Japanese Name: ニョロボン (Nyorobon)
Classification: Tadpole Pokémon
Weight: 119.0 lbs
Gender Ratios: Male 50% – Female 50%
Base Stats: HP 90 / Atk 85 / Def 95 / SpAtk 70 / SpDef 90 / Spd 70
This is quite possibly the buffest tadpole of them all, for sure. Poliwrath, one of the original 151, is still a powerful contender in the LU/RU tier. His defensive stats are very good for what is considered an “inferior” evolutionary path to his cousin Politoed; base 90 HP, 95 Defense and 90 Special Defense let Poliwrath tank multiple neutral hits, or even many weak supereffective hits, directly. Water Absorb helps keep Poliwrath healthy and alive, as well as give your team an effective type immunity. His base 85 Attack stat is nothing to rejoice over, though, and his Special Attack is even worse. Bulk Up or Belly Drum will be useful for better or worse in improving his offensive capability. 70 Speed leaves Poliwrath in a position to outrun some other members of its tier, but Substitute will likely be needed to survive potentially lethal hits coming in at high speed. Still, despite his balanced potential and lack of outstanding stats, Poliwrath is a force to be reckoned with, and can decimate teams unprepared to handle what he can bring to a team.
Base 90/95/90 defenses give Poliwrath the capacity to handle hits well enough, though not as well as other, more specifically bulky Pokemon. Poliwrath’s typing gives him resistance to Fire, Ice, Bug, Rock, Dark and Steel, which is fantastic for a non-Steel LU/RU tier Pokemon. Along with his Water immunity due to its ability Water Absorb, Poliwrath effectively has seven type resistances and the means to restore his health by predicting a switch into a Scald or Hydro Pump or even an Aqua Jet. While his typing gives him numerous resistances, Poliwrath also has the obligatory Electric and Grass weaknesses, as well as the additional Flying and Psychic weaknesses, which are more frequent in the LU/RU tier. As a result of these weaknesses and Poliwrath’s balanced defenses, careful use is recommended.
Attack options are also quite evenly balanced to the point that Poliwrath has troubles. 85/70 Attack and Special Attack leave Poliwrath struggling to hit hard without a boost, and with the loss of Focus Punch in 5th Gen, Poliwrath has to depend on breeding from 4th Gen or boosting skill in 5th to really leave a dent in an opponent. He does have access to two moves that boost his Attack, Bulk Up and Belly Drum, but the latter is not recommended due to the loss of 50% of Poliwrath’s HP and the subsequent ease by which he could be revenge killed. Bulk Up, on the other hand, increases both Attack and Defense one stage, increasing both his physical attack and physical damage resistance, which can make Poliwrath a formidable defensive wall and physical attacker when combined with a Substitute. This also gives Poliwrath some breathing room when combined with his base 70 Speed, at least against physical attacks.
Poliwrath’s offensive movepool is a little shaky with the subsequent retooling of 5th Gen TMs and movepools. Counter, Vacuum Wave, Ice Punch and Focus Punch are all out, and require a breed in 4th Gen to obtain. Poliwrath does have a number of Special Attack options to choose from, including Focus Blast, Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Surf and Scald, but the lower value of his Special Attack and the lack of any type of specially-oriented boosting move makes it a lesser path to travel, and one ultimately better left to his cousin, Politoed. Rock Slide, Earthquake, Poison Jab, Return and Frustration are some uncommon moves that Poliwrath can learn, but are often left to the side in order to utilize STAB moves, which are arguably more important.
Poliwrath can come with Brick Break, DynamicPunch, Circle Throw, Low Sweep and Submission for Fighting attacks and the STAB bonus to go with them, where Waterfall is his only real STAB Water attack on the physical side. Circle Throw is an interesting phazing move to use, and is worth considering. DynamicPunch gives Poliwrath a bit more of a powerful edge, but 50% accuracy makes it a somewhat suicidal move. Submission has moderate base power but also hurts Poliwrath upon using it, and Low Sweep has, well, low power, but has the benefit of slowing an opposing Pokemon down one stage per successful hit. The most balanced of the Fighting attacks is Brick Break by far, with a base power of 75 and the added effect of breaking Reflect/Light Screen, but it has a hard time pulling off significant damage.
Poliwrath has essentially the same status moves that Politoed has. Protect is always a nice standby, but Hypnosis can help to take an opponent out of the game for a while, if you’re willing to gamble with the 60% accuracy. The aforementioned Bulk Up and Belly Drum are ways in which to increase Politoed’s Attack, and Substitute allows Poliwrath to gain immunity to Will-O-Wisp and other status-inflicting moves. The combination of Substitute and Bulk Up makes for a Substitute that is harder to break on the physical side, which is incredibly useful. The combination of Endure and Endeavor is also interesting, enduring a fatal hit to 1 HP and endeavoring to lower a tricky opponent to the same, but also a gamble because, with Poliwrath’s speed, one will often find it difficult to outspeed the opponent. Encore can work to trap an opponent into a setup move, but Haze is highly unrecommended due to Poliwrath mainly depending on stat boosts to work.
When it comes to abilities, Poliwrath has access to Damp, Water Absorb and Swift Swim. Damp is by far the weakest of his abilities due to the nerf of Explosion and SelfDestruct. Water Absorb is often seen on Poliwrath due to the usefulness of the ability, restoring health from every Water-type attack. Swift Swim is another very interesting ability, one obtained via the Dreamworld. It gives Poliwrath the ability to outrun many more Pokemon in heavy rain, but in perfect honesty, there are other, better Swift Swimmers.
Poliwrath is a jack-of-all-trades in the Pokemon VG universe, able to do much and balanced almost to a fault, but is still a great placeholder on a lower-tier team. Judicious use of his skills will often lead to a major advantage for you in a battle.