Salamence’s Best Moveset
- Dragon Tail is Salamence’s best fast move, period. It’s best dragon type fast move for PvE and its only STAB option.
- Outrage is (overall) Salamence’s best charge move. What? Overall? But I thought that Outrage was always better than Draco Meteor!? The truth is, in scenarios where you faint with minimal energy right after firing off a Draco Meteor, Outrage loses. Is that usually the case? No, that’s why Outrage is better most of the time. But what if you could have both at the same time…?
- Draco Meteor has the potential to outperform Outrage, and that will be discussed below. Let’s just say that unlocking Salamence’s second charge move is NOT necessary, but for those top-tier trainers with plenty of resources who want to have the very best set for all scenarios, unlocking Draco Meteor as Salamence’s second charge move is an option to consider. Fire Blast and Hydro Pump are not useful on Salamence unless you want type coverage or a way to counter its ice type weakness.
Outrage, Draco Meteor… or both?
Alright, let’s discuss which one is better. If we take a look at the move stats, on paper Draco Meteor is better than Outrage:
|Move||Power||Dmg window||Cooldown||Energy required||Cycle DPS|
|Draco Meteor Dragon||150||3.0s||3.6s||100||36.07|
Take the last column with a grain of salt. The reason why is because the general cycle DPS formula greatly benefits one-bar charge moves as it’s assumed that the attacker faints right after firing off a charge move, which means that there is no energy loss in the process, and that’s not true. That’s why battle simulations are always better.
After running several battle simulations against different raid bosses with different movesets to test most scenarios, some results should be highlighted. It’s important to mention that battle simulators are not yet capable of recreating an optimal scenario where the attacker would use one charge move or the other with the most energy-efficient strategy. Some raid boss movesets are in favor of Draco Meteor (e.g. Solar Beam Latios or Dragon Pulse Giratina) whereas others are in favor of Outrage (e.g. Dragon Claw Latios or non-Dragon Pulse Giratina), but overall Outrage is safer to use, and that’s why Outrage is generally better than Draco Meteor as the energy waste is lower.
To follow that strat, the attacker must be aware of several things. How much energy it has, the amount of time elapsed since the last incoming charge move from the raid boss (to “estimate” when the next one will come), the amount of energy the raid boss might have (or how close it is to firing off another charge move) and last but not least, the unpredictable RNG. If you know how raid boss mechanics work, you probably know that the outcome is generally difficult to “predict” and some scenarios are more RNG-dependant (based on the moveset of the raid boss). If the user (or simulator) is aware of all these variables, using the right charge move to minimize the energy loss (maximizing the efficiency) is possible, but still dependant on the RNG. For example, if you’re facing a Latios raid boss, it’s significantly easier to estimate when a Solar Beam might be coming (and dodge it, if needed) than a Dragon Claw, which is a 3-bar charge move with a lower damage window and cooldown.
If you still want to invest and try using mixed Salamence, there are a few tips you should consider.
- The first charge move you fire off will usually be Draco Meteor, because the raid boss won’t have enough energy to use its charge move at the beginning of the raid battle. This can change with multi-bar charge moves, so keep that in mind!
- The lower your health is, the riskier it will be for you to go for a last Draco Meteor
- Ideally, RNG should be optimal. This is impossible to predict, and every single scenario will most likely be different from the previous one. However, if you are battling against a one-bar charge move raid boss, it will be easier for you to estimate when to use Outrage or Draco Meteor. RNG can still be rough, but at least you can predict when the raid boss will fire off a charge move better
- Best case scenario, you faint right after using Draco Meteor. However, that’s not easy to achieve because of several reasons: Draco Meteor’s late damage window, the risk of fainting due to low health, a random phantom hit or energy rubberbanding
- Another (“safer”) strat you could follow if you want to optimize energy efficiency is trying to land a Draco Meteor while wasting minimal energy in the process and then proceed to land as many Outrages as possible. Beware: Outrage also has a late damage window, an even larger cooldown than Draco Meteor and all the energy you get between the moment you fire off a Draco Meteor and the next fast move (Dragon Tail) will inevitably be wasted. Think of it as a glass full of water. Trying to pour more water into it won’t work, and it will overflow until the glass (energy bar) is empty again, that’s the wasted energy in the process
Mixed Salamence test case
Alright, this looks good on paper, but what happens when we test it in a real scenario? Fortunately, Kieng (one of the best players in the world) has tested mixed Salamence against Solar Beam Latios in his latest video, so that will be an excellent example for this article. (Thanks for your awesome content, kieng!) He compared two strategies: Just using Outrage and using mixed Salamence (landing a Draco Meteor first followed by as many Outrages as possible before fainting). We can compute the damage that both Draco Meteor and Outrage will deal based on the Pokémon GO damage formula:
Remember that this is just the damage dealt by one single charge move, but what we’re interested in is the total damage at the end of the battle to analyze the performance of each strategy. An interesting way of doing that is by taking the fast move damage out of the equation and only consider the charge move damage. However, since there is a difference in energy requirement from both charge moves, a few additional Dragon Tails must be landed to charge up Draco Meteor. A simple solution to deal with this is to estimate the additional damage coming from fast moves based on the fast move cooldown (1100 ms) and its damage (25, can be obtained using the formula above with Dragon Tail’s base power of 15).
Don’t forget that moves have a cooldown and that must be taken into account too! You’d be surprised by how many trainers see 180*2>245 and thus think Outrage is better. That’s just plain wrong and not the right methodology to compare both moves.
We can now compare the total damage dealt by just using Outrage to the damage dealt by using both Outrage & Draco Meteor plus the additional Dragon Tails needed to charge up Draco Meteor. In this particular case, kieng saw that the Outrage Salamence slightly outperformed the mixed Salamence. Of course, this represents a single data point, and more data would be needed to build a conclusion, but it represents more or less what we expected: Mixed Salamence has the potential to outperform Outrage Salamence, but it’s situational and RNG-dependant. If minimal or no energy was wasted in the process, and RNG was good, mixed Salamence would have probably outperformed Outrage Salamence, but not by much! Outrage Salamence will be on average better as it is more energy efficient.
Is it worth spending 75k stardust and 75 Bagon candy to unlock the second charge move and build a team of mixed Salamence? The answer is probably no for the average player, but if you are the kind of player that wants to push your limits and go for the fastest raid time, then you can try it out!
Salamence in the raid meta
Salamence’s attack stat (277) is quite impressive, just below Palkia’s (280) and Rayquaza’s (284), and it’s not even a legendary Pokémon! Furthermore, Salamence has what we could call a “DPS-oriented stat distribution” because it has a high attack stat, very decent stamina and average defense. In PvE (raids & gym battles), your Pokémon transform received damage from incoming attacks into energy. Since there is an energy gain per HP lost, having lower defense and good stamina allows you to generate a decent amount of energy that can be helpful to charge up your charge move. Rayquaza and Salamence have almost the same bulk in Pokémon GO, and the only difference between them is the 7 points in attack stat, which can sometimes translate into a lost breakpoint (e.g. vs Giratina (BFFs, WB & non-WB) or vs Latios (WB)). If they deal the same damage with their fast moves (no breakpoint difference), then their performance will practically be identical, which is quite impressive.
Palkia and Dialga have fantastic stats too, but their movesets hold them back a little bit. Palkia is an outstanding attacker and it slightly outperforms Dragonite in most scenarios, but still ranks a bit below Ray & Salamence and you need rare candies to power it up. Dialga doesn’t have access to Dragon Tail or Outrage, but it still performs well. It doesn’t deal as much damage per second as the other dragons, but its bulk and excellent typing compensate and in some scenarios (e.g. vs Dragon Claw or Psychic Latios & vs Dragon Pulse Giratina) it can be the best counter or perform close to the best counters.
Test case: Latios raid boss
Let’s keep things simple. Rayquaza and Salamence have almost identical bulk and the same best moveset, but Rayquaza’s attack stat is a bit higher than Salamence’s. Thus, there are only two potential scenarios where Salamence could outperform it:
- If Draco Meteor Salamence outperforms Outrage Rayquaza (needs almost perfect RNG to compensate for the seven attack difference)
- Using mixed Salamence (Draco Meteor + Outrage) and also having great RNG
Alright, let’s compare them against two different Latios movesets to see how rough RNG can be. As always, simulations were performed using pokebattler’s battle simulator.
Simulation 1 – Dragon Claw Latios
Dragon Claw, as a 3-bar charge move, can be quite troublesome:
Take a look at the energy that Draco Meteor Salamence has right before fainting. The first two deaths were quite “optimal” (right after firing off a Draco Meteor), but the last ones were terrible. 100 energy means that the energy bar was full and Salamence was ready to fire off a Draco Meteor, but RNG said no, and Salamence fainted right before landing it, which leads to a massive waste in energy. See how there are no significant peaks (Draco Meteor Damage) for a while in the last two cases.
In this case (and in general), Outrage Salamence outperforms Draco Meteor Salamence. But as it has already been said, Rayquaza’s attack stat allows it to take the lead. It’s important to recall that this will be the most common raid scenario.
Simulation 2 – Solar Beam Latios
Alright, now let’s see how Salamence performs against a resisted full-bar charge move with a late damage window:
The energy waste, in this case, is significantly lower, and that’s why Draco Meteor Salamence slightly outperforms the Outrage variant, and it even challenges Outrage Rayquaza! If RNG is almost perfect, it has the potential to outperform it (feel free to check out raid battle simulations against Dragon Pulse Giratina), but in general Outrage Rayquaza and Outrage Salamence will be safer to use, and cases like this one are just outliers.
So how would mixed Salamence perform? Simulators are still not ready to test it out. On paper, it can be said that mixed Salamence has the potential to outperform Outrage Rayquaza (not by far), but the chances of that happening in a real scenario are slim, which usually makes the investment to unlock the 2nd charge move not worth it.
Salamence in PvP
Salamence is not the best dragon type Pokémon to use in PvP. There are plenty of other alternatives with better stat distributions and movesets (Giratina, Latios, legacy Dragonite, …). However, if you still want to use it, the Master League seems to be where Salamence could perform better since its S-tier attack stat is a limiting factor in lower leagues.
- Outrage Salamence is an amazing Dragon type Pokémon (and generalist) to use in raids & gym battles. Its performance is close to Rayquaza’s, and you don’t need rare candies to power it up
- In general, Outrage Salamence outperforms Draco Meteor Salamence. However, in some scenarios with good RNG, Draco Meteor Salamence can slightly outperform Outrage Salamence
- Mixed Salamence (Outrage + Draco Meteor) is an option, but is it viable? On paper, it has the potential to outperform Outrage Rayquaza, but you will need almost perfect RNG. Chances are slim, and the investment does not seem to be worth it, but if you want to try it out, feel free to do it! Check the in-depth comparison above if you want to know more
- Salamence is not a viable Pokémon in PvP, even now that it can learn Outrage
- Unlocking a 2nd charge move is not recommended unless you want to try using mixed Salamence. Adding type coverage with Fire Blast or Hydro Pump is not useful either