One of the most praised aspects of the Pokemon series is that every core game touts a massive amount of gameplay diversity. The number of Pokemon species, attacks, types and type pairings, and stats allow the player to craft a team of Pokemon that can perform specific strategies in battle, and they can do so to great effect.
One of the more popular options is to use certain Pokemon as "tanks." These are Pokemon with often meager Attack and Speed stats, but their Defense and Special Defense stats help them more than compensate for their aggressive shortcomings. That is not to say that they are useless in combat, however. They each have certain abilities that allow them to effectively pressure the opposing Pokemon while remaining safe from attacks.
Updated on November 9th, 2021, by Russ Boswell: There have been on a ton of great Pokemon released into Sword & Shield, growing the roster over time and giving more players access to the Global Pokedex they hoped for at the start of the release. Gamers now have access to some of the best tank Pokemon ever conceived but which ones should they be targeting? To better help players get a grasp on the best Tank Pokemon and which ones deserve their time and attention, the following list has been updated to include more choices and an easy look at their Generation 8 stats.
- Attack: 52
- Sp Attack: 47
- Defense: 168
- Sp Defense: 138
- Speed: 30
- HP: 60
Bastiodon is one of those Pokemon that exists very much in the background, not usually receiving much attention from the fanbase as a whole, but it does provide some solid application as a tank. Although it has middling stats from an attacking perspective and a less-than-stellar HP pool, it does boast some impressive defense and SP defense, making it a hybrid tank capable of standing toe-to-toe with some powerful Pokemon, even if it's simply acting as a "shield" or "decoy" for stronger team members.
- Attack: 95
- Sp Attack: 85
- Defense: 180
- Sp Defense: 45
- Speed: 70
- HP: 50
Many First Gen Pokemon fans disregarded Cloyster as nothing more than another water-type among the crowd but this shelled Pokemon is very capable of taking hits. What many don't know, is that it's just as capable of dishing out massive amounts of damage. Cloyster has found a niche as a pretty impressive sweeper, tanking hits from strong Pokemon and dishing out punishment thanks to its impressive moveset and 180 defense.
Unfortunately, Cloyster suffers from Ice-typing, making it situational competitively but it still has its uses as a tank that's capable of taking out some bigger threats.
- Attack: 5
- Sp Attack: 35
- Defense: 5
- Sp Defense: 105
- Speed: 50
- HP: 250
Chansey is one of the original tanks from Pokemon Red and Blue. It has a low regular Defense, but its Special Defense is high and its Health Points (HP) is one of the highest in the entire franchise. It is also a Normal-Type monster, meaning that only has one Type weakness (that being Fighting Type).
This is a Pokemon that works best in Double Battles. Chansey can take a lot of abuse from opposing Pokemon, and its Abilities, such as Healer, can restore its teammate's health. And while not a strong Pokemon, its nature as a Normal Type allows Chansey to learn a number of useful attacks.
Chansey's Serene Grace ability gives all of its moves double the chance of inflicting a status condition, thereby letting this egg Pokemon's attacks that have secondary effects afflict targets with ailments much easier, which can be a great way to hinder foes while also doing a bit of damage. Moves from great offensive types like the Ice-type Ice Beam and the Electric-type Thunderbolt can be great additions to Chancey's moveset, however, the Normal-type Tri Attack is the best for this strategy, as after the Serene Chance boost, this move will have a 40% chance to either freeze, burn, or paralyze the target.
- Attack: 10
- Sp Attack: 10
- Defense: 230
- Sp Defense: 230
- Speed: 5
- HP: 20
In many ways, it is more appropriate to call innocent-looking Shuckle an unbreakable wall. Shuckle's main purpose is to use its incredibly high Defense and Special Defense stats to withstand nearly any attack an opposing Pokemon can deliver. With both its Defense and Special Defense having a base stat of 230 each, it is well equipped for that task.
The defense aside, Shuckle has certain abilities that can make it an enduring problem for opponents. Its hidden ability, Contrary, allows it to reverse status-lowering effects. This makes Shuckle's defensive abilities even more effective. One good option is to use Shuckle in tag-team battles and allow the Pokemon to act as a permanent fixture on the field as you safely swap out other Pokemon.
Usually, the status move Shell Smash is meant for sweepers since it boosts Attack, Special Attack, and Speed by 1 stage each while dropping the user's Defense and Special Defense by the same amount, however, with Shuckle's Contary ability, the opposite effect will occur. Since Shuckle's offensive stats and Speed are already abysmal, the gains it receives to its fortitude come with no downsides.
- Attack: 87
- Sp Attack: 53
- Defense: 105
- Sp Defense: 85
- Speed: 67
- HP: 98
Corviknight is a newer Pokemon from the recent Pokemon Sword & Shield games, but it has already become one of the better tank options. It is a mix of Flying and Steel Types, which are both useful and strong Types in multiple situations. It also has high HP, Defense, and Special Defense. Just with the typing and stats alone, Corviknight makes for a formidable obstacle for most other Pokemon and a valuable asset in any competitive setting.
What makes Corviknight especially good is its accompanying Abilities. Two of those, Pressure and Mirror Armor, work well to chip away at the opposing Pokemon. Pressure forces opposing Pokemon to use twice the amount of Power Points (PP) for every move, and Mirror Armor reflects any status-altering attacks. This means that attacking Pokemon will either exhaust their resources or potentially weaken themselves by attacking Corviknight.
These solid defensive stats and HP allow Corviknight to take advantage of a status move that works quite well in most situations, though is not often used due to it being fairly risky. Swagger is a move that raises the foes Attack stat while confusing them; the idea being to cause the enemy to greatly hurt themselves. If the target does not hit themselves, though, they will land a blow powered by a boosted Attack stat. Since Corviknight is so beefy, such risky plays are not nearly as dangerous since this Flying and Steel dual-type can tank a few hits easily enough.
- Attack: 135
- Sp Attack: 95
- Defense: 130
- Sp Defense: 90
- Speed: 70
- HP: 80
Metagross is a prime example of a traditional tank Pokemon. It is a Steel and Psychic-Type Pokemon, two powerful types that in combination with each other provide resistance to nine other Types. Added to its overall high base stats, Defense and Special Defense included, Metagross is a Pokemon that can face down nearly any opposition with little concern.
And if its initial defensive walls are not enough to protect it from everything, Metagross also has the Clear Body Ability. Clear Body prevents any stat-reducting effects from working on Metagross. This leaves the opposing Pokemon with almost no option other than to slowly chip away at Metagross's health until it is defeated.
As opposed to many other tanks, Metagross also has a great Attack stat and an excellent move pool that allows them to make sufficient use of it. Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB) moves like the heavy-hitting Meteor Mash, which also has a chance to boost Attack, is a solid choice, as is the increased-priority attack known as Bullet Punch for when Metagross needs to strike before the foe.
- Attack: 10
- Sp Attack: 75
- Defense: 10
- Sp Defense: 135
- Speed: 55
- HP: 255
Like with Chansey, Blissey is a tank, but it must be used selectively. This is because its base Defense stat is very low at a meager 10 points, but its base Special Defense is incredibly high at 135. Blissey is what Chansey evolves into, so it makes sense that it would have similar, albeit slightly better, base stats. Its base HP surpasses Chansey's as well.
It is also able to learn the same moves that Chansey can, so it won't be useless as an attacker in most fights. And with Abilities such as Healer, Blissey can comfortably serve as an immovable support Pokemon. A good option is to routinely swap Blissey back and forth with a Pokemon that has a high regular Defense. This allows both of them to take turns countering whatever Pokemon an opponent tries to use.
Many trainers know of Blissey's immensely resilience to special attacks, therefore most facing down this cheerful pocket monster will switch out to a physical attacker and target the pink pokemon's minuscule Defense. However, Blissery's trainer can deflate this strategy by using the Fairy-type status move known as Charm, which drops a target's Attack stat by two stages. If one predicts the opponent's switch correctly, Blissey can land this debuff on the incoming physical attacker to greatly inconvenience the adversary's offensive tactics.
- Attack: 80
- Sp Attack: 40
- Defense: 105
- Sp Defense: 70
- Speed: 100
- HP: 95
Miltank is a Pokemon that works well as a counter pick to certain Pokemon types. It is another Normal Type, so it can handle every Type except for Fighting. Its Defense is high with a base stat of 105, its Special Defense is beneficial at a base stat of 70, and it also has high HP, Attack, and Speed base stats, though being 95, 80, 100 respectfully. So despite its modest visual design, this is a Pokemon with a lot of potential.
Miltank does have some good Abilities as well, though they are more situational than most of the other tanks on this list. Its Thick Fat ability, for example, is only useful against Fire and Ice-Type attacks, but it allows Miltank to halve the damage taken from them.
This bovine pokemon also has some great moves that allow it to fit the classic RPG role of a 'white mage'. Its Heal Bell allows it to remove status effects not only from itself but from the rest of its trainer's party as well. In addition, it can learn Milk Drink, which works exactly like Recover in that it restores 50% of the user's HP.
- Attack: 63
- Sp Attack: 53
- Defense: 152
- Sp Defense: 142
- Speed: 35
- HP: 50
Toxapex is another Pokemon that, like Shuckle, serves well as an impenetrable wall. The difference is that Toxapex does a better job of applying offensive pressure. Toxapex is a Water and Poison-Type Pokemon, so it has access to many dangerous attacks of those Types, such as Scald and Toxic.
The use of Poison-Type moves pairs perfectly with Toxapex's Merciless Ability. With Merciless, any attack made on a poisoned enemy will automatically be counted as a critical hit. This means the damage will be roughly doubled each time Toxapex lands a successful attack.
Their signature move, Baneful Bunker, is a variant of Protect, in that it prevents incoming damage, though Toxapex's variation will also poison pokemon who attack them with a contact move, allowing this sinister sea star to cause the enemy to essentially poison themselves. Used in conjunction with the move Venoshock, which deals double damage to poisoned targets, Toxapex can become a serious offensive threat to anything except Steel and Poison types.
- Attack: 110
- Sp Attack: 65
- Defense: 65
- Sp Defense: 110
- Speed: 30
- HP: 160
Snorlax, the iconic heavy sleeper of the Pokemon series, has had a long history of being an immovable powerhouse. Its regular Defense is not high, but it is made up for by having high HP, high Attack, and high Special Defense. Ideally, a player would use Snorlax to counter specific Pokemon that cannot overcome its natural resistance to Special moves.
One thing that has always made Snorlax troublesome for players is its multiple methods for healing itself. Snorlax often uses moves like Rest, which can restore the Pokemon's HP to full. It also has abilities such as Gluttony, which allows it to increase the amount of HP it gains from eating Berries in a fight.
A great tactic to use if one gives their Snorlax Rest is to also teach it moves that can be used while sleeping, such as Sleep Talk. This sleeping status move will cause Snorlax to use one of its other moves at random, potentially letting it fight as if it was awake while still asleep. Accompanying this strategy with a stat-boosting move like Curse, to increase its already high Attack while buffing its low Defense, can cause Snorlax to become a sleeping juggernaut.
- Attack: 85
- Sp Attack: 55
- Defense: 200
- Sp Defense: 65
- Speed: 30
- HP: 75
Steelix's name and appearance alone can key players into its ability to withstand attacks while also being a damaging force. Its Attack, Defense, and Special Defense stats are all high, and its combination of being Steel and Ground Type grants it resilience and immunity to many other Types.
The attacks that Steelix can use, along with some of its Abilities, are where most of its effective use as a tank stems from. Steelix can learn a number of high-damage moves, and those moves can be used alongside the ability Sheer Force, which can increase the attack of moves with secondary effects by 30%, though will also disable these effects as a trade-off for the power boost.
A great STAB move for Steelix would be Gyro Ball, as this Steel-type attack is more powerful depending on how low the user's Speed stat is compared to the opponent's. With an abysmal Speed stat of 30, Steelix is an ideal pokemon for this maneuver.
- Attack: 80
- Sp Attack: 40
- Defense: 140
- Sp Defense: 70
- Speed: 70
- HP: 65
Skarmory has historically been one of the most useful and threatening tanks available. It is a Flying and Steel-Type Pokemon with very high Defense, high Attack, and sufficient HP, Special Defense, and Speed. Skarmory is one of the Pokemon that works well with Blissey and Chansey. A common strategy is to switch out Skarmory for one of those Pokemon (or visa-versa) to alternate between their specific defensive strengths to control the battle.
Skarmory also excels in the aggressive aspects of Pokemon battles. It, like other tanks on this list, can learn many useful attacks. The newest example is the move Body Press, which first appeared in the latest generation. When this attack is used, the Pokemon's Defense stats are applied to the damage calculation rather than their Attack stats. With a base Defense stat of 140, this move can make Skarmory a deadly force at almost any time.
The armor bird pokemon also has a ton of great status moves that can boost its already awesome stats, like Agility and Iron Defense, though it also has access to entry hazards like Spikes and Stealth Rock as well as Whirlwind, the latter of which forces the opponent to switch pokemon. With these many battle boons, it is no wonder why Skarmory's competitive usage has been consistently high since this pokemon was introduced in Gen II.
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