Tinkaton and the End of the World
9 months ago
Out of all the newly introduced Generation IX Pokémon, it's hard to choose a single definite one that took the internet by storm the most, but Tinkaton has a very good argument for taking that title, at least in the period immediately following the games' release. Big Tink's allure is straightforward enough- "what if we took a vaguely humanoid Fairy, but instead of making her a waifu, we made her a gremlin with a propensity for theft and terrorizing birds?". Alternatively, "what if Amy Rose was a Pokémon?".
As wonderful as Tinkaton's design is, her performance in the main series games' competitive scene has been very lacking, despite the stellar typing and an at a glance amusingly overpowered signature move. Sadly, her base stats just don't quite cut it, her very underwhelming base Attack and an overall defensive stat distribution leave her a predictable sitting duck in the context of VGC, Gigaton Hammer no match for the sheer obnoxious power of Make It Rain.
If only there was another game in the Pokémon franchise with a competitive scene in which a defensive stat distribution was rewarded and which currently had a great dearth of viable fairies at the highest levels of competition...
The following stats are not official and are merely speculation.
TINKATON | HAMMER POKÉMON
TYPE: FAIRY / STEEL
BASE ATTACK: 155
BASE DEFENSE: 196
BASE STAMINA: 198
MAX CP: 2544 (2575 w/ Best Buddy boost)
RANK 1 GREAT LEAGUE STAT PRODUCT: 2.132M (1/14/14, level 25.5)
RANK 1 ULTRA LEAGUE STAT PRODUCT: 4.429M (13/15/15, level 49.5)
FAST MOVE LEARNSET: Fairy Wind, Metal Claw, Astonish, Rock Smash
CHARGED MOVE LEARNSET: Brutal Swing, Foul Play, Play Rough, Flash Cannon, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Rock Tomb, Heavy Slam, Brick Break, Draining Kiss, Bulldoze
TINKATUFF | HAMMER POKÉMON
TYPE: FAIRY / STEEL
BASE ATTACK: 104
BASE DEFENSE: 145
BASE STAMINA: 163
MAX CP: 1477 (1495 w/ Best Buddy boost)
RANK 1 GREAT LEAGUE STAT PRODUCT: 2.126M (15/15/15, level 51)
FAST MOVE LEARNSET: Fairy Wind, Metal Claw, Astonish, Rock Smash
CHARGED MOVE LEARNSET: Brutal Swing, Foul Play, Play Rough, Flash Cannon, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Rock Tomb, Brick Break, Draining Kiss
This article primarily concerns Tinkaton, but almost everything in it also applies to Tinkatuff, at least as far as Great League is concerned. The two Tinks end up with an almost identical stat product and moveset, with the only real differences being the big Tink having a more balanced stat distribution between defense and stamina, as well as having access to Bulldoze and Heavy Slam which small Tink doesn't. Everything else is essentially identical, and that includes their performance, making the prospect of a Great League "Tinkahole" not just possible but near certain, especially if both get all the moves they want. And as will become clear over the course of this article, this might not necessarily be a desirable outcome.
Let's get one crucial assumption out of the way: in order to see any play whatsoever, both Tinks need to get Fairy Wind at the very least. That + basically any combination of their possible charged moves is enough to at least make them usable in certain limited formats, but the same cannot be said for any other potential fast move, as all the other ones they could possibly learn are unusable garbage.
Recommended Moveset: Fairy Wind / (two of Brutal Swing, Foul Play, Play Rough, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Rock Tomb, Brick Break, Heavy Slam, Flash Cannon)
With Fairy Wind, the Tinks' resulting playstyle is rather reminiscent of something like Melmetal, with fast energy generation coupled with efficient moves letting them spam their way through most obstacles, giving the hammer girls an impressive winrate when taken at face value. Of course, as anyone who'd ever tried using a Wild Charge reliant Pokémon can attest to, sims aren't quite how real matches play out, and they have to be closely inspected to make sure what they say makes sense. In addition, Tinks' situation is extra rough when it comes to their STAB moves, with a very underpowered Play Rough still atoning for Azumarill's sins to this day, and neither of Flash Cannon and Heavy Slam being particularly inspiring in their own rights.
Which is where the Tinks' three saving graces come into play:
* Absurd defensive typing
* Great bulk
* Access to some very good, cheap, neutral moves
The first point doesn't need much elaboration- Steel is already a famously very balanced defensive typing, and adding a similarly wonderfully designed Fairy to it makes the end result truly something to behold. Rocking 11 resistances, including a triple resistance to Dragon with just two weaknesses in Ground and Fire, a large part of the Pokémon pool simply has no way of dealing good damage to the hammer sisters.
They're Steel types that laugh at (most) Fighters and Fairies that clown on (most) Poison types, which backed by Skarmory bulk makes the end result something one has to respect, if not outright fear. Of course, the Achilles heel of Ground weakness is as much of a thorn here as with any Steel type, and Galarian Stunfisk and Swampert are their hardest counters no matter the moveset configuration, especially with their only ways of dealing super effective damage to the former being absolutely terrible Brick Break, and in Tinkaton's case, equally bad Bulldoze.
Those are far from the only moves in the Tinks’ movepool though, which features very efficient staples like Rock Slide, Brutal Swing, and Foul Play, as well as big meaty nukes in Flash Cannon and Play Rough. It also includes some obvious duds like Heavy Slam or the aforementioned Brick Break or Bulldoze, and including those on the recommended moveset list likely came off as quite weird- these moves are terrible, why would any Pokémon want to use them? Are the Tinks really on the Aegislash level of busted that they need to be given intentionally stunted movesets just to remain balanced?
Honestly? Yeah, they are.
(both are rank 1, versus open Great League meta in 1-1 shield scenario)
It’s easier to list the things the Tinks can’t beat, which are mostly other Steel types and the assorted Ground types. Their Melmetal impression in Brutal Swing / Rock Slide is quite likely their best open Great League moveset, taking 1-1 wins vs. all Ghosts, all Fliers, all Fairies, all Dark types, most Fighters (Toxicroak, Vigoroth and PuP Medicham don’t go down so easily), and quite a few other, neutral matchups. Granted, some of those, like Venusaur, Trevenant, and Lickitung are extremely narrow wins that are liable to get flipped with worse IVs or any chip damage, but this is an extremely impressive list even without them.
The only Pokémon the Tinks consistently lose to are those that can exploit their weaknesses (anything with a Ground charged move), or bulk beasts they can’t hit super effectively where they lose the damage race (Steel types, Toxapex, Spark Lanturn). And with their two charged moves costing 40 and 45 energy respectively, the wins they do get can’t really be said to be particularly bait reliant either, the Tinks are just that good. Their shields down performance is basically identical, while the 2-2 matchups are a bit worse, which is expected with their charged move reliant nature.
With wins like that, Play Rough isn’t even particularly necessary, though it’s not like it makes anything worse either, replacing Rock Slide with it only trading the ability to smite the fiery birds out of the sky for winning versus fighters in protracted 2-2 matchups. It does leave the Tinks with one of the best coverage profiles in the franchise though, with the Dark + Fairy combo resisted by extremely few Pokémon, which, amusingly enough, includes the Tinks themselves.
This is just too good, hands down. While there’s an innately comedic element to the cute pick goblin with a hammer being so good she breaks a competitive format, the joke would start to wear thin by your second set of being spammed to death. And this is just Great League! Spoiler alert: Tinkaton is even better in Ultra League, and a large part of her domination in both formats are cheap moves that give her excellent coverage coupled with an equally great survivability. Something has to give, and the author's suggestion would be to hit the brakes, swap Melmetal for Quagsire as the Tinks’ role model and replace the obscene Brutal Swing / Rock Slide with a much slower Play Rough / Stone Edge. That moveset still leaves the Tinks a force to be reckoned with, just one with a much better defined set of strengths and weaknesses.
Actual Recommended Moveset: Fairy Wind / (two of Play Rough, Stone Edge, Heavy Slam, Flash Cannon, Bulldoze)
The Tinks corebreak Medicham / Sableye, smite all the non-Fire birds (though 1 and 3 Fairy Winds’ worth of energy lead respectively let them grab Talonflame and Charizard back in 1-1s), and can hold their own in every matchup where they’re not taking an Earthquake to the cranium, ultimately going 23-17 vs open Great League in 1-1 shields. In that way they’re fairly solid as safe switches, at least until your opponent pulls a Gunfisk out of their holster. There’s some room to explore other moves, but only so much- Rock Tomb has less immediate power than Stone Edge but does make the Tinks notably stronger in protracted matchups, and I’d wager UL-esque slugfests isn’t something anyone wants to experience in Great League. Flash Cannon and Heavy Slam are largely a downgrade to Play Rough, though the latter’s lower cost can help with bait plays in shields up scenarios. There’s Bulldoze too, but lol, lmao even.
Now, all that was Great League. And with Tinkatuff only barely clearing the "you must have this much CP to ride" bar by using her hammer as a footstool there, it's time for her to go to bed while her big sister does the exact same thing with the equivalent bar for Ultra League, the two Tinks combined requiring upwards of 532 XL candy to build for their respective leagues. Tinkaton's Great League performance was extremely respectable, downright broken with a fully unleashed moveset, Stone Edge / Play Rough reining her in enough to end up with something entirely reasonable even if strong and resulting in Galarian Stunfisk becoming an even better Pokémon by proxy.
Before we proceed into the Ultra League section though, I want to ask you one question, trainer. One, simple question that will prove to be vital when evaluating Tinkaton's UL potential.
Do you fear God, trainer?
With the sight above hopefully inspiring utmost dread into anyone with enough eyes to witness it, allow me, dear trainer, to skip past the part where I retread my explanation of why the big Tink should be restricted to just the big moves and skip straight to discussing the results with that harder hitting moveset.
Even with one arm tied behind her back, UL Tinkaton is still an absolute menace. Ground and Steel types are still an autoloss (aside from Scizor), but almost everything else gets added to the pile of victories next to all the Corviknight scrap with a 28-17 score in a 1-1 scenario, without any real ability to bait. All Fairies, all Dark types, all Fire-less Fliers, almost all Normal types (Lax has a bait reliant win), all Dragons, all Psychics, some Fighters (Toxi clowns on her, as does Cobalion, Virizion and Buzzwole are narrow losses), and most neutral matchups. Rank 1 Tinkaton can even manage to snag a 1-1 victory over Charizard by just barely surviving its Blast Burn before landing her own Stone Edge. In addition, some of her losses are liable to be swung by even just a single Fairy Wind of extra energy, such as Trevenant.
The only real relief is that in 2-2 scenarios most fighters can at least successfully chew through her before she gets to her third Play Rough, but otherwise it’s still basically just Steel, Fire, and Ground types that threaten her even slightly. For crying out loud, she goes 25-1-19 in 1-1 shields, a very impressive score in its own right, with just Fairy Wind / Play Rough, and the latter is not a good move in the slightest. In addition, even if the big Tink does have defined counters, do we really want to make Galarian Stunfisk, one of the most obnoxious mons out there, even better than it already is by the virtue of countering what would no doubt be one of the strongest Pokémon in the game if released in this state?
Sometimes, balancing competitive games can get really tough. I do not envy one bit the Niantic employee that in X years will have to crack the puzzle of fine tuning Tinkaton’s moveset to thread the needle in between being overpowered and worthless. If there’s any advice I could offer to make that task just that bit easier, it’d be to take a closer look at her other possible fast moves, namely Astonish, Rock Smash, and Metal Claw. They’re all god awful and everyone knows it, but they don’t have to be- Metal Claw for example could very well receive a modest buff, not enough to ever make it a consideration on its other users (including the fearsome trio of Gunfisk, Registeel and Dialga), but still sufficient to be able to slap it onto Super Hammer Sisters and let them be PvP staples without being overpowered.
Who knows- maybe by the time the Tinks get released the meta will have shifted enough that they won’t be anywhere near as broken as they would be when faced with today’s meta. Maybe their very base stats will get patched, something that hasn’t happened in years, just to tone them down. Maybe they’ll just get given Astonish and left to rot.
Maybe we won't see them for a decade more because Pokémon GO 2 will reset us all the way back to just Kanto.
Only time will tell, and until then, let the following be the moral of this story:
“With great power, comes a great risk of being given Bulldoze.”