A PvP Analysis on the Paldean Starters (and Oinkologne)

Well after two MASSIVE analyses on this season’s big move rebalance, I got a light load for you today. Come with me as we take a look at the first batch of Paldean Pokémon in GO! This will be a brief analysis (for me, at least), due to being short on time and the event already having begun! But for those in a REAL hurry, I’ll still put our TLDR right here up front with our Bottom Line Up Front:


  • Out of the new starters, I believe that Skeledirge is the most immediately impactful (and least reliant on its eventual Community Day starter move).
  • Quaquaval is at least interesting enough to be worth grinding, but will improve significantly when it eventually gets Hydro Cannon.
  • Meowscarada, honestly, it just a ‘dex filler. It’s a worse Shiftry.
  • I love the moveset of Oinkologne (and Lechonk), but its performance is still a bit lacking. Female has better stats though, so keep that in mind for your grind.


Skeledirge FireGhost

I mean, the title seemed appropriate for SKELEDIRGE, no?

As mentioned in the BLUF, Skelie seems like the best starter out of the gate. It has decent bulk, roughly the same as things like Swampert, Crustle, Hitmontop, and Skuntank. It’s not the first prominent Fire/Ghost type in the game (hi there, Alolan Marowak and Chandelure), but it might now be the most interesting. While Chandelure aims to just overpower things with STAB moves (though it has the option of Grass coverage with Energy Ball if it wants it), and A-Wak has Mud Bomb to bait with and even better bulk than Skelie, only Skeledirge comes with a direct counter to Darks that plague them all: Disarming Voice.

Many analysis I’ve seen talk about Skelie thus far have gone with Shadow Ball and Crunch as the moveset of choice, but Voice is what makes Skeledirge special. For example, in Great League, while A-Wak can uniquely spam to wins over Charizard, Dewgong, and Trevenant, and Chandelure alone can overpower Steelix and Walrein, it is Skeledirge that knocks out Scrafty and Obstagoon thanks to super effective Disarming Voice, as well as Cofagrigus and Shadow Walrein. Disarming Voice has the exact same cost and damage as Crunch, and the coverage is, in my opinion, more useful for Skelie.

This is especially true in the League where I think Skeledirge will find its best niche, though: Ultra League, where A-Wak falls completely away and Chandelure cannot hold a candle (haha get it? 🕯️ I so funny) to Skelie. Not only does Voice beat Obstagoon and Scrafty again, but also every major Fighter in the format (to include Shadow Machamp and Poliwrath despite their scary Rock and Water moves, respectively). It also overcomes Registeel, Shadow Snorlax (never an easy target for Ghosts), Cresselia, Dubwool, Walrein, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Cobalion, Alolan Sandslash, Alolan Ninetales (even with Charm) and many more. Not sure if it will make a big dent in Open play, but it most certainly has potential on the right team, and could be very interesting in Limited formats as well.

And crazy as it might sound, I’m not convinced that it even stands to really benefit (in PvP, at least) from the eventual addition of Blast Burn. Taking away its current coverage of solid Fire, Fairy, and Ghost damage and beefing up Fire at the expense of Ghost just makes it less dymanic. It might still put in good work, but I think in the end it will prefer staying flexible instead. Maybe in Great League… we’ll see.

To reiterate: Skeledirge is well worth pursuing in the here and now, especially for Ultra League. No reason to wait for future moves to make it viable… it already is!


Quaquaval WaterFighting

Again, YOU try coming up with catchy titles for all these! It’s a Monday-Tuesday for me today after a holiday off, so I’m doing my best here.

QUAQUAVAL looked a bit more interesting before Poliwrath, with the same Water/Fighting typing, got Counter and subsequently took off like a shot. Still, Wing Attack (even without STAB) into Close Combat can be terrifying, and there are two good second moves to choose from between Aerial Ace and Liquidation. Unfortunately, Quaquaquaval lacks Poliwrath‘s bulk and, as mentioned, Counter, so it just doesn’t quack stack up. And that includes Ultra League, where I DO think Quaquaquaquaval may find its niche (as with Skeledirge), but again it’s left looking up at Poliwrath these days.

Now, once Quaquaquaquaquaval gets Hydro Cannon one day, which will become the clear favorite alongside Close Combat, things will be looking up! (And in Great League too, just not to the same extent.)

Quaxly Water

Even still, in the here and now, there’s enough good here that I’d recommend grinding Quaxly as my second target behind Skeledirge’s first stage evolution Fuecoco. After all, Fuecoc, Quaxly itself is pretty decent in Little League.

Think of it as kind of a poor man’s Ducklett… and you CAN always run both. 😈 You know, before you go back to your other evil deeds for that day, you megalomaniac, you.


Meowscarada GrassDark

No, literally. MEOWSCARADA is a Dark type without the move Bite! That’s actually a very UN-Niantic thing for them to do.

Unfortunately, that’s the good news on Meowscarada though.

You know how fellow Grass/Dark type Shiftry was a thing in PvP for a while and then eventually faded away because of how quickly it could get blown over in non-ideal matchups? Meowscrada is even less bulky, generates 3.5 Energy Per Turn at best (as opposed to Shiftry’s 4.33 EPT), and lacks the Leaf Blade that really makes Shiftry hum. Sure, MeowMix comes with its own 35-energy move, but Night Slash is no Leaf Blade. And even its second charge moves are much slower than the 45-energy Foul Play Shiftry usually relies on, with 50-energy Grass Knot being the cheapest.

The one potentially neat thing going for it is Play Rough for very nice coverage versus Fighters that pick on it and Darks that would likely surround it in Limited metas, but with Meowscarada’s poor bulk and only 3.5 EPT from Leafage, I don’t see that actually making any difference unless you’re already quite a bit ahead in shields and/or energy anyway.

End of the day, while Shiftry can do this (and Shadow Shiftry can do this), Meowscarada cannot quite match it. Even in Ultra League, Shiftry is better than Meowmeow overall (though neither are great these days). And yes, Frenzy Plant will eventually help (sometime in 2025, maybe!), but not nearly as much as you’d hope, even in Great League. Sorry, folks. Barring a buff to Leafage or other interesting shakeups to Meowscarada’s moves (which I frankly don’t see happening, at least not anytime soon), it’s kind of burned up most or all of its nine lives already.


Oinkologne (Female) Normal

When I saw the moveset shared by both LECHONK and its evolution OINKOLOGNE, I got pretty excited. Body Slam and the just-majorly-buffed Dig with THAT bulk? Yes please! And Tackle is a legit viable fast move now, a clone of Lick, among others, which has long driven other Body Slammers like Snorlax and, of course, Lickitung.

And yes, it DOES work out to similar pacing and widespread neutral beatings, and Dig, of course, has obvious potential versus the popular Steels in Great and Ultra Leagues, among others.

But uh… even the female version of Oinkologne (which is bulkier than the male version, so keep that firmly in mind as you grind, folks!) isn’t as thicc as Lickitung, or even Snorlax. And thus Oinkologne ends up looking rather tepid overall, trailing Snorlax (and even Munchlax with the same Normal moves and a worse Ground charge move) and especially Lickitung in effectiveness. There IS some good that comes with Oinker, like wins over Venusaur and Pelipper that neither Snorlax nor Munchlax can reliably get (or even Lickitung, in Venusaur’s case), but heck, even Munchlax can go and beat BIG names like Azumarill, Gligar, Mantine, (Water Gun) Lanturn, Walrein, and Alolan Ninetales that Oinkologne usually cannot. And in Ultra League, not only is Oinkologne no better than Snorlax (coming in with much slower and recently nerfed Ground move Earthquake), it cannot even top Lickilicky, something that doesn’t even see (much) play! That’s a rather sad place to be.

It is certainly possible that Oinkologne will get more moves down the line to make it more interesting… after all, it arrives with only two charge moves total. Mud Shot would help a lot, as would charge moves it learns in MSG like Disarming Voice or Earth Power (learned naturally via leveling up) or Seed Bomb, Trailblaze, Play Rough or others that it can learn in MSG via TM. But until and unless that happens, while I do still recommend grinding for a good female one, at least, it’s unlikely to see much play beyond perhaps Catch Cup near the end of this season. For that alone, I guess you can go…




hog wild. 🐷

Alright, that’s all the analysis and VERY bad puns I got for today. I’m already working to analyze the NEXT batch of Paldeans coming next week, and of course we now have a new Community Day to prep for too, so more to come soon! Until then, you can always find me on Twitter with regular PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Thanks for your faithful readership, Pokéfriends. Stay safe out there, good hunting, 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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