition, Sand Steam is capable of breaking Lunala’s Shadow Shield, leaving it more susceptible to damage. Alolan Muk’s Assault Vest can shut down nearly anything Lunala can throw at it, only being 3HKO’ed at best by Choice Specs Focus Blast. Meanwhile, Alolan Muk can deal heavy damage with Knock Off, Pursuit trap Lunala, or if it’s weakened, pick it off with Shadow Sneak. Ho-Oh’s special bulk can allow it to take on Lunala with some degree of success, as defensive variants are only 3HKO’ed by Specs Moongeist Beam, and it can stall with Toxic and Recover. However, Stealth Rock will greatly compromise Ho-Oh’s ability to deal with Lunala, so they need to be off the field for this to work. Speaking of which, Stealth Rock and Spikes can both be a detriment to Lunala, given they break Shadow Shield and thus make Lunala vulnerable to full damage.
Checking Lunala is quite a bit easier, although Z-Hypnosis can throw a wrench in the speed tiers if you’re not careful. Marshadow naturally outspeeds Lunala, and can obliterate Lunala through Shadow Shield with Choice Band Spectral Thief. In the event that Z-Hypnosis has given Lunala a Speed Boost, Marshadow can still use Shadow Sneak to pick it off, but Shadow Shield needs to be broken to make it a 1HKO. Arceus-Ghost likewise outspeeds Lunala, and can 1HKO with Shadow Force, if not force it out. However, it does not want to eat a Moongeist Beam, especially at +1. Extreme Killer Arceus is immune to Moongeist Beam and outspeeds non-boosted Lunala, but if Shadow Shield is up it won’t be able to 1HKO unless it’s at +2 with a Life Orb. However, it can deal heavy damage, usually enough to KO, with any prior damage breaking Shadow Shield. Darkrai outspeeds Lunala, but needs Shadow Shield broken to be able to 1HKO; without it, it will usually only top out at 70% damage. Needless to say, Focus Blast will mutilate Darkrai, though. Mega Gengar may not be able to trap Lunala given it’s a Ghost type as well, but it can outspeed an unboosted Lunala and it can 1HKO if Shadow Shield is down. If it’s up, Mega Gengar can still do about 86% at most, although Moongeist Beam will 1HKO it soundly. Giratina-O can pick off a weakened Lunala with Shadow Sneak, but if Shadow Shield is up it’ll be lucky to break 50% damage, and it is hit hard by Moongeist Beam. Primal Kyogre has enough special bulk that it won’t be 1HKO’ed unless Lunala is at +2 with Stealth Rock Up, and can hit Lunala hard with a rain-boosted Origin Pulse if Shadow Shield is broken. Mega Salamence can outspeed and hit hard with Aerilate Double Edge if Shadow Shield is down, but it has to be wary of Ice Beam, and can be 2HKO’ed by unboosted Moongeist Beam. Ultimately, a large part of checking Lunala is ensuring that Shadow Shield is not a factor, so entry hazard and residual damage will be your friends to ensure it is not.
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