Welcome to the forty-first issue of 6th generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week and next, in honor of X and Y coming to a close, we will be discussing the version macot legendaries. This week, we discuss Xerneas.
Xerneas slept for a thousand years in the form of a tree before its revival. When the horns on its head shine in seven colors, it is said to be sharing everlasting life.
Base Stats: 126 HP / 131 Attack / 95 Defense / 131 Sp. Attack / 98 Sp. Defense / 99 Speed
When X and Y were first released and people found out what Xerneas could do, there were people lobbying for it to be banned from Ubers because it was too strong. Geomancy, Xerneas's signature move, in combination with Power Herb, allows it to double Sp. Attack, Sp. Defense, and Speed all in a single turn, then Moonblast away with Fairy Aura boosting it even further, plus STAB. The raw power Xerneas has after this boost is very difficult to control, and Xerneas shaped the Uber tier overnight.
Things have changed, however. People are prepared for Xerneas. Scizor, Aegislash, Klefki, Bronzong, Ferrothorn... these Pokemon are some of the answers people began using to put a stop to Xerneas, either by forcing it to switch and losing its boosts, or 1-2HKOing it with a Steel-type move. Still, while Xerneas has its checks and counters, it has undoubtedly become a top player in the Uber tier, and if you go in unprepared, you're bound to lose.
|Xerneas@ Life Orb
Mild nature (+Sp. Attack, -Defense) / Rash nature (+Sp. Attack, -Sp. Defense)
EVs: 252 Sp. Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Attack
Close Combat / Hidden Power Fire
Thunder / Rock Slide
Hidden Power Fire / Aromatherapy
Like I said in the intro, Xerneas's Geomancy set became so standard that people have developed answers to it, and it's no longer as potent. What is potent is being able to 1-2HKO most of the Uber tier. Moonblast is your STAB and most powerful attack, easily spammed to deal huge amounts of damage to anything not resistant to it. Close Combat 2HKOs Blissey Chansey, and Klefki, as well as dealing damage to Steel types that aren't Aegislash. Hidden Power Fire, however, allows you to roast Ferrothorn and Scizor under sunlight, as well as 2HKOing Aegislash and Bronzong in the sun.
Thunder is a great attack for dealing heavy damage to many Uber Pokemon such as Kyogre, while also OHKOing Ho-oh if it has taken damage from Stealth Rock. Rock Slide allows Xerneas to OHKO Ho-Oh even if Stealth Rock isn't up, however, but doesn't really accomplish much outside of that.
The last slot allows you to use both Close Combat and Hidden Power together to ensure you can 1-2HKO any Steel type you come across with the right prediction, or gives clerical powers with Aromatherapy. While it might seem odd to use Aromatherapy on an otherwise offensive set, Xerneas's presence on the field forced many switches, and this can give it time to heal the entire team of status effects, something very valuable to many teams.
Modest nature (+Sp. Attack, -Attack)
EVs: 44 HP / 240 Sp. Attack / 224 Speed
Thunder / Psyshock
Hidden Power Fire / Focus Blast / Substitute
Calm Mind must seem absurd when you consider Xerneas's access to Geomancy, but this set has a few advantages. It doesn't use up the item slot, allowing for Leftovers to provide some important healing every turn. More importantly, it can be setup multiple times if necessary. Calm Mind is obviously the crux of the set, boosting Sp. Attack and Sp. Defense by x1.5 each. Moonblast is a crazy powerful STAB attack backed by Fairy Aura. Thunder is really useful for being able to dispatch Ho-oh while also hitting most Steel types neutrally, but Psyshock can be used to defeat Mega Gengar, as well as Amoonguss, who would otherwise not mind anything else.
Hidden Power Fire is useful for destroying Ferrothorn and Aegislash under sunlight support. Focus Blast hits most Steel types, and allows Xerneas to get past Heatran. Finally, Substitute protects against status, allowing Xerneas to beat Chansey and Blissey.
The EVs are set to allow Xerneas Substitutes to survive a Seismic Toss, with enough Speed to outspeed neutral-natured base 95 Speed Pokemon. Life Orb can be used with max Speed and Sp. Attack if your team handles Chansey and Blissey well, and if you desire more damage output.
|Xerneas@ Choice Scarf
Rash nature (+Sp. Attack, -Sp. Defense)
EVs: 76 Attack / 248 Sp. Attack / 184 Speed
Focus Blast / Close Combat
Rock Slide / Sleep Talk
Equipped with a Choice Scarf, Xerneas becomes a very deadly revenge-killer, and one that is often unexpected. Moonblast is your main attack, dealing heavy damage to most things due to the added power from Fairy Aura. Megahorn allows you to outspeed and OHKO Mega Mewtwo-Y after Stealth Rock, which is pretty important. Focus Blast handles most Steel types and hits harder, but Close Combat 2HKOs Chansey and Blissey, so consider your choice. Rock Slide OHKOs Ho-oh, which is important, but giving Xerneas Sleep Talk allows it to switch into a Sleep move such as Dark Void and keep firing off attacks.
The EVs allow it to outspeed Mega Mewtwo-Y, which is important, with enough Attack to OHKO it with Stealth Rock support, and the rest shoved into Sp. Attack to make Moonblast very powerful. This Xerneas is best suited to offensive teams that need help removing specific threats. The Speed EVs can be increased to maximum while dropping Attack if you wish, but make sure your team has a way to deal with Mega Mewtwo-Y before deciding on this. If you do maximize Speed, you will outspeed maximum Speed Deoxys-Attack where you otherwise would not, so that's something to consider.
|Xerneas@ Power Herb
Modest nature (+Sp. Attack, -Attack)
EVs: 104 HP / 32 Defense / 252 Sp. Attack / 120 Speed
Focus Blast / Hidden Power Fire / Substitute
I know you've been waiting, so here it is: the flagship set that made Xerneas an instant terror to face and re-defined how Uber teams were built. Geomancy and Power Herb provides an instant 2-stage boost to Sp. Attack, Sp. Defense, and Speed, effectively doubling all 3 stats. This alone is quite a terrifying concept, and if you don't have an immediate answer for this, you've probably lost. Moonblast becomes your spam; if it's not resistant to it, this is probably what you'll be using. Thunder is for smashing through Ho-oh, as well as dispatching Kyogre. Focus Blast hits most Steel types at least neutrally. Hidden Power Fire can roast many of the Steel types that are quad-weak to Fire, especially if you have sunlight support. Finally, Substitute protects from status, which is very important for things like priority Thunder Wave from Thundurus-Incarnate, and can help you time your Geomancy use better.
You have to time your Geomancy use perfectly or it will fail. If the opponent has a check or counter to Xerneas that will still beat or phaze Xerneas post-Geomancy, you don't use it, plain and simple. Every Uber team needs something that can handle Xerneas or else it's not an Uber team, and removal of those Pokemon is essential. Mega Gengar and/or Magnezone spring to mind as a Pokemon that would be of help remove whatever counters and checks the opponent has for Xerneas. Gengar's Destiny Bond can remove a foe that tries to KO it, while Magnezone's Magnet Pull can trap Steel types that generally give Xerneas a hard time and remove them with the appropriate move (usually Hidden Power Fire or repeated Thunderbolts or Thunders). Chansey/Blissey must be removed before attempting a sweep, and any priority status-inducers should also be dealt with before attempting this. Your team must be setup in a way that accommodates Xerneas's sweep.
The EVs are complicated. The Speed outspeeds Mega Mewtwo-Y after it uses Geomancy, but only if you have Sticky Web up, so that's a support option you should consider. The Defense EVs invest enough to give you 1 point more in Defense than Sp. Defense, ensuring Genesect's Download goes into Sp. Attack, rather than Attack. Sp. Attack is maximized to smash through opponents as hard as possible after the boost, and the rest are dumped into HP to give Xerneas bulk to setup. These can be tweaked for more Speed if you'd like, but it's not really necessary, since you'll outspeed everything that isn't holding a Choice Scarf, and some things that are. Again, Sticky Web support is great here for ensuring Choice Scarf Pokemon can't outspeed you.
Calm nature (+Sp. Defense, -Attack)
EVs: 248 HP / 8 Defense / 252 Sp. Defense
Aromatherapy / Roar
A defensive Xerneas set might seem odd, but it's incredibly potent for putting a full stop to Dragon types. Moonblast is your strong STAB attack, and hits surprisingly hard for having 0 investment, due to Fairy Aura. Rest and Sleep Talk keeps Xerneas healthy throughout the match. The final slot has two interesting options. Aromatherapy not only fully heals the team of status, but if it's selected by Sleep Talk, it will wake Xerneas up, removing the annoying turns of Sleep and putting you back in direct control. Roar on the other hand, can phaze out setup sweepers, making Xerneas incredibly difficult to kill, especially since it can also be selected by Sleep Talk. It can also phaze Mega Gengar out, giving Xerneas a chance to escape if it comes down to it.
This set is very straightforward. The EVs maximize special bulk, with 248 HP dealing you less damage from Stealth Rock than 252 would. Something worth noting is that Xerneas is powerful enough to 2HKO Assault Vest Palkia, while Lustrous Orb Palkia fails to 2HKO with Hydro Pump.
Mega Gengar is a huge problem for Xerneas, and as such, it appreciates Pokemon that can trap and remove it. Dark types with Pursuit such as Tyranitar can help with this, as well as Bisharp. Entry hazard support is also helpful, especially if you're running Roar.
Xerneas is available in Pokemon X, and I'm pretty sure you have to catch it to even progress in the game, so... yeah. Here's what I'd recommend for it:
Focus Blast / Close Combat
Thunderbolt / Megahorn
Xerneas has surprisingly few options to work with, but it has what it needs. Moonblast is your strongest attack. Psyshock deals with Poison types, while Focus Blast deals with Steel types. Close Combat can be used over Focus Blast, however, since 70% accuracy is frustrating to deal with. The last slot is filler, so choose whatever appeals to you.
I didn't expect legendary Stantler to become one of the most fearsome Pokemon in existence, but here we are. The design is cool and colorful, but I don't understand the "active" and "inactive" forms at all. They serve no purpose other than a cosmetic one, and the inactive one is boring. I don't get it at all. Even so, quite an interesting design, a memorable one without being overly designed, unlike Reshiram and Zekrom.
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