To celebrate the arrival of the newest Pokémon form, I decided to take a closer look at the Alolan rock dog Lycanroc to see how well it stacked up to its predecessors. The initial results weren’t promising, as many of the Rock types were either much weaker or much stronger from a stat count perspective. Dog Pokémon from the past weren’t much better, but there was one whose stats were close enough to make for an intriguing fight: Stoutland, the G5 equivalent of the St. Bernard. How will our illustrious rock hound fare against its thick-furred opponent? It’s time for a face-off!
(As always, the data in the following analysis comes from the good folks at Serebii.net. Also, since we don’t know the specific stats of Dusk Form Lycanroc, the comparison will have to focus on its Midday and Midnight forms.)
|Lycanroc (Rock)||Stoutland (Normal)|
|Strong Against…||4 Types||0 Types|
|Ineffective Against…||3 Types||2 Types|
|Can’t Hit Type?||No||Yes (Ghost)|
|Resists…||4 Types||1 Types|
|Weak To…||5 Types||1 Type|
The theme of this face-off is set early: Stoutland serves as the solid, unspectacular choice that is viable in most any situation but doesn’t offer any major advantages, while Lycanroc is a riskier pick that is either much better or much worse than Stoutland depending on the matchup.
This category turns on Lycanroc’s specific strengths and weaknesses—specifically, the fact that Water- and Grass-types absolutely destroy Rock-type Pokémon. Water and Grass Pokémon are everywhere in the mainline Pokémon games, and nearly every trainer in the world has one of these types in their back pocket (this was especially true when Surf was an HM). The prevalence of these two types generally relegate Rock-type Pokémon to a niche role. Throw in the fact that Fighting-type Pokémon, who represent the only weakness of Normal types, are also strong against Rock types, and Stoutland walks away with the win here.
|Statistic||Midday Lycanroc||Midnight Lycanroc||Stoutland|
Wait, this isn’t fair—Stoutland’s outnumbered two to one! However, we can pare this down pretty quickly: Midnight Lycanroc is the clear loser in this truel, as its stat distribution is almost identical to Stoutland aside from being a fair bit squishier (-15 in both Defense and Spec. Defense).
While Midday Lycanroc is even squishier than its Midnight form, it also boasts an incredible +42 Speed advantage over Stoutland, which lets it fill a “glass cannon” role and gives it a fighting chance to take advantage of its respectable Attack stat.
So exactly who wins out here? A defensive stat of 90 is solid but not spectacular, so I’m going with my old “speed kills” maxim and giving this category to (Midday) Lycanroc. I’d also point out that even Midnight Lycanroc can fill Stoutland’s more-defensive role, even if it can’t do it very well.
|Sand Rush (Midday)||Sand Rush|
|Vital Spirit (Midnight)|
|No Guard (Midnight)|
Once again, both Stoutland and Midday Lycanroc feature abilities that mesh well with their stat pools:
- Stoutland improves its defensive posture with Intimidate, covers its Speed with Sand Rush, and can use Scrappy to hit Ghost-type Pokémon.
- Midday Lycanroc boots its Speed even further with Sand Rush and Steadfast.
- Midnight Lycanroc can…stay awake? No Guard is a move-dependent ability, but you really don’t want to give people a free shot at you when you have mediocre defense stats.
Stoutland gets the edge here because its abilities shore up its weaknesses, while Midday Lycanroc may not need to pile onto its already-impressive Speed advantage.
|Top 3 STAB Attacks|
|Stone Edge||Rock||100||P||Giga Impact||Normal||150||P|
|Rock Slide||Rock||75||P||Last Resort||Normal||140||P|
|Rock Tomb||Rock||60||P||Take Down||Normal||90||P|
|Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks|
|Rock Climb||Normal||90||P||Play Rough||Fairy||90||P|
|Other Notable Moves|
|Scary Face||Blocks attacks, attacker takes damage||Fire Fang||Fire||65||P|
|Roar||Raises Attack and Defense||Work Up||Raises Attack and Spec. Attack|
|Rock Throw||Rock||50||P||Thunder Fang||Electric||65||P|
Wait, which one of these two was supposed to be the solid, steady Pokémon? Lycanroc has basically every Rock attack you could ever want (although none of them are 100% accurate), along with some decent non-STAB options in Rock Climb and Crunch. Stoutland certainly brings the pain with its moveset, but it comes at a cost: Giga Impact forfeits the user’s next turn, Last Resort can only be used when every other move is depleted, and Take Down causes recoil damage.
Stoutland does have a huge type coverage advantage, mostly because of its trio of elemental fang attacks. While these attacks further its goal of being a Pokémon that can be leaned on it almost any situation, its STAB issues pigeonhole it into a “jack of all trades, master of none” role. If you want to bring the full power of your type to bear, Lycanroc has got you covered.
|Top 4 TM Moves|
|Brick Break||Fighting||75||P||Wild Charge||Electric||90||P|
|Swords Dance||Sharply raises Attack||Return||Normal||Happiness||P|
|Double Team||Raises evasiveness||Shadow Ball||Ghost||80||S|
Surprisingly, neither Pokémon gets a huge boost from their TM pool. Stoutland gets a sorely-needed no-side-effect Normal move in Return, and Lycanroc gains some improved type coverage with Return and Brick Break, but that’s about it. Surf, Thunderbolt, and Shadow Ball may look impressive for Stoutland, but they’re reliant on its laughable Spec. Attack, and Wild Charge is yet another recoil damage move. Stoutland gets the edge here on Return alone, but neither Pokémon gets a lot of help.
“Tweeners” might be a prized commodity in the NBA, but they’re not nearly as useful in Pokémon, and unfortunately for Stoutland, that’s exactly what it is. It’s not bulky enough to be defensive, it’s not fast enough or have enough reliable damage to be a sweeper, and it’s outclassed as a physical attacker by its face-off opponent. It’s a decent matchup for Midnight Lycanroc stat-wise, but it can’t keep up with the formidable Attack/Speed combo that Midday Lycanroc offers, and both forms are hard rockers that could carve out niche roles on a Pokémon team.
Winner: Lycanroc (especially Midday Lycanroc)
Of course, the caveats I mentioned at the beginning of this post still apply, and there are much better Rock- and Normal-type choices than these two if you’re looking for someone to fill out your roster. (As a cat person, I’d take a Delcatty over both of these two anyway.) Still, given the abysmal win rate of G7 Pokémon in these face-offs, it’s nice to see an Alolan Pokémon come home victorious for a change.