The rain goes drop, your feet go flop, but you can’t hear, what you should fear, a toxic shadow, lurking below, Gengar. This week we have my favourite Generation 1 Pokemon and still one of my favourites to this day! What a great Pokemon to return to after missing a week. I have mentioned before that I have loved the Ghastly line ever since their mischief in the anime episode “The Tower of Terror” which made me see Ghost types in a different light, as misunderstood instead of scary. I highly suggest checking out the episode.
Description: The Shadow Pokemon
Type: Ghost / Poison [Mega: Ghost / Poison]
Abilities: Cursed Body (Gen 6 and Earlier: Levitate) [Mega: Shadow Tag]
Hidden Ability: None
Competitive: [Smogon Ubers] [Smogon OU] [VGC 2017]
Evolution: Ghastly -> Level 25 -> Haunter -> Trade -> Gengar -> Gengarite -> Mega Gengar
Origin: Gengar appears to be based on a human shadow, which is my interpretation, but it also bears resemblance to the Cheshire Cat. Its name has confused me for a long time but Bulbapedia seems to think that the “gar” comes from doppleganger. A surprising Dutch word “genganger“, meaning roughly a spirit of the deceased, is the closest match that people seem to have found.
Original Appearance: Pokemon Red and Blue
Dex Entry [Red]: Under a full moon, this Pokémon likes to mimic the shadows of people and laugh at their fright.
Gengar has been a mainstay in competitive Pokemon since the beginning, and well deserving of it too. In game, Ghastly is often available in the spookier locations but obtaining a Gengar via trade is often not the easiest thing to do before end game. Either way I have still found ways to travel with Gengar on my team, my own friendly shadow at least that is how I imagine it.
Gengar has always had a significant place in OU due to its S-Tier ability Levitate. In Sun and Moon that ability was replaced by Cursed Body. As a ghost type with access to Curse’s and Hex’s I feel like this ability is far more fitting and I can understand the desire to change it, especially since Gengar is a shadow and should not be floating, but it did lower its competitiveness significantly. Mega-Gengar has long been an Uber Pokemon due to its strong ability Shadow Tag. As with many banned Pokemon, Mega Gengar offered a unique play style that required specific counters and team building options, it was definitely too powerful but I always hate to see variety like that removed due to poor balance.
Gengar and Mega-Gengar’s stats lean towards being a fast Special Attacker with much better than average stats in those areas, but poor bulk overall. Its movepool is solid for that role with access to Shadow Ball and Sludge Wave for STAB and coverage in the form of Focus Blast, Dazzling Gleam, Icy Wind, Energy Ball, and Thunderbolt. Even though Gengar is a terrible physical attacker it is actually one of the lucky few to get all the elemental punches and even Shadow Punch, not that these should be used. As if that weren’t enough Gengar has almost every utility move you could want, Taunt, Disable, Will-o-Wisp, Knock Off, Perish Song, Infestation, Hypnosis, Destiny Bond, and Dream Eater (this is not an easy move to use trust me I’ve tried). No matter what the next sets entail this should be enough to convince you just how much variety Gengar can offer!
There are tons of sets available for Mega Gengar on Smogon so check them out. The simplest one runs all out offensive with Sludge Bomb/Focus Blast and Sludge Wave for Xerneas with Taunt and Destiny Bond. Destiny Bond is the key to this set because in Ubers Gengar is only equipped to beat a few Pokemon and this move can give it a last Hurrah in battle forcing the opponent to activate the destiny bond with a combination of Shadow Tag and Taunt. The set that caused so much trouble back in the days of OU uses Perish Song. With the opponent unable to switch you can stall them out with Substitute and Protect until the last turn, then Gengar switches out and the opponent falls to the song. This is the set that I think added some creativity to the meta but it is notably weaker in Ubers.
Regular Gengar is still present in OU and run the same as ever as a fast Special Attacker. Run the normal STABs, with Focus Blast coverage for Dark/Steel types. It also can run Thunderbolt, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball or utility in the last spot depending on what you are targeting. It can run Life Orb/Choice Specs but I have found Choice Scarf to be better so your shadow can keep up to Tapu Koko, Latios, scarf Lele, and other speedy monsters in the tier. If you would rather avoid locking yourself into a move then Never Ending Nightmare has an awesome animation and is very effective.
I love Gengar and this article is already long but there are two fun sets I really enjoy playing around with. One works with a team heavy on statuses, for instance Toxic Spikes, which runs Substitute/Focus Blast, Hex, Will-o-Wisp, Sludge Wave. I love Hex’s flavour and power, casting curses is the start of many a good story and it is so satisfying to pull off. Typically I run it with a Z-move, Fightium-Z avoids Focus Blast misses and Poisonium-Z gives you a powerful nuke. The final set I haven’t figured out ever since the loss of levitate but it is designed to frustrate opponents. By using Substitute you can avoid being knocked out by your opponent’s Gengar counter, and then you can Disable that move leaving them much less effective. From here you can either fire away with your preferred attacks in the last two slots. Run this with Black Sludge and you can pull off the trick a few times. It was actually a popular set in BW and it is hilarious when it works. Sorry for the length of this article, Mega Pokemon always have so much more content to write about. If there is a section you don’t particularly like let me know so I can start trimming some fat. Obviously I don’t have space for VGC 2017 analysis but I think with all the Fairy types Gengar is underused at the moment so check out the link I posted in Competitive.
There was a story about a girl who was best friends with her shadow, but every night it would be left lonely. She searched high and low but once the sun went down her friend disappeared. Until one day she lit a candle, and discovered her friend was always there by her side, it was simply too dark to see them.
Until next time,