The release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon brought us four new Ultra Beasts that will be legal to use in the upcoming VGC format. Currently, we don’t know much about how well these new Pokemon will fare among the established powerhouses, but we’ll soon find out. Today we’re looking at the mind blowing Fire Works Pokemon known as Blacephalon. Will this Pokemon blow our minds when it makes its debut in VGC 2018? Let’s take a look.
Stats and typing
Blacephalon is the textbook definition of a glass cannon. Blacephalon has excellent attacking stats, but odds are, the Special Attack is what most players are going to want to work with. The Speed stat may look nice on paper, but it is quite concerning as well. At base 107 speed, Blacephalon may out-speed threats like Garchomp, Tapu Lele and Landorus (without a Choice Scarf), but this leaves it slower than Pokemon like Kartana, Terrakion, Gengar, and the list goes on. However, this Speed stat leaves a lot of potential for a Choice Scarf set, but without any sort of speed control, Blacephalon suffers at an annoyingly awkward speed tier.
The typing of Ghost and Fire is yet another mixed bag. While it may be good offensively, offering decent coverage when paired with other attacks, it is incredibly weak on the defensive side. Blacephalon’s low defenses are largely to blame, but weaknesses to strong, omnipresent moves like Rock Slide, Earthquake and Knock Off leaves Blacephalon very vulnerable if you don’t know how fast your opponent’s Pokemon are. Blacephalon’s awkward speed and bad defenses are major road blocks when trying to team build with this Pokemon, but players should not underestimate its raw power.
Learned by level-up
- Calm Mind: While boosting Blacephalon’s stat may make it an even bigger threat, I seriously doubt it will survive long enough to take advantage of any boosts. This is yet another case where Blacephalon’s abysmal defenses come into play as these stats basically force it to play the role of a glass cannon. A cannon that unfortunately cannot efficiently improve its fire power.
- Light Screen: While most players would like to take advantage of Blacephalon’s power, there could be room for a support move like Light Screen. This option would be better if Blacephalon was maybe a bit faster or bulkier, but I don’t see many players sacrificing a coverage attack for Light Screen.
- Fire Blast: Likely one of the go-to Fire-type attacks Blacephalon players will go for. Fire Blast’s shaky accuracy may turn some players off considering how fragile Blacephalon is, but the raw power might be necessary to take full advantage of Blacephalon’s Special Attack.
- Shadow Ball: The go-to move for most Ghost-type Special Attackers will likely be a staple for all Blacephalon sets. Shadow Ball may not be the strongest attack, but its consistent accuracy coming off of Blacephalon’s high Special Attack make it a reliable source of damage output.
- Trick: This move could be a neat option for the Blacephalon that choose to run a choice-item. Trick-ing away Blacephalon’s item could be great for disrupting your opponent and opening up Blacephalon’s attack options without the restriction of a choice item.
- Mind Blown: Blacephalon’s signature move is insanely powerful, but could be a detriment in a doubles format. Mind Blown not only sacrifices half of Blacephalon’s HP but also hits the partner Pokemon. Though, the 150 base power is excellent for a strong Inferno Overdrive and might be a useful Explosion-like strategy to score some surprising KO’s.
Learned by TM/HM
- Psychic/Psyshock: An option for coverage, mainly useful for Poison types like Mega Venusaur.
- Hidden Power (Ice/Ground): A coverage option that you could use to hit Landorus (Ice) or Heatran (Ground).
- Flamethrower: If you’re not crazy about Fire Blast’s accuracy, Flamethrower is the more reliable option.
- Overheat: Another strong Fire-type attack that could be useful for a Blacephalon carrying Firium Z.
- Will-O-Wisp: Another supportive option that could work on slower Pokemon like Garchomp and Kangaskhan, but again, I don’t see many players sacrificing a move slot for this one.
- Substitute: I feel like Substitute is great on any Pokemon that can force defensive play. Unfortunately, Blacephalon might be too frail to take full advantage of Substitute, especially if you were thinking about trying a Substitute + Calm Mind set.
Learned via move tutor
- Heat Wave: Here’s a move that Blacephalon could easily spam with a Beast Boost or two. The lowered damage output due to it being a spread-move might not be optimal however.
- Knock Off: Knock Off is one of the best and most versatile moves in the game, and Blacephalon could make use of it with its respectable Attack stat.
Potential held items
Firium Z/Ghostium Z
Either one of these Z Crystals will result in a powerful hit coming from Blacephalon, and will easily get the Beast Boost train rolling. Ghost-type attacks are more rarely resisted than Fire-type attacks, but with Firium Z you can take advantage of the high base power of Mind Blown.
If you want to boost Blacephalon’s power without locking it in to using one move, Life Orb is your best bet. Be careful of the reduction in HP as Blacephalon is already frail enough as is.
- Choice Scarf would mitigate Blacephalon’s awkward Speed stat and would even allow it to out-speed other common users of Choice Scarf like Landorus and Tapu Lele. The downside is the sacrifice to a potential power boost with an item like Choice Specs or Life Orb.
- Choice Specs would give you the desired power boost, but this leaves you with Blacephalon’s awkward speed to deal with.
Checks and counters
Of course being weak to both Rock Slide and Earthquake makes Blacephalon easy food for Landorus holding a Choice Scarf. Blacephalon can use Hidden Power Ice to deal with Landorus, but Blacephalon players have to know the item on Landorus and play around either a Choice Scarf or an Assault Vest.
Due to Heatran’s ability Flash Fire, it makes an easy switch into Blacephalon’s main attacking type. Heatran is also bulky enough to take a Hidden Power Ground if trained in Special Defense, and then can KO Blacephalon with an Earth Power.
Blacephalon has absolutely nothing to hit Water-types, and a simple Scald could be the end of it.
As with any frail Ultra Beast, Psychic Terrain is amazing to stop priority moves from obliterating Blacephalon. Typing-wise, Blacephalon and Tapu Lele work pretty well together, as Tapu Lele’s Fairy-type attacks can hit Dark-types and Blacephalon’s Ghost-type attacks can hit other Ghosts as well as break through bulky Psychic-types like Cresselia.
Speed control (Tailwind or Icy Wind)
Despite Blacephalon’s solid base speed, it might need a bit more help in order to combat its many threats. Either Tailwind or Icy Wind support can make the Choice Specs and Z Crystal variants of Blacephalon much more effective.
Will Blacephalon really blow our minds?
It has potential, but Blacephalon is in quite an awkward spot. Its amazing offensive stats and solid offensive typing make it a huge threat, especially since it is able to increase its power with Beast Boost. However, its shallow movepool, awkward Speed tier and paper-like defenses leave it open to being ineffective in a lot of scenarios. With a little bit of help and good teambuilding, Blacephalon may be able to become a real firework on the battlefield.
Images from Bulbapedia, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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