Sync Spotlight/Should You Pull?: Raihan & Duraludon

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

Raihan & Duraludon come to us with an offensive typing that is already represented by two outstanding syc pairs, but a style that’s a bit more their own. While it’s easy to look at them and say “oh, just another Steel Type striker”, a closer look reveals something a bit deeper than that. To start with, Raihan & Duraludon deal special Steel Type damage, which is currently a trait that’s unique to them. Next is the fact Raihan & Duraludon’s competition share one common thread: they have a bit of “hurry-up-and-wait” built into their strategies. Steven & Metagross need to Mega Evolve to become great, while Gloria & Zacian need to wait for the opposing team to use a Sync Move to hit for maximum damage. Raihan & Duraludon, meanwhile, are very impatient and want to just get to the point! Right off the bat their Ferocious Entry ability makes them hit +4 Attack and Special Attack, so it doesn’t take much to fully buff them. They also don’t need to hit any arbitrary requirement to start hitting hard, so they can just come out swinging with their main attack, Steel Beam. That said, it’s not all sunshine, roses, and beams of steel for Raihan & Duraludon.  They’re not quite as good at battles of attrition as their contemporaries for the most part, lacking many mechanisms to keep themselves going strong long-term. Steel Beam takes a chunk of HP away from Duraludon with every use, and though the net damage taken is greatly lessened thanks to its innate Standfast 9 ability and auto-recovery from the trainer move, “Top This!”, it will eventually take its toll. Yes, this effect can be removed via Raihan & Duraludon’s grid, but not all Sync Grid builds can afford it. You also have to worry about the fact that they are quite slow, which does not bode well with a sync pair that relies heavily on a 4-bar move for damage. Overall, Raihan & Duraludon take their fairly populated niche in an entirely different direction and enable some very interesting tactics as a result.

Champion’s Stadium: Master Mode

Raihan & Duraludon have a very solid presence in the Champion’s Stadium overall. This is, again due to their quick-draw play style, which can potentially allow the player to pick more offensive bonuses for the opposing team in order to keep them squishy with the goal of obliterating them before they can pose a major threat. They operate best against Steel Weak stages because of their trainer skill’s Super Effective Damage multiplier, but can still work well when just used for their raw power.

The Battle Villa

One would think that the Battle Villa would be a mode where Raihan & Duraludon could shine, as they self-buff and have great coverage. And you would be right… if not for their speed issue and self-damage. Yes, they can come in and instantly lay down very, very powerful attacks without needing to do much, but they can’t do so consistently due to just how slow they are without buffs, as well as the recoil of Steel Beam that will slowly drain their HP if you don’t pick up Recoil Removal on their grid.

Full Force Battles

Full Force Battles tend to be battles of attrition, so Raihan & Duraludon’s whole schtick of shooting first doesn’t help a whole lot unless you’re facing down a first-line opponent that needs to drop quickly due to some threat that it poses. They can operate just fine in this mode, but it doesn’t play to their strengths quite as well.

Legendary Arena 

Leaving a Legendary Arena boss alone early-game can occasionally be an issue, so using Duraludon on your first line can result in a very punishing opener. Granted, Legendary Arenas tend to have specific gimmicks that the player is expected to exploit or watch out for, but at times sheer damage can at least do the start of the job well enough to warrant use.

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

Using Raihan & Duraludon basically comes down to “click Steel Beam and win”, but a few nodes can definitely be considered key to unlocking their maximum potential.

These are generally the most important nodes on Raihan & Duraludon’s grid:

  • Grand Entry 2 (⅗) is, surprisingly, a great node on Raihan & Duraludon. This node grants +2 Special Attack when Raihan & Duraludon enter the battle, which translates into a full +6 when their innate passives are also considered.  This makes them almost entirely ready to wreck everything on entry. It is fairly expensive at 12 energy, though….
  • Focus Rush 1 (⅗) lets Raihan & Duraludon max their own Critical Rate after a use of their trainer move, but it’s locked in a quadrant that is a bit less useful for garnering instantaneous power.
  • Steel Beam Accuracy +5 (⅕) is inexpensive and gives Steel Beam a 100% base accuracy, which is very nice when you’re counting on early-game damage. It’s also right along the way to…
  • Steel Beam Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅔). This node is highly recommended, as it has solid odds of activating and can potentially help out Raihan & Duraludon’s speed issue quite a bit.
  • Tough Cookie (⅗) can add a lot of damage over time, and Stoic 2 (2/5) can help, though it’s probably better to just pull in some support for the latter job.
  • Sands of Time 3 and Surging Sand 3 can provide large damage gains, and the temporary nature of weather fits their general needs well. It also fits them thematically! They do require wading through a few of the less useful nodes, though.

Next are the nodes that are nice to have, but not generally worth going out of the way for:

  • Recoil Removal (⅗) is a very good node, but is it always worth getting? Well, yes and no. If you play Raihan & Duraludon as a glass cannon/quick-draw sync pair, then the 5% HP loss per use of Steel Beam might be acceptable if the result is enough damage to end the fight quickly. On the other hand, it's definitely recommended if you intend to use Raihan & Duraludon in the Battle Villa or other more drawn out game modes.
  • Sand Shelter (⅕) is the same story as above, but it is along the way to the more important sand nodes, so it may be worth going for.
  • Sand Blaster 5 (⅗) adds a lot of sync move damage, and works especially well for a Six Star EX Raihan & Duraludon, but it’s generally not quite as important as other damage nodes.
  • Pinpoint Entry 1 (⅖) is useful for its ability to ensure that nothing that Duraludon uses misses under normal circumstances, but most players will tend to stick with Steel Beam, and has the previously mentioned Accuracy+5 node is already along the way to other important nodes.
  • Unflappable (⅕) is okay, but flinching moves that could bypass the team’s tank and hit Duraludon as well aren’t super common.
  • Top This! MP Refresh 2 (⅖) has low odds of success on a once per battle skill. However, if it does work then that’s a second free, super-effective boosted move as well as a self-maxed Critical Rate. It might be worth the risk in some cases.

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

  • Dragon Pulse: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅕ and ⅖) and Rock Slide: Move Gauge Refresh (⅖) are both for moves that Duraludon isn’t quite as good at using. It can pull duty as a Dragon or Rock attacker if you need it to, but it’s not the best in these roles.
  • Supreme Entry (⅗)  and Entry Freebie (3/3) are great on paper; hit super hard/without using the move gauge right off the bat, right? Well, Raihan & Duraludon’s trainer move grants both of these effects as well, and since the go-to strategy will generally be to use this move once and then start tearing apart the opposition, the cost generally won’t be worth it.
  • Burst In (2/5)  is much the same story as above. Ideally, you’ll score +2 Critical Rate on Duraludon’s first turn, and then many teams will have a way to supply the last +1, so this node isn’t extremely useful.

To sum it up, ⅕ doesn’t offer anything genuinely useful aside from an Accuracy boost on Steel Beam, ⅖ is where Raihan & Duraludon gain a bit of help with their speed issues, and ⅗ is where offensive support options start to shine.

For Lucky Skills, the tried-and-true Critical Strike 2 seems to always be the move of choice for attackers. The damage increase can’t be ignored, and it’s basically unparalleled in its power. Stoic 2 could be somewhat useful for builds that pick up Tough Cookie, and Fast Track 2 can be nice for circumventing the speed issue, but they just don’t work with Raihan & Duraludon’s strategy as well as Critical Strike 2.

So how exactly do we build a team around Raihan & Duraludon and their quest to defeat Leon & Charizard by zerg-rushing the entire game? Well, Sygna Suit Blue & Blastoise complements their niche quite well. +1 Critical Rate and move gauge acceleration in one move is just what the doctor ordered, and +2 to Special Attack is likely to passively happen fairly early in the game. They can also boost team Defense, which can translate into damage if Raihan & Duraludon have Tough Cookie active on their grid. Elio & Primarina are also fairly slow, but they can also fill in Duraludon’s missing pieces with a bit of grid work, while also potentially buffing more stats and putting the opposing team to sleep with Sing. And speaking of putting the opposing team to sleep, Raihan & Duraludan’s self-sufficiency can potentially allow for a greater level of freedom in team composition, so powerful tech units such as Serena & Delphox tend to slot in very well. Finally, the ability to use Steel Beam consistently in more drawn out fights will require some speed support, making sync pairs such as Spring May & Lopunny, Roxanne & Probopass, or Sycamore & Xerneas great partners.

Is It Worth Pulling?

If you need Steel Type damage or can see the value of a quick-draw playstyle, then Raihan & Duraludon could shore up holes on your team perfectly. However, if you already have other Steel Type options, then the added value of a Steel Type that specializes in Special damage might be a bit less attractive. Either way, Raihan & Duraludon will serve those who pull them well, just so long as you’re prepared to play them to their strengths.

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