The ‘Shadow Pokémon’ originated in Kanto and has been a fan favourite ever since. Gengar was also one of the first Pokémon ever designed in the manga preceding the video game, and is featured in the opening scene of the first ever Pokémon episode, making Gengar a staple of the franchise since day one.
Gengar has been popular since the first generation when its evolutionary line represented the only ghost types in the game. That has since changed but they still have the unique typing of Ghost/Poison. Combined with the highest special attack and speed of any ghost or poison type (speed stat is tied with Crobat), Gengar is an extremely competitive Pokémon. Without the mega evolution, Gengar has the highest base stat total of all non-legendary ghost types, while Mega Gengar has a base stat total that matches the likes of Darkrai. An extra 100 points to an already fantastic Pokémon means that Gengar becomes a competitive terror.
Ability: changes from Levitate to Shadow tag
HP – 60 -> 60
Attack – 65 -> 65
Defence – 60 -> 80
Special attack – 130 -> 170
Special defence – 75 -> 95
Speed – 110 -> 130
Total – 500 -> 600
When the stats and details for Mega Gengar were released many people felt it was overpowered, some others thought it looked ridiculous (particularly the shiny) and others were like wow, does it get any better than a ghost with a third eye that is super-fast and strong?! Sadly, the smogon community was part of the first group and quickbanned Gengarite from OU. The argument is that Mega Gengar suppresses defensive teams to the extent that it’s unfair and can regularly set up sweeping opportunities with ease. The counter argument would be that although Mega Gengar is rapid (98.3 percentile rank for speed) and strong (99.5 percentile rank for special attack), it is weak to 4 types, Ghost, Dark, Psychic and Ground which leave it ripe for a OHKO from a wide variety of moves. Mega Kangaskhan (also banned by smogon) in particular can destroy Mega Gengar with Sucker Punch, although this is a matter of predicting if it will be used or not. It also loses the ability to hold an item due to the Gengarite stone, which results in an offensive monster that is defensively weak (a solid special defence is welcome but limited due to the low HP).
Strategy and Movesets
A massive special attack rating allows STAB moves such as Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb to be particularly damaging. With the introduction of Fairy types, Poison moves have taken on a new significance, giving Gengar solid coverage with STAB moves. Hex is also a useful move if you regularly use status moves, as an affected Pokémon will be hit with a STAB move with a power of 130 from a Pokémon with a 170 special attack. Fearsome. Gengar can take advantage of this with Confuse Ray, or TM moves such as Toxic or Will-O-Wisp, although I would recommend using another Pokémon to use the status moves as you want to utilise Gengar’s speed and special attack as much as possible.
The ability Shadow Tag prevents opponents from fleeing, unless they are Ghost types or use a move such as U-turn, Volt Switch or Baton Pass. Competitively, this is a useful ability, as it can trap opponents that regularly switch out but it doesn’t come into effect until the second turn and gives Gengar a weakness to Ground moves. The casual player may not feel the benefits of Shadow Tag, with less switching taking place and an extra weakness leaving Gengar somewhat vulnerable. Although if a team is set up around using Mega Gengar and Shadow Tag, it can be deadly.
Competitively, Gengar’s nature should either be timid (Speed + / Attack -) or modest (Special attack + / Attack -). With massive special attack stats, a modest nature is super effective, but for those concerned about other fast Pokémon , getting the first hit can be vital (particularly with poor defensive stats) which lends itself to a timid nature.
Gengar’s EV’s should be fairly straightforward; focusing on speed and special attack with 252 EV’s each, with a nominal 4 on any defensive stat. Although, if Mega Gengar is designed to play a stalling role on your team, putting some EV’s towards HP is not a bad idea.
The following set is the set that I use personally. All of my competitive Pokémon are fast and strong, my main tactic being to go for the OHKO before they get a chance to attack. With this in mind, moves like Hypnosis, Substitute and Protect that work well with Shadow Tag hold no appeal to me.
- Shadow Ball
- Sludge Bomb
- Hex / Psychic / Dark Pulse / Dazzling Gleam / Energy Ball
The two STAB moves should be standard here, and if super effective will OHKO a lot of opponents, unless they are very very defensive. Thunderbolt is a favourite of mine as the likes of Talonflame and Greninja are popular this generation and it also provides some coverage against rain teams. The other moves highlight the wide spread of moves that Gengar can learn. These should be altered depending on your team setup and type coverage. Shadow Ball provides coverage against other ghost types, while Dark Pulse (Psychic), Dazzling Gleam (Dark) and Energy Ball (Ground) all provide options to counteract Mega Gengar’s weaknesses.
Angel of Death
- Shadow Ball
- Protect/Destiny Bond
- Perish Song
This set takes maximum advantage of Shadow Tag, by trapping opponents and using Perish Song to give them an inevitable death after 3 turns. Substitute and Protect serve to keep Mega Gengar alive to utilise Shadow Tag, while Destiny Bond offers an alternative if needed.
There are various movesets that lie somewhere between the two mentioned above, in an attempt to combine Mega Gengar’s great move coverage while stalling the opposition team with Shadow Tag. It comes down to personal preference, but regardless of how you use Mega Gengar, it will be a welcome addition to your team. Mega Gengar is versatile, and when used correctly, it can be devastating and almost as annoying as the first time you encounter Mat Block!
The design of Mega Gengar seems to have split people. I remember watching a video, just after X and Y came out, of someone ridiculing Mega Gengar because it had a third eye and the shiny was white. To me, a white ghost with a third eye is amazing but it’s just a matter of taste. I find that in triple battles at least, a shiny Mega Gengar draws people to attack it, sometimes throwing 2 or even 3 moves at it, which obviously leaves their team open to the rest of your squad. Mega Gengar in general looks terrifying, which matches the role that it can play effectively.
Mega Gengar has not yet appeared in the anime
Mega Gengar does not yet have a trading card but if it did it would most likely be a Psychic type, the same as past Gengar cards.
Mega Gengar is versatile and can play a number of roles in a team. Shadow Tag can frustrate opponents when combined with Perish Song and Protect/Substitute but an all-out attack Mega Gengar also has benefits. There are obvious counters such as the move Sucker Punch and 4 weaknesses leave Mega Gengar open to a wide spread of potential OHKO’s. However, Mega Gengar can be outstanding if the situation is right and it has raised a number of questions about the legitimacy of mega evolutions within competitive play. Nevertheless, it adds a new dimension to battling which Mega Gengar takes full advantage of.
Is Mega Gengar OP? What moveset would you use? Let us know :D