Mega Monday: Heracross

It’s Mega Monday!

Hey Trainers!  I’m here with the first entry of Mega Monday, a new weekly article where we examine a specific Mega Evolution in detail.  Our first Pokémon originated in the Johto region and has been popular ever since.  It has appeared in four Pokémon movies and Ash actually caught one in the anime.  Please welcome Heracross and Mega Heracross, the Single Horn Pokémon!


COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Heracross has a lot of neat tools at its disposal, even before Mega Evolving.  Bug/Fighting is a useful and unique typing and with a base stat total of 500, Heracross has never been a joke competitively.  Now, however, an extra 100 points are awarded to the fighting beetle as a result of Mega Evolution which raised that base stat total to an impressive 600 (the same as pseudo-legendaries like Garchomp and Tyranitar).

Mega Stats

·       Ability:  from Swarm, Guts, or Moxie to Skill Link

·       HP – 80

·       Attack – from 125 to 185

·       Defense – from 75 to 115

·       Special Attack – 40

·       Special Defense – from 95 to 105

·       Speed – from 85 to 75

As you can see, Heracross’ physical attack and defense skyrocket, its special defense gets a slight but appreciated boost, and his speed falls by ten.  Although Heracross’ speed is important and the ten point drop could lead to him being outsped by other common, bulky attackers such as Gyarados, Gardevoir, or Mega Venusaur, this is not that much of a disappointment as it wasn’t going to outspeed any of its real threats anyway.

More important than these new stats, however, is the ability Skill Link.  Skill Link grants moves that hit anywhere between two and five times (Pin Missile and Bullet Seed to name a couple) always hit the full five times.  With 25 base power per hit and a base Attack of 185, that is a lot of damage.

 Art by the talented   Jeff Thiede

Art by the talented Jeff Thiede

Heracross’ movepool is perfect for these changes.  Not only can it hit hard with STAB moves like Megahorn, Revenge, and Close Combat, it also has a few fantastic coverage moves like Night Slash, Earthquake, Stone Edge, and Aerial Ace; good utility moves like Pursuit and Chip Away; and, most importantly, plenty of moves that can be boosted by Skill Link.

Of the 14 moves that can be boosted by Skill Link, Heracross has 5, more than any other Skill Link user.  These five are:

·       Arm Thrust

·       Bullet Seed

·       Fury Attack

·       Pin Missile

·       Rock Blast

Of all of these moves, the only one I wouldn’t ever use is Fury Attack.  Bullet Seed and Rock Blast are both 125 base power (when adjusted for Skill Link) spread moves that common threats like Rotom-Wash and Charizard absolutely hate and Arm Thrust and Pin Missile become insanely powerful after stab (Pin Missile reaches an effective 250 base power, that’s just bonkers).

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for our favorite blue bug, however:  let’s talk about Mega Heracross’ interaction with Talonflame.  Thanks to its new ability, Skill Link, and its ridiculously high attack, Mega Heracross can one-shot any Talonflame with Rock Blast or Stone Edge, but that is only if it ever gets to attack.  With a dual Bug/Fighting typing, Heracross has a double weakness to flying type moves.  This is not good when Talonflame, an abuser of the ability Gale Wings which allows it to get priority on all Flying type moves like Brave Bird and Acrobatics, is on almost every team ever.  Before Heracross has a chance to do anything, Brave Bird to the face for the OHKO.

STRATAGY AND MOVESETS

For every set below, Heracross’ ability should be Moxie, IVs should all be 31, EVs should maximize Attack while pouring the rest into either HP or Speed (HP for general utility, only max Speed if you are trying to outspeed a specific threat), it should have an Adamant (+Att, -Sp.A) nature, and its held item should be Herocronite unless otherwise noted:

EVs should maximize Attack while pouring the rest into either HP or Speed

Pure Skill

·       Bullet Seed

·       Rock Blast

·       Pin Missile

·       Arm Thrust

The strategy here is very direct and easy to use.  Mega Evolve on the first turn and immediately spam the move that would wreck your opponent the most.  While not taking weaknesses and resistances into account, Pin Missile is the winner here with both 25 base power and STAB.  Rock Blast is also quite handy for Charizard (but not Talonflame, as I addressed earlier), Volcarona, Mega Pinsir, and Salamence.  The downside of this set is that it can’t get off the ground without Mega Evolving first turn and ruining the surprise.

This Kid’s Got Moxie

·       Earthquake/Stone Edge/Megahorn/Vaccum Wave

·       Earthquake/Stone Edge/Megahorn/Vaccum Wave

·       Two multi-hit moves

This set might require more Speed investment than the first one.  Here, we will utilize both Moxie and Skill Link.  While Heracross can usually do just fine without any boosts, getting an Attack boost shoots its potential through the roof.  Don’t Mega Evolve first turn and see if you can use your non-Skill Link move to take a Pokémon down and get a Moxie boost.  Megahorn gets an amazing stab,  Earthquake and Stone Edge get great coverage, and Vacuum Wave isn’t nearly as powerful, but it gets STAB and a nice priority.  The choice is yours and is mostly up to taste.  Once you get the Moxie boost, you are good to go.  Mega Evolve and take down anything that doesn’t take you down first.

Other Potential Strategies

If you are into keeping the opponent on his toes, Mega Heracross is the perfect Pokémon for you.  In addition to the two fairly standard move sets listed above, the Single Horn Pokémon also has many usable moves.  Although it would be best to utilize multi-hit moves, there are tons of great choices to use.  Dragon Tail gives you control over your opponent’s active Pokémon while Volt Switch lets you get out of a tight jam.  If you prefer the element of surprise to a more explored, stable move set, Heracross has you covered.


OTHER OPTIONS

A rock is only a good hammer until given access to an actual hammer; there is no reason at all to use the rock at all when you have the choice.  Unfortunately, Mega Heracross is the rock to Cloyster’s hammer.  Cloyster may be a less versatile Skill Link user with only three multi-hit moves (Icicle Spear, Rock Blast, and Spike Cannon), but that doesn’t matter much when you have Shell Smash.  Shell Smash, a status move that doubles Cloyster’s speed and both special attack stats at the expense of both defenses, might just be the best boosting move in the game.  Although Mega Heracross’ base Attack is 90 points higher than that of Cloyster, after just one Shell Smash Cloyster hits harder and can do something Mega Heracross will always want to do:  outspeed most of everything worth using.

In addition to simple differences between the actual Pokémon, Cloyster also has two additional advantages over Mega Heracross.  The first of which is that it is not weak to either of Talonflame’s STAB types.  The second is that it can use an item thanks to its lack of a Mega Evolution stone.  Many items greatly benefit Cloyster, but nothing augments Skill Link more positively than King’s Rock.  King’s Rock makes it so every time Cloyster hits an opponent there is a chance to flinch.  The chance multiplies by five with multi-hit moves under Skill Link which can completely stunt a Pokémon’s momentum if Cloyster moves first (which it almost always will after Shell Smash).


DESIGN

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the design direction GameFreak went for with Mega Heracross.  While I admit the shape of the horn is rather neat and intimidating, the orange coloring kind of ruined it for me.  Heracross has always been a cool blue beetle and now he looks like he flexed too hard and exposed his orange skin under his armor.  His exoskeleton has become chunky, exaggerated, and poofy at the hands and abdomen.  All things being said, I might have liked it if I didn’t know what it looked like before Mega Evolution.

Both Heracross and Mega Heracross have hot pink shiny coloration.  I suppose that’s neat if you’re into that.

TCG USAGE

Mega Heracross does not yet have a card in circulation.  When it does however, its usage will probably depend on whether it is a Grass-Type card or a Fighting-Type card.


ANIME

Mega Heracross has not yet appeared in the anime.


CLOSING REMARKS

While Mega Heracross has its downfalls, being hard-countered by Aegislash and Talonflame and being outclassed by Cloyster, for example, it is still a fantastic pick for a team for both VGC and normal Battle Spot matches.  Besides its competitive use, however, it isn’t too special.  It is one of the few Mega Evolutions that simply doesn’t get talked about and to be honest, I still kind of prefer the design and looks of normal Heracross.  If you want to use a neat ‘mon that you can almost guarantee that your friends won’t use, however, Mega Heracross is for you.