Whether you like it or not, Garbodor is a Pokémon that is not easy to forget with its unusual inspiration and distinctive appearance. The real question though is if Garbodor has the same impact on the battlefield as it does on one’s eyeballs. Did Oleana make a good decision for her surprise ace?
Generation V was Garbodor’s debut to the Pokémon franchise and it very quickly gained infamy for being based on literal trash. That being said, it wasn’t quite as rubbish on the battlefield as you’d expect given its appearance. While it is true that Garbodor was technically in the NeverUsed (NU) tier on Smogon’s Showdown, which was then the lowest tier, Garbodor is one of a select few Pokémon who still had a usable niche in just about every tier regardless. 80/82/82 bulk, a great defensive typing and a solid movepool is nothing to sneeze at.
Garbodor’s primary role in Gen V NU is to cripple the opponent’s team by poisoning them and chipping away at them with entry hazards. This is a role that comes easily to the Trash Heap Pokémon as it was one of the lucky Pokémon with access to both Spikes and Toxic Spikes. Unlike more frail hazard setters, Garbodor also has the typing and impressive bulk to reliably come back in and re-set any Spikes or Toxic Spikes that have been removed by Rapid Spin. This means that chances are pretty good that your opponent will be switching in to some hefty chip damage, or even being immediately poisoned.
Of course, if keeping up Toxic Spikes isn’t proving 100% effective, Garbodor typically also runs Toxic. This means that even without Toxic Spikes up, Garbodor can badly poison an enemy Pokémon which absolutely cripples common walls like Alomomola and Mandibuzz, as well as put a timer on the setup sweepers that are prominent in the tier, such as Carracosta.
To further Garbodor’s status as an annoyance, it also serves as an effective wall against many of BW NU’s most common offensive threats. Its good defences and mono-Poison typing allows it to shut down the common Close Combat sweepers: Primeape, Sawk and Gurdurr as well as Calm Mind Serperior – some of the most dangerous Pokémon in the meta. Meanwhile, most other sweepers, while not hard walled in the same way, can’t OHKO Garbodor which leaves them vulnerable to Toxic in retaliation.
Rounding out its positives, Garbodor can also deal some surprisingly good damage if it catches your opponent off guard. While it is definitely a defensively oriented Pokémon in practice, Garbodor’s highest stat is actually its Attack. Because of this, by running Rock Blast or Gunk Shot, Garbodor can nail threats like Haunter, Armaldo, Serperior and Ludicolo that are foolish enough to switch into Garbodor or choose to stay in and try for a set up.
Of course, you don’t find yourself in NeverUsed if you only have positives going for you and even in NU, Garbodor isn’t without problems. While its typing and bulk certainly are huge boons for Garbodor, it is vulnerable to both Psychic and Ground which are always common offensive types. Unless it is one of the rare variants running Seed Bomb or Drain Punch, there’s also very little Garbodor can do to deal with Rock and Steel types – especially the latter as they are immune to being Poisoned.
Garbodor lacks reliable recovery, forcing it to rely on Wish support or the less reliable options of Pain Split, Drain Punch and Giga Drain. As a result, it can’t quite reach that peak level of longevity needed to truly abuse its hazard/status stacking.
All being said and done, Garbodor is easily one of the best Pokémon in BW NU. However, it does have some major weaknesses that one should be aware of lest a more savvy opponent be able to capitalise on them and remove one of your team’s best assets.
Unsurprisingly, Garbodor’s role in the Gen V RU tier is not much different to its usage in BW NU. That is, it primarily exists as a defensive pivot and hazard setter. The large number of viable Grass types in the tier make this job quite easy for Garbodor as, while threatening in general, there is very little the likes of Sceptile, Lilligant or Rotom-Mow can do to dent Garbodor thanks to its typing and bulk while all fear taking a Gunk Shot from Garbodor. Garbodor simply has to scare these Pokémon out to set up an, essentially free, layer of Spikes or Toxic Spikes.
Garbodor also has little to fear from the weaker walls of the tier, such as Clefable or Uxie, who would also provide it with ample opportunity to set up its hazards. Calm Mind (or similar) variations of these walls also frequently prove ineffective against Garbodor as it is possible for it to run Haze, allowing it to nullify stat boosts. This same strategy can also prove useful as counterplay against setup sweepers. The downside to this, is that using Haze forces Garbodor to give up Spikes as it is illegal for it to have both moves.
Unlike in NU, the prevalence of Steel types and fellow Poison Pokémon means there is little point in running Toxic in addition to Toxic Spikes, further limiting Garbodor’s niche on a team. Instead, Garbodor would often run Body Slam to spread Paralysis and neuter potential sweepers or Payback to punish Psychic types that lack the power to break through its bulk. Unfortunately, neither of these options are particularly amazing, putting Garbodor in close competition for a team slot with the likes of Scollipede, Amoongus and Drapion who can all fill a similar role to Garbodor on a team but possess much greater offensive power and/or utility as well as with other carry-overs from NU such as Muk and Weezing.
So, while Garbodor is still perfectly usable and can be excellent on the right team, its effectiveness definitely takes a hit compared to its performance in its home tier.
Interestingly enough, while Garbodor lacks much of a niche in the next tier up from RU, UnderUsed, it does have a small one in the BW OverUsed tier as a suicide lead, thanks to a combination of access to Spikes and Toxic Spikes as well as Weak Armour.
Weak Armour is of little use to Garbodor in the lower tiers where it is more of a defensive pivot. This is because the Speed boost it can provide adds little to a pivot, while the drop to its Defence every time it takes a hit severely hurts its longevity. As a suicide lead though, that Speed boost can potentially allow Garbodor to get an edge on opposing leads allowing it to outspeed and set up an extra layer of Spikes or Toxic Spikes before it can be taken out.
Additionally, access to Explosion off of a hefty Attack stat can be a very nasty surprise for less physically bulky Rapid Spinners that attempt to come in and remove your hazards. Similarly, Explosion can also allow you to take out some opposing leads before they can set up the battlefield to their liking. Weak Armour adding some extra Speed can be quite helpful in this regard also.
Garbodor also can have some use on the off chance it does actually survive the first few rounds of the battle, being able to remove opposing Toxic Spikes by switching in, hampering the hyper offensive teams prevalent in BW OU. Access to Haze and Clear Smog can also be useful, preventing set up sweepers from making use of their stat boosts.
Of course, while this all sounds excellent, the reality is still that this niche is miniscule. More often than not, a more traditional lead such as Skarmory, Smeargle, Azelf or Ferrothorn would be a better fit for a BW OU team. All of them can do much the same job as Garbodor, but generally better on account of greater power, utility and/or longevity. Additionally, while Garbodor’s stats are excellent for the lower tiers, they are quite middling for OU. Garbodor’s Poison typing that is a huge boon for it in NeverUsed and RarelyUsed is also more of a liability in OU which is populated by several extremely powerful Psychic, Ground and Steel types.