Under The Lights: Shadow Force Giratina(s) in PvP

Alright, let’s do this!

Yes, what we have ended up with for new move Shadow Force is a disappointment for PvP, no bones about it. In my intial, speculative analysis on Shadow Force (coupled with the also disappointing Poltergeist Chandelure analysis), I looked at it with a range of costs from Earthquake-clone territory (65 energy) up to what I assumed would be its high end of 80 energy.

So of course, Niantic’s initial cost was set at 100 energy, a cost seen only on the completely worthless Struggle. Thankfully it looks good in PvE (see PvE experts for more analysis on why… I’m just here for PvP today!), but as a PvP move, that was SO bad that it literally performed worse than existing moves for both Giratinas in PvP. (Trust me, bro… I checked!)

Thankfully, Niantic DID come back and adjust the cost, but only down to 90, making Shadow Force the first (and honestly, likely the last) 90-energy charge move in the game.

Thankfully, this does look perhaps a bit more workable… if it holds here upon release! Let’s see what we’ve got….


Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon

Altered would seem to be the forme that stands to benefit the most from Shadow Force, as its current charge moves are all low-powered:

  • Dragon ClawDragon type, 50 damage, 35 energy
  • Shadow SneakGhost type, 50 damage, 45 energy
  • Ancient PowerRock type, 60 damage, 45 energy, 10% Chance to Raise User Attack/Defense +1 Stage

Fun fact: even though Ancient Power has the highest on-paper damage, against neutral targets, all three of these moves will usually deal the exact same damage, since Dragon Claw and Shadow Sneak benefit from STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus). For example, versus something like Blastoise in Ultra League, all three moves deal exactly 29 damage, so in a case like that, you’re best off firing off as many Dragon Claws as possible (since it’s the cheapest), and if for some reason you had Shadow Sneak and Ancient Power, it would make sense to use ONLY Ancient, since it deals the same damage as Sneak and at least comes with that 10% chance for a big buff on top of it.

The only other item I wish to specifically note here is that Shadow Sneak is the only Ghost-type move here, and thus the only one arguably in direct competition with the new Shadow Force. Two Sneaks costs the same as one 90-energy Force, but Force will deal 20 more damage than two Sneaks, making it (on paper) the “better” move… unless, of course, Giratina dies without being to reach the 90 energy required!

Thankfully, as most everyone knows, Giratina Altered is thicc, and getting to 90 energy is actually doable in meaningful spots, even after baiting first!

Looking at the numbers, here is what Shadow Claw and the generally-more-preferred Dragon Breath Giratina-A look like today in Ultra League. What does Shadow Force do when subbed in place of Shadow Sneak?

  • For Dragon Breath/Dragon Claw Giratina, Shadow Force changes practically nothing. The wins and losses are literally the same across the board, and the only place I see changes at all are that Shadow Force beats Cobalion and Empoleon with a mere 6 more HP left on Giratina, whereas Shadow Sneak leaves Giratina with 7 more HP versus Jellicent and 2 more HP versus DDeoxys. And yeah… those are literally the ONLY differences I see. Nothing to see here, folks.
  • However, there IS a difference when it comes to Shadow Claw Giratina-A. Long the less preferred fast move in Ultra League, add in Shadow Force and suddenly it’s looking like a legit alternative! No new losses, and five new wins: Scizor, Tapu Fini, Cresselia, Registeel, and the advantage versus Shadow Claw/Dragon Claw/Shadow Sneak Altered Giratina as well. All of those are rather significant, as Scizor hits hard with neutral Steel and super effective Night Slashses, Cresselia and Tapu Fini can normally win out with Moonblasts, and Registeel is just its normal, stupidly powerful self. Overcoming all of those is rather huge for Gira, and something its Dragon Breath version can never realistically hope to achieve, Shadow Force or not. Shadow Force is a pure upgrade for Shadow Claw Giratina-A in Ultra League, and I think it could finally make Shadow Claw Gira-A a legit option for many players in Ultra.
  • And yes, the above holds true in the upcoming Ultra League Halloween Cup, with Shadow Force/Shadow Claw Giratina-A far outshining Shadow Sneak. However, the differences with Dragon Breath (Shadow Sneak vs Shadow Force) are negligible.

I’m trying to keep this brief, but it’s also worth noting that Shadow Force makes hardly any difference (regardless of fast move) in Ultra League 2v2 shielding, and makes a BIG difference with BOTH fast moves in 0v0 shielding (or if the opponent just doesn’t shield), gaining things like Shadow Swampert, Galarian Stunfisk, Tapu Fini, and Poliwrath with Shadow Claw (though Shadow Sneak does beat Trevenant and Force cannot). More impressively, Dragon Breath/Shadow Force picks up Cresselia, Cobalion, Jellicent, Swampert, and Scizor (none of which Shadow Sneak can do).

So where does that leave us? In Ultra League, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Shadow Sneak is no worse than a sidegrade with Dragon Breath Altered Giratina (and arguably an overall upgrade due to the uptick in shieldless wins), and is an UPGRADE for Shadow Claw versions that have been dying to do something with the extra energy that Breath generates. (4.0 EPT for Shadow Claw, remember, as opposed to the much more average 3.0 EPT of Dragon Breath.) This looks like just what the doctor ordered for Shadow Claw Gira-A!

The story remains the same in Master League, though the bounce is not hugely significant. (Probably not what many ML players were hoping for.) Dragon Breath Gira looks little different with Shadow Force (actually a small step backwards from current moves, and virtually unchanged in 0v0 and 2v2 shielding either), but Shadow Claw Gira-A sees a nice jump from both Shadow Sneak and Ancient Power variants can do by adding in Shadow Force. Ancient Power does still uniquely beat Gyarados and Togekiss, but Shadow Force beats everything Sneak can and adds on (Mud Shot) Groudon, Melmetal, Play Rough Zacian, and Origin Giratina! That’s quite a nice list of pickups, no? And even moreso than in Ultra, definitely a viable sidegrade option as compared to Dragon Breath Altered!


Giratina (Origin) GhostDragon

And briefly, let’s see if this move helps out Origin Forme, now that it’s finally been confirmed that it will also learn Shadow Force in the second part of the Halloween Event.

Unlike Altered, Origin obviously already has closers, with both Dragon Pulse (not a great move but useful for throwing at things that resist Ghost damage) and the mighty Shadow Ball, as well as Ominous Wind as a bait (and sometimes throw and pray for the low chance of the boost). It doesn’t need a big fat closer like Shadow Force like Altered kinda does.

And so the story is quite different here. There are a few variants you can run today, with the all Ghost set, the baited Pulse set (Ominous Wind to set up surprising Dragon Pulses, which can actually sneak in wins versus Dragon Tail Garchomp and Zekrom that other sets struggle against), or the double closer (Ball and Pulse) for kind of an all-arounder. But no matter how you slice it, Shadow Force doesn’t really fit in. It’s a bit worse whether run alongside Pulse or alongside Wind, and doesn’t fit with Shadow Ball either. It’s not BAD, per se, just doesn’t do anything special, and seems likely to leave you wishing you had a cheaper closer to spring on the opponent instead. Even with shields down, Shadow Force doesn’t seem appreciably better than just running with its current closing moves… you CAN sneak away with a win over Mamoswine and the mirror in the right circumstances, but you give up Palkia and Dragonite to do it. Sidegrade, at best. Save your Shadow Force Origin Giratinas for PvE, is my recommendation.

Alright, Shadow Force is about to arrive in the first time zones as I finish typing this, so pushing this out and moving back to Halloween Cup analysis! Look for that tomorrow now… was hoping to wrap it up today but after the change from 100 to 90 energy for Shadow Force, I felt I HAD to properly cover this topic first.

Until next time, for more PvP tidbits, you can find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon if you prefer. Or please feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. Happy raiding, and catch you next time!

Author & tags

PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

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