Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduced some great new Pokémon into the fray, but there’s one that stands out from the pack. Though Houndstone, The Ghost Dog Pokémon, didn’t look like much at first glance, keen trainers were able to pick up on its potential immediately. As an endgame sweeper, Houndstone can become nearly unstoppable under the right circumstances. It isn’t a legendary Pokémon, nor is it even overly rare, and that only adds to Houndstone’s mythos as the unexpected underdog.
As the final form of Greavard following its evolution at level 30, Houndstone is nothing to bark at. However, stat-wise, while it has decent Attack, Defense, and Sp Defense, that’s really it. It can be somewhat tough to take down in the right match-up, but pure strength isn’t where its true value lies. Instead, the source of Houndstone’s greatness lies in the Ghost-Type physical move, Last Respects — a move that is currently only teachable to Houndstone. This move is so broken that it even got Houndstone banned from some competitive formats.
Houndstone Is So Dangerous, It Was Banned
Houndstone was ultimately banned due to the disruptive nature of Last Respects and its overwhelming impact on the Pokémon metagame as a whole. Seeing its impact on competitive Pokémon, Smogon banned Houndstone from OU and upgraded it to Uber tier — an unprecedented move for a Pokémon with such meager stats. While players have noted a variety of ways to check Houndstone, they all still require setting up their team in a way that constantly takes Houndstone into account, thus automatically limiting team diversity.
There has been debate over whether banning Last Respects would be better than banning Houndstone itself, but due to Houndstone’s lackluster stats, banning Last Respects would be akin to banning the Pokémon anyway. There’s a likelihood that in the future, Pokémon Home or DLC may present the possibility of another Pokémon learning Last Respects, at which point banning the move itself may be back on the table. In the meantime, Houndstone remains the sole way to access what is potentially the most powerful attack in Pokémon history.
Building Houndstone Around Last Respects
Last Respects is a Ghost-Type physical attack move that does a modest 50 Base damage. However, for each member of the player’s team that has fainted, Last Respects gains an additional 50 attack power. That makes it one of the most powerful moves in the game after two of the player’s Pokémon have fainted. Also, if it’s the last Pokémon standing, it hits a staggering 300 BP — easily the strongest of any move in the game. Combining this with a Ghost Tera Typing makes Last Respects a double STAB-boosted 300-power attack that can one or two-hit kill pretty much anything put in front of it.
The entire strategy around Houndstone focuses on how to optimize Last Respects. With that in mind, a Houndstone with an adamant nature is preferable thanks to the extra physical attack boost. Depending on how the player wants to run it, either of its abilities, Fluffy or Sand Rush, can fit into a viable strategy. Fluffy lets Houndstone take half-damage from contact attacks, allowing it to last longer and cause even more destruction. The more prominent build, however, tends to be using Sand Rush to give Houndstone an extra boost of speed during a Sand Storm. Having it hold a Spell Tag or Choice Band gives it even more attack power.
Fitting Houndstone Into a Team
The most straightforward way to take advantage of Houndstone’s Last Respects is to give a few Pokémon moves that faint themselves. For example, Memento and Explosion are both moves that a myriad of Pokémon have access to, and can also give the player the option to faint while dealing damage or lowering stats. This gives new context to moves with recoil like Double Edge or Flare Blitz. Houndstone’s only real bane comes in the form of Normal Types, though even they will often fall after a few Tera-boosted Last Respects.
While Last Respects will undoubtedly be the focal point, making strategic use of Houndstone’s other three move slots can optimize its chances. Moves like Play Rough and Will-O-Wisp can serve as good counters to common threats like Koraidon. Play Rough is especially useful as a super-effective damage dealer on popular dragon and dark types, and Will-O-Wisp can put the overpowered legendaries on a timer counting down to their inevitable demise. Finally, for those pesky Normal types, the Fighting move Body Press can act as an unexpected curveball.