Tactical Tuesdays #18 – Haxorus

Cody

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 Haxorus, as requested by our very own Connor! If you have any comments, questions, or requests, please leave them below.

#612 – Haxorus


Species: Axe Jaw Pokemon
Abilities: Rivalry, Mold Breaker, Unnerve (HA)
Height: 5’11
Weight: 232.6 lbs

Notable Moves:

Dual Chop
Dragon Claw
Dragon Dance
Swords Dance
Outrage
Hone Claws (TM)
Earthquake (TM)
Brick Break (TM)
X-Scissor (TM)
Dragon Tail (TM)
Poison Jab (TM)
Iron Tail (Egg move from Aggron line)
Night Slash (Egg move from Sceptile, Seviper, Driddigon line)
Aqua Tail (BW2 Tutor)
Superpower (BW2 Tutor)

Overview:

Generation V was an incredible generation for competitive Pokemon. Right off the heals of the revelations brought in Generation IV, no one was really prepared for just how much things would change, in more ways than one. The advent of weather being the dominant playstyle in nearly every tier was a huge advancement from the niche involvement it previously had, the arrival of the Dream World and the hidden abilities that came with them, and the numerous meta-game affecting Pokemon were all things that fans were treated to during the last installment of the DS main series games. Haxorus is one of those Pokemon that fits into the last category, denting the tiers that it found itself in since the very moment it was introduced. At first glance, Haxorus looks like the standard “pseudo-legendary” that each generation brings with it. But Haxorus isn’t part of that exclusive club (the honor of Generation V goes to Hydreigon), instead, quite literally, being an entirely different animal. Game Freak went crazy with the power creeps in Generation V, and Haxorus (along with, once again, its cousin Hydreigon) might be the prime definition of that.

Talk is cheap though. Plenty of Pokemon look good on paper, but, for some reason or another, just don’t work too well in practice. Admittedly, Haxorus wasn’t the earth-shattering inevitible-Uber that many thought it could be just by looking at its stats. But having a strong presence in OU is still nothing to scoff at, and is deadly if underestimated.

So let’s take a look at those stats. The first thing you see is, of course, its almost ridiculous base 147 attack. By comparison, the other scary dragon-types of the OU tier, such as Dragonite, Salamence, and Garchomp, have physical attacking stats of 134, 135, and 130 respectively. But just having an outrageous attacking stat is one thing – Not only does Haxorus trump its Dragon-type pseudo-legendary brothers in attacking prowess, it also very nearly comes out on top with its base speed stat as well. Sitting at a strange base 97, Haxorus is well above the likes of Dragonite, and falls a mere 5 points short of Salamence and Garchomp. This means that Haxorus is among the fastest, non-Uber Pokemon to have a skyrocketing attack stat just short of 150, making it an incredibly potent threat no matter what Pokemon resists what attack. Unfortunately, this does mean that Haxorus’ defenses are lacking in a majority of ways. An acceptable defense is over-shadowed by mediocre HP and special defense, making Haxorus much more frail than its other pseudo-legendary cousins. But let’s face it – Haxorus is about decapitating the opposition with brutal force, throwing defensive caution to the wind.

Haxorus’ unique stat distribution lends itself to a plethora of sets that are incredibly diverse in nature. Its attack is high enough to where it can properly utilize a Choice Scarf to out-speed and OHKO un-boosted threats that would normally be quicker. Its speed is high enough to where it can afford a Choice Band to raise its attack to neigh-uncounterable heights. It can also carry Lum Berries to cure its own confusion caused by Outrage, a Life Orb to maximize its versatility and set-up potential, or even a more quirky option with Leftovers if you opt for an uncommon Substitute set. Indeed, not many Pokemon bring the raw offensive options that Haxorus offers to the table, making it even kind of difficult to make a good decision.

Haxorus can also punch in faces with an overwhelming amount of types. Outrage is its move of choice, denting even the hardy Steel-types that try to switch in, such as Magnezone, into a 2HKO range. Earthquake makes the aforementioned Steel-types cry even more than Outrage, Iron Tail and Poison Jab dispose of Fairy-types that try to stop it, and X-Scissor and Aqua Tail round out the niche-coverage to offer just about any significant attacking type your team could want or ask for. But there is much, much more to Haxorus’ move-pool than having just a bunch of attacking types. Haxorus possesses the holy-grail of set-up move combos in both Swords Dance and Dragon Dance. Getting just ONE of these under its belt, especially a Dragon Dance, makes Haxorus nearly twice as hard to switch in to, something that was already extremely difficult.

Honestly, Haxorus’ only problem is its tendency to get revenge-killed by either opposing Choice Scarf users, or threats that are just naturally faster and have the power to smack it with an Ice Beam. Both of these issues are easily remedied, be it by equipping Haxorus with its own Choice Scarf, or just taking advantage of opportunities to get off just a single Dragon Dance. Seize the moment, and Haxorus will do more than just put “good” use to the axe on its face.

Stats Breakdown:

HP: 76 – Average
Attack: 147 – Outstanding, and truly the unique stat of Haxorus
Defense: 90 – Acceptable, making Haxorus a bit more bulky on the physical side
Special Attack: 60 – Mediocre, but of little consequence
Special Defense: 70 – Average, being Haxorus’ weakness
Speed: 97 – Okay, but honestly holds Haxorus back a bit initially

Viable Sets:

1.) “Axeorus Haxorus”

[email protected] Scarf
Ability: Mold Breaker
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Outrage/Dragon Claw
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– Poison Jab/Iron Tail

– With a Choice Scarf in hand, Haxorus suddenly out-speeds a majority of threats that try to OHKO or revenge killing it, making it perfectly possible to pull off even a mid-game sweep. Although Haxorus will have to be weary of opposing Scarf users, this sets patches up Haxorus’ sole short-coming when it comes to its attacking prowess, and still takes full advantage of Haxorus’ monstrous attacking and coverage.

– Outrage acts as Haxorus’ STAB of choice, failing to take down only the most stalwart of Steel defensive walls in one hit such as Ferrothorn and Skarmory. However, being locked into Outrage in front of one of these threats leaves you open to continual residual damage in the form of Iron Barbs or Rocky Helmet, and also opens the door to opposing free entry hazards. As such, if you’d rather take a safer approach, Dragon Claw is also a viable option that hits hard enough in its own right.

– Earthquake is just about as mandatory as Dragon-type STAB is on Haxorus; it ensures that you can smack Steel-type very hard, and is another great super-effective option against defensive-oriented foes such as the numerous stalwart Rock-types throughout the tier. Mold Breaker also means that Earthquake hits Pokemon such as Bronzong and Rotom-Wash, making the option even more attractive.

– Its a shame that Haxorus doesn’t get Stone Edge, but Rock Slide gets the job done well enough. Hitting Flying-types that might try to switch in on a predicted Eartquake, Rock Slide can also potentially put the “hax” in Haxorus with its significant chance to flinch the foe. Being Scarfed works well with attempting to pull off a flinch, too.

– Poison Jab rounds out the set, being in place solely to hit Fairy-types such as Azumarill and Florges. Iron Tail is a possible substitute, but doesn’t hit Azumarill super-effectively, something that’s important if you plan to use Haxorus in the OU tier.

2.) “Dancing Dragon”

[email protected] Berry
Ability: Mold Breaker
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Dragon Dance
– Swords Dance
– Outrage
– Earthquake

– Having both Dragon Dance and Swords Dance available is a blessing that almost every offensive-oriented Pokemon wishes it had. After just one Dragon Dance, Haxorus is able to out-speed many of its non-Scarfed targets that hope to revenge kill it or OHKO it. After two Dragon Dances, Haxorus is able to outspeed everything but the quickest of Scarf users, making switch-ins near non-existant. And let’s not forget the attack boos that one would get between either two DDs or a single Swords Dance; this thing reaches Deoxys-Attack levels of terrifying, and its up to you what boosting move is appropriate in each situation.

– Outrage will anihilate anything it hits but staunch Steel-types and Fairies, and, with a Lum Berry, makes sure that Haxorus’ offensive buff via Dragon Dance or Swords Dance aren’t wasted after just two or three turns. Earthquake hits anything that Outrage doesn’t just about as hard, taking down those previously mentioned Steel-types and Fairies just about as easily after a single attack boost.

– If the idea of two boosting moves doesn’t appeal to you, you could always swap one out for an additional coverage move. Personally, I would always keep Dragon Dance on this set, as it’s of the utmost importance to make sure that Haxorus can up its painfully-okayish speed.

3.) “Band of Terror”

[email protected] Band
Ability: Mold Breaker
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Outrage/Dragon Claw
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– Poison Jab/Iron Tail

– This set is identical to the Scarf set, but one has to keep in mind that its purpose is entirely different. Whereas the Choice Scarf set is aimed towards being a traditional sweeper that can clean up mid or even late-game, the Band set is aimed at something else entirely – wall breaking.

– Indeed, a Band means that Haxorus doesn’t even need a boosting move in order to start tearing down even dedicated walls. And with Haxorus’ well-documented coverage, it isn’t hard at all to hit any type of wall super-effectively in some way that will nearly always 2HKO the target with exceptions such as Skarmory.

Conclusion:

- Haxorus was one of the Pokemon I hunted down during my first play-through of Black and White, just because it’s just about perfect for an in-game cartridge team, being the epitome of pure offense. Although it’s checks and counters are well-existent and able to put a stop to it, anything but those few select Pokemon will definitely feel the pain as this Dragon sets out to prove it’s just as good as Dragonite and Garchomp.


Categorized under: Articles, Editorial, Pokeditorials, Tactical Tuesdays
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2 Responses to “Tactical Tuesdays #18 – Haxorus”

  1. what the heck says:

    why would we need 2 set up moves for number 2? Your options are limited for attacking and fairy types will destroy it. Dragon dance works perfect on its own. The item should be life orb instead of lum berry for more damage and freedom of moves but sacrifice some damage. The only time probably might be useful is when your baton passing or all the major threats are gone.

    • Cody says:

      “If the idea of two boosting moves doesn’t appeal to you, you could always swap one out for an additional coverage move. Personally, I would always keep Dragon Dance on this set, as it’s of the utmost importance to make sure that Haxorus can up its painfully-okayish speed.”

      It’s entirely situational. With Haxorus’ attack stat plus any type of set-up move, Earthquake has no problem with Fairies that are even fully physical because they’re nearly all universally oriented towards special defense. Life Orb is an okay choice, but does nothing but hurt the already average defenses of Haxorus, and puts to waste any set-up moves you’ve already used via confusion without a lum berry.

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