Dewgong, The Sea Lion Pokémon. Stores thermal energy in its body. Swims at a steady 8 knots even in intensely cold waters. Its entire body is a snowy-white. Unharmed by even intense cold, it swims powerfully in icy waters. Its streamlined body has little drag in water. The colder the temperature, the friskier it gets. It loves frigid seas with ice floes. It uses its long tail to change swimming direction quickly. It sleeps under shallow ocean waters during the day, then looks for food at night when it's cold. It loves to snooze on bitterly cold ice. The sight of this Pokémon sleeping on a glacier was mistakenly thought to be a mermaid by a mariner long ago. In snow, the pure white coat covering its body obscures it from predators.
Dewgong suffers the curse of blandness. Its move-pool is shallow and its stats so-so. It really struggled in the last generation because of this. Being a Water-Ice type isn't unique, and Walrein outclassed it in almost every way. However, the 4th generation brought a very useful change in the form of Hydration, an ability unique to Dewgong, Phione and Manaphy. Dewgong still suffers the same curse, but Hydration gives it a little niche to occupy in the Underused environment, and that's at least a small step forward.
Hydration: heals status effects during Rain at the end of each turn. Burn, freeze, poison, paralysis, sleep and most importantly, self-inflicted sleep from Rest. Rain-Rest is a rather potent defensive combination, and whilst Dewgong isn't a noted defensive Pokémon, this source of healing gives it significantly improved defensive capabilities.
Thick Fat: halves Ice and Fire damage. This effectively gives you an 8x resistance to Ice moves and a 2x resistance to Fire moves. It's not a bad ability, but what makes Dewgong unique is its other option, and a Thick Fat Dewgong will always have difficulty measuring up to a Thick Fat Walrein.
- Rain Dance
Rain-Rest is Dewgong's own little niche, shared only with Phione and Manaphy. It's a simple strategy. Fire off a Rain Dance and feel free to Rest during the Rain, knowing the sleep status will be removed at the end of the turn. It's five (or eight) turns where Dewgong can completely recover all of its HP, which is pretty neat. Obviously, if that Rain Dance can provide some support to its team-mates, it lets Dewgong fill a supporting role as well.
Surf has a complete grip on this move-set. STAB and a Rain Dance boost mean it'll be pumping out some pretty respectable damage on any Pokémon that doesn't resist water moves. Additionally, STAB Ice Beam and its associated type coverage is nothing to scoff at.
Damp Rock or Leftovers are the main item choices. Damp Rock extends Rain Dance by three turns, giving you more time to abuse Rest or giving your team-mates more time to take advantage of the Rain. Leftovers gives a flat 1/16th HP recovery-per-turn, which over-time can add up to a lot of healing and is always an option for a defensive-minded Pokémon.
EVs and Nature:
Max HP is the general starting point. An all-round defensive boost, some extra HP to benefit from the Rain-Rest recovery and if you're carrying Leftovers, you get the most HP out of them as you can.
Aside from Max HP, for the most part, you have to specialise. Either max out your Special Attack, taking it from a pitiful 176 to a respectable 262. Alternatively, you can max out your Special Defence (or Defence) to take hits a bit better. Your base stats are a bit too weak to really go for a 'middle-ground', but if you want to create some kind of balance, then you're best off taking the nature boost for your Special Defence (or Defence) and then maxing out your Special Attack (to a semi-respectable 239).
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SAtk / 252 SDef
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef
Encore, Toxic, Perish Song, Waterfall, Aqua Tail, Avalanche, Ice Shard, Aqua Jet, Horn Drill, Sheer Cold.
Encore is probably the most popular other option to note. You can force the opponent to repeat their move over and over, which can be played to your advantage in all sorts of ways. It's notorious for forcing switches, but even if the opponent gets locked into a favourable move (like Thunderbolt), it allows Dewgong to make a switch knowing exactly what move is coming up next. Thunderbolt is a classic example to use in tandem with a Ground type or a Pokémon with Volt Absorb. Fighting moves work similarly with a Ghost team-mate and so forth. Dewgong has a fair few weaknesses, and ironically, that can be used to its (and its team's) benefit.
Toxic is your main option for getting rid of other Water types. You have a Water move and an Ice move, so almost every Water type under the sun will wall your offence. If they can't threaten you however, then they'll eventually succumb to the effects of Toxic.
Perish Song is more of a switch-forcing move than a true KO-threat. Dewgong doesn't get any trapping moves, so it can't execute the 'Perish-Trap' combination. With that in mind, Perish Song just ends up filling the boots of Roar or Whirlwind, admittedly with a two-turn delay before the switch occurs. On the bright side, it really messes up Baton Passers (and Baton Pass chains), since Perish Song will get passed on to a Baton Pass recipient.
You have physical alternatives to the Surf and Ice Beam combination. Waterfall and Aqua Tail are essentially direct counterparts to Surf, with the latter being a little more powerful than the former but with less accuracy. Avalanche isn't a direct counterpart to Ice Beam. If Dewgong is damaged, its power doubles, which is quite neat. On the other hand, if Dewgong isn't damaged, then it's an insignificant 60 base power move. You also have Aqua Jet and Ice Shard, STAB moves with priority modifiers (they strike first). Aqua Jet is probably the more favourable one, since it gets the Rain boost, but Ice Shard has some neat type coverage in its favour.
Finally, you have the One-hit-KO combination, Sheer Cold and Horn Drill. You use them together, and the point is to play the odds. You get ten (or sixteen) goes; you will miss 70% of the time; but if you do it over and over again, you're bound to succeed at least once…right? You can place your faith in this strategy if you want to, but it pretty much defines the word 'unreliable' and is generally frowned upon in competitive battling (if not banned by a clause).
Dewgong is incredibly one-dimensional. Its shallow move-pool leaves its offence confined to Water and Ice moves, and short of Encore, it lacks any real tricks up its sleeve. Water types with neutral (or super-effective) attacks are the first Pokémon to come up as counters, since they resist both of Dewgong's core attacks. Poliwrath benefits from Fighting STAB, Lanturn benefits from Electric STAB and you also have Lapras, who carries Thunderbolt. Toxicroak gets a Water immunity from Dry Skin and will enjoy the recovery that comes with the Rain too (and of course, it has STAB Fighting moves to abuse).
The above are 'sure-thing' counters, but even without them, Dewgong doesn't pose an overwhelming offensive threat. Rain and STAB boosted Surfs will sting a fair bit if you don't pack a resistance to them, but otherwise, its offence is limited; and despite the Rain-Rest combination, Dewgong isn't a defensive superstar either. Some Pokémon are cursed by mediocre stats with a mediocre move-pool to match, and short of Hydration, nothing about Dewgong stands out.
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