Drilbur and Excadrill

Okay, what’s next in the Pokédex after Conkeldurr?

…oh, gods.  No, I’m not doing that.  Not right after Gigalith and Conkeldurr.  I can only take so much idiocy.  They will live, for now.

Hey, look!  I missed one out!  Yeah, I’m doing that one instead.

ec53e-drilburMeet Drilbur, the mole Pokémon.  Okay, I know the Pokédex says we already have a “Mole Pokémon” but be honest; none of you out there ever actually thought that Diglett looked anything like a mole, did you?  If anything, Diglett and Dugtrio are actually equivalent to earthworms, not moles, since they apparently play a role in maintaining soil fertility by turning and mixing it, whereas real moles are regarded as pests.  Drilbur and the evolved Excadrill can be pests too in the wrong place because their burrows can interfere with whatever the human population is trying to accomplish underground, like building subway lines, but since they’re also brilliant at building tunnels for humans they tend to be forgiven.  I quite like how the two Pokédex entries for Black and White illustrate how the same Pokémon’s abilities can both help and hinder; it strikes me as quite a nice touch.  I also like Drilbur’s design; he’s cute but no pushover.  You’re not exactly going to run screaming, but this is clearly still not a Pokémon you want to mess with.  Excadrill, on the other hand, is nothing short of terrifying.  It could seriously mangle things with the massive blades on its hands and head if it so chose, and its expression is hard, determined and unforgiving.  Excadrill is definitely a Pokémon to be placed very high on the list of Things to Run Away from at Ludicrous Speed.  I am going to criticise his in-game sprite quite harshly because it annoys me.  As it’s smaller and less detailed than the picture we have here, and because Excadrill’s face is shadowed, if you just glance at the sprite it is possible to get the impression that the red diamond marking on his neck is actually an eye, and that his drill and his head are the upper and lower parts of some kind of bizarre beaklike structure.  This is in fact how I first saw Excadrill before Black and White were released, which bothered me to no end.  It’s not fair to punish Excadrill too harshly for that, though, because he and Drilbur are otherwise extremely nicely done Pokémon that, in terms of flavour, accomplish just what they set out to do.

f2393-excadrillDrilbur and Excadrill are both Ground-types, and Excadrill is also a Steel-type.  Now, although the Ground-type in particular has been blessed with a fair number of interesting outliers in this regard, both of these are types that produce primarily tanks – slow, powerful Pokémon with good offensive and defensive strength, normally focussing on physical offense and defence in the case of Ground- and Steel-type tanks.  Excadrill is nice enough to buck the trend; he won’t fold immediately to any attack he’s not specifically weak to, but defence is definitely not his forte (the Steel type does grant him a bucketload of resistances to work with, though).  Nor is he extremely fast, though he does have a surprising turn of speed to him.  His physical attack strength is nothing short of phenomenal, however.  Excadrill is not made for winning wars of attrition; he is made for utterly brutalising his opponents with savage efficiency.  Contrast this with the only other Pokémon to combine the Steel and Ground elements, Steelix, who looks with scorn on such meagre defences as shells, chitin, scales and the Great Wall of China.  Pokémon from both elements exist that are similar to Excadrill – the Steel/Fighting-type jackal Pokémon Lucario and the deadly Ground/Dragon-type “land shark” Pokémon Garchomp – but it’s an unusual configuration of skills for both types, and certainly an interesting choice for a Pokémon that combines the two.  Lucario and Garchomp, incidentally, are both tremendously powerful and dangerous Pokémon, and Excadrill may very well turn out to be comparable to them in more ways than just his type.

69993-tyranitarandhippowdonExcadrill has an absurdly high attack stat; this much we’ve established.  He also has Swords Dance, just in case he wasn’t already strong enough for you, and a pretty good selection of attacks.  Earthquake is a wonderful staple, Rock Slide and the Bug-type X-Scissor are good for backup and if you really want to confuse people you can throw on Shadow Claw (Ghost-type) or Submission (Fighting-type).  Oddly Excadrill learns no Steel-type attacks other than the inexcusably bad Metal Claw.  Nobody cares, though, because the great secret of the Steel type is that although it is hands down the strongest defensive type in the game it is, after Poison, the second-worst offensive type, being strong against only two other elements (Rock and Ice).  Long story short, the one thing holding Excadrill back from causing utter devastation is that, although he’s pretty fast, there are still a lot of Pokémon that are faster.  This is why it was extraordinarily nice of Nintendo to give Excadrill a wonderful passive ability, Sand Rush, that doubles his speed during a sandstorm.  This may sound like a very specific circumstance, but because people love Tyranitar and Hippowdon, who are both continually surrounded by raging sandstorms, it’s easily the most common weather condition in Pokémon.  Black and White may not turn out the same way, but in Diamond and Pearl it was more or less standard practice to assume that if you didn’t want to be fighting in a sandstorm, you would probably have to.  Including either Tyranitar or Hippowdon on a team with Excadrill should make it absolutely trivial to turn the latter into a very strong sweeper indeed.

Excadrill is probably the strongest of the new Pokémon I’ve looked at so far.  If he’s on your side, he’ll make a wonderful ally.  If he’s against you, crush him without a moment’s delay as he is extraordinarily dangerous, and he manages to be so in a way that isn’t quite like any other Pokémon (actually, the closest thing I can think of to the way Excadrill fights is the prehistoric terror Kabutops, whose furious onslaught in a rainstorm is roughly analogous to the way Excadrill rampages through sandstorms, but even he isn’t a perfect fit).  To top it all off, he’s suitably badass to have everyone fear him as he ought to be feared.

I hereby affirm this Pokémon’s right to exist!

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