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 Gengar! If you have any comments, questions, or requests, please leave them below.
Sludge Bomb (TM)
Focus Blast (TM)
Energy Ball (TM)
Dazzling Gleam (TM)
Disable (Egg move from Muk, Dusknoir, Cofagrigus line)
Haze (Egg move Wheezing, Cofagrigus line)
Pain Split (BW2 Tutor)
If you asked 8-year old kids in 1998 what the scariest Pokemon ever was, chances were you’d get Gengar as an answer. The only Ghost type Pokemon line introduced at the beginning of Pokemon in Generation I RBY is characterized by an incredibly creepy smile, and just a downright spooky demeanor. But looking past the actual design of Gengar, and we find a Pokemon that has perhaps stood the test of time better than any other Pokemon in existence. While other Gen I competitive superstars like Tauros, Snorlax, and even Chansey to a degree eventually fell from grace into the lower tiers of UU and RU as the more and more generations were released, Gengar has been an OU mainstay in all six so far, even making an occasional appearance in the Uber tier as a premier Rapid-spin blocker back before Defog got an insane buff. So what makes Gengar so special? Put simply, Gengar remains a standard among special attack oriented sweepers.
Gengar’s biggest assets are exactly what makes it the perfect special sweeper; it has blazing speed, and an even better special attack to compliment it. At 110 base speed, Gengar ranked near the top even at the dawn of Generation I, and still finds itself high on the speed totem-poll today. But with great speed must come great attack, and Gengar’s base 130 special attack is about as great of a compliment to a base 110 speed as you could possibly ask for. In an era where physical-oriented studs are all the rage, it’s becoming harder to find a dependable special sweeper.
Some would question the decision to make Gengar a dual Ghost/Poison type, and throughout the first two generations, that was 100% correct. Poison was a terrible type offensively due to being super effective against a record-low one type, and was very much the case until the advent of the Fairy type just recently. Poison was also atrocious defensively, being weak to the incredibly common Earthquakes and Psychics that are still among the most common coverage moves in today’s meta. Luckily, time has only been good to Gengar when it comes to its strange dual Ghost/Poison typing. Generation III gave it the ability Levitate, completely negating it’s crippling Ground weakness. Generation VI also buffed the Poison type considerably, being one of the few methods of disposing off the new, incredibly annoying Fairy-types that now litter the tiers. With Levitate and STAB Poison-type moves in hand, Gengar has once again rocked the competitive scene due almost entirely to its natural tools.
But like any Pokemon, a pitiful move-pool is the quickest way to achieve mediocrity. Gengar faces the complete opposite, boasting a massive amount of special attack coverage moves that gel together with its stats, ability, and typing to an excellent degree. Gengar’s most common STAB moves consist of Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb, with its other options being the likes of Thunderbolt, Psychic, Focus Blast, Energy Ball, and even Dazzling Gleam. With so many attacking options across a large amount of types, Gengar can quickly patch up any coverage holes your team may have. But the fun doesn’t stop there; Gengar can also be quite quirky, making use of Substitute due to its ability to force switches, Will-O-Wisp to cripple opposing physical attackers, Pain-Split to lengthen its longevity, and even Hypnosis + Dream Eater/Nightmare if you really want to blaze a new trail.
But like a majority of sweepers, Gengar is incredibly frail in one way or another. A somewhat-okay special defense is held back by a god-awful base HP, which only makes its terrible defense stat even worse. Playing defense is not something Gengar does terribly well, and chances are it won’t take much of a hit at all. But plan around the special attacking dynamo, and you won’t be disappointed.
HP: 60 – Terrible, acting as the lynch-pin of Gengar’s garbage defense
Attack: 65 – Terrible, but doesn’t matter much
Defense: 60 – Terrible, serving as Gengar’s greatest weakness
Special Attack: 130 – Outstanding, outranking many legendarys and standing among the highest in OU
Special Defense: 75 – Average, meaning Gengar might take some resisted special hits
Speed: 110 – Excellent, being a near-perfect compliment to Gengar’s special attack stat
1.) “Spooky Specter”
[email protected] Orb/Black Sludge
EVs: 252 Special Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Shadow Ball
– Sludge Bomb
– Focus Blast/Dazzling Gleam/Pain Split
– Because Gengar is so terrifying both in appearance and its ability to greatly punish anything lacking good special defense with its bountiful coverage move-pool, Gengar is able to force A LOT of the meta-game to switch. This naturally makes a Substitute set an excellent option, specifically because Gengar is prone to being revenge killed/slaughtered with priority once it has gotten a KO on something. Substitute lets Gengar take at least one hit that it could never dream of taking, and maximizes the hurt it can lay on an opposing team.
– Life Orb is a good choice because it makes Gengar’s team-breaking potential very good without suffering the ability to change up moves. But, like any good Substitute set, having residual recovery on top of the Substitutes nearly always ups the amount you can actually create. Thus, Black Sludge is worth a thought if you think you’ll have the turns to properly utilize it.
– That brings up the option of Pain Split after the two primary STABs, and I’m honestly not the biggest fan of the move. Gengar works incredibly well as a late-game sweeper, out-speeding much of the OU tier and ditching out hurt to anything that isn’t a dedicated wall. Thus, with this role in mind, I’ve found little use for Pain Split outside of when I’m using Gengar early in the game, and the opposing trainer has improperly dealt with it by letting Gengar get up multiple Substitutes against full-HP Pokemon, allowing for good Pain Split abuse.
– In place of a potential Pain Split, I think additional coverage moves work incredibly well. If your team is lacking any type of Fairy offensive presence, Dazzling Gleam is an excellent choice, and the one that I personally go with. However, Focus Blast is another excellent alternative, dealing with specially defensive oriented Dark types, such as Tyranitar with its Sand and Umbreon, that would normally give Gengar a lot of problems.
– It goes without saying that mandatory STAB on Gengar is usually best found in Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb. With the nasty potential status problems such as a special defense drop with Shadow Ball, or a chance of poison with Sludge Bomb, these two options are pretty awesome. It also helps that Sludge Bomb is an excellent way of taking down the Fairy-types of the tier, mainly Azumarill and Florges.
2.) “Scary Specs”
[email protected] Specs
EVs: 252 Special Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Shadow Ball
– Sludge Bomb
– Focus Blast
– Dazzling Gleam/Energy Ball/Thunderbolt
– Throwing caution to the wind and becoming something truly terrifying, Gengar is somewhat decent when equipped with the mighty Choice Specs. Outside of utilizing its Uber-only Mega Evolution, Choice Specs maximizes Gengar’s ability to hit hard while ignoring the defensive problems it usually always has. Gengar remains susceptible to strong STAB priority, and will have to watch out for the handful of Pokemon faster than it, but if proper judgement is made, this set can prove why Gengar is horror-tier ghost it claims to be.
– Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb are used for the exact same reasons as above, although their added power with Choice Specs can make other coverage moves somewhat redundant if they still hit with neutral power against common OU-mainstays.
– Focus Blast really is a near-necessity for Gengar, lest it be Pursuit-trapped by anything that would usually force it out, such as the aforementioned Tyranitar. I also believe that a fully invested Tyranitar is easily 2HKO’d by a Specs Focus Blast, so that’s definitely a thing.
– The last slot is where Gengar really gets to shine with what coverage move it wants. Thunderbolt and Energy Ball aren’t too common on Gengar, but that makes their surprise value that much better, especially with Energy Ball since Grass doesn’t have too much of an special attacking presence outside of Solar Beam abuse under the sun. Or, as said above, you could opt for Dazzling Gleam if you wanted guaranteed damage on the faster Dragons of the OU tier, namely Garchomp (be wary of Scarf varieties, however).
3.) “Terrifying Taunter”
[email protected] Sludge
EVs: 252 Special Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Shadow Ball/Sludge Bomb
– You wouldn’t really guess it from Gengar’s stat spread, but its got an excellent amount of support moves as well. It would be a crime not to at least mention Gengar’s support capabilities, although I’ve personally found Gengar’s role best suited to the special sweeper it is while relegating the support role to other, more defense-oriented Pokemon.
– There’s a lot to be said about an incredibly quick Taunt, and Gengar is among the best in the game at that. In fact, it makes Gengar a good anti-lead against a plethora of entry-hazard setters such as Smeargle and Galvantula, shutting down their hazard-setting prowess before it even begins. Substitute remains incredibly useful in conjunction with Taunt, just because you can Sub up on the incoming hazard, and then Taunt to make sure that no more are set.
– Will-O-Wisp remains to this day perhaps the best move to cripple any opposing physical sweeper that isn’t the Fire type, and that certainly holds true here. Will-O-Wisp even allows Gengar to somewhat sponge incoming super-effective hits, such as Zen Headbutt, that would normally spell out huge trouble for it.
– Of course, having at least one attacking move in your arsenal is always important, even on Pokemon that completely lack any type of offensive presence like Chansey. I would personally stick with a good STAB option, which means either Shadow Ball or Sludge Bomb. Sludge Bomb is probably the better option, once again being one of the few methods of disposing of annoying Fairy types.
- Believe it or not, Mega Gengar has a completely different mind-set when it comes to how to take advantage of the equally-terrifying Shadow Tag ability it has, and just goes to show that Gengar is among the select-few Pokemon that have been excellently viable from the dawn of Pokemon as a video game series. Give the dark shadow a look, and you won’t be disappointed.