Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting the Most Out of Mega Sceptile

Mega Sceptile's design doesn't venture far from the original.
Let's face it. Every generation has one starter that seems to get the short end of the stick somehow. Whether it's few moves or bad type combination, it's always something. In the 3rd generation, most people would tell you that was Sceptile.

I have to admit though, I was pretty happy when Mega Sceptile was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. I've always been a Sceptile fan. Unsurprisingly, Mega Sceptile was a little overshadowed by the confirmation of it's fellow Hoenn starter evolution, Mega Swampert. Mega Swampert seems to have gotten the most love online, with many memes popping up inspired by Mega Swampert's body building strategies. Couple that with the announcement that Mega Swampert got Swift Swim as a new ability and Mega Sceptile only got Lightning Rod and on first glance it would appear that once again, Sceptile was going to be one of those rarely seen battlers. However delving a little into what we do know about this new Mega may actually cause some people, like myself, to take the risk.

First of all, getting a Mega evolution isn't going to help Mega Sceptile's move-pool problem. Sceptile has the odd problem of having a much higher Special Attack than Attack, but it learns more Attack moves. Its defenses and HP are pretty low, and it has a high speed. It's obvious what Sceptile should be doing. It should be attempting to sweep using Special moves. Unfortunately, it's stats are just under-par for doing that. Upon Mega evolving, Sceptile will probably get a 100 base stat point increase (since every other Mega has) putting it with the same stat total as Mega Blaziken. Most likely most of those 100 points will be applied to Attack, Special Attack, and Speed. So what does that mean for it's move-pool? Potentially, it means that Mega Sceptile could prove to be a relatively valid mixed attacker.

Mega Sceptile from Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
Stand-out attacks from Sceptile's current XY level up and TM move-pool includes: Leaf Storm, Night Slash, Pursuit, Leaf Blade, Dragon Claw, Rock Slide, Earthquake, Focus Blast, Nature Power, and Power-Up Punch. It's egg moves are also interesting which include oddities like Dragon Breath and Crush Claw. Also, it's worth mentioning if you don't evolve your Treecko until lv. 46 it gets Giga Drain. Even from all these moves, there are only a few that I would attempt to use on a Mega Sceptile build. Leaf Storm works well combo'd with 3 attacking moves, as the Sp. Atk drop will not affect the other attacking options. Of course, you could always just choose 4 moves with the widest range of coverage of Mega Sceptile's weaknesses. Ice is a big issue with Sceptile as upon Mega evolution it gains Dragon-typing and a 4x Ice weakness. Rock Slide or Focus Blast could fix this though, so it's a matter of what you think you need.

Moving on to typing, once again Mega evolution has posed a problem for Mega Sceptile. By going from Grass to Grass/Dragon once Mega evolving has changed it's type matchups. It's no longer weak to fire, but it is now 4x weak to Ice as well as gaining Dragon and Fairy weaknesses. Ice can be resolved, although it has to be done carefully like I mentioned earlier. An Ice Shard could end Mega Sceptile pretty quick. Dragon is a little bit less of a threat only because Mega Sceptile should be faster than most Dragons AND it would likely have Dragon moves to hit its opponent with, but you'll still likely find yourself switching. Same goes for Fairy.

Finally, we have the new ability Lightning Rod. It was an odd choice for Mega Sceptile for sure. Sceptile is already resistant to Electric moves, so this seemed like it's pidgeon-holing Mega Sceptile into being an exclusively Doubles Rain team member. On the upside, it can have it's single battle benefits too. After Mega evolving, it makes for a good switch in for pokémon that are weak to electric. The biggest benefit is likely the new found immunity to Thunder Wave, so Mega Sceptile is all but immune to being paralyzed. Grass types are already immune to grass type status moves like Stun Spore, but with Lightning Rod, Mega Sceptile not only ignores Thunder Wave but also gets a Sp. Atk boost. Because of this, Mega Sceptile's amazing speed won't be dropped due to paralysis unless the offender uses Glare or gets lucky with Body Slam. Keep in mind, the only ability worth having on Sceptile before Mega evolving is Overgrow. If you have the Hidden Ability Unburden on Sceptile, the ability will never activate because you're holding a Mega Stone. You could use an Unburden Sceptile along with other Megas, however, to make them unsure of which pokémon you plan to Mega evolve.

I'm sure by this point you're thinking, this all still sounds pretty bad. How could I even use a Mega Sceptile? Well, I can tell you now, I doubt it'll ever be game breaking. I doubt competitive gaming sites will ban it like they did Blaziken in 5th gen. However, I think it is quite usable. Here are two movesets I would suggest. One is legal using the "Kalos Native" rules. The other takes moves from older generation games to make the best Mega Sceptile from a combination of moves from Generation 3 all the way to Gen 6 and, with a little migration, could be fun to play. Again, these movesets assume that with the stat boost brought on by Mega evolution, that Mega Sceptile will be relatively good in both offensive stats.

Kalos-Native Mega Sceptile
Nature: Hasty or Naive
Ability: Overgrow/Lightning Rod
Attacks: Leaf Storm, Rock Slide, Pursuit, Dragon Claw
Strategy: Pretty straight forward set. Rely on the physical moves for the most part, however Leaf Storm is there for a really powerful hit. Leaf Storm will get weaker every consecutive time it's used. If you're in 2v2, you can have a partner help build Mega Sceptile's Special attack with Discharge. Finally, Dragon Claw is another STAB move and Pursuit hits those trying to escape. Nature Power deserves an honorable mention here, as in battles VS your friends, Nature Power will always be Tri Attack. That means Mega Sceptile will have a move that could either Burn, Paralyze, or Freeze the opponent.

Old Gen Mega Sceptile
Nature: Hasty or Naive
Ability: Overgrow/Lightning Rod
Attacks: Dragon Pulse, Iron Tail, Thunder Punch, Leaf Storm
Strategy: Thanks to the move tutors in Black and White 2 (and ORAS), this Mega Sceptile can counter almost all of it's weaknesses as well as maintain two strong special STAB moves. If the weakening of your Sp. Atk stat is something you just can't stand, Energy Ball can be used to replace Leaf Storm... however the power loss is pretty obvious.

Since posting this and the release of ORAS we now know that Mega Sceptile can run a mixed set potentially, It's Attack can max out at 350 with a beneficial nature and it's Sp. Atk can max out at 389 with a neutral. With well timed switches into an electric move, a Naughty Mega Sceptile could be quite the formidable opponent. With a Naive nature for Speed, it has less offense (max 319 Atk/389 Sp. Atk) but is incredibly fast (427 max). It's just a matter of arranging effort values to get the stats where you are happy with them. 427 speed is pretty overkill, so you don't have to put all of your EVs into it. 212 EVs puts a Hasty Mega Sceptile at 416 Speed which is faster than every pokémon outside of Deoxys (Normal/Attack/Speed), Mega Alakazam, Mega Aerodactyl, Mega Beedrill, and Accelgor. It will Speed tie with Electrode and Mega Mewtwo Y, but I wouldn't worry about that. Electrode is almost never seen, and Mega Mewtwo Y isn't a VGC tournament regular (and neither are most of the afformentioned pokémon that outspeed a 212 EV Mega Sceptile). Also, since ORAS came out, all of the "Old Gen Sceptile" moves are available via Move Tutors, so you can run those moves now in VGC style tournaments and in the ORAS Battle Spot.

If you were trying to get the most out of Mega Sceptile, what would you do? Would you go all out with Special Attacks since that's what Sceptile is stronger in, would you try to make it's Physical moveset work, or would you go to the middle ground with a mix? Join our Facebook community and let us know!