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Top 10 Special Tanks in "Pokémon"

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

Special defenders in Pokémon

Special defenders in Pokémon

The Special 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 special defense scores weaken indirect moves and are crucial against special sweepers, giving status-oriented teams time to wear down foes with poison, weather damage, entry hazards, and more.

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

Shuckle in the anime

Shuckle in the anime

10. Shuckle

Type: Bug/Rock

Shuckle offers the most extreme stat distributions on any Pokémon to date, with awful HP, attack stats, and speed, but the highest defense and special defense in the game. Typing is decent, with only a few weaknesses, and since he's part Rock, his already-incredible special defense gets a 50% boost in a sandstorm.

Speaking of which, you need some indirect damage to win with Shuckle since his power is so low—use Toxic, sandstorm, and other tricks to play for a long-term win.

Regice

Regice

9. Regice

Type: Ice

Legendary Regice has one critical flaw: Ice is the worst defensive type, weak to five elements and only resistant to one. However, Regice compensates with outstanding special defense (200!), and two potential defensive abilities: Clear Body prevents stat reduction, while Ice Body restores HP in a hailstorm.

While rather slow, Regice also has solid HP, defense, and special attack, so he can hit back for decent amounts while outlasting special sweepers, especially in hail weather.

Deoxys (Defense Forme)

Deoxys (Defense Forme)

8. Deoxys (Defense Forme)

Type: Psychic

Deoxys has four different modes, all with varying stat spreads, and the aptly-named Defense Forme (found in LeafGreen) carries amazing defense and special defense. It's not as fast or aggressive as other transformations, but it still has workable attack and special attack, with terrific 160 scores in both defenses.

My one complaint is the lackluster Pressure ability, plus the fact that Psychic isn't the best defensive element, with Ghost attacks a common threat.

Magernea

Magernea

7. Magearna

Type: Steel/Fairy

A mythic Pokémon, Magearna is a balanced tank, bearing 115 in each defense stat, alongside even higher special attack. While her defenses impress, her real tanking stems from a fantastic type duo, only weak to Fire and Ground while resisting or negating 11 types!

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 who also works well in sandstorms.

Primal Kyogre

Primal Kyogre

6. Kyogre

Type: Water

Mascot of Sapphire and Alpha Sapphire, Kyogre wields the excellent Drizzle ability, automatically summoning rain on entry, empowering his Water moves while weakening Fire. Coupled with STAB (same-type attack bonus) and fierce special attack, he hits hard while tanking thanks to good HP and great special defense.

Water is also one of the best defensive types, only weak to Grass and Electric, neither super common aggro. Kyogre's physical defense isn't as impressive, but against indirect moves, few legendaries can compete, especially with his upgraded Primal form.

Celesteela

Celesteela

5. Celesteela

Type: Steel/Flying

This Ultra Beast is our first Steel/Flying blend since Skarmory, a rare but impressive type duo. With Flying canceling Steel's weakness to Ground, and Steel lessening Flying's vulnerability to Rock and Ice, only Fire and Electric can type-trump her, while she resists ten elements.

Celesteela has very well-balanced stats, about 100 in everything except speed (61), so she can hit and receive both directly and indirectly. And don't forget that Flying Pokémon dodge entrance hazards like Spikes.

Nihilego

Nihilego

4. Nihilego

Type: Rock/Poison

Perhaps today's riskiest unit, Nihelego is an Ultra Beast of extremes. With bad defense and a quad weakness to the aggro-common Ground type, she falls quick in bad matchups.

But you'll find few better special tanks; Nihelgo has excellent special stats plus strong HP and speed. And yet again, being part Rock further ups special defense in sandstorms, which you can easily summon with…

Tyranitar

Tyranitar

3. Tyranitar

Type: Rock/Dark

At first, Tyranitar looks like a physical defender since he has higher defense, and his unfortunate quad weakness to Fighting moves can be problematic. However, his Sand Stream ability automatically summons a sandstorm when he enters battle, giving Rock Pokémon get a 50% special defense boost.

In addition to hurting non-Rock, Ground, and Steel-types, this weather makes Tyranitar surprisingly fortified. If you can just avoid his Fighting nemesis, Tyranitar will tank hits while hit back hard thanks to great attack, and his mega form only increases his power.

Snorlax

Snorlax

2. Snorlax

Type: Normal

Classic Snorlax is a defensive powerhouse for several reasons. While he's terribly slow and weaker to physical blows, he has nice special defense, outstanding HP, and only one elemental weakness (Fighting). His attack is high, letting him strike hard, and he's further protected by his array of healing options, from the Rest/Sleep Talk/Snore combo to his Leftovers held item.

True, Normal-types only have one resistance (an immunity to Ghost), but Snorlax effectively gains two more with his Thick Fat ability, reducing damage from Fire and Ice moves, both of which tend to be special.

Blissey in the anime

Blissey in the anime

1. Blissey

Type: Normal

Like Nihelgo, you really only want Blissey against special attackers, as both her attack and defense are just 10, but her special defense is 135 and HP 255! This makes Blissey an interesting alternative to Shuckle, sacrificing his physical defense for better HP, speed, special attack, and fewer elemental weaknesses.

You can also let her heal status conditions upon switching out using the Natural Cure ability, or double her chances of scoring extra effects of attack moves with Serene Grace.

Pokémon nature chart

Pokémon nature chart

Special Defense Natures and Items

To ensure your creatures max out on special defense, employ the Calm, Gentle, Careful, and Sassy natures, the Zinc vitamin, and use attacks like Amnesia. Of course, you'll also want physical tanks to ward off direct aggression, but for now, vote for your favorite defensive ace and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill

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