Hello again, fellow PvPers, and welcome to the Power Plant Event, arriving on January 19th at 10:00am local. Most of the event is just a grinding opportunity for some typically-rare spawns, but there are two new things of interest, both of which I wanted to briefly cover for PvP purposes.
And the event has already begun, so I’m going to get right to it so we can get this done. Hang on… here we go!
Great League Stats
|137 (136 High Stat Product)||112 (113 High Stat Product)||105 (107 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-15, 1494 CP, Level 21.5)
Ultra League Stats
|179 (176 High Stat Product)||141 (146 High Stat Product)||138 (138 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-14, 2497 CP, Level 42.5)
Master League Stats
|185 (197 at Level 50)||145 (154 at Level 50)||136 (145 at Level 50)|
(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; CP 2600 at Level 40; CP 2939 at Level 50)
So you’ve likely seen enough of these by now to recognize that Heliolisk is rather glassy… though for an Electric type, that’s almost to be expected. For example, consider Alolan Raichu, who has virtually identical stats… just +/- 1 or 2 points in Attack, Defense, and HP in Great and Ultra Leagues. And AhChu has certainly found PvP success here and there, so the stats alone are hardly a disqualifier right off the bat. So let’s put a pin in that for the moment and forge on.
Next up: the typing. Heliolisk and pre-evolution Helioptile are so far the only Electric/Normal types in the entire Pokemon franchise. Electric and Normal have no interactions as far as mitigating each other’s vulnerabilities, so Heliolisk is left with the good and bad of each typing. That means that in addition to the standard Electric profile of being weak to Ground and strong versus Flying, Steel, and Electric damage, it also gains the double resistance to Ghost but also unfortunate vulnerability to Fighting damage that comes with being a Normal type.
Or put more simply:
|“Not Very Effective”||“Super Effective”|
The resistance to Ghost IS a nice gain, and again comparing to Alolan Raichu, is a particularly big swing, as AhChu, being part Psychic, is actually vulnerable to Ghost, whereas Heliolisk double resists. But on the flipside, being weak to Fighting is a major blow in basically any format where you may want to use Heliolisk (and Alolan Raichu resists Fighting, so….). You will see both of these play out as we get into some simulations below.
But first, the odd movesets:
- Volt Switch – Electric type, 3.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 2.0 CD
- Quick Attack – Normal type, 2.5 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CD
- Mud Slap – Ground type, 3.67 DPT, 2.67 EPT, 1.5 CD
So Volt Switch is a good start, being arguably the best Electric fast move in the game. Quick Attack is a bit underrated too (it’s a clone of Wing Attack, remember), especially when it has STAB like it does with Heliolisk.
But the really interesting thing is Mud Slap… on an Electric type! In any limited format that allows Electric types, this gives Heliolisk a massive leg up versus its fellow Electrics, resisting their Electric damage hitting them for big chunks of super effective damage in return. In fact, in Great League, 1v1 shielding, with JUST Mud Slap, Helio can beat every other Electric type but Stunfisk, Ampharos, Lanturn (specifically with Water Gun… Helio beats Spark Lanturn still) and Flying (aka Ground-resisting) Zapdos and Thunderous (which isn’t small enough for GL anyway). That’s IT. So while you’re probably not going to run Mud Slap Heliolisk in any kind of open format, that’s something to keep in mind for limited metas that is very unique to Heliolisk.
But for now, moving along to the charge moves and then some quick sims….
- Grass Knot –Grass type, 90 damage, 50 energy
- Thunderbolt – Electric type, 90 damage, 55 energy
- Parabolic Charge – Electric type, 65 damage, 55 energy
- Bulldoze – Ground type, 80 damage, 60 energy
Quite the eclectic mix, right? Thunderbolt is rather obvious for an Electric type, and even Grass Knot is nothing new, as Alolan Raichu and Minun and Plusle all have it in their movepool. But again… Ground damage is again an option here with Bulldoze. Hmm. 🤔
What of Parabolic Charge, you ask? Well right now it screams of “placeholder”. It’s worth noting that just hours ago, Niantic sneakily raised its damage from a completely unviable 25 up to now 65, but as you can clearly see, it’s still strictly worse than average moves like Thunderbolt (which still deals 25 more damage for the same cost… and Discharge, which deals the same 65 damage for 10 less energy). The hope continues to be that Niantic will tack on some special effect to Parabolic down the line (maybe a Defense buff?), but for now, there is literally no reason to ever run Parabolic Charge on Heliolisk (or Dedenne, for that matter, if they add Parabolic back to Deedee’s movepool).
So, that leaves us with effectively three charge moves to pick from. While Bulldoze has some interesting coverage, I think we can safely push it off the raft, as it deals by far the least damage of the three non-Parabolic moves, and costs the most energy. It DOES come with some nifty coverage, but I don’t think it’s worth waiting for with Helio’s (lack of) bulk.
Heliolisk in the Great League
So there we go: we’re running with Thunderbolt/Grass Knot, giving this a similar profile to Alolan Raichu and Minun/Plusle. So with that in mind… I ran some simulations of Raichu running Volt Switch/Grass Knot/Wild Charge, Minun with Spark/Grass Knot/Thunderbolt, and Heliolisk running Volt Switch/Grass Knot/Thunderbolt, just to get a sense of where Helio stacks up compared to existing options in Great League. Here’s what I found:
- Alolan Raichu not too surprisingly comes out on top, with Wild Charge making a ton of difference. Of the three, it uniquely beats Medicham, Scrafty, Toxicroak, and Hypno thanks to its resistances to Fighting and Psychic damage, as well as getting unique wins versus Altaria, Froslass, and Talonflame. It also has by far the largest margin of victory versus things like Lapras, Dewgong, and Shadow Hypno.
- Next up (though you’ll notice a sizeable gap) is actually Minun, who has no subtyping advantages AND has the worst fast move of the three, but it’s much bulkier (nearly 130 Defense and HP) and thus able to get its own unique wins over Registeel, Umbreon, and Walrein, and is the only one of the three that makes really great use of its Grass move by outslugging both Swampert and Whiscash! I didn’t intend this to be a “use Minun” analysis, but… well, there ya go.
- And yes, Heliolisk brings up the rear. It’s NOT all bad, though. Its unique combination of high Attack and an Electric charge move that doesn’t debuff its own Defense means that it alone can beat the mighty Bastiodon (well, technically, AhChu can also with perfect timing, but….) and Tropius, and its Normal typing allows it to uniquely beat Alolan Marowak and also take out Sableye and Shadow Hypno (AhChu can, Minun normally cannot), and it blows Cofagrigus out of the water too. (AhChu JUST squeaks by that one.) But, Helio cannot usually survive Dewgong OR Lapras as the other two can, which is bad news for a Great League Electric type. Between that and having far less unique-to-it wins than Alolan Raichu or even Minun… well, I just don’t see a huge future for Heliolisk in Open Great League play.
BUT, as I hinted earlier, it may have something going for it in certain limited metas. In addition to being an Electric that can beat (nearly all) Electrics with Mud Slap, I can totally see a meta where Ghosts are big and Fighters are suppressed, an environment where Heliolisk could rise up the ranks quite a bit. Also consider that some formats allow Normal types but not specifically Electrics, which would allow Heliolisk to sneak in as a full-on Electric when many of its fellow shocking mouse colleagues could be on the outside looking in. For these potential metas alone, yes, it’s worth building one up for Great League, but only at your leisure… I don’t think there’s really any rush other than the strong possibility that Helioptile could all but disappear from the game once the game is over. Grab all the candy and all you need now, just no reason to spend the dust to build it, in my opinion… yet.
There is one other advantage Heliolisk has over several of its fellow Electrics… the ability to break into Ultra League without having to max it out. But is it worth it? Let’s see!
Heliolisk in the Ultra League
Here’s the good news: you can build a non-XL Heliolisk and it performs basically on the same level as XL Heliolisk. But the bad news is that XL Helio and non-XL Helio are both pretty lackluster. You don’t even beat Waters consistently, with Politoed and Poliwrath usually escaping, and Walein running pretty wild all over Helio. Talonflame and Charizard get away too, and Heliolisk cannot overpower Dragonite. That said, it DOES get to flex that Normal typing a bit by taking down Giratina-O and Gengar and Drifblim and of course Jellicent, but Giratina-A escapes (even with Shadow Claw), as does Trevenant (who resists all of Helio’s moves), so… still not a great picture. Maybe Parabolic Charge will get a boost one day that MAYBE gives Heliolisk new life, but as is… it doesn’t live up to its potential. Yes, Alolan Raichu costs a LOT more to build, but it’s far more worth it, to put a bookend on the comparision between those two.
So in short: Heliolisk really needs Parabolic Charge to become something special down the road to carve out a real role in PvP. As is, it might be spicy enough for a Cup or two down the road, and thus is kinda-maybe-sorta worth building one for Great League (I wouldn’t even bother with Ultra League Helio right now, TBH), but you probably won’t have big regrets if you don’t find a good one. Just get the candy while you can and hold on in hopes of Heliolisk becoming more relevant at some point in the future. That’s my opinion, anyway!
Now, while Heliolisk is the only truly new arrival coming with this event, there IS one other new twist to consider….
Thunder Regice in the PvP Meta
It is quite possible that where you live, you’ve never seen snow.
Even for those that have, there’s a decent chance you’ve never experienced thundersnow.
Yep, put together a thunderstorm and cold enough temperatures, and you get a snow falling from the angry heavens above, claps of lightning illuminating the white blanket on the earth below. It’s a pretty rare event… I can count on one hand (even if it had a couple fingers missing) the number of times I’ve seen it in my 40+ years on this planet. And you’ll never forget it when you DO get to experience it.
Unfortunately, Regice with new (exclusive, I guess?) move Thunder may be much more forgettable.
But first, let’s back up a second. The chances of you ever having actually seen a Regice in GO Battle League are about as slim as ever experiencing thundersnow. But why is that? Yes, as with Regirock, the number of Regice that even fit in Great League are small; it was available only for a month under 1500 CP as part of breakthrough research, several years ago, and it was entirely possible to NEVER get one, as all three Regis were in the pool together at the same time. It gets plenty big for Master League (3122 CP at Level 40 and 3530 at Level 50, exactly the same as Regirock) and as I’ve highlighted in recent analyses of Avalugg and Walrein, a good Ice type can wreak some serious havoc in Master League especially. Yet it has rarely showed up there or even in Ultra League. What gives?
Well, for one thing, it has a horrid typing. Pure Ice types have four weaknesses — Fire, Fighting, Rock, and Steel — and only one single resistance… to other Ice damage. This is usually somewhat masked by being paired with other typings (Water being the most common, but also PvP relevant are Grass, Steel, and Ghost), but pure Ices have little to hide behind. So while Regice is vulnerable to the same Fighters that threaten Regirock and the venerable Registeel, it is ALSO easily exploited by several other very relevant typings too.
But it’s not all bad news. Regice typically runs with the same type of moves that are making Walrein so good right now: Ice (with Blizzard) and Ground (with Earthquake). I can ALSO count on one mangled hand the number of Pokemon in the entire franchise that resist both of those, and most aren’t even in GO yet. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think only Bug/Water and Bug/Ice types would qualify, no?)
Thunder Regice in the Great League
Don’t fret TOO much if you don’t have a Regice in Great League, because there’s good reason you haven’t seen it much (ever?) there. While Registeel and even the criminally underrated (but also quite rare to find under 1500 CP) Regirock handle the Great League meta pretty well, Regice does not. (In fact, you’re arguably better off running Focus Blast rather than Earthquake at Great League level and at least having a shot at Bastiodon, Ferrothorn, and Abomasnow that way.) Now I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it, because it STILL ends up trailing the other Regis, but yes, at Great League level where there are a ton of Waters to target down with it, Thunder is a modest improvement, getting Azumarill (who counts here as THREE wins, as the meta includes all three Azu charge move combinations), Dewgong, and Cresselia.
That last one is simply because of the relative speed of Thunder, which costs “only” 60 energy as compared to Earthquake’s 65 and Blizzard/Focus Blast at 75 energy… Thunder is used, funny enough, as a bait move to sneak away with a potential win over Cress. So honestly, I don’t really count that one. I DO count Azumarill and Dewgong, which are nice pickups, but… is that worth an Elite TM? Because far as I can tell, the only way to have a Thunder Regice under 1500 CP is to have one of those few magic research breakthrough Regice AND be willing to burn an Elite TM to get it Thunder. And also consider that with shields down (the one area where Regice soars, even a little above Regirock and Registeel), Thunder is overall inferior to Blizzard/Earthquake. I see this mostly as a wash, personally.
I wouldn’t spend a precious Elite TM on this kind of thing in Great League, but that call is yours to make, dear reader. If that’s worth it to you, AND you have a Regice that even works, go for it, I guess. At least now you have an idea of what you’re getting. (The cost DOES make it Regice’s best move if things go to 2v2 shielding… though if you’re into that territory, something has likely gone horribly awry. 🙃)
Thunder Regice in the Ultra League
More likely is having a Thunder Regice in one of the larger leagues. Here, though, we start facing a bit of a quandary. You ALWAYS want Blizzard in Ultra and Master Leagues because of the number of relevant Flyers, Grounds, and especially Dragons around. So now it comes down to a difficult choice: go with the “cheap” Thunder for “baiting” and Water coverage, or roll with Earthquake which happens to hit three of Regice’s four big weaknesses (Steel, Fire, and Rock) super effectively?
In Ultra League, just looking at the numbers alone would say Thunder beats out Earthquake, getting unique wins you’d expect (Politoed, Walrein, Jellicent, Lugia) and a couple you might not expect (Umbreon, Alolan Muk) just because of that cheaper cost. However, consider what you give up by not running Earthquake: Bronzong and Alolan Ninetales, which may not be a huge deal, but also Registeel and Galarian Stunfisk. Ouch. It it worth running an Ice that can sometimes also fend off Waters and give Regice less chance to defend itself in the process? I mean, it’s somewhat debatable if you want to run Regice in Ultra at all (Regirock and Registeel are again more impressive), but if I AM, I don’t know that the tradeoff to get Thunder is worth it. Maybe you feel differently?
Thunder Regice in the Master League
That just leaves Master League. Now here, finally, Regice gets to leave its “brothers” behind a bit, as Registeel’s lower CP catches up to it (even in Master League Classic) and Regirock does have some nice things going for it (taking down Lugia, Gyarados, Ho-Oh) but has a lot more Grounds to worry about too. And that is precisely where Regice gets an edge, taking down Groudon and Swampert in Classic and Garchomp and Landorus in Classic and Open that the other Regis cannot, plus Giratina (Altered) as a bonus. It better threatens things like Zarude and Zekrom (and Dragons in general), too. It’s just a better fit for the meta.
So what of Thunder? I just don’t think it’s a good fit here. Earthquake threatens a lot more things, like the Steels. Thunder CAN sneak in very close wins over Lugia and (Blizzard) Kyogre, but even then only at Level 50. (Both get away in Classic.) I’m really not seeing it, personally. Thunder just doesn’t fit the current meta nearly as well as Earthquake. That could change down the road, but that’s not something I’d be willing to bet anything on.
The event is starting in New Zealand as I type this (!!!), so let’s quick wrap this up!
- HELIOLISK might find its way in a future Great League Cup or two, with the unique quirks of being an Electric that can dominate other Electrics with Mud Slap, and/or beat down Ghosts thanks to double resisting Ghost damage. But otherwise, it’s just a worse Alolan Raichu (and even Minun!) and really not worth a serious grind, IMO. A tweak to Parabolic Charge could change all that, but I ain’t holding my breath.
- REGICE with Thunder looks a bit better on paper, and in Great League it arguably is worth replacing Earthquake… if you have an eligible one under 1500 CP and if you’re willing to burn an Elite TM, but the gains are pretty minor even then. In Ultra League and especially Master League, I think the coverage Earthquake provides is just better. Get a couple while it’s available, but if you run Regice, you’re likely going to want to stick with those you already have on hand, IMO.
Alright, the event is now upon on us, so I’ll bow out and let you all enjoy it. Good luck on the grind!
Thanks for reading, and good hunting. Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time. Cheers!