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 Walrein! If you have any questions, comments, or requests, make sure to leave them below.
HP: 110 – Excellent
Attack: 80 – Okay
Defense: 90 – Good
Special Attack: 95 – Great
Special Defense: 90 – Good
Speed: 65 – Bad
Sleep Talk (TM)
Ice Beam (TM)
Frost Breath (TM)
Rock Slide (TM)
Aqua Ring (Egg move from mult.)
Belly Drum (Egg move from Poliwhirl, Linoone, Darmanitan line)
Curse (Egg move from Slowking, Camerupt, Torkoal, Bibarel, Carracosta line)
Yawn (Egg move from mult.)
Signal Beam (Tutor)
Super Fang (Tutor)
What on earth is it with Gamefreak trying feverishly ever generation to create a good defensive Ice type? Gen VI had Avalugg, a physical wall in every sense of the word. Gen V had Cryogonal, almost the exact same as Avalugg with special defense instead. And, before both of them, we had the fat walrus himself, Walrein. “Fat” isn’t really an insult exactly, but more of just an accurate description of a Pokemon based on a real-world animal that depends on its fat in order to survive in icy environments. It’s also a perfect description of what Walrein is as a Pokemon – a hardy walrus that can some hits with no problem.
I say “some” for a very good reason, though; Despite Gamefreak’s best efforts to spin the Ice type into something that’s viable defensively, the result couldn’t be further from the truth. Ice is, in fact, arguably the worst defensive typing a Pokemon can possibly have, being weak to the incredibly common Fighting and Fire types. It also doesn’t help that the Steel type, another weakness, has gained new relevancy in the age of the Fairy type, on top of the Rock type being as common as ever. So there you go, four weaknesses that are used incredibly often and often pack very high base power moves. It’s for this reason alone that Walrein finds itself in the very bottom of the tier list, being featured mainly in NU and RU. But we have tiers for a reason, and that reason is so we can use Pokemon like Walrein effectively in an environment that won’t make it completely useless. With that in mind, Walrein is a neat option to consider in NU, especially in a tier where Hail is probably the least expected thing ever.
Make no mistake, Walrein is best used defensively though and through. Dual 90 defenses is pretty great on its own, but when coupled with Walrein’s awesome base 110 HP, it becomes very easy to used Walrein as an effective mixed wall and even easier to make it a dedicated wall that shrugs off attacks with ease. The even nature of its defensive stats make this even more attractive, as there’s no way to know right off the bat if opposing Walrein’s are either physical or special. It’s almost just that fact alone that makes Walrein an effective pivot option.
Independent of its defensive stats, however, we have some rather interesting offensive utility. Most notably is Walrein’s base 95 special attack, which is just enough to make sure that it isn’t complete Taunt bait and can actually hit back when it needs to. Also, conversely to what I just said about the Ice type defensively, it’s actually one of the best offensively no problem. Firing off STAB Blizzards at something that’s just x2 weak to Ice is bound to hurt at least a little bit, and even coverage moves can go a long way into turning that 3HKO into a OHKO for another Pokemon. Ice Beam is also another good pick, clocking in at 100% accuracy, but there’s one more Ice move that stands out – Frost Breath. With a 100% chance to get a critical hit, Frost Breath is an amazing way of having Walrein deal with opposing defensive Pokemon, as it bypasses any defensive stat boosts a Pokemon has via the critical hit.
Unfortunately, Walrein doesn’t get many good special options outside of its Ice STAB. Signal Beam is a neat choice, but its rather weak power does little in conjunction with the Ice type because Ice and Bug coverage in and of themselves don’t compliment each other well at all. Super Fang is pretty much the last interesting option for Walrein, automatically taking away half the HP of any opposing Pokemon. So if Walrein’s offensive move-pool isn’t that great, what other moves does it bring to the table? Well, true to its stats, Walrein has a great stalling pool of moves to choose from. Substitute and Toxic make up the obvious choices, but other status moves such as Swagger and Yawn are great for catching other players unexpectedly.
Aqua Ring, Roar, and Encore are also great utility moves that can greatly help specific teams, such as Baton Pass chains or weather/toxic stall. And, of course, let’s not forget about the walrus in the room – Hail. It’s the rarest and least used weather for a variety of reasons, but Walrein works especially with one of its abilities being Ice Body, which heals Walrein every turn in the hail. I won’t be covering any Hail sets, mainly because weather has taken such a negative hit this gen, but it’s certainly there.
1.) “Fierce Fatty”
EVs: 252 HP, 252 Defense, 4 Special Attack
– Blizzard/Ice Beam/Frost Breath
– Leftovers is the item of choice on nearly all defensive Pokemon, and Walrein is no exception. Aimed at being a pure physical wall, this Walrein does its job incredibly well against most of its weaknesses; its Fire and Steel weaknesses are neutral due to its dual Ice/Water typing, and since most Rock and Fighting type moves are physical in nature, this spread can do well even in the face of Stone Edge or Close Combat.
– Oblivious is a really good ability on Walrein for two main reasons – First, Thick Fat is somewhat wasted on a Pokemon that isn’t weak to either Fire or Ice type moves. The same principle applies to Ice Body, which is fully useless without the hail. Second, Oblivious makes Walrein immune to the ever-annoying Taunt, allowing it to freely Toxic and Roar to its heart’s content.
– Toxic is the ultimate stalling move, and works very well in conjunction with Roar. Roar is a great way to rack up hazard damage, as well as “Toxic Shuffling” the opponent until you have as many of the opposing Pokemon as possible poisoned. This is even better when used with Oblivious, as it makes sure than Walrein’s prime strategy isn’t foiled right in front of its face.
– Substitute works very well on defensive Pokemon with Leftovers, and it allows Walrein to last even longer when you can predict any switch that hopes to avoid a predictable Toxic. It also helps that Walrein is so naturally slow, in order to make sure it can get up at least one sub and buy it a free turn, should the opponent not be strong enough to break one in a single hit.
– Blizzard is here just so Walrein can at least have one offensive option. But keep in mind that Ice Beam and Frost Breath both have their own advantages as well, Frost Breath in particular.
2.) “Wall-y the Walrus”
EVs: 252 Defense, 252 Special Defense, 4 HP
– Blizzard/Ice Beam/Frost Breath
– Almost exactly the same as the previous set, this one does have a few key differences; the item and ability remain the same, but this set splits the defensive EVs down the middle in order to make sure Walrein takes hits like no problem from both sides. Because its natural HP is so high, Walrein effective pulls a Blissey and says “screw it” to HP EVs altogether.
– Rest is a good way to account for the lack of HP EVs, and, if you really wanted to, you could switch out the Leftovers for a Chesto Berry. I wouldn’t see myself using that item, however, since Walrein’s defensive nature means that it probably will get more net-HP recovery from Leftovers in the long run as opposed to the one-shot berry.
– Other than that, the strategy is pretty much the same as above, emphasizing Toxic stall while racking up hazard damage with Roar.
– The Ice STAB is the same as well, but could be switched around for utility’s sake based on your specific team.
- Many would say that Ice types need some sort of defensive buffs, and I would be inclined to agree with them. But, until then, Walrein might just be the best we can get when it comes to a defensive Ice Pokemon that isn’t completely one-sided or another. Try it out for yourself in the lower tiers; you might just like the poison rage-quitting it’s capable of causing.