Kecleon, The Colour Change Pokémon. Kecleon is capable of changing its body colors at will to blend in with its surroundings. There is one exception - this Pokémon can't change the zigzag pattern on its belly. Kecleon alters its body coloration to blend in with its surroundings, allowing it to sneak up on its prey unnoticed. Then it lashes out with its long, stretchy tongue to instantly ensnare the unsuspecting target. A Kecleon reverts to its original colors if it is startled. It also changes color if it is happy or sad. ť
Today's article focuses on Gengar, a staple of the Overu… oh, my bad. You'd think that's some kind of pun about Kecleon being some kind of deceptive camouflage Pokémon that 'fooled' me into thinking we were doing Gengar, but no, this is just me getting a little tired of the constant stream of NUs. I've actually gone out of my way to change next week's PotW from what the random number generator had picked to something from the Standard tier.
With that little tantrum out of the way, we move onto the more professional side of this article, where I tell you all the nice things about Kecleon. Its stats are fairly average: exceptional Special Defence is mitigated by below average HP, whereas its Attack stands out as the preferable offensive route. Its move-pool is quite varied, expanding beyond what would be considered the “generic Normal type move-pool” with several interesting options; but it isn't the stats or move-pool that make Kecleon unique, it's something else, and no bonus points for guessing: it's its ability.
It's at this point I mention Colour Change; somewhat trivialising the Ability section. Your type changes based on the last move to cause damage, resulting in Kecleon becoming a rather unpredictable Pokémon. Its weaknesses and resistances are constantly changing, which can be tactically advantageous or disadvantageous. Needless to say, if you're using Kecleon ahead of other similarly built Pokémon, you're probably using it because you consider yourself capable of using its ability to your advantage…or you lost a bet.
Colour Change: changes Kecleon's type to the type of the last attack that hit it. If you can predict your opponent's next move, then it gives you a chance to “pick” what type you become, which is a tactical advantage (of course, as a side-effect, you will have to take some degree of damage, and without a recovery move, this is rather undesirable). This can also be manipulated by your opponent, either to ruin your STAB choice or more likely, to give you an undesirable type and an associated weakness to exploit (the classic one being Dragon moves, giving you a Dragon weakness on the following turn). To avoid problems like this, you probably will find yourself switching about a fair bit.
As a technical note, Colour Change will not change Kecleon's type when the opposing move strikes a Substitute. And as grammatical note, it's 'Color Change' in the game, but I'm an English writer and much like with 'Defense' and 'Defence', I find it too much of a hassle to Americanise my MS Word for writing these articles, as I'm sure regular readers have already noticed.
- Focus Punch
And for Kecleon, it's the prediction reliant Double-Punch (despite the fact that, as noted in Hitmonchan's article, Sucker Punch technically isn't a punching move). If they attack you, they take a Sucker Punch, and if they don't they suffer a Focus Punch. Of course, it isn't as black-and-white as that when you have to account for silly things like weaknesses and resistances, as well as what else you want to surround the pair with. You could go with the Sub-Punch combination, throwing up a Substitute (backed by Leftovers recovery) to try and force your opponent into action and also to provide yourself with something of a safety buffer for launching Focus Punches. The main alternative is to be highly prediction reliant and tag on a Choice Band for that power boost, knowing you can Trick it away later if you desire (and Trick-Band is a very nifty way of ruining an opponent's day when they think they can contain your offences).
The last move-slot is kind of difficult to fill, since it simply doesn't fit in with the Double-Punch theme at all. If you intend to go with a Choice Band, it's tempting to stick an additional physical move here. Even with your type being unreliable, STAB Return at least temporarily provides a source of good damage, albeit inconsistent if you take a hit in the process of battling. Even without Choice Band, it remains an option. However, aside from Return, few other physical moves attract attention and so the remaining alternatives tend to be from the supporting/disrupting side of the spectrum.
Without Trick, Knock Off is tempting to ruin an opponent's plan on the best of days or simply cause them some mild disruption on the worst of days.
Magic Coat, whilst kind of gimmicky, is actually quite attractive. Kecleon's poor Speed leaves it very exposed to status attacks (since it can't place a Sub before the status assault), so the ability to 'bounce' them back at the foe provides a defensive and offensive solution to this status exposure.
Speaking of low Speed, Kecleon can try to compensate for that by throwing a Thunder Wave into the mix, bringing the opponent's Speed to a screeching halt and also throwing in a 25% chance of full paralysis. Whilst not devastating, it's worth remembering that this one-in-four factor could be a hindrance to your prediction when you're trying to use Sucker Punch.
EVs and Nature:
As always when you have a Pokémon with a low Base HP stat that you expect to take hits, you'll want to maximise your HP stat, since it makes a large difference when it comes to percentages. If you want Kecleon to be taking Special hits, then obviously, a large investment there is worthwhile, but otherwise, just focus all of your EVs into Attack and make the most of what Game Freak has given you.
Body Slam, Shadow Claw, Shadow Sneak, Snatch, Screech, Trick Room, Stealth Rock, Nasty Plot, Skill Swap.
I've mentioned both Return and Thunder Wave, and Body Slam is the half-way point between the two.
Shadow Claw is a more reliable way to hit Ghosts and Psychics than Sucker Punch. Shadow Sneak is similarly more reliable, although the huge difference in Base Power should see you lean in favour of Sucker Punch despite the prediction reliance.
Snatch is a devious alternative to Substitute. If your opponent attempts to throw up a Substitute of their own (or use any other kind of stat boost or supporting option), Snatch will literally “snatch” it from your opponent. You have to rely heavily on prediction (and a bit of luck with opponents) in order to make the most of this move, but it's certainly worth a mention.
Screech works nicely with Double-Punch. If they stay in and attack they risk taking a powerful Sucker Punch and if they switch the newly switched-in Pokémon risks a Focus Punch.
Trick Room and Stealth Rock provide some supporting options. Trick Room's fairly effective on Kecleon, the flip-around helping to overcome its Speed problems for a few turns (and possibly passing those benefits onto its team-mates if time allows for it). Stealth Rock has its obvious uses, no real need to explain its appeal.
Nasty Plot makes Kecleon's wide special move-pool viable, but Kecleon's lack of Speed will still hamper its sweeping chances. This falls into the category of “just because it's possible doesn't mean you should.”
Skill Swap works in-game as a gimmicky move (the classic combination is with a Ghost move), but in competitive battling, the intelligence of the opponent to simply switch to alleviate any problems caused by being Skill Swapped Colour Change makes it ineffective.
As a Pokémon with plenty of disruptive options like Thunder Wave and Trick, as well as prediction-reliant attacking options like Focus Punch and Sucker Punch, and additional little aces like Magic Coat, Kecleon can pose a bit of a problem to counter; especially if it can force itself into having a desirable type. It's worth noting immediately that it's weakest at taking physical hits, and fairly competent against special moves, so hitting its weaker side is obviously desirable. It starts out with a Fighting weakness, but of course, Colour Change can swing its weaknesses in all sorts of directions. If you can manipulate that to your advantage then you're set-up in quite a nice position, but assuming you can't, you're just going to have to rely on moves that'll work in most cases (like STAB Return).
This isn't an easy counter section to write, since flat-out counters aren't too easy to come by. The Double-Punch combination is fairly easy to work around (Ghost types with Substitute are especially effective, as is direct attacking when you resist Sucker Punch), but there's always the risk of Trick-Band throwing a bit of a spanner in the works. Status moves aren't always a reliable way to hinder it when the aforementioned Magic Coat poses a risk, and it poses a status threat of its own with Thunder Wave. It's just worth noting though that just because I can't write down a bunch of Pokémon that I can say “these Pokémon beat it: end of” doesn't make it a hugely threatening foe. It can be problematic and tricky, but it's an NU for a reason, and common sense and competent Pokémon should be enough to match it with.
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