Palkia and Latias are gone, and with their departure, the formal Ruler of Time, Dialga, hits the gyms. With Dialga, we see some fresh faces, and returning ones, come to our gyms. Notably, Monferno is making its debut as a T2 boss. Aside from that, Machamp is sticking around as a T3, and Tyranitar and Absol will remain in line as T4s. Aside from them, our list of T3s and T4s has been shaken up. It’s time to prepare to hit these, should they ever appear at the gym in Mark Hopkins.
As a general reminder: T1s and T2s are so easy that they do not warrant serious time in this article, as they can be soloed with pathetic ease. T3s and T4s are the topic of discussion, as usual. This week, I will address how to solo our new coming T3s and write a small blurb talking about the potential solo-ability of our incoming T4s.
Solo difficulty: Very Hard
Explanation: The Pokemon Go site “Gamepress” makes a great point when suggesting players should think of Alolan Raichu as a “Psychic type with Electric attacks,” because that is a winning mindset in this raid. Thankfully, this is not Kantonion Raichu, and can therefore be hit hard with Ghost and Dark type attacks. If it were, this would be one hell of a raid, as Ground types have a notoriously bad time getting ahead of the clock in higher tiered raids. Unfortunately, Alolan Raichu has a lot of strong Electric attacks, including Volt Switch and Wild Charge - moves which greatly bothered every viable Dark and Ghost type in the game. This is not a raid easily won.
Dodge Strategy: If utilizing Gengar, dodge everything. Especially Psychic, as the move is sure to OHKO Gengar from full health. Dark types don’t need to dodge Psychic, and Tyranitar only benefits from dodging a single Wild Charge most of the time. If you have front loaded your team with glass cannons, you should ramp up your dodging efforts as to not wipe out; this is especially important when dealing with Wild Charge Raichu.
Good Counters: Tyranitar stands out against any set conceivable, and it’s not hard to see why. Absol is good against Psychic Raichu, and Gengar is good against anything that isn’t Psychic Raichu. Both are great candidates for glass cannon leads. Groudon provides a stellar anchoring presence and hits back hard to boot. That said, a team of six Groudons will want a weather boost or something. As previously mentioned, Ground types have a tough time getting ahead of the clock due to their lackluster movepools. Ultimately, an ideal team leads with Gengar (Absol against Psychic Raichu), has 2-3 Tyranitars coming in afterward, and keeps a Groudon or two in the back to finish the game with. Rhyperior and Golem aren’t too shabby, as they do everything Groudon can do at a slightly less efficient overall rate.
Solo Difficulty: Hard
Explanation: On paper, this raid probably looks like it’s just weaker Machamp. Hitmonchan has neither the raw power nor the troubling coverage to make the raid look as hard as Machamp’s. In practice, Hitmonchan is actually a lot bulkier than Machamp; it’s good Defense stat benefits largely when its mediocre HP is raised through the roof in becoming a Raid boss. Hitmonchan is therefore actually harder than Machamp despite not hitting as hard. That being said, the same counters and general strategy for fighting Machamp tend to apply to fighting Hitmonchan.
Dodge Strategy: Listen: Hitmonchan has this massive move set that gives off the impression that its movesets have varying degrees of difficulty. In actuality, the only noticeable differences are when Hitmonchan is running Close Combat (widely resisted by its counters) and when it’s running Ice Punch (only even matters if you’re using Rayquaza or Exeggutor as counters, otherwise it’s irrelevant). While it is true that a Hitmonchan with a weather boosted move inherently is harder than one without (and Hitmonchan has more typing variability to increase the chances of being weather boosted), the difficulty is sparsely different. What this means is that you should only put serious effort into dodging if you’re: A) Using Deoxys-A or B). Using Rayquaza or Exeggutor against an Ice Punch Hitmonchan.
Best counters: Rayquaza is the king, especially against Close Combat Hitmonchan, though dealing with Ice Punch can be challenging. Mewtwo consistently dominates whatever moveset Hitmonchan has, as do Alakazam, Lugia and Espeon. Gardevoir is resilient against Close Combat sets, especially those lacking Bullet Punch as a fast move. Really, the challenge here isn’t usually survival, it’s DPS, meaning that the more DPS, the better. Neutral DPSers - the usual cast and crew of Metagross, Gengar, Dragonite, Roserade and friends should be kept away unless they’re weather boosted. You want super effective damage.
Solo difficulty: Intermediate
Explanation: This fight is pretty much Hitmonchan, only slightly less bulky with no coverage options aside from Stone Edge. If you can beat Hitmonchan, you can definitely beat Hitmonlee.
Dodge Strategy: Meh, I guess you probably want to dodge Stone Edge with your Rayquazas, maybe Alakazam and Gardevoir too. Otherwise, why bother?
Best Counters: More or less the same stuff as what beats Hitmonchan: Rayquaza is the best, Mewtwo is stellar and Alakazam is great. Lugia offers the team bulk, helpful for newer players to not get wiped out.
Solo difficulty: Extremely Hard
Explanation: Donphan was already really, really hard BEFORE the HP buff Raid bosses got back on Feb 2. The end result is one of the bulkiest T3s we’ve ever seen, and one that can hit you back as well. Only a small selection of Pokemon are viable for this one independent of weather. In sunny or rainy weather, more options open up. An underrated saving grace is that Niantic granted Donphan access to Mud Slap on the aforementioned Raid boss buff; this move is much easier to beat than Counter for Grass types and Gyarados.
Dodge Strategy: Dodge as little as possible, as the clock is your biggest enemy here. Gyarados doesn’t need to dodge Heavy Slam or Earthquake. Most Grass types don’t need to dodge Earthquake either, and Kyogre can tank a few Heavy Slams. Play Rough is annoying, but if you have a handful of spare Roserade or Venusaurs, you can tank this move.
Best counters: This is where things get tricky. The only viable counters in any weather are Roserade with Grass Knot, Kyogre, Gyarados, Mamoswine and Grass Knot Breloom. Fortunately, that gives us just enough wiggle room to make a good team in any weather; lead with Breloom, go into Kyogre and a selection of Gyarados and Roserade can follow. When the weather is Sunny or Clear, Groudon with Solar Beam becomes viable, as do Venusaur and Sceptile. In rainy weather, most good Water types can get the job done, but remember that anything that isn’t Kyogre or Gyarados just serves to make the raid harder. Snowy weather makes Mamoswine brilliant, and opens up Ice Beam Mewtwo, Weavile and Articuno as options for the less privileged players. Rayquaza in windy weather is marginally viable with its Dragon type attacking set, but you should refrain from using it against Play Rough Donphan.
Broadly examining whether or not our current batch of T4s is soloable:
Absol and Tyranitar are still only soloable in theory.
Rhydon is largely the same; it is bulky, but has two 4x weaknesses to Water and Grass. This means the best of the best of those types in favorable weather might be able to do it.
Alolan Marowak is no different, and you can forget trying to solo it.
Unfortunately, a returning T4 in Poliwrath cannot be soloed. The two man is difficult enough as is.
Next week’s article will go more in depth on how to take these monsters down with a friend!