TL;DR

Mega Pinsir is current best bug attacker. But for boosting group damage, it’s way worse than Primal Kyogre in the 6th slot (and worse than Mega Scizor in large lobbies). Will be outclassed by Mega Heracross.

Even though Volcarona is the best non-mega Bug and a great Fire type, in practice, it’s a Chandelure clone in both strength and usage. Even a bit weaker as anti-Psychic, actually. Also worse than Hydreigon, Reshiram and shadow fire types. NOT worth the cost.

  • However, in rainy weather or with Primal Kyogre boost, Volcarona, Shadow Pinsir and Shadow Scizor become the best anti-Psychic counters on average.
  • Bug types will also see more use when we get to Gen 8-9 legendaries, several of which are double weak to bug – in addition to Hoopa Unbound and possibly Zarude raids.

Kleavor currently sucks due to bad fast moves. But even if it gets fast moves, it will still be worse than many existing options (Vikavolt, Gigalith/Tyranitar). Its shadow and/or better charged moves (Stone Axe, Bug Buzz) will help, but they’re likely years away or may not happen at all, and probably won’t be exciting anymore when/if they happen.

Keep reading for:

  • Volcarona vs. Pheromosa, Chandelure (Fire & Ghost), Hydreigon and Darmanitan
  • Primal Kyogre boost explained
  • Bug vs. Dark and Ghost
  • When bugs are actually useful: Bosses with double weaknesses, plots with rainy/Primal Kyogre boost
  • Future potential of Volcarona and Kleavor (Bug, Fire and Rock)
  • Should I evolve a Scyther (regular/shadow) to Scizor now, or wait for Kleavor?
  • List of my previous analyses, in Appendix

Introduction

The beginning of May has been a heavily bug-focused month for some reason. In the last 10 days, we’ve had:

  • Larvesta is now hatching from 2km, 5km and 10km eggs, with ~1% chance. It evolves to Volcarona (Bug/Fire) using 400 candies.
  • Kleavor (Bug/Rock) had its debut in a raid day last Saturday, May 6. Note that Scyther is “currently unable to evolve into Kleavor in Pokémon GO.”
  • Mega Pinsir (Bug/Flying) is now in Mega Raids until the morning of May 24.
    • DO NOT PURIFY your Shadow Pinsir! Unless you clearly know what you’re doing. You’ll see why later.

All three new releases have good base stats that are potentially relevant for raids, not just as Bug types, but also for the Fire and Rock subtypings. (Mega Pinsir can’t serve as a flying attacker, as it learns no flying-type moves in PoGo.)

Sadly, not all of them had their potential realized due to bad moves (Kleavor), not all of them will be practically relevant to most players due to accessibility (Volcarona), and most important of all, bug types are traditionally weak.

Bug is Super Effective against Grass, Dark and Psychic, which means its main role in PoGo raids is as anti-Psychic attackers. That’s a lucrative title given the huge number of psychic-type raid bosses, but they have to compete with the much stronger Dark and Ghost types for this role.

Will any of them change the status quo? We’ll answer the question today in the following parts:

  • Part 1: Bug attackers in a vacuum
    • Overall charts, Mega charts, Volcarona vs. Pheromosa
  • Part 2: Bug attackers compared to Dark and Ghost
  • Part 3: When will you actually use a Bug type?
    • Double weaknesses, Weather boost & Primal Kyogre boost
  • Part 4: Volcarona as a Fire attacker
  • Part 5: Future potential of Volcarona and Kleavor
    • Kleavor with proper movesets
    • Volcarona and Kleavor with signature move estimations
  • Part 6: Verdict on Volcarona and Kleavor/Scyther
    • Should I evolve my Scyther to Scizor now? Or wait for when/if I can evolve it to Kleavor in the future?

If you’re on desktop and want to jump to a particular part, search “Part X”.

You can now follow me (@teban54) on Twitter!

Part 1: Bug attackers, in a vacuum

[Part 1 TL;DR] Mega Pinsir is best bug in raw power, but for boosting group damage, it’s way worse than Primal Kyogre (and also Mega Scizor in medium-to-large lobbies).

Volcarona is best non-mega bug, even better than shadows, and much more reliable than Pheromosa.

Kleavor sucks due to no bug fast move.

Bug attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance, using ASE and ASTTW.

Charts of ASE with and without dodging are here. (They’re now separated from the ASE/ASTTW chart, in an attempt to improve readability.)

If we just look at bug attackers among themselves, without comparing them to other types:

Mega Pinsir (Bug Bite/X-Scissor) is now the best bug attacker overall, in individual power.

  • Significant improvement over Mega Scizor (which isn’t surprising as Mega Scizor has rather defensive stats).
  • Fast move choice: Bug Bite is generally better than Fury Cutter, but both are similar and viable.
  • Mega Heracross will eventually outclass it, as I’ll mention later.
  • Mega comparison plots in later sections…

Volcarona (Bug Bite/Bug Buzz) is now the best non-mega bug attacker… Unless you really, really, really love DPS and only DPS.

  • Pheromosa is a “paper cannon” that do really well in theoretical metrics, but is way too flimsy in practice (more so than almost any other glass cannon you’ve heard of). My vote is still on Volcarona.
  • Otherwise, Volcarona cleanly outperforms all non-megas. Even Shadow Pinsir and Shadow Scizor fall behind.
  • More on Volcarona vs. Pheromosa in later sections…

Kleavor sadly didn’t get any bug-type fast move (I’ll explain this in Part 5). It technically does appear at the bottom of the chart, but unless you’re desperate for a bug type (e.g. Hoopa Unbound raids), don’t.

Shoutout to Vikavolt as the current best budget bug attacker. If you’re not a whale and don’t have one of the shadows that has not been in rotation for years, it’s your best non-mega bug. Time to give those Grubbins a little bit more attention, maybe…)

Volcarona vs. Pheromosa

[Section TL;DR] Despite sky high DPS, Pheromosa is a paper cannon. It’s extremely unreliable, and even for the handful of bosses where it consistently “outperforms” Volcarona in estimator, it still has a crazy number of deaths. My vote still goes to Volcarona, except mayyybe 1 Pheromosa as a lead.

Volcarona vs. Pheromosa (L40 best friends)

Pheromosa technically has much higher theoretical DPS – 24%! – than Volcarona (Table). The massive DPS even gets it slightly higher ER… In theory.

The problem? Pheromosa is a “paper cannon” – not even a glass cannon. As I said in its own article back in August:

  • Pheromosa’s bulk is similar to Haunter and Machop – no, not Gengar and Machamp, not even Machoke. (It’s also on par with Deoxys Normal, which is just as impractical as the meme Deoxys Attack.)
  • To make things worse, Pheromosa is weak to psychic moves, which drags it down further against psychic bosses it’s supposed to counter.

As a result, we get the comparison chart above.

  • Estimator looks like a draw that’s slightly in favor of Volcarona, but remember, this doesn’t consider how much better each of them is.
  • This distribution chart does show the extent to which each one is better than the other… And its shape is the weirdest I’ve ever seen. 40% of the time, Volcarona has a significantly better estimator than Pheromosa (by 10% or more).
  • Pheromosa does seem to “win” in TTW, or if you dodge. But at what cost?

What’s not shown here is the number of deaths. Pheromosa typically gets 2-3 times as many deaths as Volcarona does! You can see from this photo gallery:

  • Hard-hitting bosses put up some insane numbers of deaths for Pheromosa. 76 against T5 Mewtwo, 106 against Hoopa Unbound (you know, the only case for using bug types), and 166 against Mega Latias… Yikes. While Volcarona also needs to relobby 1-2 times, it still has less than half that many deaths.
  • Even defensive bosses, such as Uxie and Cresselia, can still give Pheromosa a hard time. It takes a typing advantage, such as Dark Pulse Darkrai, for deaths to be comparable.
  • Deoxys Defense is basically the only boss where Pheromosa consistently “outperforms” Volcarona in both estimator and TTW, but it still has a crazy number of deaths.

Overall, Pheromosa is just too glassy to be reliably useful. I can see some use for a team with 1 Pheromosa + 5 others (Volcarona, shadows, etc), but even then, I’m afraid it will affect relobbies. Don’t even begin thinking about building 6 Pheromosas.

It’s not like having 6 of either is realistic, anyway…

Bug-type Mega Comparisons

[Section TL;DR] Let’s be real, for boosting others, just use Primal Kyogre. In case you still want a bug mega, Pinsir is better for small lobbies, Scizor is marginally better at group damage in 5+ player lobbies. None of this matters when randos will use dark and ghost types.

Comparison of bug-type megas, in terms of damage up to a fixed time frame (relative to the no-mega baseline).

As usual, this chart looks at the question “which mega contributes the most damage to the group”, accounting for both its own damage output and its mega boost to other raiders.

However, as I noted on the chart… This is now a rather obsolete question for bug types, because realistically, you’ll use Primal Kyogre if you want to boost other players.

  • Primal boost remains active as long as someone has a Primal in their party of 6, even if it just stays in the background and not on the battlefield. (Thanks to research by u/Nikaidou_Shinku)
  • Primal Kyogre boosts Water, Electric and Bug types (the three types that get weather boost in rainy weather).
  • As a result, the optimal configuration for anti-psychic is this:
    • Player A uses 5 bugs + 1 Primal Kyogre
    • All others use 6 bugs, and they all get 30% boost for the entire duration
    • Player A relobbies as soon as the 5 bugs faint
    • (If Player B also puts a Primal Kyogre at the back, Player A also gets 30% boost)

Keeping the 30% boost for as long as possible is much more important than using a bug-type mega that only keeps the boost while it’s alive. This eliminates the need for using a bug-type mega for damage boosts.

If you can’t or don’t want to use Primal Kyogre… With neutral typings, Mega Pinsir is better for small groups (1-3), while Mega Scizor becomes marginally better in larger groups due to its bulk.

  • Mega Scizor has the advantage of resisting psychic moves. If the boss has a psychic charged move, it will likely be much better than Mega Pinsir by virtue of living longer.
  • Mega Heracross will eventually outclass both.

In practice, this will rarely play out for uncoordinated raids. Against psychic bosses, it’s far more likely that others will use ghost and dark types, so it’s better to run a ghost- or dark-type mega than a bug-type one. Or run a Mega Alakazam or Gardevoir with Shadow Ball for boosted XLs.

  • In case you still decide to run a bug-type mega… Looking at the bottom right chart, even when others use Hydreigon, the difference between Pinsir and Scizor becomes extremely small at 7 players. For a large group, Scizor is still the way to go.

Part 2: Bug attackers compared to Dark and Ghost

[Part 2 TL;DR] Volcarona < Chandelure < Hydreigon, and Mega Pinsir ≈ Giratina-O < Hydreigon. Until we get to Gen 8-9 legendaries, there’s not much need for a bug team when you already have a dark/ghost one.

In practice, what matters is not the top counters of each type, but the top counters against each raid boss.

As established in the introduction, bug attackers almost exclusively serve as anti-Psychic counters in practice. There’s no shortage of psychic bosses (it’s one of the most common typings among legendaries), but bug attackers are typically overpowered by the much stronger Dark and Ghost attackers:

Bug, Dark and Ghost attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance, using ASE and ASTTW.

The above chart shows neutral weather without Primal Kyogre boost. Under this setup…

Mega Pinsir – the best bug attacker – is still only on par with top non-mega dark and ghost types.

  • Its closest analogy is Darkrai. Consistently below Hydreigon and Shadow Weavile, similar to Shadow Force Giratina-O and Gholdengo (which overperforms in this setup) depending on metric.

Volcarona is even lower, generally a bit below Chandelure, and consistently below Hydreigon.

  • More on these comparisons next section…

Any bug type not named Mega Pinsir or Volcarona are not competitive.

  • The best of the “premium” bug types, shadows and Pheromosa, are “only” at or just above Weavile level.
  • More affordable bug types – Vikavolt and below – are usually worse than Tyranitar.

Volcarona vs. Chandelure and Hydreigon (anti-Psychic)

Volcarona vs. Chandelure and Hydreigon (L40 best friends)

Well… I think the chart speaks for itself.

The only saving grace I can think of is that Volcarona’s worst-case performance is more consistent (particularly against Focus Blast Mewtwo which deletes Hydreigon, and stuff like Dark Pulse Deoxys-A and Shadow Ball Mega Alakazam that are bad for Chandelure). But even then, these scenarios don’t matter much in practice.

If you feel this is underwhelming, yes it is. Especially given the “best bug type” hype, and especially given how Volcarona is obtained. An extremely rare egg-exclusive 400 candy evolution is worse than TWO Community Day Pokemon in the past year. Wow.

  • Not unexpected, we knew this would happen ever since Gen 5 release started. But still…

Usage cases (raid boss coverage) of Bug vs. Dark/Ghost

[Section TL;DR] Current coverage about the same (differences are Lugia, Giratinas, Tapu Lele and Hoopa-U). Dark/Ghost have more use for remaining Gen 7 raids, while Bug finally gets to shine when we get to Gen 8-9. No need to stress out about bug teams now.

What bosses can you use these types against? Looking at T5+ raids only:

  • Only Bug: Darkrai, Hoopa Unbound, Zarude*, Shaymin Land*, Calyrex, Wo-Chien, Ting-Lu, Iron Leaves*, Brute Bonnet*
  • Only Dark or Ghost: Giratina (x2), Lugia, Blacephalon, Solgaleo, Lunala, Necrozma DM/DW*, Spectrier, Calyrex SR*, Galarian Articuno*
  • Only Ghost: Tapu Lele, Mega Mewtwo X, Marshadow*, Scream Tail*, Flutter Mane*
  • Only Bug or Dark: Meloetta Aria*
  • All three: Azelf, Cresselia, Deoxys (x4), Latias, Latios (& their megas), Mesprit, Mewtwo/Armored/Mega Y, Uxie, Necrozma/Ultra*, Calyrex IR*

Italics are unreleased Pokemon. * are in case it comes to raids.

My impression:

  • Most current bosses are handled by all three types.
  • Lugia and Giratinas are uniquely countered by Dark/Ghost (and Tapu Lele by Ghost), but all three have better counters elsewhere.
  • Bug types uniquely counter Hoopa Unbound, and that’s about it. (There’s also Darkrai, but fighting is way better there.)
  • Dark and Ghost types have much better coverage in the immediate, foreseeable future (Gen 7). This is primarily due to Solgaleo, Lunala and Blacephalon.
  • On the other hand, Bug types will really stand out when we get to the Gen 8-9 time frame, particularly against Calyrex, Wo-Chien and Iron Leaves – all three being double weak to bug. (Also speculative Zarude raids.)

As I said in the TL;DR, this makes bug types a relatively far future investment, especially for the majority who already have a dark/ghost team. Other than “in case Hoopa Unbound comes back yet again”, there’s not much reason to favor bug types right now over dark/ghost types.

Part 3: When will you actually use a Bug type?

Given that bug types are weaker than other counters (Part 2 above, and Volcarona = Machamp against dark types), they have to rely on two scenarios to stand out:

  • Bosses that are double weak to bug, where they become the best option automatically; OR,
  • A damage boost to bug types, either due to rainy weather, or because someone is running Primal Kyogre.

Fortunately, there’s something to be said about both.

Double weaknesses

The following legendary and potential mythical raid bosses are double weak to bug:

  • Now: Hoopa Unbound
  • Future: Calyrex (Gen 8), Wo-Chien, Iron Leaves, Brute Bonnet* (Gen 9)
    • * Brute Bonnet is a non-legendary Paradox. It’s not clear whether Paradox Pokemon will be raid-inclusive, so right now it’s just speculation. (Technically Iron Leaves is also not a legendary, but I’d say it’s more likely to be in raids.)
  • Speculative: Zarude

So even though bug types are underwhelming right now, there will be a time in the future where they’ll shine a lot more: When we get to the Gen 8-9 release time frame. This is almost entirely due to Calyrex, Wo-Chien and Iron Leaves.

However, the fact that they’re so far out means there’s no urgent need for a bug-type team. Unless you think we’ll see Hoopa (again) or Zarude in Elite Raids, it’s a coin flip between whether we’ll see Calyrex raids first, or whether Larvesta Community Day (or potential future bug-type options that I’ll detail in Part 5) happens first.

The question is… Will the game still be alive by then?

Rainy Weather Boost and Primal Kyogre Boost

[Section TL;DR] With rainy weather or background Primal Kyogre boost, Volcarona, Shadow Pinsir and Shadow Scizor become the BEST non-mega counters against mono Psychic bosses on average! Better than Hydreigon and others.

If you can’t wait until Gen 8… The good news is, bug types are not hopeless after all!

Bug, Dark and Ghost attackers ranked by ASE: left is neutral weather, right is rainy weather and with Primal Kyogre boost.

On the left, we have the same plot that I showed in Part 2… The one that’s rather depressing for bug types.

On the right is when bug types get a 20% damage boost, but dark and ghost types don’t. Suddenly, they seem a lot more promising!

  • Mega Pinsir is still worse than Mega Gengar, but better than everything else.
  • Volcarona is now A LOT better than even Hydreigon! It’s the best non-mega under this setup.
  • Bug-type Shadows (Pinsir and Scizor) are also better than Hydreigon. Pheromosa is just below (though still very unreliable).
  • Even Vikavolt joins the league of several top-tier dark/ghost types: Giratina-O, Darkrai, Gholdengo (and > Chandelure). Although it’s still worse than Hydreigon.

How to get the boost in the first place?

Option 1: Wait for rainy weather in game and then head out in rain to do a local raid. Lol.

Option 2: Have someone in your group run a Primal Kyogre in the 6th slot. Luckily, this is totally doable under your control!

  • As mentioned above in “Bug-type Mega Comparisons”… Primal Kyogre provides the mega boost (30% Water/Electric/Bug, 10% other types) even when it’s in the background. You can get almost permanent mega boost this way!
  • Recap on how to do it:
    • Player A uses 5 bugs + 1 Primal Kyogre
    • All others use 6 bugs, and they all get 30% boost for the entire duration
    • Player A relobbies as soon as the 5 bugs faint
    • (If Player B also puts a Primal Kyogre at the back, Player A also gets 30% boost)

With a Primal Kyogre in the background, bug attacks get boosted 18% more than dark and ghost attacks, almost the same as the 20% natural weather boost. In essence, Primal Kyogre “creates” a rainy weather boost. Therefore, the ranking list is the same as the right-hand side plot.

In particular, with Primal Kyogre boost: Volcarona, Shadow Pinsir and Shadow Scizor become the BEST non-mega counters against mono Psychic-type bosses (Mewtwo, Cresselia, Deoxys, Lake Trio). They’re better than Hydreigon and all other non-megas, on average.

  • Even Vikavolt becomes a great counter.
  • Against [email protected] in all tiers, Shadow dragons and Shadow Mamoswine generally still take the lead.

To be clear, I don’t think anyone needs to build a team of Volcarona and/or shadow bugs for this scenario… But for those who can coordinate about Primal usage, and happen to have the resources for these bug types, this is a great and relevant case for powering them up.

Part 4: Volcarona as a Fire attacker

[Part 4 TL;DR] Volcarona ≈ Darmanitan ≈ Chandelure. All worse than Reshiram and shadows, but they’re the best non-legendary non-shadow non-megas.

Don’t forget that Volcarona also has great stats for a fire-type attacker, and had been highly anticipated since Gen 5 release for this reason, in addition to its bug-type capabilities.

However, 2023 is not 2019…

Fire attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance, using ASE and ASTTW.

Charts of ASE with and without dodging are here.

Volcarona (Fire Spin/Overheat) is virtually identical to Darmanitan and Chandelure. Together, they’re the best non-legendary non-shadow non-mega fire attackers, but well below Fusion Flare Reshiram and shadow fire types (Moltres, Entei, Apex Ho-Oh, Blaziken, Charizard, Typhlosion).

  • More on comparison of these three in later sections…
  • Note: L30 Reshiram = L45 Volcarona, L40 Shadow Blaziken = L50 Volcarona.

If this reminds you of the Volcarona vs. Chandelure comparison as anti-psychic… Yes, it means Volcarona and Chandelure have very similar roles in raids, in addition to similar power.

If this was 2019 when Gen 5’s release first started, Volcarona would have topped the chart. Since then, we’ve had Shadows, Reshiram, Megas, Litwick CD, Reshiram again with an OP move, and more Shadows (Blaziken still being available). Sadly, today Volcarona’s power is no longer worth its rarity.

Chandelure and Darmanitan were released at just the right time… But Volcarona wasn’t.

Volcarona vs. Chandelure vs. Darmanitan

Volcarona vs. Chandelure and Darmanitan (L40 best friends)

This is why I said all three are virtually identical. None of these numbers even exceeded 70%.

These simulation results are just about what you would expect from their ER and DPS numbers (Table):

  • Volcarona has notably better bulk, but also the lowest DPS of the three. As such, it gets an advantage in Estimator, while TTW and Estimator Dodge usually favor the glassier Darmanitan and Chandelure.
  • Darmanitan has higher DPS than Chandelure with similar bulk, but not notably different, and Chandelure has an arguably better typing.

I won’t share the distribution plots (though you can request for them), but those also look quite similar across all three. Significant typing advantages are quite rare, usually less than 5%, and can favor any of them.

Part 5: Future potential of Volcarona and Kleavor

[Part 5 TL;DR] The only possibly exciting changes are probably years away. By the time they happen, they’ll likely not be exciting anymore.

  • Kleavor with Fury Cutter < Vikavolt. Even Shadow Kleavor < Volcarona. It takes Shadow Kleavor/Scizor with hypothetical Bug Buzz to outclass Volcarona.
  • Kleavor > Scizor (in all forms) if both have the same moves.
  • Kleavor with Smack Down <= Tyranitar. Even Stone Axe Kleavor << Rampardos and Rhyperior. Shadow Kleavor with SD = Rampardos, but worse than any of the future shadows.
  • Fiery Dance Volcarona < Reshiram and shadows. Shadow Volcarona ≈ Reshiram, if it ever happens.

Both Volcarona and Kleavor have room for improvement in their movesets:

  • Kleavor is obviously missing STAB fast moves, either bug or rock.
  • Both have signature moves, which may come to GO in the future: Volcarona’s Fiery Dance (fire type), and Kleavor’s Stone Axe (rock type).
  • While Volcarona already has its best non-signature moveset, Kleavor can theoretically get Bug Buzz as an upgrade over X-Scissor, though it’s unlikely.
  • Additionally, Shadow Kleavor may become a thing, if Niantic allows us to evolve Scyther into Kleavor in the future.
  • Shadow Volcarona will presumably come eventually… But who knows how long it will take.

This section looks at the potential of all of them, in all three types: Bug, Rock and Fire. But before that, let me briefly explain…

[Why does Kleavor not have a STAB fast move in GO?]

In short, it’s because Niantic had to follow Kleavor’s moveset in Pokemon Legends: Arceus (PLA). Kleavor has a very restrictive learnset there, without any bug- or rock-type “fast moves” available.

In Pokemon Scarlet and Violet (SV), Kleavor does have a wider datamined learnset that includes Fury Cutter and Smack Down. Before its release, this was the basis for speculation that Kleavor could get them in GO. However, until Pokemon HOME is available for SV, you can’t legally get a Kleavor that knows Fury Cutter or Smack Down in any game… Yet.

It’s widely believed that once HOME support for SV drops (which may happen soon), Fury Cutter and Smack Down Kleavor may become possible in GO, along with many other potential move updates (e.g. Counter Ursaluna, Sludge Bomb Sneasler). The question will then be whether Niantic remembers to add them in GO.

Kleavor (and Scizor)’s potential as bug attackers

Future and speculative Bug attackers ranked by ASE and ASTTW.

Charts of ASE with and without dodging are here.

Important note: All Kleavor sims, and especially Shadow Kleavor sims, are estimates.

  • Pokebattler still has the wrong stats for Kleavor (260 base attack) that was erroneously pushed to Game Master for a while, whereas Kleavor’s correct stats have 253 attack. So I ran sims with 260 Kleavor, then scaled them down proportionally to estimate. These lines in the chart are for 253 Kleavor, but may not be totally accurate.
  • Likewise, Shadow Kleavor doesn’t exist in GM or Pokebattler yet. I scaled the 253 Kleavor stats using the difference between Pinsir and Shadow Pinsir.

First, let me quickly list what (speculative) future changes I showed here, and how likely they may happen:

  • Kleavor with Fury Cutter. Very likely at some point, possibly soon.
  • Shadow Kleavor. Presumably, this will happen eventually when Niantic allows us to evolve our Scyther into Kleavor… But no one knows when, or if it will happen at all.
  • Kleavor and Scizor with Bug Buzz, along with all their forms.
    • This one will probably need a Scyther Community Day or some sort. Theoretically, Bug Buzz can be added during a GBL update, but that’s quite unlikely.
    • That’s also why I included Scizor here. If a Scyther CD happens, it’s possible that both get Bug Buzz as the CD move, or Scizor gets BB and Kleavor gets Stone Axe instead.

Now, how good can they be?

  • Kleavor with Fury Cutter/XS: Between the Vikavolt/Genesect/Yanmega tier and the Pinsir/Escavalier/Scizor tier.
    • Usable but not good enough, since Vikavolt is much more accessible and not raid-exclusive.
    • However, it’s above Scizor. In fact, Kleavor > Scizor if they have the same moveset, since Kleavor has better stats.
  • Shadow Kleavor with FC/XS: Better than Shadow Pinsir and Shadow Scizor. Only below Volcarona.
    • Could have been exciting – the best realistically obtainable bug type – if we could get Shadow Kleavor now. Alas.
    • Future Shadow Yanmega will likely be similar or better.
  • Kleavor forms with Bug Buzz: Regular Kleavor jumps above Vikavolt, but still well below Volcarona. The big deal is Shadow Kleavor, which would finally overtake Volcarona.
  • Scizor forms with Bug Buzz: Worse than respective BB Kleavor forms. Regular Scizor falls within the Vikavolt tier. Shadow Scizor is also better than Volcarona, but wose than Shadow BB Kleavor.
    • Mega Scizor with Bug Buzz basically catches up with Mega Pinsir.

These could have had some exciting potential… But anything other than the first bullet point will likely take years to happen, if ever. At that point, even Larvesta CD becomes more likely. Unless you’re really excited or concerned about Shadow Kleavor/Scizor with Bug Buzz outclassing Volcarona, none of these are particularly relevant.

  • Even thinking about how long it will take to evolve Scyther into Kleavor is concerning. It took 4+ years for Niantic to allow us to evolve Exeggcute and Cubone into their Alolan evolutions, and even then they were only for a limited period of time.

Not to forget… Hydreigon outclasses all of them in practice, anyway.

One last thing to mention: Mega Heracross will eventually become the best bug attacker, period. Stronger than Mega Pinsir.

(More info on Shadow Yanmega, and some other future options like Bug Buzz Vikavolt, can be found in my old bug-type analysis in August.)

Kleavor’s potential as a rock attacker

Future and speculative Rock attackers ranked by ASE and ASTTW.

Charts of ASE with and without dodging are here.

Important note: All Kleavor sims, and especially Shadow Kleavor sims, are estimates. Explained above.

Right now, Kleavor with Quick Attack technically shows up on the chart, but at the very bottom. Worse than Aggron, lol.

Sadly, regular Kleavor’s potential remains limited, even if it gets better moves.

  • With just Smack Down, it’s still “only” at the tier of Smack Down Tyranitar (worse estimator, better TTW). And SD Tyranitar itself has fallen behind after all these years…
  • Even with a signature move Stone Axe – and even if it’s as overpowered as Rock Wrecker – it’s only better than CD Gigalith. Has trouble reaching Terrakion/Tyrantrum level, and significantly below Rampardos and Rhyperior.

Shadow Kleavor is again the bigger deal – but only if you ignore other future shadows.

  • Shadow Kleavor with just Smack Down is essentially a Rampardos clone.
  • Shadow Kleavor with Stone Axe is the one with real potential. As of today, it can become the best non-mega rock attacker, overpowering Rampardos and Shadow Tyranitar.
  • However, this is only if you ignore all other unreleased rock-type shadows. Shadow Rhyperior and Shadow Rampardos will both easily outclass Shadow Kleavor with any move (unless Stone Axe becomes way too OP). Shadow Gigalith will also probably be similar to Shadow Kleavor with Stone Axe, but much more realistic.

Once again, Shadow Kleavor would have been interesting if it was released right now. But by the time we finally get it – and finally get Stone Axe – I’m afraid even its ceiling wouldn’t be notable anymore.

(More info on the future shadows I mentioned can be found in my older rock-type analyses: Tyranitar CD and Gigalith CD.)

Volcarona’s potential as a fire attacker (Fiery Dance and Shadow)

Future and speculative Fire attackers ranked by ASE and ASTTW.

Charts of ASE with and without dodging are here.

Volcarona with Fiery Dance may be too farfetch’d to think about, but I’d say it’s bound to happen eventually – it’s a natural CD move choice for a Larvesta CD.

Unfortunately, without the shadow treatment, even Fiery Dance Volcarona won’t be top-tier. If the move is a Blast Burn clone (already an OP move, and similar to Fusion Flare), FD Volcarona <= Shadow Blaziken, and way worse than Fusion Flare Reshiram.

Shadow Volcarona is again the bigger deal. Even without Fiery Dance, it’s already similar to Reshiram, if not slightly better. But good luck hoping it will happen before the game dies.

Part 6: Verdict on Volcarona and Kleavor/Scyther

Volcarona, as of now, is really just a Chandelure clone (if not worse). Basically equal as fire attackers, and a bit worse as anti-Psychic counters (with a few differences on what bosses they can be used against, such as Hoopa-U vs Giratinas and Lugia).

Thus, for anyone that did December CD 2022, Volcarona is absolutely NOT worth its current cost. Even if you just started this year, I’d still reach the same conclusion – there are plenty of premium fire and dark/ghost types that are available and better.

There are legit arguments for caring about Volcarona when it becomes less rare in the future: Gen 8-9 legendary bosses that are double weak to bug, and being the best anti-Psychic counter with a coordinated Primal Kyogre boost (or in rain). But for the most part, waiting for its CD and exclusive move doesn’t make you miss out too much.

Kleavor‘s current state is laughable, so I’ll just jump to future prospects. The focus here is: Should I evolve a Scyther (regular or shadow) to Scizor now, or wait a couple years and evolve it to Kleavor instead?

Considerations:

  • For any individual Scyther, its best outcome (on an infinite time horizon) is probably a Kleavor, as it has better stats than Scizor. (Unless you think Scizor will get Bug Buzz one day and Kleavor won’t.)
  • For a non-shadow Scyther, even its absolute ceiling doesn’t matter too much. The best-case scenarios (listed below), with the best possible moves, are still not worth the wait. Might as well evolve at least one for Mega Scizor.
    • Kleavor (bug): Above or below Vikavolt
    • Kleavor (rock): Below Rhyperior
    • Scizor (bug): Same as Vikavolt, but can mega evolve
  • Shadow Scyther has higher future potential, especially as Shadow Kleavor, but still a bit meh unless they get better charged moves (Stone Axe, Bug Buzz).
    • Shadow Kleavor without new charged moves is near or below non-shadow Rampardos and Volcarona. Yes, Volcarona basically doesn’t exist now, but it probably will when Shadow Kleavor becomes a thing at all.
    • Even IF Shadow Kleavor and Scizor get the better charged moves, in practice, they’re still worse than Hydreigon and the future rock-type shadows that will likely exist by then. Not to mention how unlikely getting Bug Buzz is (though it might be more likely on Scizor).
    • Bug Buzz does get them to top the bug-type charts, so there’s that.
  • Shadow Scizor has some uses right now, especially with Primal Kyogre boost, but can be replaced with Shadow Pinsir. Neither are crucial by any means.

At the end of the day, the main concern is… How much longer do you expect to play the game?

Predicting the future is difficult, if not impossible. As seen from Volcarona’s hype vs. reality, what you expect may not always play out early enough to reap their benefits.

Yes, Larvesta CD is likely inevitable. One can argue that Scyther is a likely CD candidate, too, and that it may even happen sooner. But the entire game can be totally different by the time they happen, and that’s assuming the game still exists.

If you have some Shadow Scythers that you find no use for, I’d still suggest waiting, if only because of how rare Shadow Scyther is now (it hasn’t been available for 1.5 years). Even if a Scyther CD happens, you won’t be getting Shadow Scythers on that day.

However, if you do want the joy of coordinating with friends to use Shadow Scizors and Primal Kyogre to take down Mewtwo… By all means, do it. That probably gives you better value than waiting an unknown number of years for a chance at Shadow Kleavor, or Shadow Scizor with Bug Buzz. (Keep in mind Shadow Pinsir fulfills that role too.)

Personally, I will keep my own Shadow Scythers unevolved. But that’s because I already have 6 Shadow Pinsirs (lol), so getting a Shadow Scizor adds little value to me. That may or may not apply to your needs and wants.

Ultimately, do what makes you happy.


Articles coming up next

  • Quick analysis on Blast Burn Delphox for May CD.

Appendix: Past analyses on other types