PKMN.NET :: Pokemon of the Week #15: Talonflame :: #16 of Pokémon of the Week - Generation 6 :: Columns
Pokemon of the Week #15: Talonflame by Richard and Blaziken at Sun 20 Apr 2014 04:00:00 UTC

Welcome to the fifteenth issue of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week we'll be discussing a new Pokemon that has shaken up the metagame quite a bit. This week we discuss Talonflame.

Pokemon Overview

Fletchling send signals to one another with beautiful chirps and tail feather movements. Despite its docile appearance, it will mercilessly attack intruders that enter its territory. Fletchinder expels fire from its beak to burn the tall grass, then pounces on bewildered prey that pops out of the grass. The hotter the flame sac in its belly, the faster it can fly. Talonflame can reach speeds of up to 310 mph when attacking prey. As an offensive and defensive tactic, it will shower embers from the gaps between its wings and take flight.

Competitive Corner

Base Stats: 79 HP / 81 Attack / 71 Defense / 74 Sp. Attack / 69 Sp. Defense / 126 Speed

Oh boy was I wrong when I first saw this Pokemon. I dismissed it as something that would be a good UU threat at best, not considering how terrifying priority Brave Bird would be. Talonflame's impact on the metagame is undeniable. While base 81 Attack seems is mediocre at best, Talonflame performs excellently as a revenge-killer, sporting a STABed base 120 attack on top of base 126 Speed, so as not to be out-prioritized. In addition, Talonflame's secondary STAB, Flare Blitz, allows it to hit just as hard and deal with Steel types that resist Brave Bird. When equipped with a Choice Band, switching into Talonflame is very difficult, given the scarce amount of Pokemon that resist both Fire and Flying in the OU tier. Add in access to U-Turn, and switching at all can be easily punished. So maybe you'd rather stay in and sacrifice what you've got on the field? Talonflame also sports access to Swords Dance, which can make him nearly impossible to stop without dedicated counters.

So what's stopping Talonflame from being banned? Well, very little, if I'm entirely honest. Stealth Rock is the main thing, ripping off a massive 50% every time Talonflame is on the field, but with access to Roost and with the buff to Defog (and to Rapid Spin, given the fall in of spin-blockers), this isn't as much of a problem as one might think. The Pokemon in OU that resist Talonflame's STABs is surprisingly slim, being narrowed down to Tyranitar, Rotom-Wash and Heatran. Tyranitar is easy bait for Super Effective U-Turns, and Rotom-Wash has to be Bold 252 HP, 252 Defense to be a reliable counter to Talonflame. Heatran needs Ancientpower to effectively deal with Talonflame, which is a really odd move to have to use (though it also hits Charizard).

Talonflame isn't perfect, but if used to its strengths and paired with Pokemon that can remove its counters, you'll rarely be disappointed.

I Should Be Band
Talonflame@ Choice Band
Gale Wings
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Brave Bird
Flare Blitz
Roost / Tailwind / Will-O-Wisp

This is the most common Talonflame you're going to come across, and for good reason. Brave Bird is your most important move, boasting STAB and priority, as well as great coverage. Flare Blitz is your secondary STAB, dealing with Steel types, and has a 10% chance to Burn if the power wasn't enough. U-Turn is a wonderful utility move that allows Talonflame to smack whatever counter your opponent throws onto the field and bring in a counter-counter. This is especially effective when paired with Dugtrio and Mega Venusaur, as they can effectively deal with Heatran and Rotom-Wash, respectively. Special variants of Venusaur are especially good, since they won't mind a Burn from Rotom's Will-O-Wisp, while Dugtrio gets a free trap-kill on any Heatran that switches into U-Turn.

The final moveslot is a bit filler, really. Roost isn't amazing on a Choiced set, but given that Talonflame forces switches a lot, it gives it an opportunity to mitigate some of the damage it has taken. Tailwind is an interesting suicide option for when Talonflame is low on health. It can provide a crucial Speed boost for some teammates for an end-game sweep. Will-O-Wisp can be an unexpected surprise to help wear down bulkier Pokemon. Things like Landorus-Therian will be nearly useless for the rest of the match with their Attack halved and constantly taking Burn damage.

Defog or Rapid Spin support is really helpful, given Talonflame's horrible weakness to Stealth Rock, losing 50% of his health upon entering the field. This in combination with the recoil from his attacks will see his life ending far too quickly if Stealth Rock is not kept off the field. As for the EVs, there are many spreads you can use, but this one is generally the most effective, and there's actually a specific reason why. Adamant Talonflame with 252 Speed EVs outspeeds 252 Speed Timid non Choice Scarf Latios and Latias, allowing you to U-Turn out of them without taking a hit, which can cause them to crumble pretty quickly over time and preserve Talonflame's health.

Talon Trot
Talonflame@ Life Orb / Sky Plate / Leftovers / Liechi Berry / Salac Berry
Gale Wings
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Swords Dance
Flare Blitz
Brave Bird / Acrobatics
Roost / Natural Gift

Access to Swords Dance turns Talonflame's mediocre base 81 Attack into something to be feared. Capping at 587 Attack after a Swords Dance, Talonflame is easily capable of ripping through teams, especially after it has been softened up. Brave Bird and Flare Blitz form the STAB core again, hitting nearly everything in OU for neutral damage at least. Acrobatics is a somewhat risky option if you're using one of the berries I've suggested, but I'll explain those momentarily.

Roost is a great option in the last slot to heal off the damage taken while boosting, if any. Natural Gift is for use only with one of the two berries listed. It is a one-use attack that becomes a 100 base power move with one of the berries listed. Liechi Berry becomes a physical Grass move that has about a 40% chance of OHKOing Bold 252 HP, 252 Defense Rotom-Wash. Salac Berry, however, becomes a base 100 Fighting move capable of immediately disposing of Tyranitar and(/or, if they have both) Heatran (after an SD), which can open the way for a clean sweep. It also allows you to use Acrobatics somewhat safely if you use the berry before using it, but needing to use the berry first makes this a generally unappealing option. Still, if executed, you get a 110 base power move with no recoil, so that's something to at least think about.

The choice of item if you're not using Natural Gift is tricky. Life Orb provides a nice x1.3 boost to all your moves, but at the cost of 10% of your health, which adds up quickly with your two STABs. Sky Plate provides a x1.2 boost to Brave Bird and can somewhat successfully feign Choice Band early in the match before you attempt a Swords Dance sweep. Leftovers is always cool for easing setup a little bit, returning 6% of your HP at the end of each turn.

Bulkier spreads can be used that forego Attack EVs for HP, but you generally want as much Attack as possible to ensure OHKOs against bulkier Pokemon. Bulk Up is also an option, but usually the Defense boost is inconsequential and it's too slow to setup to be effective.

In-Game Information

Fletchling can be obtained really early on, found on Route 2 and Route 3. It evolves at level 17, and again at 35. Talonflame is one of the most useful Pokemon to obtain for a few reasons. If you're doing a playthrough where you pick a either Chespin and Squirtle or Froakie and Bulbasaur, Talonflame fits in very well to form a very solid core. It also has Flame Body and access to Fly, which actually makes it the best egg hatching partner ever to exist (Volcarona can do this too, but is much harder to obtain). Anyway, here's what I'd recommend for an in-game Talonflame:


Brave Bird / Acrobatics
Flare Blitz
Steel Wing

...Yeah, it's basically just the first competitive set. The two STABs are your most powerful moves, and Roost mitigates the recoil from these moves. Steel Wing is helpful for killing Fairy types and Rock types, which resist your STABs.

My Thoughts

I hate Talonflame. Hate. Hate. Hate. There are not enough good Pokemon that resist his STABs in the metagame, so I'm using crap like Ancientpower Heatran on my team (for this and Charizard-Y), and it sucks. It's very over-centralizing, and Stealth Rock is the only thing keeping it OU, in my opinion. It sucks. Besides this, Fletchling is adorable, and Flitchinder is awesome, but Talonflame is big and ugly and dumb and come at me Talonflame fanboys. My fiery chicken is cooler than this could ever be. Get out of OU, Talonflame.

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