It’s a bird! It’s Tomohawk! No, it’s Hawlucha!

“It likes to attack from above.
A maneuver that is difficult
to defend against.”

LLLadies?

Intro

Hawlucha is the one, the only, Flying/Fighting type! This people were clamouring for a Flying/Fighting type for the impressive coverage the dual STAB brings. With both, the most relevant Pokemon I can
think of that resists both is Aegislash then Zapdos, and after that the list runs dry (Rotom-Fan?). So given that information, Hawlucha has some big shoes to fill and a reasonable capacity to do so.
gives it a fair number of awkward weaknesses, like Electric, Ice (we’re already off to a bad start), Flying, Psychic and Fairy. In return, it resists Grass, Fighting, Bug and Dark, and is immune to Ground. Not a great tradeoff in my opinion, but before this gen

Abilities:

Hawlucha gets access to 3 Abilities, Limber, Unburden and Mold Breaker. Initially… I’d be hard pressed to find a reason to use Limber but you’ll see it has its purposes. Both Unburden and Mold Breaker are traditionally viable Abilities for a ‘mon to have. Unfortunately, Hawlucha has nothing that takes advantage of Mold Breaker (i.e. it doesn’t get Ground moves to use against Levitate Pokemon), so that plan is mostly scrapped. That leaves us with Unburden! A fine choice.


If your Hawlucha isn’t holding a consumable item, Limber is actually the next best option. It’s also useful considering Hawlucha’s speed is its greatest asset.

Base Stats:

78 / 92 / 75 / 74 / 63 / 118

Okay, so after you’ve seen Hawlucha’s stats you can start to understand why not many people are already using it. That and the weaknesses. But Talonflame gets away with an even lower base 81 attack, commonly running Life Orb or Choice Band. Talonflame’s greatest advantage is its Priority Brave Bird giving it the edge in speed. But! Hawlucha has a more powerful STAB in Sky Attack. Sure it’s a one time use, whereas Talonflame can usually launch two base 120 attacks in a game, but Talonflame doesn’t get access to Fighting moves. You know what does? Staraptor with Close Combat. Oh, and it has much higher attack, Intimidate, and still has access to Brave Bird.

Admittedly, Hawlucha’s middling stats leave it in between a rock and a hard place. It faces stiff competition from one of the most-used mons in VGC, and another bird that sees a fair bit of play for niche purposes Hawlucha shares. Hawlucha’s speed gives it an advantage over Staraptor, allowing a speedy Choice Band set. Adamant Hawlucha hits 170 speed, just enough to outspeed 252+ Garchomp. Jolly is useful to outspeed Pokemon in the 105-115 speed tier, and Adamant Talonflame if it’s using Flare Blitz. Not to mention outspeeding stuff like Scarfed 252+ TTar and Manectric (non-Mega speed).

Admittedly, Tomohawk looked
pretty cool..

That said, if Hawlucha is going to have an advantage over Talonflame or Staraptor, it’s got to come from a versatile movepool.

Moves:

Boy does Hawlucha have a crap-ton of viable moves! Most come from its level-up as well, so you can tell Pokemon really tried to make this thing versatile as its niche. Though a lot of these moves don’t seem like they’re likely to be used, I can think of unique sets for each of them where they really shine. As such, I’ll be splitting them up into their purposes, and maybe add a note as to why they’re worth considering on Hawlucha. I’ll go over what sets I’d use them on later.

Setup

Because of Hawlucha’s ability to disrupt, you can sometimes catch an opponent switching out to prevent being Encored, or Protecting to avoid a Sky Drop or Taunt. As such, Hawlucha may find an opportunity in the first couple turns of the game to set up. Listed below are moves that each have their own purpose.

Hone Claws
– The accuracy boost is nice for High Jump Kick and Rock Slide
Swords Dance
– Unadulterated power
Entrainment
– A niche specific to Hawlucha. Entrainment can give Mold Breaker to a partner like Garchomp for Earthquake abuse, and is an ideal user as it has ground immunity. You can also rob Mawile and Kangaskhan of their powerful Abilities, though you might as well just hit the Kangaskhan if you’ve got the chance.

Disruption

Hawlucha has so many viable Disruptive moves that it’s really up to you to decide what works best for your team. Below, I’ve ranked these moves by potential for use on any set. As such, in the sets I list below, if it says “Disruption” as a moveslot, any of the moves listed here could be viable, but I would look to the higher-ranked options first for whatever your team needs.

I… I don’t even know…

Highly Useful

Encore
Quick Guard
Taunt
Sky Drop

Useful

U-Turn
Low Sweep
– For speed control like Icy Wind. Also offers 100% accurate STAB fighting move to avoid relying on High Jump Kick, which is especially handy in the face of Protect.

Niche Useful

Fling
– A pseudo-Fake Out while consuming its item for Unburden. Quite good! But not widely applicable.

Feather Dance (Hawlucha is too frail)
Swagger
Entrainment

Damage Output

High Jump Kick
Sky Attack
Acrobatics
Rock Slide
Stone Edge

Other/Niche

Protect/Detect
Endeavor
Roost
Ally Switch

Sets:

Sky Attack
Jolly/Adamant @ Power Herb
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
– Sky Attack
– High Jump Kick
– Rock Slide / Disruption
– Detect / Disruption

I think this is a textbook example of Pokemon pre-packaging something they want people to try out. You’ll find this Hawlucha in the Battle Maison, and it’s not like it’s bad… But the only advantage this set boasts over the Attacker set below is the single use of Sky Attack which boosts your speed, at the cost of reduced damage from your other moves. If you opt for an Adamant nature, you’ll be able to get away with it, as Adamant Hawlucha still outspeeds Garchomp, and hits hard enough to KO Charizard with Rock Slide. But this Hawlucha will only KO Mega Kangaskhan 50% of the time with High Jump Kick, or more accurately, 45% of the time accounting for misses. I’m not a fan.

Attacker
Jolly/Adamant @ Life Orb/Choice Band
Limber
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
– High Jump Kick
– Rock Slide
– Disruption/Stone Edge
– Protect/Sky Drop

With the Life Orb boost, Jolly Rock Slide will OHKO any Mega Charizard Y, whereas unboosted you fall short with only a 43.8% chance against 252 HP Charizard-Y. Jolly boosted High Jump Kick will OHKO 252 HP Mega Kangaskhan with room to spare, while it has 0% chance unboosted. If you want the speed advantage that Jolly brings, then you’ll want the boost to get through.

After that, any disruption move is useful for the Life Orb set. The move to choose would largely depend on your team and potential partners. With a Choice Band, Stone Edge is an option to avoid Wide Guard shenanigans. Sky Drop is another useful move for Hawlucha with either item, and a banded Sky Drop can deal >75% to Amoonguss while removing it from the field for a turn.

I can haz King’s Rock?

Fling
Jolly @ King’s Rock/Razor Fang
Unburden
252 Atk / 252 Spd
– Fling
– Encore
– Setup / Disruption
– High Jump Kick / Acrobatics / Quick Guard / Protect

This set is just brimming with possibilities. By having access to Fling, you can effectively Fake Out an opponent on any turn of your choosing as long as you’re faster. The possibility of being flinched in the middle of a battle is not something most players prepare for. In a Best-of-3 scenario, the threat of Encore can punish players that Protect against Fling. And with the threat of Encore you can set up a Hone Claws or Swords Dance to threaten big damage with High Jump Kick. The lack of protect in that moveset is alleviated by Fling.

The third move could also be a Disruption move such as Sky Drop, Taunt or Low Sweep. All are useful for their own reasons. Sky Drop is just generally great disruption coming from a fast user like Hawlucha. Taunt is also a niche use which could be quite handy against Amoonguss. If you’re worried about Rage Powder, you can Taunt Amoonguss turn 1, then Encore it turn 2 to completely cripple it. Taunt is also useful to prevent the usual suspects (e.g. Will-o-Wisp, Spore). Low Sweep gets a nod here as a way to punish a Pokemon switching-in by reducing its speed by one stage and dealing a bit of damage.

Finally, High Jump Kick is Hawlucha’s most powerful non-conditional move, and takes advantage of Hone Claws. Acrobatics can also work on this set after you use Fling, but requires a Fling before it’s useful. Quick Guard is a niche move that can always be considered depending on your partner. In this instance, Quick Guard is also useful to protect yourself from priority moves or Pranksters attempting to bypass your quick Encore. Protect is just a standard and good option.

The only other use of Fling this Hawlucha can run is with Hard Stone. Hard Stone gives Fling base 100 damage which will OHKO Mega Gengar, but that’s probably its best use. Hard Stone also allows you to run Rock Slide and KO M-Charizard Y without using up Life Orb or Choice Band on your team. That said… King’s Rock is better 99% of the time.

Endeavor
Jolly @Focus Sash
Unburden
252 Atk / 252 Spd
IV’s: 0 HP, 0 Def, 0 SDef
– Disruption / Sky Drop
– Endeavor
– Quick Guard
– Disruption / Protect

This set is a more dedicated support set that doesn’t concern itself as much with damage output. The idea here is to threaten disruption via Sky Drop (or something else like Encore) as your primary purpose. After you go down to 1 HP, you receive the Unburden boost and threaten a very fast Endeavor to 1 HP. This is Hawlucha’s way of saying “I’m going down swinging.” Because after Unburden Hawlucha will be so fast, this set partners very well with spread move partners like Rock Slide, Earthquake or Heat Wave users, even if they’re scarfed (e.g. Garchomp, Mamoswine, Chandelure).

Quick Guard is a staple on this set as you bait priority moves like nobody’s business at 1 HP. Being able to protect yourself from them, and also offer protection for a (scarfed) partner is just a better use of a moveslot. Both of my above examples (Mamoswine and Chandy) want protection from Aqua Jets and Sucker Punches. Hawlucha can always run Protect if you have no reason to protect your partner on that turn, but I wouldn’t want to drop Quick Guard from the set to do it.

Is this really the best entrainment
animation the internet has to offer?

Entrainment
Jolly @ King’s Rock
Mold Breaker
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
– Entrainment
– Fling
– Disruption / High Jump Kick
– Disruption / Protect / Quick Guard

This set is very much a niche concept. The idea is to use Hawlucha for the purpose of giving Mold Breaker to the the opponent’s Rotom-A or other Levitate user, and Earthquake with Pokemon like Garchomp.

My theoretical Garchomp partner might run Swords Dance instead of a move like Dragon Claw or Rock Slide, taking advantage of Hawlucha’s Fling or threat of Encore forcing switches (or both). A +2 Garchomp with Mold Breaker will be doing whatever it wants to whoever it wants, barring Scarf users. You can also use Quick Guard here to protect Garchomp or Mamoswine from incoming priority (e.g. Ice Shard, Aqua Jet). Dragon Dance users like Mega Tyranitar are also worth noting as a potential partner.

You can also Entrain Mold Breaker onto your partner if you think it’s worth it. Or you can rob opposing Pokemon of their useful abilities. This is a much more niche use of the move, but getting rid of Huge Power on Mawile or Azumarill is a neat play. Additionally, you can get rid of Lightningrod from Raichu, Manectric or Rhydon and free your partner for use of Electric moves. Watching an opponent kill their own Telepathy Gardevoir with Earthquake is an invigorating rush. As Kangaskhan isn’t OHKO’d by Jolly High Jump Kick without a boost, Entrainment can also remove Parental Bond. But HJK still does 83-99%, so getting the damage on will almost always be more worthwhile.

Quick Guard is useful to protect yourself from the usual suspects, but also from Prankster users that might Burn or Charm you.

Teammates:

I’ve alluded to potential teammates throughout this article, but here they are stated more concretely.

With access to Quick Guard, Hawlucha can protect partners from Sucker Punch from Kangaskhan/Mawile or Brave Bird from Talonflame. Scarfed Pokemon like Gardevoir really don’t want to face either, and mons like Amoonguss and M-Vensuar don’t want to deal with Talonflame.

I agree with everything you say

Outside that, one of Hawlucha’s greatest assets is being one of the fastest non-Prankster Encore users in the format (Alakazam and Accelgor are both faster, but what kind of scrubs would want to use them?). Okay… so that’s really not that impressive I guess. But a fast Encore is nonetheless a great mind game to play with. Tony Cheung recently won Washington Regionals with a Raichu/Gengar team. Hawlucha could function very similarly to Raichu, but with more versatile support, the potential for real damage, and a slower “Fake Out” in the form of Fling. With the advantage that you can Flinch them on any turn, not just the first.

Hawlucha also reminds me of Mienshao in a lot of ways. So it can definitely replace Mienshao to bring a team moves like Sky Drop and Encore.

Hawlucha can be added as a check to Mega Kangaskhan. As a fast Pokemon capable of OHKO’ing the parent-child combo, it’s worth consideration. I wouldn’t call it a counter because of its frailty, but it resists Dark so Sucker Punch won’t be finishing you off. It also gets Encore to Encore their Fake Out (or failed Sucker Punch), or the Protect that they used to avoid High Jump Kick.

Counters:

Aegislash is a big pain to deal with, as you may notice my Hawlucha sets don’t really run… anything… that can deal with it. Jokingly… Hard Stone Fling BARELY OHKO’s 252 HP Aegislash-Blade. Now, you can Encore their King’s Shield or Substitute, but that requires support to force them to King’s Shield/Substitute.

So outside of Aegislash, what else beats Hawlucha? Well, as a support Pokemon it’s not really straight-up “countered.” But a lot of things can deal with Hawlucha. In the same way, Hawlucha isn’t trying to beat them. It’s trying to support a partner that can beat them.

Conclusion

With a litany of neat niche moves like Encore, Sky Drop, Taunt, Quick Guard, and Fling, Hawlucha has a lot it can bring to a team. It also offers a powerful High Jump Kick, capable of removing Kangaskhan’s from the field. Though its base attack is lower than most threats, its impressive speed lets you run an Adamant nature if desired, which is the same as a Jolly Pokemon with a base 106 Attack stat and 103 Speed.

So if you’re playing around with Encore or need a versatile Pokemon that your team can abuse, Try out Hawlucha. There’s a lot more to this thing than meets the eye!

Cheers,
Mark

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