By: Teenelmo26 (Lindzey Bear)
Grass. One of the 3 types we get to choose from when we all begin our Pokemon adventure. This type has been a staple of the Pokemon franchise, spanning over 12% of all total Pokemon. As one of the major types in the game, it’s no surprise that Grass types can be lethal in competitive combat. From the many starters, to their relationship with poison types, and their healing abilities and status conditions, grass types are fundamentally strong and one of the most versatile types we have today.
Many of us opt out of choosing grass from the start of the game. Water represents strength in having so few weaknesses, and fire is seen as a powerhouse of offensive typing. So where does grass fall in all this? Balance. Grass types run the gamut from tanks like Mega Venusaur and Amoonguss, to strong fast attackers like Sceptile and Serperior. Grass has never focused on just one stat or build. Just like nature, they are versatile, and through the generations, have adapted to shape one of the core types. I’ve always loved grass type starters over the fire and water because they feel more uniquely sculpted. And who doesn’t love an underdog?
Grass type has been around since Generation one, forming the first ever starter in the Pokedex, Bulbasaur. Since then Grass has always been a starter type, and a very abundant type all around (4th most common overall). When it comes to monotype competitive, grass usually leans towards balance or stall, mostly because of defensive typing issues with attempting hyper offense. Though the type sorts some heavy hitters (Breloom, Serperior, Sceptile), it’s hard to cover the basics trying to go full offense. The addition of Kartana helps with offense for sure, but it has been banned in monotype tier from smogon (though still legal in OU). With plenty of bulky mons, healing options galore, and pivot Pokemon, mixing in a few offensive ones makes for solid balanced teams.
By The Numbers:
# of Pokemon with this type:98
# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 48 (plus 3 megas and a form change for Shaymin)
2x super effective against: Water, Ground, Rock
Effective against: Dark, Psychic, Fairy, Normal, Fighting, Electric, Ice, Ghost
2x resisted by: Bug, Dragon, Fire, Grass, Flying, Poison, Steel
Ineffective against: None
2x weak against: Fire, Flying, Poison, Bug, Ice
Damaged normally by: Dark, Psychic, Fairy, Ghost, Normal, Fighting, Steel, Rock, Dragon
2x resistant to: Grass, Electric, Ground, Water
Immune to: Nothing
Notable Competitive Pokemon:
- Mega Venusaur
- Tapu Bulu
- Alolan Exeggutor
- Leech Seed
- Grassy Terrain
- Giga Drain
- Energy Ball
- Grass Knot
- Leaf Storm
- Solar Beam
- Horn Leech
- Bullet Seed
- Seed Bomb
- Power Whip
- Bloom Doom
Analysis: How to Use Grass
As mentioned before, Grass flourishes in a Balanced or Stall setting. The addition of Tapu Bulu and Dhelmise in generation 7 have been a big buff to grass’ ability to fit on more offensive teams. Having Pokemon to tank hits is critical to grass, because they sport 5 weaknesses. In addition, coverage types are a necessity since grass isn’t the best offensive type, hitting only 3 types super effectively and being resisted by five. It does have the niche of toppling water types, which are very common in competitive play. Let’s break down some of the popular Pokemon and their roles before we dive into the meta games:
The notorious UB-04 Blade has quickly risen to stardom in the generation seven metagame. Kartana has an astronomical base 181 attack. Combined with its good base 109 speed and just the right movepool including moves such as Leaf Blade, Smart Strike, and Sacred Sword, Kartana makes for a ferocious sweeper and revenge killer on any team. It also has high 131 defense; however, its special defense is paper thin, rendering it very susceptible to Flamethrower, Fire Blast, and HP Fire.
Venusaur (Mega): I would argue that Mega Venusaur is the backbone of Grass teams, and the most viable Grass type available. Its amazing ability, Thick Fat, gets rid of 2 core weaknesses, Ice and Fire, leaving it weak only to Psychic and Flying type attacks. Huge bulk after mega evolution lets Mega Venusaur switch into almost anything and start Leech Seeding or Toxic stalling. Giga Drain and Synthesis prolong its already long life on the field. Many opt to run earthquake to counter its biggest threat, Heatran, but the mixed set leaves a lot to be desired. Hidden Power Fire is common, as it counters steel types that Venusaur can’t poison or hit with a Sludge Bomb. However you choose to run it, it should be on your team. I see so few mono grass teams leave the gates without this bad boy in tow.
Ferrothorn: The other Pokemon I’d say is a staple of the type. Since its intro in Generation 5, Ferrothorn has torn up OU as one of the most used Pokemon. Its bulk is amazing, but the typing makes it stand out (Though now we have Kartana). Ferrothorn only sports two weaknesses to Fire and Fighting, letting it tank many hits with ease. Stealth Rocks and Spikes with this bulk and typing make Ferro probably the best setter in the game. Leech Seed helps it survive even longer, and moves like Gyro Ball and Power Whip hit hard. He won’t outspeed anything, even Slowbro, but you have little to fear with Ferrothorn on your side. Always be on the lookout for possible Hidden Power Fire users!
Tapu Bulu: One of the most common grass types now is easily Tapu Bulu, due to its ability to summon Grassy Terrain. The terrain not only buffs grass type moves, it reduces the power of Earthquake, and heals all Pokemon a small amount at the end of each turn. So your tanks get a huge buff just from the healing benefits! Take advantage of this while you team build. Tapu has impressive Bulk, and also set up capabilities with Bulk Up. He can Leech Seed, Toxic and Protect, or become a lethal bulky attacker with Horn Leech or Wood Hammer, and coverage in Stone Edge and Super Power. One downside to using Tapu Bulu is his lack of a Physical fairy move, but don’t let it stop you. He’s sure to be a backbone on many mono grass and OU teams.
Tangrowth: Tangrowth increased in usage near the end of the ORAS metagame, and it certainly is a formidable staller this generation as well. With Giga Drain/Leech Seed and the ability Regenerator to replenish its health, and some decent bulk stats, Tangrowth is a solid defensive wall. Paired with Cradily, who acts as a Special Wall, you should be able to tank most neutral hits. Sleep Powder and Knock Off access aid Tangrowth further in solidifying its role in OU.
Dhelmise: This mon has come in not only as a solid wall, but a very impressive spinner. Being immune to fighting and normal is a plus, allowing switch ins to get rid of pesky Stealth Rocks that may damage sash users, like Breloom. Its ability helps if you run anchor shot, which gets STAB and traps opposing Pokemon. Rapid spin is a must on this Pokemon, and I also run Anchor Shot, Shadow Claw, and Power Whip. If you go full attack, Assault Vest can be a useful item. It has no decent status moves, not even leech seed, so I’d strongly recommend this set. Having no recovery means Tapu Bulu will be a great teammate since Grassy terrain can act as passive healing.
Breloom: The staple attacker for Grass teams. Breloom is fairly versatile in sets, with 2 great abilities. Technicians usually run Focus Sash, and can run Swords Dance or Spore in addition to Mach Punch, Bullet Seed, and Rock Tomb for covering pesky flying types. All those moves get the Tech boost, making them hit really hard. Toxic Heals are also common, running toxic orbs to sustain them. Most opt for more powerful moves on these, like Drain Punch, Seed Bomb, and Stone Edge. Breloom also has Leech Seed access, but isn’t normally run with it as it wastes time that can be spent setting up or KOing Pokemon.
Serperior: The Special sweeper of mono grass. Contrary makes Serperior absolutely fantastic. So long as you can switch it in, serperior with Leaf Storm can sweep many many types and teams. Its speed alone is a big draw, but after a leaf storm boost Serperior is scary. Make sure to run some coverage though, as grass STAB is still resisted by so many types. Hidden Power Fire or Ice, Dragon Pulse (hits almost anything at least neutral), or Giga Drain for sustainability. Without a solid Hidden Power, Serperior is very limited, so it can be a drawback to those not wishing to breed for a good one. Luckily Generation 7 bottle caps help with that tremendously.
Amoonguss: Amoonguss functions much like Tangrowth, acting as a tanky pivot, and is thus a solid choice for stall or balanced. Spore is probably the most feared status in the meta, having high accuracy to put you to bed, and is the main reason for running Amoonguss over Tangrowth. Sleep gives you one chance to completely neuter a foe, and can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss. The Regenerator ability makes it even better, as it can regain 1/3 of its health every time it switches. Giga Drain is another solid move choice to keep your annoying mushroom monster alive.
Cradily: Deserves a mention because it can aid against the biggest weakness Grass teams face: Flying. Running Ancient Power for the occasional boost, or Rock Slide for a more physical set means Cradily can help with the likes of Talon Flame, which can reek havoc. Stealth Rocks helps prevent Talon sweeps in the first place (if you aren’t running Ferrothorn already). The Tox Stall set is one of this little monsters favorites. Recover makes Cradily’s survivability that much better. Don’t count this guy off your team just because it’s NU, he will surprise you (and your opponent).
There are a number of other Pokemon mentioned above that are currently rated UU by usage, such as Lurantis, Decidueye, and Tsareena. However, these Pokemon are simply not good in any aspects of standard play, and thus should not be used. The key to grass is balance; since it is a type with naturally many weaknesses, one must build carefully to ensure that dangerous Pokemon like Mega Scizor, Alolan Muk, Alolan Marowak, Mega Pinsir, and Talonflame cannot exert too much offensive pressure. Most of their roles are filled better by above Pokemon (for instance, Mega Venusaur over Roserade, Tapu Bulu over Whimsicott, and Dhelmise over Decidueye).
In OU Mega Venusaur is very present, and a staple of the ever popular Grass/Water/Fire core. Ferrothorn fits this core, as well as the Dragon/Fairy/Steel one. Grass in OU usually is used to inflict Toxic, Leech Seed, or sleep conditions, as well as work as preventative measures from your opponents Status conditions. Grass has the niche of being immune to moves like Spore and Leech Seed, making them crucial if you fear these things. Those wanting to add a Sleep user to their team stick to Amoongus and Breloom closely, since Spore has amazing accuracy.
Grass can have its weaknesses covered nicely by Rock types such as Tyranitar or A-Golem, which will resist Fire, Flying and Bug, and are neutral to Ice and Poison. Having the right team mate is crucial to keeping a Pokemon like Mega Venusaur around. Steel is another good type to keep close, as it will resist all but Fire. Even with its weaknesses, grass types flourish under the right conditions.
In Generation 7 we expect Tapu Bulu to move into some of Mega Venusaur’s territory as a bulky option. He can do Venusaurs job, plus heals with his ability instead of needing a move. The major drawback will certainly be that Tapu Bulu is weak to quite a bit, especially Poison types which will do 4X damage. Both will fare equally well in this meta, as each will have its own set backs in comparison. The choice will always be yours.
When Team building make sure to cover weaknesses, especially with a more balanced approach. Throw in some Rock, Ice and Fire moves. Never rely on your grass moves, because so many types will just resist you. Grass is not easy to run, but practice will make you a perfectly capable user, and you will see why this type can easily be one of the best.
Make sure you have something that will neutralize flying, like Ferrothorn or Cradily. Flying types are generally fast, and hit a lot of grass types, like Breloom, for 4X. When you play monotype you will see what I mean, flying will be your greatest challenge. Fire is always another concern as far as damage goes. Having a rain dance user can greatly lessen this blow, someone like Ludicolo can find usage on such a team. Rain Grass teams are perfectly viable options, but without a grass type with drizzle it can sometimes be a slow start. Cradily, again, can aid against many Fire Types, especially with its Special bulk.
Grass, as you have seen, is diverse and versatile. Every meta has it’s strong ones, and a Fire/Water/Grass core is still around in most metas. Pokemon Like Cradily, Tangrowth, Exeggutor, Shiftry, Roserade, Rotom-Mow, and Ludicolo see fair amount of usage in lower tiers. Familiarizing yourself with their usage, stats, and move pool is the best advice I can give for finding which ones will fit your own team.
Tips and Tricks
Grass types are nothing if not resilient. Bulk mixed with amazing healing options make them impressive as stall teams. Some focus should be made in this area to make sure you live long enough to win your matches. Recover, Synthesis, Giga Drain, Horn Leech, Grassy Terrain, and Leech Seed all make up a large chunk of what grass types offer. They are self healing machines, so use this to your advantage!
Never knock down some of the lower tier Pokemon. Many of them are beastly, even when brought into an OU setting. They can fill a nice gap in your team, and if your opponent isn’t prepared it can be hard for them to counter. Try out all sorts of Pokemon on your teams to find what works well FOR YOU. It is your adventure after all.
Grass types are some of the best Pokemon for stalling and inflicting status. Remember this when building your teams. Always remember that they may not be immune to any types,but they are immune to many status moves. This can be crucial when predicting what to switch in on your team. Cover those weaknesses, and have good coverage moves ready, and you can make the grass type shine above Fire and Water. Practice, give it a go, and show us what you can do with this amazing type.