New moves!. That’s right… thanks to a BIG update to the Game Master late on Monday, we now know the moveset for the about-to-be-released Golisopod… and several other Pokémon that will eventually be coming to the game! You know what that means… ol’ Uncle JRE is gonna sit you down and tell you my thoughts about it all.
So, let’s kick things off with our formal Bottom Line Up Front before we get into the nitty-gritty details.
- Golisopod isn’t it, folks. It never gets above about a 30% winrate against any of the major metas, and against the one thing you would REALLY want it to smack around, Walrein, it fails miserably in Great League, wins with a single HP in Ultra League, and only wins convincingly in Master League thanks largely to outpacing Wally by about 500 CP.
- Buzzwole is going to redefine the Master League meta as we know it. Seriously. You’ll still see many of the same things, but Buzzwole will ensure a large swath of the meta has new reason to look over their shoulders. And Ultra League too!
- Ironically, middle evolution Charjabag looks better than final evolution Vikavolt, and it comes down to simple math: Charj has high numbers in bulk, Vikavolt has instead very high numbers in Attack. Sometimes it really is that simple.
- Dhelmise got a shockingly good moveset, but it still mostly looks up at Trevenant and weeps for not getting there first.
- Mimikyu ALSO got about the best moveset it could have hoped for and will officially arrive as a viable option if that holds. Huge XL grind to get it prepped for Ultra League but that looks like where it will shine the brightest.
- Palossand was expected to be slow with Mud Slap but is instead speedy with Mud Shot and good closing moves. The numbers are not on its side but it’s a case of quality over quantity and will absolutely see play.
- After Azumarill has given many players many sleepless nights, it’s going to have to start looking under its bed nightly for Toxapex.
So some good, some bad, some ugly. Let’s dive in on what it all means!
SOFT SHELLEDGolisopod BugWater
They call GOLISOPOD the Hard Scale Pokémon, but that “hard shell” looks decidedly soft in Pokémon GO PvP.
It starts with the stats, which looked worrisome long before we finally learned its moves. Just to do a quick side-by-side with the other recently released Water/Bug type, Araquanid, looking at their Great League stats:
No real comparison, is it? Golisopod is not all-out glassy like the Haunters or Gengars of the world, but it’s below average in the HP department especially. Its kind of stat spread is not in and of itself a disqualifier, but it puts exta weight on having synergistic, potent moves to make it work.
On the other hand, we have Araquanid, which got, if we’re being honest, a rather lackluster moveset. Bug Bite is nothing special, Bubble Beam is usually just something you want to bait with and not rely on much otherwise, and Bug Buzz is alright but not typically what you’re looking for as a true closing, knockout type move. But ‘Nid makes it all work, and VERY well, because of its rather insane bulk. It can carry a so-so moveset because it just hangs in there forever, actually taking advantage of several opponent debuffs from Bubble Beam, and Bug Buzz does enough when it needs to to close it out. Having great bulk relieves some pressure from the actual moves.
So now here we arrive at Golisopod, because after yesterday’s large move update, we now have Goli’s moves. And uh… let’s just say they leave something to be desired.
It starts with the fast moves. Now what it ended up with isn’t terrible, but this is a Pokémon that learns things like Shadow Claw, Snarl, Poison Jab, and Mud Shot in MSG. In GO, it ends up with useless Metal Claw, okay-ish energy generator Fury Cutter, and high damage/below average energy Waterfall. Like I said, not terrible, but kinda makes you pour one out for what could have been.
The REAL travesty is the charge moves. Again, just for a few examples, Goli can learn things like Surf, Rock Slide, Icy Wind, Sludge Bomb, Close Combat, Scald, Drill Run, and more in MSG. So what does Niantic give it? Freaking Aqua Jet (which it learns only by breeding in MSG), Aerial Ace (which it doesn’t even have in later generations), and little-better-than-a-bait-move X-Scissor. Several problems here, not least of which is that none of these moves deal any greater than 55 damage… and that move is the perenially mediocre and VERY boring Aerial Ace, the non-STAB move. X-Scissor and Aqua Jet deal only 45 damage, for 35 and 45 energy, respectively. When Aerial Ace, possibly the most dull and barely viable charge move in the game is the BEST you have to offer — and doesn’t even get STAB damage on top of it! — you know you done messed up. Yet here we are.
Hard shell? Hardly. Poor Golisopod is just a pitiful mess, even in Master League where folks were anxiously anticipating its arrival the most.
I could dive into those results a bit deeper, but here’s the most illuminating thing about its overall PvP performance. Walrein is out there tearing up all three major Leagues, right? Araquanid has come alone and hard walls it in Great League. You would HOPE to see Golisopod, a Pokémon that, like Araquanid, resists everything Walrein has to throw at it, come out and also beat Wally down, right? I mean, if it does nothing else, it SHOULD be able to handle that, no? Well, even with a moveset completely unresisted by Walrein, and resisting everything coming back at it, Golisopod somehow loses to Walrein in Great League. Now, it DOES win in Ultra League (with just ONE single HP remaining) and finally opens up some breathing room in Master League (and it BETTER by then, since it has a 500 CP advantage over Walrein), but the fact that it struggles so mightily without having a crazy CP advantage and the fantastic typing advantages it has going for it is about the most damning thing I could imagine saying about Golisopod and its current moveset. This is just not a good PvP Pokémon right now, folks. I am very much hoping this ia mere placeholder for the eventual addition of Surf and/or a better fast move or something, because as is… yikes. This is one of the bigger letdowns we’ve had this year, if not EVER, among anticipated additions to the PvP game.
(Perhaps the ONLY silver lining is that you MIGHT be able to get away with using it in limited metas, like Fossil Cup. But certainly not one I would prioritize building.)
BUZZ BE SWOLEBuzzwole BugFighting
On the complete other end of big Bug-type expections meeting reality, we have BUZZWOLE. The first of three new Ultra Beasts getting their moves in this backend update, and boy do I hope these moves stick.
It starts with Counter and Poison Jab, two of the best and hottest fast moves in the game. As much as that might imply Niantic is just being nice, they were actually all but forced into this, as the only other fast moves Buzzwole learns at all in MSG is Bug Bite (and that only in Generation 7, not in Sword and Shield) and Hidden Power (which likely would have caused players to finally bumrush Niantic HQ). Sigh of relief here, folks.
Thankfully, the generosity continues with the charge moves. While Buzz can learn basically every major Fighting move out there in MSG, in GO it cannot learn probably the best possible one (Close Combat), but DID get Superpower as a very close consolation prize, along with Power-Up Punch if that’s your thing. Among Bug moves the selection is much more limited in MSG, but it got both Fell Stinger and the amazing Lunge, by far its two best Bug moves to pick from. In other words, Buzzwole got very nearly the best possible moves it could have hoped for. It lacks coverage, but there’s really nothing to complain about here.
And it looks ready to make the most of those moves, obliterating all the major Steels, Darks, Ices and Normals you’ll find hanging around from Level 40-50. And as a Bug, it resists Ground and Fighting damage and thus goes out and beats things like Garchomp, Groudon, Landorus, and Machamp too. Oh, and Swampert, Kyogre, Palkia, and (non-Play Rough) Zacian, just for good measure. And while it does struggle a bit versus Psychic types (being a Fighter and all), it can hit back much more effectively than other Fighters and make them at least burn shields they don’t want to thanks to Lunge.
And while there’s likely to be no realistic way to sneak it into Great League, Buzzwole is also impressive in Ultra League, capably handling the wide array of Darks, Fighters, Steels, Grasses (do beware Trevenant, though!), Normals, Grounds (except the mighty Queen), and most Ices that fill the format. With its level settling in somewhere in the mid-20s for Ultra, it’s a relatively cheap investment there as either a short-term rental while you build up resources to level it up for Master League, or it’s more than good enough to keep one under 2500 CP too.
Buzzwole is a HUGE winner here. To repeat: let’s hope Niantic doesn’t nerf its moves before they ever see the light of day. 🥺🙏
On the opposite end of THAT though, we have PHEROMOSA, which looks likely to be a very good PvE attacker (credit u/MJK151 for the early look), but is extremely fragile in PvP (having only 84 Defense… in Master League 😱), being less bulky than things like Gengar and Alakazam. It hits like an absolute truck (having more Attack than even Mewtwo), but looks ultimately doomed in PvP. Just be happy we got Buzzwole out of this!
Continuing to stick with Bugs for the moment, let’s take a quick peek at the new Electric ones.Vikavolt BugElectric
VIKAVOLT was anticipated as a potential Master League Galvantula, with a CP that tops 3500 and, though without Lunge, having things like Volt Switch, Wild Charge, Discharge, Bug Buzz, and some pretty decent coverage moves in MSG. Unfortunately, it didn’t get Volt Switch, and the ONLY move from those interesting ones mentioned it does actually have in GO is Discharge, with X-Scissor for baiting and Bug chip damage, and Crunch as its only coverage move. Discharge and Crunch are its highest damage moves and the only “closers” it has, with Discharge coming out on top due to additional STAB damage. That works for Galvantula because it has Volt Switch applying pretty heavy pressure on its own, and Lunge to steadily cripple the opponent and allow Galv to hang around, but Vikavolt has none of that, having to rely heavily on charge moves with low-powered Spark or very average Bug Bite driving it. The end result: this is NOT the Master League Galv we were looking for. Nor is it all that hot lower leagues either.Charjabug BugElectric
However, all is not lost. While at least some of Vikavolt’s issues are that it is extremely glassy, its pre-evolution CHARJABUG is quite the opposite. In Great League, Charj has 30 less Attack than Vika, which makes room for 15 more HP and nearly 40 more Defense. Therefore, even though it is left running the same Spark/X-Scissor/Discharge moveset as Vikavolt, the difference between [Vika]() and Charjabug are night and day. Charj beats things like Azumarill, Mandibuzz, Dewgong, Umbreon, Walrein, Wigglytuff, Scrafty, Cresselia, and DDeoxys that Vika simply cannot. Charjabug is still no Galvantula, but at least it’s viable. New ABB team potential? 🤔
ANCHORS AWEIGH?Dhelmise GhostGrass
So many good PvP Pokémon get destroyed by bad moves. And now here comes DHELMISE, a literal rusty anchor and ship’s wheel held together by seaweed, that gets Power Whip (okay, makes enough sense with the seaweed) and… Shadow Ball and even Shadow Claw? Whaaaaaaaa? If anything seemed destined for the Hex or even Astonish treatment, this would be it, yet here we are.
The obvious first comparison is Trevenant, who tears up PvP with the same Ghost moves and the cheaper but softer hitting Grass coverage move Seed Bomb (40 energy for 55 damage, as opposed to Power Whip’s 50 energy for 90 damage). Dhelmise has about a dozen higher Attack than Trevenant, a bit more Defense (again, about a dozen points difference), but significantly less HP (25-35 less, depending on league). Long story short: Trevenant has the better overall PvP stats and a better/cheaper “bait” move with Seed Bomb, while Dhelmise hits harder both in terms of overall Attack and in terms of Grass damage (35 more damage with Power Whip).
So how’s that shake out? Not surprisingly, Trevor is vastly superior to Dhelmise in Great League, where having cheaper moves and higher bulk is perhaps most important. Trevor is also much better than Dhel in Ultra League, beating things Dhelmise cannot like Altered Giratina, Drifblim, Nidoqueen, G-Fisk, Meganium, most Charmers, and then the stupid good stuff Trevenant can beat like Charizard and Lapras. The one big plus for Dhel is being MUCH cheaper to build than Trevenant, requiring no XL candy (only needs to be Level 33 or so) and only 50k dust to add a second move. But still, it is in every way just a poor man’s Trevenant.
The one place is has a chance to distinguish itself is in Master League, as Trevenant and its sub-3000 CP just falls away. However, I am sorry to say that Dhelmise just doesn’t do enough, basically just working as a worse Zarude that happens to be able to beat Machamp. (Heck, even a Level 40 Zarude is FAR better versus Level 50 opponents than a Level 50 Dhelmise). Here is one of those rare cases of a Pokémon getting basically the best moves it could have hoped for… and still hitting the game mostly dead on arrival. Shame.
UNVEILED BEAUTYMimikyu GhostFairy
Long-awaited almost on the same level as Kecleon is another disguised Pokémon: the unique Ghost/Fairy MIMIKYU. Here again is a Ghost we all feared would get the Astonish/Hex treatment, but again we’re delighted to see Niantic was benevolent and have gifted it Shadow Claw, along with the best Ghost AND Fairy charge moves it can learn in MSG: Shadow Ball and Play Rough. Huzzah! Rounding out the mix is Shadow Sneak, a BAD move (45 energy for only 50 damage), but one that may help with baiting. It kinda works that way for Giratina, after all.
Let’s just straight to the sims, shall we? It’s best moveset in Great League (in terms of straight wins and losses) looks to be Play Rough with Shadow Sneak baits, with which it unique beats Play Rough Azumarill and gets notable wins versus Obstagoon, Vigoroth, and with JUST Shadow Sneak, Drifblim and Alolan Marowak (normal or Shadow). All Ghost moves is close behind but obviously can’t touch Vigoroth or Obstagoon, though Shadow Ball does allow a super close win over Skarmory. And finally, double bombs (no Shadow Sneak) brings Goon and Vig back into the win column, and holds that close win versus Skarm, but cannot outrace Blim or A-Wak. Personally, I THINK my recommendation is actually Sneak/Rough for the best middle ground, but there’s more than enough room here to experiment and find what works best for you.
Where Mimikyu looks like it may be best, however, is in Ultra League. A hundo hits 2516 CP at Level 50, so we’re talking, ideally, a fully maxed out Mimik with, like, 14-14-15 IVs or something… no thrifty investment here! That said, the investment DOES seem worth it for anyone able to grind like that. Hopefully Mimikyu will be a wild spawn when it arrives (Halloween, I hope?) rather than hatch and/or research exclusive so those that want to can go on the extreme XL grind, because that winlist is tasty. Charmers, Dragons, Psychics, Fighters, AND many of the top Waters and Fires and Bugs, AND a real threat to even Darks thanks to Play Rough? I don’t even care what horrors lurk below that silly Pikachu sheet… count me in!
QUICK SANDPalossand GroundGhost
Just when we all expected PALOSSAND to get Mud Slap, surprise! Here it looks to arrive with Mud Shot instead, which bodes well for quickly getting to double closing moves in Shadow Ball and Earth Power, a nice and deadly combo.
However, the numbers don’t seem too friendly on the surface. But we just need to… well… dig deeper to see the real story here.
Palo completely walls Registeel, for once thing, double resisting Zap Cannon AND Focus Blast (and Lock-On, LOL). It can even decently farm Regi and built up almost enough energy for an extra Power/Ball (hee hee… Powerball 🎱) before finishing Regi off with plenty of HP to spare. And while the rest of its listed wins is a short list, note the names on it: Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon, Defense Deoxys, Vigoroth, Toxicroak, Shadow Machamp, Drapion, Galvantula, Cofagrigus, and new hotness Shadow Ninetales. And if you’re feeling lucky, you can sub out one of the closers for Sand Tomb baiting/debuffing and raise your ceiling to potentially include things like Nidoqueen, Drifblim, Jellicent, A-Wak, Medicham, and even Froslass… while still dominating Registeel and beating everything Power/Ball can. But now you’re relying on baits, and that can go poorly. Sand Tomb OR Earth Power both work, and both put Palossand in a very important (though niche) place in the meta. It’s just a difference of playstyle.
XL Palossand can play a similar specialist role in Ultra League, ruining the careers of most Steel types, Fighters, Psychics, Bugs, and Poisons now (without needing to worry about baits), and even the Charmers… though it gives up most Ghosts at this level. Still, as a role player on the right team, a high level Palossand can absolutely work, much better than existing (though admittedly much cheaper) sandy ghost Golurk.Sandygast GroundGhost
That all said… I worry about this one. Everything in this article carries a great big “BUT….” with it, because none of these movesets are final until they actually arrive in the game. I don’t think I need to remind you of other recent incidents where the PokeMiners dutifully dug up move info for us, only to have Niantic go and change it all around 26 minutes before the associated release actually arrived. But I am particularly wary here, because Palossand and its pre-evolution SANDYGAST have the EXACT same moveset, with absolutely no variation. Again basing this on past precedence from tricky, tricky Niantic, this almost screams to me “these are just placeholders we’ll be changing up later lolz”. I have trouble believing anything anymore in this game before I see it with my own eyes, which is why telltale signs like this get my hackles up. Just be on the lookout, eh?
Just one final Pokémon for today….
BYE BYE AZU
Sing it with me! (Sorry, Britney!)
🎼 With a taste of your lips, I’m on a ride
♫You’re Toxapex, slippin’ under
🎶 With a taste of a poison paradise
♪ To addicts of Azu
♬Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
♩ And I love what you do
🎶 Don’t you know that you’re toxic?Toxapex PoisonWater
So while many, many Pokémon end up on the bottom of the sea with bad moves dragging them down, Toxapex THRIVES on the bottom of the ocean already… and got just about the best moves it could have possibly hoped for.
It gets Poison Jab. I could almost stop right here, actually, because Toxapex has insane bulk… higher than even Azumarill, which it completely destroys without needing a single charge move! Heck, it can take TWO Hydro Pumps right to the face and still walk away with the win. Azumarill has had to face down an increasing number of troublemakers over the years, but it’s never seen anything like this… not from Tentacruel or anything.
That all said… yeah, you’re gonna be running it with charge moves, of course. Those do get a little awkward though, with both Sludge Wave (65 energy, 110 damage) and Gunk Shot (75 energy, 130 damage) for potential closers, and only Muddy Water (35 energy for only 35 damage and a 30% chance to debuff the opponent’s Attack) for Water damage and baiting. Amazingly, Toxapex is SO tanky and efficient that it can run with both high cost bombs and STILL perform well, slaughtering Fairies and Fighters and Fires and even many BIG name Dark, Ice, and Water types. (Like tanking a Shadow Walrein Earthquake like a champ and coming back to win. 💪) That all said, adding on Muddy Water potentially does some good things, bringing in possible wins versus A-Wak, Talonflame, Toxicroak, Venusaur, Trevenant, and Mew if things work out right. Heck, it’s respectable even with just Muddy Watering stuff and letting Poison Jab do its thing… so much farming potential! If there’s a knock on Toxapex, it’s that it’s only useable in Great League (topping out at 1905 CP), and it COULD have gotten some “better” moves (Sludge Bomb, Surf, Cross Poison), but those are minor quibbles. I think anyone that’s tired of the blue bunny will take this with a cheshire cat grin on their face. 😸
ODDS AND ENDS
If I didn’t mention it above, it probably doesn’t have what it takes (at this point) for PvP greatness. That said, there’s enough intrigue there with things like BRUXISH, TOGEDEMARU (which LOOKS godly on paper, but is almost entirely driven by baits, as Fell Stinger‘s effect doesn’t jive with its fast moves well… I don’t trust it), MINIOR (bad in open play but will likely be great during the return of Flying Cup should we get it before then), XURKITREE (not great for PvP but beastly in PvE), and others that I’ll take a closer look once their arrival seems imminent. And yes, I too am excited about things showing up now with Fairy Wind, but as we STILL lack the stats for Fairy’s second-ever fast move, I can’t even begin to evaluate the ‘mons with it yet. Patience! We’ll get there one day.
Until then, hopefully this has given you some things to excitedly look forward to, and unfortunately some others to mourn. (Set Golisopod free, Niantic!)
As I slip back to working on my next project, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon.
Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time!