Welcome to the twenty-second issue of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week we'll be taking a look at one of the first Pokemon that was banned last generation, who now resides comfortably in OU. This week we'll be discussing Excadrill.
Drilbur swiftly makes its way through the soil by putting both claws together and spinning its entire body. It can reach speeds of 30 mph. Excadrill help in tunnel construction with the powerful steel plates that it has evolves. By lifting his arms to his head and spinning rapidly, it can form a drill that is powerful enough to bore through iron plates. More than 300 feet below the surface, they build mazelike nests. Their activity can be destructive to subway tunnels.
Base Stats: 110 HP / 135 Attack / 60 Defense / 50 Sp. Attack / 65 Sp. Defense / 88 Speed
Last generation, Excadrill Swords Danced on the waves of sand right into the Uber arena, proving to be far too powerful and fast inside of Sand to be able to handle when equipped with his ability Sand Rush, with only a handful of counters in Skarmory and Gliscor, with few others to name in the early BW metagame (recall that Landorus-Therian wasn't a thing that existed yet). This generation, with the nerf to all weather, Excadrill has returned to the OU tier with a new lease on life: Rapid Spinner. While that's not his only role, it is his most prominent, and Excadrill does it very well. Not only is Rapid Spin arguably more useful than Defog in this tier, but Excadrill's base 135 Attack means that it has an offensive presence that most Rapid Spinners lack. Any teams that pack Pokemon that are weak to Stealth Rock (such as Charizard and Talonflame) should be strongly considering Excadrill as their means to remove hazards. Excadrill is currently (at the time of writing) the 5th most used Pokemon in OU, and I'd say that with everything it provides, it is worthy of this spot.
|Excadrill@ Air Balloon / Leftovers|
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack) / Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP
Iron Head / Rock Slide
Offensive Rapid Spin is one of the best things Excadrill has going for it these days, providing support in the form of hazard removal while also being a powerful threat. Rapid Spin is obvious, removing Stealth Rock, Spikes, Toxic Spikes and Sticky Web from your side of the field. Earthquake is your best STAB attack, and with Mold Breaker, it hits Pokemon with the Levitate ability as well, making Rotom-Wash switch-ins a non-option. Iron Head is your secondary STAB, and generally the most useful thing you have access to, especially for hurting things that resist or are immune to Earthquake such as Landorus-Therian, as well as hurting Fairy types. Rock Slide can be used here, however, to serve as a one-time check to Mega Pinsir if your Air Balloon is still intact, assuming they're running the standard Return, Quick Attack, Earthquake, Swords Dance set. The final slot allows Excadrill to attempt a sweep with Swords Dance doubling his Attack stat.
Speaking of Mega Pinsir, it makes a good partner for Excadrill. The presence of Excadrill discourages the setup of hazards, which is something Pinsir definitely appreciates not being on his side of the field. Likewise, Talonflame makes a good offensive partner for similar reasons. As for defensive partners, Mega Venusaur resists Fighting and Water, is neutral to Ground, and quad resists Grass (which is important, given that opposing Mega Venusaur's Giga Drain deals a hefty amount of damage to Excadrill). Gyarados resists Fire and Fighting, while being immune to Ground, and can be an offensive and/or defensive partner, depending on how you set it up.
|Excadrill@ Leftovers / Assault Vest|
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack) / Careful nature (+Sp. Defense, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 168 HP / 60 Attack / 252 Sp. Defense / 28 Speed or 208 Attack / 252 Sp. Defense / 48 HP
Rock Slide / Iron Head
Stealth Rock / Swords Dance / Shadow Claw
Excadrill can pull off an effective bulky Rapid Spin set. First, let's discuss the item. Leftovers, along with the first EV spread balances out Excadrill's defenses pretty well, with enough Speed to outspeed uninvested Landorus, which is base 91, and the rest thrown into Attack. These EVs can be adjusted as you please to accomplish different things; for example, 240 Attack gives a 75% chance to OHKO Bold Rotom-W after Stealth Rock damage. The alternate way to go is to give Excadrill an Assault Vest and Careful nature with max Sp. Defense and 48 HP, with the rest dumped into Attack, maximizing both your special bulk and offensive power. This Excadrill, at full health, will not be 2HKO'd by Bold Rotom-W's Hydro Pump, while it threatens a small chance to OHKO back after Rotom-W has taken damage from Stealth Rock.
Anyway, onto the set itself. Rapid Spin removes hazards, and is the main reason you'd be putting this kind of Excadrill onto your team. Earthquake is your strongest STAB, with Mold Breaker bypassing Levitate. The second attacking option this time prefers Rock Slide, and I'll explain why. Without significant investment in Attack, Excadrill is relying on Super Effective hits to dish out damage, whereas the previous set boosted its power to the maximum and favored dealing strong STAB hits above all else, given the good neutral coverage Ground and Steel already has. Iron Head is still an option, though, if you have a justifiable reason for it.
The last slot depends on what you value. Stealth Rock can turn Excadrill into a multi-functional Pokemon, removing hazards from your side and setting them on the opposing side. Generally, however, this is better left to another member on the team since Excadrill's health should be saved for removing hazards. Swords Dance is an option to turn Excadrill into a powerful, bulky attacker. This is best attempted late-game when counters have been removed and you've cleared the way for a sweep. Finally, Shadow Claw can be used to hit Ghosts that would block your Rapid Spin, as well as hitting Latios Super Effectively. It goes without saying, but Shadow Claw is the choice here when running Assault Vest.
|Excadrill@ Life Orb|
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Rock Slide / Shadow Claw
A relic of what made Excadrill broken last generation, this no longer functions as it once did due to the nerf of weather no longer being infinite. Still, when paired with Smooth Rock Tyranitar and/or Hippowdon, Excadrill is capable of pulling off incredible fast and powerful sweeps. With the waves of sand doubling its Speed, and Swords Dance doubling his Attack, very little can switch into this monster. Earthquake and Iron Head form his STAB core, hitting nearly everything in OU for at least neutral, with notable exceptions to Rotom-Wash, Skarmory, Gyarados, Zapdos, Thundurus, and Talonflame. The last slot aims to slim these numbers considerably, and the best way to do that is with Rock Slide to deal with the Flying types on that list (with exception to Skarmory). Shadow Claw provides good coverage as well, hitting things like Latios, Latias, and Deoxys-Defense, but overall, Rock Slide is the way to go.
Even with his immense power, there are Pokemon that this Excadrill cannot muscle through. Bold Rotom-Wash resists iron Head and is immune to Earthquake, and since Mold Breaker is announced upon being sent out, the lack of the announcement will not leave any hesitation for the opposing player to switch directly into Excadrill. Skarmory and Gliscor remain the premier counters to Excadrill, though only Gliscor can actually do something back. And while it doesn't recover health as quickly as Gliscor, Landorus-Therian can switch into Excadrill's Swords Dance, lower it to +1 with Intimidate, and threaten a STAB Earthquake off base 145 Attack. Opposing Hippowdon can stomach a +2 Earthquake and OHKO back with an Earthquake of its own.
This Excadrill needs two kinds of partners: those that can set Sand, and those that can remove counters. Tyranitar is by far the best Sand Stream Pokemon we have, and it also has access to Ice Beam, so baiting Landorus-Therian or Gliscor to switch into it early in the match, only to KO or severely damage them with Ice Beam is a good way to remove some of the biggest obstacles in Excadrill's way. Having both Tyranitar and Hippowdon isn't a terrible idea, though, since keeping the sand flowing is what gives Excadrill the ability to sweep. Magnezone is a great way to remove Skarmory and Ferrothorn, two very bulky Pokemon that Excadrill fails to OHKO at +2. Choice Specs Gothitelle can be used to to remove or at the very least, severely cripple troublesome threats like Bold Rotom-W and Mega Venusaur. Pairing Excadrill with a powerful special attacker can help the two of them break walls of both types. Landorus-Incarnate, Mega Gardevoir and Greninja are all great choices that compliment Excadrill in terms of what they cover. Vaporeon also makes a good defensive partner, able to pass huge Wishes to keep Excadrill and the rest of your teammates alive, as well as absorb Water attacks aimed at them and discourage the use of Water moves in general.
Excadrill are only found in the Friend Safari if you've got the right friend, so getting one without help isn't really possible. Still, if you do get one, this is the set I'd recommend for in-game use:
Metal Claw / Swords Dance
Shadow Claw / Swords Dance / Sandstorm
Man, Excadrill really needs the Iron Head tutor back... anyway, this is what I'd recommend you use for an in-game Excadrill. Earthquake and Rock Slide form a powerful and effective coverage core known as QuakeSlide, hitting hearly every Pokemon for at least neutral damage. Metal Claw is (sadly) your best Steel STAB to handle the abundance of Fairies X/Y shoves down your throat. Alternately, you could just Swords Dance and make all your better moves stronger. The last slot is down to preference; Shadow Claw provides additional coverage, Swords Dance can be used in this slot to allow use of Metal Claw and a boosting move, or you can go with Sandstorm on a Sand Rush Excadrill to double your Speed, though this is hardly necessary in a game where Exp. Share ensures you're constantly leveling past the level of the Trainers you're facing, thus outspeeding the majority of them.
Excadrill and its pre-evolution, Drilbur are based on moles and tools people use to dig, with their claws resembling shovels and Excadrill resembling a drill when it straitens itself out, holding its claws against the blade on its head. Drilbur’s name is likely based on the words ‘drill’ and ‘burrow’, while Excadrill’s name likely comes from the words ‘excavate’ and ‘drill’, both their names using the word ‘drill’ and a word that essentially means ‘dig’, though for different purposes.
Its name isn’t too different in other languages either. In Japanese it’s ドリュウズ Doryuzu, which is from ドリル meaning ‘drill’, 竜 ryu meaning ‘mole’, and 渦 uzu meaning ‘spiral’ or ‘swirl’. In Korean it’s 몰드류 Moldrew from the words ‘mole’, ‘drill’, and ‘screw’, in relation to it spinning. In German it’s Stalobor from the words ‘stahl’ meaning ‘steel’, and ‘bohrer’ meaning ‘drill’. At least we can be sure it is a Steel type. A couple more interesting ones are in French and Mandarin Chinese. In French it’s Minotaupe from the words ‘taupe’ meaning ‘mole’, and ‘minotaure’ meaning ‘minotaur’. Not sure how it resembles a Minotaur, but okay, who am I to tell the French what to do. In Mandarin it’s 龍頭地鼠 / 龙头地鼠 Lóngtóudìshǔ from the Japanese words, which use the same symbols, 竜頭 ryūzu literally meaning ‘dragon head’, 地 dì meaning ‘ground’, 鼠 shǔ meaning rodent, and 地鼠 dìshǔ meaning mole. Well, now we can be sure it’s a Ground type too. Also, dragon head? Why? Who looked at Excadrill and thought ‘dragon head’? Perhaps there is some reason for it, but it’s beyond me.
Excadrill seems to have originally been a different colour, a dull blue, the same colour as the blue markings on Drilbur, with its marking mirrored. It was used in an early promotional video with this colour scheme, but was changed to its current colour scheme soon after.
Unearthed written by Dragoncat
If you've been around long enough to have read my Black/White Nuzlocke with Tim, and indeed read it, you will understand when I say that I developed a deep attachment to this Pokemon through that Nuzlocke. I hated Excadrill for what it did to the early BW metagame before thankfully being banned, but after using one myself and being saved countless times by her, I could never hate Excadrill again. Your bravery and ruthlessness on the battlefield were everything I needed to succeed in my Nuzlocke, and Brian will never forget what you did for his team, Lucy. :)
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