Galarian Birds, Pheromosa, Buzzwole and new Hisui Pokémon as Raid Attackers

A critical look at recent New Pokémon as Raid Attackers (with a focus on Fighting types): Galarian birds, Pheromosa, Buzzwole and Hisuian Pokémon


Nothing here can threaten even Machamp, much less Shadow Machamp, Lucario or Conkeldurr, as a Fighting-type attacker in raids.

But at least some usable ones just below them: BuzzwoleGalarian Zapdos (assuming high IVs), and for those really good at dodging, Pheromosa.

  • Some of them have interesting future prospects, but the one you should really watch out for is Terrakion. Don’t be surprised to see it rise to Shadow Machamp level the moment it gets a fighting fast move, like Double Kick that has been hinted at in datamines. I’m serious! Mienshao may also become a Lucario clone if given Aura Sphere.
  • Among the other new releases: Xurkitree as well as Pheromosa/Buzzwole as Bug types will be covered soon in another article. Galarian Articuno is the best among the rest and a usable Psychic attacker, but falls in the middle of a whole bunch of psychics far below Mewtwo.
  • Read the full article for: A list of fighters that may be great in the future; Early thoughts on unreleased Hisuian Pokémon.
    • Save your Scyther for Kleavor to get the best use out of your Scyther! Except one for mega. Don’t forget shadows if you still have them.

Edit (August 8, 21:22 GMT): Elaborated on Overqwil as the current #3 poison attacker.


A few batches of new Pokémon have been released lately in July:

  • Ultra Beasts: Pheromosa, Buzzwole and Xurkitree have been given out in special research at each of the three in-person Go Fests. They will be available globally as raid bosses during the Go Fest Finale event on August 27.
  • Galarian birds: G-Articuno, G-Zapdos and G-Moltres can now be encountered via the Daily Adventure Incense. They are rare spawns, have an extremely low catch rate, and are very likely to flee. But at least they can be caught!
  • Hisuian Pokemon: H-Qwilfish, H-Growlithe, H-Sneasel and H-Braviary were released during the Hisuian Discoveries event that just ended.

This is Part 1 out of 2 on these new releases – there’s a lot to cover, after all, with a few exciting ones. Unfortunately, the ones we’re looking at today will not be as ground breaking, at least for now. But we’ll examine a common type that appears in all three groups above: Fighting.

— And that’s exactly why I said this article won’t be ground breaking. Fighting has been one of the most prominent types in the game since Day 1, and presumably most players already have some good fighters by now (if you don’t, start catching those Machops!!!). While the recent additions include several Fighting types – Galarian Zapdos, Buzzwole, Pheromosa and Sneasler – none of them can uproot your armies of Shadow Machamp, Lucario, Conkeldurr and even regular Machamp. Still, let’s take a look at how well they do, and how much potential they (and other fighters) have!

The Fighters – Stats and Moves

Before getting to DPS and stuff, there’s something I want to mention first… Their base stats and current moves in PoGo.

Zapdos (Galarian) FightingFlying

Galarian Zapdos:

  • 252 attack, 189 defense, 207 HP
  • Counter/Close Combat
Pheromosa BugFighting


  • 316 attack, 85 defense, 174 HP
  • Low Kick/Focus Blast
Buzzwole BugFighting


  • 236 attack, 196 defense, 216 HP
  • Counter/Superpower
Sneasler PoisonFighting


  • 259 attack, 158 defense, 190 HP
  • Rock Smash/Close Combat

For comparison, here’s the list of best fighters today:

Lucario FightingSteel


  • 236 attack, 144 defense, 172 HP
  • Counter/Aura Sphere
Conkeldurr Fighting


  • 243 attack, 158 defense, 233 HP
  • Counter/Dynamic Punch
Machamp Fighting


  • 234 attack, 159 defense, 207 HP
  • Shadow Machamp effectively has ~280.8 attack, ~132.5 defense, 207 HP
  • Counter/Dynamic Punch

A pattern emerges with our 4 new fighters… They actually have great base attack (the stat that matters the most in raids) and unique typings, but underwhelming movesets.

Stats (with an emphasis on attack) and moves are both needed for a strong raid attacker, unless one is incredibly OP. While Galarian Zapdos, Pheromosa and Sneasler all have higher base attack than the well-known fighters (even Buzzwole is exactly on par with them), the charged moves – Close Combat, Superpower and Focus Blast – leave much to be desired.

  • Close Combat is just bad, Focus Blast is better but still suffers from being a 1-bar move, and Superpower, while being the best of the bunch, still trails behind the great Dynamic Punch or the literally OP Aura Sphere.
  • Pheromosa and Sneasler also suffer from not having access to Counter, the best fast move in PvE, which also happens to be available to all the best fighting types.
  • “But what about Pheromosa’s sky high 316 attack?” Good question… We’ll get to that in a moment.

So, even though you may be disappointed by the charts I’m gonna show below, keep in mind that all our new fighters actually have potential, at least in theory. They may not do well now, but that can possibly change later.

The Charts

Fighting attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance from Pokebattler sims, aka Average Scaled Estimator (ASE). Without and with dodging respectively.
Fighting attackers ranked by DPS^3*TDO and DPS respectively.

Technical details, as usual:

  • The first two plots are based on my in-house Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which estimates in-raid performance by automatically computing the average Pokebattler estimators against a variety of T5, Mega and T3 raid bosses, scaled so that the best attacker at L40 gets 1.0. The smaller, the better. For more details, refer to my Venusaur analysis in January and the comments.
  • “ASE Dodge” uses simulations with the “Dodge Specials” + “Realistic Dodging” options on Pokebattler. You can compare it to ASE without dodging to see how much dodging helps an attacker. For example, Lucario’s ASE at Level 40 drops from 1.099 without dodging to 1.061 with dodging, so dodging generally helps Lucario’s performance.

Don’t know how to read the charts?

If you’re totally lost, just look at the first two plots, or just the first one if you don’t dodge in raids. These two plots are based on my ASE metric, which approximates in-raid performance using Pokebattler. (The DPS3*TDO and DPS plots are for experienced players who want to check these metrics.)

In all four plots, the higher, the better. Example: Shadow Machamp is generally better than Lucario, which is better than Machamp, if they’re all at the same Pokémon level. But everything listed is perfectly usable and will let you pull your weight in raids.

You can also compare different attackers at different levels: points on the same horizontal line mean they’re equally as good. Example: A Level 30 Shadow Machamp performs similarly to Level 40 Lucario/Conkeldurr and Level 45 Machamp.

Reminder: All plots show average performance against many raid bosses. Against a specific raid boss, the rankings can be different.

How good are the new fighters?

Important reminder for this one: The charts assume 100% IVs. This will be hard to achieve for Galarian Zapdos, since it spawns from the Daily Adventure Incense with no IV floor (any IV from 0% to 100% is possible).

Well, as you can see.. I can’t really hype up this one lol.

TL;DR, Machamp is still better.

  • Galarian Zapdos (100% IV) and Buzzwole are the best of the bunch, but even they are only near Hariyama levels, or a hair above it. Both are outclassed by regular Machamp while being much more expensive. They don’t even have a chance of touching Conkeldurr, Lucario, or Shadow Machamp.
    • Having said that, they’re definitely still usable! If you use unique counters, G-Zapdos (100% IVs) and Buzzwole will be the #5 and #6 best species respectively (#4 and #5 if you ignore shadows; without dodging). And they will likely achieve most of what regular Machamp does. Not ideal for shortmanning, but regular Machamp isn’t exactly ideal nowadays either.
    • Considering Buzzwole has great potential in PvP Master League, if you’re building one, it can definitely fill a spot on your raid team if needed – even though I don’t recommend building one solely for PvE.
  • Pheromosa (as a Fighting type) is an extreme glass cannon that’s sadly not practical, and a disappointment for the DPS lovers. Even though dodging massively improves its potential, realistic dodging still only puts it slightly above Machamp – still below Conkeldurr and the likes.
    • Pheromosa does have sky high DPS, even approaching Lucario levels despite a much worse moveset.
    • The problem is its bulk: 85 defense and 174 HP are comparable to Sharpedo (83/172) and Deoxys-Normal (115/137), and worse than well-known glass cannons like Gengar (149/155) and Rampardos (109/219). Heck, its defense and HP are virtually identical to Machop. Yikes.
    • 1-bar Focus Blast is the nail in the coffin. It’s the best move Pheromosa can learn… But there’s a good chance you die before reaching 100 energy to use it. Would have been much better if it got a usable 2-bar or 3-bar move.
  • Sneasler is just terrible, at least right now.

… But I wouldn’t have written a whole article if that’s it. I want to highlight future potential of these 4 and a few others:

Future Considerations – With existing moves

Possible future fighting attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance from Pokebattler sims, aka Average Scaled Estimator (ASE). Without and with dodging respectively.
Possible future fighting attackers ranked by DPS^3*TDO and DPS respectively.

This chart includes existing Pokémon (new or already released) with better moves, that are either already in the game, or whose stats can be reasonably estimated (aka Double Kick).

Terrakion with a fighting fast move, potentially Double Kick

Terrakion RockFighting

Likelihood: 4.5/5.

It’s a matter of when, not if.

  • All 3 Swords of Justice (Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion) are in need of a Fighting-type fast move to be relevant in PvP, and Terrakion needs it as a Fighting type in raids.
  • Right after they left raids in November 2021, PokeMiners discovered sound effects for Double Kick. The move was also added in 0.225.0, but we don’t have its stats yet. All 3 legendaries can learn Double Kick in the main series. I don’t know why it was only added after they left raids and not before, but regardless, it’s reasonable to think Niantic plans to give them Double Kick at some point (via a GBL movepool update or as a raid exclusive move.)
  • Terrakion did learn Rock Smash in Gens 5 & 6 of the MSG, so there’s at least a legal option if Niantic wants to add it.

Power: 5/5.

Expect something comparable to Shadow Machamp, give or take.

  • Terrakion has great stats (260 base attack) and an OP charged move Sacred Sword. A Fighting-type fast move – any move – is literally all it needs.
  • In the charts above, I highlighted two possible scenarios for how good Double Kick may be: a Counter clone (the best fast move in PoGo), and a Rock Smash clone (a bad fast move). Realistically, expect Double Kick to fall somewhere between these extremes.
  • As you can see, a Counter clone makes Terrakion outclass Shadow Machamp in everything but raw DPS; a Rock Smash clone makes it worse than Shadow Machamp, but still largely above everything else.
    • Heck, Counter/Sacred Sword Terrakion would have been as good as Shadow Lucario!

Mienshao with Aura Sphere

Mienshao Fighting

Likelihood: 3/5.

If there’s one other Pokémon besides Lucario that gets Aura Sphere, this is it.

  • When Aura Sphere was added to PoGo, it was clearly intended to be exclusive to Lucario (though not an Elite TM move). Therefore, it became one of the most broken charged moves in PvE, intentionally so to raise Lucario to relevance as a raid counter – and it did.
  • But Aura Sphere was never exclusive to Lucario in the MSG. Its distribution was more limited in Gens 4-7, but even then, Mienshao could always learn it by levelling up.
    • Side note: A lot more Pokémon got access to Aura Sphere in Sword/Shield and Legends Arceus. Some examples that could be huge for PoGo raids, even though they’re unlikely to happen: Blaziken, Lopunny (Mega), Gallade, Keldeo, Kommo-o, Marshadow, Urshifu, Hisuian Decidueye, Mewtwo (Mega X).
  • Not only is Mienshao the second most iconic Fighting-type user of Aura Sphere, it actually fits Niantic’s interests. Given Mienfoo’s current status in Go as a GBL-and-egg-exclusive Pokémon, it’s hard not to think Niantic won’t try to hype it up or monetize it in the future. And an easy way to make it desirable – so that people actually care – is giving it Aura Sphere.

Power: 4.5/5.

A Lucario clone, basically.

  • Mienshao has better stats than Lucario (258 base attack). However, it can’t learn Counter and has to settle with Low Kick. These two factors basically cancel out.
  • Low Kick/Aura Sphere Mienshao is basically just above or just below Lucario in most metrics. Dodging helps it a bit more than Lucario, since Mienshao has higher DPS but less bulk.

Galarian Zapdos with Superpower

Zapdos (Galarian) FightingFlying

Likelihood: 1/5.

Even though it helps in PvE, there’s no reason to.

  • Superpower is a small upgrade to Close Combat in raids, but a sidegrade in PvP where they’re similar. Very few Pokémon have been given both Superpower and Close Combat for this reason.
  • Unless they pull a Sludge Bomb Darkrai, I can’t see why Niantic would ever give Superpower to G-Zapdos. Its improvement in raids still isn’t very exciting. Even if Galarian Zapdos gets a raid-exclusive move (I’m sure it will, by like 2032), it’s much better to pick its signature move, Thunderous Kick.

Power: 3/5.

Still a Machamp clone at best, not worth the investment for most players.

  • Counter/Superpower G-Zapdos does have higher DPS3*TDO, but less DPS. Dynamic Punch is good enough to offset the difference in attack. As a result, their performance in raids are still very similar, with Machamp still taking the lead typically.

Sneasler with Counter and/or Dynamic Punch

Sneasler PoisonFighting

Likelihood: 0.5/5. 

This is the most uncertain one in the entire article, and there are A LOT of if’s for this to happen. I can’t emphasize this enough.

  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus (PLA) has a very limited move pool, and as a result, most Hisuian Pokémon will suffer from less than ideal moves if they enter PoGo at this moment. Unfortunately (at least for PvE), Sneasler came too early, and its PoGo moveset has to be chosen from the very limited PLA move pool.
    • (At least it has a double STAB moveset – a lot of Hisuian Pokémon wouldn’t.)
  • The first IF is for Sneasler to show up in Scarlet/Violet to be released later this year. This is its only chance to have a more diverse move pool in a reasonable time frame.
  • The second IF is for it to actually learn Counter and Dynamic Punch in S/V. Both are absent from PLA, so it’s possible they will be given to Sneasler and other Hisuian Pokémon entering S/V where these moves are finally available.
    • For this reason, I didn’t consider Aura Sphere. The move was in PLA, but Sneasler couldn’t learn it.
  • The third IF is for Niantic to add Counter and Dynamic Punch to Sneasler’s PoGo moveset post S/V release.
    • Adding Counter is likely should it become eligible, since it gives Sneasler a much-needed fighting fast move that helps in both PvE and PvP.
    • But adding Dynamic Punch is more iffy and purely for PvE: Sneasler is already awesome in PvP with Close Combat, which would still be preferred.
  • With all these hurdles, frankly I don’t see Counter/Dynamic Punch Sneasler happening. The potential is there, but unless you really want to play safe (like me), I wouldn’t bother.

Power: 4.5/5 with Counter/Dynamic Punch (another Lucario clone)

2/5 with just Counter (usable, but still worse than Machamp)

  • Counter/Dynamic Punch Sneasler would also have been similar to Lucario, but in the opposite direction as Mienshao was: lower DPS than Lucario, but better bulk. All three have very similar ASE both without and with dodging.
  • Counter/Close Combat Sneasler is similar to Galarian Zapdos without any better moves, and comparable to Breloom and Hariyama. Sorry, Close Combat is just so bad.

Note: Buzzwole can potentially learn Dynamic Punch. I didn’t include it because it’s less likely and won’t be a very notable upgrade, just like Superpower G-Zapdos.

Hisuian Discoveries

Future Considerations – Possible new moves and unreleased Pokémon

These Pokémon are omitted from the charts to reduce clutter, and also because we have no knowledge about some possible moves they can learn. But many of them do have potential, even though they may or may not be realized.

  • Starting with Galarian Zapdos: It has its own Fighting-type signature move, Thunderous Kick. Highly likely to be released eventually, but it may take a looooong time. Given its higher base attack than Machamp and Lucario, an above-average Thunderous Kick would probably make it relevant – a safe bet would be somewhere between Machamp and Lucario. Still, Terrakion will probably be better.
  • Sirfetch’d also has better-than-Lucario base attack (248) and a signature move, Meteor Assault. I don’t expect it to be better than Aura Sphere, so again, between Machamp and Lucario is a safe bet. Depends on whether you think an event featuring Galarian Farfetch’d, like a Community Day, can happen or not.
  • Many other future legendaries and mythicals may see potential in a more realistic time frame. Keldeo, the only unreleased Gen 5 mythical and the missing member of the Swords of Justice, has identical stats as Terrakion – but with the advantage that it already has Low Kick in the current Game Master. The only thing missing is Sacred Sword, and that would immediately give it similar performance to Shadow Machamp.
  • Urshifu (Gen 8 legendary) also has a great moveset in current Game Master: Counter/Dynamic Punch. This makes it very similar to Rock Smash Terrakion, or in other words, below Shadow Machamp but above everything else.
  • Marshadow (Gen 7 mythical) can theoretically learn Counter/Aura Sphere… Just saying. That would be absolutely broken, but I don’t see it happening. More realistic charged moves like Focus Blast and Superpower may still make it above/below Lucario; Close Combat is still usable and outclasses Machamp, but loses its shine; no Counter would be horrible.
  • A few potential Aura Sphere users that I’ve mentioned above – they’re unlikely to happen, but you never know. AS Blaziken would basically be an upgrade to Lucario aside from typing. AS Gallade has the same attack as Lucario, but is much bulkier. AS Lopunny will be great for its mega. Even AS Hitmonlee will be viable, though not amazing.
    • IF – and I’m not saying I want them to do this – but if Niantic does more repeat Community Days, Aura Sphere will be a great CD move for both Blaziken and Gallade.
    • I don’t think AS Keldeo or Urshifu will happen. That’s just too busted.
  • One more Aura Sphere user that’s probably not on your bingo card: Counter/Aura Sphere Kommo-o. Even with Kommo-o’s less-than-ideal attack stat, such a moveset will make Kommo-o edge out Lucario in DPS3*TDO and non-dodging performance (ASE), despite less DPS. It’s guaranteed to have a future Community Day, so this might actually happen.
  • If we really want to explore all possibilities, Conkeldurr and (Shadow) Machamp can both receive new moves: Hammer Arm for Conkeldurr, Vital Throw for Machamp, and Mach Punch for both. They may not even materialize, let alone be good in PvE, but Conkeldurr is a highly likely Community Day candidate… So who knows.

A few fighters that were examined, but have limited potential or too much uncertainty:

  • Pheromosa really has no better moves in PoGo than Low Kick/Focus Blast. Its only hope of getting a 2-bar or 3-bar fighting charged move lies in Triple Kick and High Jump Kick. Also, it’s a good candidate for Double Kick in future.
  • Buzzwole can learn some of the possible new moves I listed above for Conkeldurr and Machamp, specifically Vital Throw and Hammer Arm. But too much uncertainty at this point.
  • Sneasler does have a signature move Dire Claw, but it’s poison type.

Other new Pokémon – What didn’t make the cut

I will write a separate analysis on Pheromosa and Buzzwole as bug attackers, as well as Xurkitree, together with the Bug Out event. (That one will probably be more exciting, I promise!)

Meanwhile, here are the other new releases that didn’t make the cut:

  • Galarian Articuno is the best among the rest, but isn’t particularly inspiring. Similarly story with Galarian Zapdos and Azelf: good attack stat (250), but screwed by a non-ideal charged move Future Sight, and simply overshadowed by fierce competition within Psychic types.
    • As a Psychic attacker, it’s miles behind Mewtwo – like everything else – but also behind 2nd-tier options like Latios, Metagross and Espeon. And that’s assuming 100% IV!
    • It’s still usable though, hanging out there with Azelf.
  • No, don’t think of Galarian Moltres like its Kantonian counterpart. In Galar, Moltres is the defensive one, like Articuno in Kanto. Having Sucker Punch/Payback certainly doesn’t help.
  • Sneasler can’t function as a Poison attacker yet, as it lacks a Poison charged move. Even though Sludge Bomb is in PLA, Sneasler doesn’t learn it. Its next best chance is Gunk Shot if that becomes eligible in S/V, which will put it at Roserade levels, though Nihilego still outclass it.
  • (Edit) Overqwil is currently the #3 best [poison] attacker, behind Nihilego and Roserade. Problem is its raw power and usage are still not enough to be relevant anywhere outside of Tapu Bulu raids, and Naganadel (another Ultra Beast) will also outclass it. This largely stems from its low base attack of 222, despite getting the best poison moveset.
    • Both Sneasler and Overqwil have signature moves, which could make them more interesting when implemented in Go (especially Sneasler) if they end up good in PvE.
  • Hisuian Growlithe has passable attack (232) and good bulk, similar to Emboar… But lacks a broken move to catch up with the bajillion Blast Burn starters. It does have a semi-exclusive move in PLA, Raging Fury, but I doubt it will be a Blast Burn clone.
  • Hisuian Braviary do not have the stats for raid attackers.

As for the unreleased Hisuians… I don’t intend to do more speculative analyses on them in the near future, both due to a lack of time, and because I’m still optimistically waiting for Scarlet/Violet in case they get better moves.

But here are some preliminary thoughts. A lot of them have potential, but just like Sneasler, they’re waiting for potential moves from Scarlet/Violet.

  • Enamorus Incarnate has GREAT stats (281 attack!) for a Fairy attacker, but it needs Charm. If not, it joins the long list of Fairy-type legendaries murdered by the lack of a Fairy fast move. (It does have much higher attack than Xerneas, the Tapus, and Zacian Hero.) Charm is not in PLA, so let’s pray Enamorus-I gets into S/V and learns it.
  • Palkia Origin is actually a lot more promising than its appearance would suggest. It’s a strict upgrade over regular Palkia, with stats that even surpass Rayquaza in both attack and especially bulk. I imagine even with Draco Meteor, it might already edge out Rayquaza, or at the very least close the gap. If it happens to get Outrage, it’s going nuts. However, all this requires S/V movesets so that it can have any Dragon-type fast move.
  • Dialga Origin might be a bit worse than the regular Dialga in raids… Unless it gets better moves。 Which is actually easier than you might have thought, but still might not happen due to PvP implications. Again, S/V movesets are needed.
  • Kleavor has pretty good attack among both Bug and Rock types, but a terrible PLA moveset with no STAB fast moves at all. Even with an expanded moveset, it probably won’t threaten Rampardos anyway; but it could get a lot more potential as a Bug type. I HIGHLY recommend saving your excess Scythers for Kleavor instead of evolving them to Scizor right now – but do get one Scizor for the mega.
    • Kleavor still can’t compete with Volcarona when the latter is eventually released. However, I think the best use of any Scyther for PvE will be a Kleavor, not Scizor, due to their massive attack difference (253 vs 236). This is without considering megas, of course, and Mega Scizor will be better than both.
    • This applies to shadows as well.
  • Ursaluna faces a similar problem as Kleavor. Even though Mud-Slap is in PLA, Ursaluna doesn’t get it, so it has to wait for Mud Shot in S/V. If that happens, non-shadow Ursaluna will already be very viable: at Rhyperior level, worse than EP Garchomp and situationally a handful other Ground types. Shadow Ursaluna with Mud Shot/Earth Power will be the big deal (if it happens), and will immediately become the best Ground attacker in the game, unless other ground-type shadows are released before then.
  • Hisuian Zoroark is the only one that doesn’t have to wait for an expanded moveset. If given Shadow Claw/Shadow Ball, it will likely be a Gengar clone: Similar attack, slightly less bulk, but no longer weak to Psychic and resists Ghost. Not crazy (especially after Deino CD), but still great and very interesting.
  • Onto the starters… Hisuian Typhlosion is a massive upgrade over its Johtonian form for raids – IF it gets Blast Burn. It might even challenge Blaziken for the best Blast Burn user due to slightly better bulk (and its shadow certainly will). No idea when or if it will get Blast Burn in the first place, and the same can be said for the other starters below.
  • Hisuian Samurott gets a small upgrade in attack but downgrade in bulk. With Hydro Cannon, it might take the lead among the Swampert/Empoleon/Samurott batch, but not overwhelmingly so, and is still at risk of being outclassed by Primarina (as well as HC Greninja, if Water Shuriken becomes a good fast move).
  • Thanks to having Magical Leaf as the only legal Grass-type fast move, Hisuian Decidueye might become the best Frenzy Plant user among Gen 1-7!… Until you realize Rillaboom and Kartana will obliterate it. Ouch. It could get Aura Sphere, but still has to deal with much less attack than Lucario and only having Rock Smash (until S/V).
  • The other Hisuians are not meant for raids.

And that should be it! You will likely see me again with an analysis of Bug and Electrictypes during the Bug Out event (if my schedule permits), and maybe I’ll revisit the above when we have a better idea of how the rest of the Hisuian Pokémon will be handled, both in the MSG and in Go.

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