Gengar, The Shadow Pokémon. Sometimes, on a dark night, your shadow thrown by a streetlight will suddenly and startlingly overtake you. It is actually a Gengar running past you, pretending to be your shadow. Hiding in people's shadows at night, it absorbs their heat. The chill it causes makes the victims shake. It is said that if Gengar is hiding, it cools the area by nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here it is, a Pokemon who needs no introduction; it’s Gengar! Pretty much anyone who’s played Pokemon ever is very familiar with this purple ghost. Gengar has long since been considered one of the best Pokemon in the entire continuity, and for good reason. Gengar’s high speed and special attack, expansive movepool, and numerous immunities have made it a Pokemon that not only has stood the test of time, but in fact has gotten better pretty much every generation. Gen 2 gave it reliable STAB attacks in Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb, Gen 3 gave it Levitate to remove its Ground weakness, Gen 4 gave it the special/physical split to allow it to better utilize its STAB attacks, Gen 5 gave it an upgraded Disable to abuse an annoyingly effective Sub-Disable strategy, and Gen 6 took away Steel’s resistance to its Ghost STAB, let it resist the new Fairy type attacks, AND gave it one of the best Mega Evolutions in the game. That’s not to say Gengar is without its faults, since it does suffer from abysmal defenses that allow most Pokemon to 1HKO or 2HKO it, and the weaknesses to Dark, Ghost, and Psychic are very easily exploited in Gen 6. Don’t let this deter you though; Gengar is a potent offensive and disruptive force, and one that can easily find a home in a team. Even with the advent of its Mega Evolution, standard Gengar is still very solid. Take Gengar lightly at your own peril, because this grinning ghost can ruin your day and will probably later admit to its ghost buddies that it had a fun time doing so.
Levitate: Damage dealing Ground-type moves have no effect on this Pokémon. Cannot be trapped by Arena Trap ability. Takes no damage from Spikes. - Levitate is Gengar’s one and only ability, so it goes without saying that you will be using it. Fortunately though, it’s a very good ability. Not only does it effectively remove Gengar’s weakness to Ground type moves, but it also means that grounded hazards such as Spikes and Sticky Web don’t affect it. Such a good ability.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Here we have one of Gengar's most common sets. Shadow Ball is its main STAB attack, and one that you'll see on almost every set. Ghost is a rather spammable offensive type this generation now that steel no longer resists it, meaning only two types aren't taking at least neutral damage from it. In fact, the two types that don't, Dark and Neutral, are both weak to fighting, so with Focus Blast in the mix, Gengar actually achieves perfect neutral coverage, in addition to absolutely wrecking some key threats such as Tyranitar and Bisharp, who otherwise not only wall you but can Pursuit trap you as well. Just watch out for Focus Blast's unreliable 70% accuracy, though. Sludge Wave is Gengar's secondary STAB, and one that shreds most fairy types. Sludge Wave, which is now available due to a recent event, is chosen over Sludge Bomb due to the fact that it prevents Gengar from being walled by Chesnaught, whose Bulletproof ability renders it immune to Shadow Ball, Focus Blast, and Sludge Bomb. Finally, Taunt is the crux of the set due to its ability to shut down stall, and can be a disruptive force in general. The combination of three attacks and Taunt allows Gengar to function well against virtually any playstyle. Of course, if Taunt isn't really your style, Gengar has other options for the final slot as well. Will-o-Wisp allows Gengar to neuter numerous physical attackers that can otherwise prey on it, and not many things like the residual damage either. Substitute is also an option to ward off status and protect against revenge killing, but the combination of Substitute and Life Orb can wear Gengar down quickly.
252 Speed EVs and Timid nature maximize Gengar's speed, which is absolutely mandatory to be able to speed tie with the Lati twins, Mega Metagross, and Mega Diancie. 252 EVs into Special Attack gives Gengar as much power as possible, while the remaining 4 Evs are put into its special defense. A Life Orb is utilized to give Gengar a bit more power, as it absolutely needs to kill things as quickly as possible so foes don't prey on its low defenses.
The Not So Friendly Ghost
Although not a move that’s seen often, Gengar can take advantage of Hex not only to take advantage of its own status spreading, but also to muscle past one of the more annoying bulky Pokemon; Gliscor. With Gen 6’s Buff to Hex, it now deals a frightening base 130 power if the target is afflicted by status, meaning Gliscor’s Poison Heal turns Hex into a mighty nuke which 2HKOs it without the need for Life Orb recoil. Of course, a lot of Pokemon aren’t Gliscor, and those Pokemon don’t inflict status on themselves. That’s where Will-o-Wisp comes in. Not only does it inflict status to increase Hex’s damage, but also cripples numerous physical attackers who would love nothing more than to have their way with Gengar. Almost every physical attacker barring Mega Charizard X, Talonflame, and a handful of Guts users hate Will-o-Wisp, so you’ll be pretty much set. Then there’s Taunt. Much like the previous set, Taunt absolutely shuts down a lot of things on Stall teams, and can render Pokemon like Chansey almost completely helpless against Gengar. Between Taunt, Will-o-Wisp, and Hex, Gengar finds itself making a great Stall-breaker with this set. For the fourth slot, Gengar can opt for a little more offensive presence in Sludge Wave, which works great at dismantling Clefable, in addition to providing a little more coverage in general. Substitute can work well against stall, especially since this set puts a lot of pressure on Stall teams, and Gengar can often find time to set up a Substitute when it forces a switch.
Timid nature with max speed investment continues to be mandatory, lest you find yourself outsped by the likes of Keldeo and lose speed ties to things like the Lati twins. 248 EVs are put into Special Attack for more power, while 8 HP EVs are invested to maximize healing from Black Sludge. Black Sludge helps keep Gengar’s HP up, and prevents it from wearing itself down as it would with Life Orb. However, also note that you can utilize a bulkier EV spread of 144 HP / 108 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe to better deal with Clefable (who fails to break your Substitutes) and Mega Gardevoir (who fails to 2HKO with Pixilate Hyper Voice), while still having the Special Attack EVs to 2HKO Gliscor with Stealth Rock up.
For a slightly different approach to Gengar, look no further than a Substitute-centric set. It’s almost as though this move was a perfect fit for Gengar. Not only does it have the standard functions of preventing status and providing defense against revenge killing (not to mention great Sucker Punch repellent), but it also pairs well with two of Gengar’s other moves; Pain Split and Disable. Pain Split takes advantage of Gengar’s relatively low HP, and the fact that Substitute cuts its own HP as well. By averaging Gengar’s current HP against your opponent’s, you can provide Gengar with healing while simultaneously damaging your opponent; this works especially well against high-HP foes like Chansey. On the flip side, however, Disable works quite well with Substitute as well, by preying on the multitude of Choice-item users, in addition to those that rely on one specific move to provide the coverage to hit Gengar. Due to its speed, it can usually get up a Substitute to absorb said attack, and then Disable on the following turn to prevent that attack from being used again. This will force pretty much every Choice-user out, since a Disabled Choice User will be forced to struggle. Regardless, either makes an annoyingly effective partner to Substitute. Of course, from there, a little bit of offensive presence can help you along the way so that you’re not completely passive. Shadow Ball remains the best STAB choice with its fantastic coverage. For the final slot, Focus Blast is your best bet in terms of coverage, achieving perfect neutral coverage alongside Shadow Ball, but Sludge Wave can be used to mutilate certain Fairy types such as Clefable, in addition to not having the shaky accuracy of Focus Blast. However, you will find yourself more easily walled.
As with the previous set, Timid nature with max speed investment continues to be mandatory, lest you find yourself outsped by the likes of Keldeo and lose speed ties to things like the Lati twins. 248 EVs are put into Special Attack for more power, while 8 HP EVs are invested to maximize healing from Black Sludge. Black Sludge is the preferred item when
-Icy Wind is an option that can be utilized on offensive sets. Its power may not be great, but the speed drop that comes with it screws almost anything that switches in, and it hits things like Gliscor hard as well.
Double & Triple Options
Gengar is an incredible Pokemon that has aged like wine with each generation of Pokemon. Gen 3 it got Levitate, Gen 4 it got special Shadow Ball, Gen 6 gave it a Mega, a resistance and effectiveness against Fairy types. Super Fast and disruptive with a pinch of offense, Gengar's effects on the battle are usually felt even after it's been KOed.
Standard but effective Gengar sets will carry at least on form of disruption, one or both of its STABs and Protect. A select few Gengar use Icy Wind as their disruption option, but Will-O-Wisp and Disable are notoriously popular for how much either move changes a game. Base 110 Speed isn't a joke and neither is base 130 Special Attack. With Steel no longer resisting Ghost, Gengar's Shadow Ball is going to hurt even more Pokemon than before. Focus Sash is the preferred item to let Gengar take at least 2 attacks depending on the weather, though Life Orb and Gengarite aren't uncommon either
Levitate means Gengar pairs well with Earthquake users like Landorus - T and Mamoswine, the latter being able to handle standard disruptive Thundurus who likes to cripple Gengar with T-Wave. Gengar's frailty and having a grand case of 4 Moveslot Syndrome are its only weak points, to ease the 4MSS Gengar should probably be added to compliment an existing team rather than be the starting point.
Finding a single universal counter for Gengar can be tricky due to its expansive movepool giving it numerous tricks that can screw over some would-be answers. Chansey absolutely walls Gengar, no questions asked, and it can utilize Thunder Wave to cripple Gengar, but Taunt and Substitute shut it down completely. Specially defensive Heatran absorbs Will-o-Wisp and can 2HKO Gengar even uninvested, but Focus Blast can score a 2HKO. Tornadus-T’s Assault Vest set is only 2HKO’ed by Life Sludge Wave about 23% of the time at best (although this is a guarantee with Stealth Rock up), while Tornadus-T can punish Gengar with Knock Off, 2HKO’ing and stripping it of its item. Meanwhile, it can outspeed Gengar and heal off the damage with Regenerator if it needs to pivot out. Even if Gengar Disables Knock Off or burns it with Will-o-Wisp, Hurricane can still 2HKO as well, although the accuracy is shaky. Conkeldurr’s Assault Vest set doesn’t mind Will-o-Wisp and is only 3HKO’ed by the Life Orb set, and can 1HKO with Knock Off, but Sub-Disable can force it to rely on Ice Punch, which can still 2HKO. Raikou’s Assault Vest set is only 3HKO’ed by the Life Orb set, and many of its moves can 2HKO Gengar so Disable is not a major hindrance for it. Meanwhile, Raikou also outspeeds it, so even at worst it can usually check Gengar. Lopunny hates Will-o-Wisp and Focus Blast, but it can switch into Shadow Ball or Taunt, and utilize Scrappy Fake Out to Mega Evolve into Mega Lopunny, at which point it outspeeds and destroys Gengar with Scrappy Return. Tyranitar hates Will-o-Wisp and Focus Blast, but its Scarf set outspeeds Gengar and traps it with the threat of Pursuit. Numerous other Scarf users, such as Excadrill, Garchomp, Terrakion, Kyurem-B, and Keldeo can outspeed and 1HKO Gengar with powerful STAB attacks. Gothitelle’s Scarf set also outspeeds Gengar, but in a twist of fate, due to its Ghost typing, Gengar is one of the few things that Gothitelle can’t trap with Shadow Tag. Weavile naturally outspeeds Gengar and destroys it with Knock Off, although it can’t switch into Focus Blast or Will-o-Wisp. Alakazam also outspeeds Gengar, and destroys it with Psychic. It can’t switch into Shadow Ball, and Sludge Wave deals heavy damage due to its frailty, but it can switch into Will-o-Wisp thanks to Magic Guard, and Taunt doesn’t bother it much either. Starmie is in the same boat as Alakazam, not being bothered by Will-o-Wisp or Taunt, but hating to switch into Shadow Ball. Meanwhile, it still outspeeds Gengar and 1HKOs it. Talonflame makes a solid revenge killer, being able to soundly 1HKO Gengar with priority Brave Bird, although it takes heavy damage from any of Gengar’s STAB attacks, so it has to be cautious switching in. On the plus side, it is immune to Will-o-Wisp, however. Scizor and Mega Scizor can pick off a weakened Gengar with Bullet Punch, and Choice Band Scizor can manage to 1HKO Gengar with Bullet Punch over half the time as well. As a last resort, Latios, Latias, and Mega Metagross all speed tie with Gengar and can 1HKO it, but losing the speed tie can cause it to go the other way as well and allow Gengar to come out on top. Paralysis is a major nuisance to Gengar as well, so slapping it with Thunder Wave absolutely cripples it, and Thundurus has no problem crippling Gengar in this respect. At the end of the day though, Gengar is very frail, so any strong STAB can 1HKO or 2HKO Gengar if it can’t 1HKO its target first.
Let’s be honest; Gengar didn’t really need a Mega Evolution. It was good in past generations, and it’s still good in generation six. But, for whatever reason, Game Freak decided Gengar needed a Mega Evolution, and so it got one. And not only did Gengar get a Mega Evolution, but it ended up getting one of the most amazingly useful and powerful Mega Evolutions ever conceived. Getting the stat boosts that come with Mega Evolution would’ve been solid on their own, but it also got one of the most absurdly powerful and devastating abilities in the entire Pokemon continuity in the form of Shadow Tag. So now, not only is Mega Gengar fast and powerful, but it can very much be a game changer with its ability to trap and dispose of key threats thanks to Shadow Tag. However, even something as amazing as Mega Gengar does have its faults. It’s still pretty frail, so it’s hard to switch in, and it does gain a weakness by Mega Evolving since it has to forgo Levitate. Nevertheless, Mega Gengar is ridiculously good at what it does, and its ability to trap and destroy Pokemon should never be underestimated. The fact that Shed Shell is viable to get away from Mega Gengar should be a testament to how good it is.
Shadow Tag: The opponent cannot run nor switch while this Pokémon is in play. The opponent may still switch by using Baton Pass, U-turn or Volt Switch, if it is holding a Shed Shell or is a Ghost-type. - Shadow Tag is by far one of the most powerful and deadly abilities in the game. Switching is a fundamental part of battling, and Mega Gengar can remove it from the equation almost entirely. This makes Mega Gengar a powerful trapper and revenge killer. The threat of Mega Gengar’s trapping can put an enormous amount of pressure on an opponent’s team, lest they get stuck in an unfavorable matchup from which they can’t escape. Just be aware that it won’t trap on the turn that you Mega Evolve, so you have to already be Mega Evolved for this ability to start taking effect.
It’s a Trap!
-Shadow Ball / Focus Blast
-Taunt / Protect
Here we have your standard Mega Gengar. The premise is very simple. Get Gengar in as soon as possible when it is safe, and then Mega Evolve it so that it can begin trapping things. Once it’s Mega Evolved, Mega Gengar can begin wreaking havoc by trapping and disposing of whatever you’d like it to. Destiny Bond is pretty standard of Mega Gengar; it allows it to effectively force a “trade”, sacrificing Mega Gengar to take out a particular Pokemon on your opponent’s team; however, if that Pokemon is the only thing stopping you from sweeping them, then it’s well worth it. From there, Mega Gengar relies on offensive answers to trapping. Sludge Wave is important for its ability to destroy Fairy types, most notably, Xerneas and Arceus-Fairy. On the other hand, Shadow Ball hits almost everything at least neutrally, while also hitting the multitude of Psychic types such as Lugia, the Lati twins, and Mewtwo for SE damage. Focus Blast can be an alternative to Shadow Ball to hit Tyranitar, Dialga, Arceus-Dark, Darkrai, and a few others a bit harder, but its shaky accuracy can let you down. In the final slot, Taunt can be used to shut down more passive Pokemon and prevent offensive Pokemon from setting up, while Protect can be used to scout attacks and afford Gengar the turn it needs to Mega Evolve.
252 Speed EVs and Timid Nature afford Mega Gengar the maximum speed to speed tie with Mewtwo, and also outspeed almost every relevant threat, such as Arceus and Mega Salamence. The remaining 252 EVs are put into Special Attack to give it as much power as possible, while the remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense.
Phantom of the Ubers
For a slightly different approach, Mega Gengar can forgo all offensive moves entirely, and center its trapping around Perish Song. The beauty of this set is that unlike, oh say, Destiny Bond, Mega Gengar can trap and dispose of something without necessarily sacrificing itself in the process. Once again you need to Mega Evolve ASAP for this to work, but that’s where Protect comes in; it guarantees you the turn you need to Mega Evolve and begin trapping. It also allows Gengar to burn turns needed for Perish Song’s timer to elapse. Once that timer starts, very few things can escape unless they have U-Turn or Volt Switch. Fortunately, Mega Gengar itself can just switch out on the final turn of Perish Song, still forcing the opponent to stay in and be KO’ed, while escaping the Perish Song itself. From there, Gengar has plenty of options to buy itself the turns it needs for Perish Song to count down. Taunt continues to be a great way to shut down stall in general, but also prevents things such as Roar and Whirlwind from forcing Mega Gengar out so that the opponent can switch. Substitute lets Mega Gengar avoid things like Dragon Tail, which also helping to survive lethal hits in general. Finally, it can also utilize Disable in place of either of these moves to lock down Choice users and mono-attacking sets, so that they can’t fight back as Perish Song ticks away.
The given EVs are a little different than the norm. Timid Nature and 176 Speed EVs is enough to outspeed speed natured base 120’s, such as Arceus and Mega Salamence. 248 HP EVs help to increase Gengar’s survivability so that it is more likely that it survives the turns it needs for Perish Song to do its thing. Finally, the remaining 84 EVs are put into special defense, which allows it to survive most +2 attacks from Xerneas, so that it can’t dispose of Mega Gengar after a Geomancy.
-Will-o-Wisp is a great option to burn physical attackers, with the exception of things like Primal Groudon and Ho-Oh, of course.
Double & Triple Battle Options
Mega Gengar spearheads the genre of playstyle knowns as Doubles Perish Trap. It's nasty to fight against, real peculiar to play, but ultimately something that every trainer should keep in mind when building a team. Here's what Mega Gengar will typically do..
Upon Mega Evolving it will Protect and trap in any non ghost Pokemon on the opponents field, it or its partner will use Perish Song and then the Mega Gengar will do its best to stay alive or stall for turns until it comes time to switch out.
This kind of Mega Gengar will find excellent partners in Intimidate Fake Out Scrafty, Eject Button Regenerator Amoonguss and Shadow Tag Gothitelle, usually seeing any 2 or 3 of these Pokemon in team preview will mean Perish Trap is on its way.
Mega Gengar falls short in not taking Earthquakes well or being dependent on making correct predictions. One false move and the win condition is lost. It's a terrible feeling to know you've lost the game in 3 turns but still have 3 Pokemon left.
If you aren't familiar with how Perish Trap teams function or how to beat them, the best way is to use one to figure it out. Mega Gengar isn't a joke. It's powerful way beyond Base 170 Special Attack.
Countering Mega Gengar
In the most literal sense, one could say that it’s not really possible to counter Mega Gengar, with a few exceptions. After all, countering is generally defined as being able to switch into something and beat it, and thanks to Shadow Tag, switching in isn’t really an option. That said, there are still some things that can generally beat Mega Gengar. Although they can’t switch in (both in terms of taking the attack, and literally not being able to switch), Deoxys-A and Mega Mewtwo Y both outspeed Mega Gengar and can promptly 1HKO it, circumventing attempts to Perish Trap or Destiny Bond. Tyranitar and (Mega) Scizor can both manage to Pursuit Trap Mega Gengar, but have to watch out for the appropriate coverage moves such as Focus Blast and Hidden Power Fire. (Mega) Scizor also gets special mention for being able to pick off Mega Gengar with Bullet Punch, although it needs a little prior damage to get a clean KO. Darkrai can usually beat Perish trapping variants, due to Dark Void being able to shut down attempts to buy turns, and Darkrai can outright KO Mega Gengar as well. Giratina-O can soundly 1HKO with Shadow Sneak’s priority, and has enough bulk to eat a Shadow Ball with a bit of HP to spare as well. Plus, thanks to its Ghost typing it can actually switch out against Mega Gengar if the need arises for whatever reason. Choice Scarf users such as Genesect, Kyurem-W, and Kyogre all outspeed Mega Gengar and can destroy it, and thanks to their speed they can usually avoid Disable unless Mega Gengar is behind a Substitute already. In truth, there’s actually a lot of Pokemon that can soundly destroy Gengar, but a fast Destiny Bond can put a damper on their day. This includes Primal Groudon, Ho-Oh, Mega Salamence, and Rayquaza. Taunt from the likes of Yveltal can prevent tricks like that, but Mega Gengar often carries Taunt itself, which can prevent it from being Taunted as well. KOing Mega Gengar isn’t too hard, it’s just the fact that it can often take down its attacker with it thanks to its high speed and trapping.
Say You'll Haunt Me
Haunter’s always been pretty popular in terms of design since its inception. Unlike its evolutionary counterparts though, who pretty much dominate their respective formats, Haunter’s pretty good but not great where it's most common. It has a lot more competition from other ghosts, such as from Rotom and Mismagius, who have their own advantages over it. Nevertheless, Haunter is still fast and hits hard, so it can get the job done.
Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb are Haunter’s obligatory STAB attacks, and together they form pretty good coverage, with Shadow Ball having great neutral coverage on its own, and Sludge Bomb deals with Fairy types (most notably Mega Audino), while also dispatching the numerous grass types that are common where Haunter is most used. From there, Haunter can utilize its high speed to take advantage of Destiny Bond, which can allow it to take down slower threats as it’s about to be KO’ed anyway, and also puts pressure on Sucker Punch users such as Kangaskhan. For its final slot, Haunter has a choice between Will-o-Wisp and Taunt. Will-o-Wisp lets it cripple physical attackers, especially those that rely on Sucker Punch. Meanwhile, Taunt allows it to shut down Stall, in addition to preventing offensive Pokemon from setting up.
Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs allow Haunter to maximize its speed, while the other 252 EVs get put into Special Attack to give it more power. The remaining 4 EVs are put into Special Defense. A Life Orb is utilized to stretch Haunter’s power a bit further; the recoil may wear Haunter down, but it can’t take hits for beans, so it cares more about securing the KOs than it does about a little recoil.
Finally, on the opposite end of the evolutionary Spectrum, we have Gastly. In the little Cup, Gastly is the most viable and the most commonly used Ghost type, and it’s easy to see why. With high speed, high special attack, and plenty of immunities, Gastly fits right in. Shadow Ball has amazing coverage in the Little Cup, hitting almost every relevant threat at least neutrally, barring Pawniard, Porygon, and Vullaby, in addition to a few less-viable others. Sludge Bomb complements Shadow Ball’s coverage, hitting things like Spritzee, Cottonee, Snubbull, and Snivy hard, in addition to being a strong STAB attack in general. Hidden Power Fighting is used almost exclusively for Pawniard, who is one of the most dangerous Pokemon in the Little Cup. It would normally wall Gastly, but it can be 1HKO’ed with HP Fighting. Just note that the threat of Sucker Punch often necessitates it being on the switch. Finally, Destiny Bond often allows it to net a KO when Gastly being KO’ed is inevitable; with Gastly’s high speed, it can often assure that it gets off Destiny Bond, while also being able to stalemate Pawniard by trolling the Sucker Punch with Destiny Bond and then threatening it with Hidden Power Fighting the following turn.
Timid Nature and 200 Speed EVs allow Gastly to hit 18 speed, which is the second highest unboosted speed tier in the Little Cup. Another 200 EVs into Special Attack allow it to hit an equally powerful 19 special attack. Another 80 EVs can be put into special defense to patch it up slightly by letting it hit 11 special defense, although 19/9/11 defenses are still pretty poor, so don’t let it take hits if you can avoid it. This is especially true with Knock Off being omnipresent in the Little Cup. Life Orb maximizes Gastly’s power, and allows it to secure some crucial KOs that it might otherwise miss.
Also worth noting is that Gastly has a few other options it can utilize. Gastly can opt for a Focus Sash to have some synergy with Destiny Bond, but you will notice a drop in power without Life Orb. It can also utilize a Choice Scarf to outspeed even Shell Smashers such as Omanyte and Shellder. The set remains mostly the same, with similar EVs and attacks, but Scarf Gastly sometimes carries Dazzling Gleam and/or Trick, as well.
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