Altaria, The Humming Pokémon. It flies gracefully through the sky. Its melodic humming makes you feel like you're in a dream. On sunny days, it flies freely through the sky and blends into the clouds. It sings in a beautiful soprano. Altaria dances and wheels through the sky among billowing, cotton-like clouds. By singing melodies in its crystal-clear voice, this Pokémon makes its listeners experience dreamy wonderment. This Pokémon catches updrafts with its buoyant wings and soars way up into the wild blue yonder.
If there was an award for the fluffiest Pokemon, Altaria would probably be right up there as one of the top contenders. Despite the fact that it’s got fluffy cloud wings, a beak, and feathers on its head all pointing to it being a bird, Altaria is in fact a member of the mighty dragon type! ...Unfortunately though, Altaria has widely been considered the worst fully evolved dragon for generations. It’s not hard to see why; whereas most dragons are offensive powerhouses, Altaria sports some rather unimpressive attacking stats, with its emphasis being on defenses. Even then, however, its bulk is still outclassed by Dragonite, making it so there was no real reason to use Altaria, as its offensive sets were badly outclassed, and its support sets were novel at best. It seemed as though Altaria would forever be doomed to be overlooked in favor of other, more powerful dragons… until OR/AS came along, and gave Altaria a mega evolution! Its Mega Evolution is pretty amazing, too… so much so that it completely outclasses the base form, meaning there’s still no reason to use standard Altaria. If for some reason you’re unable to use Altaria’s Mega Evolution, you probably want to look for a different dragon, because there are many choices that do its jobs better.
Natural Cure: The Pokémon’s status (BURN, PARALYZE, SLEEP, POISON, FREEZE) is healed when withdrawn from battle. - Natural Cure is a great ability, and pretty much every Pokemon that gets access to it loves having it. Altaria is no exception, as Natural Cure prevents Altaria from being stifled for the rest of the match by status. You’ll pretty much always want to use this ability.
Tough as a Cloud
Much like the name of the set implies, Altaria isn’t exactly the toughest Pokemon in the world… far from it actually. But, even though Altaria’s offensive stats aren’t the greatest, its movepool still lends itself well to an offensive set. Just note that if you’re playing in a format that lets you use other fully evolved dragons, then they’re usually always better options than Altaria.
Nevertheless, Dragon Dance is the crux of this set, as it allows Altaria to boost is underwhelming attack and speed to be moderately threatening. From there, Dragon Claw is its most reliable choice for a STAB attack, having modest base power with no drawbacks. Of course, steel types may trouble you, but that’s where Earthquake’s coverage comes in. Finally, in order to give Altaria a bit more longevity, Roost is an option, which in conjunction with Altaria’s decent bulk, affords it some staying power.
Adamant Nature and 252 Attack EVs try to stretch Altaria’s attack as far as it can go, while 252 Speed EVs help to maximize its speed. Jolly Nature could be used to give Altaria a little more speed, but with its meager base 70 attack, it really needs all the power it can get, so Adamant is preferred. Life Orb helps to give Altaria a bit more punch, and the recoil can be mitigated by Roost. Finally, Natural Cure is the ability of choice for its ability to prevent Altaria from being crippled by status.
-Leftovers is an item option that can give Altaria a little more staying power, but at the cost of reducing its already low damage output.
Double & Triple Options
Altaria is one of those handful of Pokemon who simply wouldn't be on a team unless its Mega Evolving. When is the last time you've seen Beedrill or Pidgeot on Team Preview before ORAS? The point being, the base form brings so little to the table in terms of Base Stats, Abilities and being able to perform its job well in the current metagame. Altaria embodies this and reluctantly accepts that a Mega Stone will always be attached to it. Cloud Nine is an interesting ability this season however. Groudon and Kyogre are everywhere and while Altaria can open up holes in their gameplay, it is by no means a threat to either one on its own.
It's so Fluffy!!!
Altaria won't be doing much damage as it is. So fully supportive and disruptive Altaria it is. Mostly grasping at straws because any decent Pokemon will be able to 2KO this poor Bird Dragon
Countering Altaria is not difficult in the sense that it’s not particularly threatening to play against. Eviolite Clefairy is typically only 5HKO’ed by Earthquake, while even at +1 it’s only a 3HKO. Meanwhile, Moonblast has a chance to 2HKO (which is guaranteed with Stealth Rock), or it can set up Calm Mind while it forces Altaria out. Regice is only 3HKO’ed by Dragon Claw, while at +1 Dragon Claw only 2HKOs (watch out for Stealth Rock, though), while Ice Beam soundly 1HKOs Altaria. Relicanth checks Altaria quite well by surviving Earthquake even at +1, although it can be 2HKO’ed by an unboosted Earthquake. Even so, Head Smash will obliterate Altaria in a heartbeat. Glaceon functions similarly in that it’s 2HKO’ed at +1, but can survive the +1 attack and 1HKO with Ice Beam. Avalugg stops Altaria cold (no pun intended) by only being 6HKO’ed by an unboosted Dragon Claw or 4HKO at +1, but Fire Blast or Draco Meteor from the rarer special sets can put a damper on it by 2HKOing. Gourgeist Super is only 5HKO’ed by Dragon Claw, and at +1 it’s still only a 4HKO, while it can utilize Leech Seed and Foul Play to wear down Altaria, with the latter punishing attempts to set up as well. Articuno is only 3HKO’ed by Dragon Claw, and at +1 it’s a 2HKO, but its Ice STAB 1HKOs Altaria. Armaldo’s in a similar situation of being 3HKO’ed by unboosted Dragon Claw and 2HKO’ed by +1, but Rock Blast can 1HKO Altaria with just 3 hits. Stoutland’s Choice Band set has enough power to 1HKO Altaria with Return about half the time, while it has enough bulk to survive +1 Dragon Claw. Common Scarf users such as Rotom-F and Raichu can revenge kill Altaria even if it’s at +1 speed, and 1HKO it with either Blizzard or HP Ice, respectively. In all honesty, there’s far more that can deal with Altaria, but we’d be here all day if I listed them all. Its bulk may be decent, but it’s prone to being threatened by offense given its own offensive presence prevents it from threatening things that try to deal with it. Putting Stealth Rock up also helps to wear it down as well, since it’ll lose a quarter of its HP just from switching in.
And don’t even think about trying to use Altaria in more inclusive formats. Its abysmal power fails to leave a dent in powerful physical threats such as Registeel, Rhyperior, Skarmory, Hippowdon, etc. The higher speed and power creep leaves it unable to withstand the assaults of things like Mega Charizard X, Garchomp, Starmie, and more. Honestly, so many things mutilate standard Altaria that it’s not even worth listing everything that does, or we’d be here all day. Standard Altaria has no business being used in anything but the most restrictive formats. It’s just not a good enough Pokemon to carry its weight.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire introduced a lot of Mega Evolutions, and several of them were intended to breathe life into some previously useless and forgotten Pokemon. Among those Pokemon to get a new lease on life were things like Beedrill, Pidgeot, Lopunny, and of course, Altaria. However, no one could have predicted just how good Mega Altaria would end up being. On paper, its stat spread still doesn’t seem all that impressive, as its offenses were boosted to base 110, which, while an improvement upon its normally lackluster offenses, might seem rather underwhelming by Mega Evolution standards. Yet, Mega Altaria received two blessings that made it an absolutely dominant force. The first is a brand new typing, and a unique one at that; Mega Altaria is the first and only Pokemon to sport the Dragon/Fairy typing, which is arguably the best defensive typing in the game. The second goes hand in hand with its new typing, because it also got a fantastic ability in the form of Pixilate. Pixilate not only gives Mega Altaria some fantastic STAB attacks, but it also affords it the power it so desperately desired; to put it in perspective, Mega Altaria’s Pixilate Return is actually stronger than Azumarill’s Huge Power Play Rough. Between its fantastic typing and deceptive power, Mega Altaria has become a top-tier, anti-metagame threat who can be a pain to play against. So underestimate Mega Altaria at your own peril, lest this fluffy dragon be the cause of your ruin.
Pixilate: Increases the power of Normal-type moves by 30%. It then changes those moves to Fairy-type. - Pixilate is an amazing ability. This ability gained notoriety in X/Y when Sylveon and Mega Gardevoir used it to great effect, and in OR/AS, Mega Altaria utilizes it just as well. It is this ability that makes Altaria as deceptively powerful as it is; although base 110 offenses may not be overwhelmingly high, a 30% boost on normal type attacks that also turns them into STAB attacks is a godsend. This turns Return into a base 132 power physical STAB, and Hyper Voice becomes a base 104 power special STAB. With high-powered STAB moves with no drawbacks, Mega Altaria has everything it needs to be threatening.
Unlike its base form, Mega Altaria runs a frightening Dragon Dance set that can be difficult to stop once it gets going. The premise is very simple; set up Dragon Dance when you have an opportunity, and proceed to wreak havoc. This is made easier by Mega Altaria’s great defensive typing, as its numerous resistances force plenty of switches. Dragon Dance helps remedy Mega Altaria’s lackluster speed while also giving it even more power. From there, you’ll find that Mega Altaria will be using Return most of the time, because with 102 base power, Pixilate turns it into 132 power STAB attack with no drawbacks. However, Fairy types has a few small gaps in its coverage, which are handled nicely by Earthquake, which can nail things like Mega Metagross hard. From there, Roost gives Mega Altaria some serious staying power, which can help it deal with the damage it may take from all those resisted hits it tried to sponge. However, it should be noted that you can also pack Fire Blast instead of Roost; this may sacrifice longevity, but it’ll allow you to fry Scizor, Ferrothorn, and Skarmory who would otherwise trouble this set immensely.
Adamant Nature and 252 Attack EVs are intended to maximize Mega Altaria’s power, while 252 Speed EVs allow it to get as much speed as possible too. The remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense. When it comes to ability, it’s largely irrelevant which you choose since Altaria wants to Mega Evolve ASAP. Natural Cure can have use pre-Mega due to the fact that in very rare circumstances, it can prevent Mega Altaria from being screwed if you accidentally catch a status effect on the switch. However, Cloud Nine has some very rare use in that it can be used to put a stop to Swift Swim Kingdra or Swampert, and makes switching into Mega Charizard Y a bit easier as well. However, this only works on the first turn, so it’s not a huge deal regardless.
It’s also worth noting that you can opt for a bulkier spread, such as 248 HP / 136 Def / 96 SpD / 28 Spe with an Impish Nature. This allows Mega Altaria to sponge more hits, but it’s not quite as immediately threatening, and may have to boost a second time to sweep.
You’ve Got a Big Storm Comin’
On the other side of the spectrum, Mega Altaria can run a special set to catch many of the physically defensive Pokemon off guard if they try to stop it. To that end, Hyper Voice becomes Mega Altaria’s primary STAB through Pixilate; although not quite as powerful as Return, its post-Pixilate power of 104 is still respectable, and is more than enough to get the job done. As an added bonus, as a sound-based move, Pixilate Hyper Voice penetrates Substitutes, allowing it to revenge things that may be behind a Sub. Fire Blast is important for this set, as Mega Altaria often brings in steel types to dispatch it, such as Scizor, Skarmory, Ferrothorn, and Mega Metagross. Fire Blast deals spectacularly with all of them, being able to 1HKO all but Mega Metagross, who is 2HKO’ed. From there, Roost remains fantastic for its staying power, and without the speed of Dragon Dance, that survivability that Roost affords is all the more important. For the final slot, Heal Bell is an option to support the team (in addition to Mega Altaria itself) from having status be a nuisance. However, Mega Altaria can also opt to pack Earthquake, almost specifically for Heatran who otherwise hard-counters this set.
In order to differentiate itself from Mega Gardevoir who packs more speed and power, Mega Altaria’s special set opts for an increased emphasis on bulk, especially given its great defensive typing. To that end, 248 HP can maximize bulk for Mega Altaria while also minimizing Stealth Rock Damage. From there, Mega Altaria’s speed is invested just enough to meet certain benchmarks. The default benchmark, 92 Speed EVs, allows Mega Altaria to outspeed max speed Jolly Azumarill. However, you can take some EVs out of bulk and put them into speed to outspeed other threats; for instance, 100 EVs can allow Mega Altaria to outspeed defensive Landorus-T, while 176 EVs can outspeed Adamant Bisharp. You can go all out with max speed if you’re so inclined, but Mega Altaria’s bulk will suffer accordingly. The remaining 168 Special Attack EVs and a Modest Nature help maximize Mega Altaria’s damage output. Once again, the pre-Mega ability largely doesn’t matter due to Mega Altaria always wanting to Mega Evolve ASAP, but both abilities do have minor niche value so you can choose to your preference.
-Substitute can be an option to help ward off Status, and it protects Mega Altaria from revenge killing as well. Roost helps to offset the HP loss from Substitute as well, making it more sustainable. Do note that you have to sacrifice coverage to pack Substitute, though.
Double & Triple Battle Options
Mega Altaria was introduced at the same time Sylveon and Gardevoir gained access to Hyper Voice. Slyveon already hits as hard as Mega Altaria without using a Mega Slot. But Mega Altaria has a niche, in which if pulled off correctly will make Altaria a serious threat. It just needs a Xerneas and...
the idea is simply to have the partnered Xerneas use Power Herb Geomancy and have altaria Psych Up the boosts and then deal serious damage with its STABs It takes quite a bit of set up to get going but only one Mega Mawile to stop it dead in its tracks. Same for Aegislash too. It's not entirely Altaria's fault that it isn't viable this season, the blame can be placed heavily on Mewtwo, Xerneas and the like alongside Mega Kangaskhan running the show. Weaker Pokemon simply don't have the ability to shine, and in fact are reduced to switching fodder in the face of Rain Boosted Origin Pulses. Maybe next year!
Countering Mega Altaria
Unlike its base form, Mega Altaria can be tricky to counter given it has the power to threaten foes from both the physical and special side. As a result, many of its counters are set dependent. However, it does have one universal counter, and that would be Mega Venusaur. Thanks to its bulk, typing, and Thick Fat, Mega Altaria absolutely cannot break it. Pixilate Return only 4HKO’s offensive variants of Mega Venusaur, while defensive sets are only 5HKO’ed. Even at +1, Pixilate Return can only 3HKO offensive sets, and Fire Blasts from the special sets only 4HKO as well. Meanwhile, offensive sets can 1HKO with Sludge Bomb, while even against bulkier variants, Sludge Bomb still 2HKOs. Access to reliable recovery also prevents Mega Altaria from wearing down Mega Venusaur, as well. From there, your options become more dependent on the set. Skarmory can wall physicals sets due to an immunity to Earthquake and a resistance to Pixilate Return, which will only 7HKO Skarmory. Attempts to boost with Dragon Dance can easily be phased away with Whirlwind. However, Fire Blast scares away Skarmory, so keep it out of that line of fire. Likewise, Ferrothorn has no problem walling physical variants of Mega Altaria and 1HKOing with Gyro Ball (or pestering it with Leech Seed and/or Thunder Wave), but Fire Blast will fry it in a heartbeat. Mega Scizor deals well with physical variants, only being 4HKO’ed by unboosted attacks and 3HKO’ed at +1 without any bulk investment, while Bullet Punch 2HKOs. Bulkier sets take the hits even better while still 2HKOing, and standard Scizor’s Choice Band set can 1HKO, although both have to watch out for Fire Blast. Gengar can 1HKO Mega Altaria with Sludge Bomb or Sludge Wave, and outspeeds it as well, but it does have to watch out for +1 Pixilate Return given its lack of bulk. Even a resisted, unboosted Pixilate Return can 2HKO Gengar due to its frailty, but it has a little more ease switching into Hyper Voice. Heatran shuts down the special sets due to its 4x resistance to Fairy and Flash Fire absorbing Fire Blast, but sets packing Earthquake will make Heatran’s life miserable. Talonflame is immune to Earthquake and resists Fairy, and it can 2HKO with Brave Bird or burn Mega Altaria with Will-o-Wisp. However, its lack of bulk can cause it to be 2HKO’ed by Pixilate Return. Mega Charizard Y is in a similar boat, although the chance to be 2HKO’ed by Pixilate Return is lower. However, the sheer power of Drought-boosted Fire Blasts can 2HKO Mega Altaria, despite its resistance. Just be warned that bulkier sets can avoid the 2HKO and attempt to stall out the sun with Roost. Defensive Amoonguss can deal with physical sets pretty handily due to only being 5HKO’ed, although if Mega Altaria packs Substitute, it can give Amoonguss problems by neutering Spore, and Fire Blast from the special sets can 2HKO Amoonguss. Clefable can 2HKO Mega Altaria with Moonblast, and ignores Dragon Dance boosts if it packs Unaware, although there is a low chance for it to be 2HKO’ed by Return and Hyper Voice even if unboosted. Defensive Landorus is only 4HKO’ed by physical sets thanks to Intimidate, although special sets can 2HKO, but Landorus-T can 2HKO with Earthquake as well. Gliscor, depending on the defensive spread it’s running, is only 3HKO’ed by the respective sets, and it can attempt to wear Mega Altaria down with Toxic and Roost. Sets with Substitute or Heal Bell tend to be problematic, though. Mega Metagross can 1HKO with Meteor Mash, but it does have to be wary of being 2HKO’ed by both Earthquake and Fire Blast, especially considering its unimpressive speed tier prior to Mega Evolving. Mega Gardevoir can check the special sets, being 2HKO’ed by Pixilate Hyper Voice, but in turn outspeeding and 1HKOing Mega Altaria with its own Pixilate Hyper Voice. Sylveon is in the same boat, although defensive Sylveon can survive a Pixilate Return, while Hyper Voice can 1HKO Mega Altaria if it hasn’t invested in bulk about a third of the time, and 2HKO bulkier sets. Sylveon is only 3HKO’ed by Pixilate Hyper Voice as well, so it handles special sets a bit better. Preying on Mega Altaria’s low speed is usually a decent way to go, as well. Even at +1, most common choice scarf users can still outspeed Mega Altaria, such as Excadrill and Landorus-T. However, most Scarf users need a little prior damage due to Mega Altaria’s bulk, so don’t expect them to 1HKO otherwise. Mamoswine and Weavile are capable of picking off a weakened Mega Altaria with Ice Shard as well, although both tend to be obliterated by Pixilate Return, especially Weavile. Stealth Rock helps a bit too; although Mega Altaria loses its Stealth Rock weakness, it does retain it prior to Mega Evolving, which can make it a bit easier to take down.
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