Tactical Tuesdays #13 – Ferrothorn


Welcome back to Tactical Tuesdays, where we take a Pokemon every week and attempt to provide an in-depth competitive analysis of it. This week, we’re taking a look at Ferrothorn! If you have any comments, questions, or requests, please leave them below.

#598 – Ferrothorn

Species: Thorn Pod Pokemon
Abilities: Iron Barbs, Anticipation(HA)
Height: 3’03
Weight: 242.5 lbs

Notable Moves:

Gyro Ball
Power Whip
Iron Head
Toxic (TM)
Substitute (TM)
Thunder Wave (TM)
Protect (TM)
Leech Seed (Egg move from multiple)
Spikes (Egg move from Cacturn line, Klefki)
Stealth Rock (Egg move from Golem, Steelix, Gigalith, Crustle line)
Knock Off (BW2 Tutor)


Generation V, where the unique dual Grass/Steel type debuted, is most known for two things. First being the absolute dominance of weather throughout every competitive tier, and second being its contributions to the defensive side of the meta-game. Although terrifying powerhouses like Hydreigon and Haxorus were introduced, two very unique defensive Pokemon also made their debut: The defensive Ferrothorn, and the specially defensive Jellicent. These two Pokemon were mainstays in the OU tier, and a common addition to Politoed rain-based teams that were, arguably, the best type of team you could have in OU. Point being, Ferrothorn made a HUGE mark on the competitive scene due to its amazing defensive prowess, and while now less common due to the complete nerf of weather this gen, still remains as one of the go-to physically defensive Pokemon among with its Steel-type brothers Forretress and Skarmory.

Of course, Ferrothorn’s stats are very heavily weighted towards defensive play. Its paltry base 20 Speed is among the absolute worst in all of Pokemon, but this is of little consequence; Ferrothorn has an awesome dual defensive base stats of 131 and 116 for the physical and special side respectively, making it great mixed wall. It also has a surprising base 90 Attack, which can be useful with certain moves.

But it really isn’t its defensive stats that set Ferrothorn apart from other defensive-oriented Steel types at all. In all actuality, it’s the most like Forretress in the way of why it’s so appealing; Ferrothorn has a downright AWESOME support move-pool, with many tools that other defensive Pokemon would kill to have. For the entry-hazard check, you have Stealth Rock and Spikes, two very handy moves that can rack up the damage quickly. For the status-spreader check, you have Thunder Wave and Toxic at your disposal, giving you choice for various opposing Pokemon. Other miscellaneous support moves round out the above, with the quirky Ingrain, the newly-buffed Knock Off and the ever-annoying Leech Seed that do wonders to stopping opposing Pokemon that think Ferrothorn is set-up bait. But if you’re complete Taunt fodder, you’re not going to make it very long in the OU tier, as we’ve learned to especially be the case in this generation due to the prevalence of Defog. Luckily, Ferrothorn puts that base 94 Attack to as much use as possible, with great attacking moves in Power Whip and Gyro Ball, the latter of which actually BENEFITS from Ferrothorn’s trash-tier speed.

Indeed, being able to shape this top-caliber wall to the support sets you want is a huge appeal of Ferrothorn, but perhaps the best thing about the spiked-ball is that it’s just fun to play with from an EV spread stand-point. Offensive Pokemon are usually pretty predictable with their stat spread, just as dedicated walls are nearly always predictable in theirs (truly, my recommended EV spreads are hardly ground-breaking or unique in that regard). But Ferrothorn has the privilege of being able to go fully Defensive, fully Specially Defensive, mixed, or even some creative Attack EVs that, with the right move-pool, can really surprise opposing trainers with more unorthodox offensive play.

As worth noting is Ferrothorn’s excellent ability, Iron Barbs, which damages opposing physical attackers that make contact. Not only is this an awesome ability due to Ferrothorn being defensive in nature, it can also be used in conjunction with a Rocky Helmet, which also deals out damage per physical hit. Iron Barbs + Rocky Helmet will definitely make opposing physical attacker think twice, lest they fall on top of other things such as Leech Seed or their own recoil damage.

Stats Breakdown:

HP: 74 – Average, and having a bit higher one would make Ferrothorn truly terrifying
Attack: 94 – Surprisingly decent, meaning that Ferrothorn can actually hit kind of hard when it needs to
Defense: 131 – Outstanding, being able to tank any physical hit that isn’t Fire
Special Attack: 54 – Terrible, but doesn’t mean much
Special Defense: 116 – Awesome, making Ferrothorn more than a one-trick pony
Speed: 20 – Actually a massive boon to Ferrothorn, as high-powered Gyro Balls are made possible by it

Viable Sets:

1.) “Iron Utility”

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Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Relaxed
EVs: 252 HP, 126 Defense, 126 Special Defense
– Stealth Rock
– Spikes
– Leech Seed/Knock-Off
– Gyro Ball/Power Whip

– Defensive Pokemon are among the best to set up entry hazards, and Ferrothorn is no different. The lack of Toxic Spikes might be a bit depressing, but going 2/3 with both Stealth Rock and Spikes isn’t a bad thing at all. Ferrothorn’s excellent typing allows plentiful opportunities to set up your entry hazard of choice.

– Leech Seed is an excellent way to wear down the opponent while you get your hazards up, and also a great way to add to Ferrothorn’s longevity on top of residual Leftovers recovery. Although you’ll have to watch out for opposing Grass types that are immune to Leech Seed, there really isn’t a better option for the stalling tendencies that Ferrothorn brings with it.

– Avoiding complete Taunt bait is important, and as mentioned above, Ferrothorn gets two great STAB moves that are much to its advantage. Power Whip has a whopping base power of 120, with a rather inconsequential side-effect of recoil that doesn’t matter much with Leftovers + Leech Seed. In my experience, however, I’ve found Gyro Ball to be a much better option. Not only is it easy to reach it’s maximum base power of 150 (Gyro Ball’s power increases the bigger the speed differentiation between you and your opponent), it also just acts as a great coverage move thanks to the new Fairy-type prowling the tiers.

– If your team is already lacking a Knock-Off user, there’s not a very compelling reason against subbing it in for something like Leech Seed. Ferrothorn’s support move-pool is incredibly useful, and Knock-Off is always something to consider.

– Due to being conflicted about the EV spread, I kind of decided just to split it down the middle. It’s definitely subject to interpretation, but I’ve found that one thing should remain constant: HP investment is critical, and having a nature that increases your defensive stat of choice while lowering Speed is almost always the best idea. Gyro Ball gets more powerful the slower you are, and since Ferrothorn’s Speed isn’t worth investing in ANY scenario, you lose little by a nature like Relaxed.

2.) “Status Staller”

[email protected] Helmet
Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Relaxed
EVs: 252 HP, 252 Defense, 4 Special Defense
– Toxic
– Leech Seed
– Gyro Ball/Power Whip
– Stealth Rock

– Iron Barbs + Toxic + Leech Seed + Rocky Helmet is the stuff of nightmares for physical attackers, and that’s not even taking in to effect the maximum investment on the physically defensive side for this set. The main objective of this one is to act as a full on stop to any physical attacker, and it does a pretty sweet job, regardless of if the opponent is immune to either Toxic or Leech Seed.

– Toxic and Leech Seed are self-explanatory, being some of the best stalling moves in the game when it comes to just waiting until damage slowly stacks on your opponent. There ARE quite a few Pokemon that are immune to both of them (There’s no such thing as a Grass/Steel type currently, although there’s tons of Grass/Poison types), but these Pokemon are rare inside of Ferrothorn’s OU/Ubers stomping grounds.

– Gyro Ball is once again the STAB move of choice, although this set has far less need of it thanks to the other methods Ferrothorn has that whittle down the opponent in other ways. As above, you could also use Power Whip if you’re lacking any type of Grass-type offensive presence on your team.

– Despite the apparent downfall of entry hazards this generation, Stealth Rock is still a very quick, one-turn move that can offer an extreme advantage in your favor, and is probably the better choice for any Pokemon that gets both it and Spikes/Toxic Spikes.

3.) “Steel Whip”

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Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Brave
EVs: 252 HP, 252 Attack, 4 Special Defense
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Knock-Off
– Leech Seed

– Believe it or not, but Steel/Grass STAB is something that is REALLY good, especially in OU where terrors like Rotom-Wash and Togekiss lurk. This set attempts a more unorthodox take on Ferrothorn, making use of it’s excellent natural bulk along with its surprisingly decent base 94 Attack. A Brave nature boosts this attack to its maximum potential while once again lowering Speed to insure hard-hitting Gyro Balls.

– If you’re going for offensive presence, Power Whip and Gyro Ball are without a doubt the way to go, offering the afore-mentioned Grass/Steel dual STAB. Knock-Off acts as another decently powerful Dark-type option due to its buff this generation, and retains the support versatility that makes Ferrothorn so special.

– Leftovers are a good way to keep Ferrothorn’s longevity up, but Leech Seed is just another great way to add to your opponents annoyance while firing off decently powerful moves of your own.


- Although defensive Pokemon tend to get shafted in-game thanks to their rather useless role, their utility and importance on a competitive level can’t be overstated. Offering extreme utility and just an ounce of unpredictability, Ferrothorn is still a great option to have on any team that needs any type of physically defensive Pokemon, being a pivot or otherwise. Just watch out for fire, that stuff is pretty nasty.

Categorized under: Articles, Editorial, Pokeditorials, Pokémon News, Tactical Tuesdays
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2 Responses to “Tactical Tuesdays #13 – Ferrothorn”

  1. what the heck says:

    knock off and toxic are pretty unique. I think knock off should be replaced with curse for number 3. gyro ball will do more damage and if you leech seeded then your just healing more than taking hits. Especially if all the special attackers are gone

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