Klinklang, The Gear Pokémon. The gear with the red core is rotated at high speed for a rapid energy charge. Its red core functions as an energy tank. It fires the charged energy through its spikes into an area. Then energy from the red core charges the minigear to make it ready to fire.
Back in Gen 5, Klinklang’s name was known by all. It quickly rose to great levels of infamy, and became one of the more well known Pokemon coming out of the Black and White versions… due to having its design criticized. As much as people bashed it for being “just a bunch of gears”, Klinklang does have a few positive points going for it. It’s got not one, but two signature moves, both of which are actually pretty good, and includes one of the best boosting moves in the game. Its stats are also decent enough, as its attack and speed, while not overly high, are certainly usable at 100/90, respectively, and its 115/85 defenses are decent as well. So why isn’t it used more? Well, for starters, its offensive movepool absolutely sucks. It has just three usable physical attacks, and a bunch of special attacks that it can’t use effectively due to low special attack. As you might imagine, this makes it incredibly predictable. Decent defenses are offset by a rather average base 60 HP as well. It also has trouble breaking through opposing steel types, and without a boost from Shift Gear its attack and speed are not particularly impressive. Generation 6 was a mixed bag for Klinklang as well. While it did gain a resistance to the new fairy types, and has no problem grinding them to a pulp, it also lost its resistances to Dark and Ghost, making it a bit easier to dispatch this generation. It’s definitely not going to be your first choice for a steel type with things like Excadrill, Scizor, and Bisharp being common, but it does have some merit that at least makes it usable… Just be mindful of the better options before you slap it on a serious team, though.
Plus: When battling with Plus or Minus, Special Attack increases by 50%. - Plus is pretty poor for Klinklang. It does nothing in Singles, and even in Doubles or Triples, it's still pretty lacking considering 1) All the other Pokemon that learn Plus or Minus have better options, so you typically won’t have another Pokemon to activate the effect, 2) Even if you do use another user of Plus or Minus, all of them share Klinklang’s ground weakness, which is just asking to be Earthquake’d to death in doubles or triples, and 3) Klinklang's special attack and coverage is still pretty poor. It at least lets it take advantage of Magnetic Flux, though.
Klinklang go the Chains
This is pretty much the one and only set you will ever see Klinklang run, if for no other reason than the fact that it really doesn’t have any other viable moves. That said, it’s decent with what it’s got. Shift Gear is the crux of this set, giving it +2 Speed and +1 Attack in a single turn, meaning it’s ready to sweep after a boost, and hard to revenge kill at that. Gear Grind is its STAB attack, and it’s a pretty decent one at that; hitting with base 100 power is not bad, and given it’s a two-hit attack, users of Sturdy, Focus Sash, or Substitute are not safe from it either. Just watch out for the 85% accuracy; it fails about as often as Fire Blast would. Return’s decent neutral coverage lets it hit several of the Water, Electric, and Fire types that resist Klinklang’s STAB. Wild Charge is the only thing that hits Steel types (at least ones not named Steelix, Ferrothorn, or Magnezone) for neutral damage, in addition to hitting a few water and certain flying types a bit harder. Substitute can also be considered over Wild Charge in order to ward off status, meaning things like stray Scald burns, Prankster Thunder Wave from Thundurus or Klefki and Prankster Will-o-Wisp from Sableye aren’t going to stop your sweeps. Substitute's also a nice buffer against being revenge killed, as well. That said though, without Wild Charge, the list of things that walls you go up, so it depends on whether being walled or being hit by status is a bigger concern for you. Do note that if you opt for Substitute, you’re usually better off replacing Life Orb for Leftovers since the combination of Substitute+Life Orb recoil will wear Klinklang down quickly. However, the lower damage output turns some 1HKOs into 2HKOs, 2HKOs into 3HKOs, and so on, so it needs a bit more team support to wear things down before you sweep.
The nature, EV Spread, and Life Orb are to maximize Klinklang’s attack; even at +1, Klinklang’s attack is not that impressive compared to a lot of standards. As such, Adamant Nature, and max attack EV investment are meant to get the most out of the damage you deal, and Life Orb will push your damage even further, even with the recoil. The given speed EVs allow you to outspeed up to +1 base 110 speed positive natured Pokemon after a Shift Gear, which means you’ll outspeed every relevant Choice Scarf user. However, it’s also viable to opt for less speed as well if you’re not concerned about Scarfed Base 110’s, such as Latios, Tauros, or Archeops. Below are the benchmarks for how many EVs you need to outspeed Scarfed threats that may try to revenge kill your Klinklang.
188 EVs - Scarfed Base 110 (Latios, Tauros, Archeops)
Naturally, the rest of what you don’t put in Speed gets put into HP. Going for the full 252 Speed EVs is an option, but in general Klinklang is going to be using Shift Gear ASAP since its attack is pretty underwhelming without a boost. The important thing about using Klinklang is switching into something you know you’ll force out, giving you a free turn to boost. An unboosted Klinklang is a threat to no one, so you may find the full 252 Speed EVs to be a waste since once you’ve boosted, it’ll be overkill.
Frustration, Rock Smash, Thunder Wave, Volt Switch
Double & Triple Battle Options
Considering 5th Gen introduced more Pokemon than R/B/Y, I think we were bound to see some Pokemon that more or less were inspired by already existing Pokemon. Klingklang I believe to be a different approach to the Magnemite family. Considering most of its attacking moves are Steel and Electric despite Klingklang being pure Steel. With that in mind, it also shares the "It's clearly levitating but doesn't have the Levitate ability" with the Magnemite family too.
Klingklang's stats and Signature moves (Shift Gear and Gear Grind) say it's a Physical attacker, its level up moves say it's a Special Attacker, and its abilities say it fits a supportive role. Which is it? It can do just about anything, it just can't do anything well. Think Jack of All Trades, Novice of All.
Gears of War
Unfortunately, setting up is risky in a fast paced environment such as Doubles/Triples, Shift Gear is insanely good, but its only Physical Moves have terrible type coverage and accuracy issues. Base 70 Special attack can be respectable with Choice Specs and Plus/Minus boost, but the same problem arises in the Klingklang's offensive types are pretty much Steel, Electric and Normal. So we're left with making sure Klingklang's partner isn't left feeling helpless. Klingklang offers nice speed control options in Thunder Wave and Trick Room. Swagger is annoying, but pairs up with Thunder Wave very well and can tilt the battle back into your favor at times. Metal Sound's accuracy is shaky, but the reward is well worth it. Continuing on Swagger shenanigans, Screech lowers Physical Defense and in turn increases the damage done by being hit in confusion. Juvenile, I know, but having such a shallow movepool makes it so that these sets have no choice but to rear their heads. Magnetic Flux can be used if your Partner has Plus/Minus, it helps when the confused opponent is able to land a physical hit through confusion by not taking AS much damage.
Klingklang's ideal partners want to take advantage of the Plus/Minus boost and apply heave offensive pressure as to make up for the lack of Klingklang's. Ampharos and Manaectric can do both and can Mega Evolve. Ampharos can benefit from Trick Room after Mega Evolving and Manectric can Intimidate on Mega Evolving, but it would be best to deal as much damage as possible before doing so, even grab a few boosts from Magnetic Flux. However this combination is terribly weak to Earthquake. So a modest suggestion would be to include a Pokemon that is immune to Earthquake, but perhaps also intimidates too. So Gyarados would be what I recommend, but I won't stop you from trying out Masquerain, Salamence, Staraptor or Therian Landorus either.
It's hard to tell what Klingklang is supposed to accomplish, its movepool is limited in every sense of the word and its abilities aren't immediately useful. Clear Body stops intimidates, but are you really using Klingklang to sweep in Doubles? I hope not. I feel Klingklang (and a handful of other Pokemon) just fall short of doing anything beyond being an obstacle used by an NPC in game. If it gets its stats and moves to compliment one another then maybe its role will be more clear.
As mentioned before, Klinklang has a lot of trouble with Steel types. In formats such as tiered play where Klinklang can thrive, Klinklang is absolutely walled by Steelix, as the steel snake destroys Klinklang with Earthquake, while Klinklang needs to be at +5 to 2HKO an offensive Steelix even with Life Orb. Klinklang has trouble breaking through Eviolite Ferroseed, but it should be noted that Ferroseed can’t do much in return to Substitute Klinklang, which can allow it to set up a ridiculous amount of boosts. Eviolite Gurdurr can check Klinklang in a pinch, given it can 2HKO with the combination of Drain Punch and Mach Punch, but Gear Grind can 2HKO at +1, so it needs to switch in on the Shift Gear or it runs the risk of being KO’ed. Gurdurr’s Mach Punch can also revenge kill a weakened Klinklang, but don’t expect it to do more than 50%. Physically defensive Stunfisk can beat Klinklang as well, as it is only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Return at +1. Meanwhile, Stunfisk can 2HKO it with Earth Power, or fish for a burn or paralysis with Scald and Discharge, respectively. Incidentally, since all of Klinklang’s attacks make contact, Stunfisk’s Static can also paralyze it on occasion, ruining its ability to sweep. Seismitoad is only 2HKO’ed by +1 Life Orb Return, but it 1HKOs with Earth Power, so if it switches in on a Shift Gear it can usually threaten Klinklang out. While not a great Pokemon in general, Torkoal makes a surprisingly good Klinklang counter, as it’s usually 4HKO’ed at +1, while it 2HKOs with Lava Plume, which can also threaten with its 30% burn rate. Of course, all of these calculations assume a Life Orb for the worst case scenario. With Leftovers (which is admittedly more common on the ladder), the list of things that can check it goes up, as things like Weezing and Sandslash avoid the 2HKO on +1 Gear Grind, and +1 Return fails to 1HKO Typhlosion even with Stealth Rock support. Of course, if Klinklang doesn’t have the chance to boost, such as by taunting it, putting it to sleep, or just having a favorable matchup, it’s significantly easier to beat. Things like Typhlosion, Pyroar, Pangoro, Magmortar, Hariyama, Sandslash, Golurk etc. can 1HKO or 2HKO it with ease. Basically anything with a moderately powerful Earthquake, Flamethrower/Fire Blast, or Close Combat can 1HKO or 2HKO Klinklang.
If you’re using Klinklang in formats where anything goes, then Klinklang’s problems increase tenfold, as Klinklang’s natural enemy happens to be none other than Magnezone. Thanks to Magnet Pull, Magnezone traps Klinklang and handily dispatches of it by 2HKOing with an unboosted STAB, or even 1HKOing if it’s carrying Choice Specs. Meanwhile, Klinklang needs to be at +3 to even have a chance of 2HKOing Magnezone. Magneton works just as well too, as Eviolite makes it take even less damage from Klinklang, while still trapping and destroying it with its STAB. Metagross’s bulk and solid attack allows it to stomach boosted hits, and destroy Klinklang with Earthquake. Mega Aggron’s titanic defenses prevent Klinklang from being able to break it, while Klinklang can be 2HKO’ed with Earthquake just as easily. Status effects not named Toxic can screw Klinklang over as well; being burned or paralyzed absolutely ruins its ability to sweep, and sleep or freeze’s total incapacitation speaks for itself. If Klinklang has already set up, Prankster users such as Thundurus/Klefki and Sableye can be your panic button by slapping it with Thunder Wave or Will-o-Wisp, respectively. Our derpy friend Quagsire can ignore Klinklang’s Shift Gear boosts thanks to Unaware, and proceed to either destroy it with Earthquake or fish for a burn with Scald. Simple revenge killing can be a little bit tricky due to the combination of Klinklang’s incredible speed after a Shift Gear, and the fact that it resists some of the most common priority attacks, such as Bullet Punch, Talonflame’s Brave Bird, and Extreme Speed. Mega Lucario’s Vacuum Wave is the most reliable priority attack you can use, that can take up to 96% of Klinklang’s HP. Things like standard Lucario’s Vacuum Wave and Conkeldurr’s Mach Punch can strip off about half of Klinklang’s HP, but it needs a bit of prior damage to be able to secure the KO. Of course, all of this assumes Klinklang has already boosted. An unboosted Klinklang can be checked by a myriad of things, such as Landorus, Landorus-T, both Mega Charizards, Excadrill, Keldeo, Terrakion, and so on. Really, Klinklang has no place in standard play; if you want a hard-hitting steel type, opt for Excadrill, Scizor, Bisharp, or Mega Mawile.
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