Should You Pull? Whitney & Sawsbuck

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

Few animals bring about visions of the Holiday season quite like Reindeer, and few Pokemon evoke the visage of Santa’s favorite cervine like Sawsbuck. This ever-changing Pokemon comes to us now in its winter coat, representing the season perfectly and spreading cheer as it changes the very earth on which it treads. And who stands beside Sawsbuck? None other than Whitney, the infamous Gym Leader from Johto. Together, they’re here to make sure that our days are merry and bright, and that anyone who stands against them gets the horns!

Whitney & Sawsbuck comprise a Normal Type Tech Sync Pair with a weakness to Fighting Type attacks. They have good Attack, decent Speed, and okay Bulk that’s balanced between Physical and Special. Their moveset starts with Headbutt, which is a simple, 2-bar move that has a chance to cause the opponent to Flinch. Next is Move Gauge Boost, which is a 2-use Trainer Move that grants +3 Move Gauge bars. Next is Horn Leech, which is a 3-bar Grass Type move that returns a portion of the damage dealt to the opponent back to Sawsbuck. We should all be very familiar with this move by now due to Professor Sycamore & Xerneas’ use of it. Finally, we come to the Trainer Move that wraps Whitney & Sawsbuck up in a neat little package and ties a bow on top: Fun Times!. This is a 2-use move that applies the Critical Hit Defense and Move Gauge Acceleration effects to the field, but it also grants an additional field effect depending on how many uses Move Gauge Boost has left:

  • If Move Gauge Boost has 2 uses left, then it sets Grassy Terrain on use.
  • If Move Gauge Boost has 1 use left, then it sets Psychic Terrain on use.
  • If Move Gauge Boost has 0 uses left, then it sets Electric Terrain on use.

This alone adds a lot of role-compression to Whitney & Sawsbuck, as it allows them to effectively support 3 different team archetypes, but we can take this even farther when we look at their Passive Skills.

Each of Whitney & Sawsbuck’s three passive skills correlate to their three available Terrain types, and have relevant bonuses while said terrains are active. Team Verdant Defense Drain 9 will lower the Defense of the target of any attack on use and grant +1 Defense to the entire team while Grassy Terrain is active, Team Weird Sp.Def Drain 9 does the same but with Special Defense on Psychic Terrain, and Team Charged Drain 9 does the same with Speed on Electric Terrain. This adds an additional layer of utility to Whitney & Sawsbuck, and grants a bit more viability to picking them.

When it comes right down to it, the primary utility of Whitney & Sawsbuck has to be their versatility. With the ability to effectively support three different types with ease, newer players who are still building their teams will likely find a lot of utility in Whitney & Sawsbuck, while more seasoned players who may already have all three Terrain types covered will have a solid backup that can work with should the need arise. In general, their access to Grassy Terrain will tend to be their best utility, as the only other option that we have for this in the game at the moment is Sygna Suit Lyra & Celebi, and Master Fairs are notorious for not coming back around very often at all. This is actually very advantageous, as Grassy Terrain is not only the easiest Terrain to get on the field, it’s also the one that gives the most back to Whitney & Sawsbuck, as it boosts the power of Horn Leech and adds an additional layer of Regeneration with every attack use. The main issue with the Grassy Terrain tactic is that utilizing it means that Move Gauge Boost generally needs to basically sit on the table unused until the team is done with Grass, which strips Whitney & Sawsbuck of a bit of utility, though most teams won’t really care given proper move gauge support. Looking beyond Grassy Terrain, Psychic Terrain and especially Electric Terrain have the issue of coming out late due to needing to use Move Gauge Boost first, meaning the terrain can potentially be ready a bit late given some setup options, and Move Gauge Boost may be outright wasted if utilized before the team is ready to attack.

How To Use It?

Sync Grid Considerations & Lucky Skills

Sync Grid & Sync Levels

In truth, ⅕ is perfectly fine for Whitney & Sawsbuck, as they have full terrain-dominance right out of the box! They have grid-access to Headbutt: Move Gauge Refresh 3 and Horn Leech: Move Gauge Refresh 3 for added move-gauge utility, and they also have Move Gauge Boost: MP Refresh 2, but it’s probably best to skip that unless you want to go for Grassy Terrain, as it may delay setting the other Terrains by a bit if it’s successful. 

⅖ is where we start to see Whitney & Sawsbuck’s grid diverge a bit, as they start to specialize even more in utilizing the three terrains. To start with, we get Verdant Recovery 1/Verdant Recovery 1, Precognition 2/Weird Recovery 1, and Turbo Charge 2/Shock Recovery 1 for some Move Gauge and Recovery support while Grassy, Psychic, or Electric Terrains are active, respectively. They also get Move Gauge Boost: Pep Rally 1 for +1 Speed when using Move Gauge Boost, Mad Strength 9 for free Attack boosts while attacking if you want to try a more offensive set or just want to boost the recovery on Horn Leech, and Flabbergast 4 to score a solid chance at leaving the target Confused when attacking to round out the set. 

Finally, ⅗ is where it all comes full-circle. To start with, this is where Whitney & Sawsbuck can actually deal some pretty impressive Sync Move damage despite being incapable of ever being Super Effective thanks to Terrain Sync-Up 9, Interference Sync 9, while Sync Burst 1 gives a bit of added-value to using a Sync Move with this duo with +1 MP to both Trainer Moves after Whitney & Sawsbuck’s first Sync Move. Mind Boggler 9 can drop the target’s Special Defense by 1 when attacking a Flinched, Confused, or Trapped Opponent for a bit of additional utility, Headbutt: Aggravation 1 greatly increases the odds that Headbutt will leave the target Flinching, Sharp Entry 1 adds +1 Critical Rate when Whitney & Sawsbuck take the field, and Empowering Overgrowth 3 powers up moves while Grassy Terrain is active, making Horn Leech in particular much more effective.

EX Viability

While EXing Whitney & Sawsbuck is definitely worthwhile if only for the stats, the utility of the EX Boost to their Sync Move really only makes a huge difference at ⅗, so most players can rest easy knowing that Whitney & Sawsbuck aren’t going to cost them a mandatory 20 Power-Ups.

Lucky Skills

This Sync Pair is a prime user of more utility-based Lucky Skills such as Head Start 1, Defense Crush 2, Fast Track 2, or Mind Games 2 depending on your needs. If you’re just using them for their ability to set Terrains while playing with enemy Debuffs/team Buffs, then any of these three are fine choices to make life a bit easier on that front. If you intend to go the Normal Type Sync Nuke route or just want more damage/recovery on Horn Leech, then the tried-and-true Critical Strike 2 is the way to go, though this will likely require some Critical Rate support elsewhere on the team to utilize fully.

Games Modes

More so than with most units, Whitney & Sawsbuck’s performance varies greatly based on who they’re paired with due to the fact that their primary utility comes from their ability to set different field effects. For this reason, their performance in each game mode will also tend to be pretty volatile depending on how many Sync Pairs a given player has access to. 

That said, they will generally be most useful in the Champion’s Stadium, as that’s where they can provide damage boosts for Grass, Electric, or Psychic attackers while also providing decent team support/enemy debuffs. Chances are pretty solid that each week will have at least one of these three type weaknesses, so they’ll likely find utility pretty frequently. In the Legendary Arena, they are most useful against Regirock and Tornadus, as they are weak to Grass and Electric respectively, but they can also be useful against Tapu Bulu due to their ability to potentially remove its Grass Stage. The obvious picks aside, Whitney & Sawsbuck are also not the worst general picks in the game, as they are capable of respectable Sync Move damage despite never being Super Effective. 

However, the note-worthy strengths largely end here, as the Battle Villa is definitely not their cup of tea. Reliance on MP to perform their main job combined with a lack of offensive buffs outside of their Grid means that they’ll likely burn themselves out in a few short battles and turn into dead-weight.

Team Compositions

The obvious pairings here are attackers that match the types of the three Stages that Whitney & Sawsbuck can set. Sygna Suit Erika & Leafeon, Sygna Suit Leaf & Venusaur, Mallow & Tsareena, N & Zekrom, Elesa & Zebstrika, Giovanni & Mewtwo, and Professor Oak & Mew are all prime examples of attackers that can take advantage of Whitney & Sawsbuck’s skills. 

However, it can also go a bit deeper than that. Whitney & Sawbuck’s ability to set Critical Hit Defense on the field while in the team’s 3rd slot puts them in a rather unique position to protect their team and allow Support units to successfully run Lucky Skills aside from the traditional Vigilance. And while not all Support units will want to switch up their Lucky Skill just for this one pairing, some like Red & Snorlax, Sygna Suit Elesa & Rotom, or Sygna Suit Brendan & Latios can all genuinely make use of other Lucky Skills with potentially outstanding results.

If going for a damaging build, then Whitney & Sawsbuck are going to need a bit of help on the Offense side, due to their abject lack of offensive buffs outside of their grid. Attack and Critical Rate buffs are a must, making Physical Support options like Sonia & Yamper, Hop & Zamazenta, or Hilbert & Samurott mandatory pairings.

Is It Worth Pulling?

If you’re new to Pokemon Masters and still lack boosting Sync Pairs to help out your Grass, Psychic, and/or Electric Type teams, then Holiday Whitney & Sawsbuck may very well be worth some investment. They offer utility on several teams, and can supercharge a number of Strikers with ease. 

However, they also have general-pool competition for their stage-setting capabilities on the Psychic and Electric sides, which can make them a bit of a dubious investment in reality. Their strongest utility has to be their ability to set Grassy Terrain, but it’s probably best to take a look back and see if it’s worth throwing gems their way just for that before taking that dive, especially since they’re terribly outclassed if you managed to pick up Sygna Suit Lyra & Celebi earlier this year. They’re not the worst investment that we’ve seen as of late, but they are definitely a bit polarizing, and are likely to be outclassed in the coming year as the power-creep of Pokemon Masters continues.

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About the Author(s)

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