Meta Implications: Halloween Update 2020

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We’ve got some new stuff coming soon! Multiple new Galarian forms were released with the start of the Halloween event, and additionally, we've likely got a new move coming for Alolan Marowak's raid day event! Let’s run through them, one by one.

Shadow Bone

Shadow Bone is a Ghost-type Charged Move. It has 80 Power, costs 45 Energy, and comes with a 20% chance to reduce its target’s Defense by 1 stage. Given that Alolan Marowak is literally the only Pokémon that can learn it, it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s going to be a part of the upcoming A-Wak Raid Day (on October 31st from 11am to 5pm local time).

As a move, in a vacuum, it’s really really strong! It shares stats with known powerful moves like Sky Attack, Rock Slide, and Drill Run (and then it has a further upside of defense drop chance!) But how does it fit in with the rest of A-Wak’s kit?

Well, let’s look at its current moves. A-Wak has two Fast Moves that matter, and 3 Charged Moves that matter (sorry, Rock Smash and Flame Wheel). Starting with the fast moves, A-Wak typically runs Fire Spin for both solid damage and energy gain. Alternatively, it can go with Hex, a Ghost-type fast move that trades in some damage for improved energy generation.

For Charged Moves, its main set runs Bone Club (40 Power/35 Energy Ground-type) and Shadow Ball (100 Power/55 Energy Ghost-type). It also has access to Fire Blast (140 Power/80 Energy), though it’s not typically run. The question, then, is what we can do with Shadow Bone to improve Marowak’s performance.

Shadow Bone’s a neat move. It’s halfway between Shadow Ball and Bone Club in terms of cost. The reduced energy reduces the need to run something like Bone Club (an objectively bad move) as a bait, so ideally we can cut that out. To get a better sense of what this could look like, let’s compare Fire Spin + Shadow Bone to the current Fire Spin + Bone Club and Shadow Ball set.

On the whole, going straight Shadow Bone performs pretty comparably to baiting Bone Club and using Shadow Ball, at least in the 1shield. While your matchups are consistently slightly worse, there are actually only two matchups that flip from wins to losses: Froslass and Punch/Shadow Ball Hypno. In the 2shield, you now lose vs double punch Shadow Hypno, Lapras, Shadow Machamp, Scrafty, and Wigglytuff (though the last one only goes from a slight win to a slight loss). However, there’s one major caveat to all of this, those wins only occur with perfect baiting. In fact, if you compare straight Shadow Bone to straight Shadow Ball, you actually perform consistently better! One of the most frustrating things about playing Alolan Marowak is how bait-dependent it is. If you’re not landing your Shadow Balls, or they’re getting shielded, your Wak performs relatively poorly. Consistency matters! A lot. So it doesn’t feel that unreasonable to consider this an autoinclude for Alolan Marowak moving forward.

So, that’s just one Charged Move! We’ve still got another slot to work with, and 3 moves we could use to fill it. So, let’s briefly break down the difference in performance between 3 movesets: Shadow Bone/Bone Club, Shadow Bone/Shadow Ball, and Shadow Bone/Fire Blast. At a baseline, they’ll all be considered with Fire Spin.

The Bait Set (SBo/BC) has the overall best performance, with 1shield wins that the others don’t have, including Drifblim, Froslass, and Sableye. However, these wins aren’t necessarily consistent.

Double Ghost (SBo/SBall) seems to have the worst shields-up performance of the 3, with no unique wins in the 1shield. However, it is the only set that can beat Deoxys-Defense in the 0shield. While you would most likely just be going straight Shadow Bone most of the time, occasionally having Shadow Ball could be helpful!

Fire Bone (SBo/FBlast) is...interesting. While it gives up the Punch/Ball Hypno 1shield win the other sets have, it does pick up the 1shield win against Lapras. You also win the 0shield against Obstagoon and Scrafty, for however much that matters. And of course, it can be nice to have that massive nuke move in the back if you’re able to farm down a Grass-type. It doesn’t necessarily seem like the best set in terms of its wins, but maybe there’ll be a meta where this works best? As a note, though, this set is stronger than the others if all 3 are running Hex, so if you are planning on running Hex, Fire Bone may be the way to go!

Galarian Rapidash

While Galarian Ponyta doesn't quite have the moves to make it anywhere, Rapidash actually seems pretty interesting! Its Great League bulk is about comparable to Charizard, so not super squishy but you’re gonna need to invest shields. It’s a Fairy/Psychic type, which it shares with Gardevoir.

Stamina: 163

Attack: 207

Defense: 163

Fast Moves: Psycho Cut, Low Kick

Charged Moves: Body Slam, Play Rough, Megahorn, Psychic

So...its PvE performance is pretty underwhelming. While Psycho Cut + Psychic is a solid moveset, base 207 attack barely puts it ahead of Aggron. In terms of straight Psychic DPS, it’s slightly ahead of Mr. Mime, and a little bit behind Shadow Abra. It’s just not...great, all things considered.

For PvP, despite being quite squishy, it’s a little bit more interesting! First of all, it’s super spammy, with the combination of Psycho Cut’s incredible energy generation and Body Slam’s low cost. You’re throwing out Body Slams every 4 Psycho Cuts, which is pretty incredible! So then, the question is which secondary move do you run, and you’ve got a few options!

You can see a spreadsheet here which shows different matchup spreads between movesets in the 1- and 2-shield matchups to get the full story, but here’s a summary.

In the 2shield, Body Slam is often enough to get the job done. However, Megahorn is the only way to beat Abomasnow, Hypno (and Shadow Hypno), Meganium, and Umbreon. Psychic lets you handle Stunfisk and Alolan Marowak. Play Rough has no unique wins, though it’s a solid general STAB move with a pretty good win spread. It does let you take the Galvantula 2shield, which Megahorn doesn’t (though it’s incredibly close). Psychic’s only unique wins are Alolan Marowak and Stunfisk, though it’s incredibly bait reliant. The rest of Psychic’s wins are shared with another move.

The 1shield’s interesting as well. Again, Megahorn gets you the most wins, including Abomasnow, Meganium, and Venusaur. However, Megahorn is the one move that can’t beat Altaria in the 1shield, which feels bad for a Fairy-type. Play Rough uniquely beats Sableye, while also covering Shadow Hypno (but not normal), and you can’t beat Venusaur. Psychic has no unique wins, though being able to cover both Altaria and Venusaur (and having a solid neutral hit against Azumarill, even though you lose the 1shield) feels bad.

All things considered, it seems like the play is to go either Play Rough or Megahorn, and if you want to bring out Galarian Rapidash, protect it with shields wherever you can. It may not exactly be made for the open Great League, but it very well may find a restricted format to shine in!


Ah, this one’s really sad. Runerigus is one of the coolest Pokémon released in Sword and Shield, and it had an incredible amount of potential for movesets (more on that some other time, though). So, what’s up with it?

Stamina: 151

Attack: 163

Defense: 237

Fast Move: Astonish

Charged Moves: Rock Tomb, Sand Tomb, Shadow Ball

Just Astonish. The only fast move it Astonish. While it was never going to perform in PvE due to its pitifully low Attack stat, this is just sad. Astonish is one of the worst moves in PvP, and it renders this mon more or less completely unusable. Runerigus? More like Ruinedrigus.

C’mon, Niantic. Give it Shadow Claw. Do it. Please. This one doesn’t even deserve sims. Just know that it’s bad.


Halloween is bringing with it some fun new toys, and a nice side helping of Astonishing (but not entirely surprising) sadness. Shadow Bone should be an interesting upgrade-ish sidegrade-ish option for A-Wak, and My Little Rapidash seems like a really neat mon!

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About the Author(s)

Tyler is a contributing writer for GamePress, primarily focusing on Trainer Battle content. Fan of dogs and fighting games.