Suicune is on its way in shiny form, so it’s time to take an intermission from our analysis of Ho-Oh and see where we can take this legendary Pokemon! Sadly, the Aurora Pokemon is generally considered to be one of, if not the absolute worst Legendary Pokemon in Go so far. In a sad twist of fate for the fan-favorite cover Legendary of Crystal, it has what averages out to be one of the worst possible mixes of stats and movesets among all of its peers. However, the question arises: can Suicune be made a relevant Pokemon? It’s our hope to figure that out as we analyze its moveset and try to come up with some combination of moves that could give Suicune a niche of its own!
As with any theorycrafting project, countless different options exist. Our goal here is not to say that the moveset(s) that we put together are the absolute greatest possible or the only viable options, but rather to put together existing pieces in such a way that proves that the Pokemon in question has the potential to be worthwhile if given the proper tools.
The Problem With Suicune
In the PVE meta, Suicune has absolutely no viable use. It’s one of many water types, but it has a pitiful attack stat and a lack of a STAB quick move outside of the exceedingly rare and legacy Hidden Power Water. All-in-all, Suicune isn’t even worth a footnote in the raid meta.
Suicune has little real utility. It has a great stat distribution and its quick moves are okay, but it lacks the kick or synergetic coverage needed to make it useful with the exception of Hidden Power. But even then, Hidden Power is a fairly weak move in PVP. Its STAB charged moves, Bubble Beam and Hydro Pump, are respectively far too weak and expensive to be worthwhile. Meanwhile, Ice Beam is good, but better used by other Water types. It can operate in the Ultra League to some degree, but overall it’s just an outclassed Pokemon in PvP.
At this point, the goal for Suicune is to make it the best that we can. We have no real benchmark or goal for PvE, as it will take a huge amount of support to make it worth using, as we’ll see later. However, it does have potential in the PvP meta given the right moveset, so that will be our top final goal. As always, we will not change the actual stats of Suicune, but instead, focus on using its moveset to make it as strong as it can possibly be.
Existing Possible Moves
The introduction of Armored Mewtwo with Dynamic Punch, which it hasn’t been able to learn since Generation 2, has solidified Niantic’s willingness to use legacy movesets from the main series in Go. As such, we are able to expand Suicune’s moveset to what it’s been able to learn since its debut in Gen 2.
Quick Moves (Potential STAB Moves in Bold)
Charge Moves(Potential STAB Moves in Bold)
Existing Possible Movesets
Suicune actually has a few potentially good moves and moveset pairs available in this list. To begin with, let’s take a look at how Suicune’s best possible specialist moveset, Water type, compares with its contemporaries:
...yeah, this is what we’re dealing with here. Suicune is tragically weak. How weak? Well, let’s not beat around the bush and look at what its top movesets would be if we added every move listed above to its potential moveset:
And already we’ve reached the end of this avenue. Given current movesets, Suicune cannot possibly reach any sort of viability in any field. It’s just plainly outclassed in the PvE metagame.
Buffs to Existing Moves & Moves Not Yet In the Game
We’ve seen buffs to existing moves before, and we will probably see them again. However, for reasons that will soon be obvious, we’re going to skip seeing what buffing an existing move would do and instead make a new Charged move specifically for Suicune. As Suicune’s strongest potential is as a Water-type attacker, let’s go ahead and give it its strongest potential Quick Move, Waterfall. On top of that, let’s take the move Hydro Pump as the basis for our new move and raise its power until it’s competitive with the king of the tier, Kyogre. Because Suicune has no signature move, we’re going to name it after one of the few remaining Water-type attacks that are both unused in the game currently and learnable by Suicune: Whirlpool.
Given this theoretical attack, Suicune can just barely out-perform Kyogre in terms of DPS. But just how much power did it take to reach such a number? Well, for reference, let me reiterate that this move uses all of the same basic parameters as Hydro Pump, but we buffed its original 130 base power. So what number did we land on for Suicune to beat Kyogre? 273 base attack. That’s right, Suicune needs a charged move more than twice the power of the already good Hydro Pump in order to reach these levels.
Given the current PvE system, Suicune is quite literally a hopeless cause. In the main series, it once stood as a top contender due to its ability to effectively “stall”, or play defensively while chipping away at the opponent bit by bit. However, this playstyle has no analog in Go’s PVE meta, meaning Suicune is an outright fish out of water that cannot contend for the crown that lies far beyond its reach.
As discussed earlier, Suicune’s performance is not very good in PvP. However, this is largely because of its generally poor moveset! Because of this fact, the Aurora Pokemon may actually be able to find a very good niche for itself on this side of the game by properly leveraging its high bulk and solid moveset potential.
Existing Possible Movesets
Despite its shallow pool of moves, Suicune has a few genuine winners that it can draw from. Arguably its best possible/plausible moveset is Waterfall (4 Damage per Turn/2.66 Energy per Turn) alongside Surf (40 Energy/65 Power) and one of its existing moves, Ice Beam (55 Energy/90 Power). Suicune could also learn the coveted Avalanche (45 Energy/90 Power), but this feels far less realistic as it already has Ice Beam.
Given these moves, Suicune has surprisingly stellar performance against many of the Great League’s top threats in a no-shield scenario:
While Suicune would have issues with Pokemon that traditionally counter Water-types such as Venusaur or Lanturn, it has surprisingly good matchups against many of the tier’s top contenders, which would make it a must-have for Great League play as the quintessential Water Type of the tier.
In the Ultra League, this moveset would make a little impact if only due to the fact that entire tier revolves around Giratina, which defeats Suicune fairly easily even if it’s packing Snarl. The other top players of the tier such as Lucario and Snorlax also shut down Suicune fairly hard, and Water doesn’t have many meta-relevant Pokemon that it hits for super effective damage. All-in-all, Suicune would be a niche pick for the tier with limited practical use.
For Master League, Suicune would be terribly outclassed. It sadly would make no meaningful impact regardless of its moveset.
So why is this moveset so effective? It comes down to the mix of a high-damage Quick Move, a low-energy but still powerful Charged Move, and good coverage. These factors combined would cause Suicune to drain off enemy HP rapidly with its quick move and still get off solidly powerful Charged Moves at a decent rate. As a result, this creates some heavy shield pressure, as Pokemon generally won’t have enough HP left to take multiple Surfs without shielding. This tactic is generally best for a lead, which is a strategy currently epitomized by threats such as Tropius in the Great League.
Beyond these, the other stand-out move that Suicune could learn is Shadow Ball. With its high power, great neutral coverage, and semi-low energy cost, it could allow for another effective move. However, Suicune’s trio-brother Raikou already knows Shadow Ball, which makes this somewhat less likely.
Buffs to Existing Moves
Given the above updates, Suicune becomes a threatening Pokemon due to the reasons outlined above. As this tactic seems to work very well for Suicune, the strongest buff possible is likely to support it to an even greater extent.
For moves that could be buffed, in Suicune’s existing moveset there’s Bubble Beam, which has meager distribution among fully evolved Pokemon, making it a prime choice for buffing without causing many far-reaching changes. Its other charged-move is Water Pulse, which has a very wide distribution but is a genuinely weak move.
To begin with, let’s look at Bubble Beam. In the main series, it has the side effect of lowering the opponent's speed. Pokemon Go does not use speed as a stat, with speed in the main series being distributed into both the attack and defense of a Pokemon. As such, let’s turn Bubble Beam into a status-reducing attack. In particular, we’ll target attack in order to make Suicune’s already fantastic bulk effectively better.
Water Pulse, meanwhile, is a bit less interesting.In the main series it has the side-effect of inflicting Confusion, which we currently have no real analog for in Pokemon Go. As such, the most viable options are to make it a strong and fast move to chain with Waterfall in a manner similar to what it would have with Surf, or a strong but higher energy cost move for shield-baiting.
Overall, this would not be terribly viable. Suicune can already learn Surf, which is a great move with great synergy with the rest of Suicune’s potential moveset, and Water Pulse is a fairly widely distributed. Making large changes. Buffing this move would also buff Pokemon such as Slowbro, Gastrodon, and Whiscash as a result, which unbalances the meta farther. As such, Water Pulse is likely best left as-is.
Moves Not Yet In the Game
Honestly, Suicune really wouldn’t benefit much beyond what’s already been discussed. Yes, it has move options such as Whirlpool and the chance for wider coverage, but not much can be gained beyond what we’ve already looked at up to this point. We could make new, broken moves to bring it even farther, but our goal here is making Suicune viable, not broken.
A lost-cause in the PVE meta, and a potential contender of the PVP meta, Suicune is something of a mixed bag. As Niantic continues to expand PVP, Suicune could go from a Pokemon without a use to one of the most useful Pokemon within its unique niche. So how likely are we to see these or other changes moving forward? It’s hard to say, but as Niantic studies the game that they’ve created and tries to gear it more and more towards the PVP meta, it’s likey that the sad case of Suicune will eventually reach them, and perhaps its time to shine won’t be long afterwards.