Shadow Force Giratina, Mega Banette and Zoroark as Raid Attackers

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This spooky season surely brought us a lot of Ghost and Dark types. In addition to Litwick CD that I covered recently, we now have:

  • Giratina with its signature move, Shadow Force. Its Altered Forme has already left raids as of writing. Giratina Origin Forme is still in raids until 10AM on November 8; however, ITS EXCLUSIVE MOVE WILL GO AWAY FROM RAIDS in the MORNING of Tuesday, November 1, at 10AM.
  • Mega Banette, in mega raids until 10AM on November 8.
  • Zorua, which evolves into Zoroark, as a wild spawn at least during the Halloween event (until 10AM November 1). It disguises as your buddy and spawns on the map.

As I mentioned in the Chandelure analysis, Ghost and Dark types are interchangeable in ~90% of their use cases, though there are exceptions that favor Ghost types, most notably Mega Mewtwo X raids. So today, we’ll be analyzing all these 3 (technically 4) additions together, in the broader scheme of Ghost and Dark attackers.

Note: Again, due to limited time and my other commitments, future Pokémon and speculations are omitted from this article. I will write a follow-up next week that includes these components for both Dark/Ghost and Fire types (leftover from Chandelure analysis).

TL;DR

Giratina Origin with Shadow Force: Great, but not worth going wild for.

  • It’s a top-tier Ghost/Dark attacker, but it’s similarly as good as 4 others, including – and usually below – Community Day HydreigonL40 Hydreigon ≈ L45 Giratina-O.
  • There are only 15-20% of cases where L40 Giratina-O is better than L40 Hydreigon, and 7.5-10% that you can tell beforehand (like Focus Blast Mewtwo). Technically situational, but doesn’t matter at this point.
  • Shadow Force is an upgrade over non-legacy Shadow Ball, but only a 4% upgrade. Not worth double moving either.
  • Powering up one Shadow Force Giratina-O to L40 is reasonable if you can afford. I won’t go XL for PvE, and not worth building multiples using rare candies.
  • Not worth Elite TMs – save your already powered up Giratina-O for PvP, where it does NOT want Shadow Force.
  • You can only get Shadow Force in raids until early morning on Tuesday!

Mega Banette: #2 Ghost/Dark attacker, but Mega Gengar is 10% better and cheaper.

  • General rule for using Ghost/Dark megas for beating the raid ASAP: Mega Gyarados if there are 3+ raiders and others are using Dark types. Mega Gengar for everything else. Mega Houndoom is a nice middle ground.

Zoroark and even Giratina-A with Shadow Force are somewhat viable but badly outclassed.

Keep reading for:

  • How good is Shadow Force, the move itself?
  • Shadow Force vs Shadow Ball (on Giratina-O)
  • Giratina-O vs Hydreigon
  • Giratina-O investment decisions: Should I […]?
  • List of my previous analyses (in Appendix 2)

Shadow Force, the move in a vacuum

Before we get to attackers, a brief note on the raw stats of Giratina’s signature move.

In PvE, Shadow Force is a 1-bar move that has 140 power for 100 energy, taking 1.9 seconds. That’s an exact clone of Gigalith’s CD move Meteor Beam, except the damage window (the moment during the 1.9 seconds at which the damage is dealt, which doesn’t matter much).

Like I said in the Meteor Beam Gigalith analysis, this actually makes Shadow Force an overpowered (OP) move. Perhaps slightly weaker than what I wrote in the Gigalith article (*) – closer to Blast Burn, an “entry-level” OP move, than Frenzy Plant. But that’s still a solidly OP move!

  • FYI, I compared Shadow Force to Brutal Swing in simulations using Mega Sableye. Their performance is extremely close. Generally, Brutal Swing is better without dodging, while Shadow Force is better with dodging.

This also means that Shadow Force is theoretically stronger than Shadow Ball, which Giratina Origin already learns; I consider the latter as the divide line between OP moves and more typical strong moves.

Will Shadow Force Giratina-O indeed do better than Shadow Ball in simulations? Let’s find out!

(*) The Gigalith analysis assumed Lock-On as a fast move, which is unrealistic as its energy generation is too high. 1-bar moves are overestimated there as a result. Using Tackle, a fast move with average damage and energy generation, Meteor Beam/Shadow Force’s DPS falls halfway between Frenzy Plant and Blast Burn. Considering the drawbacks of 1-bar moves, its actual performance should be close to Blast Burn level.

Ghost and Dark attackers – The Charts

Dark and Ghost attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance using Pokebattler Estimator, aka Average Scaled Estimator (ASE). Without and with dodging respectively.
Dark and Ghost attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance using Pokebattler TTW, aka Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW). Without and with dodging respectively.
Dark and Ghost attackers ranked by DPS^3*TDO and DPS respectively.

See Appendix 1 (at the end of this article) for technical details and how to read the charts. The Chandelure analysis also contains explanations on ASE vs ASTTW.

Shadow Force Giratina Origin

Giratina (Origin) GhostDragon

As you can see, Shadow Force Giratina-O is indeed a clear upgrade over Shadow Ball! Across all the metrics (DPS and my average scaled estimators/TTWs based on Pokebattler sims), Shadow Force is about 4% better than Shadow Ball.

The Good: With Shadow Force, Giratina-O is now firmly in the “top non-mega Ghost/Dark” tier, together with: Shadow Weavile, Community Day Hydreigon, Shadow Tyranitar and Darkrai.

  • The order of these 4 is not super important, but listed as how they generally appear across different metrics. Shadow Weavile has the highest DPS, and is the best if you dodge and/or in large (6+) lobbies where ASTTW is preferred. Darkrai usually sits near the bottom of the 4, though improves with dodging.

The Bad: Giratina-O is… At the bottom of this tier. Without considering specific movesets, it’s generally worse than Brutal Swing Hydreigon (and shadows) on average, while being way more expensive. Even comparing to Darkrai is iffy, where Darkrai pulls ahead with dodging and/or large lobbies.

  • On average, L40 Hydreigon ≈ L45 Giratina-O.
  • Detailed comparison of Giratina-O and Hydreigon is in later sections. TLDR: Technically situational, but Giratina-O is only predictably better in 7.5-10% of situations that it doesn’t really matter.

The Caveat: Giratina-O is the only Ghost-type attacker of this tier; everything else listed above is a Dark type.

  • As mentioned in my previous analysis on Chandelure, the following Pokémon will likely become raid bosses in the future, and are weak to Ghost but not Dark: Mega Mewtwo X, Mega Gallade, Mega Gardevoir, Mega Medicham, and possibly Marshadow.
  • This means, aside from the two OP Ghost-type megas, Giratina-O is the best currently released counter against Mega Mewtwo X, Mega Gallade and Mega Medicham. Its value is definitely there if you do power it up!
  • However, I think Chandelure is enough to cover these uncommon cases while being much cheaper; there’s also 1 Mega Gengar you can use. You don’t need 6 Shadow Force Giratina-Os just for the specific “Ghost vs Dark” distinction.

Shadow Force and/or Shadow Ball?

We’ve seen that Shadow Force is better than Shadow Ball on average. But are there specific situations where the 2-bar Shadow Ball pulls ahead instead? Does it help to unlock both charged moves?

TL;DR: Having both SF/SB technically helps in edge cases (just before fainting), but it’s not worth the cost. This is not DM/Outrage – Shadow Force is just too good.

The following table compares “only using Shadow Force” vs “only using Shadow Ball” against all raid bosses, with Level 40 attackers:

  SF>SB SB>SF
Estimator 100% (67/67) 0% (0/67)
Estimator (dodge) 100% (67/67) 0% (0/67)
Estimator, specific movesets 95% (426/448) 5% (22/448)
Estimator, specific movesets (dodge) 100% (448/448) 0% (0/448)

Note: “Specific movesets” refer to boss movesets (except Mew). I didn’t include TTW comparisons, but they’re very similar.

If you only have one charged move, Shadow Force is the clear winner in virtually every case that matters.

  • FYI, if anyone is curious what the 22 bosses and movesets that prefer Shadow Ball are… I checked and there’s really no pattern. Some have charged moves that Giratina is weak to, like Blizzard Mesprit, but some also have moves that Giratina resist, like Solar Beam Mega Latios. My guess is it has more to do with energy cycles than taking Super Effective damage.

This also shows it’s not a Draco Meteor vs Outrage situation: Shadow Force is sufficiently stronger than Shadow Ball, compared to Draco Meteor.

In theory, having both Shadow Force and Shadow Ball as charged moves is still the most ideal, but it’s almost entirely for efficient energy usage, i.e. getting off a Shadow Ball if you’re gonna die with energy between 50 and 100. This happens more than the 5% in the table, but the effect is hard to quantify, as no simulators are configured for the strategy “use as many SFs as you can and finish off with a SB”.

Also not to forget that unlocking a second charged move costs 100k stardust and 100 Giratina (or rare) candies, and you can’t even use a SF/SB Giratina-O in PvP. For these reasons, unlocking Shadow Ball as a second charged move is not worth it.

Shadow Force Giratina-O vs Brutal Swing Hydreigon

This comparison is a bit more interesting. Let’s lay out some theoretical points first:

  • Hydreigon is obviously much, much cheaper than Giratina-O.
  • Hydreigon has higher DPS, but Giratina-O has higher DPS3*TDO.
  • Hydreigon’s Dark/Dragon typing is generally more favorable than Giratina-O’s Ghost/Dragon, due to resisting STAB psychic and Ghost moves from the boss. However, Ghost is better against certain attacks like Fighting, Fairy, Normal, Bug and Poison.
  • In simulations, when averaged across all bosses and movesets, Hydreigon takes the lead in almost every scenario. In fact, a L40 Hydreigon seems roughly equal to L45 Giratina-O!

But of course I won’t stop here. Let’s take a deep dive, using Level 40 attackers:

TL;DR: At L40, Giratina-O is only better in 15-20% of cases, and only 7.5-10% can be reliably predicted due to charged move advantages (e.g. against Focus Blast Mewtwo). Technically it’s situational, but it’s so skewed towards Hydreigon that it doesn’t matter in practice. Hard to justify building more than a couple Giratina-O.

  Giratina-O is better Hydreigon is better
Estimator 16% (11/67) 84% (56/67)
Estimator (dodge) 16% (11/67) 84% (56/67)
Estimator, specific movesets 19% (83/448) 81% (365/448)
Estimator, specific movesets (dodge) 24% (106/448) 76% (342/448)

Note: “Specific movesets” refer to boss movesets (except Mew). I didn’t include TTW comparisons, but they’re somewhat similar and leaning more towards Hydreigon’s favor.

Here are the 11 bosses (no dodge) where Giratina-O is better even with a random boss moveset: Arceus Ghost (*), Arceus Psychic (*), Necrozma Dawn Wings (**), Deoxys Defense, Mewtwo, Mega Banette, Mega Alakazam, Mega Gengar, Dusclops, Golurk, Slowking.

Of the 83 boss movesets (no dodge) that prefer Giratina-O:

  • 42/83 (51%) have a charged move that favor Giratina-O. A good number of this come from (Mega/Armored) Mewtwo with Fighting moves, like Focus Blast, and (Mega) Gengar with Fighting or Poison moves.
  • 12/83 (14%) have a charged move that deals Super Effective damage to both, such as Dragon Pulse Giratina-O as a boss.
  • 21/83 (35%) have a charged move that deal neutral or resisted damage to both.
  • Strange enough, 8/83 (10%) have a charged move that favors Hydreigon. Examples include ZH/PB Deoxys-D and Future Sight Arceus.

So not only is Giratina-O better in only 15-20% of cases, but only half of them (7.5-10%) are cases we can reliably predict, like Focus Blast Mewtwo.

Can Giratina-O be situationally better? Technically. But I really don’t think it’s worth it to build (a team of) Giratina-O specifically for the 8% of predictable cases where it will be better than Hydreigon.

Of course, throwing in a single Giratina-O is good if you can afford it, either for variety or to deal with these minority cases.

(*) We have no idea if Arceus types will become bosses. All Arceus forms also have the same moveset currently, so that may change.

(**) Pokebattler doesn’t have movesets for Necrozma yet, so they all use Pound/Body Slam, which favors Giratina-O. In reality, I don’t expect this one to stay.

Giratina-O Verdict: Should I […]?

Keep in mind that in PvP Master League, Giratina Origin certainly does NOT want Shadow Force, as it’s bad in PvP. Instead, it wants Shadow Ball, and either Ominous Wind for bait or Dragon Pulse for coverage. Therefore, you can’t let your Shadow Force Giratina-O double duty for Master League.

With that in mind…

Should I power up ONE Shadow Force Giratina-O to Level 40?

I think that’s a good choice if you have enough resources (especially candies).

Variety lovers will certainly want to do that, and even if you’re not one of them, it’s nice to have a good pick for those rare moveset-dependent cases like Focus Blast Mewtwo. Even if you already have enough Hydreigons.

However, no need to stress about it if you can’t. I don’t even know if using rare candies (for raid purposes only) is a good idea.

Should I power up one Shadow Force Giratina-O to Level 50?

No, unless you’re a whale.

Not only are L50 legendaries super expensive (~$70 USD minimum), but they’re much more meaningful for PvP Master League, where you don’t want Shadow Force. In raids, the additional value of L50 vs L40 is much less crucial, and certainly not worth that much money.

Should I power up MULTIPLE Shadow Force Giratina-O to Level 40?

No, unless you happen to have that many candies lying around.

Remember, it takes 248 (rare) candies for one L40 legendary, or 1488 candies for six. Each raid gives ~3 rare candies in my experience. That’s a very hefty investment to make (can easily take a full year for F2P players), and all you get is a team that’s worse than your six Hydreigon in most cases, with the consolation price of being a great specialist against Mega Mewtwo X and Focus Blast Mewtwo.

Should I use ONE Elite Charged TM on a non-legacy Giratina-O?

It’s fine, but I would only do it if you have absolutely no interest in PvP ML (and possible return of MLC). Otherwise, keep your non-legacy Giratina-O for ML.

Even if you don’t PvP, it’s not a high priority for ETM. Especially if you have enough Hydreigon. The difference between Shadow Force and Shadow Ball is only 4%, anyway.

Should I use SIX Elite Charged TM on non-legacy Giratina-Os?

Absolutely not.

If you’re literally swimming in ETMs, save them for Dark Void Darkrai (which will probably easily outclass SF Tina-O), and the Gen 3&5 box legends.

Should I spend all my saved raid passes to hunt Shadow Force Giratina-O?

It’s fine but I wouldn’t go all-in.

If you’re already hunting it for other purposes (shiny, hundo, ML), then sure. If you’re hunting specifically to build raid attackers, while aiming for one Shadow Force Giratina-O with good IVs is fine, don’t go crazy for more.

If anything, save the passes for future Dark Void Darkrai. You might have to wait a year or more, but it will be worth it more.

Mega Banette

Did you forget this article is not just about Giratina? I almost did.

Banette (Mega) Ghost

Just like Giratina-O lives in the shadows of Hydreigon, Mega Banette (Shadow Claw/Shadow Ball) faces the same problem. It’s very very good – the #2 Ghost/Dark attacker – BUT badly outclassed by Mega Gengar. Which is literally OP, 10% better than Mega Banette, and is way more accessible in mega energy.

Since you can only run one mega in a raid party, this unfortunately means not many people will use Mega Banette in practice – they’ll just use Mega Gengar.

  • “But Mega Banette isn’t weak to Psychic moves!” Right, so I checked several bosses with psychic fast and/or charged moves, and… It really doesn’t matter that much. (Mega) Gengar’s Achilles’ heel is that its Poison subtyping makes it weak to Psychic-type moves from bosses that it’s supposed to counter. Mega Banette doesn’t have that problem, but it’s even slightly glassier than Mega Gengar. As a result, most charged moves that KO Mega Gengar will probably almost kill Mega Banette, psychic or not. In terms of survival times, they’re not much different, certainly not enough to offset the 10% difference in power.
  • Edit: See this for detailed Mega Gengar vs Mega Banette comparison. If the boss has a Psychic-type charged move. Mega Banette is sometimes better. If not, Mega Gengar is always better, even if the boss has Confusion.

Of course, some people will want one of each mega at mega level 3 and/or Pokémon level 50. But in terms of performance, whatever you do to a Mega Banette, you can do the same to a Mega Gengar and be better off (possibly an additional copy to reduce cooldowns). Or, a Mega Houndoom or Gyarados, as you’ll see below…

Comparisons of all Ghost and Dark-type Megas

Thanks to everyone that provided feedback here for visualization of mega comparisons. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to implement any of them, but will incorporate these feedback in the future!

We already have a great number of Ghost and Dark-type megas available: Gengar, Banette, Houndoom, Gyarados and Absol. There are two more on the horizon, Sableye and Tyranitar. But which one to use?

Suppose you’re fighting a Psychic-type raid boss with anywhere between 2, 3, 6 or 10 total raiders. Everyone else uses the same Pokémon at Level 40, which can be one of the following: Hydreigon (BS), Chandelure (SB), Tyranitar (B/C) and Dragonite. You have the option of choosing any of the megas, and once it dies, you continue with your own Hydreigon.

  • Note that Hydreigon and Chandelure have similar DPS, so in this exercise their only practical difference is typing.
Comparison of ghost and dark-type megas against an arbitrary psychic-type boss on GamePress DPS/TDO spreadsheet

All data are based on the GamePress DPS/TDO spreadsheet with no simulations involved, so actual performance against specific raid bosses may differ.

Here’s a quick example of how to read the table: Look at the value 3.45 in red, under Mega Gengar and 3 players. This means:

  • At first, the other 2 players use Chandelure and you use Mega Gengar.
  • When your Mega Gengar dies after 27.8 seconds, you use Hydreigon and the other 2 players continue using Chandelure, up till the 53.3s mark (survival time of Mega Tyranitar).
  • At this point, the total damage is equivalent to 3.45 players all using Chandelure during the same 53.3s.

The greater the value, the better.

Huge table, but the story is actually much simpler than it seems.

If you want to beat the raid as quickly as possible and contribute to group damage:

  • 1-2 raiders: Mega Gengar.
  • 3+ raiders, others are using Ghost types or trash: Mega Gengar.
    • This also applies to other types that deal super effective damage (e.g. Zekrom against Lugia).
  • 3+ raiders, others are using Dark types: Mega Gyarados.
  • If you’re not sure what others will bring, both of them are about just as good. I would lean towards Gengar for smaller lobbies and Gyarados for larger lobbies.
  • Even if the boss has Psychic-type fast moves, the same conclusions generally still hold. Mega Gengar only becomes significantly worse if the boss has a Psychic-type charged move.
  • Of course, if you want Hardest Hitter, then Mega Gengar all the way.

Mega Gengar is already famous for having one of the highest DPS in the game, and being off the charts among Ghost and Dark types. But Mega Gyarados is the complete opposite – it’s probably one of the most underrated megas for raids. Hopefully I’ve convinced you that its bulk actually matters by boosting other players’ damage!

Mega Houndoom is a nice middle ground between DPS (your own damage) and duration (boosting other players’ damage). It’s also the best Dark-type mega in solo performance. Certainly a great option to bring, too.

In the far future, Mega Tyranitar will replace Mega Gyarados/Houndoom as the option when other players are bringing Dark types. It has both the best individual performance of any Dark megas, and the greatest bulk of any Ghost and Dark megas.

Honorable mentions to others:

  • Mega Banette is sadly outclassed by Mega Gengar.
  • So is Mega Absol. It doesn’t have the speed of Mega Gengar, nor the bulk of Mega Houndoom or Gyarados. Better than not using a mega, but too glassy to compare to other megas.
  • Mega Sableye has great typing (don’t need to wonder which type others will bring), but with laughable power. It just never stands out in any situation. Even in 10-player lobbies, it’s better to just make a best guess of other players’ counters and use either Mega Gengar or Gyarados.

Zoroark and Shadow Force Giratina Altered (Yes, Altered)

These two are both stronger than you may expect, but that sadly doesn’t mean much in practice.

Zoroark (Snarl/Foul Play) has great DPS in theory – almost equal to Shadow Force Giratina-O. However, it has even less bulk than Gengar. Ouch. As a result, in practice it can’t even overcome Weavile, and hovers above or below Tyranitar depending on metric. If you can dodge, Gengar is better, anyway.

Giratina Altered with Shadow Force is surprisingly somewhat viable, sitting just below Tyranitar. Yes, it’s badly outclassed today and nobody should build one for raids, but that’s still quite impressive considering it only has 187 base attack, about the same as Girafarig.

Both can put in work if you love them. However, aside from Unique 12 (not even Unique 6), most players won’t be using them as raid attackers. Especially so soon after Deino and Litwick CDs.


Appendix 1: Guide on how to read the charts & Technical details

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 Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which approximates in-raid performance using Pokebattler Estimator, best suited for realistic shortmanning (2-5 raiders).

The Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) plots are similar, but best suited for medium or large lobbies (6+ raiders). This metric assumes no relobbying (i.e. reentering the raid after all Pokemon fainted).

The DPS3*TDO and DPS plots are for experienced players who want to check these metrics.

In all six plots, the higher, the better. Example: Mega Gengar is generally better than Hydreigon, which is better than Yveltal, 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: Looking at the “ASE no dodging” plot, A Level 30 Hydreigon performs similarly to Level 40 Yveltal and Level 50 Tyranitar.

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

Technical details:

  • 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.
  • The middle two plots using Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) follow the same methodology, but replaces Pokebattler estimator with TTW.
  • “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, Gengar’s ASE at Level 40 drops from 1.446 without dodging to 1.260 with dodging, so dodging generally helps Gengar’s performance.
    • However, Hydreigon’s L40 ASE rises from 1.179 to 1.199 with dodging, so dodging may hurt Hydreigon more than it helps.

Appendix 2: Past analyses on other types

Missing types: Fairy (planned – Guzzlord counters), Ground (planned – Teddiursa CD), Ice (winter? B/W Kyurem?), Poison (planned)

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