Lapras, The Transport Pokémon. People have driven Lapras almost to the point of extinction. In the evenings, it is said to sing plaintively as it seeks what few others of its kind still remain. Its high intelligence enables it to understand human speech. It likes to ferry people on its back. They have gentle hearts. Because they rarely fight, many have been caught. Their number has dwindled. It may sing an enchanting cry if it is in a good mood.
Lapras sets itself apart from other water types, by being the ideal counter to most of them. With an immunity to water attacks, a 4x resistance to Ice attacks and access to Thunderbolt, many of its water brethren have little hope against it. Good defences and HP allow it adequate walling capabilities, although lacking a reliable recovery move hurts it in that department. Offensively, it can be considered average, but access to the loved Bolt-Beam combo means it should be catching a fair few Pokémon for super-effective damage.
Despite being a decent Pokémon, Lapras has problems coping in the Standard environment. Its secondary Ice typing curses it with a Fighting and Rock weakness, an issue made all the more problematic with the addition of improved Fighting and Rock moves (like Close Combat and Stone Edge), as well as the loss of 25% HP to Stealth Rock. Lapras may find itself wandering the plains of the Underused environment, but more than likely it'll find itself doomed to the Borderline tier, too strong for UU but not strong enough for Standard.
Water Absorb: is undoubtedly the preferable ability. It gives Lapras a water immunity, but more notably, it causes water attacks to heal it. This means it can happily switch into Surfs and Waterfalls to pick up 25% health, which is always useful, especially since it lacks a reliable recovery move.
Shell Armor: blocks critical-hits. Aside from defensive stat-boosting, this ability has little use, since critical-hits occur at such random intervals that it's hard to tell whether the ability is ever having an effect, and in some battles it's possible for it to have no effect. As a defensive Pokémon, immunity to critical-hits is appreciated (especially when stalling), but it's hard to justify using it in place of an ability that could return some much needed HP.
Offensive Wall / Sing Support
- Ice Beam
This serves as a fairly straightforward move-set for Lapras. Its EVs and Water Absorb should cover its defensive duties, whilst Sing allows some support for its team-mates by shutting down an opposing Pokémon (assuming it hits, which isn't guaranteed with it's shaky 55% accuracy).
Bolt-Beam (Thunderbolt and Ice Beam) is the main offensive gimmick here. Ice Beam offers some wonderful type coverage and is backed by STAB, whilst Thunderbolt dispatches most of Lapras's Water brethren. Although most Pokémon in the game can be hit for neutral damage by either Thunderbolt or Ice Beam, Surf can hit those that are resistant to Ice Beam and neutral to Thunderbolt, although of all the moves on the set, it is the most expendable.
- Ice Beam
Sleep Talk and Rest offer Lapras the closest option it has to a 'reliable recovery move'. As a result of having some recovery, this move-set offers Lapras better defensive capabilities compared to the previous one, whilst Bolt-Beam continues to serve as its primary source of damage. Life Orb could be equipped to add some extra sting to its offensive attacks, although Lapras may find itself permanently within self-inflicted sleep as a result of Life Orb recoil as well as other factors. Shell Armor could also be tried for some stalling possibilities, since it is usually critical-hits which bring stalls to an end, and Rest-Talk has some stalling possibilities.
The addition of physical STAB has made Curse a viable option, and it does offer a decent defensive and offensive stat boost. Waterfall offers its strongest physical option, although Ice Shard and Avalanche are uniquely useful because neither are harmed by the Speed-lowering side effect of Curse. Ice Shard is a priority move, and therefore suffers no ill-effect from Lapras having a heavily lowered Speed stat, whilst Avalanche doubles in power if Lapras is hit before it strikes, therefore benefiting from striking last.
Since Lapras will not be wanting to switch out, it will have to settle for Rest to provide it with a source of recovery.
Since this move-set is built with stalling in mind, Shell Armor can be of value. Critical-hits circumnavigate the defensive boosts provided by Curse, making them even more threatening than usual and making Shell Armor all the more attractive.
With the addition of physical STAB (from Waterfall), Dragon Dancing has become all the more viable, but it is still somewhat of a novelty route for Lapras to take. However, Lapras is bulky enough to kick off a few Dragon Dance boosts, and a couple may be all it needs to pull off a successful sweep. As well as boosting its Attack, Dragon Dance helps to make up for its rather pitiful Speed stat, making sweeping quite possible. Return serves as its secondary physical move, being its second strongest offensive move, even ahead of its STAB Ice moves when it comes to power.
Substitute serves as somewhat of a filler, although it is a good filler. With Leftovers, the lost HP can be recovered, and it blocks status attacks which could threaten Lapras's chances at a successful sweep. Other possibilities for this move-slot include Sing, which could give Lapras a free turn to prepare Dragon Dance (or shutdown a troublesome defensive foe); Avalanche, which provides some Ice STAB; and Thunderbolt, which can be used for Skarmory and Empoleon in the standard environment.
In regards to EVs, Lapras will probably want at least 200 Speed (to outrun Base 100 Pokémon after a single Dragon Dance). Further boosts aren't particularly harmful though, since within the UU environment there are several Pokémon who linger just above the 299 (Base 100) mark.
EVs and Nature:
When looking at EVs, the primary concern is what kind of attacks Lapras will be expected to defend against. Being that Lapras is defensively capable against both physical and special offence, Lapras could give significant focus to either defensive stat or both at the same time. When focusing on only a single defensive stat, Lapras can realistically max it out with plenty to spare for its HP or offensive stats. When focusing on both, 250 Defence and 300 Special Defence is quite a realistic number, or even 250 a piece with max HP as well. Generally, it won't want to go too overboard on its HP however, since it'll want to have spare EVs for its offensive stats.
With a Calm nature and 188 EVs, it can reach a Special Defence stat of 300. With Calm and just 8 EVs, it can reach a Special Defence stat of 250. Without Calm, it can reach a Special Defence stat of 250 with 96 EVs, or a Special Defence stat of 275 with 196 EVs.
With a Bold nature and 216 EVs, it can reach a Defence stat of 275. With Bold and 128 EVs it can reach a Defence stat of 250. Without Bold, it can reach a Defence stat of 250 with 216 EVs, or a Defence stat of 220 with 96 EVs.
(All of the above was written with max IVs in mind, and will obviously need to be tweaked when max IVs are not available.)
Being quite a defensively versatile Pokémon, Lapras leaves open a multitude of viable EV spreads, with the above three serving as simple examples. Lapras can viably achieve near-max Special Attack with enough EVs to make its defensive stats reach 250 a piece (Spread One). Lapras could also achieve a 250 Defence stat and a 300 Special Defence stat with some EVs to spare for its Special Attack (Spread Two). Lapras could also achieve a 275 Defence stat with a healthy 250 Special Defence stat and EVs to spare for its Special Attack (Spread Three). Outside of that, there are many possible EV spreads that completely disregard one of the defences entirely, leaving free plentiful supplies of EVs to max both its Special Attack and chosen defensive stat.
Hydro Pump, Brine, Blizzard, Toxic, Psychic, Perish Song, Roar, Heal Bell.
Hydro Pump and Brine present alternatives to Surf. Hydro Pump is particularly attractive for providing a nice source of offensive might, especially since Ice Beam can cover the role of 'reliable STAB attack'. Brine is very attractive when the opponent drops below 50% HP, since it doubles to a Base Power of 130. Again, with Ice Beam holding the role of 'reliable STAB attack', it's quite a useable option.
Blizzard is usable over Ice Beam with Hail support (since it's bumped up to 100% accuracy during Hail). PP can become a bit of an issue, but with Surf holding the role of 'reliable STAB attack', Blizzard could be used for offensive might, without the issue of shaky accuracy (which is encountered when using Hydro Pump).
Toxic offers a status alternative to Sing, and is pretty good against defensive Pokémon in general. In particular, it's one of only two ways Lapras can hope to scare Lanturn (the other being Hidden Power).
Psychic is another Special Attack it gets. Poison and Fighting types aren't widespread enough to justify its use, especially when a STAB Hydro Pump or Blizzard could score similar damage (admittedly, with less reliable accuracy).
Perish Song is useful for breaking up Baton Pass chains and can generally stop stat-boosting Pokémon in their tracks. They're either forced to switch or face certain annihilation. Unfortunately, Perish Song is a bit slow to kick in, and Roar could be used instead for a more immediate way to force the opponent to switch. Both moves generally serve the same purpose though, forcing switches, either to rid the opponent of stat-boosts or to rack up some extra passive damage (from Spikes or Stealth Rock).
Lapras gets Heal Bell from XD. Since Heal Bell and Aromatherapy are fairly thinly spread amongst the BL and UU tiers (especially to good defensive Pokémon), a team that needs status-removal support could turn to Lapras.
The undoubted number one counter to any Special Lapras is Lanturn. Short of Hidden Power or Toxic, Lapras really can't touch it, whilst Lanturn can sling STAB Thunderbolts in its direction. Magnezone shouldn't break a sweat against it, with its Bolt-Beam resistance and good defences. Ludicolo is pretty safe against it too, comfortably thumping it with STAB Grass Knots.
Offensively, Lapras ranks as fairly average. Bolt-Beam is a nice combo, but it doesn't have the power to scare away Pokémon who aren't weak to one of the two. Clefable can stand up to it comfortably and sling Thunderbolts at it. Grumpig, Hypno and generally any Psychic (with good Special Defence) can throw up a Calm Mind or two and watch as Lapras's attacks bounce off their boosted Special Defence.
Up against the Curser, most Water Types are comfortable, with their dual resistance to its Ice and Water moves. Particularly Poliwrath with its STAB Fighting moves. Up against the Dragon Dancer, defensive Grass Types like Meganium and Vileplume can take it on (since they probably won't have to deal with Ice moves). In regards to both sets, Relicanth, Omastar and Kabutops aren't resistant to Waterfall, but they enjoy being able to sling STAB Rock moves in its direction and generally have the defensive durability to handle a hit.
Generally, Lapras is letdown by its weaknesses: Grass, Electric, Fighting and Rock, all of which are fairly common. Although it probably won't crumble to a lone hit from any of them, pretty much all of its weaknesses can easily leave a large mark. Its Rock weakness is particularly problematic, since it means Stealth Rock will chip off 25% of its HP per switch.
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