Should You Pull? Marnie & Mawile

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

Palentine season started in 2021, and it quickly established itself as a holiday centered around some pretty strong Sync Pairs. Will 2022 continue this (admittedly short) trend? Well, we start the holiday with a return of the fan-favorite trainer from Galar, Marnie. This punk-rock girl now dons an apron to help with the day’s baking, and standing (not so) tall at her side is none other than Mawile, the plucky little Pokemon with its eponymous maw from Hoenn. Together, they make up our latest Steel Type unit, but just how are they set to perform? Let’s take a look!

We have another Mega Evolution on our hands, so looking at stats gets one more layer of strategy than what we’re generally used to. And that’s good in this case, as the stats on display here leave… much to be desired, frankly. Mawile sports a good Attack stat, low bulk that leans a bit in favor of physical Defense, and bad speed. Seriously; this is a Speed stat that is surpassed by several eggmons at their base promotion level. As Mega Mawile, we get a bit of a boost in Defense, as well as a boost that should be expected by anyone who’s used Mega Mawile in the main series; a fairly large buff to Attack. 

So how do these stats work together with Marnie & Mawile’s kit? To start with, we have Iron Head as their main attack. It’s not the strongest move, but it will suffice for what Marnie & Mawile want to do. Growl comes next, and it continues the proud tradition of taking a basically worthless move from the main series and making it fairly nice in Masters, as it inflicts -1 Attack to the entire opposing team on use for a mere 1-bar requirement. Shout It Out! is next, and its name gives me nightmares of being harassed by Team Yell in Galar. This Trainer Move offers +2 Attack and +1 Defense/Special Defense on use, patching up Mawile’s lackluster bulk while preparing for a killing bite.  Finally, we come to what is likely the main reason that you’re really considering pulling for Marnie & Mawile: Steel Wish. Much like we’ve seen in the past with the Ghost and Dragon variants, Steel Wish sets a Steel Zone on the field that boosts Steel Type attacks while active. Not much else to say here; it’s a very nice skill to have!

With stats and moves out of the way, let’s finish off the basic overview with passive skills. First up is Terrify 2. This skill mimics Mawile’s most commonly utilized ability in the main series, Intimidate, in that it drops the opposing team’s Attack when it hits the field. But it’s also more than that! Not only does this skill drop the opposing team’s Attack by two stages, it will activate a second time on Mega Evolution, making -4 Attack inflicted passively easily achievable. Next up is Enfeeble 2, and if you liked Terrify 2, then you’re going to love this one. It’s the exact same thing as above, but it drops Defense instead, opening up the opposing team for even more damage from Marnie & Mawile or any physically-oriented teammates that they may have. We cap this Sync Pair off with Team Sharp Entry 1, which boosts the entire team’s Critical Rate by 1 when hitting the field. And much like the previous skills, this will re-activate on Mega Evolution, opening up the team for +2 Critical Rate passively.

So now that we have a picture of this Sync Pair painted, let’s give it a critique! To start with, Marnie & Mawile have some very solid damage potential. Between their ability to passively drop the opposing team’s Defense, their Attack boost on Mega Evolution, and the power of Steel Wish, they can hit some surprisingly high numbers despite the low base power of Iron Head. They also have a very powerful Sync Move available if setup properly, which can be compounded by Tech’s EX bonus for a very hard hit. Outside of dealing damage, Marnie & Mawile also have some very real Tech-utility at their disposal. The ability to outright melt Attack and Defense alike can be extremely useful, their passive Critical Rate boost can be great for quick team setup, the power of Steel Wish can breathe new life into many Steel Types in the game, and they can even score occasional Flinches with Iron Head just for good measure. If played to their strengths, Marnie & Mawile can be a great asset to their team both offensively and defensively.

But looking a bit deeper reveals a few misplaced strokes on this canvas. One of Marnie & Mawile’s biggest drawbacks has to be their low Speed stat, which may end up forcing them to default to the one-bar Growl even when the opposing team is sitting at -6 Attack just to keep up the team’s Sync Move counter. This problem can also be compounded by the fact that many of the Steel Types that Marnie & Mawile are meant to provide Steel Zone support for tend to be pretty slow themselves, which can make Speed support very important.

Champion Stadium: Master Mode

The “Good” Steel Type attackers are all limited currently, and Marnie & Mawile can definitely help out on that front. But more importantly, they can either turn the other big-names of the type into metal juggernauts, or raise the power of “lesser” Steel Type attackers to the point of viability thanks to Steel Wish. Just note that stages that stick with Special attacks won’t care about Mawile’s Attack dropping skills.

Legendary Arena & Gauntlet

With a focus on single-enemy damage, devastating Sync Move power, the ability to Flinch, and even some very useful passive stat-drops, Marnie & Mawile can be outstanding for select Legendary Arenas, and can potentially act as an all-in-one attacker to take down a Legendary Gauntlet stage with only a bit of support. It’s also worth noting that, as mentioned above, they can be paired with lesser Steel Type attackers to bring their damage output to a new level thanks to Steel Wish.

Extreme Battles

High damage and solid utility can leave Marnie & Mawile sitting very comfortably on many of these stages, as they can either take the main attacker role or sit as a second-string attacker with their added functionality as a bonus.

Battle Villa 

A passive +2 Critical Rate for the entire team can be clutch in the Villa, but the full number requires a Sync Move investment, which can be an issue for those who rely on Sycamore & Xerneas for easy/passive stat boosts. +1 is still nice, at least. And while they do have some very nice passive stat drops on their side, multi-layer battles will tend to leave this a moot point. Still, they’re pretty solid in the villa!

How To Use It?

Sync Grid

These are generally the most important tiles on Marnie & Mawile’s grid:

  • Pecking Order (⅗) makes for a potentially devastating Sync Move, and it easy to manage.
  • Metallic Surge 5 (⅗) is another way to make Marnie & Mawile’s Sync Move absolutely devastating.
  • Iron Head: Aggravation 1 (⅖) can make Iron Head substantially more… aggravating.
  • A mix of the four Sync Move: Power+25 (⅗) tiles can be very useful for boosting the move’s low base power due to being a Mega Evolution move.
  • Metallic Acceleration 2 (⅖) is great for circumnavigating Marnie & Mawile’s low speed.

Next are the tiles that are nice to have, but are either niche or not generally worth going out of the way for:

  • Enfeeble 1 (⅗) works with Marnie & Mawile’s passive Enfeeble 2 to inflict -3 Defense on the opposing team when hitting the field, which means a full -6 Defense post-Mega. However, picking it up will also cost other high-priority tiles, making it lower priority.
  • Power Posture (⅖) is easy to activate, but is another case of having a bit too much of an opportunity cost to be a recommended pick.
  • Iron Head: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅖) is good for helping with Mawile’s low base Speed.
  • Shout it Out! MP Refresh 2 (⅕) is nice for hitting +6 Attack and also getting a bit more Defense/Special Defense.
  • Steel Wish: MP Refresh 2 (⅗) is nice for longer battles, but many fights will tend to be over before it’s needed.
  • Head Start 1 (⅗) won’t activate a second time on Mega Evolution, and is really only worth considering if you’re pairing Marnie & Mawile with other Sync Pairs that carry similar effects to hit the coveted -3 turns. Still, some note-worthy partners do appreciate its utility enough to make it situationally useful.
  • The two Growl: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅕ & ⅖) tiles can work together to give Growl great odds of either being 0-cost or giving it a negative net-cost to use, but it takes a lot of energy to nab both.
  • Steel Wish: Critical Eye 1 (⅖) can give Marnie & Mawile a full +3 Critical Rate, removing the need for a Critical buffer.
  • Fierce Entry 2 (⅗) is great for fast setup as it, like many other skills, activates a second time on Mega Evolution. However, it’s pretty expensive to reach.
  • Iron Head: Superduper Effective 3 (⅗) is great for Steel-weak stages, but can be a bit expensive to reach.
  • Super Syncer (⅖) is great for a bit of extra damage, but the actual benefit that it adds isn’t exceptional in practice.

Finally, these are the tiles that are probably best to ignore unless they somehow play into a bigger strategy in some way:

  • Endurance (⅖) can actually be useful on select stages given Mawile’s low Special bulk in particular, but is a hard skip most of the time. 
  • Growl: Might Afflicter 1 (⅗) makes setup time a bit shorter, but it’s not worth the high cost.
  • Sand Shelter (⅕) should be ignored outside of ⅕. 99% of the time, the chip damage from Sandstorm won’t swing the outcome of the battle enough to matter.

Lucky Skills

The goldilocks Lucky Skill for Marnie & Mawile has to be Critical Strike 2 for its ability to boost Attack and Sync Move damage alike. It’s an all-around solid choice that works on all builds. But depending on your intended use for Marnie & Mawile, other Lucky Skills will also rise to the surface as good choices.  Super Powered 3 adds even more damage than Critical Strike 2, but only for stages weak to Steel, while Sharp Entry 1 or Fierce Entry 2 can be useful for alleviating the need for support if your plan is to use them without relevant buffers. Move Gauge Refresh 2 is also worth a mention if you want to use Marnie & Mawile for their Tech skill rather than their outright damage, as it can make Iron Head a bit easier to use.

Team Comps

Let’s get the obvious out of the way; pairing Marnie & Mawile on a team with Steven & Metagross, Gloria & Zacian, or Raihan & Duraludon will lead to tremendous Steel Type damage that can clear many stages with ease. Among them, Steven & Metagross gets the most out of the team-up on paper, but Gloria & Zacian have greater overall team synergy due to their superior move-gauge management, and they don’t even mind giving away the first Sync Move of the game most of the time while bringing some Head Start synergy to the team when being paired together. Meanwhile, Raihan & Duraludon really just enjoy Steel Zone’s damage buff, though that alone is enough to make them worth considering with their lightning-fast setup and high Steel Type damage.

But let’s look a bit deeper than the obvious, shall we? First up is the fact that the other Steel Types in the game can be brought to new heights with Steel Zone. Player & Solgaleo, Grimsley & Bisharp, and even Molayne & Alolan Dugtrio can all enjoy the power that Steel Zone offers, but the story doesn’t stop here. While Steel Zone is the big, flashy draw on display, it’s not the only advantage that makes Marnie & Mawile worth adding to your team. General Physical attackers like Grimsley & Sharpedo or Masked Royal & Incineroar love the easy Defense Drops, while other Sync Pairs that enjoy stat drops in general such as Iris & Hydreigon can reap huge dividends in this partnership. While the top use for Marnie & Mawile may be obvious, their other applications should not be overlooked!

And speaking of other applications, what about using Marnie & Mawile as your main source of damage? It really doesn’t take a whole lot to pull off, truth be told. Depending on the grid setup, some Attack and/or Critical Rate may be needed to max out these stats, and a bit of Move Gauge/Speed support as well. Candidates to fill these needs to varying degrees include Hilbert & Samurott, Bugsy & Scyther, or Kiawe & Alolan Marowak, along with numerous others. Among them, Hop & Zamazenta is a particularly stand-out companion for excelling in similar situations and maximizing performance in those situations thanks to great overall synergy with Marnie & Mawile and being able to deal a notable amount of damage on her side.

Is It Worth Pulling?

This one is a bit of a tough call. Marnie & Mawile are strong and useful on their own, and they also bring a new Zone effect to the game. They’re also a seasonal limited run, which adds rarity to the equation that needs to be considered. However, they’re also a bit unwieldy and have a few needs that should be filled in order to maximize their potential. And while the power of Steel Zone is great to have available, the Steel is a somewhat less common weakness for many stages, limiting its viability a bit. And to compound all of this, they are directly competing with Serena & WhimsicottDawn & Alcremie, Cyrus & Darkrai, Dawn & Cresselia, and the 2.5 year celebration that’s well on its way. The competition is definitely pretty steep!

At the end of the day, just be aware of the drawbacks that Marnie & Mawile undeniably have, and get ready to watch them drop the opposition into a steely grave if you judge them to be worth your gems.

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About the Author(s)

Long-time Gamepress fan and writer for Pokemon Go and Pokemon Masters sub-site