Here ye, here ye PUCL, here comes the Nidoking. On this Pokemon of the Week we are taking a look at a favourite of Thatch’s, Nidoking. When I was a child, I thought Nidoking was the coolest looking Pokemon in Generation 1, and years later I still think it has a great design. The design is made even more iconic by the fact that its pre-evolution, Nidorino, is one of the very first Pokemon you see when you start up Pokemon Red or Blue as it faces off against Gengar in the opening cinematic. I like to think of it as a great big, purple, Kaiju so I am excited to see if that interpretation is correct when we look into its origins. Let’s get started.
Description: The Drill Pokemon
Abilities: Poison Point/Rivalry
Hidden Ability: Sheer Force
Competitive: [Smogon OU] [Smogon UU XY]
Evolution: Nidoran[male] -> Level 16 -> Nidorino -> Moon Stone -> Nidoking
Nidorino having some bonding time with baby Nido and papa Nido.
Origin: Nidoking does have an official origin so I am tempted to go with my Kaiju theory…that is until I looked at its size. At 4′ 7″ it is over a foot shorter than myself. Now I picture it as more of a little bunny. A bunny that should not be pet mind you as the “nido” in Nidoking comes from the word cnidocyte, which is a cell animals use to inject toxins into predators and prey. All that remains is the king part of his name, and I’m sure you can figure out where that comes from, just look at that crown of spikes!
Original Appearance: Pokemon Red and Blue
Dex Entry [Heart Gold]: It swings its big tail around during battle. If its foe flinches, it will charge with its sturdy body. (Sounds like something out of For Honor).
To me Nidoking has always come across as a paternal Pokemon, I imagined a strong bond with their young Nidoran. I still remember the Nidoran episode of the anime, where the Nidoran are like young teenagers chasing after love despite the disapproval of their parents. Mind you those “parents” were trainers and not Nidoking and Nidoqueen but I think that child like depiction was what made them fit the picture of a big nido-family in my mind.
Being a Moon Stone evolution, and due to the rarity of that stone, means that Nidoking is hard to come by in the earlier generations. I know I missed out on it in Pokemon Yellow much to my dismay. Never the less it is seen a great deal in Pokemon Red in the speedrunning world where it is a true All-Star.
Let me tell you, even though they look like a happy family, those Nidoran’s better be on good behavior because I would not want to get on Nidoking’s bad side. With the ability Sheer Force and the widest movepool you could ask for (courtesy of being a Generation 1 Pokemon) he is an intimidating beast. Before we get into the main Nidoking sets lets take a look at some of his more interesting features. Nidoking and Nidoqueen are unique to the Poison/Ground typing. This does leave them weak to many of the most common offensive typings including Water, Ice, Psychic, and Ground. However, Poison and Ground are two great offensive STAB’s to have on your team. Combine this with Nidoking’s poor defenses and it means he will lean towards being an attacker most of the time. This is contradictory to the ability Poison Point which is good when you are trying to take repetitive physical hits. Unfortunately as much as I love that ability it is not optimal in this case. Nidoking, comes equipped with a great in game playthrough ability, Rivalry. Although not useful in competitive due to its high variability, Rivalry, does make you far more aware of Pokemon genders during your playthrough and can open your eyes to an easy to overlook feature.
Nidoking of course is not allowed in the VGC format due to the fact that he is not found in the Alola-dex. That said, let us move on to the meat of Nidoking sets, the special attacker. This set makes use of Nidoking’s strongest assets, Sheer Force and a great movepool. Maxing speed and putting the rest of your EVs into Special Attack will generally give the most success. From there you can choose any combination of Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Flamethrower, Sludge Wave/Bomb, and Earth Power that fits your team. The two STABs are recommended since they do the most damage but maybe you prefer more coverage. The benefit of all these moves is that they get the Sheer Force boost at the cost of their secondary effects, drastically increasing the damage by a whopping 30%. This is the reason why Nidoking is run as a Special Attacker despite having higher attack. However, it is my personal opinion that he is almost as effective at being a physical attacker using Thunder/Ice/Fire Punch, Poison Jab, Superpower (with no negative effect!), and Earthquake/Bulldoze. The math works out such that you only lose damage on your ground STAB, in all other situations you match the Special set, giving Nidoking not only versatility in movepool but also specialties. Another key feature of Sheer Force is that on moves which make use of its effect, a Life Orb will give the 30% damage boost but will not take away any health in return which is a fantastic interaction between items and abilities. This synergy is the final touch on what is one of the most satisfying attackers in Pokemon history. If all-out attacking isn’t for you then you can add on Stealth Rocks and play with the EV’s to fill a different role on your team.
This was a very long article, but Nidoking has been around a long time. Make sure to tune in to the hit series Game of Thorns to see Nidoking rule over the 7 Continents of Poke-ros.
See you next time, SumtimesIFly
(P.S. I apologize for the tardiness of this article but my week was absolutely crazy and this was the first time I could sit down and really get into the discussion. I haven’t formally mentioned it before but this article is normally scheduled for release on Thursdays so look forward to this upcoming one on the 23rd)