Preface And Defining Tanks
Right lads it’s Svidrigailov here to give you the lowdown on all of Pokemon Masters’ best tanks and how to use them. If you’re just browsing without a specific pair in mind the reviews of tank classes as a whole should act as a great TL;DR for you. Before we start getting into what tanks you should use and when, let’s come up with a definition of “tank”. For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to be considering any Sync Pair whose primary raison d’etre is absorbing opposing Attacks. This means that offensive Supports like Alakazam and Samurott who mainly serve as enablers for Strikers that require additional buffs won’t count. Now, there are four categories that most of Pokemon Masters’ tanks fall into: Bulk tanks, Healing tanks, Debuff tanks, and Evasiveness tanks. I’ll be reviewing all of the major pairs (in no particular order) of each category, as well as the categories themselves across all game modes. Before we get started, note that some pairs fit multiple of these categories and will be placed in the category that most of their utility stems from. Here we go!
Note: I keep this thing constantly updated, so if you find anything you think is outdated or just disagree with, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]
Evasiveness tanks use boosts to the Evasiveness stat to reduce Damage by reducing the amount of Attacks that hit them in the first place. Most of these pairs tend to take a fair amount of time to build up these buffs through Passives like Look Alive and Fortuitous and don’t rely on Trainer Moves. These qualities make Evasive tanks generally excellent for the protracted siege of Battle Villa, but less than ideal for Events and Legendary Arena where every blow could OhKo as well as Co-op where switching out strips away stat bonuses.
Mew is widely considered to be the undisputed king of Battle Villa. It combines elements of all three types of tanks to create a highly versatile, nigh unkillable pair that you can almost never go wrong with using. The pair was evidently made to excel in Battle Villa, as its healing ability and nearly all its buffs are infinitely repeatable without worrying about Mp, and its high defense and low hp allow it to make the most out of every heal. Its only real weakness in this mode is lack of a spammable one-bar move, but the sheer power of Swift combined with Unfortuitous more than makes up for the extra Gauge cost. As for other modes, Mew is just as much of a monster in Co-op as in the villa with its self buffs and decent damage potential, but can occasionally falter in Single Player Events and Legendary Arena where its low health pool and lack of Defense buffs can result in it being knocked out before it has a chance to boost up.
A heavily underrated pair, Glalie’s Fortuitous buffs, potent healing, and debuff potential make it an excellent backup tank for any team that can afford the slot. In Co-op, its lack of base bulk and reliance on slow Regen for healing can make it less than ideal, but in Single Player Events and especially Battle Villa Glalie’s healing and defensive buffs can make its team nigh unkillable. It even has a highly spammable Aoe One Bar in Powder Snow that makes it great for farming Sync Counter, has a good chance to apply Freeze, and can be a powerful debuff tool with Lucky Skills like Defense Crush. Overall, Glalie is one of the game’s finest backup tanks, but its lack of up front Bulk can make it difficult to use as a team’s only defensive pair, especially in Co-op. Additionally, losing the utility of Aoe debuffs makes it slightly less useful in Legendary Arena where it’s outclassed by many single-target Status users.
Rotom is one of the game’s most versatile tanks, and as a result is highly popular across all modes. Its incredibly powerful offensive buffs would seem to classify it as more of a Support than a Tank, but Look Alive and its sheer bulk actually make it one of the few pairs able to excel at either. This makes the pair one of the game’s strongest main tanks, able to shine on any team and in any game mode. In Battle Villa, passive evasion buffs and a One Bar spam move make it a powerhouse capable of carrying a Striker through several stages a day. In Single Player Events, its offensive buffs and raw Bulk allow it to turn any Striker into a damage dealing monster and then buy it the time to put that damage to use. Finally, in Co-op, “Breathtaking!” and Thunder Shock become even more valuable since lowering the Sync Counter is so much harder, and Rotom’s immense bulk is invaluable for pivoting into Sync Moves. Even in the Legendary Arena where Evasion tends to be less powerful, its sheer bulk and ability to boost Sleep user’s Accuracy make it an incredible option.
The addition of its Sync Grid has launched Starmie from its former niche role to the forefront of the Single Player meta as one of the game’s best backup tanks. Starmie’s huge number of different strengths is too long to list since it’s such a well-rounded pair, so I’ll just give you a rundown of its role in the different modes. In Battle Villa, Friendly Care “Catch Us If You Can!”’s combination of short and long term healing with powerful Evasion buffs allow Starmie to render a bulky main tank nearly unkillable during a 3v9. Outside of that situation, the plethora of Mp Refresh effects in Starmie’s grid make it sustainable across multiple stages and cement its position as the BV backup tank of choice for most players. In Events, the immediate value of “Catch Us If You Can!” usually tends to prove much more useful than the slow buff accumulation of its prime competitor, Glalie (who makes up for this by having Aoe Regen that allows it to outlast Starmie in Legendary Arena). Finally, Starmie does tend to fall behind in Co-op in comparison to bulkier pairs like Rotom and Mew, but can still put its decent damage and excellent Evasion to good use as an alright choice for that format.
Healers tend to be the most versatile members of the tank family with generally solid bulk, access to additional buffs on top of their healing, and the universally useful power of healing itself. Where these pairs tend to excel largely depends on their specific toolkit as opposed to the abilities of the class as a whole, since healing is such a widely applicable capability. Examples of this include the dominance of Mp Refresh users like Swanna in Battle Villa and Arena as well as self buffers like Eevee and Torterra in Co-op.
By far the most prominent healer in the Battle Villa today, Swanna’s Mp Refreshed potions, one bar attack move, powerful buffs, and decent promoted bulk make it an absolutely essential pair for aspiring BV players. In terms of other modes, Swanna’s sheer healing potential makes it a top defensive Support in Single Player events while also ensuring that it doesn’t rely on buffs in Co-op. In Legendary Events, its powerful upfront heal allows more setup-intensive pairs like Garchomp and Metagross time to get rolling before being knocked out. In short, Swanna is not only one of the game’s best healers, but one of the game’s best tanks in general and one of its few must-train pairs.
Formerly an extremely popular pair, it has somewhat fallen out of favor in modes other than Battle Villa since Swanna’s Sync Grid stole its niche from under it. Despite this, it remains a solid contender in the Villa where Thunder Shock’s chance to apply Status and the need for multiple healers allows it to see a good amount of use. Additionally, for players who didn’t make it to Sync Level two on Swanna during her event, Pikachu remains the game’s only Mp Refresh Master Healer Potion user and an incredibly important pair. Unfortunately, it also finds itself generally outclassed by the myriad of status focused Tech pairs with more consistent debuffs in Legendary Arena. In conclusion, though it can still be used to great effect in BV in tandem with Swanna, in other modes it’s generally better to stick with the more well-rounded buffer.
While not quite as meta-defining as something like Swanna in Single Player, Eevee sports some of the game’s most powerful Co-op abilities and a few pronounced strengths that make it more than usable in Single Player Modes. First off, in Co-op Eevee’s self buffs matter much more since it has full access to the Move Gauge, and Benefactor allows any Striker to tear it up in combination with Extreme Evoboost. In Single Player, Potion and “Let’s Go!” give it the healing and Gauge regen to be an effective Support. Combined with the one bar Tackle for Sync spam and the bulk to be a main tank, Eevee is a perfectly viable pair for Battle Villa and Legendary Events when more powerful healers aren’t available and even for some Single Player events where Extreme Evoboost gives it a small niche.
Torterra is a highly unique pair, with an interesting set of skills that make it a great main tank in all formats, but one that requires a backup to be effective in the Villa. The passive Power Siphon combined with its impressive bulk give it great survivability, but “Good As New!”’s low Mp stops it from riding out long 3v9s without a healing backup tank. Speaking of Passives, built-in Vigilance gives it a strong Legendary Arena niche as a Sand Support of all things, since it has room in the Lucky Skill slot for Sand Shelter. In Co-op, its offensive potential and healing (even if it is one time) allow it to take great advantage of the split Move Gauge to be one of the format’s best tanks. Finally, within the shorter matches against more powerful foes found in Events, Torterra’s incredible base bulk and powerful one-time heal make it an incredibly useful wall (Power Siphon’s lower utility in this format is more than compensated for by Vigilance’s ability to save a match on its own against moves like Hyper Beam and Overheat).
A Bulk tank is any pair that absorbs damage through a combination raw bulk stats and defensive buffs. These pairs are generally powerful forces in Co-op, Legendary Arena, and Single Player Events where they don’t have to remain on the field as long and can easily leverage their immediate bulk to absorb one or two hits that would OhKo other pairs. Where they tend to fall behind in comparison to Healers and Evaders is during protracted Battle Villa Stages where chip damage has time to accumulate. Basically, in any situation where a small amount of big attacks need to be absorbed Bulk tanks are the way to go. However, making it through several minutes of chip damage in the Battle Villa just isn’t what they were built for.
Used by many as the default all-purpose Bulk tank, Salamence’s strong mixed defense and universally applicable Gauge Regen make it a highly versatile pair. On top of this, Intimidate provides some nice additional utility by lowering the opposing team’s Attack. Despite these things, however, Salamence is not without its drawbacks. A lack of a spammable one bar move can make it a little bit clunky in Battle Villa when trying to boost Sync Count without wasting buffs, and its base Bulk stats aren’t quite enough to make it an effective tank without those buffs. Overall, a more than solid pair in non-Battle Villa modes, and an effective one time 3v9 tank in the Villa, even if it won’t carry you through 6 levels in a day.
By far the game’s most prominent weather tank, Reuniclus’ Sync Grid making it immune to weather while giving it space for Vigilance can make it obscenely bulky on the right teams. In Co-op, its natural bulk and offensive power make it a solid, if not outstanding choice, and the weather shelter skills combined with the Lucky Slot and its defensive buffs allow Reuniclus to occupy a place as an unlikely top-tier Single Player tank. On top of the sheer bulk provided by its buffs and weather immunity, Reuniclus also has access to two other powerful skills: healing and Move Gauge Regen. Catalytic Cure and Healthy Healing compliment its upfront bulk perfectly by giving it great long-term survivability, and Move Gauge Refresh is the definition of a simple but effective all-purpose Trainer Move.
Steelix is far and away the game’s Physically bulkiest tank, and combined with “Clang!”’s Crit blocking and a strong healer this can completely shut opposing physical pairs out of the game. This makes it an incredible force in Single Player Events and many Legendary Arenas, where it can make use of all its buffs and only be used against physical opponents. Its passable damage output on top of these things also makes it a good choice for most Co-op stages. However, despite Steelix’s power in other Single Player modes, it has several weaknesses in Battle Villa that make it completely undesirable in that area. Lack of a spammable one-bar move, poor Sp.Def, and reliance on Trainer Moves for utility are among the reasons to skip this one in BV.
Debuff tanks use things like Status and Stat drops to increase the team’s survivability by worsening the opposing team’s offense as opposed to buffing their Allies’ defenses. Because moves with these effects are generally attacking moves that don’t rely on Mp, debuff tanks tend to be highly popular (and powerful) options in the Battle Villa. However, they aren’t without their weaknesses; the Gauge they demand to be effective and their generally lower bulk than other types of tanks can (and often does) make them worse options in fast-paced Single Player Events. Finally, status focused debuffers, especially Sleep and Flinch users like Gengar and Persian, are incredible forces in Legendary Arena where they can literally stop the Stage Boss from being able to act at all.
Torkoal is yet another immensely powerful pair in the Battle Villa, where its Sync Grid Burn Synergy and powerful one bar move allow it to deal great damage while debilitating opponents without the use of a single Trainer Move. In other modes where Mp conservation is less important, however, Torkoal isn’t nearly the meta-defining force it is in BV (although it’s still solid in Co-op). During the lightning-paced 3v3’s of Single Player Events, Torkoal’s large Gauge commitment for applying Ember and lack of upfront bulk make it difficult to use as a main tank, and the absence of healing from its kit allows Glalie and and Starmie to outclass it as a backup. In Legendary Arena, Burn isn’t the most useful status and pairs with more powerful Trainer moves tend to outclass it, although it's still a solid pick. Finally, access to an entire Move Gauge allows it to happily go about applying Burns in Co-op without distraction, but the prevalence of Status mitigating abilities and Torkoal’s lack of bulk stats for pivoting keep it out of the upper echelon of this format.
The addition of the Legendary Arena has given Gengar an unlikely niche as one of the mode’s premier status tanks. The power of Sleep in this format when combined with an Accuracy boost from Alakazam or Rotom is such that Gengar’s lack of bulk is completely irrelevant while it stops the Stage Boss from using moves at all, allowing for ridiculously easy 3-pair clears of any Arena difficulty. In other modes, it’s more of a niche pair, although it can make a deadly pairing with Eevee and another Sleep user in just about any format.
An extremely potent (if somewhat weather-reliant) tank, Vileplume’s ability to consistently spread Paralysis and Confusion while persistently activating Healing Sun has made it a Sun staple since the introduction of Battle Villa. In terms of other modes, its potent self buffs allow it to see a fair amount of Event use despite Status being less relevant there, although it does fall behind in Co-op where it can’t always rely on Sun to keep it healthy. Additionally, Vileplume has to deal with its own lack of physical bulk and the effect it has on its versatility in every mode. While “Pour It On!” helps mitigate this issue, problems with time and Mp stop it from truly fixing it and leave Vileplume vulnerable to early game physical damage. Finally, Paralysis and constant Confusion are powerful assets in Legendary Arena where it’s a great choice for Sun teams but generally outclassed outside of them.
Regenerating Hp and Aoe debuffs are usually make for a powerful Sync Pair, and Masquerain is no exception. While the slow boil its consistent debuffs and healing rely on to be effective makes it a little clunky in Events and Arena, Masquerain is an extremely potent tank in both Battle Villa and Co-op. Terrify, Struggle Bug, and Infestation give it plenty of room to do work in the Mp restricted environment of Battle Villa, and its excellent set of self buffs make it one of Co-op’s best debuffers. Additionally, as an Aoe Support, Masquerain can benefit greatly from the Defense Crush Lucky Skill when paired with a physical Striker, an excellent trait for any tank to have.