Under The Lights: Ursaluna (A PvP Analysis on the here and now, and what could have been!)

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Howdy folks! Well we finally have our full moveset for URSALUNA, and it’s… well, it’s something. Let’s take a look… right after our Bottom Line Up Front.

B.L.U.F.

  • Ursaluna has the stats and typing to compete in all three Leagues, and seems especially exciting in Master League where it should be able to combat powerful Ghosts and Steels alike, among others.
  • Ursa’s exclusive Community Day move IS one that it will want for PvP and PvE purposes… though it could do better there too. More on that later.
  • Unfortunately, the other moves assigned to Ursaluna do it no real favors….
Fast Moves Charge Moves
  • Tackle Normal
  • Rock Smash Fighting
  • Fire Punch Fire
  • Thunder Punch Electric
  • Aerial Ace Flying
  • High Horsepower Ground

Yeah, as you can probably tell by my less-rosier-than-normal intro and BLUF… this was a tough one to motivate myself for. Quite honestly, I can’t remember being as upset about a revealed movepool for a new Pokémon as I was when Ursaluna’s stats and moves were revealed yesterday. Here is something we were all excited about, WANTED to go out and hit hard on Community Day, and has ended up just being a big let-down. How much so? I’ll let the rest of the article tell that story. But suffice to say… what motivated me to quick get this article out ASAP anyway is based on a theory. It’s mostly a silly theory, BUT there’s been enough grains of actual truth to it over the years that I figured it’s worth pulling on a bit and seeing what happens.

The theory is that somewhere among my now 400+ PvP analysis articles over the last nearly four years, Niantic themselves have even begun reading what that JRE guy writes from time to time. For what it’s worth, I HAVE spoken with some Niantic employees that I know actually DO, and regularly. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but if — IF — they read and actually process what I write, then maybe, JUST maybe, there’s still time to point out what’s good and bad about the current moveset and change some minds. MAYBE even get the moves shaken up before Ursaluna hits the game? There are players and friends out there who swear up and down that these analyses have directly influenced the damage and/or cost of new Community Day moves over the last year or so. I’m not a superstitious fellow, and it’s probably just been coincidence and all, but if there’s ANY truth to that… well, Niantic, PLEASE read on. Because I think you’ve made some terrible, terrible mistakes in what you’re about to do to Ursaluna. Please reconsider, because while I usually hype up your coming releases for free… frankly, I’m probably about to do the exact opposite for your coming attraction this next Community Day. Ursaluna, with the moveset you currently have assigned to it, is a MAJOR disappointment.

And that’s being kind.

Please, PLEASE reconsider, Niantic. Just one or two easy little tweaks would save this thing and bring you all the hype you could ask for, shaking up stale metas and giving us something to feel good about. PLEASE read on.

URSALUNA Stats and Moves

Ursaluna GroundNormal

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
126 (124 High Stat Product) 97 (99 High Stat Product) 145 (148 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-15, 1500 CP, Level 14.5)


Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
163 (160 High Stat Product) 126 (128 High Stat Product) 188 (191 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 1-15-15, 2500 CP, Level 24)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
204 (217 at Level 50) 155 (165 at Level 50) 230 (245 at Level 50)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; CP 3854 at Level 40; CP 4358 at Level 50)

So here we start with good news, actually. The stats aren’t fantastic, but they are very workable… far more so than Ursaring. Particularly in Master League, where Ursaluna has more overall bulk (and a higher overall stat product) than Zacian, Dragonite, Garchomp, Melmetal, Sylveon, Xerneas, Zarude and more.

The typing is particularly interesting. Known best for being the handy type combination found on Diggersby in Great League, Ground/Normal has some really great resistances: single ones to Rock and Poison, and double resistances to Electric and Ghost. It does have four weaknesses, though they’re all just single-level vulnerabilities: Fighting from the Normal typing, and then the standard Ground weaknesses to Grass, Ice, and Water. Not too bad overall.

What’s been most exciting in looking forward to Ursaluna is how, like with Diggersby in Great League, it SHOULD be able to clamp down on powerful Ghost types (thanks to resistances) and Steel types (thanks to Ground typically burying Steels) in higher leagues, especially in Master, where it’s been longed for as an answer to both the Giratinas AND big Steels, Dialga especially. That would make for a nice curveball to bust up the increasingly stale Master League meta a bit.

So is Ursaluna capable of actually doing that? Well… yes and no. With CURRENT moves? More no. The potential is still there… and hopefully you’re still with us, Niantic. Keep going… the rest of this is important.

Fast Moves

  • TackleNormal type, 3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 0.5 CoolDown
  • Rock SmashFighting type, 3.0 DPT, 2.0 EPT, 1.5 CD

I know, I know. You, me, and MANY others were hoping for Shadow Claw (3.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, and a great Ghost typing), but alas. Claw, Tackle, and Rock Smash are actually the only Pokemon GO fast moves it learns in MSG (as of now). That may change with the looming release of Scarlet & Violet, but the point is that out of only three move options… Niantic chose the worst two. Tackle is viable enough now as a Water Gun/Bug Bite/Lick clone, sure. But it’s pure disappointment compared to what Claw could have brought to the table. (We’ll see how much so throughout this analaysis.) And Rock Smash is simply unviable, with atrocious energy generation.

Big sads, Niantic. BIG sads.

– Exclusive (Community Day) Move

Charge Moves

  • Fire PunchFire type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • Thunder PunchElectric type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • Aerial AceFlying type, 55 damage, 45 energy
  • High HorsepowerGround type, 100 damage, 60 energy

And the disappointment continues. It’s not that Fire Punch or Thunder Punch are bad, per se, but how do they help in Master League especially, where people have been eagerly awaiting Ursaluna as a Giratina/Dialga breaker? They don’t. And then as the cherry on top, we have Aerial Ace, the most boring charge move in PvP. Yes, it kinda sorta works, but it’s so DULL… and in this case, almost strictly inferior to the two Punches anyway. (Same STAB-less damage for 5 more energy, giving it uses only when it’s super effective, such as perhaps versus enemy Fighting types?)

At least we have High Horsepower, though even it is less than many were hoping for. 60 energy for 100 damage really isn’t bad — viable moves Thunder and Bug Buzz have the exact same stats — but folks were hoping for something akin to Stone Edge and Shadow Ball at 55 energy for 100 damage. As it stands, High Horsepower ends up yet another middle-of-the-road Ground move, falling behind Earthquake and Drill Run and arguably even Earth Power. It works, but like the other charge moves assigned to Ursaluna, you don’t feel great about using it

I’m sorry, I know I’m being more of a downer than usual, but I just want to review what else Ursaluna COULD have gotten. In MSG (to this point, just Pokémon Legends Arceus), Ursa does have a couple stinkers for moves, with Hyper Beam and Giga Impact just being too expensive to seriously consider, and Swift (55 energy for only 60 damage) just being a bad, BAD move. But those are really the only unviable moves it has available. Other moves available that would all be interesting? Play Rough. (Which it learns naturally simply by levelling up in PLA.) Ice Punch, the one elemental punch that would give it actual teeth versus all the Dragons and other Grounds in Master League. Earth Power for a handy STAB move that would not only give it SOMETHING decent outside of its timebound Community Day move, but something that even gives High Horsepower a run for its money. Rock moves Rock Slide for a nice all-rounder, or Stone Edge for a handy closer. And of course, aforementioned fast move Shadow Claw. Just one of almost ANY of these would have made Ursaluna better in PvP, and yes, while Niantic at least didn’t choose the terribad Giga Impact/Hyper Beam/Swift that they could have, aside from those, they really seemed to select the worst possible charge (and fast, to reiterate) moves possible from its PLA movepool.

I’m going to go through all three leagues briefly, as I usually do with these analyses, with the moves it actually learns. But I will ALSO be highlighting in each league how easily Niantic could have made it better with just one or two move tweaks, because with this Pokémon more than most, the degree of incompetence in the move selections is absolutely stunning and NEEDS to be highlighted.

Here we go….

GREAT LEAGUE

With Ursaluna having quite high max CP, it takes a rather low level one to fit in Great League (typically under Level 15), but of course this is no Legendary or raid/egg exclusive, so it’s more than possible. And I’m happy to report that it ends up with a much better stat spread than notoriously squishy Ursaring, with Luna coming in with about 10 more Defense and close to 20 more HP than its pre-evolution. But unfortunately, the good news pretty much ends there.

Ursaring Normal

Ursaring has on very rare occasion popped up in Great League Cup formats, but even then it’s no better than a spice pick. Even with a dreamy moveset that includes Shadow Claw (or even Counter!), Play Rough, and Close Combat, its bulk just completely betrays it, and both its regular and Shadow forms far underperform what that kind of moveset should be capable of.

Now here comes Ursaluna… and it’s somehow MUCH worse. It somehow manages to outlast Lickitung and Drapion, but it only barely manages to take down Alolan Ninetales and Trevenant solely because of Fire Punch, and Mandibuzz JUST barely due to Thunder Punch. And that is IT. No other notable Ghosts, zero notable Steels and/or Rocks and/or Fires, things that should be basic for any halfway decent Normal (anti-Ghost) or Ground type. This is just SAD. High Horsepower does at least help a tiny bit, with Toxapex, Alolan Marowak, and Bastiodon getting buried by the big Ground move, but only Bastie falls convincingly. Versus everything else but Drapion, Ursaluna limps away with no energy and less than 20 HP left in the tank, meaning it’s gonna die very shortly thereafter and have no further impact on the match.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

Just adding Ice Punch would hold all current wins and bring in Runerigus and Altaria too. Or how about that one and only fast move left outside in the cold? Shadow Claw would make this a legit fun new Great League option., with or without any other tweaks. Now you’re beating things a decent Ground SHOULD be like Registeel (not even Focus Blast is enough to turn those tables), Galarian Stunfisk, Nidoqueen (the fact that a major Ground type loses to Queen otherwise is just ridiculous), Sableye, Lanturn and many others. C’mon, Niantic… this is a major travesty going on here! Just one fast move tweak and this would be worth it. As is, though, NOBODY is going to touch this thing in Great League.

ULTRA LEAGUE

Very similar story here. You’d hope a new Ground/Normal type with decent stats like this and a big fat Ground move would be able to tangle with Registeel, Galarian Stunfisk, and some notable Ghosts at the very least, right? Right? Turns out the joke’s on us, regardless of which Punch you run. At least you overcome Nidoqueen now (though STILL not Shadow Nidoqueen), and a couple Dark/Poisons, a couple Charmers (just that big Luna bulk winning the day there), and Shadow Snorlax. But that’s about the extent of it. Not ONE notable Ghost or Steel (aside from sometimes Scizor thanks to Fire Punch). Who’s supposed to be getting excited about this again?

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

So the results of adding Shadow Claw would overall be less impactful here, but still doubles Ursaluna’s win total, adding on things like Galarian Stunfisk, Empoleon, Cobalion, Escavalier, and finally some good Ghosts like Trevenant, Jellicent, Cofagrigus, and yes, Altered Giratina! It’s still not an eye-popping performance, but at least it gains a niche. Even more so in Premier and/or Classic formats. And that’s all with existing charge moves, too… JUST Shadow Claw would again be a major boon. There’s a theme developing here… let’s see if that holds up in the big league.

Image

MASTER LEAGUE

Here’s where people have (had?) the most hope for Ursaluna. The typing is just right, the stats are more than good enough, and that top CP (nearly 4000 even at Level 40, and well above at Level 50) is enticing, especially for a non-Legendary that we can actually, realistically grind the XL Candies to build it up even outside of needing a Community Day. And I’m pleased to at least say that, almost despite its current moveset, it still kinda almost works out. It DOES manage to take down notable Steels like Melmetal, Excadrill, and Metagross, just not THE big one you’d want most: Dialga. It also manages to overcome Giratina… just that that’s limited to Origin, with Altered slipping away. On the plus side, though, it outlasts all the major Fairies (even Zacian) and fellow Grounds Landorus (Incarnate, at least) and Groudon, and even Garchomp (sometimes, with Mud Shot). It also outlasts Snorlax as it did in Ultra League, and Thunder Punch (probably preferred here for Flyers) is enough to bring down Gyarados too. Oh, and Electric Zekrom isn’t a huge surprise either. Overall, it’s NOT a bad body of work. It’s viable enough to build… if you’re able to get High Horsepower during Community Day, of course, because without it, this is useless. No other great charge moves, remember… not even a Ground alternative like Earth Power (which would actually add on Dialga!) or even at least Bulldoze to salvage it. Sigh.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

Here is where having a non-exclusive Ground move would matter the most, as I showed just above. Heck, Earth Power would even be a viable alternative to High Horsepower in its own right with that Dialga flip… which is why Niantic will likely never give it to us, forcing us to grind during Community Day or invest Elite TMs for Horsepower to have even a halfway viable Ursaluna. Grrrr.

Not surprisingly, Shadow Claw would be a MAJOR boon in Master League as well, bringing Dialga AND Altered Giratina into the win column, something many players were hoping for to break up the stale meta a bit. But alas, we are left with Tackle, resisted by both of those big bads. As a bonus, Claw would also threaten Psychics, beating Mewtwo specifically. (Even the scary Ice Beam version.) And speaking of Ice, the dream would be also getting Ice Punch, which would turn Ursaluna into a meta-shaking monster… but even I will admit that might be a bit TOO much. I CAN understand why Niantic didn’t give Ursaluna Shadow Claw and Ice Punch. (I mean, even with Tackle, Ice Punch would still be an improvement, still falling short of Gira-A or Dialga but at least being scarier for Dragons in general.) But I still cannot even begin to rationalize why they didn’t give it at least ONE OF Shadow Claw OR at least Ice Punch. Like, this is seriously me right now.

Heck, they could have also gone a different direction with Rock Slide, which is again an improvement overall on what it has now. Honestly I thought Slide was almost a shoo-in among moves it could learn, but….

Another interesting alternative, while we’re dreaming anyway, would be to bring in Play Rough, which as I mentioned before is one of very few moves that Ursaluna learns naturally in PLA. All three Elemental Punches, Rock Slide, Aerial Ace, Shadow Claw, even lousy Rock Smash… those are all learned only by tutoring. Play Rough would make much more sense as part of Ursaluna’s regular movepool than any of them, really. Mix it in there alongside other moves it COULD have gotten, and we’d have a legit alternative to High Horsepower… which, again, means that will unfortunately never happen. 😐

What about Shadow Ursaluna?

You probably noticed I didn’t really mention Shadow throughout the above. I DID look them over, but they are generally a step down from what you see above, be it in GreatUltra, or Master League. Now with a dream moveset, there might be cases where Shadow would be well worth consideration, but we hardly have dream movesets here. 😔

PvE

So I’m not PvE expert, as I often say, but I do know at least enough to tell that the current moveset is a major disappointment for raiders too…even the exclusive move is a let-down unto itself.

A friend sent me a couple screenshots last night that really tell the story pretty well. Shadow Ursaluna is preferred in PvE, for reasons I doubt I need to explain to anyone that cares about racking and stacking PvE options. (In short, it’s the higher Attack!) As Ursaluna lacks any Ground fast moves whatsoever (at least until S&V comes out?), it’s already fighting an uphill battle against other Ground types. And while Tackle being the best it’s currently got doesn’t help matters… High Horsepower isn’t all that high and mighty in PvE either. And thus, we end up with something like this, a rather sad standing that puts even Shadow Luna behind such PvE superstars as Landorus and Mamoswine, to mention nothing of Excadrill, Garchomp, and the future Primal Groudon. Particularly damning is that when you replace High Horsepower with something like, say, Earth Power, Ursaluna’s standing climbs significantly, even still being stuck with lousy Tackle. Just imagine it with Shadow Claw instead!

Alright, that’s it for today, folks. I remain hopeful this will not be the final word on Ursaluna, and that, while likely just a fool’s hope, Niantic themselves really DO read analyses like this and just might shake things up before releasing what SHOULD be an exciting new addition to the game. 🙏 I’d be happy to be the fool in this case!

But until then, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Thanks for your faithful readership, friends. Here’s hoping it’s not too late, but either way, have an enjoyable Community Day with your own Pokéfriends. At least there’s a lot of dust to be had and communities to see!

Do be safe out there, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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