Huntail, The Deep Sea Pokémon. It lives deep in the sea where no light ever filters down. It lights up its small fishlike tail to attract prey. It uses the tail to attract prey, then swallows the prey whole with its large, gaping mouth. This Pokémon swims by wiggling its slender body like a snake. Huntail's presence went unnoticed by people for a long time because it lives at extreme depths in the sea. This Pokémon's eyes can see clearly even in the murky dark depths of the ocean.
Huntail is one VERY lucky eel. With a stat spread similar to Feraligatr, but with significantly less speed and HP, Huntail looks like it might’ve been a throwaway at first glance, especially considering how much competition there is amongst water types. And for the most part, that's definitely true. However, the Deep Sea Pokemon was gifted with one of the most dastardly and coveted combinations in the entirety of Pokemon, that salvages it from being a completely useless Pokemon; Shell Smash and Baton Pass. Shell Smash is already arguably the best boosting move in the game, and being able to Baton Pass it to another Pokemon can just be an easy win condition. However, despite this combination being so good, unfortunately Huntail’s got plenty of flaws to undermine it. It faces significant competition from its evolutionary counterpart, Gorebyss, who boasts the same “SmashPass” combination but is preferred due to Gorebyss’s better offensive coverage as a special attacker allowing it to utilize its own Shell Smash more effectively. In addition, awful speed and HP mean Huntail is neither fast nor especially bulky, so setting up is not always easy, especially when the rest of its stats are average at best. Although it’s by and large a pretty poor Pokemon, Shell Smash will always be amazing, so Huntail’s not a total loss… just be aware of Gorebyss generally being a better option if it’s available.
Swift Swim: When rainy, The Pokémon’s Speed doubles. However, Speed will not double on the turn weather becomes Heavy Rain. - Swift Swim’s actually a pretty solid ability. With rain support, it grants an absolutely incredible speed boost. That said, there’s a lot of other Pokemon who utilize Swift Swim better, so Huntail rarely uses it.
The Huntail Is On!
And here we have Huntail’s trademark set, and the main reason why it’s used at all. Shell Smash is the crux of this set, because it’s Shell Smash, and Shell Smash is really, really good. +2 Attack, Special Attack, and Speed at the cost of a little bit of defense and special defense is an awesome boosting move. And it’s even more awesome when you can pass that boost to another Pokemon who may very well be able to sweep an entire team with such a boost. That’s where Baton Pass comes in. These two moves together are what make Huntail worth using, because although there are other Shell Smashers who are able to use the boosts better themselves, most not named Gorebyss can’t pass the boosts the way Huntail can. Of course, Huntail isn’t limited to solely passing those boosts. If need be, it can dish out the pain itself with its STAB Waterfall, which, along with having decent power and perfect accuracy, can actually net a chance flinch with Shell Smash’s boost actually allowing Huntail to outspeed something. In the final slot, Sucker Punch allows Huntail to pick off faster threats and revenge killers, such as Rotom. However, Ice Fang can be an option as well, which allows it to better cover things such as Grass and Dragon types. You miss out on the priority, however.
For Nature, both Adamant and Jolly are viable. After a Shell Smash, Huntail outspeeds even some slower Choice Scarf users, so it can use Adamant for a little more power (and is more worthwhile if you can’t get off the Shell Smash), but Jolly has the benefit of outspeeding some Scarf users such as Sawk after the Shell Smash. Regardless, 252 Attack and Speed EVs ensure you’re as fast as possible and hitting as hard as possible, while the last 4 EVs are put into special defense to patch up its weaker side of its defenses. White Herb is the item of choice for Huntail, as it can offset the issue of Shell Smash’s defense drops, giving you what is effectively a free boost with no downsides.
-Scald can be considered for a mixed set, since Huntail’s Special Attack isn’t that much lower than its attack, and Scald’s just a fantastic move in general thanks to its dastardly 30% burn chance. Just be aware that Gorebyss tends to be better if you consider going fully special.
Double & Triple Battle Options
Pokemon is overflowing with Water types (pun not intended). There a a select few that float to the top, like Suicune, Ludicolo and Kingdra and there are Pokemon that seem to exist as a way to fluff up the Pokedex. Huntail and Gorebyss are suspects of the latter nature, but thanks to a certain move Clamperl learns at level 50 Huntail and Gorebyss have smashed themselves a niche. Where Gorebyss finds itself on the defensive side of things (Shell Smash + Baton Pass) Huntail finds itself in a role similar to Gyarados's in setting up once and causing trouble. Is that enough for Huntail to not just be a Pokedex chore?
Escalators and Eels
The positive 244 in speed will let Huntail outspeed neutral Choice Scarf Hydreigon by one point and anything slower after a Shell Smash, after that Shell Smash Huntail's job is to deal as much damage as possible. Shell Smash is like 2 Dragon Dances in one but with a negligible side effect as Huntail isn't survivng most of Kangaskhan's or Salamence's attacks anyway. Waterfall is an excellent move to have as a primary STAB, although few and far between, Waterfall's flinches usually flip games around or ensure victory outright. The attacking moves after that are relflective of Huntail's movepool. Coverage is there, just not plentiful or optimal. Ice Fang hurts Salamence and Landorus, Crunch hits Ghosts for Super Effective damage and hits Rotom-W for Neutral Damage. Super Fang is niche but it very well may do more damage than a resisted Waterfall and it sets up for quick KOs later in the battle if you've a strong priority user like Scizor or Talonflame. Water Veil is preffered to dodge burns that would otherwise end Huntail's attempt at being Gyarados. White Herb will block one intimidate, which is often a strong deterrent to Physical attackers setting up, while Life Orb will make Huntail's contribution to the battle short but sweet. I don't recommend using Life Orb if your only damaging attacks are Waterfall and Super Fang.
This set is dependent on setting up properly. Eviolite Friend Guard Clefairy is good at redirection considering Safety Goggles won't block it. If running Super Fang then Talonflame, Scizor, and some variants of Lucario love only needing to reach for a 2KO than a OHKO.
Huntail finds itself needing to be a lead to have a remote chance of getting set up properly, it can't switch into much, and puts almost no offensive pressure out until it sets up. Throughout the battle one may find themselves overextending themselves to grant Huntail an opportunity to set up to sweep. That will most certainly lead to defeat as Huntail still falls short of OHKOing Pokemon even at +2 Attack. Huntail might work once or twice, but it is kind of a gimmick and very unreliable. Consistency is key in competitive Pokemon and Huntail offers close to none currently. Having to rely on Shell Smash to even get noticed mid battle is quite the indicator that there may be stronger options in water types to use. .
The combination of Shell Smash and Baton Pass may be potent, but there are a few things you can do to circumvent it. In the formats where Huntail is most common, the easiest thing to do is obviously to Taunt Huntail with something like Mismagius who already outspeeds it, or trick a Choice Scarf on it with something like Rotom or Mesprit. Doing either of these will stop Huntail from setting up and/or passing its boosts. Likewise, Encore can lock Huntail into Shell Smash, forcing it to continue to smash its defenses, making it easy pickings. Liepard and Voltbeat get special mentions as being Prankster users of the move, so they can switch-in on a predicted Shell Smash and lock Huntail into it. Of course, when it comes to KOing Huntail, it’s not too difficult. Vileplume makes a solid stop to Huntail, as defensive variants are only 4HKO’ed by Ice Fang, and even at +2 it manages to only be 2HKO’ed. Meanwhile it can use Sleep Powder to put Huntail (or whatever it tries to Baton Pass to) to sleep, or use Giga Drain to KO Huntail itself. Ludicolo manages to 1HKO Huntail with Giga Drain, while only being 3HKO’ed by Sucker Punch or Ice Fang from an unboosted set, or 2HKO’ed after a +2 boost, so at worst it’s still a check. Eviolite Ferroseed is only 5HKO’ed by +2 Ice Fang, while it can stall out Huntail with the combination of Leech Seed and Iron Barbs, or KO it with Seed Bomb or Bullet Seed. Defensive Lanturn is a full-on stop, being only 6HKO’ed by an unboosted Sucker Punch, while a +2 Sucker Punch still only 3HKO’s. Meanwhile, it can 2HKO with its Electric STAB. Quagsire can utilize Unaware to completely ignore those Shell Smash boosts, and can stall out Huntail with Toxic + Recover. Poliwrath is immune to Huntail’s STAB and resists Huntail’s most common coverage moves, meaning with a defensive spread, it’s only 9HKO’ed by a +2 Sucker Punch. The rare Bounce can be problematic, but Poliwrath can utilize Circle Throw to phase Huntail out (and many things it may Baton Pass to), to get rid of those Shell Smash boosts. Physically defensive Eviolite Tangela is only 3HKO’ed by a +2 Ice Fang, while 2HKOing with Giga Drain and healing back the damage that Huntail deals. If you want to check Huntail, there’s plenty of things that can work. Rotom-Fan and Rotom-Freeze can 1HKO Huntail with Thunderbolt, and with a Scarf, they manage to outspeed even if Huntail is Jolly and at +2. Things like Meganium, Leafeon, and Gogoat are bulky enough to survive a hit and KO Huntail back, but tend to take high amounts of damage from +2 Ice Fang, albeit just short of the 1HKO. Things like Meowstic and Volbeat can utilize Prankster to paralyze Huntail (or its Shell Smash recipient) with Thunder Wave to circumvent the speed boost.
If Huntail is used in more inclusive formats, however, then its problems become even worse. Things like Mega Venusaur, Ferrothorn, Azumarill, and Rotom-W are immovable objects, even after a Shell Smash. Unaware Clefable does not care about those Shell Smash boosts in the slightest, and can beat a lot of the things that Huntail may try to give its Baton Pass boosts. Kyurem-B has plenty of physical bulk and the resistances to only be 3HKO’ed by any of Huntail’s attacks at +2, and can soundly 1HKO Huntail with Fusion Bolt. Physically defensive Chesnaught can stall Huntail out with Leech Seed, Drain Punch, and Spiky Shield, as +2 Ice Fang only 3HKO’s it. Despite the weakness to Sucker Punch, Celebi can deal with Huntail pretty well. With Stealth Rock Up, Giga Drain 1HKOs about half the time, while healing back Sucker Punch damage as well. Defensive Celebi is only 2HKO’ed by +2 Sucker Punch, but it can also troll it with Recover and/or Thunder Wave. Thanks to Intimidate, Mega Manectric can check Huntail pretty easily, avoiding the 1HKO from Waterfall and soundly 1HKO Huntail with an Electric STAB. Empoleon is only 3HKO’ed by Sucker Punch at +2 (which is moot point since Empoleon typically doesn’t try to KO Huntail), and can just phase Huntail out with Roar if it thinks it can set up at all. Cloyster can Shell Smash right alongside Huntail, and typically comes out on top. Sucker Punch can only 3HKO Cloyster thanks to its solid physical bulk, and +2 Skill Link Rock Blast can almost always guarantee a 1HKO on Huntail with Stealth Rock up. Porygon2 is only 3HKO’ed about half the time at +2, while it can 2HKO with Thunderbolt, and use Recover to heal itself. It can also use Thunder Wave to cripple Huntail as well. Physically defensive Milotic is only 4HKO’ed by +2 Sucker Punch, while it can easily either Toxic+Recover stall Huntail, or use Dragon Tail to phase it out and make it lose its boosts. Fast Scarf users such as Mienshao can outspeed Huntail even after a Shell Smash, avoid the 1HKO from +2 Sucker Punch, and then 1HKO Huntail, such as with Reckless Mienshao’s High Jump Kick. Kingdra’s only fear of being 2HKO’ed comes from +2 Sucker Punch, while it can 1HKO with Draco Meteor. Toxicroak can be 2HKO’ed by +2 Ice Fang, and fears the rare Bounce immensely, but it can easily switch into Waterfall thanks to Dry Skin, and Life Orb Adamant Gunk Shot guarantees a 1HKO if Stealth Rock is up. Physically defensive Qwilfish may not threaten Huntail too much, but Huntail can only 4HKO it at best at +2, and Qwilfish can utilize Thunder Wave to cripple Huntail. Amoongus has to be wary of a 2HKO from a +2 Ice Fang, but it can use Clear Smog to rid away boosts, Spore to shut down Huntail or whatever may be Baton Passed to, or can 2HKO Huntail itself with Giga Drain. Physically defensive Tangrowth is only 3HKO’ed by a +2 Ice Fang, but Giga Drain deals enough damage to 1HKO with Stealth Rock up, and even if rocks aren’t up, then the HP healed back from Giga Drain can still allow it to come out on top consistently. The list goes on, so I’ll wrap it up with this; Huntail’s low HP means it’s not particularly bulky, and most special attackers can 2HKO it with minimal investment. Plus, if you really want to troll Huntail, its White Herb can be Knocked Off, which means that it’ll lower its defenses, and even it it tries to Baton Pass its Shell Smash, those defense drops go with it, making the recipient that much easier to revenge kill. There’s plenty of ways to deal with Huntail, even if its “SmashPass” combination is potent.
Clamperls Before Swine
Clamperl has such a serene and innocent face… and one that belies the fact that it has one of the most devastating, nuclear-powered special attack stats in the entirely of the Little Cup. A base 74 Special Attack stat might not seem like anything special, but with its trademark item, the DeepSeaTooth, its special attack stat is doubled, giving it a base 34 special attack with a timid nature. This is absolutely unprecedented, and unlike things such as Choice Items or Life Orb, there are no drawbacks whatsoever. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Well it gets even better, because Clamperl’s got access to Shell Smash as well, which turns that 34 special attack into a terrifying 68 special attack. Not only that, but it gets its speed doubled as well, which is good because Clamperl’s speed is pretty low. However, unlike its evolution, it doesn’t have the luxury of carrying a White Herb, so it does have to deal with the defense drops, which can leave it prone to revenge killing. As you might guess, Surf is Clamperl’s main STAB attack. It’s perfectly accurate and hits decently hard. Pretty self explanatory, really. Ice Beam, on the other hand, can wreck the grass types who might think they can switch into Clamperl’s STAB, and with Clamperl’s high special attack it can 2HKO even Foongus, who is is among the bulkiest grass types in the tier. For its last slot, Hidden Power can expand Clamperl’s coverage. Hidden Power Grass can deal with other water types, such as Chinchou and opposing Clamperl, while Hidden Power Fire can fry Ferroseed, who is otherwise a pretty solid counter. Just be warned though; Clamperl may hit like a truck, but it’s pretty slow. Even after a Shell Smash, it’s only reaching 26 speed, which means that faster Choice Scarf users can outspeed it. Its special bulk is also relatively low, and Shell Smash makes it easier to revenge kill with the defense drops. Still, Clamperl is something to be feared.
The nature and EVs maximize Clamperl’s speed and special attack. A modest nature can be considered for a little more power, but unfortunately it makes it even easier to revenge kill by Choice Scarf users, so Timid is usually your best bet. 80 EVs are put into special defense to patch up the weaker side of its bulk. As for its ability, Rattled can allow Clamperl to eat a U-Turn, Sucker Punch, or Knock Off to net a speed boost, so it’s usually preferable.
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