Noibat CD: Noivern, Boomburst, and Future Potential
4 months ago
Following its release during last year's Halloween event and the subsequent fortune spent on incubators by players worldwide in hope of obtaining it, Noivern's gorgeous shiny will soon be available to everyone daring enough to go outside for five minutes. And with it comes Boomburst, a famously overtuned move in main series games, making its grand debut in GO in Noivern's Elite movepool. A powerful move being combined with a popular Pokémon, what could possibly go wrong?
Everything. Everything could go wrong.
Before going any further, it's good to take a closer look at Noivern's statline, just to see what we're dealing with.
Type: Flying / Dragon
Max CP at Level 50: 3125
Noivern's base stats aren't terrible in a vacuum, but absolutely pale in comparison with the rest of its fellow flying dragons, all three of Dragonite, Salamence and Rayquaza easily clearing 4000 CP in the realm of Master League, with the former even having a moveset to tango. The sheer stat difference between Noivern and the rest of its kin makes it a complete nonstarter in the realm of Master League, relegating it to Great and Ultra League.
To say Noivern's performance there is abysmal is to be nicer than it deserves. Noivern isn't just bad, it's one of the worst performing fully evolved Pokémon in the game, in the same league of absolute unusability as Vanilluxe, Musharna, or the recently released Crabominable. There's no reason to use it for anything, ever, and unfortunately Boomburst's addition does not improve its standing in the slightest. Why is that? The reason is as simple as it is encompassing- Noivern's atrocious movepool.
Air Slash is not a good move in the vacuum, relying on the immense strength of the three main Pokémon it is attached to, Skarmory, Tropius, and Mandibuzz, to ever see any use. These three can make it work thanks to their great bulk- bulk which Noivern doesn't have, ending up tankier than Dragonite in CP limited formats, but still on the brittler side overall, with overall durability comparable to that of Trevenant.
Noivern's charged attack repertoire manages to be even worse however, and it is what truly kills off any dreams of the Sound Wave Pokémon ever seeing use. All three of Hurricane, Draco Meteor and Psychic are perfectly fine moves (we don't talk about Heat Wave) as long as they can be paired with a cheaper move to act as either bait or a reliable damage dealer. A cheaper move that Noivern does not have, with the 55 energy Psychic being its cheapest move, requiring more turns to get to than it takes Registeel to go from zero to 100 energy.
And this is where Boomburst truly fails as a new addition to its movepool- instead of being a cheap, hyper efficient move Noivern could use to dish out consistent damage, it's yet another high power nuke of a type that's basically completely useless for coverage purposes. True, we don't know Boomburst's energy cost yet, but at 150 power, even if it is as absurdly efficient as its main series games counterpart, the lowest it could possibly go is 60 energy, maybe 55, reaching an obscene 2.73 DPE, 0.35 higher than the next best contender in V-Create.
Even that theoretical 150 Damage / 55 Energy Boomburst does not help Noivern in the slightest. At rank 1, the addition of Boomburst helps Noivern's winrate against all Pokémon go from a pathetic 27.5%... to a perhaps even more pathetic 28.3%, gaining only five new wins.
At this point the question isn't "how good will Boomburst make Noivern", it's "what does Noivern need, in addition to Boomburst, to ever become playable", to which the answer is "a better fast attack and Dragon Claw". As far as the fast attack selection goes, Noivern has options, all of which much better than Air Slash- Gust, Dragon Tail, Wing Attack, or even Shadow Claw. Dragon Tail would work perfectly fine, but at that point Noivern would become too close to a Dragonite for the author's liking, so let's consider the other options.
Just the combination of either of these aforementioned fast moves and Dragon Claw is enough to put Noivern on the map, if only slightly and in the corner. Its overall performance fits in snuggly in between pre-Superpower Dragonite and post-Superpower Dragonite, with all three fast moves delivering comparable results. That is, with one exception, Wing Attack / Dragon Claw / Draco Meteor Noivern able to deliver very impressive results in UL, featuring a 64% winrate against the core meta in 1-1 shielding scenario- most of which comes on the back of Draco Meteor's insane closing power and is very inconsistent as a result.
On the whole, it becomes very usable, though not necessarily one's first or even second choice for open formats, lagging behind Superpower Dragonite's flexibility a tad. What happens once we add Boomburst to the mix, one might ask then, and the results of that are satisfying, if not particularly explosive.
Generally, with a 65 energy Boomburst the results are comparable to Draco Meteor, with 70 energy they're worse, and with less than 65 energy they're better, which makes intuitive sense. Non-STAB Boomburst deals less damage than STAB Draco Meteor, but not that much less, and with how much of an overkill Draco Meteor normally is, the difference doesn't come into play that often since if either of these two land, the opponent is either reduced to a hole in the ground, or laughs you off in case of Registeel.
The main advantage of Boomburst over Draco Meteor is a lack of self-debuff, which is important to note, letting you potentially land two Boombursts in a quick succession without the second one being reduced to dealing chip damage, but difficult to convey through sims alone.
With either of Wing Attack or Shadow Claw, a 65 energy Boomburst would be the safest option, letting Noivern be a solid pick in Ultra League Factions and even have occasional stints in Open Ultra League without becoming too overbearing, though 60 energy wouldn't break it either. In case of Gust, Boomburst could go all the way down to 55 without risking an overpowered Noivern. No matter the fast move or the price of Boomburst, Noivern's Great League performance is slightly worse than in Ultra League, and not worth using in Open Great League, especially with Altaria and Shadow Dragonite around.
That was a very large tangent for a very theoretical scenario, but when you're dealing with something as bad as Noivern, there's not much else you can do if you don't want to be left with a page just stating "it sucks lol".
Other Boomburst users
Noivern isn't the only Pokémon capable of learning Boomburst however- which is a perfect excuse to not have to talk about it anymore, and instead discuss a couple of actually good Pokémon as well as Exploud and Swellow, and how the addition of Boomburst to their moveset could potentially help them.
In addition to being the ugliest creature in existence, Exploud is the other signature user of Boomburst. It shares many traits with Noivern, such as being associated with sound and having a completely awful GO moveset. As opposed to Noivern however, Exploud's avenues towards getting better are much less established, and require one to dig really, really far into its past generation learnset.
The last time Exploud learned Rollout was in Generation IV, and the last time it learned Counter was in Generation III, but it's not like there's no precedent when it comes to dredging moves from ancient generations for GO (see: Earthquake Ho-oh, Counter Alakazam), so let's take a closer look at them. Coupled with a 55 energy Boomburst they make for a rather good Exploud in Great League, both options ending up with a comparable performance overall, its results lagging behind Lickitung but ahead of or equal to most other Normal types such as Miltank. Its winrate is similarly decent in Ultra League, but there Counter wins cleanly over Rollout.
It might not have Body Spam or anywhere near as much bulk as others in this group, but it makes up for it by having access to a giant red button that makes its opponents explode, and I'm only barely exaggerating. In Great League, Exploud's Boomburst oneshots average bulk mons like Swampert or Venusaur and deals upwards of 50% to Umbreon, and it has access to a Shadow variant to drive Boomburst damage up to even more obscene levels.
As nice looking as Exploud's winrate is, it is ultimately just as bait reliant as that of Noivern, and just like Noivern, it really, really wants a low energy Boomburst. 55 energy enables the Rollout moveset which becomes unusable in open Great League at anything more than that, firmly relegating Exploud to limited formats. The Counter moveset is a bit more durable, capable of putting up decent results with a 60 energy Boomburst too, but anything more than that and even it begins to show major cracks.
Though, deep down, do you really want to see this ugly thing's mug more than the current never?
A 55 energy Boomburst would be a small buff to Swellow, letting it replace Brave Bird with a move that hits even harder and doesn't debuff it afterwards. And considering Swellow's current state, it would very much appreciate any buff coming its way.
Even at 55 energy, Boomburst isn't what Kommo-o is looking for, the Scaly Pokémon's moveset already optimal for what it wants to do.
At 55 energy, Boomburst could be a situational consideration over Earth Power in formats where Pokémon movesets aren't set in stone, but not much beyond it.
Oh right, Scarlet and Violet are out, and with them, more potential Boomburst users down the line. Only three Generation IX Pokémon learn it, and of them, Dudunsparce is the only one with STAB. In Great League, its bulk fits snugly between Exploud and Dunsparce, and with a moveset of Rollout / Drill Run / Boomburst, it firmly edges the former out in both limited CP formats.
Palafin? Scream Tail?
The other two potential Boomburst users have much more worth talking about than Dudunspace, since as opposed to being a sidegrade / extra sized version of an already existing mon, both of those are wholly new. They deserve their own articles instead of being crammed into the end of this one, because they have the potential to be very, very good.
February Community Day may not be immediately exciting beyond triple stardust, quadruply so if you spent all your kids' savings on incubators for shiny Noibat back during the Halloween event, but it has the potential to enable quite a few Pokémon down the line, assuming Niantic is interested in making them work. Of course, that is a very large if, but a woman can dream.
In the meantime, good luck filling your wallets and stay warm trainers!