Skarmory, The Armor Bird Pokémon. It's sturdy wings are actually light and hollow allowing it to freely fly in the sky. After nesting in bramble bushes, it's offspring grow tough wings from scratches by thorns. The feathers it sheds are sharps, it is said they used to be used as weapons. It is entirely encased in hard protective armor. It flies at almost 200MPH and slashes it's foes with it's wings. It's wings become tattered and bashed in from repeated battles. Once a year, the wings grow back completely.
A Good Moveset for Skarmory would have to be this:
Drill Peck | Hidden Power [Flying] / Aerial Ace
Strategy Using Skarmory
Pretty much the Standard Skarmory, it's a essentially a sure bet that this is the kind of Skarmory you'll be faced up against if you happen to come by an opposing one. Skarmory is a staple of OU play and every well-built team always takes into account the possibility of Skarmory. It's the reason why so many Physical Sweepers have a Fire or Electric move and one half of the reason why Pokémon like McGar and Tyraniboah became popular, both of which were Sub-Punch-Special-Sweep variations of the aforementioned Pokémon. When paired with Blissey or Snorlax it becomes the bane of new players and with the appropriate support of it's team-mates and a smart player it can be the bane of experienced players as well.
Skarmory has a high natural defence, no physical weaknesses and many physical resistances, lending naturally to it's place as a Physical Wall, literally cutting short the offence of many Pokémon. Added with this is it's potential to have Roar or Whirlwind, both of which have the potential to "shuffle" a Pokémon out of play, meaning Physical sweepers couldn't try to overpower Skarmory's defences through the use of stat boosts. On top of that it has Spikes, with Skarmory's natural tendency to cause frequent switches a potential 25% damage to your opponent every time they switch it can passively rack up a lot of damage.
Skarmory has two core functions:
When picking the move-set for Skarmory the main consideration is which you prefer: Whirlwind or Roar and Drill Peck or Hidden Power [Flying]. Due to a conflict in Breeding Chains Skarmory can only have either Drill Peck or Whirlwind, never both at the same time. Whirlwind is essentially the same as Roar, except for one potentially game-breaking difference, Whirlwind effects Pokémon with Soundproof and Roar doesn't. While in most cases this has no effect on a game, against a team designed around Baton Pass (which almost always includes a Mr. Mime) this can be a 'make or break' moment for both sides. Due to the highly situational times that Whirlwind shows benefit over Roar most choose to go with Roar and Drill Peck. Drill Peck does more damage than HP Flying to put it simply. Whilst Skarmory doesn't attack it's opponents frequently the extra damage does count on occasion.
On the "Skarm-Bliss" Skarmory Rest was a must, since with Blissey's Aromatherapy/Heal-Bell ability the negative side effect of Rest was rarely felt. With Blissey (and 'Clerics' in general) being fewer the ability to Rest with Skarmory can become a lot more difficult and with the wider-spread use of Wish Rest could be seen as unnecessary. Substitute comes with many advantages, the most obvious one being the fact that it blocks Rapid Spin's Spike Removal side-effect. Another is that it allows you to safely 'scout' your opponent's Skarmory counters. If you use Substitute as a Magneton is switched into play you can use Whirlwind/Roar while it Thunderbolts your Substitute. You can also throw up Substitute prior to an opposing Snorlax using Fire Blast, avoiding the 50-60% damage. This goes on top of the obvious fact that it absorbs opposing attacks and makes Skarmory immune to status attacks.
The downside of using Sub on Skarm is you have no form of self-healing, meaning you'll need to be a little more conservative with how you use Skarmory. If you switch Skarmory into a Fire Blast/Thunderbolt accidentally you have the potential to take over 50% damage, with any Skarmory this is a problem but when Skarmory can't get back that health quickly all of a sudden it's not such a menace to opposing Physical Sweepers (for example Choice band Tauros does about 20-25% damage to Skarmory with Return, at Full Health Skarmory can usually shrug that off but when it's down to 50% or less it'll only take three of those to take it down, two after the one it presumably switched in to block). Wish support and having a secondary Physical Wall is heavily advised when using Substitute with Skarmory.
EVs: 252 HP / 64 Atk / 192 Def
There's no other way to go about using Skarmory than to go with Impish nature. Most people prefer to go with Max HP on their Skarmory's and have about 400 Defence, leaving some EVs for it's Attack stat. The main few variations on Skarmory's EV placement is to boost it's weak Special Defence with spare EVs, making it more able to take surprise Fire Blasts/Thunderbolts. It's possible to run 196 HP EVs and still get the same Leftover recovery as with 252 allowing some more EVs to be placed elsewhere. Adding in minimal amounts of Speed is usually advised, more so on Skarmory since it's quite likely to run into opposing Pokémon who have a 70 Base Speed and few/no EVs in Speed.
Other Optional Sets
Skarmory @ Leftovers
Taunting variation of Skarmory. It suffers from the same problems as Sub Skarm when it comes to sacrificing Rest but adds in some surprise factor. It generally needs a fair bit of Speed to work (in the EV example I merely put all the spare EVs into Speed). While it's somewhat situational Taunt has plenty of uses and for the most part Skarmory can maintain it's two core roles effectively. The main things of note on this set is it can stop opposing Pokémon from switching into Skarmory to Rest/Heal, since with Skarmory's minor offensive abilities many Pokémon can use it as an opportunity to heal up. It also stops opposing Spikers from setting up Spikes against it.
Other Optional Moves
Steel Wing, Curse, Agility, Aerial Ace, Hidden Power [Ground], Hidden Power [Fighting], Toxic, Steel Wing gets STAB, has decent power and has a nice side effect when it kicks in, another handy bonus of it is Steel is super-effective against Rock, notable against Tyranitar who can easily mop the floor with Skarmory one-on-one. You'll get more use out of Flying Attacks since it does Super Effective damage on more opponents but it's an option. Curse and Agility are two good moves that you'll probably never use, Curse would do well on a novelty set since it boosts Defence and Attack nicely, unfortunately it doesn't have room for it on the standard set and in most cases Skarmory is in-and-out of play too frequently to stat boost. Aerial Ace is for those phobic of Hidden Powers, that and it's a possibility if you happen to have Hidden Power taken up by another move and are using Whirlwind. HP Ground is 4x SE against Magneton…it still doesn't OHKO it but you can sneak a 2KO. Too situational to be worth using. Same story for HP Fighting which can be used against Tyranitar. I'm only mentioning Toxic just so I can say not to use it on Skarmory. Toxic-Spikes-Shuffling is nothing but a dream, an "in theory this would rock". If Skarmory didn't have Roar, Whirlwind or Spikes Toxic would probably be on every Skarmory set though, the move itself is good, especially on stallers, but not on Skarmory who is too busy Spiking and PHazing.
Strategy Against Skarmory
Obviously Fire and Electric attacks and Pokémon are top of this list. Add with that is Special Attackers in general, even attacks that are "Not very effective" such as Psychic usually cause 30% or more damage to Skarmory. This means guys like Suicune, Milotic, Celebi and so on are suitable for doing damage to Skarmory, although the latter will take super-effective damage from it's Flying Attacks.
Magneton is the number one Counter for Skarmory since it can trap it in play and then destroy it with Thunderbolt, barring Skarmory PHazing it out Skarmory will end up fainted (well barring miracles or very abnormal EV distribution). Special mention goes to Nosepass as well who shares the same ability and access to Electric Attacks, of course poor Nosepass needs to use Taunt to stop Skarmory from PHazing him out. It's not really a 'serious' Counter and there's a lot of questions as to how a NU ends up against an OU like Skarmory but great satisfaction can be had from having an NU beat a staple Pokémon like Skarmory, it's a testament to Nosepass's NU state that I had to look up it's name because I couldn't remember it.
Other common counters are Physical Sweepers who get STAB on Physical Attacks that aren't resisted by Skarmory, Fighting Types are the core example who also get Focus Punch, an attack that does Huge amounts of damage, especially when you add in the potential for Choice Band. Heracross and Medicham are the main ones, Heracross of course being able to get a good laugh whenever it sees a poor schmo use Toxic on Skarmory and unfortunately activate it's Guts ability for a nice 1.5x boost for Heracross. Of course neither of these two should switch into Skarmory directly, rather they should use their Fighting move/s of choice on predicted switch ins. Plain old Dragon Dance Tyranitar is the other main example, DD-Tar being given the blessing of Taunt to block any Whirlwind/Roar attempts and simply being able to use DD and eventually pound it away with Rock Slide. Two things worthy of mention with DD-Tar though is it's weak to Steel Wing and if it's slower than the Skarmory the Taunt variation can prevent TTar from using DD (giving it time to switch to an appropriate counter without giving TTar a free DD).
The other counters are the mixed sweepers, rather than being just plain Skarmory counters they're counters to any attempts of mixing Skarmory with a Special Sponge (Blissey, Snorlax and Regice for example). Flamethrower Salamence, Fire Blast Snorlax, Thunderpunch Metagross as well as the McGar and Tyraniboah sets mentioned earlier.
Rapid Spinners can get rid of Skarmory's Spikes, while this doesn't 'Counter' Skarmory it counters one of it's functions. Claydol, Donphan and Starmie are the main ones, of course Claydol and Donphan will experience problems with the Substitute variations of Skarmory whilst Starmie has the capability to 2KO Skarmory.
The final thing to keep in mind is that Whirlwind and Roar only work when you have two Pokémon. This means that if you have a stat-boosting Tank Pokémon as your last Pokémon it's possible to make a come-back. Since it's your last Pokémon there's no way for Skarmory to PHaze it and if the Skarmory user has no appropriate counter for your stat booster it will be able to go for a sweep. The most notable user of this strategy is Curse-Lax, who would otherwise be beaten by Skarmory's PHazing ability. On a similar note, Pokémon with Suction Cups and stat boosting abilities are able to do a similar thing, as are Pokémon with Soundproof against Skarmory's using Roar. For the most part this only comes into play with Baton Passing chains but it's something to keep in mind when facing Skarmory.
Taunt is the final 'counter' to Skarmory. While it doesn't do anything to faint it, provided you don't take a lot of damage from it's attacks you'll force it to switch out of play, this'll most notably be used by Pokémon who can stat boost (like the aforementioned DD-Tar) or switch to an ally who can faint it. This can also be used by utility Pokémon to activate their utility moves, for example the aforementioned Taunt-Skarm who can lay down Spikes while the opposing Skarmory can't do anything (barring scratching it with Drill Peck).
A good Contest Moveset for Skarmory would have to be this for the Cool Contest best with Lonely, Adament, Naughty or Brave Nature:
Strategy Using Skarmory
If you do the attacks in this following order you should have very few problems; 1st - Aerial ace, 2nd - Leer, 3rd - Drill peck, 4th - Metal sound, 5th - Aerial ace
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