Magcargo, The Lava Pokémon. Its body temperature is roughly 18,000 degrees F. Flames spout from gaps in its hardened shell. The shell on its back is just skin that has cooled and hardened. It breaks easily with a slight touch. Its brittle shell occasionally spouts intense flames that circulate throughout its body. The shell on its back is made of hardened magma. Tens of thousands of years spent living in volcanic craters have turned Magcargo's bodies into magma. Water is vaporized on contact. If this Pokémon is caught in the rain, the raindrops instantly turn into steam, cloaking the area in a thick fog. Its shell is very brittle and fragile - just touching it causes it to crumble apart. This Pokémon returns to its original size by dipping itself in magma. ť
Y'know, “Never-used” is becoming a really recurring theme of these articles. If it makes you guys feel any better, there's a movie soonish and you know Joe just loves to save up Pokémon for themed articles, and I assure you, they are pains in my rear to write.
Anyway, today, it's Magcargo, and when it comes to bad type combinations, look no further: Fire and Rock… say hello to 4x Water and Ground weaknesses with Fighting and Rock weaknesses as added bonuses. Even with Giratina's stats, Magcargo would have a hard time crawling out of the UU tier with weaknesses like that, and sadly, its stats are decidedly average: good enough, but nothing outstanding. Its move-pool is actually quite nifty. It got some real upgrades in the generation shift, including the widely abused Stealth Rock and the much loved Recover.
So… what can I say? Gamefreak screwed it over from the start giving it that type combination, but otherwise, it's an okay Pokémon. Oh yeah, and it looks like it has lava-bogeys hanging off of its cheeks.
Magma Armour: prevents Freezing. Since the Freeze status isn't all too common, it's a pretty forgettable ability.
Flame Body: has a 30% chance of burning an opponent who uses a move defined as making “contact.” It's probably the better of the two, and the only reason I see to not use it is if you don't want to risk burning opponents accidentally (such as Pokémon with Guts).
As a little bonus note, both of these abilities halve egg hatching time; so all you breeders out there should grab a Magcargo, if you haven't already.
- Lava Plume
I did say Magcargo got a nice move-pool boost this generation, and whilst it may not have the most blessed typing, being able to lay out a layer of Stealth Rocks; especially in the NU tier (where you have plenty of Fire and Bug types to harass); is quite a blessing. Lava Plume is the halfway point between Will-o-Wisp and Flamethrower. A bit weaker than Flamethrower in power but you carry a nifty 30% chance of burning your foe.
Recover is the big bonus this generation. Not everything in the NU tier carries Water or Ground moves, so Magcargo can make for a decent Wall in certain situations, and a reliable 50% recovery move just enhances its Walling credentials.
Toxic is something of a filler to round things out. Water types are the most problematic foe Magcargo can be faced with, and Toxic really is the biggest threat Magcargo can pose to them.
EVs and Nature:
Base 50 HP is something you want to max out immediately. Even maxed out it's still pretty tame, but you need to make the most of it. A nature boost and 176 EVs gets you passed the 350 Defence marker, which is a pretty nice number to have, and lets you abuse that Rock type for switching into Band-boosted Returns and so forth. Round out those excess EVs into Special Attack, or even Special Defence, and you should be set.
Flamethrower, Fire Blast, Overheat, Will-o-Wisp, Ancient Power, Earth Power, Hidden Power [Grass], Yawn, Acid Armour, Amnesia, Reflect, Light Screen, Explosion, Memento.
Flamethrower, Fire Blast and Overheat are your main Lava Plume alternatives. The accurate, the more powerful but less accurate and the very powerful but lowers your special attack and also less accurate than the first one… nowhere near as catchy as “the good, the bad and the ugly” but we all know the drill here. Since your burn chance drops a fair bit, it's worth adding Will-o-Wisp here as an additional option.
The rest of Magcargo's special move-pool isn't too bad. AncientPower gets STAB, although even with STAB it's still stuck at a fairly average 90 Base Power, but a decent 10% chance of getting an all-round boost is a nice bonus though. With a similar 90 Base Power, and the wonderful type coverage that comes with Ground moves, you also have Earth Power. Finally, Hidden Power [Grass] rounds things off to hit Water types, particularly the ones with 4x weaknesses. You have a large enough move-pool here to throw together a decent Specs set if you want to throw a surprise at your foe, but Magcargo isn't really built for the Specs role.
You have a fairly interesting supporting move-pool as well:
Yawn can force switches (since few Pokémon will stay in and allow themselves to be put to sleep), although it doesn't work on Pokémon who are already suffering from a status.
Acid Armour and Amnesia give a two-stage boost to Defence and Special Defence respectively. You can pretend that'll help you overcome your weaknesses, but they won't. Reflect and Light Screen on the other hand cut the damage taken from physical and special moves respectively, and whilst these won't help you overcome your weaknesses, they are much more useful, since they linger even if you switch out.
Finally, you can round things off with what I refer to as “suicidal options.” Explosion is okay, but even 250 Base Power isn't going to overcome that horrid Attack Base Stat. Memento on the other hand faints Magcargo and lowers the foes Attack and Special Attack by two stages. If you have a team-mate that can take advantage of a foe in this position (Belly Drummers particularly like this situation) then this can be a real asset.
I did mention something about a 4x Ground and Water weakness… right? Oh good, I did. Water types have a great time against Magcargo, since they resist Fire moves and carry STAB Water moves. Hidden Power or Toxic may pose a threat but I'd say any defensively-passable Water type should suffice as a worthwhile counter. I'd expand upon this, but there really seems to be little need. Magcargo isn't much of a trickster, it doesn't complicate matters too much and it has some horrible weaknesses to exploit… need I say more?
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