Spiritomb, The Forbidden Pokémon. A Pokémon that was formed by 108 spirits. It is bound to a fissure in an odd keystone. It was bound to a fissure in an odd keystone as punishment for misdeeds 500 years ago. Its constant mischief and misdeeds resulted in it being bound to an Odd Keystone by a mysterious spell.
Happy Halloween, and as always, it's time for a Ghost theme for the week. Step up, Spiritomb. Now, admittedly, we should've saved this one for PotW #108... but we forgot, so it gets to be the poster-Poké for Halloween 2009.
Spiritomb is a Pokémon built with a purpose, and that's always an advantage when you're competing with a good two hundred or so competitive Pokémon. Whilst its HP is lacklustre, 108 a piece in its other two defensive stats mixed with no weaknesses (and three good immunities) immediately sets the stall for a defensive Pokémon. It isn't completely incompetent on the offensive side either, and being a Dark type, it has access to those unconventional attacking moves: Sucker Punch and Pursuit, to complicate matters for its opposition. Nevertheless, Spiritomb hasn't been souped-up to the standards required for the Standard environment (though it's quite usable there), but it makes for a very solid option in the Underused tier.
Pressure: adds to Spiritomb's defensive design. It chips off an extra 1 PP for every attack that hits it, which is very effective at passively tearing low PP moves (e.g. Fire Blast) to shreds. All-in-all, it's a pretty solid ability, so long as Spiritomb maintains the durability to last the foe's offensive onslaughts.
This is probably Spiritomb's most conventional option. Spiritomb isn't blessed with a reliable recovery move, so instead it has to turn to either Pain Split, or in the case of this move-set, Rest; and where there's a Rest there's a Sleep Talk to follow it.
With two move-slots already occupied, it's a good thing that Spiritomb has a reliable STAB move with pretty decent coverage in the form of Dark Pulse. It may not be Spiritomb's most exciting attacking option, but it gets the job done.
You can back it up with one of three moves (not counting the possibility of delving into 'Other Options'):
Will-o-Wisp, whilst limited in its synergy with Sleep Talk, is a very efficient move for a defensive Pokémon. It poses an immediate threat to physical attackers and indirectly boosts Spiritomb's physical defensive capabilities. In particular, it's very good at fending off the majority of Steel and Fighting types, who may be tempted into play by their Dark resistances.
Calm Mind works nicely with the Rest-Talk strategy. It becomes something of a Ghost-Dark typed Suicune, boosting away whilst awake and asleep until its Special Defence becomes almost impenetrable. Throw in Pressure to burn off the opponent's PP, and whilst it's slow to kick in, it can be rather effective strategy.
Hidden Power [Fighting] is the “boring” option here. Dark-Fighting provides a near perfect combination for type coverage, which is always nice to have (just look out for Heracross and Toxicroak). Of course, you will need to back this up with some Special Attack EVs to make it worthwhile, but some added super-effective hits are always a helper.
Whilst a rather awkward variant to use, Spiritomb can throw together all of its disruptive moves into a fairly effective move-set.
Will-o-Wisp serves to fend off a lot of physically-inclined Pokémon, who also typically resist Dark moves (see Steel and Fighting types once again, and even a few of Spiritomb's fellow Dark types); and of course, it cripples almost all physical attackers.
Sucker Punch is effective if you can predict correctly. You get a STAB Base Power 80 priority move, which is great fun if you can use it, but its limitations means an opponent can use it to their own advantage too. One of those limitations is its inability to do anything to Pokémon that switch-out, which is where Pursuit comes in for a doubly strong hit that can catch some of the more naďve battlers off-guard. The other limitation is its inability to deal with Pokémon who are stat-boosting or using other non-offensive moves, which is where Taunt comes in. Spiritomb's Speed isn't ideal for the move, but taking a large chunk of options away from the opponent, even one turn slower than preferable, can be very beneficial to Spiritomb's cause.
To round things off, Pain Split brings what is by comparison an element of sanity to the move-set. It's rather dependant on the HP of your opponent, but it provides a semi-reliable healing move. For those unaware of how it works, it takes Spiritomb's HP, it's foe's HP, adds them together, divides them by two and sets that as your opponent's and your HP stats. Great fun against Blissey, less fun against Shuckle.
As if it didn't have enough party pieces, Spiritomb picked up Trick from Platinum too. Primarily, it provides one more way to disrupt an opponent (and when used on the right foe, it downright cripples them), and then plays out the rest of the battle just like the above move-set. However, you may once in a while pull off the use of a Band-boosted Pursuit or Sucker Punch, which is a neat little bonus. Just remember, if you aren't Tricking away the Choice Band, you are locked into the traditional “this move and this move only” Choice-lock.
EVs and Nature:
You always want to start with that HP stat. As Spiritomb weakest defensive stat, heavy EV investment makes a world of difference in the percentages when you're taking hits.
If you're carrying Calm Mind you can go without Special EVs completely, so Defence becomes a dumping ground for the remaining EVs, with a Bold nature too.
With Will-o-Wisp, it would probably be worth doing a relatively even EV split between Special Attack and Special Defence.
Shadow Ball, Shadow Sneak, Hypnosis, Grudge, Memento, Choice Specs, Nasty Plot, Spite
Shadow Ball has gone unmentioned, but it's close to a like-for-like replacement for Dark Pulse. The big difference: Normal types are immune to Shadow Ball, Fighting types are resistant to Dark Pulse. In most cases, Dark Pulse is superior (since resisted damage is better than facing an immunity), but the Ghost-Fight combination is un-resisted, whereas the Dark-Fight combination has some problems with Heracross and Toxicroak. Another minor difference is in the side-effect. Spiritomb is too slow to really benefit from Dark Pulse's 20% flinch chance, whereas Shadow Ball's 20% SDef drop chance is perfectly accessible.
Shadow Sneak is a bit too low on power to really warrant a serious glance, but it's a more reliable (but weaker) alternative to Sucker Punch for a STAB priority move. Since the Underused tier is littered with good Psychic types, being able to bring them down is one of Spiritomb's selling points, and you could put forth an argument that it's better to have a reliable means to cut them down than an unreliable one (after all, a misplaced Sucker Punch may well give the Psychic foe in question another stat boost or worse, a Substitute to hide behind).
Hypnosis can slot in where Will-o-Wisp has been mentioned on the aforementioned move-sets. 60% accuracy is a bit awkward, but Spiritomb can risk it, and of course, if you put an opponent to sleep it shuts them down for a few turns (and even if they have Sleep Talk, they're still hampered by a lack of control over the moves they choose).
Grudge and Memento provide “suicide” options. Grudge removes all of the PP off of the move that faints Spiritomb, however, because of Spiritomb's low Speed it's slightly unfavourable (since Grudge is a move that works better when you can land it just before an opponent attacks). Memento sharply (two stages) lowers the opponent's Attack and Special Attack, and is probably the better of the two. The primary reason to use them is to cripple an opponent for a team-mate to take advantage of, usually a tactic associated with Belly Drummers. With the right team, it's a worthwhile strategy to consider.
Choice Specs can be used with trick, although Choice Band makes for a much more interesting offensive strategy (since, on the special side, Spiritomb will primarily use conventional attacking moves).
Nasty Plot can be used for boosting Special Attack quickly, but Calm Mind fits Spiritomb's general strategy much more effectively.
Spite can be a nasty little party piece. Whilst Pressure already does a good job of hindering direct attacking efforts, Spite is very useful at targeting indirect moves, such as Recovery moves (which have modest PP to begin with anyway), as well as supplementing Pressure when dealing with direct attacking moves.
As a defensive Pokémon, it isn't too tough to counter one-on-one. A Dark move usually forms the core of its offence, occasionally backed with Hidden Power [Fighting] but usually used on its own. Instead, the other main threat comes from its disruptive moves.
Since Spiritomb is a frequent user of Will-o-Wisp, most physical attackers find themselves crossed off of the countering list, with exceptions made for Guts users and Fire types, with Hariyama and Blaziken making good representatives with their Dark resistances. Special attackers are decent choices when Wisp is about, but then there's always a risk of running into Calm Mind, which you'll of course want to fight with physical sweepers (luckily, it's difficult for Spiritomb to mix Wisp and Calm Mind onto the same move-set, at least not without relying on the unreliable Pain Split for recovery).
Taunt is a very good counter in almost all cases. Taunt shuts down most of Spiritomb's favoured moves, so all you need to do is to be able to withstand its favoured direct attacking moves (which, as mentioned, is rarely more than one Dark move).
As a final note, it's always worth over-viewing its party pieces. Pain Split can be a real problem if you make the mistake of sending in a healthy Pokémon who naturally has a lot of HP, and is best handled with low HP Pokémon. Sucker Punch can catch some faster and weaker Pokémon off-guard, so anything weak to Dark moves shouldn't risk overconfidence without being sure of its absence. Likewise, Pursuit can punish Pokémon weak to Dark moves, so fleeing should be performed with care. Trick rounds things off, and is probably the one you can be least prepared for. Needless to say, if the wrong kind of Pokémon ends up with a Choice item, it may be crippled for the entire game.
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