Skarmory, The Armor Bird Pokémon. Skarmory is entirely encased in hard, protective armor. This Pokémon flies at close to 190 mph. It slashes foes with its wings that possess swordlike cutting edges. Skarmory's steel wings become tattered and bashed in from repeated battles. Once a year, the battered wings grow back completely, restoring the cutting edges to their pristine state. Despite being clad entirely in iron-hard armor, it flies at speeds over 180 mph. After nesting in bramble bushes, the wings of its chicks grow hard from scratches by thorns.
It’s a good thing that Steel types aren’t prone to rusting, because if they did, Skarmory would likely be the most weathered and worn due to being the Steel type that has been relevant for the longest amount of time. Ever since its inception back in Gen 2, Skarmory has been hailed as one of the best physical walls, phasers, and hazard setters in the entirety of Pokemon… and that’s all on one set! It’s not hard to see why, either; a monstrous base 140 defense and a unique steel/flying typing lend themselves well to Skarmory’s cause. It’s endured countless new threats being introduced every generation, and keeps on coming back to do its job. Gen 6 though, happened to be something of a mixed bag for it. On one hand, it gained a new toy in an improved Defog that lets it impose its own brand of hazard control, and it resists the brand new Fairy type as well. However, on the other hand, it lost its Ghost and Dark resistance, and it has to deal with a massive power creep thanks to Mega Evolutions introducing new things to make its life miserable. Don’t despair though! Skarmory is still as stalwart a physical wall as any, so if you need a Pokemon that can take hits, control the hazard game, and phase things out, then look no further than Skarmory!
Keen Eye: Opponent cannot lower this Pokémon’s accuracy. The Pokémon ignores evasion boosts of the opponent. - Accuracy and evasion are rarely if ever used in Competitive Pokemon matches. As a result, Keen Eye is largely useless. Don’t use it.
Wings of Steel
Here we have the standard, tried and true Skarmory. First and foremost, you will always, ALWAYS want to use Roost. As a reliable means of recovery, Skarmory lasts as long as it does because of this move. With reliable recovery out of the way, Skarmory has a few options to play the hazard game. It’s newest toy, Defog, allows it to blow away any hazards that your opponent puts up, which can be a godsend to Stealth Rock weak Pokemon such as Charizard. However, it can also set up hazards as well, such as Stealth Rock or Spikes. Stealth Rock is a bit easier due to the fact you only need a single layer, and it can massively cripple a few Pokemon such as Talonflame, but you can have time to add up layers of Spikes against things you wall and/or force out, and Spike-users as rarer than Stealth Rock users. However, it is unwise to use both Defog and hazards on the same set, as Defog will blow away your own hazards as well. Brave Bird and the high power it brings allows Skarmory to deal some damage so it’s not entirely passive. In addition, many of the things that it walls take at least neutral damage thanks to Flying type’s solid coverage, so it’s not entirely weak and can usually break a Substitute. Finally, it’s last slot is most often Whirlwind, which serves a dual function; not only does it rack up hazard damage, but it also prevents things from trying to set up on Skarmory. However, Taunt is also an option, which while not being able to stop setting up as well as Whirlwind, can allow Skarmory to cripple opposing defensive Pokemon, especially since Skamory’s speed tier is a bit higher than other defensive Pokemon.
The given nature and EVs maximize Skarmory’s physical bulk. 248 HP EVs maximize Skarmory’s HP while also letting it take less damage from Stealth Rock. The remaining 8 EVs are put into special defense. With respect to held items, Leftovers gives Skarmory a bit more recovery, which is always helpful on defensive Pokemon. However, given it has reliable recovery in the form of Roost, it can pull of a Rocky Helmet set as well, which further punishes physical attackers who may think themselves able to break through Skarmory. It also severely punishes Rapid Spinners who think they can just spin away the hazards that Skarmory sets. Sturdy is always the preferred ability, as it allows Skarmory to survive an otherwise lethal attack if it’s at full health. Plus, thanks to Roost’s recovery, it’s entirely plausible to reach full health again, meaning Sturdy can in theory be used more than once.
Specially defensive Skarmory!? No, I haven’t gone insane. Although Skarmory might not seem like your first choice for a specially defensive Pokemon, its typing does give it a niche as a means of dealing with a myriad of fairy types, most of whom are specially based, most notably Mega Diancie whom Skarmory can soundly obliterate if Mega Diancie thinks its Magic Bounce ability makes it safe from Skarmory. To that end, Iron Head becomes the preferred STAB attack, in order to punish those fairy types, and of course without investment it soundly 1HKOs Mega Diancie. Beyond that, the movepool is pretty much identical to the previous set. Roost is Skarmory’s reliable recovery that allows it to keep itself healthy throughout the match to continue doing its job. Defog remains a powerful hazard control move (just watch out for Bisharp), while Stealth Rock or Spikes can be used instead to lay hazards, especially against things Skarmory forces out. Finally, Whirlwind allows Skarmory to phase out Pokemon to avoid being set up on and rack up entry hazard damage, but Taunt can allow Skarmory to deal with slower defensive Pokemon instead.
The EV spread and nature allow Skarmory to maximize its special bulk. 248 HP EVs continue to maximize Skarmory’s HP while minimizing Stealth Rock damage, and the 8 remaining EVs are put into defense. This set may not be quite as physically bulky as the previous one, but it still has respectable physical bulk, and enough special bulk to combat most fairy types. Sturdy remains the best option for its ability, as it can survive a lethal hit with 1 HP. Leftovers becomes the preferred item of choice, as specially defensive spreads are taking fewer physical attacks where Rocky Helmet might not be as reliable.
-Drill Peck can be considered as an alternative over Brave Bird. Its advantage over Brave Bird is the lack of recoil, which in turn can keep Sturdy intact, but you will observe a noticeable decrease in damage, and the recoil is not usually a huge concern for Skarmory.
-Swords Dance is one of those moves that people see and think will allow them to make an offensive Skarmory. Sadly, as a Swords Dance user Skarmory is badly outclassed by pretty much every relevant Swords Dance user, especially Talonflame who also packs a deadly Brave Bird, albeit with priority. Skarmory's attack and speed stats are just too low to try and utilize it as an offensive Pokemon. Meanwhile, its defense is its only stat that’s really good, so why use Skarmory as an outclassed gimmick, when it's got a niche that it's absolutely fantastic at?
Double & Triple Battle Options
Skarmory is well known in the singles Metagame for being an all in one physically defensive utility, Hazards, Whirlwind, Defog, Roost, Taunt, Toxic, and absurd physical defense and great ability in Sturdy that allow it to perfom its job really well. Unfortunately none of the things Skarmory does in Singles transfer well into Doubles or Triples. Hazards and by extension, Defog, truly shine when battles drag on for a bit. Double battles are volatile, and generally won't last more than 8 turns. Because Rock Slide is so popular some of the more popular Pokemon are already resistant to Stealth Rock. Phazing is used as a way to prevent Trick Room being set up, but that's only one matchup. Sneaky players will put Trick Room where you don't expect it, like on non Mega Gengar. Toxic is niche, and most battles won't last more than 8 turns either.
Skarmory is an awkward bird in doubles, with its Single Battle focused moves being close to useless... what is it left with?
-Tailwind / Icy Wind
Skarmory is left in an awkwardly vulnerable supportive position when left with close to none of its functionality in Singles. It has Speed Control in Icy Wind and Tailwind, and it has.. Vulnerability control? As in Feint breaks protect, and Sky Drop nullifies an opponent for a turn and makes them double target bait for the next turn. These tactics make Skarmory a solid supporter, but it'll be up to the partner to try and gain any advantage from Skarmory's Shenanigans. Base 80 Attack won't let it do much, especially when uninvested. Base Speed wise, Skarmory is free to Taunt Amoonguss, Aegislash and some Cresselia. Metal Sound in combination with an -ated Hyper Voice will leave the opponent wishing more Pokemon had Soundproof. But Again, most of Skarmory's tactics depend on having a strong partner.
Said Partner's need to be able to hold their own and then some. Mega Kanghaskhan and Mega Salamence come to mind, putting out offensive pressure. Some Sylveon and Mega Gardevoir wouldn't mind the Speed Control and Metal Voice support either. Though incarnate Thundurus would be something to prepare for as Status and Taunts will mess up Skarmory.
Skarmory has impressive stats on the Physical side, but falls short elsewhere. Defensive titans like Cresselia of Suicune would probably be safer bets as both can put out decent damage as where Skarmory just can't outside of a gimmick. Sky Drop is impressive on a defensive Pokemon and could probably see proper use when using an Assault Vest, but in doing that, one will see just how shallow Skarmory's attacking movepool is though. Skarmory is a neat "surprise" for the opponent, but for as to how much closer it brings its Trainer to victory is yet to be seen.
If you want to shut down Skarmory completely, look no further than Magic Bounce. Any user of Magic Bounce can use this ability to send pretty much anything Skarmory uses right back in its face. The best user of Magic Bounce to face Skarmory though is none other than Mega Sableye, whose bulk allows it to not be threatened by any offensive move, and it can burn Skarmory to weaken it and help keep Sturdy out of the picture or pound away at Skarmory with Shadow Ball. Mega Diancie can do this too, given it resists Brave Bird, but it has to be wary of the rarer Iron Head, which’ll ruin Diancie’s day in a hurry. Fast users of Taunt also have no problem stopping Skarmory from doing its job. Heatran stands tall as an exemplary choice, as it outspeeds Skarmory to taunt it, and can KO it as well with Lava Plume. Thundurus is also a solid user of Taunt, as it can also threaten Skarmory with its Electric STAB and really doesn’t care about Brave Bird thanks to its typing. Gengar often carries Taunt and can 2HKO Skarmory with Shadow Ball, but it has to be wary as Brave Bird can 2HKO it as well. Talonflame sometimes carries Taunt as well, and can use a Taunted Skarmory to set up or gain momentum. Mew also can shut down Skarmory with Taunt, and it frequently carries Defog to blow away any hazards that Skarmory may have set up. Gyarados can Taunt Skarmory as well, and use the time to set up against it, despite the fact that it normally gets halted by Skarmory. Being Tricked a choice item is also highly detrimental to Skarmory, as it cannot afford to get locked into one attack. Gothitelle has the easiest time doing this, as thanks to Shadow Tag, it traps Skarmory (assuming it’s lacking Shed Shell) so that it can safely trick said Choice item without fear of an unintended target after switching. And a choice-locked Skarmory can soundly be disposed of at the same time as well, so Gothitelle works just as well in that respect too. Speaking of trapping, as a steel type, Skarmory falls prey to Magnezone, whose Magnet Pull and Electric STAB can let it trap and dispose of Skarmory with very little fear of retaliation. Incidentally, Skarmory actually make a fantastic counter to itself, as it can Defog to blow away opposing Skarmory’s hazards, and doesn’t care about any attacks that get thrown at it. Zapdos works well too, carrying Defog to blow away Skarmory’s hazards, having the typing and bulk to not care about Brave Bird, and being able to KO Skarmory with its Electric STAB. While not necessarily being able to stop or remove Skarmory’s hazards, there are plenty of Pokemon who have no problem destroying Skarmory. Mega Charizard Y can easily fry Skarmory with Fire Blast, even if Sturdy can save it. Likewise, Raikou and Mega Manectric have no problem zapping Skarmory out of the sky with their Electric STAB moves, and can utilize Volt Switch to pivot out as well. Rotom-W is also a decent answer, although it falls well short of 1HKO range with Volt Switch given most Rotom-W are defensive. Although not the best Mega evolution in general, Mega Ampharos gets special mention as thanks to Mold Breaker it can 1HKO Skarmory through Sturdy. In general though, almost any special attacker can 2HKO Skarmory, such as Starmie, Manaphy, (Mega) Slowbro, Hoopa-Unbound, Mega Pidgeot, and many others. In addition, due to how common Skarmory is, many things will carry a move specifically to lure it in, such as Fire Blast. Common examples of this include Tyranitar and Garchomp, both of whom are normally walled by Skarmory, but carry Fire Blast to lure it in and break through it. Despite the fact that it often carries Defog, Stealth Rock actually helps to keep Skarmory in check to an extent, as although it only deals neutral damage, it is enough to break Sturdy and make Skarmory that much easier to KO. In general though, Skarmory on its own isn’t intended to be hugely threatening, but the defensive prowess it brings can make it hard to break on the physical side. Just plug away at that weaker special defense (even on specially defensive sets), and you’ll be able to deal with the metal bird without too much duress.
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