Banette, The Marionette Pokémon. A doll that became a Pokémon over its grudge from being junked. It seeks the child that disowned it. It generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body. If it opens its mouth, its cursed energy escapes.
Banette is going to have a rough time fitting in this generation. In the 3rd Gen, it was a forgettable Pokémon, but with several new Ghosts added and the loss of physical Hidden Power, there's even fewer reasons to use it.
It should be clearly noted that Banette has a few good points. It has access to a lot of status options and possesses two abilities spread to only a few Pokémon. Its move-pool is also rife with disruptive moves that can turn a game around when used properly. Its main problem is the distribution of its Base Stats. Its move-pool cries out for good defensive stats, yet its defensive stats are poor. Instead, it has a very good Attack stat, but only a couple of physical moves that can take advantage of it.
Banette has some fun possibilities, but at the end of the day, its stats and move-pool don't gel.
Insomnia: blocks Sleep moves. This opens up additional opportunities to switch into opponents unscathed as well as providing the obvious utility of blocking Sleep attacks.
Frisk: allows Banette to see its opponent's item. This can be quite helpful, especially against opponents who have multiple item options (this is particularly handy to see whether an opponent has a Choice item equipped).
Status and Disruption
- Shadow Claw
Banette's best assets are its wide-array of disruptive moves. Thunder Wave provides paralysis support whilst Will-o-Wisp provides it with the opportunity to Burn. Both are very crippling status attacks when used against the right opponents. Knock Off can also be very crippling, since many Pokémon rely heavily on their items. Destiny Bond, when timed correctly, allows Banette to eliminate an opponent as it gets taken out. Since Banette isn't the kind of Pokémon that lasts a long time, this move can be very effective.
Shadow Claw is the most usable STAB option. Although offence isn't central to Banette's strategy, there's no point in wasting its wonderful attack stat.
EVs and Nature:
Banette doesn't last long regardless of EV investment, so maxing its Attack and Speed is arguably the best route to take. Adamant adds an extra sting to Shadow Claw whilst Jolly gives it the edge over a couple of opponents.
- Shadow Claw
Banette's low Speed cripples its ability to sweep, however, Trick Room can turn this low Speed into an asset. If Banette is paired with other Pokémon capable of taking advantage of Trick Room, this move-set can be quite an effective supporter. Aside from Trick Room, the move-set is pretty much played in the same way as the previous move-set. Destiny Bond can pick off an opponent who's about to KO Banette whilst Knock Off or Will-o-Wisp provide some extra team-support (and obviously, you'll want to steer clear of Thunder Wave, since the lowered speed from paralysis will help your opponent during Trick Room).
Focus Sash is always an option on Banette, since Banette is very fragile, but on this set it's a particularly helpful option, since it gives Banette a guaranteed opportunity to throw up Trick Room (and afterwards, Banette can use Destiny Bond to eliminate the opponent). In particular, Focus Sash is a solid choice if Banette is going to be the 'lead' Pokémon. Otherwise, Leftovers is always reliable.
EVs and Nature:
The objective with this set is to get Banette's Speed as low as possible. A low IV, a Speed-lowering Nature and no Speed EVs are all preferable for this move-set. Since Speed is going to be neglected, its HP can be bulked up a little bit. Otherwise, all other focus will go to Attack, letting Banette fire off stronger Shadow Claws.
Trick, Spite, Snatch, Taunt, Shadow Ball, Psychic, Thunderbolt, Calm Mind, Charge Beam, Sucker Punch, Shadow Sneak, Screech, Imprison, Grudge, Toxic, Return.
Trick is probably the best new addition that Banette received in the generation shift. Much like Knock Off, Trick will deprive its opponent of their chosen item, however, it'll additionally cause problems by giving them an item that will potentially cripple them. The popular items to use with Trick are Choice items (sending Band to a Special Sweeper, Specs to a Physical Sweeper, Scarf to a Tank and so forth).
Spite can deprive the opponent of PP. The best use for this is against recovery moves, since a defensive Pokémon without their recovery move becomes much less formidable.
Both Snatch and Taunt can deprive the opponent of their non-offensive moves. Snatch, as the name implies, 'snatches' the move on that turn (which could end up giving Banette something rather useful, like HP recovery or a stat boost). Taunt prevents the use of non-offensive moves for several turns. Both moves have the potential to cripple defensive opponents, especially when coupled with Banette's other disruptive moves.
Shadow Ball, Psychic and Thunderbolt represent the best its Special move-pool has to offer. It can boost its Special Attack with either Calm Mind or Charge Beam (and obviously, Charge Beam shouldn't be mixed with Thunderbolt), but Rotom is generally a more effective Special Attacker.
Sucker Punch and Shadow Sneak offer some options to overcome Banette's poor Speed. They aren't too bad at picking off weakened opponents, but whether they can be considered to be worth a move-slot is questionable. Sucker Punch is more powerful but requires good prediction whilst Shadow Sneak is weaker but reliable.
Screech can force some switches, but Banette is a bit too fragile to be trying to shuffle an opponents team. It also has better ways to spend its move-slots.
Imprison locks the opponent from using any move that Banette has on the same move-set. Depending on the move-set, some Pokémon get completely crippled but most will be entirely unaffected. Unless Banette is trying a move-set shared by some common Pokémon, it isn't worth the move-slot.
Grudge can do what Destiny Bond does, minus the KOing part. The main difference is that Grudge can leave the opponent in a bad position for a turn, allowing a team-mate to set-up. For example, if Banette could drain Manectric of all its Thunderbolt PP, something like Poliwrath could switch in and throw up Belly Drum. Grudge definitely doesn't fit in for 'any situation' like Destiny Bond does, but with proper planning, it can be a very effective move.
Toxic is only being mentioned for the sake of completeness. It has this as a status option as well as Thunder Wave and Will-o-Wisp.
Return is pretty much the only usable physical attack that isn't a Ghost typed attack.
The most immediate problems Banette poses to its opponents are its wide array of disruptive moves, particularly Knock Off and its status attacks. Aside from that, the only offensive threat it really poses comes from Shadow Claw off of its large Attack stat.
Camerupt is a good choice, since its immune to Thunder Wave and Will-o-Wisp, and has suitable enough defences to deal with Shadow Claw. Ursaring can take advantage of Will-o-Wisp and Thunder Wave with Guts (or just Thunder Wave with Quick Feet). Granbull and Mightyena can take advantage of Thunder Wave with Quick Feet whilst Raticate, Hariyama and Swellow can take advantage of Will-o-Wisp with Guts. Fire types are immune to Will-o-Wisp whilst Ground types are immune to Thunder Wave, so plenty of effective choices can be found once its discovered what status attacks Banette is using. Most of these counters will take a hit from Knock Off though, which will be troublesome.
Taunt prevents status attacks whilst Substitute blocks status attacks as well as Knock Off. A faster Pokémon with either of those two should do well, although it'll have difficulties switching in without being hit by one of Banette's attacks.
Since it's a Ghost type, Dark types with Pursuit cause it a lot of problems (especially since they resist Shadow Claw as well). Provided they can get around its status attacks, they can deal with it quite nicely (especially since most Dark types have access to Taunt). Other Pokémon with a Ghost resistance and Pursuit can also be similarly effective.
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