If you are reading this, you probably have seen or picked up a Choice Scarf in the Pokémon games but didn’t see much use in limiting your choices in battle. Well, I am here to give you a deep dive into the use of speeding up any Pokémon and unlocking your full, Pokémon Master potential.
Key Details Up Front
Simply put, a Choice Scarf is a held item that increases any Pokémon’s Speed stat by 50% in exchange for that Pokémon only being able to use 1 of its 4 moves while it is on the field.
A Speed increase in return for locking in 1 move instead of having the normal choice of 4. A rather simple item, the Choice Scarf sits as one of the “so simple its complicated” items in Pokémon, next to the other Choice items, Choice Band and Choice Specs.
Choice Scarf Overview
The Choice Scarf, alongside the Choice Band and Specs, was introduced in generation 4, Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, & Platinum. It has remained a staple competitive held item in every generation since then.
The Choice Scarf stands out from its sister items in that in exchange for locking a Pokémon into the first move it chooses on entering the field, the Pokémon gains a 50% boost to its total Speed stat. The other Choice items give similar boosts but in different stats, with Choice Band being a 50% increase to the total Attack stat and Choice Specs being a 50% to the total Special Attack stat.
These 50% boosts affect the total stat and are calculated separately from the boosts a stat can get from Natures, Effort Values (or EVs), and Individual Values (or IVs). To figure out the stat changes for any Pokémon, a few key factors need to be explained.
First, the Nature of a Pokémon influences its stats. Some examples include an Adamant nature that boosts Attack and reduces Special Attack, a Timid nature boosting Speed and reducing Attack, and a Hardy nature boosting Attack but also reducing Attack, making it a “neutral nature”.
Second, the amount of Effort Values, or EVs, a Pokémon has in a stat changes the total stat number. This number can go from 0 to 252 maximum, with every 4 increasing the stat number by 1. For example, a level 100 Flygon (who has a base Speed stat of 100) with a neutral nature has a total Speed stat of 236 with 0 EVs, but a total Speed of 299 with 252 EVs.
Finally, the last factor in determining a Pokémon’s stats are the Individual Values, or IVs, each stat has on a scale of 0 to 31.
These are numbers that are relatively hidden in playing any Pokémon game normally; however, in newer games such as Pokémon Sword & Shield, you can use the IV checker on the PC screen to give a general idea of any Pokémon’s IVs.
The IV checker uses the term “Best” if an IV is 31 and the term “No good” if the IV is 0, with a few different levels in between. There are ways in newer games to change the IVs of any Pokémon using the Bottle Cap item, or more commonly used breeding tactics using items such as Destiny Knot to pass down perfect IVs to Eggs.
Great Pokémon who Use Choice Scarf
Any Pokémon that can make use of a held item can make use of a Choice Scarf. However, there is more benefit to speeding up certain Pokémon so they can outpace their usual threats compared to just making one Pokémon ultra-fast, such as Deoxys-Speed or Electrode.
Pokémon with that much Speed already don’t have the most need for the benefits Choice Scarf provides. So, here is a small list of some of the Pokémon I find the best, and most importantly best consistently, users of Choice Scarf. (Keep in mind, there are more that would fit this distinction, these are just my choices).
- Tyranitar @ Choice Scarf
- Ability: Sand Stream
- EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
- Jolly Nature
- Stone Edge
- Superpower / Earthquake
Tyranitar stands as one of the best Choice Scarf users since Generation 4. While Tyranitar is notably slower than many other Choice Scarf users (only a base 61 Speed), putting the Choice Scarf on a Tyranitar allows it to outspeed any Pokémon in the base 115 Speed tier and lower.
Notable threats to Tyranitar in these tiers are Starmie, Lucario, Raikou, and Latios. As well, a notable move for a Scarf Tyranitar is Pursuit. It may be only a 40 base power move, but the Dark typing gives it the Same Type Attack Bonus (or STAB) when used by Tyranitar AND if the target is switching out Pursuit does double damage.
This is most notable because Choice Scarf users typically are used to check another strong Pokémon by threatening to KO them before they can move, which forces an opponent to either switch out and risk Pursuit or stay in and risk a harder-hitting move.
This allows Scarf Tyranitar to check former threats like Starmie and Latios, slamming them with a doubled-power STAB Pursuit which is also very powerful for Tyranitar to use since its base Attack is 134.
Stone Edge and Crunch sit as powerful move alternatives if trapping a Pokémon with Pursuit is not needed, and the choice between Superpower (a Fighting-type move) and Earthquake (a Ground-type move) comes down to both the rest of your team and what you expect to face.
- Garchomp @ Choice Scarf
- Ability: Rough Skin
- EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
- Jolly / Naïve nature
- Stone Edge/ Fire Blast
- Dragon Claw / Fire Blast
Standing at a solid base 102 Speed, Garchomp is the first over base 100 Speed Scarf user we are talking about. Garchomp can almost be seen as a “Flygon, but better” in many ways.
With also a powerful base 130 Attack stat, putting a Choice Scarf on Garchomp allows it to outspeed fast threats such as a Dragon Dance-boosted Dragonite, Quiver Dance-boosted Volcarona, and every base 100 Speed or less Scarf user.
Earthquake and Outrage sit as Garchomp’s strongest STAB moves, with Stone Edge and Fire Blast providing great coverage. Fire Blast is a notable outlier since it uses the Special Attack stat rather than Attack, but it is there for Steel-type Pokémon such as Skarmory or Corviknight who would check Garchomp otherwise.
The Choice Scarf can lessen some of Garchomp’s possible power since you would run that over Life Orb or Swords Dance sets, but when that Speed is needed Garchomp can deliver.
- Latios @ Choice Scarf
- Ability: Levitate
- 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Timid Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Defog / Mystical Fire
Latios, a legendary Dragon Pokémon, is the fastest Pokémon on this list with a zooming base 110 Speed stat. Now, I mentioned before that putting a Choice Scarf on an already fast Pokémon may not be the best choice.
What Scarf Latios changes about that statement is that it has the power that would normally be missing AND Latios having a Choice Scarf makes it a massive threat to other Scarf users. That Scarf Garchomp I just mentioned above?
Out sped and One-Hit KO’d by Scarf Latios. Draco Meteor stands as the strongest Dragon-type special move that is not a signature move (a move only known to 1 Pokémon). With Latios’ base 130 Special Attack stat, this is a Latios designed to revenge kill.
Now, to be clear, Draco Meteor does drop the Special Attack of the user after it is used. This is where moves like Psyshock can follow up, as well as fend off heavy Special Defense Pokémon such as Chansey since Psyshock hits the enemies physical Defense instead of Special Defense.
Defog sits on the list because removing hazards is a premiere tactic, with Mystical Fire being its replacement if more coverage for Steel-type Pokémon is needed on the team.
Finally, the strange move to round out this list is Trick, a move that swaps items with the target. Why would you want to give away your Choice Scarf? Answer: when the enemy is a tank and is built defensively and locking them into an undesirable move, such as Roost or Wish.
This forces a switch out, allowing Latios to either get free damage on a new target or allowing you to anticipate what will be swapped out so you can swap out Latios for later.
Galarian Darmanitan, Ice
- Darmanitan-Galar @ Choice Scarf
- Ability: Gorilla Tactics
- EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Speed
- Jolly nature
- Icicle Crash
- Flare Blitz
- Rock Slide / Earthquake
While its original form was introduced in generation 5 (a pure Fire-type and also an avid Choice Scarf user), Galarian Darmanitan has upped the ante with its new ability, Gorilla Tactics. Essentially, Gorilla Tactics boosts Darmanitan’s Attack stat by 50% but locks it into the first move used.
Sounds like a Choice Band from earlier, right? Now, adding a Choice Scarf on top allows both total Attack and Speed to be increased by 50%. You get the positive effects of both items! While the new Ice typing is not good at all in defensive resists, the offensive output of Galarian Darmanitan easily makes up for that weakness.
The Choice Scarf makes the base 95 Speed easily high enough to outpace a vast majority of threats, such as Infernape or Landorus-Therian Forme. On top of the base 140 Attack stat, which is also getting a 50% boost, a Choice Scarf Galarian Darmanitan set is set up to both outspeed threats and break-through tanks.
U-Turn is a necessary move, allowing both damage and swap initiative throughout the battle. Icicle Crash hits as strong Ice STAB moves, with Flare Blitz, Rock Slide, and Earthquake all being great coverage moves for whatever is needed.
The difficulty in using Galarian Darmanitan comes from its low defenses and weakness to most entry hazards, namely Stealth Rock. If using this Pokémon, make sure to include ways of removing entry hazards with Pokémon that can either Defog or Rapid Spin, such as Excadrill, Corviknight, or Landorus-Therian.
Ditto, Normal (when not Transformed)
- Ditto @ Choice Scarf
- Ability: Imposter
- EVs: 248 HP / 8 Atk / 252 Def
- IVs: 0 Spe
- Relaxed Nature
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Ditto with a Choice Scarf is one of the best revenge killers in the entire game, with debate on how high on that list it should be ranked. The strategy is based fully on the Hidden Ability Imposter, which causes Ditto to transform into an enemy Pokémon simply by entering the battlefield.
This gives freedom to not have to click the move Transform to get Ditto going. As well, Ditto still gets the boost of the Choice Scarf upon transforming…in addition to every stat change the opponent has active.
That’s right! Scarf Ditto can be sent into battle against a Dragonite who just used Dragon Dance and gain the boosted Attack and Speed plus adding on the Choice Scarf 50% Speed increase. That means Ditto can put a hard stop to opponents Pokémon looking to set up and sweep your team.
Now, all this upside has one main downside fitting Ditto onto a team can be a difficult task if you are trying to maintain balance. As well, should you face an enemy Scarf Ditto, this EV and IV spread is chosen for that specific situation.
Still, having a Scarf Ditto on your team will always make your opponent think twice about simply setting up with a Dragonite or Xerneas and trying to sweep your team. Or else they’ll fall right into your Imposter trap!
Where Do I Find a Choice Scarf?
- Battle Park, 48 BP (Diamond & Pearl) or Battle Frontier, 48 BP (Platinum)
- Purchased by Player’s Mom, Battle Frontier, 48 BP (HeartGold & SoulSilver)
- Castelia City Pokemon Center (need 30 Pokémon from different original Trainers), Battle Subway, 48 BP (Black & White)
- Battle Subway, Pokémon World Tournament, 24 BP (Black 2 & White 2)
- Battle Maison, 48 BP (X & Y, Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire)
- Battle Tree, 48 BP (Sun & Moon, Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon)
- Ballonlea, Battle Tower, 25 BP (Sword & Shield)
- Battle Park, 25 BP (Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl)
Despite the various methods, obtaining a Choice Scarf does require some form of side content or non-story investigation. I find these methods somewhat taxing, but if I wanted to get a Choice Scarf, I would find ways of having fun along the process, such as using unique Pokémon in the Battle Facilities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
**[H2] How to understand Choice Scarf Calculations**
There are external websites to figure out this math for you, but I find that having a base understanding helps in deciphering the numbers to make informed decisions and then using the calculator sites to double-check my assumptions.
To explain the effects and reasoning for a Choice Scarf, I will be using a Flygon, a Dragon/Ground-type, with the following 5 rules in place:
- Flygon in examples will be level 50 unless specified otherwise.
- Flygon will be neutral-natured unless specified otherwise.
- Flygon will have 31 IVs in all stats.
- Flygon’s assumed moves will be Outrage, Earthquake, Rock Slide, and U-Turn. These moves are Dragon-type, Ground-type, Rock-type, and Bug-type, respectively.
- All other Pokémon will also follow Rules #3 & #4 unless specified otherwise.
Any change to EVs of the Flygon will be noted per example. I will also use the Flygon as a level 50 Flygon since that is the most common level for competitive battling used by the official Pokémon Company. There are differences between a level 50 Flygon and a level 100 Flygon, obviously, but level 50 is the most common level adjustment and rule used.
To start, understand that Flygon has a base Speed of 100. At level 50, Flygon would have a total Speed stat of 120 (0 EVs in Speed). Giving the Flygon a Choice Scarf multiplies that 120 by 50%, totaling to a whopping 180.
This is a MASSIVE leap, allowing a Choice Scarf Flygon to outspeed major threats such as Greninja, Froslass, Starmie, Electrode, and more. The 180 speed puts Scarf Flygon to the same total Speed as Ninjask, a Bug/Flying-type Pokémon with a 160 base Speed.
As you can see, the 50% bonus from Choice Scarf does not apply to the 100 base speed of Flygon but instead applies to the total speed of 120. When you give the same Flygon a Jolly nature (+Speed, -Special Attack), the total Speed stat becomes 132, with the Choice Scarf changing the total Speed stat to 198.
This new Speed-beneficial nature now makes Flygon faster than a neutral nature Ninjask, almost reaching the total Speed of 200 of a Deoxys-Speed (who has a base Speed of 180). As you can see, simply putting the Choice Scarf on this one neutral nature Flygon catapults this Pokémon into the Speed tiers of some of the fastest Pokémon in the game, given they are also neutral and 0 Speed EVs.
This is rarely the case in actual competition, but the example should show the innate value Choice Scarf allows.
However, taking the above threats as examples, having the Scarf Flygon choose 1 move to fight all these threats is a hard choice. Greninja and Starmie are both weak to the Bug-type move U-Turn, but Froslass resists the same move.
The Scarf Flygon could use a powerful Earthquake or Outrage since they would also be stronger because the moves share typing with Flygon, but only Earthquake is only super effective against Electrode and Outrage is neutral damage to all of these threats.
To have a Choice Scarf Flygon have a large impact on the battle, it comes down to external factors such as Player battle intuition and Teambuilding.
Flygon is notably not the strongest Pokémon, let alone the strongest Dragon/Ground Pokémon, but the wide move pool and being given extra Speed through a Choice Scarf places it as a decent choice for the “Revenge Killer” role on a Pokémon team; the Pokémon who cleans up late-game through out-speeding the surviving enemy Pokémon and able to do enough damage to KO.
Counter Choice Scarf Strategies
Now that we know all the benefits of using a Choice Scarf, how do you beat a Choice Scarf? One of the most common ways to beat a Choice Scarf user is with the Dark-type move Knock Off.
Knock Off is a 65 base power physical Dark move that will remove the held item of the opposing Pokémon and do 50% increased damage if the item is removed successfully. Knock Off is also a move that a wide variety of Pokémon can use, making it fairly accessible for any team.
Other moves such as Trick or Switcheroo swap items between your Pokémon and the opposing Choice Scarf user, which can cripple the opposing Choice Scarf strategy. Finally, if you can predict what Pokémon on an opponent’s team will be utilizing a Choice Scarf, a simple solution is to bring a Choice Scarf user yourself that will outspeed and knock out the opponent.
If you are expecting a Choice Scarf Flygon, you could bring a Choice Scarf Garchomp built to outspeed every Flygon variation, since Flygon is base 100 Speed and Garchomp is base 102 Speed.
Question: Where do I Get a Choice Scarf?
Answer: Exact locations vary on generation, but the first place to check is any Battle facility or somewhere you would earn Battle Points (BP). Examples are the Battle Tower, Battle Frontier, and Battle Subway. At these locations, Choice Scarf can be purchased with BP.
Question: Does Choice Scarf Lock My Move Choice Even if I Switch Out?
Answer: No. If you swap out a Pokémon who is holding a Choice Scarf after they have chosen a move, you will get to choose again when that Pokémon comes back to the battlefield.
Question: What Happens when I Dynamax/Gigantamax with a Pokémon who is Holding a Choice Scarf?
Answer: The Choice Scarf will temporarily have no effect. This includes both the stat boost and the move locking. After the Dynamax/Gigantamax is over, any previous move lock will be re-enabled.
Competitive battling in Pokémon games will always have multiple factors. With a Choice Scarf, players can achieve a deeper understanding of these factors. The first step to getting better at battling is understanding how concepts like held items, EVs, and IVs change the battle and separate nearly identical Pokémon into filling different roles.
The Choice Scarf offers the premiere role of a revenge killer, a Pokémon to clean up the game and provide knockouts when otherwise tough situations would cause a loss. Unlock your true potential; use a Choice Scarf.
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