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Why are Houndstone and Palafin banned in Scarlet & Violet?

by | Dec 21, 2022

Reading Time: 3 min.
Reading Time: 3 min.

Houndstone and Palafin are two amazing new Pokémon added in Scarlet and Violet, so why were they banned just weeks after their debut?

Now that gamers have had time to complete the main story and adapt to the new raid battle mechanic, many players have turned their heads towards competitive battling. Whether in the game itself or on clients like Pokémon Showdown, the community is just now starting to pick apart the game’s mechanics to determine optimal teams, move sets, and stats. That’s part of why it’s so surprising that several Pokémon are already banned. 

Paladin and Houndstone are among the very first battlers barred from Smogon’s OU tier, which is the second-most powerful and most popular battling format. However, the reason why isn’t exactly easy to see at first glance. Here’s why Palafin and Houndstone have both been banned from competitive battling in Scarlet and Violet.

Why is Houndstone banned in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet?

Houndstone has been banned primarily due to its signature move Last Respects, which centralizes the metagame around intentional comebacks.

Last Respects is a Ghost-type move with 50 base power that gains an additional 50 strength for each fainted Pokemon in the party. If Houndstone is the last alive, the move has an insane 300 base strength that is further boosted by same-type attack bonus to 450. That alone makes it arguably the strongest move in the entire game, but it’s meant to be offset by the condition. However, Smogon’s decision-makers have decided that its effects on the metagame are ultimately undesirable.

In the official announcement, admins explained that teams built around a Houndstone with the ability Sand Rush has very little counterplay. The only option is to respond a normal type or revenge kill it after it already claims at least one victim. The vote for Houndstone to become banned was completely unanimous, with the reasons why as simple as as the move itself.

Why is Palafin banned in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet?

Palafin’s unique ability Zero to Hero boosts the Pokémon’s stats into Ubers territory, making it worthy of being banned quickly into Scarlet and Violet’s competitive life cycle.

Palafin starts out as a mediocre water type with just 457 base stats, but after switching out and returning to the field, it switches into hero mode with an insane 650 base stat line. The biggest improvement is to its attack stat, which goes from 70 to 160. This makes it one of the best water-type attackers in the game. Palafin’s signature move Jet Punch even allows it to outspeed faster Pokémon and potentially knock them out before a response can be taken. 

Smogon OU forum leader ausma specifically pointed to a set with Bulk Up and Taunt that denied defensive counterplay while also setting up a sweep with very little investment. The process of swapping it out and then back in is also easier than some competitive battlers may think, as it can be done faster than entry hazards can be set up. Due to its insane value with little opportunity cost, the mod team unanimously chose to ban Palafin from OU play.

While these bans prevent either of these Pokémon from being used in Smogon OU, players are still completely free to use them throughout Scarlet and Violet, which includes online multiplayer. Only trainers who are playing under the Smogon ruleset need to respect this decision.

There’s nothing stopping you from abusing Houndstone or Palafin to take on the toughest challenges in Scarlet and Violet’s single-player and multiplayer modes.

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