Vaporeon, The Bubble Jet Pokémon. Lives close to water. Its long tail is ridged with a fin which is often mistaken for a mermaid's. Its cell structure is similar to water molecules. It will melt away and become invisible in water. When Vaporeon's fins begin to vibrate, it is a sign that rain will come within a few hours. It prefers beautiful shores. Vaporeon underwent a spontaneous mutation and grew fins and gills that allow them to live underwater. They have the ability to freely control water.
Vaporeon is one of several Pokémon named as a “Bulky Water”. Like its Bulky Water brethren, it primarily serves as a counter to some common threats (such as Infernape and Garchomp). A suspect Base 60 Defence stat would call its 'bulky' claim into question, but its giant HP stat helps to compensate.
The standard Vaporeon fills a dual-role. It isn't just a one-dimensional counter for common threats, it also provides a lot of team support through Wish. With passive damage constituting a huge part of the modern battling environment, providing some healing for team-mates can make a big difference and give weakened Pokémon a new lease on life. That alone makes a big separation between Vaporeon and its Bulky Water competition (such as Suicune and Swampert), and Vaporeon enjoys respectable popularity in the Standard battling environment.
Water Absorb: is a nifty ability. Vaporeon already has a Water resistance, so the immunity isn't the big gain. The largest gain is a free 25% HP from switching into Water attacks. As a defensive Pokémon, any free HP is a blessing.
Standard / Wish Support
As noted in the overview, one of Vaporeon's greatest assets is Wish. It provides its team with some healing support and provides Vaporeon itself with a source of HP recovery (especially when combined with Protect). Surf provides STAB damage, backed by good PP and reliable accuracy. In addition, it's an important aid when it comes to countering the majority of Ground, Rock and Fire types.
In addition to those two moves, Vaporeon has four worthwhile choices to add:
Ice Beam is the stereotypical 'Bulky Water' choice. It'll comfortably OHKO Salamence and Garchomp (barring the interference of a Yache Berry) and gets a super-effective hit on Water-resistant Grass types. If you're looking at Vaporeon to fill in the Dragon-countering role, it's a must-have. If you have other Pokémon to do that job, then it isn't as necessary, but still worth consideration.
Hidden Power [Electric] allows Vaporeon to function as a Gyarados counter (again, another common threat). Additionally, super-effective hits on Water types means that Vaporeon will counter the 'generic Water type' move-sets comfortably.
Toxic also allows Vaporeon to counter 'generic Water types'. It also means the likes of Blissey, Dusknoir and Cresselia can't sit about trying to stall it.
Protect is useful for multiple reasons. As noted above, Wish and Protect mix together in a way that resembles a reliable recovery move. Protect can also stall an additional turn of Leftovers recovery, and if you're equipped with Toxic (or Toxic Spikes support), it'll stall another turn of Toxic damage. Finally, it has useful 'scouting' possibilities. This particularly applies to Choice move-sets, but can apply in general anyway. If an attack is anticipated, but which move isn't, it's always nice to know, and helps to paint a picture of the opponent's move-set.
- Baton Pass
Whilst it isn't as popular as the aforementioned variant, Vaporeon can also function as a Baton Passer. There are two main things Vaporeon can Baton Pass: Acid Armour Defence boosts and bulky Substitutes. It's possible to pass both at once, but move-slot restrictions mean you'll have to choose in most cases. Defence boosts aren't popular in general, whilst Substitute is available to essentially every Pokémon, making Vaporeon a less attractive Baton Passer than the likes of Togekiss or Zapdos.
This option was more popular in the 3rd generation as part of a 'Baton Passing chain' than it was as a lone Passer. Baton Passing chains are less fashionable (and easier to counter) in the new generation, and with that, this variant loses popularity. Nevertheless, Vaporeon is as valuable to a modern Baton Passing chain as it was in the previous generation.
Wish is popular on chain and non-chain variants. As with the previous move-set, it provides Vaporeon and its team-mates with healing, useful in both cases. Surf presents the 'reliable STAB move' option. Ice Beam is useful if Vaporeon is your only solution to Garchomp and Salamence (particularly on chains). In most cases, the final two move-slots are an offensive move plus Wish, but it's possible to go with both offensive moves if you have some Wish support coming from elsewhere.
EVs and Nature:
That suspect base 60 Defence is the first stat to get EV treatment. 252 EVs and a Bold nature is the standard for pretty much every move-set.
As a Bulky Water, it also needs some minor attention paid to its Special Attack stat, although nowhere near as much attention as some of its brethren. 269 Special Attack is the usual target, getting an OHKO on non-Yache Garchomp variants. It takes a minor 52 EVs to reach this stat, but the standard EV spread goes a little bit over this since there are some excess EVs left.
Vaporeon's HP maxes out at 464, which is its maximum Leftovers recovery number. However, you won't have the available EVs for max, so you can shoot for the slightly smaller 448 HP mark (188 EVs). This is the next step down on the 'max Leftovers recovery' chain.
As noted, hitting those three targets leaves some spare EVs, which tend to go into its Special Attack. Special Defence EVs aren't needed, since Vaporeon does little in the way of special walling (short of the moves it resists and Grass Knot from Infernape). It doesn't share its base Speed with too many other Pokémon of note, so token Speed investments are unnecessary. 48 Speed EVs will set it ahead of Skarmory (and other Base 70 Pokémon who lack Speed EVs), but aside from that, Speed can be completely overlooked.
Brine, Hydro Pump, Yawn, Roar, Haze, Charm, Baton Pass, Choice Specs.
Brine and Hydro Pump are the less reliable STAB alternatives to Surf.
The sleep threat from Yawn is enough to make most opponents switch, providing a pseudo-hazing move to use against stat-boosters and a means to rack up some entry hazard damage. Of course, it doesn't work on Pokémon already under the effects of a status or behind a Substitute. Roar is another pseudo-hazing move at its disposal, again, sending stat-boosters running and racking up some entry hazard damage.
Its pseudo-hazing options get a mention, but there's always the real thing at its disposal as well. Haze eliminates all stat-changes, positive and negative, on all Pokémon on the field (Vaporeon, its opponent and any team-mates in the case of 2v2 battles). Unlike the aforementioned two, it doesn't get 'blocked', so it's more effective against Baton Passing chains (who may have the protection of Ingrain or a Soundproof Mr. Mime).
The main issue with hazing (or pseudo-hazing) Vaporeon variants is a lack of suitable stat-boosting targets for it to counter, making the worth of the moves questionable. The usual assortment of stat-boosters: Swords Dance Gachomp, Dragon Dance Salamence and Nasty Plot Infernape are better handled by direct offence (Ice Beam and Surf) than by indirect stat-removal. The main p/hazing targets are Calm Minders (like Suicune and Celebi), but not much else.
Charm can cripple physical attackers, probably forcing them to switch out (again, entry hazard damage). Some physical attackers aren't threatened at all by Vaporeon (such as Snorlax), but Vaporeon can throw Charms their way and easily stall against them.
A slow Baton Pass on its own is worth a mention. Like slow U-Turns, it can be used by Vaporeon where it'll take the opponent's hit and then give a free switch to a weak team-mate. It's a bit situational but worth a mention.
Vaporeon has just about enough attacks to squeeze a Choice Specs set together. It can still provide Wish support to its team-mates, and it packs enough power to OHKO Yache-equipped Garchomp variants and pretty much every Gyarados variant. The main downside is that, whilst it's still able to support with Wish, Vaporeon itself will find it harder to benefit from Wish. Between that and the loss of Leftovers recovery, Specs versions will, understandably, be less bulky.
From an offensive perspective, Vaporeon is just like any 'generic' Water type. Its offence mostly consists of Surf and Ice Beam, occasionally supplemented by Hidden Power [Electric] or Toxic. The traditional counters for 'generic' Water types are usually the most reliable.
Starmie packs Thunderbolt, and short of a slight Hidden Power fear, Starmie is all but immune to Vaporeon's offence. Ludicolo packs STAB Energy Ball, and whilst it won't enjoy Toxic, it doesn't have any Hidden Power woes. Gyarados can comfortably Dragon Dance away, except against Hidden Power [Electric] variants. Reaching into the Underused environment, Poliwrath beats it one-on-one with Sub-Punch (except against Hidden Power users), whilst Lanturn only needs to worry about the occasional Toxic. Ice Beam hurts a bit, but Toxicroak does a fine countering job as well.
Trace Gardevoir and Porygon2 can copy Water Absorb for a free Water immunity, and both pack Thunderbolt as well.
The standard Celebi takes 36-43% damage from Vaporeon's Ice Beams, but the Calm Mind variants can boost and stall until Vaporeon becomes relatively harmless. Celebi can pack super-effective Energy Balls as well, or it can just Baton Pass to a more suitable team-mate
It's a bit of a slow process, but Cresselia can beat Vaporeon one-on-one with Calm Mind or Charge Beam (in both cases, relying on stat-boosts to break through Vaporeon's stalling attempts), just be sure to avoid Toxic. Blissey gets stuck in a 'stall-war' against Vaporeon if it doesn't pack Calm Mind, but if Blissey lacks Calm Mind, it can at least throw a status Vaporeon's way or set-up a Light Screen for its team-mates.
Tentacruel packs Water and Ice resistances, as well as a Toxic immunity. The standard variant doesn't do too much damage with Sludge Bomb (around 20-25%), but Vaporeon won't want to sit there stalling, since a 30% chance of Poison poses a threat. It can also lay down a layer of Toxic Spikes to cause Vaporeon's team problems.
Regice sponges Surf easily, and hits back for 30-40% damage with Thunderbolt. Snorlax hits at 25-30% damage with un-boosted Returns, but Curse variants will usually come out on top, barring the rarely-used Charm.
Raikou initially takes a 30-35% hit from Surf, but after one Calm Mind, it can comfortably hide behind a Substitute and proceed to boost or attack. Obviously, the Thunderbolt threat is enough to send Vaporeon running.
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