At long last, we’ve arrived at the final face-off involving the Alolan starter Pokémon. While both Incineroar and Primarina had strong showings, both lost to older Pokémon in photo-finish throwdowns, leaving this iteration of starters with an unsightly 0-2 record. Can Grass-type starter Decidueye break the losing streak and keep the Alolan trio from getting shut out?
Amazingly, Decidueye’s total stat count of 530 is actually higher than most prior-gen Grass starters, limiting the number of starters that it can face on a level playing field. One fellow 530-count starter, however, is its immediate predecessor Chesnaught, a Grass/Fighting-type Pokémon with a suitably imposing design. Can Alolan’s favorite Robin Hood knockoff triumph over the Sheriff of Chesnaughtingham? It’s time for a face-off!
(As always, the data in the following analysis comes from the good folks at Serebii.net.)
|Chesnaught (Grass/Fighting)||Decidueye (Grass/Ghost)|
|Strong Against…||7 Types||5 Types|
|Ineffective Against…||3 Types||0 Types|
|Can’t Hit Type?||No||No|
|Resists…||6 Types||4 Types|
|Weak To…||6 Types||5 Types|
|4x Weakness?||Yes (Flying)||No|
|Immunities?||No||Yes (Normal, Fighting)|
Two interesting features stand out from the type comparison:
- Chesnaught has a higher attack ceiling than Decidueye, but also has a huge blind spot in the form of Bug-, Poison-, and especially Flying-type Pokémon. Grass and Ghost, on the other hand, have decent attack potential while also guaranteeing a neutral hit against any single type.
- Chesnaught resists more types, but Decidueye counters with two useful immunities and no 4x weaknesses.
In other words, Chesnaught appears to be more of a situational play that needs to exploit specific matchups, while Decidueye is more balanced and thus a safer choice against a wider variety of Pokémon.
This comparison turns on three key points:
- Both Pokémon sport an unsightly 75 in one defense stat, but Chesnaught’s 122 Defense beats Decidueye’s 100 Spec. Defense. Additionally, Chesnaught +10 HP advantage gives it some extra bulk.
- Both Pokémon have high-but-equal Attack stats, negating Decidueye’s large Spec. Attack advantage.
- Both Pokémon have terrible speed, so while Decidueye is technically faster, it’s not going to outrun many more Pokémon. Additionally, bulk matters more for slow Pokémon, which further favors Chesnaught’s stat distribution.
As usual, our starter Pokémon have to settle this question through their hidden abilities. Long Reach offers the benefit of avoiding contact-based abilities (Static, Poison Point, Rough Skin) and damage from the Rocky Helmet, but I’m giving Chesnaught the advantage thanks to the impressive list of attacks it nullifies, including popular attacks like Aura Sphere, Shadow Ball, and (most importantly) Sludge Bomb and Beak Blast.
|Top 3 STAB Attacks|
|Wood Hammer||Grass||120||P||Leaf Blade||Grass||90||P|
|Hammer Arm||Fighting||100||P||Spirit Shackle||Ghost||80||P|
|Seed Bomb||Grass||80||P||Razor Leaf||Grass||55||P|
|Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks|
|Giga Impact||Normal||150||P||Brave Bird||Flying||120||P|
|Take Down||Normal||90||P||Sucker Punch||Dark||70||P|
|Other Notable Moves|
|Spiky Shield||Blocks attacks, attacker takes damage||Pluck||Flying||60||P|
|Bulk Up||Raises Attack and Defense||Nasty Plot||Sharply raises Spec. Attack|
|Bite||Dark||60||P||Synthesis||Heals up to 1/2 HP|
The natural movesets of these Pokémon harkens back to the assertions we made during our type comparison: Chesnaught was a risky play but had higher upside, while Decidueye was the safer, more flexible pick.
Chesnaught has the strongest STAB moves of the two, but its power comes at a cost: Giga Impact forfeits the user’s next turn, while Wood Hammer and Take Down deal recoil damage to Chesnaught. (Hammer Arm cuts the user’s Speed, but Chesnaught’s atrocious Speed means it’s probably attacking second anyway, so it’s of little consequence.). Its strongest non-STAB moves are all Normal, which still leaves the Pokémon with lacking type coverage. Spiky Shield is a nice defensive move that hurts attackers who challenge it, but Bulk Up doubles down on Chesnaught’s best stats while leaving its no-so-great Spec. Defense uncovered.
Decidueye, on the other hand, has the standard no-side-effect power moves for its type (Leaf Blade and Spirit Shackle, the latter being a better option than Shadow Ball because it is tied to Decidueye’s superior Attack stat). It also features passable Dark, Bug, and Flying-type moves for better type coverage, and also has Synthesis to heal damage coming from enemies and/or Brave Bird recoil. (Nasty Plot boosts Spec. Attack, but that’s the weaker attack stat to begin with and Decidueye doesn’t learn any moves to take advantage of it.)
Once again, I’m going with the more-reliable play here and giving this category to our favorite Robin Hood cosplayer.
|Top 4 TM Moves|
|Brick Break||Fighting||75||P||Swords Dance||Sharply raises Attack|
|Dragon Claw||Dragon||80||P||Shadow Claw||Ghost||70||P|
|Stone Edge||Rock||100||P||Roost||Heals up to 1/2 HP|
Just like steroid users in baseball, Chesnaught gains a huge advantage through artificial performance enhancers. Through the magic of TMs, it can learn physical Rock, Ground, Dragon, Poison, Flying, Ghost, Dark, and Steel moves, as well as Rest for healing, Swords Dance for Attack-boosting, and Brick Break for side-effect-free Fighting-type power.
Decidueye’s TM move pool is a lot shallower in contrast, although it adds Swords Dance and Steel Wing to its arsenal, and can upgrade from Synthesis to Roost (the latter isn’t weather-dependent, and Decidueye doesn’t lose its Flying type because it’s already not a Flying type). Nevertheless, like Frankenstein’s monster, Chesnaught turns into quite the beast once it comes out of the lab.
As much as I’d like to see the Alolan starters win at least one face-off, Chesnaught’s TM superiority is just too big to be ignored here. What would normally be a risky Pokémon to play turns into a viable option with impressive power and type coverage once the extra moves are factored in. Its mediocre Spec. Defense makes for a nasty Achilles heel, but its superior stat distribution and TM dominance carry the day here.
While the Alolan starters finished a disappointing 0-3 in these face-offs, it’s important to note two things:
- These losses do not mean that the Alolan starters are bad Pokémon. (Surprisingly slow Pokémon perhaps, but not bad ones.) My Incineroar, despite having the absolute worst IV spread I have ever seen, tore through the main campaign of Pokémon Moon, and I’ve had similar success with the Primarina and Decidueye I’ve raised as well.
- The Alolans’ opponents were hand-picked for these face-offs based on how closely their stat counts resembled the 7th-gen starters. Facing different starters might have resulted in a different outcome. (For example, I think Decidueye would have ripped Venusaur in half without breaking a sweat.)
Nevertheless, it’s time to start digging deeper into the Alolan Pokédex for more face-off candidates! I’m open to suggestions, so if you’ve got a Pokémon or two that you’d like to see square off, drop me a comment below!