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 continuing our coverage of all three Hoenn starters by looking into Swampert! With a new set of games comes a brand new set of Tutor moves, so we’ll start using those right away. If you have any comments, questions, or requests, please leave them below.
HP: 100 – Excellent
Attack: 110 – Excellent
Defense: 90 – Great
Special Attack: 85 – Surprisingly okay
Special Defense: 90 – Great
Speed: 60 – Bad
Brick Break (TM)
Stone Edge (TM)
Power-Up Punch (TM)
Avalanche (Egg move from Aurorus, Avalugg)
Curse (Egg move from mult.)
Yawn (Egg move from mult.)
Aqua Tail (Tutor)
Ice Punch (Tutor)
Iron Tail (Tutor)
Low Kick (Tutor)
Stealth Rock (Tutor)
So I heard you like Swamperts? Not many fictional characters can boast that they’ve become popular online memes, but Swampert’s base evolution, Mudkip certainly pulled it off. Despite that though, is Swampert any good outside of its younglings being internet-famous? Well, for most of its life, it was a pretty awesome Pokemon. Being the epitome of a “tank”, Swampert commanded a respectable OU presence in generations IV and V due to its great combination of bulk, offensive ability, and even support potential. Boasting an excellent defensive typing that afforded it but a single Achilles’ heel (the grass type), Swampert was a great choice for teams that sought a Stealth Rocking pivot that could dish out its fair share of pain in the process.
More recently in Gen VI, Swampert now finds itself strongly in UU due to a plethora of other defense and support oriented Pokemon that simply outclass it in specific ways being more heavily used in OU. As the metagame continues to embrace hyper offensive playstyles that, for the most part, can work to great effect, it’s actually kind of a shame that regular Swampert doesn’t carry the OU title with it anymore. But, unlike Sceptile, Swampert proves that tiers are sometimes just a combination of capital letters. Now emboldened with great tutor moves in ORAS that further strengthen its position as the go-to water type tank, Swampert is perfectly capable of operating outside of its technical UU stomping grounds if played correctly.
“Tank” is a universal term for many types of games, but in the context of Pokemon, it’s usually something that resists a good number of types, has few weaknesses, is able to hit very hard while it tanks hits, and very often has rather low speed. Swampert fits this description perfectly, with an amazing base 110 Attack that matches up nicely with its base 100 HP and base 90 dual-defenses. Although, in true tank fashion, it lacks the ability to sweep, it’s more than ready to fill the role of a support pivot that can wreck shop if given a chance due to circumstance.
So, what exactly can Swampert bring to the table set-wise? Well, the first thing that sticks out is that it’s a bulky Pokemon that gets access to the ever-useful Stealth Rock among other excellent support moves. Boasting few weaknesses and ample switch-in opportunities, Swampert is a great Stealth Rock user that can last throughout the battle and continually get up rocks despite common Defogs and Rapid Spins. Swampert is also granted Roar, an invaluable move to trump other Pokemon, offensive or otherwise, that try to hide behind substitutes while they set up in your face. Finally, Yawn is among the best moves that automatically forces switches, and allows you an oppertunity to either predict on the switch, or choose another strategy, being it once again getting up Stealth Rocks or even setting up yourself.
Besides a great support movepool, Swampert has a variety of attacking options that compliment its excellent physical attack. Mandatory STAB options for the water type boil down to Waterfall and Aqua Tail, each with its own advantage and disadvantage. Earthquake is the move of choice for the secondary STAB, being one of the most reliable moves in the entire time due to its high power and perfect accuracy. Besides that, however, Swampert has a lot of its bases checked; Stone Edge/Rock Slide deals with flying types hoping to switch in for free on an Earthquake, while Ice Punch and Avalanche deal very well with Swampert’s greatest natural enemy, the dastardly grass type. Other options depending on what you need include the ever useful fighting type (Superpower) and even Iron Tail, should you ever find a use for it.
Other more interesting strategies involve Curse, which Swampert’s stat spread is perfect for, and even Power-up Punch for more unorthodox sets like an Assualt Vest. With quite a few viable ways to approach Swampert’s nice blend of offense, defense, and support, it’s difficult to isolate just a few. But, after having tried a few, I’ve got a couple that I’ve found to either be the most fun to work with, or that seem to be the very best.
1.) “The Mighty Mudfish”
EVs: 252 HP, 252 Defense, 4 Attack
– Stealth Rock
– Waterfall/Aqua Tail
– This set takes a purely defensive approach to Swampert, capitalizing on the best support options it has to offer. Stealth Rock the crown and jewel, bringing with it the ability to punish switches and force in Defoggers or Rapid Spinners that can then give you initiative. Roar is an excellent way to make sure that Swampert isn’t used as set-up fodder for Pokemon that may have no problem with its dual STABs, and also brings great utility when combined with Stealth Rock or other hazards for residual damage.
– It’s very difficult to create a set that doesn’t utilize Swampert’s great natural physical attack stat, and this set is no different. Although it’s primarily a physical pivot capable of tanking just about any non-grass physical hit, it’s also affords the player to make predictions and hit hard with either Waterfall/Aqua Tail or Earthquake.
– The Aqua Tail vs Waterfall debate has its merits, but boils down to a couple of things – First, Waterfall doesn’t quite have the ability to flinch when used on Swampert, mainly because Swampert will almost definitely not being going first against most of the things it switches into. Waterfall is, however, perfectly accurate, which is indeed its saving grace. Aqua Tail offers 10 more base power at the cost of only being 90% accurate. Make the choice for yourself depending on how much power you’ll actually need from Swampert, and if you’re willing to risk he miss.
– Acting exclusively as a defensive pivot with Stealth Rock support, this set’s EVs reflect that, as I’ve found that other Pokemon in UU work well as special defense walls (Many of the things that Swampert checks are also physical in nature). If you feel that your Swampert needs to hit harder for some reason, you can definitely afford some defense EVs to put into attack. But, with Swampert’s superb base 100 HP, I would recommend keeping that at max.
2.) “Mud Band”
[email protected] Band
EVs: 252 HP, 252 Attack, 4 Defense
– Waterfall/Aqua Tail
– Ice Punch
– Superpower/Hammer Arm
– With an excellent attack stat and pretty great coverage, a max attack Choice Band Swampert may be better than you think. Because Swampert’s most common sets are very close to or are derived from the defensive-support based ideals of the above set, a purely offensive spread is a great way to catch someone off guard who hasn’t properly scouted yet.
– Waterfall/Aqua Tail and Earthquake function basically the same as the former set, being, for the most part, incredibly accurate moves that hit decently hard and are mandatory STAB attacks. Be careful with Choice Band Earthquake, however, as it becomes difficult to properly utilize this Swampert should your opponent know it’s Banded and predict Earthquake’s accordingly with flying types or Levitate users.
– Ice Punch is an excellent coverage move for Swampert, as it damages the usual types that try to switch into Swampert’s STABs (flying and grass types) for super effective damage. There’s always the chance you could freeze the opponent too, which is always a plus for you despite the RNG screwing the other person over.
– Fighting type coverage is always a good idea due to the inherent advantages the type brings with it, and rounds out Swampert’s coverage very well. Swampert gets access to both Superpower and Hammer Arm, with the decision being a pretty close one; Superpower works well with the hit-and-run strategy that slow Choice Band users usually need to apply, but Hammer Arm makes sure that you can actually stay in for more than one turn without doing pitiful damage. Hammer Arm’s negative side-effect of lower speed is also rather consequential, as Swampert’s base speed makes it difficult to invest in at all.
- Mudkip was my starter the first time I ever played through Sapphire over a decade ago, and I still think that Swampert is an excellent Pokemon. Although “bulky” water types seem to be a common trope in Pokemon, Swampert has enough cool features to make it appealing nonetheless. Plus Mudkip is still a meme, and it’s hard to not like that.
– Mega Swampert is a COMPLETELY different story though. With Mega Sceptile and Mega Blaziken, there really aren’t THAT many strategies that completely deviate from the the regular form. But a Swift Swim tank that looks like the Igor Armor from Iron Man? Definitely going to get to that someday.