Honchkrow, The Big Boss Pokémon. If one utters a deep cry, many Murkrow gather quickly. For this, it is called "Summoner of Night." Becoming active at night, it is known to swarm with numerous Murkrow in tow.
Honchkrow is one of the many Pokémon introduced in Sinnoh that was an evolution for a Pokémon from previous generations, and one of the better ones at that. Opinions on these evolutions are very mixed, but they did give several weaker Pokémon like Murkrow a second chance in the world of battling. While Honchkrow didn't end up with Magnezone's combination of bulk and power or Gliscor's defensive and support capabilities, Honchkrow is the definition of a glass cannon. With respectable power and strong moves to back it up, Honchkrow makes for a potent wallbreaker capable of bullying defensive teams, worthy of boasting the title of Big Boss himself. A terrifying Dark / Flying typing grants it fantastic neutral coverage as well, hitting every type for at least neutral damage, complementing its impressive offensive prowess. However, while it does boast an impressive base 100 HP stat, it's incredibly frail and suffers from middling speed that forces it to rely on Sucker Punch to deal with faster threats. Add Life Orb and Brave Bird recoil, and this bird often won't be flying for very long even with access to Roost. Honchkrow lives a life of high risk fighting with reckless abandon, and while it's no king of the skies don't expect any mercy if this bird starts tearing through your team.
Insomnia: The Pokémon cannot be put to Sleep while having this ability. This ability is nothing to write home about. While being immune to sleep moves is useful, Honchkrow smashes through the most common Spore and Sleep Powder users anyway. It also pales in comparison to its other abilities.
Too Frail for a Metal Gear
- Brave Bird
This set is pretty much Honchkrow's only claim to fame. Brave Bird is its primary STAB move, tearing through anything that doesn't resist Flying, although the recoil it gives is nasty. Sucker Punch is the secondary STAB, giving Honchkrow a deadly priority move that can help it pull off a late-game sweep if necessary. Given its low Speed, this move is also necessary to deal with faster threats and also lets it pick off weakened Pokémon like Nidoking and Sceptile without the risk of being KOed in the process. While these two moves alone give it fantastic neutral coverage, Superpower helps with Steel and Dark types that can otherwise threaten Honchkrow, such as Aggron, Umbreon, Krookodile and Hydreigon. The last move depends on whether you need something to trap Psychic and Ghost types as they try to switch out or want to extend Honchkrow's longevity. Both are fine options, though Honchkrow often has a difficult time finding an opportunity to heal off the heavy recoil it takes. Running both Pursuit and Roost is another alternative, although it comes at the cost of dropping the great Fighting type coverage that Superpower provides.
The EV spread is as straightforward as it gets. Honchkrow cannot afford to take any hits, so maximum investment in Attack and Speed ensures that it does as much damage as possible. The final 4 EVs are put into Special Defense to give the occasional Porygon2 and Porygon-Z an Attack boost instead of a Special Attack boost. Adamant is the preferred nature since it doesn't benefit much from the added Speed anyway, but Jolly can be used to outspeed the likes of Bisharp and Breloom so both natures have merit. Life Orb is used to give Honchkrow's attack some extra power and it won't be taking hits regardless, although the huge recoil from Brave Bird puts it on a short timer if it doesn't run Roost. Meanwhile Moxie is the ability of choice to give Honchkrow a chance to pull off a sweep with the the help of repeated boosts.
- Heat Wave can be used to hit Mega Aggron, Forretress and Ferrothorn harder without suffering huge penalties from Superpower, but the coverage is less impressive outside of hitting specific threats.
VGC, Double & Triple Battle Options
Honchkrow may have been a nod towards some of the weaker non evolving Pokemon of the past, that they too may reach higher power. A Farfetched may yet evolve into something stronger. But with Gen 6 the thing to do may be just to make it Mega Evolve. Honchkrow, Tangrowth and the like may be the last of their kind before Farfetchedite becomes a thing. Now on to strategy!
Honchkrow more or less has serious competition with Bisharp, as Sucker Punch seems to be the name of the game, but Honchkrow doesn't have Defiant to stop Intimidates, but has Moxie available to perhaps get a Sucker Punch sweep going. It isn't all that likely considering how prediction heavy Sucker Punch is. But that's where Taunt comes into play, it's disrupt the supportive foes but make Sucker Punch a guaranteed hit if they don't switch. Taunt and Sucker Punch opens up a new world of mind games for the opponent, especially if Honchkrow's partner can Sucker Punch as well. Super Power and Moxie more or less cancel each other out so Brave Bird is the preferred last move simply for STAB and great neutral coverage.
Honchkrow will want to partner with the likes of Kangaskhan or Thundurus, the former for having double Sucker Punch pressure, the latter for easier Taunt + Sucker Punch set ups and speed control in Thunder Wave.
Besides an immunity to Earthquake, Honchkrow doesn't have much over Bisharp, considering that Sucker Punch is going to be the most likely used move, it may be a better idea to try out Bisharp first as they have comparable attacks, speeds, and functions. But if it's a STAB Sucker Puncher that doesn't fear Earthquakes is what you need, Honchkrow may be your mon.
Honchkrow's average Speed and terrible Defenses make the Big Boss far more simple to manage than its dangerous power might suggest. Speed in particular is Honchkrow's biggest problem, anything that can outspeed Honchkrow and avoid taking heavy damage from Sucker Punch deals with it handily. Dark types like Hydreigon, Krookodile and Mega Gyarados in particular are problematic since they resist Sucker Punch and outspeed it, easily picking off the bird with their other STAB moves. However, they don't want to be caught switching into a Brave Bird or Superpower so they're better off coming in after Honchkrow has KOed one of your Pokémon. Fighting-types like Heracross and Cobalion also handle Honchkrow in the same vein, with Cobalion in particular being safe from a boosted Sucker Punch even while at lower health due to its double resistance and Justified deterring its use to begin with. Defensively, bulkier Pokémon that Honchkrow struggles to break through are fine options, with Mega Aggron, Zapdos, Mega Ampharos and Rhyperior among those that can handle a Brave Bird or Superpower to KO it back. However, all of them must be mindful of boosted Superpower or Sucker Punch, as none of these Pokémon enjoy taking repeated boosted hits. Honchkrow is also crippled greatly by status, as burns completely ruin its day while Toxic puts it on an incredibly short timer. Infamous bulky Water-types such as Suicune, Rotom-W and Alomomola are prime candidates for this role, as all of them can cripple it with status and don't mind a Sucker Punch or Brave Bird too much. Honchkrow's wallbreaking power is not to be underestimated, as it can quickly become a deadly threat after a few boosts, so try to avoid letting it get boosts anytime it's possible. However, just keep in mind that if Honchkrow can't KO something, it will almost certainly be KOed in return.
- Brave Bird
Unlike most other first stage Pokémon, Murkrow is not commonly seen in Little Cup formats after proving to be too strong to play with all the other little Pokémon. The only exception to this was Little Cup tournament on Battle Spot, but since those tournaments come and go quickly, this is something Murkrow can try in more restricted formats without big threats that will just eat Murkrow as a snack. Some might be tempted to run a defensive utility set with Eviolite, but Murkrow is still not very bulky even with investment, so it's better to make use of Murkrow's strengths rather than try to fit the poor bird into a role it isn't built for. Here Murkrow functions similarly to its evolved form, with Brave Bird and Sucker Punch being primary STAB moves. However, Murkrow can't learn Superpower so it has to settle for Hidden Power and Heat Wave to deal with Rock-types and Steel-types respectively. Murkrow also has Prankster instead of Moxie, so while it can't sweep effectively it can make better use of support moves like Taunt and Thunder Wave. Thunder Wave serves as a way to cripple faster threats, usually as a last resort since Murkrow struggles to take hits just like Honchkrow. Taunt is an alternative to deal with defensive threats if the paralysis isn't necessary, and running both status moves is also an option if you're willing to drop Hidden Power Grass or Heat Wave.
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