Is Cyclizar a Good Pokemon in Scarlet and Violet?

Cyclizar from Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Cyclizar is a Dragon/Normal type Pokemon introduced in the Generation 9 Nintendo Switch games, Scarlet and Violet. It appears to be a pre-evolution of the box legendaries Koraidon and Miraidon, thanks to its similar design and use in the open world as a mount. But, the truth is that it’s simply a current day form, whereas Koraidon and Miraidon are past and future Paradox forms, respectively.

What Cyclizar is most definitely not is a legendary Pokemon, as you can catch them in the overworld in several areas of the game. They do speed around a lot, so they can be a bit tricky to catch up with. But, once you do, you can get as many for yourself as you’d like. Cyclizar may actually be a good Pokemon in battle, too, and not just in-game.

In lore, Cyclizar is a Pokemon that has lived in many of the Paldea region’s households since ancient times. So, this means we have a Pokemon that is as common to see as a mount as Generation 8’s Rotom Bike in the Galar region. However, your mount in this game is not a Cyclizar per se, but rather a Past form of it in Scarlet and a Future form of it in Violet.

Also in lore, people and Cyclizar actually have a symbiotic relationship with its riders. This would explain why you have an immediate bond with Koraidon and Miraidon in Scarlet and Violet, respectively. After all, Cyclizar is a cold-blooded reptile, so having a warm-blooded rider helps the Dragon keep warm during colder months of the year. It’s also very notable that Cyclizar’s top speed is around 70 MPH, blowing away the top speed of a Rotom bike, for certain!

We saw evidence that Cyclizar could be a good Pokemon for competitive battling right away in the competitive gameplay trailer that was released on August 21, 2022. Its signature move, Shed Tail, is sort of the moves Substitute and Baton Pass rolled into one, except at the cost of half of Cyclizar’s HP. Cyclizar uses that HP to create a Substitute, then switches out immediately so you can switch into another Pokemon in your party. This brings the Substitute along with it, just as with Baton Pass, but doesn’t pass on any stat boosts, otherwise.

Still, Shed Tail is an excellent move, allowing you to use Cyclizar as a scouting lead. This move gives you the chance to bring out a Pokemon that has super-effective moves or a good defensive match-up against the opponent. Of course, the opponent could then switch, as well, but Shed Tail gives its trainer the upper hand.

Cyclizar also has the very useful Ability Shed Skin. This means that at the end of each turn, Cyclizar has a one-in-three chance of curing burn, freeze, paralysis, poison, or sleep status conditions. So, not only can Cyclizar scout for you, but it can switch in with a prediction of the opponent using a status move. (Also, Cyclizar is roughly the same size as this article’s author: five-foot-three and around 140 lbs, which is rather amusing to me).

What’s much more important, though, is Cyclizar’s Hidden Ability. While you’ll need to acquire an Ability Patch to get it in-game, players on Pokemon Showdown have already discovered how broken this ability is on this Pokemon. What’s that Hidden Ability, you ask? It’s freaking Regenerator. This is the same ability that has made Slowbro a broken defensive Pokemon for years; Regenerator recovers one-third of your Pokemon’s HP when it switches out. So, while Shed Tail takes one-half of Cyclizar’s health, it’s still enough with one Regenerator to use Shed Tail at least twice. This makes it an immediately top-tier competitive Pokemon, even if that’s really it’s only major use besides a couple of useful moves it can learn. We’ll discuss its move pool in a bit.

IGN’s guide on this new Pokemon notes that from a typing standpoint, Cyclizar is the only Dragon/Normal Pokemon in the series so far besides Drampa. Despite its neat and mythical design, Sun and Moon’s Drampa never did much competitively, despite its extremely high 135 base Special Attack stat. That’s even with its Berserk ability, which boosted its Special Attack an additional stage when it reaches one-half or less of its HP.

Naturally being a dual-type Pokemon, Cyclizar enjoys same-type attack bonuses of fifty percent for both its Dragon-type and Normal-type moves. It’s possible that its best attacking moves will be a Dragon-type move, a Normal-type move, with an additional type coverage move, and of course, Shed Tail. While it would be especially neat if Cyclizar could learn a recovery move to make up for a previous Shed Tail, it does not.

Defensively, the Normal typing affords Cyclizar a weakness to Fighting-type moves, but also an immunity to Ghost-type moves. Otherwise, it’s your typical Dragon, having a one-half resistance to Fire, Water, Electric, and Grass moves, with a 2x weakness to Ice, Dragon, and Fairy type moves. Thanks to having Shed Tail, Cyclizar will be able to easily swap out if there’s a Pokemon with a Fighting-type move that can threaten it.

A couple of things we could early on speculate about Cyclizar’s moveset has to do with the mention of using “its extremely hard head and thick, lithe tail” as being effective means of attack during battle. This likely means it will learn moves such as Headbutt (a common, but useful Normal-type physical attacking move) and Dragon Tail, an OK and slightly inaccurate physical attacking move. This would lead this author to believe Cyclizar is going to lean towards the physical side and not the Special attacking side like Drampa. This would indeed be the case; Cyclizar has 95 base Attack and 85 base Special Attack, so it’s actually a useful Pokemon on both sides of the attacking split.

For its Dragon type moves, Cyclizar learns Dragon Claw as its premier Dragon-type STAB move. It can also learn Dragon Pulse, although it doesn’t hit nearly as hard with this Special Attack stat without investment in either a Special Attack boosting nature and/or Effort Values. On the Normal-side, Extreme Speed makes a ton of sense for Cyclizar, as it fits with lore, and is also a good competitive move that hits fast and hard. Unfortunately, Cyclizar does not learn this move.

Even as a Dragon, Cyclizar doesn’t have Dragon Dance, which raises both attack and speed. Fortunately, it does learn Shift Gear, which boosts both attack and speed, but actually raises Speed two stages instead of just one. A Cyclizar running Dragon Claw, Shift Gear, and Shed Tail, plus a strong Normal-type move seems pretty competitive to me. But, the only physical Normal-type moves Cyclizar learns by level up are Quick Attack and Double-Edge, plus Giga Impact by level up.

On the plus side, Cyclizar learns some other good moves. It does learn Hyper Voice, which is a good enough Normal-type move with 90 base power, but it’s Special based. Cyclizar can also learn Body Slam and Hyper Beam by TM, but again, the latter is Special and this even requires a recharge turn. While Body Slam is a fine move, especially with its 30 percent chance to paralyze, it’s just not that powerful.

All this being said, it basically means that the best moveset for Cyclizar likely doesn’t run a Normal-type move at all to take advantage of Same-Type Attack Bonus. So, what does the final move-slot contain? Fortunately, as a Normal-type Pokemon, Cyclizar learns a wide array of other type moves by TM. For example, it has access to Thunder Fang and Fire Fang, decent moves given their chance to paralyze and burn, respectively, while also offering type coverage. Most importantly, though, Cyclizar does learn the Bug-type U-Turn, which means it can deal some significant damage before switching out. This may be the best use of that last move-slot, especially if Cyclizar is being used as a lead that can pivot in and out to take advantage of its typing on defense.

It also helps that Cyclizar learns a few very powerful egg moves through breeding or by using a Mirror Herb during picnics. These moves are Aqua Tail, Iron Tail, Knock Off, and Power Whip. Iron Tail is just too inaccurate to see much play. Aqua Tail is OK but only on a Pokemon who’s Water-type to get the Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB) of 1.5x damage. Power Whip is pretty darn good, despite its 85 percent accuracy, thanks to being 120 power and hitting a lot of popular Pokemon for super-effective damage. But, the best of these moves is easily Knock Off, because knocking off an opponent’s held item is just really darn good. This is going to be on a lot of Cyclizar in competitive circles, for sure.

As the Pokemon Company has already suggested, Cyclizar should be a good competitive lead, too. Will Cyclizar prove actually powerful in the higher tiers of the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet metagame? The problem lies in the fact that Cyclizar has mediocre defensive stats: 70 HP, 65 Defense, and 65 Special Defense. Its speed is pretty darn good at 121, so it still outspeeds a great many Pokemon, but there are lead Pokemon that will have more speed thanks to a Speed-boosting nature and others that have either full Effort Value investment in Speed or are given a Choice Scarf to increase their Speed by 50 percent. It really all comes down to Speed in this game if you want to make a team competitive.

Cyclizar does have the tools, but we’ll see if it actually delivers on the promise of its initial trailer appearance in long-term competitive Pokemon. In Pokemon Showdown, though, it already seems to be not even a few days after its actual release. Cyclizar is easily one of the best competitive Pokemon in Generation 9, even if it’s incredibly niche, because that niche is ridiculously good.

Updated 11/21/2022

Photo credit: the Pokemon Company

Pokémon and All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2022

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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