FALCON PUNCH! == General == At first glance, you'd wonder why Talonflame is in OU. Its stats are mediocre at best (aside from that blistering base 126 Speed), and its typing is generally considered awful, what with three common weaknesses to Water, Electric, and (Stealth) Rock. Plus, its name is awful. C'mon Game Freak, surely you can think up a better pun than that? Scorchawk maybe? However, the reason Talonflame isn't lost in the depths of NU is its amazing ability; Gale Wings. Thanks to this ability, Talonflame has access to priority Flying STABs, as well as the infamous Brave Bird, meaning it technically has the most powerful priority in the game. Scizor's Bullet Punch and even the almighty Arceus' Extreme Speed can't hope to compare to the brute power of this attack. No sweeper is safe while Talonflame's around, unless it has bulk and resistance to its meaty Brave Bird. A middling base 81 Attack doesn't even matter, because it has access to boosting moves in Swords Dance and Bulk Up! However, Talonflame's novelty ends there, really. It has a few fun things it can abuse with Gale Wings, such as Roost and Tailwind, but Brave Bird is its main selling point. At least, until Flying Gem Acrobatics is legal. When it all boils down however, Talonflame is something every team needs to thoroughly prepare for. Sweepers and Choice Scarfers may think they have the last laugh, but as long as Talonflame's alive, the winds can change... == Choice Band == Talonflame @ Choice Band Ability: Gale Wings EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spd Adamant nature -Brave Bird -Flare Blitz -U-turn -Steel Wing / Sleep Talk / Tailwind Wielding a Choice Band, Talonflame's passable-but-unimpressive base 81 Attack stat gets bolstered to threatening levels, and its priority Brave Bird is ready and willing to tear through just about anything. As a general rule of thumb; if it doesn't resist Brave Bird, use Brave Bird. The first thing to note about this set - and most Talonflame sets in general - is that it runs an Adamant nature in spite of its far superior Speed stat, which would usually beg for a Jolly nature. This is because of Talonflame's priority Brave Bird. If it already goes faster than other attacks, what point is there in running more Speed? It just wastes power, and the only real difference it'll make is outrunning other Talonflame, which is a moot point at best. The EVs are simple, as is just about everything else where Talonflame is concerned. You literally just max out the Attack and Speed, and dump the remaining four EVs in one of the Defences to keep the HP odd. This reduces damage from entry hazards, most notably the deadly Stealth Rock. Brave Bird is the first listed move, and by far the one that'll be used most. Simply acting as a priority nuke, it can be used to clean up teams, revenge kill sweepers, or just batter things and soften them up for another sweeper to break through. Given all the positives, the HP recoil is a negligible loss, really. Flare Blitz in slot 2 is a backup STAB, for things that resist Brave Bird. It doesn't carry priority unlike Brave Bird, but it does hit things like Ferrothorn and Skarmory a lot harder than Brave Bird ever will, and thus has reason for usage. U-turn in slot 3 is the obligatory scouting option, and it'll find plenty of usage, allowing Talonflame to chip things and switch back out again, keeping up the momentum. U-turn works best early game, where you can soften up things for the late game Brave Bird nuking. Lastly, slot 4 has a few filler options. Steel Wing serves as more or less the remains of Talonflame's movepool, however it also comes in useful for hitting an incoming Diancie, as well as other Rock-types in the vicinity. Sleep Talk is also a good choice, letting Talonflame absorb sleep for the team. The likes of Mega Venusaur will be tempted to use it as Talonflame switches in, as Talonflame is a deadly threat to Mega Venusaur, however Sleep Talk lets it act even after being put to sleep, and also activates Sleep Clause, meaning nothing else can be put to sleep in the meantime, and Talonflame can remove the sleep inducer with a Brave Bird (if you're lucky). Bear in mind that a Sleep Talk generated Brave Bird won't have priority, due to Sleep Talk's normal typing. Lastly, Tailwind is another fun choice, as it is essentially a temporary Agility that works for the whole team. Since it is a Flying-type move, Talonflame gets priority on it, and thus can use it before almost any other pokemon, meaning it's a great suicide option. The Choice Band is the sole hold item choice, as it is literally the reason this set exists. It can be swapped out for another hold item, such as the Life Orb or Sky Plate, but if you're going to do that, you might as well lose the last two moveslots and replace them with a setup move and Roost for longevity. Hey, wait a minute! That's the next set! == Skyward Sword == Talonflame @ Life Orb / Sky Plate / Leftovers Ability: Gale Wings EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spd Adamant nature -Swords Dance -Brave Bird -Flare Blitz -Roost Freedom to switch moves and a boosting option in Swords Dance changes this Talonflame set from a revenge killer and hole puncher into a fearsome late game cleaner, being easily able to find a turn for setup, and battering everything in sight with a sickeningly powerful +2 Brave Bird. The most noticeable difference in this set would be the hold item choices. Due to it not holding a Choice Band, there are some more exotic items available, such as the Life Orb and Leftovers. The Life Orb is the most preferred, boosting the power of attacking moves by a sheer 30%, at the cost of 10% HP recoil. While it holds plenty of power and can really break through teams, the recoil may prove too much for Talonflame to handle, which is the main reason for the listing of the other two hold items. The Sky Plate powers up only Brave Bird by a respectable 20%, and carries no HP recoil of its own, but doesn't power up Flare Blitz. However, seeing as Brave Bird is the move you'll be using about 80% of the time, it's certainly worth considering if you dislike how much HP Talonflame loses when using the Life Orb. Finally, the Leftovers are there to do what they always do, passively restoring Talonflame's HP and somewhat alleviating the recoil damage from its STAB moves. It doesn't pack as much power as the other options, but it gives Talonflame more longevity, and that can make a huge difference. The EVs and nature remain unchanged, however the moves are a little more interesting (albeit extremely straightforward). The idea is to grab a Swords Dance boost whenever possible, then follow the Talonflame standby and literally just Brave Bird everything. Flare Blitz is there for when there's things you can't just Brave Bird (such as Steel-types), and Roost is a reliable recovery option. Talonflame may be frail, but Gale Wings gives it a priority recovery move, and this can be used to play mind games with opponents, particularly ones trying to hit Talonflame with an Ice or Electric-type move. == Spitfire == Talonflame @ Leftovers / Nothing Ability: Gale Wings EVs: 248 HP / 36 Def / 224 SDef Careful nature -Brave Bird / Acrobatics -Roost -Will-o-Wisp -Taunt / Bulk Up / U-turn If you thought it was strange denying Talonflame a Jolly nature, you can just imagine how insane this set seems, capitalising on its - let's be honest - awful defences. However, there is a reason behind the madness. Maximal bulk means maximal setup room, and while Talonflame's is far from impressive, it can easily find the right targets to set up on. The best prey are physically based attackers that can't hit it too hard, with Scizor and Stone Edge-less Garchomp being good examples. Talonflame can burn its targets with Will-o-Wisp, keep itself healthy with Roost, and wear its opponents down with Brave Bird. The last slot has Taunt, which can stop things like Chansey from healing themselves or using support moves, while Bulk Up lets it set up against weaker physical attackers, and U-turn simply lets Talonflame scout around after burning things. All three moves are very useful, and worth considering for the set. The EVs are assigned for maximum efficiency, with 248 HP EVs hitting the highest odd number (to reduce Stealth Rock damage), 224 SDef EVs hitting the top jump point on Special Defence, and the remaining dropped into Defence for optimised bulk. Feel free to shift them around a little, or add some more into Attack if you feel the set needs a little more punch, however this set is fully defensive for the sake of maximising setup room. Spreads with more invested Speed are also worth considering. For example, 60 Speed EVs allows Talonflame to outrun and burn Jolly Excadrill, while 100 Speed EVs does the same for Jolly Garchomp. Both sets cut into its bulk slightly, however outrunning these specific threats could be worthwhile. == Other Options == Bulkier EV spreads can be used with more offensive sets, because some would argue that Talonflame needs no Speed investment at all due to Brave Bird's priority. A simple spread of 248 HP / 252 Atk / 8 Def Adamant can be used to great effect too, with the increased HP allowing Talonflame to take the recoil from its STAB moves more easily. Substitute has its uses in avoiding status and combining with Roost for increased longevity, while Talonflame's ridiculous Speed allows it to give Snatch a try, perhaps stealing a recovery or boosting move from the opponent. Hone Claws is another setup move worth mentioning, although there's little point in using it over Bulk Up or Swords Dance due to both of Talonflame's main attacks being perfectly accurate. It's worth mentioning that it does improve the accuracy of things like Will-o-Wisp, if you're paranoid about it missing. Return is there for neutral coverage, although there aren't many things that would necessitate its usage, as there's barely anything that it'll hit harder than Flare Blitz or Brave Bird (Rotom-W is pretty much it). Natural Gift can hit the opponent with surprise coverage, at the cost of a berry which could be consumed prematurely, and thus ruin the entire strategy. One berry worth considering would be the Liechi Berry as, not only does it transform into a 100 BP Grass-type move when used in tandem with Natural Gift, hurting common switch ins like Rotom-W and Quagsire, it can also be used effectively even if Talonflame consumes it, getting a free Attack Boost to use should its HP go below 25%. Me First is interesting, as it can allow Talonflame to hit an opponent with their own Outrage or Knock Off or something, which can really turn the tables. Lastly, Talonflame has a few special moves in its movepool, and a scarcely lower Special Attack base of 74. This movepool includes Fire Blast, Solar Beam, and Hidden Power, giving a Sunny Day set some potential. There are plenty of better users of Sunny Day however (Mega Charizard Y and Ninetales being two very notable mentions), so it's not really worth wasting it on Talonflame. == Checks & Counters == Talonflame may hit hard and fast, but it doesn't quite have the raw power to muscle through bulkier opponents, particularly if they resist either STAB (or both). The most prominent of these would be Rotom-W, who resists both STABs, has impressive physical bulk, and can hit Talonflame for super effective damage with either STAB of its own. Volt Switch isn't always the recommended choice, as Talonflame may get cocky and Roost beforehand, but as long as Rotom-W doesn't get worn down too quickly (this can be alleviated with its access to Pain Split), it will always be a solid answer to Talonflame. Max HP Garchomp can take a Choice Band Brave Bird, and retaliate with Stone Edge for an easy OHKO (or even Dragon Claw, taking Rough Skin and recoil damage into account), however even it isn't tough enough to take a +2 Sky Plate Brave Bird safely. Unaware Quagsire can take boosted hits all day thanks to its ability, and simply Recover off the damage. When the time is right, Quagsire can then strike back with a Water STAB or a Rock move to hit Talonflame hard (note that Earthquake is risky unless it catches Talonflame Roosting). Heatran can take anything Talonflame can throw, even enjoying a Flare Blitz thanks to its own Flash Fire. Heatran does have to resort to Ancient Power in order to hit Talonflame however. Physical walls like Gliscor and Mandibuzz can tank a few hits, heal off the damage with their respected recovery options, and chip away at Talonflame, however Talonflame can attempt setup on them if it's brave enough. Beware of Mandibuzz's Foul Play however, which will turn Talonflame's precious boosts against it. If all else fails, bulky Rock-types like the omnipresent Tyranitar can take any hit, and simply throw a Rock STAB back at Talonflame for an easy OHKO. Tyranitar won't like U-turn however, and other Rock-types are barely seen in the tier, with Terrakion being the next most common at around 3.5% usage, and even it won't like a Brave Bird very much. If you want a surefire Talonflame counter however, looking into the old forgotten relics in lower tiers, such as Kabutops, Rhyperior or even Regirock, will reward you positive results as well as cool points.