Halloween season is always a busy time in Pokémon GO, and this year is no different. The first part of the Halloween Event is already here, and we have our token all-new Pokémon that goes with it! Let’s check out our Bottom Line Up Front and then get into the nitty gritty details.
- Houndstone (and pre-evolution Greavard) is the new chase Pokémon, debuting in Timed Research and three-star raids. And yes, both come with some use in PvP, which we’ll explore in detail below!
- In short, however, Houndstone comes with a low-ish win percentage in Great League, but WHAT it beats carries a lot more weight than mere numbers. Many top meta options fall before it, and I do recommend trying to get one prepped for GL use.
- Ultra League Houndstone is okay, with a healthier win percentage that includes some top options there as well. (Even Altered Giratina, which is no small feat!) If you find a near-hundo, see if you can grind enough XLs to make this a future project.
- There are other good spawns to hunt for too, like Phantump, Zubat, Drifloon and others. Some of these are rather rare outside of events like this, so don’t miss out!
Now let’s get into a detailed look at our newest Ghost debuting during this event.
HOUNDSTONE Stats and Moves
Great League Stats
(118 High Stat Product)
(132 High Stat Product)
(121 High Stat Product)
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 1-14-15, 1500 CP, Level 22.5)
Ultra League Stats
(153 High Stat Product)
(171 High Stat Product)
(156 High Stat Product)
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-15, 2500 CP, Level 46)
Stats-wise, Houndstone is among the best Ghosts have to offer. It’s even a bit bulkier than Sableye, and really trails only Drifblim, Dusclops, Runerigus/Cofagrigus, Jellicent, and Alolan Marowak (and Altered Giratina, in Ultra League) among top meta options. Not fantastic bulk or anything, but certainly above average. Outside of Ghosts, close comps include Victini, Florges, Mew, Zweilous, Crustle, and Galarian Weezing.
Mono-type Ghosts are relatively rare in PvP… good ones, at least. So as a reminder, they are vulnerable only to Dark and other Ghost damage, and resist quite a bit: Poison, Fighting, and Bug, and a rather famous 2x resistance to Normal damage. (See: Body Slam, most of all.)
In the end, I think Houndstone will “feel” bulky, especially for a Ghost.
Anyway, enough rambling on that. Let’s get to its movekit.
- Lick – Ghost type, 3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 0.5 CoolDown
- Bite – Dark type, 4.0 DPT, 2.0 EPT, 0.5 CD
There ARE metas where Bite applies some good pressure, so I won’t say you’ll never want it. But Lick gets STAB (making it better here than it is on the many Normal types that run it) and is a nice Water Gun/Bug Bite/Tackle clone. Nothing particularly special (especially compared to, say, Shadow Claw), but perfectly fine as a fast move. And it’s probably the best Ghost-type fast move it could get in GO based on what it can and cannot learn in MSG (it never learns Shadow Claw, for instance). It CAN learn things like Mud Shot and particularly thematic Snarl in MSG, so maybe one day, but for now we’ll take what we’ve got.
- Psychic Fangs – Psychic type, 40 damage, 35 energy, Decreases Opponent Defense -1 Stage
- Dig – Ground type, 80 damage, 50 energy
- Shadow Ball – Ghost type, 100 damage, 55 energy
In some ways, this is a near-perfect moveset. Psychic Fangs is excellent for baiting and shield pressure (especially since the opponent knows that letting the other two closing-power charge moves could be deadly), and ratching up the pressure that comes with steady Lick damage. Dig is now a legit good coverage move, answering basically all hard Ghost counters with big neutral (or better!) damage. And Shadow Ball needs no introduction: it’s one of the best overall beatsticks in the game. The 50+ energy of the latter two is a little troubling with Houndstone generating, at best, only the average 3.0 Energy Per Turn, but it’s fast enough for Lickitung to reach Power Whip (also 50 energy), for Slowbro to reach Psychic or Ice Beam (55 energy), and for Tapu Fini to reach Moonblast (60 energy) in meaningful spots, as just a few meaningful examples. Sure, it might be nice to have something like 45-energy Crunch (which Houndstone can learn outside of GO), but considering Niantic could have easily gone with things like Shadow Sneak, Night Shade, or Poltergeist instead, I think I am mostly counting our blessings here.
How’s that all look when put together? Let’s see!
So I’ll start by just pointing out that the overall win percentage is not encouraging, and for full disclosure (I am FAR from perfect!), my own initial, gut reaction lamented this. But upon further review, this may very well be a case of quality over simple quantity.
Look at what it DOES beat, and consider how big these names are on the Play!Pokémon circuit and, indeed, in Open Great League. Medicham. Galarian Stunfisk. Bastiodon and Registeel. (Perhaps THE main reason I recommend Dig over Shadow Ball.). Dewgong. Lanturn (Dig FTW again versus the Spark version.) Trevenant. Azumarill. Froslass. Defense Deoxys. And then others like Toxicroak, Vigoroth, Cofagrigus, and Shadow Quagsire. Or you can run Shadow Ball instead of Dig, and while you drop Regi, Basti, Dewgong, and Spark Lanturn, you gain Gligar, Mantine, and Cresselia instead. Almost all of those are a Who’s Who of the current top meta options. So while no, a sub-40% win percentage against the “core” Great League options is not great, WHAT it beats is actually pretty significant.
Also worth consideration: versus the entirety of Great League, the only meta Ghosts it can’t beat in 1v1 shielding are Sableye, Runerigus, Jellicent, and (situationally) Alolan Marowak. That could be pretty significant in a Ghost-heavy Cup. And hey, we have one of those coming up at the end of this week: Halloween Cup! And wouldn’t you know it, Houndstone looks plenty viable there, though with Dig being my recommended closer thanks to having a legit shot at beating #1 Halloween Cup star Carbink. Woof!
Yes, Houndstone can come to play at this level too, though now it much prefers Shadow Ball, and requires a decent amount of XL candy. (“Average” IVs are in the Level 44-45 range, and #1 IVs need to be pushed to Level 46.) Note that you CAN keep it as low as Level 42 with the right IVs and still beat the exact same list of things too, a list that includes all meta Psychic types, all meta Fairies but Galarian Weezing and Tapu Fini, and also Altered Giratina, Trevenant, Venusaur, Nidoqueen, Empoleon, Charizard, Alolan Sandslash (even with Shadow Claw), Golisopod, Escavalier, Scizor, all Fighters but Scrafty, Bewear, and Lucario, and much more beyond. Maybe it won’t break out in Open, but in at least Limited metas in Ultra League? I don’t see why someone couldn’t find success with it. If you find, like an 8-15-15 or something, hang on to it, grind a few XL candies, and hang onto it as a potential future project.
Houndstone’s pre-evo Greavard is rather similar to Houndstone, just smaller. Decently bulky, same moveset, decent performance (in Little League, of course). It also takes down some big names like Bronzor, Seel, Chansey, Vulpix, Barboach, Wooper, Chinchou, Onix, Drifloon, Skorupi, Shelmet, Wynaut, even Vullaby! And popular evolved options like Galarian Stunfisk, Toxicroak, Nidoqueen, Vigoroth, Altaria, and Skarmory, for formats where evolved things are allowed. Should you find a decent one for Little League, sure, hang onto it. You never know!
OTHER WEENIES TO GRIND FOR
…wait, that didn’t come out quite right. This is a kids’ show!
Other Halloween Pokémon to grind for in Part 1 of this event include:Zubat Poison Golbat Poison
- ZUBAT has continued use in Little League, but the real prize is Great League GOLBAT (which really benefits from high rank IVs, so watch for those). And it’s ranked #2 in Halloween Cup, behind only Carbink!
- While it has dropped a bit from its lofitiest heights, DRIFBLIM certainly remains a meta option that’s useful at least in Limited metas, including in Ultra League. If nothing else, all the Drifloons around will make for a good XL grinding opportunity.
- TREVENANT‘s star has also fallen a bit with the nerf to Seed Bomb, but only so much. It remains highly competitive in Great and Ultra League play. And oh my Arceus, its shiny is just sick. It’s still a priority target, but especially that pasty white, red-leafed version. Go go go!
- PALOSSAND remains merely okay, but it’s one of the rarer spawns around, so this is a good opportunity to get that last bit of candy to make one. I still think there’s enough potential there for a breakout. Maybe just one more move tweak away….
- I don’t often stump for hatching (as I have grown to loathe playing that game just to have my heart ripped out over and over), but GALARIAN YAMASK is available in 7k eggs, and RUNERIGUS is worth building if you haven’t yet gotten around to it, as basically a better Palossand. It handles itself particularly well in Halloween Cup. Just sayin’.
There are some pretty good things to hunt for during this event, not least of them being the new Greavard. Houndstone looks like a good way to handle many top-of-the-meta Pokémon in Great League and is worth building right away, and is my top recommendation to scoop up. Keep in mind that it’s also going to be available during the second part of the Halloween Event (starting October 26th), though is only confirmed in Field Research then.
Alright, gonna wrap it up there. The event is upon us! So until next time (Halloween Cup analysis, which will be JRE analysis article #495!), you can always find me on Twitter with regular analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.
Good hunting (and researching), folks! Do stay safe out there, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!