Debuting in Generation 6, Noivern was a mid-tier competitive Pokemon right when X and Y first released. While this Dragon/Flying type is no Dragonite, it’s fast with a blazing 123 base Speed stat, has decent Special Attack (97 base), and has decent enough defensive stats and good enough utility moves to be a competitive Pokemon. In fact, Noivern was good enough to even show up in VGC 2014 official double battle tournaments. Returning to Gen 9 with Scarlet and Violet, is Noivern good enough to hold its own appearing in its fourth overall generation?
What made Noivern so tantalizing in Gen 6 was how well it checked the best Dragon types in that format. While Garchomp hasn’t been confirmed for Gen 9 (as of this early November writing), Salamence and Hydreigon have been. Noivern out-speeds both, and at the time, it even out-sped Mega Salamence and also both normal and Mega Garchomp. Packing Draco Meteor meant it could deal with any of these Dragons with super-effective damage. If that wasn’t enough, Noivern could further boost its own Speed and that of its teammates for several turns with Tailwind. For utility, Noivern often ran a package with two of Protect, Taunt, and Super Fang. Because of Draco Meteor’s Special Attack lowering side effect, Noivern wanted to run an attack that could cut down a lot of would-be problems in half no matter what.
In singles, though, Noivern served a bit different role in Generation 6 competitive play. While it wasn’t quite strong enough to hang with many of the Megas in the top tier, it held its own in the tier right below (Pokemon Showdown / Smogon UU) running a much more offensive set. It ran a Special attacking suite of Draco Meteor, Flamethrower, and Hurricane, plus one of Air Slash, Switcheroo, or U-Turn. The last of those moves helped Noivern check out against Pokemon it would otherwise be weak against. Switcheroo was specifically for a Choice Specs set, which boosts Special attack by 50 percent for the holder at the cost of being locked into one move.
Switcheroo is particularly fun with Choice items because you can lock a utility Pokemon, such as a Trick Room setter, into being locked into that move forever until it switches out. Freed of the Choice item, Noivern could open fire with any of its other moves. Flamethrower helped Noivern deal with Steel types and Hurricane or Air Slash dealt STAB-boosted (1.5x same type attack bonus) damage to everything else. You saved Draco Meteor basically for other Dragons, as Dragon-type moves are super effective against other Dragons. The invention of the Fairy-type for Generation 6 was a strong check to many Dragons, but Noivern didn’t seem to have as much issue as some of its older cousins thanks to being really fast and having enough coverage to survive.
Unfortunately, because of its modest defenses, outside of its excellent resistances in Fire, Water, and Grass, Noivern could crumble to anything it was weak to, namely Fairy, Rock, Ice, and other Dragon moves. This is about all that kept it from being otherwise a top tier Dragon type. Trainers could opt to actually invest in Noivern’s defenses and equipping a Focus Sash to prevent OHKO’s (one-hit KO’s). But, the best option for doubles seemed to just be set a Tailwind and pray it lives for one more turn to do some damage. In singles, you needed to pivot properly, and singles players could add Roost for recovery alongside Taunt to prevent other Pokemon from setting up on it.
Noivern has a couple of other talents that would keep it from being a one generation and done Pokemon, though. First, it has some useful abilities. Its hidden ability Telepathy was never really used, but its other two abilities have seen significant usage. Noivern’s first ability is Frisk, which reveals the held item of the Pokemon right across from it. This is particularly handy on a Choice Specs set with Switcheroo, since you know exactly what item you’re swapping for with that attack. In VGC, each item can only be used once per team; this is not true of Pokemon Showdown tiered singles, although it is the case in Battle Stadium Singles in Sword and Shield when we get to that format shortly.
The other ability is Infiltrator. This is a particularly strong ability when paired with a strong attacker, because Infiltrator ignores Substitute and ignores the effects of screens like Reflect, Light Screen, and Aurora Veil. It also ignores Safeguard and Mist, so Flamethrower can still cause a burn, for example. Infiltrator is typically what you’d see in singles, with Frisk being of more use in VGC doubles to scout for certain items, so its trainer can adjust their strategy accordingly.
All that being said, what happened to Noivern in Sun and Moon? Well, it pretty much vanished from VGC as power creep and Z-moves made it too vulnerable to be viable. It dropped into the lower tiers of singles, too, although it ran a similar moveset to its X and Y singles days. The difference now is Noivern swapped Choice Specs for Choice Scarf to boost its already excellent Speed to overcome opponent’s Speed boosts. It ran Draco Meteor, Hurricane, U-Turn, and Switcheroo, punishing support Pokemon and set-up sweepers as it did in its debut generation.
Trainers could also run a Noivern support set, dropping Draco Meteor entirely, and running Hurricane, Taunt, Roost, and U-Turn. It could still punish defensive Pokemon and set up sweepers, but traded attack prowess for the ability to easily wall its resistances and pivot when necessary. Both builds of Noivern could function quite well, albeit not in high profile play, but it was far from down and out.
Fortunately for Noivern, Sword and Shield removed Mega Pokemon and Z-Moves and in the early going provided a greatly reduced Pokedex to contend with. Noivern actually found its way back up to Pokemon Showdown’s UU singles tier as a check to the tier’s big Water-type and Grass-type threats. The addition of Heavy-Duty Boots to the game to negate the effects of Hazards on its holder really helped Noivern out in the Stealth Rock happy format of Sword and Shield. As a Flying-type Noivern’s biggest threat is Stealth Rock, so unfortunately, it couldn’t enjoy the Choice Scarf or Choice Specs sets of the past.
Other roles Noivern could serve was as a Defogger, to remove existing hazards and pivot into a teammate. Support Noivern could run Super Fang as a way to soften up big defensive walls and sometimes ran Boomburst over the rather inaccurate Hurricane, although it was a much weaker move that didn’t have the benefit of hitting a lot of things with super-effective damage.
As the DLC of both the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra became available, Noivern began falling down the tier ladder, dropping into the mid tier as an offensive utility type. It combined the Defog role with Roost for recovery along with Draco Meteor and Flamethrower as potential attacks. Noivern could also still run U-turn in place of Defog if its team already had a good Defog user. Noivern could also opt to run Toxic, since with Infiltrator it could break through a Substitute, but had to give up either Defog or U-Turn in exchange. Still other Noivern would run Taunt to stop Stealth Rock from being set up in the first place. While it never quite regained the same status it had in Generation 6, Noivern having so many different utility options gave it new life in Generation 8.
In Scarlet and Violet, Noivern should still be a good offensive utility Pokemon. Its high Speed tier means it will continue to have a role in punishing other support Pokemon through a variety of means, whether it’s through negating their entry hazards with Defog, Taunting them from setting up hazards, Trick Room, Tailwind, or other stat boosts, and simply putting in some good damage before pivoting out to your core threats. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Timid nature Noibat in your Scarlet and Violet adventures because it could become quite a valuable team member if you’re not going hard into Salamence or Dragonite like many trainers likely will.
As for a Tera Type, it’s probably best to be pretty conservative and double down on its own Dragon type with a same type Tera. This is mostly a defensive move, just to lessen the impact of super effective Ice-type moves and removing the Rock weakness entirely. Since you’re not relying on Noivern as a main offensive threat, except against the aforementioned Salamence and Dragonite, you probably won’t be Terastallizing Noivern all that often. But, in a last ditch effort, a Dragon Tera type boosts Draco Meteor by an additional 50 percent, which may be enough to claw back to an unlikely victory.
Infiltrator should prove to be a good ability, as Substitute is likely going to be as common as ever. It’s unknown if Noivern will still have access to Toxic, but honestly, four move syndrome is common for this Dragon, as a fifth move would really be helpful. That’s another reason that Tera Types are unlikely to change Noivern much; as running a third type Tera Blast would take up another valuable move slot. It’s boring, but expect Noivern to be the same utility Pokemon it’s been since Generation 7 in Generation 9. It’s fast, it’s got a great support move set, and can do just enough damage to force opponent’s into making some awkward switches.
It’s a shame that Noibat doesn’t evolve into Noivern until level 48, because it’s a really handy Pokemon in game, too. Scarlet and Violet will probably be much kinder to Noivern thanks to Dynamax not being a thing. But, you won’t actually have access to one in-game until the late game. In competitive play, though, this should be a great lead or pivot Pokemon to play with as you’re developing your team for the beginning of official tournament play.
Even if you’re not a competitive Pokemon player, though, Noivern is one to definitely keep in mind as you progress through what looks to be a very long main game. While I probably won’t find room for Noivern in my main adventure, I’m quite likely to train one up later, as long as I can find a Timid Noibat, of course. (Remember to load up on Ralts or Kirlia with Synchronize with the Natures you want early in the game; it will make things a lot easier later!)
How would you play Noivern in Scarlet and Violet?
Pokémon and All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2022