When it came to a Pokemon game based on the ancient Sinnoh region – then called Hisui – you wouldn’t expect Avalugg to be a key part of the game. Not only did the Generation 6 (X & Y) Avalugg appear in what is technically a Generation 4 (Diamond and Pearl) game, but it became one of the Noble Pokemon, as well. That being said, Hisuian Avalugg has one of the best visual designs among the Hisui forms. Unfortunately, Ice/Rock is a truly terrible typing on defense, even if the offensive combination is rather excellent.
Of course, there are a lot of silly choices for Noble Pokemon. Lilligant debuted in Black and White, a generation after Diamond and Pearl. But, Hisuian Lilligant is also an excellent Pokemon, so we can forgive that strange Noble choice. Braviary was also introduced in Black and White, and besides a neat design, its Hisui form is also not the best Pokemon overall. The others were all new Hisuian forms, and it begs the question what were they thinking? There’s no issue with a Generation 8 game having Pokemon from generations 5 through now, but the choices for the Nobles were a bit of a head-scratcher.
From a story standpoint, though, Avalugg is a neat choice for a Noble. He’s literally a walking iceberg. But, the new design and typing change from pure Ice to dual Ice/Rock wasn’t enough for Game Freak’s new Hisui form. They went and changed its stats, too, in a way that makes it slightly better, but also worse.
Originally, Avalugg had just 28 speed, which is excellent in an environment like Trick Room where Speed stats are handled in reverse order. But, Hisuian Avalugg has 38 speed, for really no good reason. On the plus side, they took 10 special attack away from its meager 44 and put it into physical attack, boosting it from 117 to 127, a welcome change. Strangely, they took the 10 extra speed points from Special Defense, not that it was surviving many special attacks at 45 base Special Defense anyway, but how odd. If they’d put that 10 points instead into attack, Hisuian Avalugg would be a massive 137 and actually do something. We’ll look at how this Speed stat change does actually change things, however.
In competitive play, Avalugg was never a factor to begin with. He was in the lowest competitive tier, PU, in his debut generation of X & Y. In both Sun and Moon and Sword and Shield, he ended up untiered entirely. That being said, people have of course tried using him as a physical wall, running a set with Icicle Crash or Avalanche, Body Press, Rapid Spin, and Recover.
Hisuian Avalugg doesn’t learn Body Press, but it does learn High Horsepower, a physical Ground-type move that hits harder thanks to 10 extra Attack stat points. It also learns a new signature move in Mountain Gale, but it’s quite inaccurate (85 percent accuracy). As a Rock-type it does have access to Rock Slide and Stone Edge, too; Avalugg had Rock Slide, but now it gains the same-type attack bonus. In place of Recover it learns Rest, which thanks to how stupidly broken the drowsiness mechanic is in Legends Arceus, is pretty darn good.
So, yes, Hisuian Avalugg is superior to original Avalugg. But, it stands to reason that giving it 10 extra speed was fairly pointless. Having 137 base Attack is a lot, certainly, but it wouldn’t break the balance of the game since Avalugg is so poor on Special Defense anyway, and he’s glacially slow (no pun intended). Looking at the speed tiers for Sword and Shield, the 10 Speed points do make a difference. It now out-speeds lower tier competitive staples, such as Arctozolt, Bronzong, Clefairy, Gothorita, and Toxapex. Most interestingly, Hisuian Avalugg out-speeds Snorlax, one of the best Pokemon in the entire game, as well as Hatterene, a solid somewhat underused Pokemon.
On the surface, Hisuian Avalugg is superior to its original form. But, we haven’t yet gone into its defensive weaknesses: 4x to Fighting, 4x to Steel, 2x to Water, Grass, Ground, and Rock. The resistances to Normal, Ice, Poison, and Flying moves are nice, but yeah, Avalugg needs to hit first to do much. On the other hand, Avalugg does see the occasional VGC Doubles play, granted about 0.05% of the time; but, when he does it runs Body Press, Iron Defense, Protect, and Recover.
Hisuian Avalugg doesn’t naturally learn Body Press in Legends Arceus, but it’s possible he could when he transitions over to Sword and Shield. Being really only able to use Body Press on offense is fine thanks to its ridiculous bulk, the move is so effective thanks to having a staggering 184 base defense. It would be a waste of his new dual typing, though, but it’s not hard to see why you would still want to go a similar route.
In the Pokemon Legends Arceus adventure, Hisuian Avalugg isn’t a bad member for your team, especially since you can use the Agile style moves to compensate a bit for his lack of speed. Finding one with an Impish nature that boosts its mighty physical Defense is a good idea, too. Also, Avalugg benefits from the busted Rest, still having a chance to attack through drowsiness. While I don’t expect Hisuian Avalugg to do much in competitive Sword and Shield, he may at least show up on occasion in PU or even NU Trick Room teams as a late game sweeper.
The only other Ice/Rock Pokemon in the game to this point were Amaura and Aurorus. The fully evolved Aurorus did have a nice niche thanks to its Refrigerate ability making all of its Normal-type moves Ice type. Avalugg doesn’t have that bonus, especially Hisuian Avalugg whose abilities are locked and hidden in Legends Arceus. Once transferred it has a shot at one of three abilities, the hidden ability Sturdy being far and away its best – living on 1 HP after an otherwise one-hit KO is a blessing for Avalugg. The other two are a bit niche; Strong Jaw boosts only Ice Fang and Ice Body is only good in hail for some good but small recovery.
While Hisuian Avalugg won’t be a contender outside of likely anywhere but the lowest of the low tiers in PU, you can expect some clever trainers to try and make it work. This is a better Pokemon than its original form, but if it doesn’t have a way to learn Body Press when it comes over, it’s going to have a hard time hitting hard enough to justify a team slot and will become just a physical wall against the few things it resists. Game Freak did well to give Avalugg an upgrade, but it’s still an odd choice even if it made sense in the context of Legends Arceus.
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