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Move Showcase: Scald

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Spoovo The Pirate, Dec 28, 2016.

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  1. Spoovo The Pirate

    Spoovo The Pirate Meep! Article Contributor Article Contributor

    Sep 29, 2012
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    As new generations of Pokémon games grace our presence, we trainers expect four things: new content, new Pokémon, new abilities, and new moves. All of these are staples to the games.

    However, every now and again a new innovation pops up and changes the face of competitive play, sometimes permanently. Among these metagame defining moves would be Scald.

    On paper, the move doesn't seem all that impressive. Scald has a Base Power of 80, which is noticeably less than its predecessor Surf. However, what separates Scald from the other Water moves is the 30% chance of burning its target, and this leaves its targets in a bit of a quandary. After all, the only type immune to burns is Fire, which, of course, is weak to Water. Therefore, by type alone, there is no safe switch-in.

    Since this revelation, almost every Water-type that can learn Scald uses it on a regular basis. Typical bulky Water-types appreciate the reasonable damage and burn rate, while offensive Water-types barely notice the damage drop from Surf. Aside from physically based Water-types like Gyarados, and those that unfortunately can't learn it (such as Lapras, for obvious reasons), you can all but guarantee that both your Water-type, and your opponent's, will be packing Scald.
    But Why?
    As previously stated, Scald has a 30% chance to burn the target, effectively halving their Attack stat and taking timely portions of their HP away from them. This deters most physical attackers from switching into a suspected Scald user, for fear of rolling the dice and coming off worse. A burned physical sweeper is essentially useless, except for a few rare exceptions (such as those with Guts).

    For those with recovery, a burn slows them down considerably, and forces them to click Recover every other turn or so, while Pokémon without recovery are essentially crippled by it. Upon switching in, taking damage from the obligatory entry hazards, the foe's attack, and burn damage, can quickly add up to hefty amount of damage.
    Typical Scald Users

    Suicune @ Leftovers
    Ability: Pressure
    EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spd
    Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk)
    - Scald
    - Calm Mind
    - Rest
    - Sleep Talk

    The infamous Crocune, more or less an unchanged set since the inception of Calm Mind back in Generation 3, has only been made stronger with Scald in its arsenal. Now physical attackers—typically the only ones that can threaten Suicune due to it boosting specially—must be more wary than ever about switching in because Scald gives Suicune a 30% chance of simply forcing the physical attacker back out again, which only gives Suicune more setup time. Calm Mind boosts both Suicune's Special Defence and Scald's power, pressuring the opponent to damage it before it's too late. Rest keeps Suicune healthy, meaning it can—in tandem with Sleep Talk—fire off more Scalds and also set up more Calm Minds, making it a very dangerous Pokémon to face.

    Other boosting Scald users include Slowbro and Manaphy.

    Alomomola @ Leftovers
    Ability: Regenerator
    EVs: 32 HP / 252 Def / 224 SDef
    Relaxed Nature (+Def, -Spd)
    - Scald
    - Wish
    - Protect
    - Knock Off / Toxic

    Despite its paltry base 45 Special Attack, the big fish Alomomola stands out as a Scald user due to its tremendous natural bulk. With its huge HP stat and Regenerator, Alomomola is able to pass mammoth-size Wishes to its teammates and keep itself healthy at the same time when it switches out, which really makes it difficult to wear down and enables it to keep switching in and annoying its opponents. While Alomomola won't be dealing much damage with Scald, the threat of a burn is always prevalent, not to mention essentially boosting its already daunting physical bulk even farther, and adding much needed chip damage. Scald and Knock Off work splendidly together by wearing targets down and providing insight into the target's strategies, while Protect simply makes sure Alomomola can heal itself with Wish in a pinch. Those who never use Knock Off, or who need a more reliable means of breaking their opponents down, can instead use Toxic for slow but steady damage.

    Among other Scald abusing Wish passers, Vaporeon stands out with its far superior firepower, noticeably better special bulk, and access to Heal Bell, which allows it to act as a cleric as well as pass Wishes. Vaporeon pales in comparison to Alomomola in higher tiers, however, due to it pressuring the opponent with the combination of Wish and Regenerator.
    Keldeo @ Choice Specs / Choice Scarf
    Ability: Justified
    EVs: 252 SAtk / 4 SDef / 252 Spd
    Timid Nature (+Spd, -Atk)
    - Scald
    - Secret Sword
    - Hydro Pump
    - Icy Wind

    Regardless of Scald being primarily a defensive move, Water-type powerhouse Keldeo is a big fan of it. It's an accurate, reliable STAB move that can burn targets for chip damage and keep opposing clerics busy, not to mention picking off weakened targets when Keldeo can't risk Hydro Pump missing. Choice Scarf sets can clean up late game with powerful, relatively accurate moves, while Choice Specs Keldeo excels in punching through tough walls with its massive Special Attack, notably being one of very few Special attackers that can get around Chansey and Blissey thanks to its infamous Secret Sword.

    Other offensive Scald users include Starmie, Empoleon, and Mega Blastoise among others. While the former two are far more likely to run a Life Orb instead of a Choice item, and Mega Blastoise is restricted to its Blastoisinite, all three are proficient at using Scald offensively.
    Jellicent @ Leftovers
    Ability: Water Absorb
    EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spd
    Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk)
    - Scald
    - Will-o-Wisp
    - Recover
    - Taunt / Hex

    Jellicent's unique Water/Ghost typing and access to Water Absorb give it plenty of opportunities to switch in and wall opponents with its mixed bulk. Scald is, of course, a staple of its moveset, but Jellicent gets Recover, which only supplements its longevity further. Burning foes with Scald helps to patch up Jellicent's mediocre physical bulk, while pressuring clerics to keep the team healthy and also complementing Hex perfectly by boosting the move's power. Those not wanting to use Hex can instead take advantage of Jellicent's ready access to Taunt, which allows the ghostly jellyfish to disrupt stall teams surprisingly well.

    Other Scald users with recovery include Slowking, Milotic, and Quagsire. The former two are generally more specially defensive whereas Quagsire is usually physically defensive; however, all three use Scald very well due to their overall bulk and ability to stay healthy.
    Tentacruel @ Black Sludge
    Ability: Liquid Ooze
    EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SDef
    Bold Nature (+Def, -Atk)
    - Scald
    - Rapid Spin
    - Toxic Spikes
    - Knock Off / Acid Spray

    Tentacruel's good Speed, rare typing, and access to both Toxic Spikes and Rapid Spin make it ideal for entry hazard control. Much like Jellicent, Tentacruel really appreciates Scald burning its targets to help its average physical bulk, allowing it to better check physical attackers. Scald also combines exceptionally well with Knock Off and Toxic Spikes to weaken its targets and allow for a sweeper to mop them up late game.

    Tentacruel's other effective combo would be Scald and Acid Spray. The latter lowers the target's Special Defence by two stages upon contact, which makes them twice as vulnerable to the subsequent Scald, and thus, can leave serious dents. Physical setup sweepers must be especially wary of this tactic because they could be crippled by it before they even have chance to set up.

    Defensive Starmie is another Pokémon that can use both Scald and Rapid Spin. Its niche over Tentacruel is the ready access to Recover, as well as Natural Cure, a better movepool, and more raw power. Tentacruel's useful resistances to Fighting and Fairy keep it prominent, however.​

    Dealing with Scald
    Scald is by no means an easy move to work around. As previously stated, the only type immune to its burning effect is weak to the move itself, which would theoretically leave no safe switch-ins. However, there are some key answers.

    Water Absorb and Similar Abilities

    The likes of Volcanion, Gastrodon, and Toxicroak are all able to switch into a Scald free of charge thanks to their abilities that prevent damage from Water-type moves. In Volcanion's and Toxicroak's cases, they are even healed by the attack, while Gastrodon's Storm Drain would cause Scald to boost its Special Attack, only making it more threatening to face. These three Pokémon (and many others, including Jellicent, Heliolisk, and Vaporeon) are therefore able to switch into Scald all day long.

    Natural Cure

    The likes of Chansey, Starmie, and Roserade are blessed with the rare Natural Cure, which heals status conditions as the user switches out. This makes these Pokémon ideal for switching into a Scald because even if they are burned by the attack, they can simply switch out again to heal the burn. Many Natural Cure users also have ready access to recovery too, meaning they can come in again and again. It's also worth noting that many Natural Cure users have a fair amount of bulk and/or resistance to Water, allowing them to sponge a Scald fairly well.


    Pokémon with the moves Aromatherapy and Heal Bell have little to fear from a burn, and thus, can switch into Scald a lot more easily than most simply because they can heal the affliction afterwards. While the two moves have few PP, many common users of the move tend to have plenty of special bulk and recovery options, which lessens the impact. Exemplary clerics are Sylveon, Clefable, and the aforementioned Chansey.


    While it does leave the user vulnerable for two turns, Rest can be used to recover HP and heal status conditions at the same time, which can remove Scald's threat entirely. In tandem with Sleep Talk, Rest users can somewhat reliably attack, thus reducing the pressure on both the user and their teammates. Typical Rest users include Snorlax, Suicune, and Shaymin, the latter of which combines Rest with its Natural Cure to keep itself status free.

    Magic Guard

    A rare but wondrous ability, Magic Guard can be found on Pokémon such as Clefable, Reuniclus, and even Sigilyph, and it allows them to switch into Scald with little to fear. Even if they are burned by the move, their ability will prevent them from taking damage at the end of the turn. Magic Guard users tend to have recovery too, meaning they can tank multiple Scalds throughout the match if needed.

    Water Bubble

    A recently unveiled ability, Water Bubble is essentially the combination of Water Veil and Heatproof because it prevents burns and halves damage from Fire-type moves. Water Bubble is the signature ability of Araquanid, which excels at tanking Scald due to its mammoth-size special bulk.


    While far less ideal than the previously listed options, bulky Guts users like Hariyama and Assault Vest Conkeldurr have the ability to tank a Scald or two and take advantage of the burning effect by actually increasing their power. However, this should only be considered a last ditch option because Guts Pokémon with the bulk to tank Scald generally aren't fast enough to do anything about it, and those that have the Speed will generally die to two at the most. The Guts strategy will also backfire horribly if Scald does not burn them upon hitting. It is also worth noting that Conkeldurr's access to Drain Punch gives it a somewhat reliable form of recovery, meaning it can come in a bit more often than other Guts users.

    With great neutral coverage, an extremely desirable secondary effect, exceptionally good distribution, and a reasonable Base Power, Scald has continued to polarise the metagame since its inception, perhaps becoming the most influential move of BW. Its impact may have been hindered just slightly due to SM's mechanic changes and burn damage being halved; however, the move remains exceptionally useful.

    Spoovo The Pirate - Writer
    Joyverse - QC
    Annoying Orange - QC, Artist
    pokemonnerd - QC
    E.T. - QC, Grammar
    Sobi - QC, Grammar

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    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2017
  2. Joyverse

    Joyverse Back for a blast!

    Aug 23, 2014
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    Meh, Scald isn't as much fun as it was before tbrh. The Burn nerf is basically cancelled out by Leftovers, that said, with Toxapex and Kyogre being the only Scald users in the Ubers tier I am frequenting a lot. It seems to have lost that char-m for me!
  3. Annoying Orange

    Annoying Orange sweet creature Social Media Rep Social Media Rep

    Sep 29, 2010
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    Annoying Orange
    I hope we get to see more of these move showcases :)
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