A PvP Analysis on the Ultra Unlock Paldeans

The season is now in full swing, and we’ve got our second batch of Paldean Pokémon coming as part of the GO Fest Ultra Unlock. Not only does that mean we get the first batch for a few more days, but four brand new Pokémon evolutionary lines as well!

As with the analysis on the Paldean starters and Lechonk, we’ll keep things brief and to the point today. But it’s still worth dropping our TLDR right here up at the top with our Bottom Line Up Front:


  • Bombirdier is likely your top target this time as a faster but less bulky Mandibuzz. It’s particularly interesting in Ultra League where it more closely mimics Mandi’s effectiveness and comes far cheaper. The downside? This one is a raid-exclusive.
  • Baxcalibur and its immediate pre-evolution Arcitbax are the top wild spawn targets, interesting in Master League and Great League, respectively. Recommend catching all of these that you see during the event.
  • The Pawmot and Lokix lines are underwhelming, and that’s being a little kind. They DO have enough potential with some simple, maybe-we’ll-get-lucky-one-day move shakeups that I’d say catch them while you can, but they’re lower priority than the others releasing during this event and honestly even hangovers like Fuecoco, IMO.


Bombirdier FlyingDark

While it may be based on the famous baby-delivering stork, BOMBIRDIER is anything but meek and mild.

It’s a Dark/Flying type, which draws immediate comparisons, of course, to Mandibuzz. But beyond the typing, they’re actually quite different. While Mandi is more slow and grinding, owing to its low Attack, relatively low-power moves, and big-time bulk (I still like to call it a flying Umbreon), Bombirdier is far less bulky (its highest stat is its Attack, and its overall bulk is akin to things like Beedrill, Flygon, and Trevenant), but it has the right moves to make up for it as a faster, potentially more threatening big bird than Mandi.

First off, we have Wing Attack, which we have surely learned by now can apply tremendous pressure in PvP these days. But it’s only as good as the charge moves that go with it. Just ask Noctowl with its suddenly-reduced Sky Attacks. 😢 Thankfully, Bombird has some good choices. There’s the now-viable Aerial Ace (40 energy for 55 damage), but even better is Fly, a move so far really only seen on Flying Pikachu. It deals 80 damage for only 5 more energy than Ace, resulting in a very robust 1.78 Damage Per Energy, right up there with Acrobatics and the same stats as the awesome Drill Run (the only other 45e/80d move in the game). Comparing to Mandibuzz, that’s far better overall than Foul Play (45 energy for 10 less damage) or Dark Pulse (5 more energy for the same 80 damage). Instead of those Dark moves, Bombirdier relies on Payback as its closer, dealing 110 damage for 60 energy (the same as Moonblast, Outrage, and… Acrobatics, again). These moves would be tricky with any Flying fast move other than Wing Attack, but thankfully that’s exactly what we have to work with here, with its 4.0 Energy Per Turn.

Put it all together, and in Great League, Bombirdier is right there with Mandibuzz. The differences are that Bombie can beat Medicham (owing to much steadier Flying-type damage), Altaria, Froslass, and Mandibuzz itself, while Mandi instead outlasts Shadow Charizard, Obstagoon, Umbreon, Vigoroth, and Lanturn, though all of those are with less than 10 HP left, so NONE are what I would call “safe”. Conversely, Bombirdier’s unique wins I listed all come with 20+ HP left over (and Medicham specifically is with well over 40 HP remaining in the bank). I won’t come out and say that Bombirdier necessarily fits the current meta better, but I WILL say that any win column that includes Medicham in all even shield scenarios AND has a robust record like this is at least worth sitting up and noticing. I would be a bad analyst, however, if I did not point out that Mandi does pull away slightly more with shields down (as compared to Bombie) and in 2v2 shielding (as compared to Bombie). In 0shield, Bombirdier pulls out the impressive win over Umbreon, but Mandi instead gets Froslass this time, plus Obstagoon, Lickitung, and Gligar. And in 2shield, Bombirdier’s lack of bulk betrays it with potential losses to Mantine, Pelipper, Quagsire, Diggersby, Lickitung, and Froslass (all of which Mandibuzz at least has paths to victory against), though Bombie does at least beat Mandibuzz head to head and still gets that unique-to-it win over Medicham.

Perhaps even better than that, though, is how Bombie matches the overall performance of Mandi in Ultra League, for FAR less investment. Mandibuzz famously has to be taken all the way up to Level 50 and still doesn’t reach 2500 CP, while Bombirdier can be taken only up to Level 43 or so with the right IVs without a real knock to its performance. (Dropping only things like Pidgeot in 0shield, and Toxicroak and sometimes Giratina-A in 2shield.) Something like a Level 44 is a touch safer, or heck, even raid-level IVs can work out fine too. But the point is that you do NOT have to invest nearly as heavily to have one ready to go in Ultra, which is always great for us budget players!

And while I haven’t really talked about it yet, Bombirdier has the interesting option of running Rock Throw as its fast move. That may not have much use normally, but in Flying-heavy metas (like, say, the dreaded return of Flying Cup), that could become suddenly relevant. It can even ALMOST beat Aerodactyl that way! (Just one fast move short.) And it beats other things that even Aerodactyl struggles with. Just something to keep in mind, perhaps.

I think this might be THE priority target in this batch for PvPers. I still think it’s worth it to raid/trade for a good one for Great League, and especially if you find something like the 8-15-15 simmed above, see if you can start grinding the XLs for a good Ultra League version too. Might be easier than trying to get that maxed out Mandibuzz, at least, and it might actually have more going for it at that level than in Great League (where Mandi still edges it out in a few more instances). Good luck… and remember that this one is NOT scheduled to be a wild spawn, but instead in Tier 3 raids. Good luck!


I hardly play Master League since the introduction of Level 50 (and the removal of Classic… man, I miss that), but even I can recognize when something interesting for Master League comes along.

And just like Godzilla wrecking coastal cites, is BAXCALIBUR about to swoop in from nowhere to change the ML landscape forever?

Baxcalibur DragonIce

Well, maybe. I kind of felt this same way about Glaciate Kyurem and despite what I still consider great potential, it hasn’t exactly taken over Master League. And at least on the surface, Bax is a worse Kyurem. But that’s not strictly the case.

For one, Baxcalibur is overall better with shields down, beating Excadrill, Groudon, Yveltal, Mewtwo, and even Togekiss, while Kyurem whiffs on all those, managing unique wins versus only Ho-Oh and sometimes Rayquaza instead. This comes down, by and large, to the big move difference between the two. While both run the powerful Dragon Breath/Dragon Claw combo, Kyurem’s closing move, the awesome Glaciate, still deals only 60 base damage. Baxcalibur instead runs Avalanche, which does cost 5 more energy than Glaciate, but also deals 30 more damage. Clearly when it gets around shields, it’s going to have a more immediate impact on the opponent.

But once shields start coming into play, Glaciate’s impact increases, as not only can you fire off more thanks to its lower energy cost, but every one you use also reduces the opponent’s Attack. So in 2v2 shielding, Kyurem pulls away a bit from Baxter, beating everything Baxcalibur can plus Groudon, Landorus-T, Mewtwo, and often Dragonite.

Pokédex image for Baxcalibur from Scarlet and Violet

That all said, there is one major advantage Baxcalibur has that Kyurem never will: being eligible in Master League Premier. Without things like Dialga, Melmetal, Zacian and Xerneas and such to worry about, Baxter is freed to terrorize the meta much more effectively while Kyurem is left on the outside looking in. And even the Ice Fang variant becomes viable there if you want to mix things up a bit.

So will Baxcalibur being taking over Master League as I once predicted Kyurem had a chance to do? Probably not. But is it viable and could tear things up on the right team? Absolutely.

Arctibax DragonIce

And what’s more, unlike Kyurem, there is potential here in Great League thanks to this being a full evolutionary line. Baxcalibur itself lacks the bulk to make much of an impact itself, but ARTIBAX can, with the same moveset and about 25 more HP. Obviously things like Fairies, Rocks, Fighters, and especially Steels are best avoided entirely, but Arctibax can freeze out much of the rest of the established meta, to include even most Waters that tend to be big problems for other Ice types, and Ice types that tend to terrorize Dragons. You’re not only beating the obvious Grasses and Grounds and most Flyers, but also things like Walrein, Lickitung, Umbreon, Sableye, Froslass, Lanturn, Dunsparce, Jellicent, Drapion and many more. This thing may have potential beyond just being a Cup specialist, folks. Look for those good Great League IVs while you hunt!

FRIGIBAX in Little League, though… that may be pushing it. But hey, couldn’t hurt to have a Level 15 or so sitting on your bench just in case though, right?

This family IS going to be in the wild (or Frigibax will be, at least), so there is good opportunity here to grind for good IVs for your Great League Artibax and perhaps get at least a good start on a Master League Baxcalibur too. May all your catches bring XL Candy, my friends!


Pawmot ElectricFighting

I WANT to recommend PAWMOT, or at least its pre-evolutions, in PvP. They’re cute little floofs that come with a really interesting typing and unlike other supercharged rodents like the Raichus, can be built for Ultra League potentially without a single XL Candy.

But unfortunately, while Pawmot gets moves that utilize both sides of its unique Electric/Fighting combo, its most recommended move package includes TWO charge moves that seriously slash its already frail frame, and the least synergistic of its possible Electric fast moves from MSG.

Pawmot is typically recommended with both Close Combat (its only actual Fighting move) and Wild Charge. Both of those are, on their own, obviously very powerful and great closing moves for a variety of very relevant Pokémon in PvP. But usually they’re run alongside a second charge move that doesn’t nerf the user so that you can strategically avoid the big 2 stage drop to the user’s Defense that comes with using them. There’s no option for that if you run both. And perhaps worse, instead of the 4.5 Energy Per Turn Thunder Shock or at least 4.0 EPT of Volt Switch that it could have gotten, it is instead stuck with the 3.5 EPT of Spark as its best and really only viable fast move. Not terrible, but NOT what you want when running moves like Close Combat and Wild Charge. You want to rack up energy as quickly as possible and hope to bait and close with one, or overcharge enough to fire two of those self-debuffers back to to back.

So in the end, while even higher energy gains would leave it a bit lacking, what we actually get for Pawmot is even more disappointing. It’s not ALL bad… despite its flaws, Pawmot does do more than just snipe Waters and Flyers, and can shock and awe with some unexpected wins like Steelix, Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon, Lanturn, Altaria, and Umbreon in Great League, and stuff like Aurorus, Dubwool, Buzzwole, Escavalier, Cobalion, and Registeel in Ultra League. You’re almost better off running it without Wild Charge just to have some way to not nerf yourself into oblivion. (And no, I am NOT saying I recommend that either… though at least things like Walrein and Poliwrath and Jellicent become more realistically beatable then.) But overall, I feel like it could have done so much more with just a little moveset tweaking. Maybe one day. For now, if I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s worth what sounds like at least a 25k walk together to evolve in the first place. But I’d love to be proven wrong!

As for pre-evolutions PAWMO and PAWMI, they don’t get any Fighting moves at all and are left as rather boring, even sad, inflexible Electric types. This family could use a little moveset love, Niantic!

But if possible, the final Pokémon of the day may be an even sadder PvP tale….


Lokix BugDark

The moveset for LOKIX isn’t all bad, on the surface. Just-buffed X-Scissor and good move Bug Buzz, with Dark Pulse for coverage? I’ve seen a lot worse. The problem is that without Snarl, both Dark AND Bug lack any fast moves that synergize with a set of charge moves like that. Maybe Fury Cutter (or even Infestation) which generates 4.0 EPT, but even that would be a stretch. Instead, we end up with Sucker Punch, which I guess isn’t the worst thing in the world with 3.5 EPT, but it deals only 2.5 Damage Per Turn and is just an unexciting move. Lokix with its Scizor-like bulk (and without Scizor’s amazing defensive typing… Bug/Dark has a LOT more holes than Bug/Steel) needs more. At least Scizor’s Bullet Punch deals more damage while generating the same energy, and Scizor, not Lokix, is the one that comes with the spammy Dark move Night Slash!

So yet again, we end up with a very underwhelming performance (even at its listed best, which is surprisingly with Bug Bite in a weird but limited anti-Dark role), across multiple Leagues. And on top of that, it has to be pushed deep into XL territory to reach the right size for Ultra League, something Scizor (or even cheap knock-off Bisharp) typically does not need to worry about.

Lokix is not completely unsalvageable… giving it Lunge that it learns naturally in MSG would start to fix what ails it (giving it a cheaper move AND one that helps mask its glassiness), and it CAN learn Counter, which would start to actually make it rather amazing. But do I honestly see Niantic doing all that? Probably not. Would be beat, though!

I’d say that sure, it’s worth scooping up some Nymble (though no, you don’t really want that for anything in and of itself either) while you can, just in case Lokix gets some new toys and makes something of itself. And we have no idea, based on past Niantic precedent, how long it may be before we see this Gen9 Pokémon become available again, Lokix included. But don’t plan to make use of THIS particular Bug anytime real soon unless a surprise Dark Cup announcement comes along or something.

And there we have it… our second batch of Paldeans, officially reviewed! Hopefully you can find what you’re looking for without too much trouble… good luck!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

As always, stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. Happy raiding and 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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