Is Dunsparce Good in Scarlet and Violet?

Dunsparce 206 Pokemon

Many competitive players feared the idea of Dunsparce gaining an evolution, a sentiment repeated by many once leakers kept hinting that one would exist Scarlet and Violet Pokedex. While it hasn’t ever been a truly competitive Pokemon, Dunsparce had some tricks, thanks to having the Serene Grace ability that we’ll get to in a bit. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which side of the fence you’re on with this issue, Dudunsparce is indeed the evolution for Dunsparce. Its extremely unoriginal name and barely altered design aside, Dudunsparce gets its own separate article. For now, let’s focus on Dunsparce, who now gains the use of the Eviolite item to boost its defenses as a not fully evolved Pokemon.

Dunsparce was pretty good even when it debuted in Gold and Silver, a mid-tier competitive stall Pokemon that ran Glare to spread paralysis, Curse to boost its Attack and Defense, Rest to get healthy and either Return or Headbutt to dish out whatever damage it could. In Generation 3, though, it gained abilities. Run Away was useless outside of obvious utility in the main game, but the second ability, Serene Grace, turned Dunsparce into a sleeper.

Dunsparce ran Headbutt, Shadow Ball, Rock Slide, and either Thunder Wave or Body Slam. Back in Generation 3, Shadow Ball was still a Physical move, thanks to all Ghost moves being physical until Generation 4. It was just there to hit Ghost types, really. All of these moves have their chances of secondary effects doubled. This gives Headbutt a 60 percent chance to flinch, Body Slam gains a 60 percent chance to paralyze, Shadow Ball has a 40 percent chance to drop the opponent’s Special Defense, and a 60 percent chance for Rock Slide to flinch. Holy smokes.

The Serene Grace ability is much more commonly seen on Jirachi, Blissey, and Togekiss, and it’s just a dumb good ability. In Diamond and Pearl, Dunsparce dropped Shadow Ball in favor of Zen Headbutt, yet another way to get a chance to flinch (40 percent chance with Serene Grace) that can also hit Ghosts for super effective damage. It also started running Bite, because Bite was now a Physical Dark-type move, which again has a chance to flinch (60 percent with Serene Grace). So, Dunsparce is a one-trick pony that makes things flinch a lot. However, that is pretty darn good, and with its good HP and Normal-typing plus Leftovers for recovery, it hangs in there a lot.

Black and White introduced massive power creep and Dunsparce tumbled to the lowest tier of competitive singles, PU. Interestingly, you would start to see Dunsparce return to its Gold and Silver days as more of a defensive stalwart, but one that could also flinch you. ParaFlinch Dunsparce, as he came to be called, was just a low tier gimmick in Generation 5, but gaining access to Coil and Roost (yeah, who thought that was a good idea when they added it to Dunsparce in Gen 4?) made it so Dunsparce had a bit extra survivability.

By X and Y, Dunsparce fell into untiered territory, but he still showed up just for fun and really ruined some people’s day when they got trolled with it. Trainers would sometimes run a Stealth Rock set for Dunsparce with Magic Coat to bounce back hazards, but by this point in a world with Mega Pokemon, it was often relegated to the shadows of the Pokemon Box System.

Sun and Moon weren’t kind to Dunsparce, either, with Z-moves out of control. (Personally, I love Z-moves because they are actually pretty balanced, way more so than Dynamax, for sure). In Gen 7, Dunsparce was back to its Paraflinch set. In Sword and Shield, with Dynamax ruining our beautiful game, Smogon University declared “Don’t use Dunsparce.” Of course, this means run Dunsparce with reckless abandon.

While trainers in the past often chose an Adamant nature for Dunsparce to maximize its power, many other trainers opted for a Careful nature, which boosts Special Defense, Dunsparce’s weaker defensive stat, at the cost of a Special Attack stat that goes unused. After all, the actual damage that Dunsparce causes isn’t nearly as important as the Paraflinch side effects of its attacks. Of course, so much of running Dunsparce effectively relies on luck, as even with the Serene Grace boost, it’s still only a 60 percent chance of paralysis on Body Slam and of flinch with Bite.

OK, Smogon is technically correct about Dunsparce not being worthy of competitive play by the time Generation 8 rolled around with many of its own extremely OP Pokemon. But, as many people have said, Dunsparce is due for an evolution, right? In fact, for all the hate it gets, if it evolves, given the fact really its biggest downside is mediocre defensive stats, it becomes viable, right?

Dunsparce has just 70 physical Defense and 65 Special Defense. This means at level 50 it would be in the 75 to 122 range for defense and a 70 to 117 range for Special Defense. Those aren’t great numbers. If you choose a Careful nature, which boosts Special Defense, you gain an additional 10 percent on that; with Impish, which boosts Physical Defense, you gain an additional 10 percent on that instead. In either case, you’ll want to invest your Effort Values into whichever Defense that Dunsparce’s nature boosts. This means you’ll either have 134 max Defense with an Impish Nature or 128 max Special Defense with a Careful Nature.

But, if you add Eviolite as a held item, you gain 50 percent on these max values. That max Defense becomes 201, and the max Special Defense could be 192, At level 100, these stats are essentially doubled, but for VGC and Battle Stadium purposes, we use level 50. So, the stat tiers are identical whether you’re looking at level 50 or 100.

For reference, Impish nature Dunsparce that leans Physically Defensive is in the same tier as Dusclops, Golem, Leafeon, Metagross, and Rhyperior. Even legendary Pokemon like Cobalion, Glastrier, Kartana, and Lugia are around this Defense value. For Careful nature specially defensive Dunsparce, it’s nearly on the level of Alcremie and Milotic, plus Legendaries like Articuno, Galarian Moltres, and Necrozma. Of course, you’ll have to go all in on one or the other, but you see why people were worried about Dunsparce with Eviolite.

Fortunately for Dunsparce enjoyers, Eviolite is a fairly easy item to acquire in Scarlet and Violet. The first way to get Eviolite is to defeat seven Trainers around South Province Area Five, then visit the Battle League Rep at the Pokemon center to receive the item. Otherwise, you must complete the entire main storyline, which means getting to the credits and listening to Ed Sheeran’s “Celestial,” before you get the other method. Delibird Presents in Mesagoza, the central city of Paldea, will sell Eviolite for 50,000 Poke Dollars post-credits, so you can acquire as many as your heart desires.

Be sure to save up any Careful, Impish, and Adamant Dunsparce’s you’re relentlessly breeding by Masuda Method to get a shiny one. It may be well worth your efforts. Of course, because Dudunsparce will have significantly better stats, we’ll see if Eviolite Dunsparce is actually worth running over its new, rather underwhelming looking evolution. Either way, Dunsparce is more of a good Pokemon now that it has ever been.

Will you play Dunsparce, and/or its evolution, on your team in Scarlet and Violet?

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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