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Top 10 Physical Tanks in "Pokémon"

In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

The Defense Stat in Pokémon

In Pokémon battles, "tanks" are creatures good at taking hits, which usually means they have impressive HP, defense, and/or special defense. Higher defense scores weaken physical moves and are essential against physical sweepers, giving status-oriented teams time to wear down foes with poison, weather damage, entrance hazards, and more.

Some physical tanks also have strong special defense and type pairings, others not so much—which reign supreme? These are the ten best defensive tanks in Pokémon!

Mega Steelix

Mega Steelix

10. Steelix/Mega Steelix

Type: Steel/Ground

In addition to changing type, Onix actually loses speed upon evolving into Steelix. However, this lets him allocate points towards a phenomenal defense stat of 200 (230 in his mega form). Sadly, special defense isn't nearly as good and typing is average (many resistances but weaknesses to common Fighting and Ground attacks), but in sheer defense, few compare.

The sturdy ability can also help prevent a one-hit-KO against a special sweeper, though this changes to Sand Force (boosting power in sandstorm weather) if you mega evolve Steelix.

Alolan Persian

Alolan Persian

9. Alolan Persian

Type: Dark

At first, Alolan Persian doesn't look like much, bearing meager defenses (60 physical and 65 special). But her Fur Coat ability halves damage from opposing physical attacks, effectively making defense 120, a boost that earned her a position in many previous championship teams.

Unlike many of today's units, A-Persian has great speed and solid special attack, and her moveset further halts enemy aggro. Use Fake Out for easy flinches and Parting Shot to swap out while lowering enemy attack and special attack.

Aegislash Shield and Blade Forme

Aegislash Shield and Blade Forme

8. Aegislash (Shield Forme)

Type: Steel/Ghost

Aegislash was a great tank—and still is, but nerfs in gen 8 have definitely dropped him. His stat total decreased from 520 to 500 and signature move King's Shield now only drops opposing attack by one stage.

Still, he's got a fierce type combo with four weaknesses but many more resistances and immunities, and the ability to shift between attack-oriented Blade Forme and defensive Shield Forme by using the King's Shield, letting him attack with force then bunker into safer defenses until his next strike.



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7. Ferrothorn

Type: Grass/Steel

Ferrotorn is high-risk high-reward; his quad weakness to Fire does cause concern. But other than that, his type has numerous resistances and great stat distribution, completely abandoning speed for great defense/special defense and good attack.

You really want foes to hit Ferrothorn directly, both because his defense is slightly better and because of the Iron Barbs ability, dealing 1/8th damage to contact attackers. Ideal moves include the ever-popular Toxic, Curse to buff attack and defense, and Explosion as last resort once health gets low.

Mega Metagross

Mega Metagross

6. Metagross/Mega Metagross

Type: Steel/Psychic

Metagross bears strong attack and defense, and special defense is respectable too, with speed being his only shortcoming. While Metagross's typing has weaknesses to common aggro types like Ground and Ghost, it carries far more resistances, and thanks to being part Psychic, he isn't weak to Fighting like most Steel Pokémon. Metagross is also shielded from stat reduction thanks to his Clear Body ability, though this changes to Tough Claws (boosting physical power) upon mega evolving.

If you're playing an event where 600-stat total units aren't allowed, you can substitute Bronzong for Metagross, as he has similar typing and defensive prowess, just less offense. Bronzong can also negate Fire or Ground depending on whether you use Levitate or Heatproof.

Primal Groudon

Primal Groudon

5. Groudon/Primal Groudon

Type: Ground, Ground/Fire

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and Groudon has both with awesome attack and defense (and a 670 base stat total). But heck, even his worst stats, special defense and speed, are still a solid 90.

At first, morphing him into Primal Groudon (now 770 stat total) seems defensively poor, as he gains a quad weakness to Water. But this shouldn't be a problem as the Desolate Land ability negates Water attacks, making Ground his only weakness.



4. Magernea

Type: Steel/Fairy

Another 600-stat total mythic Pokémon, Magearna has a fantastic type duo, only being weak to Fire and Ground while resisting or negating 11 types. She's a balanced tank, bearing a strong 115 in each defense stat, though her highest attribute is actually special attack.

Use Fairy moves for STAB (same-type attack bonus) and take advantage of Magearna's Soul-Heart ability (which increases special attack when others faint) for a fierce tank/sweeper mix.



3. Melmetal

Type: Steel

Here we have a mythical Pokémon almost as slow as Steelix, so unless you're using a Trick Room strategy, you're attacking last. That said, Melmetal has great HP and defense, plus fewer weaknesses than Steelix. He also hits hard thanks to a fierce attack stat, the Iron Fist ability, signature move Double Iron Bash, and his Gigantamax form in Galarian arenas.





2. Skarmory/Celesteela

Type: Steel/Flying

As an Ultra Beast, Celesteela isn't always allowed in tournaments, making Skarmory a suitable substitute where necessary. Either way, their greatest strength is typing, as Flying negates Steel's weakness to Ground while Steel lessens Flying's vulnerability to Ice and Rock. This gives them loads of resistances and immunities while only being weak to Fire and Electric (and Electric isn't commonly used for coverage).

Heck, Skarmory actually has better defense than Celesteela, though Celesteela has far superior special defense. Flying also lets both resist enemy entrance hazards from moves like Spikes.



1. Toxapex

Type: Water/Poison

Like many of today's tanks, Toxapex has terrible speed but great defenses, especially physical. Typing is also good, with far more resistances than weaknesses and no quads. But Toxapex's best treat is signature move Baneful Bunker, which is basically Protect (a single-turn shield) but with the added bonus of poisoning contact attackers.

Admittedly, Toxapex's aggro stats are poor, but he can still be a decent attacker thanks to his Merciless ability, which guarantees critical hits against poisoned foes, further empowering Baneful Bunker and Toxic.

Defensive Moves in Pokémon

Today we've encountered many great tanks, but remember to have answers against special sweepers to ensure you're ready for any situation. You'll also want defensive moves like Protect, Reflect, and Rest to further reinforce your team.

Status conditions are another good idea, whether you're aiming to wear foes down with poison or prevent them from moving via sleep or paralyzation, but for now, vote for your favorite walking fortress and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill

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