For the majority, a new mainline Pokémon game is a chance to fill a Pokédex, battle through a series of gyms, and enjoy watching your gaggle of monster-buddies evolve their way to glory. For a minority, it’s a new dawn in a fierce competitive scene, as the new Gen 9 Pokémon are tested for their worth in on-stage battle. And it seems Houndstone, the evolved form of that life-draining good boy Greavard, has already found its way to the banned list.
It’s extraordinary how differently Pokémon battling is perceived by different players. For most, it’s a game of rock, paper, scissors, where you lob attacks back and forth until you beat the wild monster, and move on. Yet, for those in the competitive scene, it’s a wildly complicated and elaborate endeavor, where intricate specifics that go over everyone else’s heads can be of vital importance. And then, there are the Pokémon that when played a certain way just break everything.
Alongside Houndstone in this crime is Flutter Mane, a so-called Paradox Pokémon, an ancient relation to Misdreavus. As Game Rant reports, Flutter Mane is a Pokémon that just ticks far too many boxes to be a fair feature in battle. It’s Ghost and Fairy, which limits it to only two weaknesses—Ghost and Steel—resistance to Bug, and immunity to Fighting, Dragon and Normal. On top of all that (which is plenty as it is), Flutter Mane is also stacked in Speed and Special Attack. It’s just too much to be fun to fight against, and the Smogon Academy—a primary resource for competitive Pokémon play—has voted to ban it.
Houndstone is even more extreme, however. While it boasts impressive Attack and Defence, the issue is with its signature move, Last Respects. According to Smogon, it’s a Pokémon that they wouldn’t have given a second glance, not even considered for their “Overused” list of most played Pokémon, until Last Respects was noticed.
The strength of the appropriately morbid attack is based on how many other Pokémon in your party have already fainted, gaining 50bp on top of its starting 50 for each. That means, as your last Pokémon in the team, it can wallop enemies for an all-time high of 300bp. Smogon describe this as “unmanageable,” adding, “Even if a few Pokemon are left, it can still have a 200 or 250 BP STAB move as well.”
Which is to say, it hits very, very hard, very fast, and there’s nothing that can realistically resist it. As a result of its game-spoiling ways, it’s received the banhammer. Bad dog. In your bed.
There is one chance of reprise. Should Last Respects become available to another Pokémon, as is apparently suspected, then the specific move will be banned, and Houndstone will be allowed out of the doghouse.