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The Silph League Arena

Nifty or Thrifty

Mar 28, 2020: Nifty Or Thrifty: Voyager Cup

Author: JRE Seawolf

“Nifty or Thrifty” is a series which author JRE Seawolf started on the Arena subreddit to analyze the Cup meta – specifically through the lens of which Pokemon may be worth powering-up and purchasing 2nd charge moves for and which “budget picks” are available at less cost who can still perform well!

The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series serves a few functions. First, it gives a first blush, comprehensive look at the meta for the upcoming Voyager Cup AND Regionals format, particularly from the perspective of which Pokémon are likely worth the cost of leveling up and adding a second charge move (nifty) and which ones would probably work out fine without heavy investment (thrifty), including some alternatives to the more expensive options. For those on a stardust budget–and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future–it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams of six, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps instead channel our inner scrooge?

As the meta is still coming together, I have tried to whittle down without leaving too much out, but as per usual with these, it’s likely to be a long read, just to warn you up front! Longer than usual, even, as this meta is HUGE. There is no way I can cram it all into one article without completely frying your poor brains (and my own!), so I decided we’ll need to piecemeal it this time. So this is Part I of at least THREE planned articles it will take to get through everything I think we’ll care about in this meta. (Until a week from now when the entire meta changes on a dime, as it does every month! 🥴

Anyway, before we dive in, make sure to familiarize yourself with what makes up the Voyager format. I’ll quick go and grab the description I had in my kickoff/welcome article last week:

Players must pick one (and only one) Pokémon from each region:

  1. Kanto
  2. Johto
  3. Hoenn
  4. Sinnoh
  5. Unova/Alola/Galar/Other (including Melmetal)

There are NO RESTRICTIONS OR BANS on these first 5 slots, as long as exactly one Pokémon is picked from each of the regions. Legendaries, Mythicals, Alolans… they’re all A-OK here!

The 6th Pokémon is a wildcard. It can be picked from any region – but there is that restricted list I mentioned. The following Pokémon cannot be selected as your wild card, so if you choose to use one, it will be your primary (and likely only, in many cases) pick from its respective region:

  1. Kanto: Venusaur, Ivysaur, Hypno, Lapras, Dewgong, Wigglytuff, Mew
  2. Johto: Azumarill, Skarmory, Umbreon
  3. Hoenn: Registeel, Altaria, DDeoxys, Swampert, Whiscash, Tropius, Medicham, Gardevoir
  4. Sinnoh: Bastiodon, Probopass, Cresselia, Togekiss
  5. Other: Zweilous, Scrafty, Melmetal, Alolan Marowak, Jellicent, Mandibuzz

So since I decided I had to divide and conquer to tackle everything this month anyway, I figured I’d still go in my typical order, starting with the cheapest (at least in terms of adding a second charge move) Pokémon, meaning those whose second move costs only 10,000 dust and 25 candy. That’s what we’re covering today. Then future expansions will cover those with 50,000 dust costs, 75,000, and even the Legendaries and Mythicals that cost a whopping 100,000 dust and 100 candy to add a second move to. I DO hope to be through it all before April officially arrives, though things are obviously a bit up in the air with all that’s going on in the world right now. Hopefully, like Voyager Cup itself, this is able to provide you some small respite. I sincerely hope this finds you well.

So for you thrifty players out there, today’s article is ALL about that thriftiness. Let’s get to it!

NIFTY

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

Obviously, the majority of the Pokémon in this category have already been covered with all the starters above. But there are other cheap diamonds in the rough. Let’s see what else we got in this thrifty lover’s category!

ᴿ – Restricted List

ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

Venusaurᴿ

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb

Already talked about my boy Venu in the kickoff Voyager article, but to sum up: he’s good. Really good. Beats the other Grasses and does everything you’d want your Grass to do, like the good reliable staple he is. The Poison subtyping is sometimes a curse (Psychics and Grounds, primarily), but a huge blessing versus Fighters and Fairies and allowing it to tangle with all of them too and typically emerge victorious. And Sludge Bomb lets it hit even its hardest counters for much more damage than what the other Grasses can hope to muster. There’s a case for a few Grasses in this format, but in my book, Venusaur stands above all the rest with its consistency, flexibility, and ability to wiggle out of many bad spots. The only downside is that it is (unsurprisingly) Restricted… and you can again refer to the kickoff article I linked to to see the trickle-down impacts of choosing it.

Meganium

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Earthquake

If you don’t run with Venusaur, Meg is probably your next best bet. There are even many who swear by Meg over Venu even without the Restricted list factor, and it’s mostly because of the threat of Earthquake, giving it wins over the big Steels like Melmetal, Bronzong, Jirachi, and even Registeel, plus Probopass and (depending on IVs) Bastiodon as well. It would appear you actually want one with decent Attack to give you the necessary damage to win all those (a Rank 1 can’t guarantee Bastie, and other low Attack IV combos can’t guarantee all the other Steels), so run your Frenzy Plant Meg(s) through some sims and see if yours measures up, because those Steel wins are what gives it any advantage over Venusaur in the first place, so if your Meg can’t get there, you may want to look elsewhere for your Grass.

Sceptile

Fury Cutter | Leaf Blade & Earthquake

Basically a spammier, flimsier Meganium. Best with high stat product IVs, but with that, it beats all those big Steels too, and Meganium in the head to head thanks to the speed and super effectiveness of Fury Cutter (and of course, all the stuff you’d want your Grass to beat). A bit less consistent than Meg, but also less expected and from a different generation, and therein lie its greatest strengths. A consideration if you like Meg but don’t have a good Community Day one. Note that Sceptile does NOT utilize Frenzy Plant for its best results here.

Charizard

Fire Spin | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ
Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Overheat

Always a threat, even in wide open formats like Voyager where Fire isn’t necessarily a great typing. The old reliable FS/BB set looks fine, roasting the many potent Steels, Grasses, Fairies and others as you would expect, but if you’re lucky enough to have the Legacy Wing Attack version, it’s even a hair better, gaining wins like D-Deoxys and even Altaria (hitting three Dragon Claws before Alt can get to a second charge move) at the cost of fringier things like Froslass. Zard and Fires are more specialists here than anything, but they are very powerful ones that can absolutely wreck an unprepared team. This is a good flex option for team builds that could use Fiery services.

Typhlosion

Shadow Claw | Blast Burnᴸ & Solar Beam

If you want the ability to burn things but still reach out and claw other things down too, consider Typhlosion. With Shadow Claw, it’s not going to take down things like Venusaur (as an example) with the same breathing room as something like Charizard. But what it CAN do is threaten things no Fire should be able to claim, like Hypno and DDeoxys and by golly, even the mighty Azumarill. It’s also the only truly viable Fire type that can consistently take down top Fire Alolan Marowak. And it does all this while still (mostly) maintaining the wins Charizard can muster, albeit a little closer in cases like Venusaur. This is truly a flex pick, in every sense of the word, and could really wreak some havoc in the right hands. Don’t count Typh out… it has long lived in Zard’s shadow, but may be even better this time around.

Blaziken

Counter | Blaze Kick & Blast Burnᴸ

Honestly, this might be a bit TOO much of a specialist pick here. Yes, it completely dismantles Registeel like few other things can, and is the one Fire that can bring it to Bastiodon and the like as well. But aside from things like them, it falls pretty flat overall. The bonus win over Umbreon is nice, but it’s shakier against Steels and Grasses in general, and really cannot do anything outside of what I’ve mentioned. Considering Zard and Typh can do most all of that and a lot more, I do not personally recommend Blaziken in Voyager. Somebody will still bring it, though, so do study its strengths and limitations to know how best to handle it, because it CAN wreck if its opponent is caught unawares.

Blastoise

Water Gun | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Ice Beam/Skull Bash

Poor Blastoise. He’s actually a very good Great League Pokémon, doing everything you’d ask of your Water and then some. No Fire, Rock, or Steel want to tangle with it, and it’s bulky enough to even outlast things like Vigoroth and Umbreon in neutral on neutral slugfests. Its main issue? It’s not named “Azumarill”. With Ice Beam it actually plays a very Azu-ish role, just not as lethally. With Skull Bash it is a threat to just about everything, but not really THE biggest threat to anything. And that is Blastoise’s only real problem: there is always something that does its job better. Once again… poor Blastoise.

Swampertᴿ

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake/Sludge Wave

Case in point. Swampert just does more than poor Blastie, such as outracing Toxicroak and Scrafty and outpunching things like Hypno, and being more consistently mean to the Steels and other things like A-Wak. Swampert pines for Blastoise’s bulk, but Blastie pines for Swampert’s results. All that being said, it’s really tough to consider Swampert (or the next entry below) because of being on the Restricted List, and sharing a generation with other Restricted options like Registeel, Altaria, DDeoxys, Tropius and other build-around centerpieces. Swampy is very good, of that there is no doubt, and it’s certainly not “wrong” to make IT your build-around Pokémon. But man, you give up a lot to do it. Too much, in my own humble opinion.

Whiscashᴿ

Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard

Originally NOT on the Restricted List, but in the end a number of us contributors convinced Team Silph that it should be, so here we are. (Otherwise Whiscash was ridiculously OP and everywhere.) I know this is perhaps an even more popular pick than Swampert, with its unique ability to get to a Blizzard much faster than opponents may expect and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against even its hardest of hard counters. But as goes Swampy, so had to go Cash. You can use it, but you sacrifice a lot of other really good Gen3 picks to try and get there. I know you all swear by this dopey fish, and I get it, but it may be time to let it go. For this month, at least.

Marshtomp

Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Surf

One potential replacement for the top two Mud Boys is right in the same 10k group: Swampert’s pre-evolution Marshtomp, which sits at a nice comfortable Great League level in the low Level 30s. Very similar stat-wise to Swampy (with slightly lower Attack and slightly higher HP), what Marshy lacks in not having access to busted Community Day moves, it makes up for with potent spammy moves of its own. Surf is a fantastic move in its own right that is ONLY held back by not being Hydro Cannon, and unlike Swampert, Marshy gets access to the Mud Bombs that make Whiscash such a force too. While its lack of a true closing move hold it back a tiny bit compared to the Restricted Mud Boys, it still beats down Registeel and the Steely Boys as well (and typically better) than either of them, as well as the big Ghosts, Fighters, Electrics, DD and more. Want a Mudder on the cheap but can’t overcome the restrictions placed on Swampy and Cash? You may not have to look far to find your guy.

Prinplup

Bubble | Icy Wind & Hydro Pump

So now we’re up to Gen4, so naturally that means Empole–wait, what is THIS? You mean to tell me we are NOT looking at Empoleon, but instead its non-Steel pre-evolution, Prinplup? Really? Yes… really. I know, I know, it’s somewhat bait-reliant with Icy Wind setting up some closing Hydro Pumps in many cases. I get it. But what it beats with JUST Icy Wind is still a pretty good list, and it still takes even Registeel RIGHT to the edge without baiting at all. It is quite possible any surprise factor will wear off as the month goes on, but at least in earlier tournaments, you gotta love what this little underrated penguin is able to potentially do. And no, it doesn’t have to be anywhere near maxed, as you can get one in the low 30s with hatch level IVs and it’ll do the same things. Keep an eye on Prinplup, folks. Seriously. And keep in mind it’s from Gen4, where the roster spot competition is pretty light.

Mantine

Wing Attack | Ice Beam & Bubble Beam

Yes, Mantine’s second move cost is actually 75,000 dust, but Mantyke‘s second move costs only 10k, and then only about 30k to level the resulting Mantine up to Great League level from there. That’s right, the infamous Baby Discount™! Anyway, Mantine is a fan favorite for its truly unique profile as a Flyer AND a true Water type. It can even run with Bubble, but in general it seems Wing Attack is probably preferred here, getting potential wins over Azumarill, Meganium, and the mirror match that Bubbletine cannot replicate (instead netting wins over DDeoxys and Steels Bronzong and Skarmory). But there is room for experimentation with the moves here, sure. However you slice it, Mantine is a unique threat to a wide and varied field of targets ranging from Fires to Fighters to Grasses and even top meta picks like Altaria and even Azumarill itself (having a leg up on Azu no matter what moves it’s running. The downside? Mantine really only hits its peak with good Bubble Beam baits, and it and Azu share the same generation… not to mention they have quite a bit of overlap, so you may have some tough decisions to make there. At least Mantine is not restricted as Azumarill is.

Gyarados

Dragon Breath | Crunch & Hydro Pump

Yes, even I will admit this is a bit of a reach. But hear me out. Gyarados famously has a whole slew of moves available, so there’s the keep-your-opponent-guessing factor, but more than that, it can do seriously good things, including convincingly handling Altaria and Registeel. At worst, Gary is likely to at least draw a shield with Crunch and chunk things down… Dragon Breath is no longer Legacy, and that move is no joke in PvP. At best, it can keep a wide range of things (including others that don’t register as wins in the link above but need to be VERY wary on their heels and steal wins left and right. This is a spice pick, no doubt, but Gary’s got some swagger.

Alolan Raichu

Volt Switch | Thunder Punch & Wild Charge/Grass Knot

Speaking of swagger, this little danger mouse lives far larger than its diminutive stature. An early GO Battle League hero with Grass Knot blowing up Mud Boys left and right outta nowhere, the secret’s out of the bag now… but that’s okay, because Mud Boys are less likely to run rampant with their two big bosses on the naughty (restricted) list in Voyager. Instead, you can choose to unleash the awesome might of Wild Charge on an unsuspecting world. Gadzooks… a potential 2/3 of the core meta falls before mighty mouse, and that is NOT all just baiting, folks. AhChu can even go for broke (and the jugular!) with straight Wild Charges and still beat an impressive spread including Trop, DD, and the big Fighters and Steels… and Azu, of course. Or heck, even just straight Thunder Punch and STILL terrorize Regi, Azu, DD, and many others. Those high win percentages look legit, dear readers. Don’t just write them off as a speedster baiting its way to an inflated win percentage. AhChu can slay in many ways, and some of the biggest names in Voyager Cup soil themselves at the sight of it. And yes, you CAN still run Grass Knot if you like the feel of it, and it still does good things. But with Wild Charge not being resisted by hardly anything that is truly “meta”, its unbridled power is hard to ignore… as is Alolan Raichu, STILL reigning champion of the thrifty!

Wigglytuffᴿ

Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough

As always, the best true sign of a Charmer’s potential is shown by forgoing charge moves and just straight Charming targets to death. And with that prism, Wiggly looks plenty scary and you can start to understand why it’s Restricted. No Dragon, Fighter, Dark, Mud Boy, or Ghost (well, aside from ones that don’t rely primarily on Ghost damage, namely A-Wak) stands a chance due to Wiggly’s bulk and built-in Ghost resistance (thanks, Normal typing!). What’s more, it DOES tote two potent charge moves that you can unleash on the next ‘mon up that will cause painful damage or draw a certain shield… a win either way. But of course, Wiggly IS Restricted, and it’s hard to imagine truly running it as your big Generation 1 pick. Some will lament, some will rejoice, but it is what it is.

Clefable

Charm | Meteor Mash & Psychic

A very slight dropoff from Wiggly, and NOT Restricted. Also has access to the best charge move between them with Meteor Mash, though again, the best sign of what Cleffy can do is straight up Charming. Note the pickup of Meganium, which is a good illustration of how Clefable’s seemingly far inferior bulk–as compared to Wiggly–is deceptively good, with Clefable’s much higher Defense making Meg’s attacks significantly weaker than they are against Wigglytuff, who can’t overcome Meg. While it misses out on niche things Wiggly can do, like beating Haunter, Clefable is a perfectly suitable replacement that’s cheap to build and, again, unrestricted. I would dare say that if you’re going to see many Charmers in Voyager, they are most likely to be Clefables. And to repeat: there is very, very little that wants to take a Meteor Mash to the face, should it come to that.

Golbat

Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball

Fresh off being a major player again in Toxic Cup, can Golbat ride that success into Voyager Cup and Regional play? Mmmmm… maybe. The problem Golbat runs into in open play like this is that it gets tantalizingly close to beating things like Azumarill and Haunter and even things like Altaria, putting on serious pressure but not being able to quite seal the deal. While it absolutely terrorizes Fighters and Grasses and Charmers and other big players like A-Wak and DDeoxys, thanks in large part to its Poison/Flying typing that somehow STILL remains unique in the world of Pokémon today, it has no prayer against the many Steels, Rocks, Psychics, Electrics, and others that ruin its day. That might still be okay for your team, as it can definitely fill some holes and do so quite well, but that’s all it can really hope to be here: a role player, not a build-around centerpiece. And that unfortunately makes it a little tough to snag from Generation 1 outside of as a potential flex. There’s real value here, but only to a point.

Noctowl

Wing Attack | Sky Attack & Psychic/Night Shade

Mr. Owl is the blue-collar worker of Flyers. It doesn’t do anything fancy, mostly just spamming Wing Attack into Sky Attacks, but it does it a lot without complaint or demanding breaks, because it is a flying tank. Seriously, Noctowl is right up there with Altaria and even Tropius… it takes a long time and some dedicated damage to knock it out of the skies. It HAS secondary charge moves, but really, it’s just going to come at you with persistent, unrelenting Flying damage and dare you to stop it. Granted, that only gets it so far, but it does strike fear into mostly the same things Golbat does, just a little better, and of course there is its propensity for blowing up Ghosts too. Normal typing FTW again! Mr. Owl is a strong contender for plug and play Flyer just because of how many hits it can shrug off while doing the job you (don’t) pay it for. 💪

Altariaᴿ

Dragon Breath | Sky Attack & Dragon Pulse

If Noctowl is the blue-collar worker, Altaria is the white-collar big cheese overseeing all Flying operations. Alt is easily dismissed as a good Pokémon that’s just not worth a slot out of tht crowded Generation 3 Restricted field, with many thinking “it’s easy enough to plug in another Flyer”. And yes, there ARE other Flyers to consider, a couple of which we just reviewed. But to so easily pass over Altaria is a mistake. A good Altaria is head and shoulders (and beak!) above the other Flyers, and brings it every single time out. You really can’t farm it with anything other than the hardest of hard counters (mainly Bastiodon), as that Dragon Breath into Sky Attack spam hurts even things that resist BOTH, and it is even bulkier than Noctowl and it is capable of out-tanking many of the best tanks out there. It is SO tanky, in fact, that you can seriously consider running one with high Attack and lower bulk IVs and still perform very, very well… and look how it can even punish Azumarills now that don’t pack Ice Beam, in addition to continuing to terrorize Grasses, Fighters, Electrics, Psychics, and a wide field of others. Heck, you can even go all out on Attack and really not miss out on anything. Run your own Altaria’s IVs through PvPoke on those links above and see what it can do, but whichever end of the Attack-vs-bulk spectrum it lies on, there really isn’t anything else that can do all that Altaria can do. I would give serious consideration to Alt in the coveted Gen3 slot.

Lucario

Counter | Power-Up Punch & Close Combat/Shadow Ball

I heard well-known player ValorAsh extolling the virtues of all-Fighting Lucario, meaning one without one of its main weapons to this point in PvP: Shadow Ball. But you know what? I looked it up and by golly, Power-Up Punch/Close Combat does indeed appear to be Luc’s best moveset against the Voyager core meta. If you look at that list of wins, it’s pretty easy to see why, being loaded with Steels, Darks, and Ices that all rightly fear Fighting attacks (and Luc’s convenient Steel subtyping blunts a lot of their return fire as well). But you’ll also see Venusaur and Meganium and Galvantula and others that Lucario beats down much more efficiently by going all-Fighting, or doesn’t beat at all with Shadow Ball, with the extra 10 energy it requires over Close Combat often just being a bridge too far. Now yes, Luc relies on some good old-fashioned PuP shield baiting, but that IS still a real thing, even with everyone understandably being down on PuP since its painful (but really, probably deserved) nerf months ago. You can perhaps even use that to your advantage, as many do NOT expect PuP anymore and that can play right into you making them burn a shield. Luc remains a high risk/high reward choice, but at least with the Baby Discount™, you can get it super, super cheap. Evolving a double moved Riolu usually doesn’t require even one single powerup, so it’s just 10k for the second move of your choice and you’re done!

Munchlax

Lick | Body Slam & Bulldoze

Still a generalist first and foremost, but for once, Bulldoze has some real utility here, givng it wins against (nearly) all the big Steels, plus Ghosts, Psychics, and even others like Altaria with Body ~~Spam~~ Slam. Get yourself a good stat product IV one, and little Munchie can be a big, big problem, taking down Mud Boys and things that really should beat it, like DDeoxys. Even Azumarill can only barely fend it off. Yet another case of rarely ever being the best at something (though man, you gotta love how Munchie just annihilates Haunter without needing to shield or use any energy), but being a tough out in many widespread matchups. Munchlax is a nice flex consideration, or heck, could even be your Gen4 pick if you don’t like the limited Restricted options.

Linoone

Shadow Claw | Grass Knot & Thunder

Perhaps even a better Munchlax? Kinda-sorta. First, what it has going for it over Munchie is Grass Knot, turning it into a Water slayer. The only ones that outlast it are weirdos like Ludicolo and Poliwrath… but the ones you probably care about like the Mud Boys, Dewgong, Lapras, Mantine, Lanturn, Azumarill? Yeah, they all go down, as do the Ghosts and Psychics and most Steels that Munchie feasts on as well. But the big downside? Registeel escapes, as Looney just doesn’t have the necessary closing weapon that Munchie does with Bulldoze. And the other issue is that while Munchlax hails from the somewhat bereft-of-competition Gen4, Linoone is instead from the completely stacked Gen3, so you could really only use it in that valued 6th “flex” slot. Granted, on some teams, it should be easy to slot in as a way to fill the final holes, but it’s not for everyone.


Other Considerations

I ended up not giving these the full writeup treatment, but they stood out enough in my analysis to at least merit a mention due to their cheap cost and coverage. They’re most likely to get in as your flex, but some bear consideration even as their generation’s primary pick, depending on the rest of your team composition.

– I opted not to go in depth on it, as it’s from the relatively packed Gen 5+ group, but Alolan Graveler does some really good things on the cheap. Just scour that list of wins and see for yourself. There are not a lot of truly legit Electrics in this format, but A-Grav is among that elite group.

– Speaking of Alolans, Alolan Raticate remains a solid plug-n-play. At first I dismissed it with its typical Hyper Fang moveset, but this may the only case where Hyper Beam can actually work. A-Rat is plenty thicc enough to make good use of it (sometimes in multiples!) and Beam allows it to slay some of the beefiest monsters arounds, including Umbreon, Tropius, Whiscash, Lapras, and Mantine, none of which work out so well with Fang. A-Rat carries a terrifying double weakness to Fighters, but also *triple* resists Ghost, double resists Psychics, and resists Dark attacks as well, leaving it vulnerable only to those Fighters and infrequent Fairy and Bug moves. A-Rat isn’t the one and only best at anything, but it always puts up a fight and is good-to-great at a wide range of things. It’s a legit option, especially if you don’t really need anything from the Gen5+ group. Hmmm… maybe I should have just given A-Rat its own writeup after all. 😅

Poison Jabbing Bugs Beedrill and Scolipede are more role players, but pretty good ones (and cheap!). Azu and the Fairies want no parts of them, and nor do Fighters or Grasses or most other relevant Bugs and Psychics. While they have no answer to Steels and Rocks and Mud and Ice and even Ghosts, they fill some nice gaps and could be a sneaky good pick for the right team. They hail from opposite ends of the spectrum, with Beedrill being from way back in Gen1 and Scolpiede just hitting the game with Gen5. Like I said, role players, but with their coverage they may end up being JUST what you’re looking for as your flex.

Leavanny could be very interesting if released during the month. It’s the Bug/Grass that poor Parasect only dreams of being, with fantastic charge moves Silver Wind and the mighty Leaf Blade. It is well worth consideration as your Grass if out in time, unable to do what Meganium and others can do against Steels but more than making up for it elsewhere.

I’m sure there are even some other super thrifty options I’ve forgotten (there always seems to be!), so please use comments to throw other ideas out there if you have any. I do this for you all, my fellow players, and I have no pride to wound if I missed something. Throw it out there so we can ALL benefit! And as with all my articles, take all of this with a big grain of salt. I am just one guy with my own opinions and crunching the numbers, and everybody’s playstyle and of course dust situations are different. But if you don’t have a dust pool/vault resembling that of Scrooge McDuck, then perhaps this can help you balance the cost of where to be thrifty with your hard-earned dust (and candy!).


50,000 Dust/50 Candy

ᴿ – Restricted List
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

Victreebel (Shadow)

Razor Leaf | Leaf Blade

That’s right, we have our first official “Thrifty” option, with our first up in this article! Arguably regular Victreebel doesn’t need any charge move other than Leaf Blade either, but that is certainly true for the Shadow version of Vic that gets the thumbs up here. You see, while regular Vic is fine and good, slaughtering Waters and Grounds and Rocks and Fairies and Electrics under a barrage of Razor Leafs, Shadow Vic is just better, giving up edge cases like DDeoxys and Vigoroth but gaining Mew and Scrafty and then things that don’t make sense because they SHOULD win out with their typings resisting Grass damage, like Haunter and Galvantula and Melmetal. But really, the right approach, as it often is with Razor Leafers, is to forgo charge moves entirely and just straight Razor Leaf things into oblivion, and when Shadow Vic does that, it becomes otherworldly. Now it wins everything that RL/LB Shadow AND regular Victreebel did, plus eye-opening victories over the likes of Medicham and Umbreon and even flying Togekiss. Razor Leafers just aren’t supposed to be able to DO things like that, yet here we are. Shadow Victreebel is, essentially, the Grass Haunter now… and funny enough, they typically have the exact same Attack stat. Crazy. It’s obviously frail (though not quite so much as Haunter), and high risk, but the rewards are sky high as well. It’s worth a look for you thrill seekers out there.

Shiftry

Snarl | Leaf Blade & Foul Play

Another glass (grass?) cannon, Shiftry rose from mediocre Razor Leafer to amazing speedster with the addition of Snarl, giving it the fastest Leaf Blade in the game, and Foul Play comes just one Snarl later. With its blazing speed, Shiftry outraces a lot of potent things, including other speedy options like Haunter, AhChu, and Shadow Vic, and can even beat down tanks like the mighty Bastiodon to a standstill. And yes, here again, the Shadow variant is even more frightening, with new wins over things like Venusaur, DDeoxys, and even Umbreon, though others like Bastie fall away. High risk, and yet again, potentially very high reward. Win or lose, Shiftry always goes out in a blaze of glory. If that’s your style, give it a look. But note that it’s Gen3, so unless you want to ignore the packed Gen3 Restricted Pokémon (Registeel, Altaria, DDeoxys, Swampert, Whiscash, Tropius, Medicham, Gardevoir), you’ll have to flex it to get it onto your team.

There are a handful of other Grasses in the 50k category that are intriguing, but none really exceed the two above or the “elite” Grasses Venusaur and Meganium (who we covered last time) and Tropius (who we’ll get to next time). 

Ninetales

Fire Spin | Psyshock & Overheat/Solar Beam/Flamethrowerᴸ

The #2 Fire against the core meta, behind only Swiss Army knife Alolan Marowak. Not Charizard, not Typhlosion, not Blaziken… it’s Ninetales. Now that doesn’t tell QUITE the whole story, as Tails needs to baits shields with Psyshock, setting up a closing Overheat or other charge move to get there, but still. It is going to do everything you want a Fire to do: take down nearly every Grass, Steel, Ice, Bug, and Fairy you’ll find, with the only notable exceptions being Bastiodon, Azumarill, and Dewgong, and even those three have to shield in case Tails is toting the popular Solar Beam (or risk absolute disaster, as anyone who lost their Mud Boy or Azu to a Ninetales Beam in Rainbow Cup could tell you). Ninetales is a nice mix of Charizard and Typhlosion in that way, with the Fire Spin and shield baiting ability of Zard and the wild card, match-flipping charge move potential of Typh. That all being said… I think the second move you should ACTUALLY run is Overheat, as Beam and even Legacy Flamethrower just don’t measure up in most one on one slugfests. There is very little that wants to take an Overheat to the face, not even big tanks like Cresselia and Umbreon. Tails is a relatively basic Fire type, yes, but that is not a bad place to be in Voyager Cup. It can be a plug and play flex.

Alolan Marowakᴿ

Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball/Fire Blast

But here is the top dog among Fires–A-Wak is Restricted for very good reasons!–though it doesn’t leave Tails in the dust as much as you may have expected. As a pure Fire, it actually falls slightly behind Tails, with A-Wak unable to consistently overcome Shiftry, Steelix, and Lapras. But that’s the little bit of bad news, because really everything else is sunshine and roses. For one thing, the only Fighter it can’t handle is Scrafty, as A-Wak’s Ghost typing renders the others all impotent. It also obviously handles Psychics better, and even hard Fire counters like Azumarill have to respect the threat of Shadow Ball and shield even when they really don’t want to. It’s also a top notch counter to Registeel, resisting all of its moves and able to beat a Regi with two shields without using any of its own. A-Wak’s body of work kind of speaks for itself beyond what I’ve already said, so I’ll just close by saying it is probably the best, hardest-to-substitute-for pick from the Gen5+ group.

Poliwrath

Mud Shot | Dynamic Punch & Ice Punch
Bubble | Power-Up Punch & Dynamic Punch

There are many Fighters that are flexible and versatile, but none can hold a candle to Poliwrath. You can trick it out in so many configurations that it can make shielding decisions a nightmare for the opponent. But the two noted above seem to have the most overall success. Mud Shot generates energy extremely quickly, powering up fast Ice Punches (so fast that even Altaria cannot outrace its killer Ice attacks and even Haunter and Shiftry cannot keep up, along with Dynamic Punches that take down all the big Steels (and especially the Steely Rocks Bastiodon and Probopass) and Ices and even things like Lanturn and Umbreon. Bubble, on the other hand, actually seems to work best with Power-Up Punch boosting it, and combined with Dynamic Punch, shows the most 1v1 wins, losing Altaria and Haunter but gaining A-Wak, Sableye, Galvantula, Swampert, and one of the few Steels that survives Mud Shot: Confusioner Jirachi. Trick it out as you like, but ‘Wrath is a legit wild card or even Gen1 pick.

Dewgongᴿ

Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Water Pulse/Blizzard

No surprises here by now… everybody knows you want–no, need–double Legacy for Dewgong to work. Nothing else will cut it. But boy oh boy, does it ever work. In many regards, it’s a better Lapras. It ravages Flyers and Grasses, of course,  but it beats things no Ice has any right beating, like Swampert, Toxicroak, even Azumarill… none of which even mighty Lapras can reliably replicate. But it’s not without its issues… namely the lack of any good Water or coverage move of any kind, leaving Lapras better equipped to wiggle out of bad spots, such as against Alolan Marowak and Galvantula and others that Gong cannot. Both are from the same generation, so if you’re going to use either at all, you’re gonna have to pick. Not having Ice Shard AND Icy Wind makes that decision easy, but if you DO have the coveted double Legacy Gong… yeah, it’s well worth your consideration.

Tentacruel

Poison Jab | Acid Spray & Hydro Pump

As always, Tentacthulhu is a nasty closer. It bides its time with Acid Spray softening the opponent up and (hopefully) baiting shields, and then slams the door with big Hydro Pumps. (Though there are a number of notable things it can beat with Spray alone, like Trop, Shiftry, Mantine, Lapras, and Fairies.) It is a particularly good Azumarill slayer, resisting ALL of Azu’s moves and beating it without having to shield, even if Azu shields twice! With Pump in the picture, it adds Fighters, Fires, Ices, and even outliers like Skarmory and Probopass and even Registeel… there is very little that can take a Pump to the face and walk away from it. Tentacruel requires a little finesse and likely practice time, as attempted baits and knowing when to (and NOT to) try and launch a Pump is critical to making it work right. But if you can pull it off, Tenta is an absolute pain to deal with, and an unusual but effective way to break cores built around Azu, Trop, Shiftry, A-Wak, and many others that it can take down.

Lanturn

Spark/Water Gun | Thunderbolt & Hydro Pump

Another oddball Water, Lanturn is more of an Electric in disguise than ever with the relatively recent addition of Spark. There ARE still some edge cases for Water Gun, such as Registeel (which cannot reach a second Focus Blast the way it can versus Spark) and D-Deoxys (same story, with Spark allowing DD to get an extra charge move off), but the overall numbers with Gun pale in comparison to the results with Spark. Spark allows it to beat everything you’d want it to–Azu, Lapras, A-Wak, Skarmory, the mirror–and a bunch of things you might not expect, like Bronzong and Sableye and Toxicroak and Scrafty and Vigoroth. There isn’t much that resists Thunderbolt, so in many cases you just race to it with Spark and wail away with big neutral damage. What it can’t handle, Hydro Pump does, à la Tentacthulhu. Just note that, unlike the other Waters in this article so far, Lanturn is from Gen2, so if you’re going to use Azu or Skarm (or Umbreon) yourself, Lanturn can only slot in under the flex spot.

Azumarillᴿ

Bubble | Hydro Pump & Ice Beam/Play Rough

Finally, we get to the little blue devil bunny itself. Let me first start by saying that despite its second move costing “only” 50,000 dust, Azu is a very expensive investment, since it has to be nearly maxed out to hit peak performance. And that peak is very high. It takes out all the big Steels (and in fact every Steel that isn’t part Electric or Ferrothorn or Empoleon), plus all the Fires, Grounds, and Rocks as any good Water should do. Owing to its Fairy half, it also eliminates the Fighters (though it MUST be wary of Toxicroak Sludge Bombs) and Darks too, and with Ice Beam it also takes on an effective anti-Flyer role, as well as a having a weapon that Grasses which would otherwise prey on Azu HAVE to respect and likely shield. Play Rough works fine too, and gains things like Lapras that shrug off Ice Beams, but generally I lean Ice personally for the flexibility, as it doesn’t need Play Rough to beat the things good Fairies should be beating anyway. However you use it, Azu is very deserving of its Restricted status and will likely be most players’ slam-dunk Gen2 pick anyway. There is just so much it can do and so little that can face it head on without taking a beating.

Politoed

Mud Shot | Surf & Earthquakeᴸ/Blizzard

The rest of the Waters today are Mud Boys. Politoed technically isn’t, but especially if you have one with Legacy Earthquake, Toed is considered an honorary member. And it carries its weight for sure. Beats the big Steels? Check. Bastie and Probo? Oh yeah, check. Fires? Check!. Notably, Toed can ALSO beat the other, actual Mud Boys aside from Quagsire, and is the only “Mud Boy” that takes down Azumarill. Don’t have Earthquake? Don’t despair! You can roll with Blizzard and, while you give up Azu and Ices and Toxicroak and such, Politoed then becomes the only Mud Boy that can stand toe to toe with Grasses like Shiftry and Tropius… and actually win! (Yes, Whiscash totes Blizzard too, but in an even fight it will die before it ever gets one charged up.) Blizzard Toed can also take out Flyers like Altaria, Mantine, and Togekiss with a big KO that they may not expect to need to shield. The downside, though, is that Toed is Generation 2, so in direct competition with Azu and Lanturn and others for a slot.

Quagsire

Mud Shot | Earthquake & _________

Another Gen2 Mud Boy, authentically Mud this time. There have been entire videos and articles devoted to what moveset to run on Quag, but I THINK the general consensus is that Mud Shot and Earthquake are musts, especially here where only Quake allows Quag to take out the big Steels. (And does it ever!) In my own opinion, the best second move continues to be Stone Edge, as “EdgeQuake” gives Quagsire potent anti-Flying capability as well and its best overall results, hurting Fires, Steels, Electrics, Ices, Psychics, Darks, Fairies and the ability to smack a good Flyer out of the air at a moment’s notice. Yes, some people will swear by Sludge Bomb and especially Acid Spray, but I just don’t see it in this wide open meta. For me, go with max coverage and the sure thing. Also Gen2, however.

Gastrodon

Mud Slap | Body Slam & Earth Power/Earthquakeᴸ

Another Mud Boy option, but interestingly from Generation 4, where there is much less competition for a generational slot. Gastro is also the only Mud Boy with Mud Slap rather than Shot, allowing it, rather uniquely, to do a lot of its damage with just fast moves. (In fact, with Slap alone it beats Bastie, Probo, Haunter, Toxicroak, A-Wak, Mel, Jirachi, and all Electrics but Minun and Flying Zapdos.) Of course, it also has some pretty good charge moves going for it, with Body Slam being especially interesting (bringing in Registeel, most notably.) Fully decked out, Gastrodon adds things like Whiscash and Lapras and DDeoxys to its résumé. Overall the numbers lag a little behind the other Mud Boys, but don’t forget about Gastroboy. His generation might end up making him the easiest one to actually select and use, and his unique ability to beat things without having to worry so much about shields and build up big energy alone the way is not to be underestimated.

Seismitoad

Bubble | Earth Power & Muddy Water

Yup, another Mud Boy! And another different generation too, with Seismitoad coming out in Gen5. As with Gastrodon, Toad does much of its damage with fast moves, this time Bubble. It also has a spammy charge move, though unfortunately Muddy Water is far inferior to Body Slam. At least there’s a potential debuff built in. Earth Power is again the primary damage dealing charge move, and with all that together: yeah, it does the standard Mud Boy job. Really not a ton else to say, actually… I think the “standard Mud Boy job” is kind of understood by now. Seismitoad isn’t terribly exciting, but it’s solid and will do what you want it to do, and slot in under a later generation than the other options.

Alolan Ninetales

Charm/Powder Snow | Psyshock & Ice Beam

Sticking with the Gen5+ group for the moment, let’s look at Ninetales’ chill cousin. A-Tails makes a fine Charmer, and an unrestricted one at that. She also comes with one of the very best charge moves available to a Charmer with Psyshock, which is cheap enough to still make a real impact on battle even with slow-charging Charm powering it up, and picks up new wins over Haunter and, interestingly, Cresselia. (Those results also show new losses to Mantine, Clefable, and Togekiss, so keep in mind it’s best to just straight Charm there and you should be able to still get the victory, or at least a tie versus the other Charmers.) And you can really stop there and not add a second move, keeping A-Tails as a good “Thrifty” candidate, but if you can afford it, Ice Beam is a good enough move that brings in enough new potential targets that I recommend adding it. You MAY not end up needing it much, but there will be games you win WITH it that you likely wouldn’t without. You can also consider using A-Tails as a more classic Ice type with Powder Snow, and while that does turn the tables nicely on Grasses and some Flyers, you give up a lot of good things, and I generally think you’re better off with another Ice type if that’s the hole you’re trying to fill.

Before I move on, just a quick note on Togekiss. I opted not to cover it in detail, even as popular as it is, because it’s REALLY hard to justify as your sole generation pick (since it’s on the Restricted list), even coming from the skinnier Gen4, and honestly, even with its nice charge move options, it still doesn’t do enough to stand out as compared to the other, NON-restricted Charmers. I imagine folks will still try to use it, but I don’t know that I can recommend it here, sorry. 🤷‍♂️

Glalie

Ice Shard | Avalanche & Shadow Ball

And hey, speaking of Ice types, Glalie is extremely solid. Like, literally solid, with good bulk and just the single Ice typing. And you gotta love the moves, with the best Ice fast AND charge moves, and the always terrifying Shadow Ball to mop up most everything Ice cannot handle. And while Ice is, in general, not a fantastic typing in wide open metas, Glalie still does very well for itself, handling most Grasses and Flyers as you would expect and even smacking aside Mud Boys and tanks like Cresselia, Umbreon, and Hypno (even with Fire Punch!) in neutral damage brawls with steady, unrelenting damage.

Froslass

Powder Snow | Avalanche & Shadow Ball

The other side of the Glalie coin, and generally the more hyped and discussed of the two… but its multi-typing (Ice/Ghost rather than Glalie’s mono-Ice typing) is more of a curse than a blessing, and you will note that it appears to lag behind Glalie a bit. That’s true AND false, as what it really is is just different. Glalie better handles things that prey on Ghosts, like Umbreon and Shiftry and Froslass herself, all of which beat (or tie) Lass. Owing to its bulk, Glalie also uniquely beats Togekiss, Clefable, Whiscash, AhChu, and Galvantula, whereas Froslass alone is able to take down Venusaur, Psychics DDeoxys, Jirachi, and Medicham, and Fighters Vigoroth and Toxicroak (where the Ghost typing IS a benefit, blunting Fighting damage). In general, Froslass is frailer and hits harder (especially with Shadow Ball, benefitting from STAB), whereas Glalie is much tankier and able to hang in some battles where Froslass just can’t take the heat. One other distinction: Glalie is from the packed Generation 3, whereas Lass occupies a spot from Generation 4. I won’t tell you which one (if either!) to go with, but I wanted to make sure you at least better understood theirs strengths and weaknesses so you can make an informed decision for YOUR team.

There ARE other 50k move Ice types I looked at, especially Alolan Sandslash, but their overall results in the matchups that mattered most were disappointing to downright dreadful. It’s not “wrong” to consider A-Slash or others, but I think they are really just (limited) role players here, and that’s being a little kind. There will be just a couple more to talk about in the 75k and even 100k breakdowns, but nothing else to report until then.

Machamp

Counter | Cross Chop & Rock Slide

Now for some Fighting to target down those Ices… and much more, of course. Leading them off is the long-time Fighting champion of Pokémon GO, the Champ himself. With spammy Cross Chop and excellent coverage move Rock Slide, Machamp is rarely an easy out for anything other than a hard Fairy or Psychic counter, taking even normally safe Fighting counters like Altaria and Alolan Marowak RIGHT to the very edge, a fast move or two away from disaster. And of course, Champ pummels Ices and Steels and Darks, and even a number of notable neutral opponents. The Champ is the champ for a reason, and is the best pure Fighting type available in Great League PvP.

Heracross

Counter | Close Combat & Megahorn

Since Machamp is the best pure Fighter, the other Fighters rely on other typings and non-Fighting tricks to get the job done. But that doesn’t mean they are bad by ANY means. Take Heracross, for example. With overall stats very close to Machamp, the main differences between the two are in Heracross’ subtyping (picking up resistances to Grass, Ground, and Fighting) and the moves; Machamp has Rock Slide for neutral coverage and a way to punish Flyers, while Heracross has Megahorn to try and turn the tables on Psychics. (Seriously, just one landed Horn can thrash even the beefier Psychic types.) It also lacks Cross Chop, having to settle for the slower but MUCH harder hitting Close Combat instead. So what does that all actually mean? Well, overall, Heracross has the same win/loss record as Machamp against the core meta, the differences being Machamp reliably beats Sableye, Skarmory, and Froslass, whereas Heracross better handles other Fighters, beating Toxicroak and Medicham (who are themselves known for beating opposing Fighters!), as well as Whiscash thanks to that built-in Ground resistance. They both reliably smash most Steels and Rocks and Ices and such, so again, as I made sure to do with Glalie and Froslass, I wanted to make sure you understood the nuanced differences, as both Champ and Cross have their place and their niche advantages over each other.

Medichamᴿ

Counter | Ice Punch, Psychic, and/or Dynamic Punch

Medicham has LONG been a menace in PvP, banned from many Cups for being almost TOO good. But that was mostly in the days of the now-mediocre Power-Up Punch, which is the LAST thing you usually want on Cham nowadays. Instead, you can combine two of its remaining three charge moves, power them up with Counter, and go to town on the opponent. I personally prefer Ice Punch and Psychic for maximum flexibility and coverage, but there isn’t really a wrong combo between those two and Dynamic Punch. Medicham can handle the Fighting role fine with any of them, really, and also threaten Flyers or Grasses that prey on it with Ice Punch or really bring the pain to other Fighters and Poisons and such with Psychic, or just go for all out damage with Dynamic Punch. The choice is yours, but be aware that Medicham is Restricted and part of the loaded Generation 3, and may be hard to actually fit in to your plans.

Toxicroak

Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb/Dynamic Punch

There are many that swear by Croak, and I totally get that. It can be truly nasty, with a mixed bag of tricks that can answer back even some of Fighters’ hardest counters. But in a wide open meta like this, there’s good AND bad with it. The good? It does what you want your Fighters to do against Steels and Rocks and Darks and such, no problem. And it can beat Azumarill head to head thanks to Sludge Bomb, which is huge, and similarly some things that give other Fighters trouble, like Venusaur . But the bad? Its typing leaves it extra fragile to Flyers, and it is flimsier than most other Fighters and cannot hang around long enough to do anything meaningful in unfavorable (and even many neutral) battles. Croak is of the high risk, high potential reward category. I do not want to marginalize it–it is very, VERY good on the right team–but it is not without its very real… well, warts. At least it’s not restricted! 

Scraftyᴿ

Counter | Power-Up Punch & Foul Play

I know, I know. “JRE, you just said Power-Up Punch was a thing of yesteryear, like YOU are!” First off, I am NOT that old, you young hooligan. (GenX forever!) And secondly, the numbers don’t lie. Somehow PuP just works for Scrafty I mean, what else are you gonna run? Acid Spray? That’s no way to live. (Sorrynotsorry, Spray N’ Pray-ers! 😜) What REALLY makes it all work out though is Scrafty’s Dark side… like, literally Dark. If you thought Megahorn was an effective answer to Psychics (and it CAN be), Foul Play is on a whole different planet. Just one can ruin the day or any Psychic OR Ghost (Scrafty outright beats Haunter, Hypno, and A-Wak, for example), and there is hardly anything beyond Fairies and opposing Fighters (who Scrafty must avoid anyway with its Dark typing) and other Darks that resists it. Hopefully you’ve been able to land a good one in GO Battle League, because there’s a good chance it could slot in as your GenX… er, Gen 5+ Pokémon… which it would need to be, since it is Restricted.

Haunter

Shadow Claw | Shadow Punch & Shadow Ball/Sludge Bomb

Who cares about typing matchups and chess matches when you can just smash through everything? Yeah, Haunter is still a thing. Darks, Mud Boys, and actually most Steels can fend it off, but in a fair fight, not much else can. And Lord help you if Haunter shows up late and you’re down a shield or OUT of shields. The fact that Haunter hails from a rather crowded Gen1 may hold back its usage somewhat, but it obviously makes a very potent flex. Expect to see it shredding through tournaments yet again, and plan accordingly.

Hypnoᴿ

Confusion | Shadow Ball & _______ Punch

Quite the opposite of Haunter, Hypno is a bulky, slow plodder, just wearing you down and setting up a backbreaking Shadow Ball with various elemental Punches. I did a side-by-side (-by-side) with all three, and found that Ice Punch uniquely beats Tropius, but loses to Skarmory, which Fire and Thunder Punch beat. Thunder also alone defeats Mantine, giving it the (slight) edge over the other two, in my mind, and the minds of many others, apparently, as Thunder has been the one most used in GBL and recommended by PvPoke. But if you have a gaping hole Ice or Fire could fill (or you’re just running out of TMs!), then of course, go for it. Most of Hypno’s real damage comes via Confusion into Shadow Ball anyway, with the Punches often being best at trying to draw shields. This may all be academic though, as Hypno is Gen1 and Restricted, making it hard to pick. It can be a cornerstone you build around, sure, but just make sure that’s something you’re able to do with the rest of your picks before you go too far down that road. There’s nothing else quite like Hypno, but you can certainly cobble together a fine team without ever truly missing it too.

Minun

Spark | Thunderbolt & Grass Knot/Discharge

It may not be an itch that needs scratching, as you can build more flexible (Lanturn, Galvantula, etc.) and/or cheaper (Alolan Raichu) Electrics if you want one, but yes, Minun performs just fine in that role, and totes the same Grass Knot that has made AhChu dangerous for Mud Boys and others. And being on the bulkier side, it can often double Grass Knot without needing to bait, which is nice. That bulk is really all that stands out about it, though, as it lacks the higher energy Thunder Shock and higher damage Volt Switch that allow many other Electrics to distinguish themselves. Minun is certainly not slow, but since it is stuck with Spark and seems to operate best with two slower charge moves, it feels sluggish in comparison to many of its peers. But again, yes, it does just fine, and is a bit “safer” thanks to not dying as rapidly as its peers either. I don’t know that I’d recommend building one NOW just for Voyager, but if you already have it, you can pluck it off the shelf as a flex. But coming from Gen3, “flex” is probably the only place it will find room on any teams.

Magnezone

Spark | Wild Charge & Mirror Shot/Zap Cannon

Magneton doesn’t do so hot in this open meta, but Magnezone might. I say “might” because those impressive results are awfully reliant on getting some shields with Mirror Shot. I mean, even without baiting it still performs similarly to ‘Ton, but it NEEDS to steal a shield with a Mirror Shot bait to beat some of the flashier names: Umbreon, Sableye, Bronzong, Alolan Raichu, Hypno, and even Electric-resistant Venusaur. But yeah, it roughs up Flyers, Waters, Fairies, and even most Rocks and Psychics just fine with or without baits. You could even turn Wild Charge into the BAIT move to set up an unexpected Flash or Zap Cannon, but I think you’re probably still better served by using Wild Charge as the closing move and trying to set IT up with Mirror Shots. (Double WC only gets you so far.) For its unique ability to pressure things Electrics hate on AND hold down things that weakly flail against Steel, the Magneboys are always worth at least a look, and ‘Zone is the best representative of the line in Voyager… and being from Gen4, it won’t have to muscle many other strong contenders out of the way to earn a spot on teams.

Galvantula

Volt Switch | Bug Buzz & Discharge

Not many Bugs make an impact in Voyager. You need to be something like a Fighter, as with Heracross above, or something truly unique to make it… like Galv. It’s really just a spammy Electric with an odd neutral coverage move in Bug Buzz… but a very nice one that can net it wins no Electric has any place winning, like Psychic tanks Cresselia and Hypno and even popular tanky Grass Meganium. What Galvantula primary does–and does well–is Electric things, but being able to steal other wins that turn everyone’s head is very nice and puts it a cut above most of its Electric colleagues. It also helps that it’s relatively new to the game and can throw people off… and means it dings against Gen5+ rather than the earlier, often crowded generations of many other Electrics.

Alolan Muk

Snarl | Dark Pulse & Sludge Wave/Gunk Shot

Generalist? A-Muk is sometimes described as such, and you can kind of see why. It beats a range of things covering several different typings, but since it received the high energy generating Snarl, it is more than ever a true Dark AND Poison, with even slow charge moves Sludge Wave and Gunk Shot being reachable in multiples, owing to the speed of Snarl and the bulk of A-Muk itself. That means it can do Poison things–beating Grasses and Fairies–just as well as it does Dark things, like taking down Psychics and Ghosts (even those with dangerous coverage moves, like fellow Alolan Marowak). Unfortunately it has no answer for Steels or Fighters or Muds, but that’s what the rest of your team is for! A-Muk can plug a lot of holes and is one of the safer switches in the game, and a strong contender for the Gen5+ slot… or as a flex.


75,000 Dust/75 Candy

ᴿ – Restricted List
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

Tropiusᴿ

Razor Leaf/Air Slash | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace

A rare case where the charge moves are pretty well set, but the fast move is still up for some debate. The general consensus seems to be Air Slash, which beats ALL other Grasses, Fighters and Bugs (aside from pesky Crustle), all Grounds but Nidoqueen and Pilo/Mamoswine, all Charmers (and, of course, Azumarill), and Umbreon, D-Deoxys, Hypno (without Ice Punch, at least), and all Waters but Lapras, Mantine, Tentacruel, Dewgong, Cloyster, and Prinplup. (Yes, remember how I hyped Prinplup in Part I?) However, I do wonder if Razor Leaf might be even better. It gains Lapras, both Swines, Prinplup, Cresselia, Alolan Raichu, Sableye, and Probopass (and actually all Rock types but Bastiodon, Crustle, Magcargo) while giving up only Toxicroak, Blaziken, Venusaur, Shiftry, and the mirror versus Air Slash Tropius. Got all that? Good, because I don’t want to beat this one to death. Tropius is one of the very best Grass types in PvP, if not THE best, with its unfortunate placement in Generation 3 being the thing most holding it back (since choosing it means no Registeel, Altaria, D-Deoxys, Swampert, Whiscash, Medicham, or Gardevoir). It can easily be your sole Grass and handle that role very well, but becomes THE build around piece for your team at that point.

Ferrothorn

Bullet Seed | Flash Cannon & Thunder/Power Whip

Ferrothorn has always been an oddball with a great selection of charge moves and held back by two mediocre fast moves. Well after the last move shakeup, that is no longer a problem. Bullet Seed is now a Snarl clone, so tied for third-highest energy generation in PvP (behind only Lock-On and the Thunder Shock/Mud Shot/Psycho Cut trio). That allows it to shed the Mirror Shot shield baiting it relied on before and go straight for the throat with three hard hitting moves: Flash Cannon, which is a great Fairy slayer and the one move that allows Ferro to beat (nearly) every other Grass, including Venusaur, Tropius, Shiftry, and even Meganium in most circumstances. (Breloom and Cherrim are really the only two Grasses that consistently escape.) Power Whip is a fine move that charges very quickly with Bullet Seed now, and is solid on its own and also a great way to bait shields for a bigger, nastier closing move down the line. (Power Whip baiting a shield and then smacking Meganium with Flash Cannons is the most consistent way to win that matchup, for example.) But there’s also Thunder, and while the gap is small, it and Flash Cannon give Ferrothorn its best results against the Voyager core meta, allowing it to still take down all Azu and all the Mud Boys and all the other Waters you care about (only Kingdra, Sharpedo, and a couple of rare Shadow Waters escape, and sets without Thunder are unable to consistently take down Mantine), PLUS all the Fairies, plus Ices, plus Psychics, plus Grasses, plus most Flyers (like Skarmory, for which Ferro must have Thunder), plus Jirachi, plus Stunfisk, and plus Sableye and others. In other words, it still does 99% of the job you’d ask it to with Power Whip, but with several more interesting wins that it only gets with Flash Cannon or with Thunder. It’s seemingly the best of all worlds. But however you use it, I do now STRONGLY recommend you give serious consideration to using Ferrothorn. It’s Gen5, so somewhat easier to plug and play than things like Venusaur from Gen1 and especially Tropius from Gen3.

Laprasᴿ

Ice Shardᴸ | Surf & Blizzard/Skull Bash
Water Gun | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ/Blizzard

I am going to blatantly plagiarize myself from the kickoff article, because I sat here for half an hour trying to say the same thing in a different way, which tells me I probably just said it best the first time around. 😆 So… there is nothing else quite like Lapras. It’s the only Water type in this article. There are a number of move combinations that are viable, but the two above look like they are generally the best. Ice Shard is better in neutral situations due to superior energy gain (allowing it to beat things like Whiscash and Hypno, where the other fast move can’t get there quickly enough), and makes Lapras a true anti-Flyer with lethal, unrelenting Ice damage, and famously can fend off several notable Grasses as well. But Water Gun sets are also good, just different, better at taking out big Steels and Rocks like Steelix and Probopass and other things like Alolan Marowak that resist Ice damage. And it is that wide range of possibilities that is Lappie’s biggest strength, as the opponent never knows what to expect until they’re already taking damage and having to adjust on the fly.

Snorlax (and Shadow Snorlax)

Lick | Body Slam & Superpower

Snorlax operates probably as you’d expect in Great League, putting in a solid performance. Superpower allows it to shove aside all the Steels you care about (and things like Shiftry and Froslass), Lick lets it take on and take OUT Psychics and Ghosts (and its resistances allow it to especially brutalize things like Haunter, beating it easily even with a 2-shield disadvantage), and bulk and Body ~~Spam~~ Slam allow it to win many neutral matchups over things like AhChu and Mantine and even fellow chonker Dewgong. And as good as that all is, it can even be potentially BETTER with Shadow Snorlax. Now you pick up wins against things like Lapras, Clefable, Sableye, Tropius, Swampert, Togekiss, even Umbreon. Some formerly close wins–like Registeel (a 1 HP victory before), Skarmory, and Hypno–flip to close losses, but overall I think it’s safe to say that, just as happened in Toxic Cup, Shadow Lax is an upgrade if you have one. I don’t know if it’s worth your Gen1 slot, but it makes a nice, fairly flexible… well, flex.

Dragonair

Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail & Dragon Pulse

I don’t know that I would recommend specifically building one *now* for use in Voyager, but if you already did for Timeless Cup or another time in the past, it’s got some play here. And if you built a GOOD one before, things get really interesting here. Already beating things like Altaria and Bastiodon and Haunter and Swampert and Sableye and Hypno and AhChu and nearly all Grasses and even Froslass, a high stat product IV ‘Nair can sneak away with new (close) wins over things like A-Wak, D-Deoxys, Ferrothorn, and Gallade too. It starts with Dragon Breath steady damage and lots of Aqua Tail spam, and often ends with a big Dragon Pulse to close it out. (Pulse is slightly better than both Return and Wrap, in part because it alone does enough damage soon enough to beat Hypno and a couple other edge cases.) Again, you really want a high IV one if possible, but Dragonair–ANY Dragonair–does enough for you that it’s worthy of spicy consideration as an above average flex.

Dragonite (preferably Shadow)

Dragon Breath | Dragon Claw & Draco Meteorᴸ/Outrage

Regular Dragonite is okay, taking out many of the same things as Dragonair, with some differences (losses to things like Poliwrath, Empoleon, Froslass, Hypno, Bastie, Alt, but new wins over A-Muk, Meg, Croak, Vigoroth, Whiscash, Gallade, Umbreon, etc.), but a solid performance overall as a good filler/flex. However, it gets even better with Shadow Dragonite, who looks simply terrifying. Don’t fret if you don’t have one with Community Day move Draco Meteor, as Dragon Claw and Dragon Breath alone wins ALL of those except Umbreon. A note: that’s NOT what PvPoke shows, but it does something very strange; against Scrafty, Hypno, Alolan Muk, and Venusaur, S-Dragonite wins with two Dragon Claws (one blocked, one let through) and doesn’t ever use Draco Meteor, yet running those sims with only Dragon Claw somehow fiddles with the timing and shows a loss. And against Alolan Raichu and Gallade, Shadow Nite wins with Dragon Breath alone! Sims be weird like that sometimes. 🤷‍♂️ So again, to review… Shadow Dragonite with just Breath and Claws can win everything Breath/Claw/Meteor does except Umbreon, despite the sims painting a different picture., making Shadow Dragonite a potential “Thrifty” candidate, not needing a second move. If you have one, you can consider it as a Haunter-like flex that very little will want to be left trying to fend off.

Umbreonᴿ

Snarl | Last Resortᴸ & Foul Play

Yeah, just like in the somewhat controversial Ferocious Cup, you really want Community Day move Last Resort. Without it, you lose Shiftry, Alolan Muk, Skuntank, Weavile, and several other Darks, including, of course, the mirror match. I mean, all-Dark Umbreon is certainly fine, winning the majority of neutral matchups from across many categories (Flying, anti-Flying, Mud) and typings (Psychics, Ghosts, Waters, Grounds, Steels…with the frustrating exception of Registeel and its danged Focus Blast), but those extra wins you get with Last Resort are great to have in your back pocket… and painful to give up when you face down another Dark and KNOW you just can’t quite close it out. Either way, though, Umbreon is rarely a welcome sight for an opponent without a Fighter or tank of their own in reserve, and is perhaps the best generalist in Great League. The only problem is that it sucks up your Gen2 slot, as it’s Reserved… and that’s Azumarill’s generation. You can’t use both! 😬

Skarmoryᴿ

Air Slash | Sky Attack & Flash Cannon

The other Gen2 Restricted option, but uh… hard to recommend, honestly. Yes, Skarmory is solid, and Grasses, Fairies (even Azu stresses about it), Altaria, Sable, Cressie, and even most Fighters want nothing to do with it. But to give up Azumarill AND Umbreon may be just too big a pill to swallow, as that’s what selecting Skarmory means. Study and understand what it can do, because it does many things really well, and somebody out there will give it a go regardless of the cost. But I’ll go on record as saying that it’s much easier to replace on your team with a Flying alternative than Azu and Umbry are in their roles.

Steelix

Dragon Tail | Earthquake & Crunch/Heavy Slam

You probably think you know everything there is to know about Steelix by now. It’s been a part of nearly every Silph Arena Cup this season, and we’ve seen people play around with Thunder Fang…which, yes, gives it wins against a few Waters like Dewgong, Lapras, and Mantine (but no, STILL not Azumarill), and gives up too much IMO to be worth the surprise factor. We’ve seen Crunch make it a nightmare in some formats (Sinister to kick off Season 2 especially) and Earthquake as the sleeping giant we all know we HAVE to save a shield for. And yes, that DT/C/EQ set is still a steady force in Voyager too, wrecking Psychics, Ghosts, Poisons, Rocks, Steels, Ices, oddball Electrics, and even most big Flyers. But did you know, Mr. or Mrs. Smarty Pants, that Heavy Slam is a legit option too? Plugged in instead of Crunch, it hates hard on the Fairies and picks up Shiftry at the cost of Haunter, Sableye, and Venusaur. Depending on how your team shapes up, that may actually be a better fit. Just consider it, because most people don’t… and that could give you that unshielded opportunity that can turn a tournament around. Even Steelix can still have tricks up its slee–er, up its… tail? Carapace? Thorax? S-something like that.

Forretress

Bug Bite | Earthquake & Heavy Slam/Sand Tomb/Mirror Shot

Sort of along the same vein as Steelix, Forret works best with Heavy Slam. Yes yes, technically it sims best with Sand Tomb or Mirror Shot, which make Forretress look like a monster, but that’s due to heavy shield baiting… look what happens when you turn baiting off. Oooof. It CAN work, but it’s a gamble for sure. So again, I recommend going with the sure thing, and that means pairing Earthquake not with a baity move, but with Heavy Slam. Yes, it still relies on baits to some degree, but at least Slam can still do good work on its own, and double Slam is counterintuitively the only way to reliably beat things you would think you’d want to get to Earthquake for, like Alolan Muk (as Forret cannot guarantee it reaches an Earthquake at the end). But no matter how you slice it, yes, Forretress is still the primo Grassassin you remember from Season 1 of the Arena, as well as a slayer of Darks, Psychics, and most Ices and Rocks and many Steels too. It’s an unrestricted wild card that can do good things for teams that haven’t given up on it. He’s still good!

Flygon

Mud Shot | Dragon Claw & Earthquake

One of the highest ranked unrestricted ‘mons in Voyager, and it’s not hard to see why, as Flyguy terrorizes everything a good Ground type should bully, especially Steels and Rocks. As always, it’s deathly afraid of Ice and Water in general, though it can dish it back nicely to most Grasses thanks to that handy Dragon subtyping. When things go right with Flygon, they can go VERY right, but when they go wrong, it doesn’t have the bulk to really fight its way out and they can go VERY wrong. This is exemplified even further with its Shadow version, which gains it new wins over fellow spammers like Toxicroak and Whiscash and Cherrim, and even bulky Umbreon, but loses Shiftry, Swampert, DDeoxys, and even Froslass that non-Shadow Flyguy can take down. With Flygon, it’s all about tradeoffs. The potential is always high, but there is no doubt bust potential riding right alongside the path to success. And unfortunately, it’s from–you guessed it!–the jam-packed Generation 3, so it’s likely making any teams where it appears as the flex, albeit a very good one!

Gallade

Confusion | Leaf Blade & Close Combat

A solid all-arounder, with Confusion making it a very strange Fighter, Close Combat making it much more interesting than most Confusioners, and Leaf Blade being very unique for BOTH of those other roles. The combination makes it something that Steels, Waters, and Poisons ALL fear, and I really can’t think of anything else that simultaneously terrifies that mix of Pokémon. If you happen to have a Shadow Gallade, while it is not a strict upgrade (losing out on Vigoroth, Probopass, and Jirachi, which non-Shadow Gallade wins), it can now take down Meganium, Galvantula, and even tanks Umbreon and Azumarill (one of VERY few Waters that could barely escape an encounter with normal Gallade). Unlike his female cousin (who we’re getting to next), Gallade is unrestricted, so you can take it as your Gen4 OR flex pick. It’s nice to have options!

Gardevoir (Shadow)ᴿ

Charm | Shadow Ball &/or Psychic

Honestly, the charge move matters little, just that you have one to fire at the next ‘mon up after hopefully Charming something to death. IF there was a Restricted Fairy I was considering, Shadow Gardevoir would likely be it, with a horrifying effective and straightforward path to victory, on par with (or even better than) other glass howitzers like Haunter and Shadow Victreebel. So powerful are Shadow Gard’s Charms that it beats everything linked there with Charm alone, from Mud Boys to Meganium to Altaria to Azumarill and much, much more. You really, truly do not need a second move here, so other than building up the Shadow Gard itself, it’s a rather “Thrifty” investment in the end… as long as you have SOME usable charge move to throw at whatever follows the first unfortunate victim of a Charm offensive. (Hopefully you TMed one during the GO Rocket Takeover window that allowed you to do so.) Shadow Gard has already been key to early Voyager success… but it’s Generation 3, and Restricted, so you’re giving up Registeel, Altaria, DDeoxys, Swampert, Whiscash, Tropius, AND Medicham if you use it. Obviously it can be done, but that sort of thing takes especially careful planning, so good luck!

Mawile

Fire Fang | Play Rough & Power-Up Punch/Iron Head

Yes, I think that Fire Fang is the fast move you want, primarily because of how it holds down Steels (and Ice AND Grass, as a bonus). There is some debate to be had on the charge moves, but Play Rough gives you an important leg up against Altaria, which is one major thing you otherwise give up by NOT going with Ice Fang. You can run Power-Up Punch and double down on the Fire Fang damage, or Iron Head to give Mawile the advantage over other Fairies (it doesn’t usually get Clefable without it, for example) and, interestingly, Cresselia. And yes, as per usual with these high fast move damage types, Shadow Mawile is a strict upgrade, if budget is no issue for you. (Keep in mind that requires maxing a Shadow ‘mon AND shelling out 90,000 dust and likely a lot of rare candy for the second move!) If that’s you, can I have some of that dust, pretty please? 🥺

Milotic

Waterfall | Surf & Hyper Beam

PvPoke picks a weird IV combo for Milotic, so parden what may seem like I’m using my own fuzzy math, but in general, you’re looking at something akin to this. Takes down Azu, Mud Boys, Fairies, Haunter, Melmetal, Umbreon, Skarmory, Alolan Muk, and then of course more obvious things, like Bastiodon and Probopass and all the Fires (incuding A-Wak) and such. But what is perhaps more interesting is that you may want a Milotic with decently high Attack, as that trades a couple couple Charmers and Probopass for Lapras, Mantine, and Scrafty, three potentially big players in this meta. So yes, one of those research reward Feebas from way back when works out fine, and requires only three levels of powering up to be right at the right size Milotic. Yes, the second charge move costs a lot (and yes, you DO want that second move, as without it you miss out on Azumarill and a few other big Waters), but at least powering it up doesn’t have to!

Castform (Rainy)

Water Gun | Weather Ball (Water) & Thunder

If Milotic is somewhat slow and plodding (but still effective, don’t get me wrong!), then Rainy C is a speedster. You know how often Snorlax can spam Body Slam in GBL? Weather Ball is an exact clone, and Water Gun has the same energy gain as Lax’s Lick, so Water WB is exactly as spammy. (Read as: VERY.) That allows Rainy to overwhelm what would normally be big scary tanks, like Registeel and Bastiodon and Alolan Muk and such. But what really sets Rainy apart is how it beats fellow Waters, thanks to sporting Thunder. Despite not getting STAB or the slightly better speed of Lanturn’s Thunderbolt, it’s a lot easier to set up a knockout blow with Thunder with those spammy Weather Balls, though it is worth mentioning that you can beat Lapras, Empoleon, Mantine, and even Azumarill (as well as Haunter–though that’s really just with Water Gun damage–and very nearly Registeel) with Thunder alone and forgo the bait games entirely, which is really nice. In fairness, Spark Lanturn does mostly all that too… but it doesn’t beat Registeel and only JUST barely overcomes Bastiodon. While Rainy is certainly a more hefty investment (needing to nearly be maxed on top of the high second move cost), on many teams, it could easily be a better Lanturn.

Vigoroth

Counter | Body Slam & Bulldoze

If Slaking is an unhasty Ent, Vigoroth is the positively hasty Hobbit that refuses to sit still. Okay, maaaaaaaybe not my best illustration ever, but the point is that Viggy is a big ball of pent-up energy just waiting to explode all over the opponent, and it hits HARD when it does. (Like an enraged Ent!) It makes Body Slam downright scary, with Counter pumping them out constantly. As if that wasn’t enough, Slam is great at baiting out a [closing Bulldoze, which gives Vigoroth even more reach against Steels (it needs Doze to beat Bronzong, for example) and things that fend off its other moves, like Haunter and Sableye and A-Muk. Vigoroth is not out of control nutso like it was during Jungle Cups past, but it remains a very solid Fighter (that isn’t!) with a unique bag of tricks that make a lot of core meta options flee in terror. And unlike several of the other multi-talented Fighters, Viggy was left unrestricted in Voyager, which is a very good thing since it is part of the loaded Gen3.

Drapion

Ice Fang | Aqua Tail & Crunch

Remember when Drapion was consistently the odd man out among the Dark/Poisons, struggling to emerge from behind A-Muk and Skuntank? Yeah, those days ended when it got Ice Fang, finally allowing it to stand on its own two… er, make that four… um… stubby little legs. Ice Fang alone can take out several big names, mostly in a convincing manner, including Tropius, Venusaur, Haunter, Shiftry, Altaria, Sableye, and Alolan Muk. Adding in Aqua Tail gains it oddball Electrics Stunfisk and Alolan Raichu, and potentially Meganium, while bringing along [**Crunch**](https://pvpoke.com/battle/multi/1500/custom/drapion/11/1-2-0/2-1/voyager) picks up notable Psychics Hypno, D-Deoxys, Bronzong, and Jirachi. Put it all togetheryes, the same moveset I have continued to preach has been THE best for Drapion since Ferocious Cup and every meta since–and you’ve got a very versatile and potent answer to a wide range of things. No, it cannot deal with Regimarill cores, but it could make a good teammate for something that does!

Sableye

Shadow Claw | Foul Play & Return/Power Gem

You’d think Sableye was an overpowering menace with all the past Cups it has been banned in, but as time has marched on and new Pokémon have risen and fallen through new generations and many move shakeups, Sable is still very good, but manageable. Its typing famously leaves it only vulnerable to Fairy damage, and it tears through a wide range of things, from Registeel to Alolan Marowak to Lapras to Tropius to Swampert to Toxicroak and Haunter and Lanturn and Poliwrath and of course most anything and everything Psychic. But did you know that, while it is typically deployed with Power Gem, it is really just as good (and arguably better) with Return instead? That gives up Lapras, but gains things like Alolan Muk and Scrafty that resist Sable’s Ghost and Dark damage and can survive a Gem to the face. Return is 10 energy slower, but deals 40 more damage. If you have a good purified Sableye, give it a long, hard look, and revel in the fact that it’s cheaper to power up thanks to the purified cost reduction. 🙌

I’ll give a quick shout-out here to Spiritomb as well. I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost… oh, wait, that’s not right. What you’re REALLY thinking (other than about Dirty Harry now… you’re welcome!) is ‘why would I ever use Spiritomb in a format where Sableye is also available?!’ While Sable IS generally better, Spiritomb is still the only one between the two of them that can take down Froslass, Whiscash, and Cresselia, and it does it even with research reward level IVs too. 

Drifblim

Hex | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball

Unlike back during its PvP emergence way back at the start of Season 2, in Sinister Cup, Blim no longer wants Ominous Wind, especially after it was debuffed recently. It instead now makes good use of Icy Wind, pairing it with Shadow Ball for a nasty combo that scares a number of things, from Fighters to Grasses to Psychics to Mud Boys and somehow even Skarmory and Registeel. Even Altaria and Azumarill (even with super effective Ice Beams!) have to give it everything they’ve got to escape, battered and bruised and on death’s door after lengthy battles. And lengthy battles are where it’s at with Blim, as it just wears you down over time while hanging around with its crazy high HP. (Solidly over 200 in Great League!) If you have one leftover from Sinister or some other time in the past, yep, you can try and get more return on your investment here. And it’s from Gen4, so Blim could rather easily be your pick from that generation and still leave your flex open.

Golurk

Mud Slap | Shadow Punch & Dynamic Punch/Earth Power

A spice pick, no doubt, but if you can’t figure out which Gen5+ Pokémon to use, you can legit consider GoLurch. (That’s a bad pun, not a misspelling. “You rang?” cough ANYway….) It’s a Mud Slapper, and quite a powerful one at that, which means Steels hate it, as do Poisons, Electrics, Rocks, Fires, and many more. The numbers say that most of the time, it just uses just Shadow Punch, and that Dynamic Punch and Earth Power perform almost exactly the same, but I lean Dynamic Punch just because of the unique profile and options that gives it. Like I said, definitely a “spicy” pick, but one that does a lot of good and often unexpected things.

Stunfisk

Thunder Shock/Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Discharge

I already went into a LOT of detail on Fisky in a special ‘Under The Lights’ feature article, but to sum up: Stunfisk can beat a lot of meta things, inclduing the majority of Steels, Electrics, Fairies, Poisons, and bonuses like Sableye and Alolan Marowak. IVs have an effect, but overall, Thunder Shock Fisky beats Azumarill, whereas Mud Shot‘s only real standout win is over… well, a Thunder Shock Stunfisk. Thunder Shock is my general recommendation because of the results versus Azu almost exclusively, but there’s no wrong answer, really. Beyond that… yeah, just go back and read the article. The lowdown you’re looking for is (mostly) all in there.

Zweilousᴿ

Dragon Breath | Body Slam & Dark Pulse

Yeah, I still don’t have one, so the following is strictly what the numbers are telling me. But they are telling me good things. Things like beating down Psychics and Ghosts, as a good Dark type should do, but so much more. Grasses fall–ALL of them–as do nearly all Darks and then a smattering of things like A-Muk and Mantine and Seismitoad and Galvantula and Lanturn and Stunfisk and the list goes on, including forcing at least a tie with Altaria. It’s a (Body) Spam artist that has decent closing power (the highest damage-dealing Dark move, in fact) with Dark Pulse. What’s not to like? Well, you can dislike the fact that it’s Restricted, I Suppose, so it’ll occupy your Gen5+ slot if selected.

Mandibuzzᴿ

Snarl | Aerial Ace & Foul Play/Dark Pulse/Shadow Ball

Snarl is a good start. Aerial Ace not so much, but it is Mandi’s only Flying charge move, so it’s in. You want/need that to handle Grasses and give it any chance against Fighters. But beyond that, it’s a tough call. Foul Play, Dark Pulse, and Shadow Ball all sim remarkably close to each other, so let’s look at the few differences between them. Foul Play is the only one that reliably outraces Whiscash, Dark Pulse is the only one with the closing power to pick off Vigoroth (who double resists Shadow Ball, remember), and Shadow Ball blows out things like Gallade and Froslass with 60 and over 100 more HP (respectively) than either Dark move affords Mandibuzz. But those are relatively minute differences, which goes to say… you don’t have to worry too much about TM roulette with Mandi. Get AA and then whatever comes with it and you can probably call it a day. This big buzzard will feast on its enemies no matter what second move you roll with.


Yes, it is time, once again, as we finally reach the end of this long journey through the Voyager meta, for a musical intro. And so, with all my respect and apologies to Ol’ Blue Eyes himself…. 🎶

*And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.*

*My friends, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.*

*Regrets, I’ve had a few… but then again, too few to mention.* (haha as IF)

*I did what I had to do, and saw it through without exemption.*

*I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway,*

*And more, much more than this, I did it myyyyyyyyyy way.*

*Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew*

*When I bit off more than I could chew.* (like this series, for example!)

*But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out.*

*I faced it all and I stood tall, and did it myyyyyyyyy way!*

Thanks for sticking with me through this loooooooong series. Hopefully you appreciate “my way” by now, and I’ve been able to keep this entertaining enough to make it all easier to digest throughout. And now, that’s enough of that… let’s get to the final curtain of this record-breaking, four-part article. Here we go!

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

ᴿ – Restricted List
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

Articuno

Ice Shard | Icy Wind & Blizzard/Hurricaneᴸ

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But JRE, any Articuno with Hurricane is too big for Great League!’ That is true, but remember that we get a shiny Elite Charged TM at the end of GO Battle League Season 1, so we CAN get a Hurricane ‘Cuno after that if we wish. The downside is GBL Season 1 ends the same time Voyager Cup does (end of April), so unless we have a Toxic Cup-like extension, we’re going to just miss it for Voyager. But still, since we’re here anyway, I’ll mention that Hurricane (paired with the almost mandatory Icy Wind for crazy debuffing fun and games) uniquely wins things like Poliwrath and Medicham that don’t appreciate Flying damage, things like Froslass that resist Ice damage, and things like Clefable and Wigglytuff that… uh… just don’t like heavy damage. But here in Voyager, likely the best you can do is Blizzard, but that’s not a bad thing at all. You can beat Hypno, Galvantula, Skarmory, and Mantine that Hurricane cannot get you, plus all the Grasses and Flyers and Grounds and Dragons and all you terrorize and demoralize with Icy Wind anyway. Chances are good you’ve run across Articuno doing just that in GBL Ultra League at some point, and yes, it does much the same here, though obviously it wants nothing to do with Steels or Azumarill or even most Darks and Psychics, so Cuno’s role is primarily that of a supporting piece and annoying debuffer to set up its teammates for success. It carries itself well in that role though, and is the best overall Legendary Bird to consider from Gen1.

Speaking of which, Moltres gets legit interesting with Sky Attack, which we’re also have access to at this level post-Elite TM, performing very similarly to Charizard, though with more ability to dish something back to things that resist Fire. Unfortunately, as stated before, right now things line up that we don’t cobble that together in time for Voyager, so it’s just something to consider for further down the road for now. Even moreso for Zapdos, who badly needs Thunder Shock to be any real consideration, and that may be even further down the road since we’re only promised an Elite Charged TM as of now. Without their exclusive moves, Moltres and Zapdos just don’t cut it… yet.

Mewᴿ

Yeah, good luck with the TM roulette!

Depending on moves, Mew could end up being JUST what your team needs or something that should remain nailed to the bench. For what it’s worth, the very “best” I’ve found seems to be Shadow Claw/Overheat/Rock Slide, but there are a LOT of other moves to consider, including (primarily, but far from exclusively) Volt Switch and Snarl for fast moves, and Psyshock, Dragon Claw, Surf, Grass Knot, Wild Charge, Focus Blast, and a whole host of others. Customized properly, Mew can fill gaps on almost any team… or no team. Try your TM luck if you wish, and godspeed. Just keep in mind that Mew is Restricted, so it’ll occupy your Gen1 slot if you go that route,

Suicune

Snarl | Bubble Beam & Hydro Pump

Similarly to Articuno, Suicune has a guaranteed debuff move/shield baiter with Bubble Beam. But UNlike Articuno, Suicune really needs to land a big closing move (Hydro Pump in this case) to close out wins, since unlike Icy Wind, Bubble Beam merely tickles opponents in terms of direct damage. This means that while Suicune’s potential win rate is more eye-popping, it also has far greater bust potential. Some players mastered the timing of Suicune back in Ferocious Cup and played it to great success, and may want to take a shot again. If you are NOT one of those players, then especially with how late this information is coming to you this month, with one weekend already gone and another on the immediate horizon, I might recommend looking elsewhere, as Suicune takes some practice to get right without your plans all dissolving like fizzy bubbles.

ALSO similarly to Articuno from Gen1, Suicune is the only Legendary Beast I think is worth it from Gen2. Entei is an okay-ish Fire, and it’s worth noting that it achieves its best performance not with Fire Spin as you might expect, but with Fire Fang… but that’s really the only thing worth mentioning. And even with the addition of Shadow Ball, and even with the major buff to Volt Switch, poor Raikou just still doesn’t cut it. You’re much better off running with Alolan Raichu or an oddball Electric like Stunfisk or Galvantula instead.

Lugia

Dragon Tail | Sky Attack & Hydro Pump/Extrasensory

Big caveat here, as we don’t know how the still pending Aeroblast may improve Lugia’s performance, so keep tabs on that. But for now, Lugia remains mostly a disappointment in open Great League play like this. Yes, Grasses and Fighters and most Mud Boys hate it, and it does handle things like Poliwrath much better than many of its contemporaries (Altaria comes to mind). But… that’s really it. Lugia can’t answer back to anything else very effectively, and is nowhere near as versatile as things like Altaria… and obviously a lot more expensive too. IF you can even land one in a trade at Great League size. Who has two thumbs and has tried unsuccessfully half a dozen, and somehow had two of those trades even go (un)Lucky? That’s right, THIS author. But I’m not bitter at all, noooooooo no.

Celebi

Confusion | Seed Bomb (& Psychic or Dazzling Gleam, I guess)

Admittedly, this is arguably another case of just being a more expensive version of something else, in this case Exeggutor. At least in this case, Celebi is very slightly better thanks to having noticeably more bulk than Eggy. But really, if I’m being honest, I’m only spending any time here because Celebi IS viable and has a unique niche with its hate against both things that fear Grasses AND things that fear Confusioners, all in one package, and is at least from a different generation as Exeggutor… but really, probably just go with the much cheaper Exeggutor if that’s a hole you need to fill.

Jirachi

Confusion | Doom Desire & Psychic/Dazzling Gleam

Solid if unremarkable… that’s probably the best way to describe Jirachi. Unlike other Steels with sometimes unpredictable movesets (Memetal comes to mind), you know exactly what to expect with Jirachi: Doom Desire spam, and it doesn’t usually even try to hide it or do anything else. No doubt, DD is a great move that ONLY Jirachi can currently unleash; costing only 40 energy and dealing 75 damage, it is literally half a Hyper Beam/Zap Cannon/Solar Beam, as they cost 80 energy for 150 damage… you can pop off two Doom Desires and deal the equivalent of one of those, but obviously with a LOT more flexability. Between that and big Confusions, the ONLY opponents Jirachi cannot hit with at least neutral damage is opposing Steels, and of course, Fairies, Ices, Rocks, Fighters, and Poisons all fear at least one of those two moves, and Jirachi’s list of resistances is impressive (and it helps that it is not vulnerable to Fighters as most Steels are). And while having a second move can help it out a little (it only beats Steel-resistant Lanturn, for one example, with Psychic), it doesn’t really do much beyond Doom Desire things to death… or try to, at least. That’s quite good, but only to a point. And considering Jirachi is from the stacked-for-PvP Generation Three (hey, a rhyme… yippee!), you’re likely only going to be able to flex it. The right team will benefit from that, but I suspect not too many.

Registeelᴿ

Lock-On | Flash Cannon & Focus Blast

Does Regi really require any explanation at this point? Play a round of five GO Battle League games in Great or Ultra League and I guarantee you’ll come across at least one. (Often a green shiny one, mocking me and my inability to ever find my own Jerky Green Giant. shakes fist 😒) Anyway, what is there to say? Lock-On stands alone with the highest energy generation in the game, bringing out what would normally be super slow charge moves so quickly that even notoriously spammy Pokémon have a hard time outracing it. This gives it a robust win percentage, and most of those losers just don’t have a realistic prayer of turning the tables without a big energy or shield advantage; getting locked in against a Registeel with anything that doesn’t directly counter it is a miserable experience of waiting around to die. BUT it is not unbeatable. I’ve spent a good portion this now FOUR part article highlighting what DOES take Regi and other Steels down, but to quick recap: Fighting, Fire, and Ground do it best (including things with just one good move of those types, like Cherrim’s Fire Weather Ball, Meganium’s Earthquake, Melmetal’s Superpower, etc…. they all win despite having a typing that would indicate, typically, a loss). But you can also grind it down with enough spammy, unresisted damage (as Alolan Raichu and Sableye and others can do), or Waters in general tend to do well, since they resist Flash Cannon and force Regi to reach for Focus Blasts instead. Registeel CAN be beat, even be outright embarrassed, if you’re properly prepared for it. Study your team and make sure you have a solid answer… and probably multiple answers to be safe. Regi will be a popular pick here just as it’s been in GBL, mark my words.

The other Regis may even get in on the act, since they’re not Restricted. (Picking Registeel means no Altaria, DDeoxys, Tropius, Whiscash or Swampert, and other potent Gen3 options.) So don’t be shocked to see Regice or perhaps even Regirock make an appearance. On paper, Rock performs well, but its typing is worrisome, retaining Registeel’s critical weaknesses to Fighting and Ground (which will be on many teams to directly counter Registeel anyway), as well as troublesome vulnerabilities to Water AND Grass AND Steel, all popular typings you’ll be seeing on the majority of teams. I won’t say its win percentage in those sims is wrong, but I do think it’s shakier than its Steely cousin. Even though it shows a lower overall win total, I actually have a little more faith in Regice, which has charge moves that directly answer both other Regis and conveniently terrify other big players like Altaria, A-Muk, and anything Grass or Steel or Flying. If I were to consider a non-Steel Regi, just me personally, it would probably be Ice. But whether ANY Regi other than Steel is worth it is certainly a debate that would consume the rest of this article if I let it, so we’ll leave it there, perhaps save that debate for another day, and move on.

Deoxys (Defense Forme)ᴿ

Counter | Psycho Boost & Rock Slide/Thunderbolt

Another topic that could eat up tons of article space is what charge moves to run on THIS guy. Counter is obvious, which pairs with its otherworldly bulk to make DD an absolute pain to deal with for the unprepared. But deciding on the charge moves can lead to serious consternation. Psycho Boost was better before it was slightly nerfed, but is still DD’s only STAB move and hits very hard, very fast. (70 damage for only half that much energy {35}, the same as the awesome Leaf Blade!) But with its now built in self Attack nerf (of TWO levels), it really hurts to use more than once or twice. But it’s great at setting up the other two moves, at least. Boost and Rock Slide combine to give DD its highest win total, and only with both moves can it beat things like Meganium, Lanturn, and Stunfisk. Boost does only slightly worse overall when combined with Thunderbolt, missing out on those three I mentioned, Wigglytuff, Ferrothorn, and Galvantula, but gaining a critical win over Azumarill and being the only moveset combo that can beat Togekiss and the mirror match. Rock Slide/Thunderbolt (RockBolt? ThunderSlide?) retains the important Azu win and brings back success against Ferro and Galv (thanks to Rock Slide, as it turns out), but drops other important matchups like Venusaur (where Psycho Boost is needed), Cherrim, Seismitoad, and perhaps most damning, BARELY beats Toxicroak, limping away with less than 10 HP rather than the 60+ it can get with Psycho Boost in the mix. For those important Fighting and Poison (and Poison/Grass) matchups, even in its self-nerfing state, Psycho Boost looks to be too important to leave behind, so the question kind of becomes do you want to beat Azu and hate on Waters with Thunderbolt, or go with the faster and less often resisted Rock Slide? Only you can answer that for your team. I will just close by saying that, regardless of moves, DD pretty consistently overcomes Registeel, Bastiodon, Probopass, Melmetal, Jirachi, Bronzong, Scrafty, Vigoroth, Gallade, Lapras, Dewgong, Empoleon, Mantine, Poliwrath, and Skarmory, among many others. It’s a solid contributor that could fit on most teams… but yes, is from Generation 3 as well. So many Gen3 Restricted options, only one generational slot available.

Cresseliaᴿ

Confusion | Aurora Beam & Moonblast
Psycho Cut | Futuresight & Moonblast

Another big tank, and another moveset debate. cracks knuckles Okay, here we go…. There are obviously lots of ways to skin a Cressie, staring with the fast move. Confusion is well documented in PvP by now as a hard hitting punisher that still charges energy reliably, and is often the only Psychic-type damage that is needed for most Pokémon to punish things weak to that type of damage. Psycho Cut is one of the very best energy generating moves in the game (exactly as good as much more common Thunder Shock and Mud Shot), but with its low damage output, obviously puts much greater emphasis on the charge moves to deal damage, and thus usually pairs better with a Psychic-type charge move if you’re still looking to deal Psychic-type damage. (Not even things weak to Psychic fear damage from Cut itself very much.) Got all that so far? Good. Then the recommendations I have above for charge moves to pair with each fast move hopefully make some sense. Confusion likes having the cheapest available charge move, Aurora Beam, to get some charge move damage and shield pressure out there as quickly as possible, and it also prefers Moonblast over Futuresight even though Moon is a little slower because Confusion and a Psychic-type charge move are generally superfluous. Psycho Cut seems to work best with Moonblast again, but with Futuresight as the second move of choice for a hard hitting, slam the door closing move, the hardest smack Cresselia is able to muster thanks to getting STAB damage added on as well. Now again, those are not the ONLY two ways to go, but they seem to be the most effective and versatile combos, both reliably beating Fighters, Fairies, most big Waters (including Azu and Lapras and Lanturn and Mantine most Mud Boys), and most Grasses and Grounds, but Cressie also consistently struggles against Ghosts and Darks (not even Moonblast usually comes fast enough to turn that around), other Psychics, and pretty much anything at least half Steel. It just has no good answers against most of its hardest counters, so it is somewhat similar to Registeel: it can feel truly hopeless having something that doesn’t hard counter it locked in and awaiting death via big crushing charge move, but it can also be a sure path to victory having Cressie locked in against one of its many counters, as she just doesn’t have any way to wiggle out of it without some kind of energy or shield advantage. Oh, but before I close this section out, a note on the moveset differences: between the two movesets I mentioned, C/AB/MB uniquely defeats Swampert and Altaria thanks in large part to Aurora Beam, and Vigoroth and especially Haunter because of the hard hitting power of Confusion. PC/FS/MB uniquely beats Sableye and Scrafty thanks to actually reaching Moonblast in time to make a difference, DDeoxys thanks to being able to hit it with multiple Moonblasts, and even Melmetal by hitting it with multiple resisted but still potent Futuresights (highest damage output available, remember?). And now we’re going to end this mini-article-within-an-article on Cresselia before I REALLY beat it to death. Onward!

Melmetalᴿ

Thunder Shock | Superpower & Rock Slide

Here we can finally sit back and enjoy an obvious moveset with little debate. It’s not that Mel doesn’t have a wide variety of moves–it does!— but the moves for PvP are very obvious. You need Superpower to give it the unique ability to not only defeat but absolutely trounce most other Steels (half-Rock Bastiodon in particular just curls up and weeps), with the added benefit of bringing the pain to Darks to Ices and outracing a ton of things in general, just be cautious as, just like DD with Psycho Boost, multiple uses can leave Mel a shell of its former self. It pairs nicely with Rock Slide, which can actually bait out Superpower even though Slide is slightly more expensive because it can snag a shield from the opponent without causing self-induced debuffing to Melmetal. But more importantly, Rock Slide makes Mel a terror to Flyers (Altaria in particular HATES the sight of it) and the big neutral damage (combined with Thunder Shock charging it up SO quickly over and over and over) allows Mel to ravage most Grasses and many others, and to outrace speedsters like Alolan Raichu and Haunter, which is no small feat for dealing, to reiterate, only neutral damage. Most Steels are of more of a plodding, wear you down nature. Not Melmetal. It gets right in your face and starts wailing away and dares you to do something about it. On the downside, while it hits hard, it has a glass jaw, being one of the flimsier Steels, and even things that deal resisted damage like Venusaur can turn the tables quickly with the slightest advantage, like a two fast move lead. Mel is fantastic at pressuring things, but it has a hard time swapping in to many matchups where it doesn’t have a very clear advantage.


And…that’s it! We did it! That covers the most relevant Pokémon–in this humble author’s opinion–Pokémon in Voyager Cup (and Great League on the whole). We have examined nearly 90 in total between these four combined articles. Sorry things took SO long this month, but considering that is nearly three times the size of the standard Nifty Or Thrifty, and most other meta reviews don’t do even HALF that many, I feel confident I have given you all my all, even if not as quickly as I would have liked. I truly hope this all works to your benefit, and that you have learned how to better craft your own team to use some of these or at least be prepared to DEFEAT many of this myriad of options. It is quite literally the biggest format we’ve ever had in the Silph Arena (and the biggest we may EVER have), and so you can expect a lot more variety than ever as well. If this has helped that massive format seem more manageable for you, then I can sleep better tonight. I hope that it does!

So one more time, before I go, continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last year and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And my thanks to all of you, for your own encouragement, support, and patience throughout this last year and a half of PvP (and last week and a half of delays and interruptions due to in-game and in-life events), and into the future! 

I very much appreciate you taking the time to read all this (and the three articles leading UP to this!), and sincerely hope this helps you master Voyager Cup and enjoy yourselves during these tumultuous times. Best of luck, and catch you next time, when we can get into some more specific analysis on Pokémon as they go… say it with me… *under the lights*. 🔦

Until then, for now, it is indeed time for that final curtain. And so I leave you, until next time, with my dulcet tones…. 🎵

*For what is a writer, what has he got?*

*If not himself, then he has naught!*

*To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels,*

*The record shoooooows*

*I took the bloooooows*

*And did it… myyyyyyy waaaaaaayyyyy!!*


JRE has been playing Pokémon GO since the beginning, but never imagined he’d get so into PvP. In starting his own research, deep into the Silph Arena metas, he decided to share his findings so other players could benefit, which turned into full fledged articles, which multiplied like rabbits. He’s now been writing multiple regular article series since Tempest Cup, focused on advanced matchups and budget friendly but still viable alternatives for veteran and rookie players alike. He likes powering up oddball Pokémon, reading a good book, spending time with his kids, dad jokes, piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

You can follow him on Twitter: @JRESeawolf or reach out on Discord: JRESeawolf#8349


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