I… AM A SPY! Zoroark, the mind-game Pokemon

Anyone up for a game of poker?

Hey there Hat Lovers!

Today’s article is about one of my favourite Pokemon to put on any team. Zoroark’s Ability “Illusion” disguises it as whatever Pokemon is last in your party. So if you bring 4 Pokemon, Zoroark will disguise itself as the 4th Pokemon, including the Poke Ball it was caught in.

As a Dark-type, Zoroark is immune to Psychic, resists Ghost and Dark, and is weak to Fighting, Bug and Fairy. Given the immunity, and useful resistances, Zoroark has the potential to ruin an opponent’s turn if they target it with the wrong move. That said, Zoroark also doesn’t want to become the target of a Fighting or Fairy move. As such, before adding Zoroark to your team, you’ll really want to think about potential teammates. The key to a good Zoroark is a good bluff. Just having a Zoroark on your team can throw your opponent off tilt. But just what cards are you bluffing with?

Base Stats:

60 / 105 / 60 / 120 / 60 / 105

Zoroark is the definition of a glass cannon. It has a useable Attack stat, a good Special Attack stat, and a strong speed stat placing it above all the base 100’s as well as Garchomp. However, Zoroark isn’t going to take any hits unless they’re resisted or really weak. I mean… a 4 HP Zoroark can take a Power-up Punch from a Kangaskhan, but it’ll die to a Return before baby Kangaskhan gets a chance to hit. That’s a base 125 attack stat with a base 102 move (100 would still work). So to give you the idea, Zoroark will be OHKO’d by anything neutral with a similar power behind it from either the physical or special spectrum, and is definitely going to be KO’d by something super effective.

But Zoroark’s not that bad! 105 Speed is fast enough to outspeed plenty of the metagame, and hit pretty hard. Given that Zoroark’s strengths are… its strength, and its weaknesses are irreparable, Zoroark’s item is going to be about hitting harder to make the most of your turn’s worth of surprise.

I think the best way to look at Zoroark is to think of it as a Pyroar but with a fun Ability, coverage, and without the nuke that is Overheat.


Nasty Plot
Dark Pulse
Hidden Power Ice
Focus Blast
Sucker Punch
Foul Play

I’ll add one bit of discussion here. Dark Pulse vs. Night Gaze. Dark Pulse is 100% accurate and slightly weaker, but with a 20% chance to flinch. Night Gaze is 95% accurate, slightly stronger, and has a 40% chance to lower the opponent’s accuracy. Considering you’re going to want to KO them, not drop their accuracy… Night Gaze is almost entirely inferior. Go with Dark Pulse unless you find some abstract calc that I haven’t considered where the extra 5 base power makes a difference.

Additionally, Sucker Punch is a useful move to have, but the only relevant calculation I can think of that Dark Pulse doesn’t do better is OHKO’ing Mega Gengar. But as Zoroark resists Ghost, and you’re running Zoroark (which means you’re being tricky), Zoroark can take a Shadow Ball anyways.


That Garchomp is SO dead

Zoroark @ Life Orb
Ability: Illusion
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
Timid Nature
– Dark Pulse
– Flamethrower
– Hidden Power [Ice]
– Protect

This is the Zoroark I’m prone to using. Life Orb ensures Hidden Power Ice will KO any Garchomp. With a Life Orb, You’ll also have a 50% chance to OHKO 252 HP Mega Mawile. Dark Pulse will also OHKO up to 252 HP / 88 SDef Calm Meowstic or coincidentally, Chandelure (same calc)! You won’t be able to OHKO Aegislash-Shield, but you’ll make a big dent.

Zoroark can run other sets. Choice Specs is largely similar to Life Orb, but will push you over the Chandelure/Meowstic hump. On a Specs set, I might run Focus Blast as a last resort option. I wouldn’t recommend Focus Sash since you’ll miss out on Garchomp KO’s with HP Ice. Zoroark also has a few other neat moves you can try to take advantage of. Fling, U-Turn and Sucker Punch are neat to play with for their versatility, even without Physical investment.

Nasty Plot is also strong if you can set it up, but would need support from a partner. If using Nasty Plot, I’d pose Zoroark as something like a Kangaskhan alongside Tailwind Smeargle, so you can threaten a Fake Out and Dark Void, but also threaten a Nasty Plot + Tailwind.


Zoroark partners well with Pokemon that are common targets of Psychic-type moves. Mega Venusaur has been taking some flack recently, and is being targeted by strong Gardevoir Psychics as an answer. Unfortunately, that’s the only relevant Psychic user in the metagame (maybe… Gothitelle?). So, though it sounds neat to tempt Psychic attacks, this isn’t the metagame to do it in. Zoroark can also take Ghost attacks like Shadow Ball from Aegislash, which allows it to deal well with Aegislash as long as it’s a surprise.

But the best resistance Zoroark sports is Dark! Zoroark can take a Sucker Punch from the big users, or Crunch from Tyranitar. In return, it can deal good damage to Mawile, but not great damage to the others. Not unless you turn to Focus Blast which will KO up to 184 HP Mega TTar… 70% of the time. I’m not a fan but it’s an option. Zoroark’s role here is not to take out these Pokemon, but to KO their partner or combo to 2HKO the big guns while drawing their attention for a turn.

I recommend Zoroark as something that can pose as a tempting target. Think of anything that doesn’t seem like it’s a threat, or is easily dealt with by a move Zoroark can take. For instance, posing as a Scarfed Gardevoir against a Mega Kangaskhan/Mawile. Alternatively, you can pretend Zoroark is a threatening Pokemon like a Fake Out user or something with a threatening status. A good example might be Raichu, which pretends to have Lightningrod and Fake Out, protecting your Gyarados in a couple ways. Just be sure your opponent’s best response isn’t to target Zoroark, or else you’ll just be KO’d pointlessly. So while bluffing Kangaskhan could be neat, bluffing Smeargle isn’t as wise.

I think the best way to look at how Zoroark fits on a team is to figure out what role it fills. Zoroark OHKO’s Garchomp and Salamence. it’ll also KO Dark-weak Pokemon or surprise KO Ferrothorns and chip in for the major part of a Mawile’s demise. The niche Zoroark fits in is that it can also tempt misplays that you can capitalize on. There’s enough of everything I just said to warrant Zoroark as the extra mon to round out a 4 or 5-mon core.


Pictured: Zoroark

As I’ve mentioned, Zoroark is a glass cannon. I don’t know if a ‘Counters’ section is relevant, but I will mention that you shouldn’t counter yourself by bluffing a Pokemon with an Ability that Zoroark should have activated upon switching in. So don’t pretend your Zoroark is a Salamence, it’s anything but intimidating.

Though it’s neat to run mons that share Zoroark’s moves (e.g. Flamethrower), I wouldn’t say keeping the disguise is that relevant. Hidden Power Ice is often the best way to stay disguised.

As a Pokemon that can deal with everything Zoroark throws at it, Rotom-H really could care less about facing Zoroark. It won’t even 2HKO without including Sitrus Berry in the equation. It’s not like Zoroark deals with Mega Kangskhan very well either. The only way to deal great damage is via Focus Blast.

Zoroark also doesn’t like to face spread moves. If your opponent’s default is to just Rock Slide + target, then Zoroark can’t do its job of bluffing (though it may do its job of KO’ing something weak to ice). Dazzling Gleam is another big problem as it will KO Zoroark while dealing damage to a partner.


Using Zoroark just for the mind game isn’t a good reason. If Zoroark fires off an attack and doesn’t KO, then gets hit in return, you’ve had a fun “HA!” moment, but you’re stuck with a Zoroark while they have whatever they’re using. Sometimes that’s ok. If you can 2HKO them before they 2HKO you, then that’s a neutral-positive trade.

Zoroark works best if it would be a good idea to bring it regardless of what it’s pretending to be. I really think the best way to think of Zoroark is as an alternate Pyroar. Considering Pyroar isn’t something players are scrambling to use, that doesn’t sound like a high recommendation. But alternate doesn’t mean “it works exactly the same but is inferior/superior.” Zoroark brings its Illusion Ability, which let’s you take surprise KO’s when you play your cards right. Zoroark is also a great best-of-3 mon because of the mind game potential.

When you can play with complete confidence of what you’re doing, but your opponent has that nagging feeling that they’re walking into a trap, their potential for misplays is much higher than yours. Against a strong opponent, it can also make their moves more predictable if they can see the “safe” plays. That’s the greatest strength of Illusion, and what Zoroark brings to your team over Pyroar. Otherwise, just think of it as a Pyroar with Dark STAB (which is still not bad)!

Crawdaunt out

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