A (Mostly) PvP Field Guide to December 2022 Community Day Weekend (with infographic!)

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December Community Day is back! We have most of the weekend of December 17-18 to hunt for and evolve over 25 Pokémon that have had featured Community Days and associated exclusive moves — generally some of the best moves in PvP — over the last two years. With the sheer volume of Pokémon to hunt down and evolve in a time limited period, what are the ones to make especially sure we don’t miss out on for PvP?

As a bonus, I have an infographic of all this!

Well, more accurately, I partnered with the awesome The Poke GO Hunter, and THEY made the infographic to match with this article. Hopefully that’s a handy and easy reference, but for all the details behind WHY things are racked and stacked as they are, read on!

A couple quick notes of markings I’ll be adding to Pokémon throughout:

🌑 – Shadow consideration. Not all Shadows are better, but most are viable alternatives, so check and see if you have de-Frustrated candidates to evolve too!

🕚 – Last chance! Very likely, this will be the last chance (at least for a significant period of time) to get these moves on these specific Pokémon without needing an Elite TM. If you care about them, these could move up in your personal priority for that reason alone!

All that out of the way… let’s see what we’ve got to work with!

MUST HAVES

These Pokémon should be your highest priority. If you don’t have them built already with their exclusive moves, don’t miss this opportunity, and for many of them, this is likely our last chance to build them without dipping into Elite TMs. These are all worth grinding for and should your primary targets during your Community Day weekend hunt for good PvP IVs. Good luck!

SWAMPERT 🌑🕚

Swampert WaterGround

  • Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: HIGH

PvE Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Okay, this time I really, really mean it… this is (probably?) your last chance to get Swampie with Hydro Cannon for free. Of course, I say that and Niantic keeps firing off new surprise Community Day Classics or Mega Raid Days to prove that theorem wrong, but I HAVE to imagine the chances of that happening again in 2023 are rapidly approaching nill.

You likely don’t need me to tell you, but Swampert with Hydro Cannon is the only starter (and indeed, arguably the only 10,000-dust-to-second-move, aka truly “thrifty”) Pokémon that has legit, Top 25 play in all three primary PvP Leagues. (Heck, even in Little League, when eligible.) Put two and two together, and this is your last, best opportunity to stock up in your favorite Leagues. Swampert is target #1 (and probably #2 and #3!) during December Community Day for anybody who still needs them. And less so in Master League, but especially in Great League, that includes Shadow Swampie too. And oh yeah, now that Mega Swampert is here, it’s a Top 5 Ground attacker in raids.

What are you waiting for? Go get ’em!

(My original analysis on Community Day (Classic) Swampert can be found here.)

VENUSAUR 🌑🕚

Venusaur GrassPoison

  • Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: LOW-MODERATE (Mega)

PvE Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

First off, how weird is it that ONLY in the Community Day Classics did we get any starters this year? Community Day Chesnaught when?!

But I digress. In the here and now, at least, Venusaur is still top dog among Grass starters — and in the upper echelons of Grass types overall — in PvP. Part of that is, of course, the awesomeness that is Frenzy Plant, still the most OP starter move in the game. But in PvP, just as much of Venusaur’s strength comes from its Poison side, both the typing and the defensive advantages it offers (resistances to Fighting and Fairy, and neutral damage from Poison damage) and also Sludge Bomb, which remains a tremendous equalizer that can keep Venusaur in fights a Grass should have no right to be in. (Many Flyers and/or Fires that usually pick on Grasses without fear HAVE to be wary of eating a Sludge Bomb or two.)

Not so much in Master League (though Mega Venusaur is intriguing in Mega Master League), but Venusaur remains a great option in Great and these days especially in Ultra Leagues, and like Swampert, is pretty future-proof, thanks to being the only Poisonous Grass that will EVER get Frenzy Plant. Also like Swampert, if you lack Venusaur with Frenzy Plant, this is really truly likely (maybe?) your last chance without using Elite TMs, and a super high priority for Community Day weekend.

(Oh yeah, and don’t forget Shadow Venusaur too, arguably THE Venusaur to run in Great League right now! And both it and Mega Venusaur are top notch Grasses in PvE as well.)

(My original analysis on Community Day (Classic) Venusaur can be found here.)

WALREIN 🌑

Walrein IceWater

  • Powder Snow (Ice, 2.5 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 1.0 CoolDown)
  • …AND Icicle Spear (Ice, 60 damage, 40 energy, 1.50 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE

PvE Priority: LOW

Yes, Walrein has dropped from its sky-high dominance with the eventual nerf to Icicle Spear. But this is still a top of the line PvP option overall, still ranking in the 25-50 ranage in Great and Ultra Leagues. After what I think was an unfairly severe drop in usage (including in Play! Regionals) of late, it’s starting to rebound a bit as folks realize that while not in the top tier of PvP anymore, it’s still really freaking good with Spear, Powder Snow, and that looming threat of Earthquake. The rise of fearsome Flyers this season has been good to Walrein, and it’s still really good to have in your PvP arsenal. Shadow AND regular are both quite good to have on hand in Great and Ultra Leagues, though Walrein has certainly dropped (perhaps out of contention entirely) in Master League with the Icicle Spear nerf.

So go get it for Great and Ultra League for sure. Heck, Powder Snow OR Icicle Spear would be worth it by themselves… getting both is just gravy. If you already HAVE a full quiver of Wallys, maybe build a Waterfall/Icicle Spear one too? I still think that could get interesting one day too.

(I have two writeups on Walrein from earlier this year, though it is the first of them that is more relevant, as it covered a theoretical-at-the-time 40 cost Icicle Spear as we have now.)

ROSERADE 🕚

Roserade GrassPoison
  • Bullet Seed (Grass, 1.67 DPT, 4.33 EPT, 1.5 Cooldown)
  • …AND Weather Ball (Fire) (Fire, 55 damage, 35 energy, 1.57 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE (Classic)

PvE Priority: LOW

Our first 2021 rehash is, like Walrein, a rare DOUBLE exclusive move recipient, and that makes Roserade something you don’t want to miss out on. While it does operate pretty well (and in certain formats, even better) with the now-buffed Poison Jab, exclusive move Bullet Seed (a Grass clone of Snarl) is usually the best option and makes those charge moves come lightning fast.

Because Poison Jab variants are also good, this is one to splurge on… it’s actually best, if you can manage it, to double up Roserade in each league you build them for, one with Bullet Seed, one with Jab, and both with Weather Ball (Fire), the other exclusive move that makes Rose especially special. For example:

  • In general Great League play, Bullet Seed is clearly superior overall, outracing stuff like Toxicroak, Scrafty, Sableye, Nidoqueen, Froslass, Vigoroth, and of course Waters and Rocks and Grounds like Swampert, Walrein, Diggersby, Politoed, and sometimes Galarian Stunfisk. But Poison Jab beats the vast majority of other Grasses (Trevenant, Venusaur, Meganium, and Tropius among them), as well as things you might not expect like Lickitung. In open play, Bullet Seed is likely what you want, but there have been limited/Cup metas where Jab is much preferred, and there will be more down the line.
  • In Ultra League, Bullet Seed again gets stuff like Swampert, Lapras, and Politoed, and notably outraces Registeel, but Poison Jab is arguably better overall with its own unique wins (not all of which make sense on the surface) versus Dubwool, Obstagoon, Toxicroak, Cobalion, Scizor, and Gliscor.
  • Rose even has a surprisingly amount of play in Master League Classic. If you have the XLs and dust for it, of course. Wouldn’t be a bad way to send out Master League Premier Classic with a bang in early January.

Long story short, I think it’s actually Ultra League that Rose fits in best, and I’d recommend building a Bullet Seed AND Poison Jab version if you don’t have them already. But Great League Roserade is good to have on hand too, with proven utility in Limited metas. And its unique coverage and moveset is unique and likely pretty future-proof. There’s nothing else quite like it!

URSALUNA 🌑

Ursaluna GroundNormal
  • High Horsepower (Ground, 100 damage, 60 energy, 1.67 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: LOW

Master League Priority: HIGH

PvE Priority: HIGH

This one is a little bit more of a speculative pick, I’ll admit. I mean, Ursaluna is okay-ish in Master League even now, but it’s no secret how much better it would be with a better fast move, like the Shadow Claw we’re all longing for, (and that would give it some play in other Leagues as well). In hopes of that eventually happening, yes, get a good one or two while you can, and certainly evolve any hundos you have on hand, even if you don’t build them now. Because as its ONLY Ground move, High Horsepower is a very critical component to any Ursaluna that may one day work in PvP… and PvE too, where it’s already on the cusp of greatness even with Tackle holding it back (especially as a Shadow… which would ALSO be great in PvP as well). There’s just too much potential here to ignore. If you missed out the first time, here’s a second chance to get ahead of the (hopefully) eventual curve.

(My original review of Ursaluna, including with some better fast move help, is available over here.)

TALONFLAME 🕚

Talonflame FireFlying

Incinerate (Fire, 3.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 2.5 Cooldown)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

I mean, especially in Ultra League, Incinerate is what put Talonflame on the map. In fairness, it’s certainly viable with Fire Spin, but it’s just THAT much better with Incinerate instead, picking up stuff like new-fangled Wing Attack Charizard, Trevenant, Gallade, Lapras, and potentially even silly stuff like Empoleon and Jellicent. Surely you’ve been caught at least once staring dumbfounded at the screen after a Brave Bird nuked your supposedly safe Fire counter into oblivion. It’s okay to admit it… we’ve ALL been there, friend.

The gap is even a bit wider in today’s Great League meta, where Fire Spin is usually unable to beat Shadow Walrein, Powder Snow Alolan Ninetales, Shadow (Kanto) Ninetales, Toxicroak, Mandibuzz, or Altaria as Incinerate Talon can.

As with everything on this list, if you don’t have the candy to fully level up multiple Talonflames (at least one for both Great and Ultra Leagues), that’s okay… just make sure you get them evolved in the here and now to build up later. Talonflame XL for Ultra League basically has to be completely maxed (with a 15-15-15 IV one hitting a nice 2493 CP at Level 50). It’s worth it whenever you can eventually get there, and when you do, you are going to want Incinerate. 🔥

No real Master League or PvE relevance, though. Unlike Charizard, Talonflame just doesn’t get big enough for all that.

SYLVEON 🕚

Sylveon Fairy

Psyshock (Psychic, 70 damage, 45 energy, 1.56 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: HIGH

PvE Priority: LOW

I’ve written about Sylveon twice before: back in May 2021 when it was first released, admiring its potential but wishing for a spammier charge move, and then last year’s August Community Day, when I was finally able to sing Sylveon’s praises as “…the biggest winner coming out of [Eevolution] Community Day Weekend”. As I made said last December, if you’re going to evolve just one Eevee during December Community Day weekend, make it a Sylveon. If you’re going to evolve two or three… make them all Sylveon! (Except maybe one Umbreon… more on that soon.) Psyshock is just what it needed to put it on the map in GreatUltra, and perhaps especially Master League (where it’s one of very, very few Charmers that get big enough to play with the big boys).

Of course, Sylveon has only gotten even more interesting since then. I long hoped for it to get Fairy Wind, but that was not (yet?) to be. Instead though, it benefits from the buff to Quick Attack, which makes it rather unique among Fairies and is arguably an uprade in Great and especially in Ultra and Master Leagues. But regardless of fast move, Psyshock is a very key part of the equation to offer coverage (especially against Poisons that usually don’t have to fear Fairies much) and the only charge move Sylveon has cheaper than 55 or 60 energy. (Psyshock costs only 45.) Start getting buddy hearts with a good Eevee NOW, folks! This may be your last chance — at least until Kalos Tour in like 2026! — to get Psyshock without Elite TMs. If you have to pick just one, go for Ultra (for less than hundo) or Master (for any hundo Eevees).

GARCHOMP 🕚

Garchomp GroundDragon

Earth Power (Ground, 90 damage, 55 energy, 1.64 DPE, 10% Chance to Decrease Opponent Defense -1 Stage)

Great League Priority: LOW

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: HIGH

PvE Priority: VERY HIGH

Earth Power Garchomp is everything it’s cracked up to be. While Sand Tomb variants show gaudier numbers in sims, Earth Power/Outrage is a lot more reliable and scary, whichever fast move you prefer. And for the PvE crowd, Earth Power is basically a must… it’s currently #5 among Ground attackers, and will jump all the way up to uncontested #1 once it gets its Mega. 👀

Garchomp isn’t for everybody, but if you ever plan to try it out, get at least one really solid (aka hundo or close to it) Chompy with Earth Power. You can always invest later, but having the move in the here and now is the important part.

SHOULD HAVES

Slightly lower priority than the last list… these can operate okay without their Community Day moves–in some cases they’re better off without those moves–but there is enough good in running a variant with the exclusive moves that it’s still recommended you try to land at least good one. Again, this could be your last chance without dipping into Elite TM reserves and lining Niantic’s pockets.

ALOLAN SANDSLASH 🌑

Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel
  • Shadow Claw (Ghost, 3.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 1.0 CoolDown)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

A-Slash has always been hovering around viability with STAB fast move Powder Snow, in both Great and even somewhat in Ultra League, and the later addition of Shadow A-Slash carved out some new utility as well.

Its Community Day added on Shadow Claw as an intriguing fast move sidegrade. It’s slightly better or svery slightly worse situationally, but adds a fun twist on an underappreciated Pokémon that I think may be better than ever with the rise of Wing Attackers. A-Slash has always had good utility in Cup formats (and Shadow Claw is usually great since it gives it a leg up versus other Steel and Ice types), but I think it may find a way to carve more of a role in even Open if Flyers keep rising as they are right now. If you lack Shadow Claw, evolve a couple while you can, at least for Great League.

JUMPLUFF 🌑

Jumpluff GrassFlying
  • Acrobatics (Flying, 110 damage, 60 energy, 1.83 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

When I originally analyzed Jumpluff, it was with Bullet Seed as its best fast move. And that IS a good move still, but these days it’s Fairy Wind that you want. Not only does it give Jumpball some additional coverage (still dealing plenty of Grass damage when needed with Energy Ball), but it races to its expensive charge moves even faster (Energy Ball costs 55, and exclusive Community Day move Acrobatics costs 60). It’s not much, but the slightly faster charging of Fairy Wind (at least half a second/one turn faster) makes Jumpluff that much better. Specifically, the combination of Fairy Wind‘s typing and energy generation bring in new Great League wins versus Mandibuzz, Umbreon, Medicham, and Cresselia that Bullet Seed struggles to match. And ShadowPluff is an overall upgrade on top of that, giving up Toxicroak and Air Slash Mandi, but holding the other wins and adding on Sableye, Defense Deoxys, Lickitung, and Galarian Stunfisk too… all obviously BIG names in the GL meta. But it really needs Acrobatics to do it, so don’t miss out on this one. You only need it for Great League, so just find one really good one and go for it!

ALTARIA 🕚

Altaria DragonFlying

Moonblast (Fairy, 110 damage, 60 energy, 1.83 DPE, 10% Chance to Decrease Opponent Attack -1 Stage)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: LOW

So don’t misunderstand Altaria not being among the “Must Haves” to mean that it’s not a must have in PvP. You absolutely want a good Altaria (ideally, multiple) in your PvP arsenal. But I value it in the context of this article a bit lower just because its exclusive move Moonblast is not one you’ll regret not having very often. 95% of the time, you’re just going to be mashing Sky Attack anyway, or can get by with cheap-to-add Dragon Pulse (extra wins versus Snarl Mandibuzz and Noctowl) or even Dazzling Gleam (too slow to beat Noctowl, but still takes down Mandi and adds on Umbreon). BUT Community Day move Moonblast has the right combination of lower cost and the right typing to do ALL of that, making those other charge moves strictly inferior. And Moonblast is the only sure way to take down Umbreon with shields down… none of Alt’s other charge moves reliably can. Again, Altaria is very much worth using even without its exclusive move, but the edge cases that Moonblast drags into the win column are the icing that makes Altaria that much sweeter. Get it while the getting is good!

UMBREON 🕚

Umbreon Dark

Psychic (Psychic, 90 damage, 55 energy, 1.64 DPE, 10% Chance to Decrease Opponent Defense -1 Stage)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

And speaking of Umbreon, it’s the one Eeveelution to try and land this weekend other than Sylveon. Generally, Umbreon operates best with original “coverage” move Last Resort (decidedly not available this December, and likely never again without an Elite TM… that ship has already sailed, I fear) to take down some beefing fellow Dark types (like the mirror and Mandibuzz) and have at least something to throw at stuff that resists Dark damage. But the exclusive move you CAN get during this Community Day weekend is Psychic (the exclusive move, not the typing, to continue the long-running inside joke), which is a very direct answer to the Fighters that otherwise wail on Umbreon without fear of reprisal, as well as potent Poison types and others. And it deals the same neutral damage as Last Resort (both moves deal 90 damage for 55 energy), and Last Resort, as a Normal move, will NEVER be super effective, nor does it have the 10% chance to lower the opponent’s Defense that Psychic (the move!) comes with. I talk about the differences between the two coverage moves in FAR more detail in last December’s Community Day Field Guide, but in short: the Darks that are out there make Last Resort still my standard recommendation, but there is very much a place for having a Psychic (moved) Umbreon on your bench, and some teams will prefer that variant even in Open formats.

If you still lack Psychic (the move!) Umbreon in Great League, or have an extra hundo Eevee sitting around that could be turned into a new Umbreon XL for Ultra League, go for it, especially if you don’t have any Last Resort Umbreons either. But if you DO have LR Umbries, this is a lower priority in the grand scheme… akin to Moonblast Altaria, really. Good to have, but don’t beat yourself up too much if you miss it.

SERPERIOR 🕚

Serperior Grass

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

Serperior is better than the simple numbers show, as many who have used or faced them can attest. Aerial Ace is often the “coverage” move people look to pair with Frenzy Plant, and while Aerial Ace isn’t unviable or anything — heck, it’s in the movepools of seemingly half the Pokémon in the game! — players that actually use Serperior will tell you that it almost always prefers Leaf Tornado instead. Not only is it a decent “bait” move (only 40 energy) that lets you outrace things more easily than Venusaur and Meganium and most other Frenzy Plant users, but with a 50% chance to decrease the opponent’s Attack by two stages (“harshly fell!”), it will very often have a significant impact on battles that doesn’t readily show up in simulations. Even in really bad spots, like facing down an Altaria or Mandibuzz or the like, Serperior is bulky enough to usually race to a couple Tornados and often get at least one to go off, leaving the opponent a much nastier parting shot than most Grasses (or heck, most Pokémon period) could ever dream of. While Tornado provides no coverage, I would argue it has a much greater effect in most games than a shaky move like Aerial Ace ever could. Ace rarely actually gets Serperior wins it otherwise wouldn’t unless you’re already ahead anyway.

All that to say: Serperior has some distinct advantages that Meganium and even Venusaur lack, and is a very capable Grass type that deserves more love. (Again, numbers aren’t everything, but comparing that to something like Meganium shows you there is real potential here.) And while Great League is its best environment to thrive in, that argument works for Ultra League as well, if you’re feeling frisky.

LUXRAY 🌑🕚

Luxray Electric

Psychic Fangs (Psychic, 40 damage, 35 energy, 1.14 DPE, Reduces Opponent Defense -1 Stage)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

PvE Priority: n/a

Psychic Fangs (replacing Crunch) drives Luxray’s ceiling way up, adding about a dozen new wins to its total in both Great and Ultra Leagues, and with some BIG names on those lists. It hasn’t exploded onto the PvP scene (more on why in a second), but it definitely does pop up sometimes now where it NEVER did before Fangs came along.

However, unlike Nidoqueen with Poison Jab and Poison Fang (at least until more recently?), Luxray cannot as readily farm things down with its high energy but low damage fast moves (Snarl or Spark) and must still rely largely on charge moves to finish things off, making Psychic Fangs more of a bait move than anything, and it will likely not perform quite as impressively as shown in simulations. The ceiling is indeed VERY high, but the floor can be worryingly low as well if baiting doesn’t go your way. Still worth grabbing while possible simply because of the crazy upside, just not one you may end up using often.

Do note that this IS the first opportunity to get Shadow Luxray with Psychic Fangs without using an Elite TM. And yes, Shadow Lux is worth taking a shot on, as I wrote about earlier this year. The floor remains shaky, but the ceiling just gets higher. 😱

MACHAMP 🌑🕚

Machamp Fighting

Payback (Dark, 110 damage, 60 energy, 1.83 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: LOW-MODERATE

Master League Priority: MODERATE

PvE Priority: LOW

Why yes, those ARE the same stats for Payback as we had on Altaria’s Moonblast, you astute reader, you.

Sort of like Umbreon with Psychic (yep, the move), Machamp doesn’t really need its Community Day move Payback, as it runs quite fine with what it’s already got. (Typically Cross Chop for pressure and Rock Slide for nicely synergistic coverage.) But while I won’t go into ALL the differences between them (and will instead again refer you to last December’s Field Guide for a more comprehensive side-by-side comparison), I will just say about Payback that:

  • It’s a rather significant downgrade for the popular Shadow Machamp in Great League, but arguably an upgrade for non-Shadow.
  • It’s basically a sidegrade option for both regular and Shadow Champ in Ultra League.
  • It can be a handy side/upgrade in Master League, finally slaying mortal enemy Metagross with some consistency and adding enough knockout power to take on Swampert and sometimes Landorus too, but Rock Slide provides Machamp’s only real chance versus Flyers like Yveltal and Ho-Oh and still has a place as well.

Hence the Priority ratings: GL > ML > UL. Sometimes it’s just that simple! Get a good Machamp for GL to store in your future arsenal, maybe one for Master League (can just evolve now and perhaps build later), but you don’t have to go nuts. Bonus points if you have a traded Machoke to evolve and save yourself a bunch of candy! No need to get Payback on your Machamp raiding party, though… not a move you really need for PvE.

SAMUROTT 🕚

Samurott Water

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority:n/a

PvE Priority: LOW

Even with Hydro Cannon and the superbuffed Megahorn, if I’m being honest, Samurott remains more curiosity than exciting new Water option. BUT it does fill a very unique role, able to beat up on most Darks and Psychics, turn the tables on a few Grasses, and outrace a number of other big names (mostly in the standard Water role, so Fires, Grounds, and Rocks). Open formats may not be ideal, but Samurott’s unique profile will give it play with the right meta around it, particularly with its unique-for-Waters Fury Cutter. I recommend getting good ones with Hydro Cannon for Great League and Ultra League, as it’s a viable-ish Water type that does a great job threatening Psychics and Darks and can be a legit anti-Grass counter too. It’s still behind most other Water starters, but has some nice niches. (Including names like Abomasnow, Bastiodon, Defense Deoxys, Hypno, Talonflame, Umbreon, Venusaur, Medicham, Obstagoon, Cresselia, Galarian Stunfisk, and several others depending on which league and shielding scenario you’re looking at.)

This isn’t a Water starter you will likely find yourself using often over Swampert or Empoleon or the like, but it IS potent and unique enough that I think you want to have at least one on hand. Get ’em while it doesn’t cost you any special TMs!

HYDREIGON

Hydreigon DarkDragon
  • Brutal Swing (Dark, 65 damage, 40 energy, 1.62 DPE)

Great League Priority: LOW

Ultra League Priority: LOW

Master League Priority: MODERATE

PvE Priority: HIGH

Mostly this high due to its PvE viability, where it has the highest DPS of any non-Mega, non-Shadow Dark type, and the highest TDO of any Dark that’s not a Mega or named “Zarude”. In short, it’s arguably THE best non-Mega Dark type overall in PvE, and that obviously has real value. Its PvP usefulness is probably limited to Master League (with Zweilous and Guzzlord the ruling Dark/Dragons of Great League, and Guzzlord now putting a stranglehold on Ultra League), but even in Master Hydreigon is more fringe than meta. This is a PvE target that, conveniently, you may be able to occasionally moonlight in PvP as well, as long as you have ample Fast TMs to swap between Bite (PvE) and Dragon Breath (PvP).

CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN

These Pokémon either aren’t very PvP relevant even with their Community Day moves, or in most cases have other non-exclusive move(s) that are generally better. Not every exclusive move is a winner! I do still recommend getting at least one of these if you lack them, but they’re unlikely to make a big impact without further changes down the line.

Dragonite DragonFlying
  • DRAGONITE 🌑🕚 doesn’t deserve to be this low, as it’s a PvP staple in Master League especially… just not with its Community Day move Draco Meteor. ‘Nite already deals plenty of Dragon damage with its fast moves and Dragon Claw, and the second move slot is still better saved for Hurricane or, more ideally these days, Superpower, the former of which can take out CC/WC Zacian, and the latter of which can take down Excadrill and Dialga. Even in PvE, non-exclusive move Outrage is a hair better for Draco with their current stats. I really only kept Dragonite even this high because Draco or Outrage could always see slight tweaks that end with Draco a bit higher in the pecking order, but honestly it’s really one you could just skip.
Bewear NormalFighting Obstagoon DarkNormal
  • Similar story with both BEWEAR and OBSTAGOON. Both have plenty of PvP play, especially the latter, but I think that their low power buff/debuff moves Drain Punch (40 energy, 20 damage, raises Bewear’s Defense by 1 level) and Obstruct (40 energy, 15 damage, raises Obstagoon’s Defense and lowers opponent’s Defense) are fun in concept, and look like heroes in simulations, but I think they’ve disappointed many in actual practice. Neither are BAD to have on hand, and either or both moves could certainly be further buffed to be even more useful down the line, but as of now, Bewear and Obstagoon can run fine without their exclusive moves. (Bewear with Superpower and then Stomp in GL, or Payback in UL and ML, and Obstagoon with Cross Chop or Hyper Beam/Gunk Shot in all eligible Leagues.) IF you’re going to build one, I think a Drain Punch Bewear for Great League and Obstruct Obstagoon for Ultra League are the best ones to try for, but again, these are relatively low priorities overall.
Sandslash Ground
  • Also better in theory than in actual practice, Kanto SANDSLASH 🌑 with Night Slash would seem to be just what the doctor ordered, as all of its other charge moves cost at least 60 energy. But interestingly, K-Slash may be better with existing moves rather than with Night Slash, at least in Great League. Ultra League may be a different story (as Dark moves have a bit more play in general at that level), but even then you can see that Sandslash just isn’t all that great, and is obviously VERY expensive to even get close to 2500 CP. If you have a hundo, sure, evolve it while the exclusive move is available, but I wouldn’t expect it to be one you’ll end up using often… if ever.

WELL, MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE TO CATCH ‘EM ALL….

There’s nothing wrong with getting these, but I don’t see them ever seeing any serious use. If you miss them, I don’t think you’ll miss not having them.

Staraptor NormalFlying
  • This may be a little harsh, and I would have no issue with raising it a tier for PvE alone, but yes, I have STARAPTOR 🌑 with Gust down here. Wing Attack was just buffed this season for PvP and clearly passes Gust, but while the gap is very small (just 0.215 difference in Damage Per Second), Gust is a hair better than Wing Attack in PvE, and Shadow Staraptor lies behind only Shadow Moltres, Shadow Honchkrow, and the still-unreleased Mega Rayquaza in DPS Flying attackers. But for PvP? Gust has already been left in the dust… and it still mostly sucks with either fast move anyway.
Golem (Alola) RockElectric
  • Similarly, Rollout was already inferior to Volt Switch on ALOLAN GOLEM when it was released, and then a few months later, Niantic nerfed Rollout even further. It works well on things like Miltank and Dunsparce now, but A-Golem has no need for it.
Chandelure GhostFire Gigalith Rock
  • And similar to that, there are things that appreciate new moves Poltergeist and especially Meteor Beam, but the Pokémon that debuted with them (CHANDELURE, who is much better off with existing Shadow Ball, and GIGALITH, who remains basically worthless in PvP) are not any more competitive with them. Pass.
Emboar Fire Vaporeon Water Leafeon Grass
  • And finally, the EEVOLUTIONS 🕚 other than Sylveon and Umbreon aren’t all that hot. While Scald is a decent sidegrade option for VAPOREON, and Bullet Seed is handy for LEAFEON, even they are not appreciably better… not to the degree necessary to become PvP relevant, at least. If you somehow still have excess candy after evolving multiple Sylvies and Umbries, then sure, pick your favorite alternate Eevolution and go for it. But they’re very low on the priority list.

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you know what to go after during December Community Day weekend. Good hunting, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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