The introduction of Prankster in the 5th generation Pokemon was a game changer. This powerful ability gives priority to non-damaging moves and allows previously underwhelming Pokemon a placed in the meta. If you’re looking to add some utility to your team, these Pokemon are a great place to start.
There are six Prankster Pokemon available in Sword and Shield at the moment, not including pre-evolutions, and this two-part guide will go over how to make the most of each one, so be sure to check out the second part as well. This article will be focused on the official VGC format, but many of the principles can carry over into other formats as well.
Grimmsnarl is by far the most offensively threatening of all the available Prankster Pokemon. With a 120 base attack stat, it can hit hard with Sucker Punch and Spirit Break. Being Dark type means Grimmsnarl is also immune to other Prankster moves, in particular Taunt. Having access to both Light Screen and Reflect is a huge boon, though it faces competition as a screen setter from Gigantamax Lapras and Meowstic.
Grimmsnarl also stands out as the only Prankster to learn Power Swap and Scary Face. While neither are very common at the moment, they both have good utility. Power Swap makes Grimmsnarl the only Pokemon with a priority move that can take away an opponent’s offensive boosts. Scary Face gives Grimmsnarl speed control. While Thunder Wave is often preferred, Scary Face has several advantages. It has 100% accuracy, can hit Electric and Ground Types, is unaffected by Lightning Rod, and a cheeky player could even use it on their own Pokemon for a speed boost under the effects of Trick Room.
However, Grimmsnarl has a poor speed stat. This means Grimmsnarl will often be out-sped if it goes on the offense or faces another Fake Out user. It is also the only Prankster user without access to any weather moves. Its Gigantamax move, G-Max Snooze, is potentially amazing, but unreliable with only a 50% chance to afflict the drowsy status.
Despite these setbacks, Grimmsnarl is one of the most popular Pokemon in the format among competitive players, and trainers that play to its strengths will find it a valuable asset to their team.
Moves to consider: Thunder Wave, Fake Tears, Light Screen, Reflect, Fake Out, Sucker Punch, Spirit Break, Foul Play, Taunt, Power Swap, Scary Face, Trick, Swagger.
One crucial change to the mechanics of the game was that turn order is no longer set at the beginning of the turn, but changes dynamically with changes to speed. This is particularly impactful for Whimsicott as it is the only Prankster Pokemon to learn Tailwind. This will usually allow Whimsicott’s partner, and any Pokemon that switches onto the field for the next few turns, to move before the opponent’s Pokemon. This is Whimsicott’s biggest selling point and the reason it is currently the most used Prankster Pokemon in competitive play, but there are a few other unique advantages it offers as well.
Whimsicott is the fastest Prankster Pokemon. This means the only other Prankster that could potentially outspeed and Taunt it is another Whimsicott. This also allows Whimsicott to Taunt all other Non-Dark type Prankster users before they can move. Whimsicott is one of only two non-Ghost or Psychic Pokemon to learn Trick Room, the other being Klinkklang. While even a Prankster Trick Room will usually go last, it gives Whimsicott the opportunity to either set it up or reverse opposing Trick Rooms.
Cotton Spore is another interesting speed control option Whimsicott has. Though Tailwind is more generally more reliable, Cotton Spores is spammable and can potentially negate the effects of opposing Tailwinds.
Worry Seed can severely hamper opponents that rely on their ability, or prevent an ally from sleeping. Safeguard is a good catch all-option to prevent crippling Burns and other status conditions. Though Whimsicott has very underwhelming offensive stats, it can learn the elusive Moonblast for a decent offensive presence, particularly against those weak to Fairy type. Whimsicott is also seen in strategies involving the move Beat Up, such as using Beat Up on a friendly Justified Pokemon to give it a huge attack boost.
Moves to Consider: Tailwind, Moonblast, Encore, Sunny Day, Fake Tears, Taunt, Energy Ball, Charm, Switcheroo, Trick Room, Safeguard, Helping Hand, Memento, Tickle, Beat Up, Light Screen.
Meowstic – Male
Meowstic is often compared to Grimmsnarl since they both have Light Screen and Reflect. However, it does offer a few unique advantages that set it apart from the hairy fairy. Meowstic has a very fast Fake Out that will beat most other opposing Fake Out users. Also, unlike Grimmsnarl, Meowstic has the ability to set up weather through Sunny Day or Rain Dance. Grimmsnarl has to Gigantamax for a chance to inflict drowsy, but Meowstic gets the more reliable Yawn. Grimmsnarl also has the unfortunate side effect of being the same type as Togekiss, the most common Pokemon in the format. Because of this, many trainers carry Steel moves which can also hit Grimmsnarl super effectively.
One unique advantage Meowstic has is Skill Swap. Meowstic can give Prankster to any Pokemon with a switchable ability, and in turn receive almost any ability. For example, giving Prankster to a Shiinotic would allow it to fire off priority Spores that will surely infuriate the opponent. Meowstic can also pair well with an Intimidate user. A Skill Swapped Intimidate will activate again. This means both opposing Pokemon will have their attack stat halved before they can move.
Meowstic can learn Ally Swap. Combine this move with Prankster and its naturally high speed, and Meowstic can usually get the swap off before opposing Fake Outs can hit. Meowstic also learns Trick Room, allowing it to set up or reverse Trick Room, or even totally prevent it with Trick Room and Imprison, a combination no other Prankster Pokemon has. Besides Whimsicott, Meowstic is the only other Prankster to get Safeguard. It also has some speed control with Thunder Wave.
Moves to Consider: Fake Out, Thunder Wave, Reflect, Light Screen, Fake Tears, Skill Swap, Yawn, Trick Room, Imprison, Ally Swap, Charm, Safeguard, Psychic, Sunny Day, Rain Dance, Helping Hand.
We are not done – there are three more Prankster Pokemon to go over.