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Selected Useful Dark-type moves

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Initially, this article was supposed to be published after the Pokémon, but the proofreading still isn’t completed yet! So, I decided that instead of stalling any further, you will be presented with a feature article in the meantime.

Today’s article will be dealing with Dark-type moves. Initially, I wanted to review all Dark-type moves, but I found this to be rather tedious, so instead, I will just look at some of these moves that I think are useful in battling. Here, I will explain what those moves do, how they are useful, the best users of those moves, and certain aesthetics involved in that move. If you want to look at the twelve moves I picked, let’s go on!

Hone Claws

A stat boosting move that increases the user’s Attack and accuracy by one stage each. At six stages above normal, Attack is at quadruple the original, while accuracy is triple the original. There are so many users of this move that finding those who could benefit from this move is hard. However, as a general rule, most users would prefer to boost their Attack by two stages with Swords Dance or boost another more beneficial stat simultaneously like Defence with Bulk Up. Eelektross has Coil, which is much better than Hone Claws because it boosts Defence too. I do find it odd how sharpening one’s claws could make it more accurate, but I guess it sort of make sense when I think about it, because a sharper knife can make cleaner cuts.

Durant makes a great user of this move because it has the Hustle ability, which reduces accuracy, so with Hone Claws, any move with 95% accuracy or above will be fully accurate, and its power will be x2.25 the original (Hone Claws provide a x1.5 boost while Hustle provides x1.5, which combines to x2.25). Durant is a naturally fast Pokémon with good Attack, so the power and its type combination can be devastating. Dugtrio is the other notable user of this move because it has Arena Trap, so any Pokémon who relies on Electric attacks will be at a disadvantage, especially for one that is stuck using it thanks to a Choice item. If Zekrom is caught using Bolt Strike with a Choice Scarf, Dugtrio could take advantage of its plight and set up with Hone Claws till it has max attack, and proceed to KO some Pokémon.

If a certain Pokémon would love an accuracy boost for one of their attacks like Fire Blast, they can use this move too. For example, Heatmor can have a fully-accurate Fire Blast and Ursaring won’t worry about missing Rollout. Leavanny can even make use of a more accurate GrassWhistle too!

While most Pokémon has other moves that are more favourable than this one in terms of boosts, like Salamence preferring Dragon Dance instead, there are at least a crowd who appreciates this move in their arsenal, so it’s not all that bad.

Knock Off

This attack has a very low base power (BP), but it makes up for its effect. Basically, using it on the opponent removes their item, unless the opponent has Sticky Hold or an item that can’t be removed (like Giratina’s Griseous Orb). Because this move is an attack, Taunt can’t prevent it. Perhaps a way it could be used in the Pokémon world is to remove another Pokémon’s item so that the attacker could steal the victim’s item, like certain necessary food the holder might have, like Sableye using it on a Pokémon with an elemental gem.

The main purpose of this move isn’t to use it as an attack, but for its secondary effect, like Rapid Spin. The removal of items is an extremely useful tactic to maim certain Pokémon. For example, Leftovers is an extremely useful item for a defensive Pokémon, so without it, their survivability is made limited. A Life Orb is required by certain Pokémon to have the extra oomph in their attacks, and they are weaker without it. Choice items will render a Pokémon’s power more limited, but perhaps the best item to remove is Eviolite. Relieving Chansey of Eviolite is perhaps the best thing, especially because of how annoyingly resilient she can be. Because you will reveal the Pokémon’s item, it could be used to predict an opponent’s move set.

The best users of this move are perhaps defensive Pokémon. Because your opponent is probably going to switch to a more offensive Pokémon to deal with it, you might as well mitigate them in some way. For example, Tangrowth can use this move to remove a Special attacker’s Life Orb or another defender’s Leftovers. Shuckle could use this move too as a supporter, utilising its high defences to survive an opponent’s attack and knocking off whatever the opponent’s holding.

You may not see this move often, but its effect might be able to help out a Stall team because they need all the help they can get to mitigate every member (like removing the opponent’s items). If you can fit in Knock Off on your Pokémon, give it a go. You might find it useful.


I don’t quite understand how Memento works in real life. Is it like how the user releases some kind of negative energy when they faint, causing the victim to lose some power? The user faints after this move is used. After that, the opponent’s Pokémon will suffer an Attack and Special Attack reduction of two stages each. This is essentially a suicide move, much in the same way Explosion and Healing Wish are.

Based on the effect, one can make a guess that this move is supposed to give your next Pokémon a free turn to do whatever it wants, since the opponent becomes less threatening. This is indeed true, because there are certain Pokémon with a boosting move who will appreciate the damage reduction or free turn. This also includes a Pokémon with Belly Drum, which is actually safer if you had Reflect and Light Screen set up first. This makes Uxie the better user because it can learn all three moves, while having great defences. Jumpluff is another decent user because it can inflict Sleep on the opponent and it is fast in the Sun. Whimsicott is another fast user, and its advantage lies in the fact that it can use it first thanks to Prankster, so you could scout your opponent for a move before it faints. Dugtrio is interesting, because it is able to trap a Pokémon while using this move, so they can’t escape from being harmed by its negative effect.

Will this move pay off? If you prepare well, it would, but it’s better if you remove an opponent’s Pokémon that is likely to have a move that switches out your Pokémon or one with Haze, because they will ruin you setup. Another way to use this move is to send in a trapper soon after you used Memento, and preferably this trapper has a set up move too. Shadow Tag Chandelure would be a good Pokémon to prey on your opponent’s vulnerable state, since it has both Calm Mind and Acid Armour to boost its defences and Special Attack, or you can just use Substitute instead of Acid Armour.

I would have preferred it if this move is upgraded so that it reduces three stages for both Attack and Special attack, because it will be more useful this way. There’s always next time, I suppose. After all, Tail Glow had an upgrade from two stage Special Attack boost to three stage Special Attack boost.

Nasty Plot

I suppose if you have evil thoughts, your special attacks become stronger? That’s something I don’t quite understand. Anyway, when this move is used, the user’s Special Attack is increased by two stages. It’s a simple effect, but it’s only in Generation 4 that we have a Special Attack boosting move that boosts two stages. Yes, Tail Glow was the first move, but it was only exclusive for Volbeat that we don’t see much use on anyway, due to its low Special Attack. The users that learn this move is more widespread.

The Special Attack boost naturally means that Pokémon who have good or great Special Attack can take advantage of it. The users that can take advantage of the heightened Special Attack are not in short supply. For example, we have Infernape who appreciates having more power with its Special attacks, and there is Cofagrigus who can also use Trick Room in conjunction with this move for a sweep. As with most boosting moves, the best users are those with stats to appreciate the boosts (Porygon-Z and Jynx) and those with Baton Pass (Mr. Mime and Ambipom).

There is nothing much to say about this move, other than the fact that it is a great way for a Special attacker to spend their turn so that they are able to increase their threat level. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get this move until Generation 4, although I guess there’s a reason for that.


Taunt is perhaps the Dark-type Status move you will often see in competitive battling. This is because its effect is very, very useful in giving you the advantage. Essentially, by using it, you prevent your opponent from using any Status move, making their options limited. Because some Pokémon rely on certain Status moves to gain an advantage, like Toxic or a boosting move, you might save yourself from certain harm. Not only is its effect great, a lot of Pokémon could learn it, because it is a TM. Even though the fact that a lot could learn this move means that every type has a fair share of learners, that’s not the case. Only in Generation 5 did we finally have Grass-type and Dragon-type learners, but the smallest selection of learners had to be the Bug-type: there are only two learners (Kricketune and Skorupi)!

One way to use this move is on a support Pokémon. Because the support Pokémon would likely have mostly support moves, it would neuter them. For example, a Blissey is likely to have only one attack, like Seismic Toss, and if a Ghost-type used Taunt on it, then Blissey will not be able to do anything to it. Another way is using it with a set-up attacker like Gyarados, who would be vulnerable to any status otherwise. Taunt is also great for preventing entry hazards or screens from forming, which the setter might take advantage when you switch. A surprise Taunt might just ruin their plans before you get out. For example, Ferrothorn might use Spikes when faced with Jellicent (because the former could threaten with Power Whip), but by using Taunt, you will give a nasty surprise before leaving.

All in all, a very useful move that can be used in many ways, so it will not fall out of fashion any time soon.


By enraging the target, the afflicted will not be able to use the same move twice in a row. The Japanese name for this move is “Falsely Accuse”, which would also enrage the target because it’s another way of tormenting. Perhaps this move is a self-defence move that prevents the user from being totally helpless from a certain attack or status move an enemy might use.

Once this move hits, the effect stays until the afflicted switches out. It’s a surprisingly effective move if given to the right Pokémon, because a Pokémon that relies on a specific attack to hit the user hard will find it harder to get to them. Also, when used on a Pokémon under the effect of Encore or a Choice item, they will Struggle if they are supposed to use the same attack they can’t use. While this move is effective at neutering certain Pokémon, the drawback of switching would make it harder to take advantage of. Still, the ability to hit a switch-in with this move still makes it useful to inflict another Pokémon with it.

One of the most notable users of this move is Skarmory, who can use it to great effect on a hard-hitter like Electivire, and while the opponent is forced to use another attack, you can use Roost to heal the damage real quick. Liepard is another notable user if coupled with Prankster, because it is the only Prankster Pokémon with both Encore and Torment. Should the opponent stay in, they will find themselves not being able to hit Liepard effectively, because it might create a Substitute if the opponent can attack freely. Fast users who are bulky (and can heal) are quite decent users. I could say Serperior, but as of now, it didn’t have Synthesis (there is an event Snivy with this move along with Aromatherapy, but it has a Hardy nature). It might work with Leech Seed, though.

Overall, Torment is a useful move that isn’t really useful due to the environment that favours switching, but if used on an opponent that doesn’t like to be inflicted by it, the advantage is yours.


This is the strongest Physical Dark-type attack, so it should be very useful, right? You bet. Its 80 BP might not be the highest (don’t get me wrong, it’s still has good power), but it has a useful secondary effect: it reduces the target’s Defence 20% of the time, which is a decent chance. Continuous use of this attack will eventually overwhelm the target. This attack is distributed to a lot of Pokémon, so you won’t find a shortage of users.

Obviously, the best users of this move are Dark-types, because they get STAB out of it, so it’s not uncommon to see Tyranitar or Scrafty using this move as their attack of choice. Of course, this only applies to Physical attackers, so this move isn’t as appropriate on Hydreigon as it is on Zweilous. It could also be used as a coverage move if the user already has a great Normal or Fighting attack, because this will hit Ghost-types hard, due to that type’s immunity to both attack types. It’s not out-of-the-blue to see the likes of Lucario, Ursaring or Stoutland use this move in addition to their STAB attacks.

One thing that I find interesting about the move is something I observed in another video game. In Pac-man, the titular character basically eliminates ghosts by munching them (when they’re vulnerable), so it’s similar to crunching them. Perhaps this is why this move is a Dark-type?

Dark Pulse

This move is known to be the Special counterpart to Crunch, but it is not exactly a counterpart. First of all, instead of getting indirectly stronger after every hit, it causes the occasional flinch. One useful thing to know about this move is that it is able to hit a target on the far end of the field in a Triple Battle, like most Flying-type attacks. This move isn’t as widely-distributed as Crunch, but as a TM in Generation 4, it has its fair share of learners.

As with Crunch, the best users are Dark-types. However, the best users are Special attackers, so you will want this on some Special-oriented Dark-types like Houndoom and Hydreigon. Spiritomb is another good user of this move, as it is one part of its Calm Mind set that involves Rest and Sleep Talk. As with Crunch, this move is also useful as a coverage move, so a Special Fighting-type would find this move handy, like Lucario and Toxicroak.

I have a feeling this move will be a Move Tutor in Black 2 and White 2, because it is a good move for some more Pokémon to learn.

Night Slash

The Japanese name for this move is “Blade Testing”, an odd name that doesn’t imply its Dark-type. Usually, users who can learn both moves would opt for Crunch due to its higher power, like Sharpedo and Druddigon. Night Slash’s power is lower than that of Crunch, with 70 BP, but it comes with a useful effect: a higher critical hit ratio.

This move combos well with Super Luck, because the critical hit rate would rise from 12.5% to 25%. A one-in-four chance of double damage isn’t bad. Because Honchkrow and Absol (the only users with both Night Slash and this ability) are very powerful, a critical Night Slash would hit hard. This move is great for those who didn’t get to learn Crunch, so this move is kind of a consolation price. Examples of users who don’t have Crunch but this move are Liepard, Weavile and Bisharp. Heracross might also be a decent user of this move, as its STABs are resisted by Ghost-types.

Overall, this move should only be used if the user can’t learn Crunch (or if the user hasn’t learnt Crunch yet), because for the most part, it isn’t as powerful as it could be, even though the higher critical hit rate makes it special.


This is another unique Dark-type attack. Basically, if the user attacks after the target attacked, then the power of this move is doubled. This is useful on a bulky Pokémon because they can take the hit and hit back hard. The original power is 50 BP, while the full power is 100 BP. Revenge and Avalanche work similarly, except their negative priority (hitting after even Vital Throw), as opposed to Payback's normal priority.

In Generation 4, this move can hit a switch-in because it did double damage to them, making it a move of choice against a spinblocker. This was the move of choice for Forretress because it was a powerful move to hit any Ghost-types that might try to prevent Rapid Spin from working. However, because the move hits for its original power on the switch-in in Generation 5, Payback is now relegated to any bulky Physical attacker like Donphan. The most well-known user is Conkeldurr, because its Bulk Up will strengthen this move, and it can use this move on a Fighting resistor, which would usually do a lot of damage because Conkeldurr is slow. Umbreon could be a user of this move, due to its lack of other useful Dark-type attacks besides Bite and the ability to learn Curse.

While not usually a move of choice for any Dark-type (besides Umbreon), its power bonus might come in handy to the suitable users, because at 100 BP, it is quite powerful.


It’s not hard to see how this move looks like in real life. Say, a Pokémon is running away, so the pursuer will attack the victim. The chances of survival of a escaped animal is lower than that of an animal that stays, because the former is more liable to be injured due to being more vulnerable when running away, I think. Maybe when the Pokémon becomes an energy force, it might be more vulnerable in that state, so the pursuer might do more damage to them?

Anyway, this is another Dark-type move with a lateral effect. This time, if a Pokémon is able to switch out, then that Pokémon will be hit by this attack first before they switch out. In that case, they suffer double damage. This move has a weak 40 BP, but at least 80 BP is stronger. This move is primarily used for its secondary effect more than its actual attack, because the ability to hit something that escapes is useful. This is because the switch-in will likely be able to handle other attacks the Pursuit user has, so it might as well handle a Pokémon it can handle.

This move is essentially a trapping move, because the victim will not be able to escape from being hit by it. This is more dangerous to those that are weak to Dark attacks, like most Psychic and Ghost-types. This move is one of the reasons being a Psychic-type is a liability, although in the case of the Ghost-type, it’s a necessary weakness. As usual, the best users of this move are Dark-types, because they get STAB from it. Tyranitar is the best user of this move, due to its incredible bulk and great Attack, allowing it to still hit the target hard even though they didn’t escape, like Starmie. Some other good users of this move are Krookodile (Intimidate might force a switch, while Moxie gives it a much-needed power boost), Snorlax (great bulk to survive a Special attacker) and Scizor (Technician boosts this move in case the target didn’t escape).

It’s worth noting that this move wasn’t as useful as it is now because it was a Special move, meaning that Houndoom and Sceptile were some of the few notable users that could make use of this move before the Physical-Special split, due to most users being Physical-oriented.

Sucker Punch

Just to clear this up before continuing on, even though this attack is labelled as a “Punch”, it isn’t actually a punching attack, thus it isn’t boosted by Iron Fist. This is because it is called a “Surprise Attack” in the Japanese version. This is the reason Pokémon who don’t normally punch can learn this move.

This move is unique because it is an increased priority move, meaning that it moves before an ordinary move despite the user being normally slower than the opponent. However, for this move to work, the opponent needs to attack, otherwise it will fail. If the opponent moves first, this move will also fail even if your opponent attacks. With this restriction, it might sound like this move is difficult to use, but in reality, it’s not as difficult as it sound. One way to ensure this move will attack is to use Taunt, so that the target is forced to attack. If the target has nothing but attacking moves, that works too. Just make sure your opponent doesn’t have an increased priority attack (that is also faster) and you will be fine.

There are a lot of Pokémon who would make great users of this move. Chief among them are powerful Dark-types Absol, Honchkrow and Bisharp. Other Dark-types are still good users as well, like Cacturne and Spiritomb. Like all the other Dark-type attacks reviewed, even non-Dark Pokémon can be great users. Hitmonlee and Hitmontop ensures that Psychics and Ghosts don’t try to take advantage of their vulnerability to them; Dugtrio traps the (grounded) Pokémon, leaving them only to attack, only to be hit by it; Victreebel ensures it could hit a target even if they used a priority attack to overcome its relative frailty, due to its high Speed in the Sun.

The only drawback with this move is low PP, so if you want to make the most of this move, you need to conserve PP and attack it if you think your opponent will attack. As such, you need to be careful when facing a Pokémon with Pressure, like Spiritomb and Dusknoir. It’s a useful move, that’s for sure, but it has a critical drawback that the opponent can easily take advantage of.

Truth be told, it was a bit of a hard decision to pick the best moves, but I think the moves I picked are good choices. Still, I should explain why I left out Dark Void and Night Daze, even if they are useful. The former is already touched on in my Darkrai review, while the latter will be touched on in my Zoroark review. With this done, I conclude this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it.

Thanks for reading.

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Updated 19th May 2012 at 06:35 AM by winstein

Ghost and Dark Entries


  1. Shiny Staraptor's Avatar
    It was, as usual, very informative. For example, I never knew that Leavanny can even learn Hone Claws!

    Also, just one tiny little nitpick. You said Leftovers was a very useful move though it's an item. Just thought it might be useful to correct that mistake.
  2. GengarEatBanana's Avatar
    Great read, as per usual. Congrats on another great article!
  3. Owain's Avatar
    This was a interesting read, as always, and I'll confess that i never used Knock Off, even tough it does have its uses.
  4. Lord Clowncrete's Avatar
    A very good list. Would love to see another one like this.


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