Should You Pull? Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

It’s been a long time for poor Ethan. He’s spent years quietly walking in the shadows of the Tier List, watching as his friends Silver and Morty nasl in the glory of the Johto Legends for themselves. This is a trainer that had never really found his moment to shine, but what could he do besides… just keep moving forward?

And that’s when he suddenly remembered that he caught a Lugia back in Johto and has had it sitting in his PC box all of this time!

For years, Ethan has been the butt of many jokes due to his less than stellar performance as a Striker, but gone are the days of Typhlosion and scorn, and before us are the days of Lugia and glory. As the Silver counterpart to Ho-oh, Lugia is a wildly popular Legendary Pokemon, and it joins the game alongside Sygna Suit Ethan to change the Flying Type damage-dealer meta forever. 

Right off the bat, Ethan & Lugia have a high, yet not jaw-droppingly high Special Attack rating, and decent overall Speed. They also have a total bulk rating that is usable, but woefully disappointing for Lugia, who is a Pokemon that’s long been known as one of the bulkiest Pokemon of all in the main series. Move-wise, we start with Aeroblast, which has been Lugia’s signature move since it was released back in Pokemon Silver. This is a 4-bar, single target* move that has 95 base accuracy, below-average damage for a 4-bar attack, and an increased Critical Hit rate that… honestly doesn’t really help at all, but we’ll touch on that later. The next attack is Whirlpool, which is a 2-bar attack with middling accuracy that can trap a single target* on use. We follow this up with X Sp. Atk, which is the tried-and-true classic for buffing Special Attack. And, finally, we come to This is It!, a trainer move that gives +1 Accuracy, the Critical Hit Next effect, three stacks of the Special Move Up Next effect, and even has a 50% chance to reduce the Sync Move counter by 1 on use. But, unfortunately, it only has 1 MP. All-in-all it’s… definitely nice, but doesn’t it feel like it’s missing something? Oh well, I’m sure that we won’t be revisiting this Trainer Move and its apparent shortcomings in the next section.

On to passive skills! As a Johto-based Master Sync Pair, Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia start their kit with Johto Spirit, which boosts the Special Attack and Special Defense of the entire team, and its bonuses grow even larger as more Sync Pairs from Johto join in on the fun. Next up is Extend Range, and… did you happen to notice the little asterisks on all of Lugia’s moves in the previous section? Well, that’s because this skill takes those single-target moves and turns them into AoE attacks. This means that Aeroblast hits the entire enemy team, and Whirlpool traps the entire enemy team, making both far more useful than they otherwise would have been. We follow this up with Brainpower, which adds a nice damage boost to Sync Moves based on how much Lugia’s Special Attack has been raised, which sets the stage for a really nice Sync Nuke once we get to Ethan & Lugia’s Sync Grid. And, at long last, we come to the passive skill that really sets our dear Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia apart from other Strikers: MP Regain 9. With this beautiful little skill, all of Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia’s skills regain 1 MP… every time that they attack or Sync. Yes, this is a pair with virtually infinite MP, and it makes Ethan’s otherwise flawed trainer move into a devastating weapon with absolutely no realistic drawbacks to its use. 

So we have a lot going on here, but we need to boil it down a bit to look at just how Ethan & Lugia realistically perform. To summarize, this is a Sync Pair that plays a simple game of buffing, attacking, buffing, rinse and repeat. After maxing out Special Attack, Ethan’s Trainer move, This Is It!, is the next play. With this, Ethan & Lugia get an Accuracy buff to help with Aeroblast and Whirlpool’s chances to miss, the Critical Hit Next effect to make it so that Critical Rate buffs are basically not needed, and even three stacks of the Special Move Up Next effect! For context, each stack of the Special Move Up Next effect adds an additional 40% to the next attack used, so at 3 stacks that’s 120% damage, meaning Lugia actually deals more net damage by using this skill than just spamming Aeroblast! And what happens when you do use Aeroblast? You get a free MP refresh to start the whole cycle over again! This Attack>Buff>Attack>Buff cycle also has the advantage of making Aeroblast the equivalent of a 2-bar move on average, as you only need to drop a full 4 bars on it once every other turn while keeping an average damage that’s higher than if you just spammed the move instead. This makes Ethan & Lugia pretty attractive for dual-Striker teams, as they really don’t take up much of the Move Gauge to keep on the offensive. And while it’s not a “pro” per-say, it’s worth mentioning that the turns of restraint followed by bursts of destruction suit the theming of Lugia’s desire to hold back to keep those around it safe from its own power perfectly. Oh, and if you time your Sync Move right, you not only get a 100% Critical Sync Move, you also get an MP refresh and keep your previous Special Attack Up Next stacks. This means that it’s easy enough to just use This Is It! again and pick up  another three stacks of Special Attack Up Next, resulting in +240% damage on the next Aeroblast while also keeping the flow up for the next Sync Move. This can snowball into bursts of very high damage that can absolutely decimate the opposing team in short order.

But, unfortunately, we also have to take a look at the flaws behind Ethan & Lugia’s performance. And on this note, their strongest advantage can also become one of their greatest weaknesses. While a well-timed play with Ethan & Lugia can move along like a rhythm game, this rhythm can also foul up along the way and mess up the flow in a way that’s a bit more noticeable here than with more traditional Strikers. To showcase just why this is, let’s first look at what exactly Ethan & Lugia’s job is when thrown into a battle with no relevant support:

  • Buff Special Attack or use Whirlpool to setup more Sync Damage
  • Use This Is It! to set up a Sure Crit for the upcoming Sync Move and score Special Damage Up Next stacks for the next Aeroblast
  • Sync for maximum damage and a refresh on This Is It!
  • Use This Is It! to score the aforementioned buffs and set up a powered-up Aeroblast
  • Use Aeroblast
  • Either use Whirlpool to set up for more Sync move damage (grid dependant) or finish buffing Special Attack…
  • Buff Special Attack again to hit +6 or use This Is It! To set up for the Sync Move that’s coming next. Either way, the flow is disrupted at this point.

It’s easy to get off-track, and takes time to set up without outside help, which can drag down Ethan & Lugia’s early-game damage output by a significant amount. On the bright side, if this happens early-game and you can’t use This Is It! directly before your next Sync Move, then it’s easy to just pass that Sync Move off to an EX Support unit, giving an opportunity to get back on track very effectively. That said, this is also a Sync Pair that really wants to Sync, because that is where a lot of their damage output comes from. Sure, Aeroblast is great, but it’s pretty sluggish compared to what most contemporary Strikers can do, so calling down a category-5 Sync Move is their real bread-and-butter for damage. For all of these reasons, Ethan & Lugia is definitely one of the more difficult Strikers to use in Pokemon Masters, if only because of the planning that it takes to keep them on track. They’re not hard to use, but they are a bit more difficult than most Strikers.

Champion Stadium: Master Mode

We don’t have many powerful Flying Type attackers in the game, so Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia can definitely put in work here, shining with a silvery glint thanks to their high power and solid versatility.

Legendary Arena & Gauntlet

Right now, the only Flying-weak Legendary Arena boss is Tapu Bulu, so Ethan & Lugia have the potential to be valuable when it comes back to say hello. Tapu Bulu aside, one of Ethan & Lugia’s main claims to fame is a devastating AoE Sync Nuke, meaning they ignore a number of passive skills that make Legendary Arena bosses annoying. This fact combined with at least decent attack damage means that Ethan & Lugia actually have a fair bit of potential value here.

Extreme Battles

We don’t have many Johto-based Strikers with exceptional damage output, so that in-and-of itself can add real value to Ethan & Lugia. Unless a stage gives huge bonuses to a Theme Skill that the Johto Adventurer and the Guardian of the Seas lack access to, they should perform very well for most stages.

Battle Villa 

The ability to automatically restore MP with every attack/Sync Move used is huge, as it leads to a means to reliably max Special Attack, boost the Special Attack Up Next effect, and secure Critical Hit Next, making Critical Rate support all but unneeded if played right. In short, Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia are joining the game as one of the titans of the villa, as they are very capable of clearing this game mode in a single day with only a solid wall and possibly some team healing to keep the train rolling through multiple stages.

How To Use It?

Sync Grid

These are generally the most important tiles to pick up:

  • Sync Interference 5 (⅗) provides a huge boost to Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia’s Sync Move damage, and is very easy to set up. Basically any build will want this tile.
  • The four Sync Move: Power+25 (⅖ & ⅗) tiles provide a very nice Sync Move boost, which is always appreciated for a Sync-centric Striker.
  • Foul Fighting 2 (⅖) is another easy to set up tile that offers a very nice buff to Lugia’s otherwise low-ish attack damage. 
  • Shower Power 3 (⅗) is how you score maximum Sync Move damage, as Ethan & Lugia have juuust enough energy to effectively reach it and Interference Sync 5 at the same time. Just make sure that the job of Rain setting for the team is covered in one way or another, obviously.
  • Grand Entry 1 (⅗) can be great for helping Ethan & Lugia max out their Special Attack as quickly as possible, and with no added effort.
  • Sync Thinker 9 (⅗) raises the Special Attack Up Next stacks from 3 to 4 on Sync Move usage, setting up an even stronger damage-burst as a result.

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

  • Healthy Benefits 5 (⅗) is definitely nice for keeping Lugia going, even through an otherwise devastating Sync Move, though its main use is as a pathway to Grand Entry 2, as well as being a reference to Lugia’s hidden ability in the main series: Multiscale, which is exactly this.
  • This Is It! Fleet Feet 1 (⅖) is a nice tile if you need some extra Speed on your team, but it’s almost definitely going to come at the cost of a fair bit of power.
  • This Is It! Brawn Gain 2 (⅗) is a nice tile, sporting 30% odds of granting one stack of Special Attack Up Next with every use of Ethan’s trainer move. However, only using this skill every other turn makes it a bit unreliable in practice.
  • This Is It! BOGO 4 (⅗) can actually be pretty handy if you want to use Ethan & Lugia up on a dual-striker setup or just in the Villa, as 50% odds of the Free Move next effect can be really handy for dishing out more damage.
  • Racing Rain 2 (⅖) can be helpful for Rain builds, as a bit of extra move gauge support is always nice.
  • The two Aeroblast: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅖ & ⅗) tiles are definitely handy to have, but will tend to be less useful in practice as picking them up comes at a rather steep cost that can take other more valuable tiles off of the table.
  • Refreshing Rain 1 (⅖) is nice for a bit of extra healing, but it’s not super useful in general.

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

  • Piercing Gaze (⅖) is useful at the start of the battle for getting around the poor accuracy of Whirlpool and Aeroblast, but it quickly becomes worthless in everything save Evasion-stacking stages as Lugia’s Accuracy snowballs.
  • Whirlpool: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅗) doesn’t do much, especially when you consider the fact that you’ll probably only use Whirlpool only once for the vast majority of stages.
  • XSp. Attack: MP Refresh 2 (⅖) is… wow. Ethan & Lugia literally have 100% odds of scoring this effect every time that they attack, so this is basically worthless unless you’re dead-set on using X Sp.Attack three times in a row at the start of the battle come hell or high water for whatever reason.

Sync Grid Levels & EX Viability

Honestly, if you have Ethan & Lugia, then you may want to shoot for the stars and plan on hitting ⅗ eventually. They’re good without it, but Sync Moves are their main claim to fame, so taking them to this point will be well rewarded with Sync Interference 5 if nothing else. ⅖ honestly doesn’t offer much beyond Foul Fighting 2 and a few Sync Move Power+25 tiles, and ⅕ is virtually just the base kit, so really the best options are probably to stick with ⅕ or go all-in for ⅗.

As a Sync-heavy Sync Pair that isn’t working with the absolute best base stats, EXing Ethan & Lugia should definitely be a priority. Not only do you patch up their power a bit, you also gain access to an AoE Sync, which is where they really shine!

Lucky Skills

The obvious pick is still probably the best; Critical Strike 2. Sure-crit effects plus added Sync Move damage makes this an outstanding choice to run with. Builds that pick up Shower Power 3 may also want to consider Weathered Warrior 3 for its additional damage-output in weather, but doing so also pigeon-holes poor Lugia a bit, as it will be less potent outside of weather effects, even if you eventually want to change up your Sync Grid.

Team Comps

The obvious pick here has to be Anniversary Skyla & Tornadus. Flying Zone support offers huge damage bonuses to Ethan & Lugia, and the added Speed, Healing, and various forms of disruption support are always nice, and the ability to Flinch and Confuse can also activate Foul Fighting if you pick it up on Ethan & Lugia’s grid, making them even more effective. Other obvious picks include Rain setters like May & Swampert or our fellow Johto Master Sync Pair, Sygna Suit Kris & Suicune. With Rain active, Lugia can unleash a cataclysmic torrent of wind thanks to Shower Power 3 that threatens just about anything. Anniversary Steven & Rayquaza are also fine partners, as they sport great Move Gauge management potential, high move damage, a second Master Skill, and they generally don’t care about sharing a Sync Move with whoever they may be partnered with, which can compound into huge Flying Type damage.

As far as “needs” go, Ethan & Lugia don’t really have many. A bit of help getting up their Special Attack so that they can start getting into their flow is definitely helpful, so Support units like Special Costume Jasmine & Celesteela, Sabrina & Alakazam, or Falkner & Swellow are great choices, as they can put in the work and tank for the team, giving Ethan & Lugia the time that they need to do what they’ve got to do. Help with Trapping the opponent is also pretty helpful for Foul Fighting builds as Ethan & Lugia really would rather forgo the use of Whirlpool and focus on Buffing if they don’t have help on that front. Serena & DelphoxMallow & Tsareena, and Anniversary Raihan & Flygon are all great choices here for their various status changes, with many other Sync Pairs following them as well.

If you want to build your Villa team around Ethan & Lugia, then arguably the best choice for a partner will be Red & Snorlax for their ability to tank, heal the team with Mini Potion All, and reduce the Sync Move counter with Red’s Trainer Move. But what really sets them apart is their ability to reliably score one MP Refresh on these skills per battle, giving them tremendous longevity potential.

Is It Worth Pulling?

It’s entirely possible that Ethan & Lugia may have the lowest overall value of the new Johto trio of Master Sync Pairs, but they’re still absolute monsters that are definitely worth adding to your team. When this Sync Pair gets going, the results are doubtlessly impressive to say the least. If you’re new to the game, then this is a Sync Pair that could carry you through a lot of content due to the power that they command, and also give you a stronger grasp of keeping the Sync Move flow going throughout the fight. If you’re a veteran player with a huge base of Sync Pairs, then this is a Sync Pair that still carries a lot of weight, and can be very helpful in a lot of content. Take a careful look at the competition before investing, as this trio will be here for quite a while, but don’t be afraid to invest in Sygna Suit Ethan & Lugia if this is the way that the winds may blow for you. I did, and I have no regrets.

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About the Author(s)

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