Sync Spotlight/Should You Pull?: Iris & Hydreigon

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

One of only two Tech Pokefair units released thus far, Champion & Iris Hydreigon have two primary jobs in this game:

  1. Drop enemy offenses
  2. Sync nuke anything with lowered stats back to the stone-age

While not the first sync pair focused on lowering enemy offenses, Iris & Hydreigon are arguably the best. This is thanks to their AoE moves Breaking Swipe and Snarl, which lower Attack and Special Attack respectively, the ability Double Drop to ensure -2 stages to these stats per use instead of the stated -1, and even Piercing Gaze to ensure that these moves never miss. They are also capable of outstanding damage output thanks to their passive skill, Power Loving, which boosts damage based on how many times the target’s stats have been dropped. This can lead to significant damage once stat drops have added up. But while their general attacking power is good, their real power comes from the fact that their sync move comes with a similar effect, and can even be boosted more thanks to their sync grid, which has Pecking Order and Devastation to boost sync move damage based on drops in Attack and Special Attack respectively. All-in-all, these factors work together to make for a very strong sync pair that almost never becomes dead weight after their main job is already done.  The one issue worth mentioning might be that while they can act as a Dragon attacker in the vein of Sygna Suit Cynthia & Kommo-o or Lance & Dragonite, the setup needed to reach comparable non-Sync Move damage is fairly substantial, and requires a fair amount of team support to pull off effectively.

Game Modes

In terms of practical usage, Champion Iris & Hydreigon have a generally solid track record across most of the game’s modes, making them an appealing sync pair overall.

Champion’s Stadium: Master Mode

Bring Iris & Hydreigon into any stage that’s not immune or severely resistant to offense drops and you’ve just made your team very hard to break, especially when paired with a unit that can buff Defense and/or Special Defense. They can also be used as an offensive sync pair, especially in Dragon weak stages, for the advantage of additional role compression. However, here is where a few holes start to appear in their kit. First up is the fact that, as previously stated, they take a bit more setup than Lance or Sygna Suit Cynthia to hit genuinely hard, meaning battles could drag out a bit longer. The second issue is the fact that one of their biggest strengths can actually become a bit of a liability. Since Iris & Hydreigon are not a striker sync pair, their nuclear Sync Move only strikes a single target, even with their Six Star EX form unlocked. And this is where its sheer power actually becomes a bit of an issue, as when properly supported it might just one-shot the center, leaving the sides open to switch to powerful AoE moves that can threaten the entire team. Still, by this point both sides will likely have -6 Attack and Special Attack, greatly mitigating the risk.For these reasons, it’s important to play smart when using them for their damage dealing potential in the Champion’s Stadium

Full Force Battles

Iris & Hydreigon are doubtlessly effective here, but this format does hit one of their weaknesses more than most other modes; the fact that their bread-and-butter is lowering enemy stats. Once you take down a foe, a new one will take its place without any of the stat-drops that the player has spent so much time carrying over, so at that point it’s basically time to start from scratch. Still, their ability to adapt to dropping whichever stat needs to be dealt with quickly and efficiently means that they can circumnavigate this issue fairly well.

The Battle Villa

This is another area where Iris & Hydreigon can shine, but a bit more for their Tech skills than their damage output. The ability to drop enemy offenses combined with their general non-reliance on skill uses for this role can support the team substantially, and can give the player more time to set up and steamroll the enemy team. However, their offensive power is a bit lacking unless you first rack up a number of stat drops on the target. So if you intend to use them as a more typical offensive sync pair, then they’ll want to work with other sync pairs that passively boost stats and/or drop the enemy stats that Hydreigon doesn’t effect.

Legendary Arena

Here, Iris & Hydreigon are a bit of a mixed bag. Their stat-dropping ability can be invaluable, and their sync nuking ability is perfectly suited to what is generally a single-opponent format, but the fact that the opponent resets stat drops at each stage is a genuine problem. For this reason, Iris & Hydreigon are probably best saved for later stages of the fight, where they can cripple the 3rd stage in particular and then sync nuke them out of existence with ease.

How Do I Use It? (Grid, Lucky Skills, And Comps):

As with most Tech sync pairs, Champion Iris & Hydreigon are best when used in one of two main capacities: a true Tech that focuses on making life hard on the opponent, or a damage dealer, which normally relies on the effects of their Tech set to maximize damage. But Iris & Hydreigon are particularly interesting in that they have the opportunity to spec for both tactics without sacrificing either if properly built.  

Here are the nodes that are generally the most valuable for Champion Iris & Hydreigon:

  • Dragon Rush, Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅖) allows for ease of use for Hydreigon’s main attack
  • Dragon Rush: Trip Up 6 (⅗) has outstanding odds of lowering the opponent’s speed by one stage on use of Dragon Rush, except it’s actually two stages thanks to their passive skill. This is good on its own merit, and also plays into Power Loving and their built in sync nuke for more damage.
  • Breaking Swipe Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅖) and Snarl Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅕)  are great, as you’ll generally be using these moves at least 3 times each per battle.
  • Pecking Order (⅗) and Devastation (⅗) are the keys to using Hydreigon to blow up the world, as together they turn its Sync Move into a monstrous ball of pure damage.
  • Sync Move Power+25 (⅗) nodes are nice and can add large amounts of damage after boosts are accounted for.

And these are “runner up” nodes that are situationally useful, but may not be worth going out of your way for:

  • Three Heads! MP Refresh 2 (⅖) could be very useful, but it only has one chance to activate. Unless you don’t mind relying on luck or refreshing a stage until you score an MP refresh, it may not be worth spending energy on this node.
  • Three Heads! All Ramped Up 2 (⅗) is nice to have for a bit of team support, but it’s only +2 given the move’s 1 use base, is expensive to activate, and is locked behind nodes that aren’t super useful overall.
  • Beef Up 3 (⅖) is nice as Hydreigon’s damage-dealing capabilities are physical, but it’s ultimately useless in most cases as it will probably only activate on an AoE move, and is locked behind less useful nodes.
  • Snarl Superduper Effective 2 (⅖) and Breaking Swipe Critical Strike 1 (⅗). These moves are more used for utility than damage, though they can reach respectable damage numbers as more and more debuffs are stacked.
  • Ground Guard (⅗) is a fun reference to the main series, where Hydreigon is immune to Ground Type attacks thanks to its Levitate ability. It can have a bit of utility in Masters against common Ground Type AoE moves like Earthquake and Bulldoze, but it’s not a great node in practice.

So how important is it to pull multiple copies of Champion Iris & Hydreigon? That largely depends on what you want to use them for. 

  1. At ⅕, their only noteworthy node is Snarl Move Gauge Refresh 3. This will have some utility, but not a lot. This is fine though, as the majority of their Tech capabilities are built into their kit.
  2. At ⅖, they unlock a bit more utility with Dragon Rush Move Gauge Refresh 3, Breaking Swipe Move Gauge Refresh 2,  and Three Heads! MP Refresh 3. It’s here where their ability to act more offensively starts to shine
  3. ⅗ grants access to their entire grid, where their full power can truly shine.

In short; ⅕ is fine for Tech, ⅖ is a good starting point for an offensive build, and ⅗ is outright required for a full-powered sync nuke build. Figure out where you’re comfortable landing, and spend gems accordingly.

As far as Lucky Skills go, if you intend to use Iris & Hydreigon for their attacking prowess, then go for Critical Strike 2. It provides maximum damage output with Dragon Rush and boosts Sync Move damage even further, though you’ll want to bring along some Critical Rate support for this. If you just want this pair for their stat-dropping skills, then Defense Crush 2 is probably the way to go. Thanks to their passive skill, Iris & Hydreigon can use this to drop enemy defense by 2 stages per activation, which can boost their own damage and makes it very effective if paired with a Physical attacker.

Team-wise, Iris & Hydreigon can fit either as a typical Tech unit, or as an attacker in their own right. If used for their Tech skills first and foremost, then they can actually fit on most teams, and are perfect for any strong tank like Sygna Suit Blue & Blastoise or Jasmine & Steelix because of just how much longevity they can add. If used as a damage dealer, then Iris & Hydreigon are going to primarily want some Critical Rate support, Attack support, maybe some Speed support, and a bit of help dropping enemy stats. And lo-and-behold, Sygna Suit Blue & Blastoise can give almost all of the above, in particular being able to max Iris & Hydreigon’s Critical Rate without the need for MP refreshes thanks to their own trainer move. Another outstanding tank partner for this role is Sygna Suit Leaf & Venusaur. This is thanks to their tremendous bulk, two types of recovery options, and, most importantly, their ability to drop the enemy team’s Defense and/or Special Defense. Together, these two can decimate the opposing team’s stats in very short order, leaving them severely crippled in no time flat while also opening the gates for Hydreigon to hit absurdly hard. The issue here is that this leaves the team without a way to buff Attack or Critical Rate, much less speed. To fill these needs, Hilbert & Samurott are the perfect partners.. They can max out team Attack and Critical Rate thanks to their grid, and can also boost Speed. On top of this, their grid can allow them to either drop enemy Defense with Aqua Tail, or have solid odds of flinching with Waterfall, meaning they have genuine utility even after their buffs are all spent. Phoebe & Dusknoir are also solid partners thanks to their ability to fill in Hydreigon’s offensive gaps, and can help out with their ability to tank hits very well. Finally, frail sync pairs such as Lusamine & Pheromosa love having Iris & Hydreigon as partners, as they can provide substantial damage protection in short order.

Is It Worth Pulling?

Champion Iris & Hydreigon bring a lot of genuine utility to the table that can make them very attractive in multiple game modes. They can fit on a lot of teams, and are peerless in what they focus on. However, they can be outright shut down against some opponents and, while very powerful as an attacker, their setup requirement is fairly substantial.

Champion Iris & Hydreigon are definitely worth pulling, but just make sure that their skills are what you want on your team before dropping too many gems, and also note that we’re confirmed to have a new set of seasonal sync pairs on the way for April. We will likely know more about these sync pairs before this Pokefair ends, so waiting to see what’s in store before breaking the bank might be prudent.

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