Manaphy, The Seafaring Pokémon. Born on a cold seafloor, it will swim great distances to return to its birthplace. 80 percent of its body is water. A Pokémon whose body condition is highly susceptible to the influence of its surrounding environment. It's egg can only hatch in the Sinnoh Region
Manaphy is a new addition to the already vast variety of water types already in the game, although unlike many it stands out pretty well. Much like Celebi and Jirachi, its generation counterparts, Manaphy has Base 100 stats across the board, giving it defensive and offensive versatility.
The main assets that differentiate Manaphy from other Water types is the move Tail Glow and its Trait, Hydration. In the standard environment it can be a troublesome Sweeper or a long lasting Wall, depending on the move set, although it will be difficult to combine both without adequate support. Despite being difficult to obtain, Manaphy is likely to become a frequently used Pokémon and definitely a threat to look out for.
Hydration: as was mentioned previously, is one of Manaphy's best assets. During Rain Dance, any statuses that are affecting Manaphy are automatically cured at the end of the turn. On a sweeper set this is merely a bonus, however on defensive sets this forms the core of its effectiveness. Its main purpose is to combine Rest with Rain Dance, allowing Manaphy to last for a long period of time. Its likely to aid Manaphy's popularity in the Uber environment as well, since it can be used effectively in tandem with Kyogre's Drizzle.
This one is likely to become the standard way to go with Manaphy. Manaphy is fairly durable and aside from Slowking, is the only Water Pokémon with access to a move that boosts its Special Attack by two stages.
The move set is fairly straightforward. Tail Glow skyrockets Manaphy's Special Attack through the roof whilst Surf, Ice Beam and Grass Knot have fantastic type coverage. With Manaphy's good HP stat and Leftovers, even Blissey won't be able to shut down this set without the aid of Thunderbolt and Calm Mind. Being able to beat Blissey is a serious bonus for this set, when a Special Sweeper can overcome the number one Special Wall, it's a fairly impressive feat.
The general strategy when using this move set is to wait for the opponent to be weakened adequately enough so that Manaphy can go for a straight sweep. In particular, Manaphy's team needs to slow down faster Pokémon who pose a threat (such as Raikou and Jolteon), since one of Manaphy's few flaws as a Special Sweeper is its average Speed stat. It's enough to outrun a fair few threats but certainly not as impressive as some other sweeper's stats, a problem further aggravated by the difficulty in obtaining a Manaphy with an ideal Speed IV.
Although this Manaphy set is aimed around sweeping, Manaphy takes advantage of Leftovers very well when combined with its good defensive stats. In particular, Leftovers helps Manaphy withstand the onslaught of Seismic Tosses it's likely to receive from Blissey, as well as help Manaphy shrug off Spikes and Stealth Rock damage (or neutralise Sandstorm damage). Generally, Leftovers puts Wisdom Glasses and Life Orb on the backburner, but both are potential options to use in its place.
EVs and Nature:
Max Special Attack and Max Speed is the ideal way to go since this is a fairly straightforward sweeper set. Ideally you would want a 31 Speed IV to tie speed with Salamence, Zapdos and other Base Speed 100 Pokémon, but realistically that is quite difficult. The bare minimum Speed stat Manaphy should have is 270, enough to beat out Adamant Heracross. Timid is worth consideration since it allows it to get the jump on a few Pokémon, notably the ones that it shares Base Speed with.
Bulky Manaphy / Rain-Rest
The Manaphy set that abuses its trait to the fullest extent. When Rain Dance is active all of Manaphy's statuses get cured, including self-inflicted Sleep from Rest. This combination allows Manaphy to survive for extended periods of time and combine well with Manaphy's good defensive stats. Rain Dance also serves to boost Surf's power as well as give its team Rain Support (as well as Weather Control, an aspect that is likely to become more important with the improvements Sandstorm has received).
The choice between Ice Beam and Grass Knot comes down to preference. Without Ice Beam, Manaphy gets stopped by most Dragons (notably Salamence). Without Grass Knot, Manaphy gets shut down by most opposing Water types.
Although Manaphy appreciates Leftovers recovery a lot, especially with its rather large HP stat, but it can easily be sacrificed for Wet Rock. Wet Rock extends the length of time that Rain Dance will last by three turns (for a total of eight), increasing the amount of turns Manaphy can Rest, reducing the amount of times it needs to use Rain Dance and increasing the amount of turns Manaphy's team can take advantage of Rain Dance.
EVs and Nature:
For this Manaphy set, a lot of focus should be put on its defensive stats, however Manaphy can both effectively handle physical and special attacks, so either defence can be focused on. For a Manaphy focused on Special Defence the following EV spread would be the most suitable:
EVs: 252 HP / 108 SAtk / 148 SDef
Obviously, defensive Manaphy should have its HP Maxed. Its defensive stat should reach around about 290-300 with whatever is left over thrown into its Special Attack. Speed is a potential area of focus, notable numbers to aim for are 240 (to outrun Adamant Metagross), 241 (to outrun Timid Magnezone) and 244 (to outrun Jolly Tyranitar), however Speed EVs shouldn't be excessive, since Manaphy doesn't need to outrun many threats.
An EV spread could also be ran to allow Manaphy to have balanced defences. The following EV spread would be the most appropriate:
EVs: 252 HP / 182 Def / 76 SDef
Manaphy can viably have around about 270-280 in both defences whilst maintaining a Maxed HP stat. A notable downside however is there will be very few EVs to spare to boost Manaphy's other stats, notably Special Attack which will linger behind.
Brine, Energy Ball, Psychic, Shadow Ball, Calm Mind, Light Screen, Reflect, Safeguard, Toxic, Acid Armor, Charm, Aqua Ring, Waterfall, U-Turn, Substitute, Heart Swap.
Brine is a STAB option to replace Surf. At its Base it has an unimpressive Base 65 Power but when the opponent's HP drops below 50% it doubles to a very impressive Base 130. It's less reliable than Surf but it has its potential use.
Energy Ball is an option in place of Grass Knot. In most cases that matter, Grass Knot hits opposing water types for equal or superior damage when compared to Energy Ball, making it the logical choice. However there are a few exceptions of notable water types that take more damage from Energy Ball, the main ones being: Lanturn, Vaporeon and opposing Manaphy.
Psychic and Shadow Ball are two additional Special Attacking options that Manaphy gets. They don't cover any particular Pokémon that Surf wouldn't handle so they are relegated to the sidelines in most cases. They are filler options on a Choice Item move set but that's about it.
Calm Mind is a move that increases defensive and offensive prowess. Generally, Suicune and Slowbro are better choices for pulling off a Calm Mind tanking move set. Offensive Manaphy sets prefer Tail Glow whilst the Rain-Rest set would have its offensive capabilities heavily limited if Calm Mind was included.
Light Screen, Reflect and Safeguard are team supporting and passing options.
Toxic is a stalling option. It can fit reasonably well on the Rain-Rest move set and certainly has some potential on Manaphy, but it can be easily overlooked for an additional offensive option.
Acid Armor and Charm are two defensive options. Reflect is usually a superior option over these two since it can be passed. Acid Armor can be beaten by critical hits and is lost on switches whilst Charm gets blocked by Substitutes and Clear Body, although it has the advantage of forcing switches (which can rack up some additional Spikes and Stealth Rock damage).
Aqua Ring is a minor HP recovery move but it pales in comparison to Rain-Rest (although it only takes up one move-slot, which is a noteworthy advantage). It has some possibilities when combined with Substitute or Protect.
Waterfall and U-Turn make up what is essentially all of Manaphy's viable physical move pool. There's a handful of possible move sets that these moves could be slotted on, mostly variants of the Rain-Rest set or possible mixed sweepers, but for the most part they're just sideline options.
Substitute is good with Manaphy's huge HP stat. With Manaphy's absolute Max HP (404) the Substitutes are large enough to absorb two Seismic Tosses. Additionally they block status attacks and act as a nice defensive buffer.
Heart Swap is Manaphy's signature move. It's actually pretty cool. It's a reliable counter to slower opponents using stat boosts, completely destroys Baton Pass Chain teams and has a handful of other potential uses (such as sending stat drops to the opponent). It mainly suffers from having few practical uses in the Standard environment.
It can steal opponent's Nasty Plots but Manaphy has a Tail Glow of its own to use. It can steal opponent's Swords Dances and Dragon Dances, but Manaphy doesn't have any practical use for those moves (barring Waterfall). Defensive stat boosts are unpopular so there's only a handful of those to steal, and even then Manaphy has access to Calm Mind and Acid Armor if it did want to use defensive stat boosts. The main things it can steal are Speed boosts, however an opponent with Speed boosts would naturally be faster than it, which limits it somewhat.
Although Manaphy has greats stats, 90% of the time its move set is fairly predictable. Its offensive move pool is usually limited to Water, Ice and Grass moves, possibly backed up by Tail Glow. Alternatively it'll carry two of those three as well as Rain Dance and Rest. Either way, Manaphy has to choose between survivability or sweeping prowess, it can't do both at once.
Assuming there's a Tail Glow involved, counters are somewhat limited, but there's an added bonus that Manaphy requires one turn of set-up, allowing the counter to switch in unscathed.
Blissey can beat Manaphy one on one with Thunderbolt and Calm Mind. A Blissey relying on Seismic Toss however is doomed to failure (although it can slow it down with Thunder Wave or Sing). Calm Mind Raikou can come in during a Tail Glow, fire off a Calm Mind and then fire back with a STAB boosted and super-effective Thunderbolt (which will OHKO). Jolteon can't KO but its Thunderbolts will hurt a whole lot. Snorlax and Regice do somewhat decently (assuming they're healthy), they get hurt by Manaphy and can't heal off the damage easily but between STAB Return and Thunderbolt they're reasonably effective.
Looking towards some lesser used Pokémon: Ludicolo with Energy Ball is a decent choice, it takes about 40% from a Tail Glow boosted Ice Beam but does a little over 50% to Manaphy with Energy Ball. A Tentacruel with Max HP and Max SDef only takes about 30% from a Tail Glow boosted Energy Ball. Mantine takes about 40% from a Tail Glow boosted Ice Beam.
Pokémon with Mirror Coat and a good enough SDef and HP stat to survive Manaphy's attacks can usually get a complete OHKO. Cradily is a good example of this.
Empoleon can't hurt Manaphy much (barring Hidden Power) but it can Pseudo-haze it with Roar or Yawn. Assuming Manaphy is using Grass Knot (and not Energy Ball) Lanturn counters it nicely, Vaporeon can Pseudo-Haze it (with Roar or Yawn) and opposing Manaphy with Energy Ball work as well.
Hard hitters with Choice Scarf hurt Manaphy a lot. Tail Glow Manaphy has no means of self-recovery (barring Leftovers) so it can only take so many hits, especially if Spikes, Stealth Rock and Sandstorm are factors. Sleep and Paralyse mess it up (barring an active Rain Dance) and well devised Toxic strategies can work to an extent. It's by no means an easy Pokémon to counter but it is manageable.
Rain-Rest Manaphy is easier to counter since it isn't a huge offensive threat, but it will last long while. Disruptive moves are effective, Taunt and Knock Off especially. Using your own weather control is effective as well, especially if you can sneak it in as it uses Rest (subjecting it to the full two turns of Rest by removing its Rain Dance). Since Rain-Rest Manaphy is limited to two offensive attacks there's plenty of Pokémon who can wall it outright.
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