PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
1 vote

If you use Spikes enough times, you can seriously hurt the other Pokemon, but you can only use Stealth Rock once, and they don't do much damage (unless you have a 4x weakness to rock). So why do I see so many battles having Pokemon that can use Spikes use Stealth Rock instead?

What format/rules are you asking about?
basically any format with multiple pokemon on a side, I've seen it used in doubles, ou, Natdexag, lot of other stuff

5 Answers

3 votes
Best answer


Stealth Rock has much more distribution than Spikes. The most viable, or should I say the only viable Spikers in the National Dex OU metagame are Ferrothorn, Skarmory, and Greninja. Other Spikers like Mew, Garbodor, Smeargle, and Accelgor, are obviously not cut out for the job thanks to their inferior tiering. Some viable Pokemon with access to Spikes, such as Cloyster and Diggersby, don't even use the move that often. Meanwhile, Stealth Rock has a vast amount of viable setters, such as Ferrothorn, Heatran, Landorus-T, Skarmory, Clefable, Mega Swampert, Excadrill, and Tyranitar.


As Primal said, Levitating Pokemon and Flying types don't mind Spikes at all. Why did you think Flygon was so popular in Gen 3 OU? It was immune to them thanks to Levitate (also immune to Sandstorm). There are a host of dangerous Levitating Pokemon and Flying types. Hydreigon, Lati twins and their Megas (important because Mega Latias is one of the most important and dangerous bulky offensive threats in the entire metagame, so any bit of chip damage matters), and don't think I forgot Rotom forms, which couldn't care less about Spikes and also have Volt Switch. As for Flying types, dangerous mons like Mega Charizard Y, Zapdos, Pelipper, and Tornadous-T are Flying types, therefore being weak to Stealth Rock and immune to Spikes. Zapdos and Tornadous-T are generally bulky Pokemon so Stealth Rock is important to wear them down (unless they have Heavy-Duty Boots).

Rock is a good offensive typing, and Stealth Rocks exert a lot of pressure on offensive Pokemon

The Rock type hits a good amount of Pokemon neutrally and not too many resist it. Stealth Rocks benefit from this greatly. Stealth Rocks are much, much more consistent than Spikes, 3 Spikes = 1 super-effective Stealth Rock. As for pressure exertion, Stealth Rock can punish Volt Switch, Flip Turn, and U-turn attempts. Volt Switch's most common user is the levitating Rotom forms, and U-turn is commonly seen on the Flying type Landorus-T. Stealth Rock weak mons in general include the dangerous Sun Charizard, Volcarona, Cinderace, Moltres, Zapdos, Mantine, and Pelipper. All of these Pokemon frequently run Heavy-Duty Boots, getting rid of gradual recovery or a power boost.

Single-turn effectiveness (thanks to PhailRaptor for pointing that out)

Spikes need to be used three times to really do much. Stealth Rock only needs to be used once. 3 Spikes turns is a big disadvantage for you, since the opposing Pokemon can just set up a boosting move, use Substitute, taunt you, or just flat-out destroy you.

However, all this doesn't mean Spikes are bad

At least 50% of what made Klefki so good in Gen 6 AG were Spikes, which were notoriously powerful in the high tiers thanks to most Pokemon resident to Ubers being grounded. Prankster let Klefki get up at least 1 layer. Part of the reason why Greninja got banned from Gen 6 OU is because it could punish electric moves like Rotom's Volt Switch and Zapdos and Thundurus's Thunderbolt by Spiking in front of them, becoming Ground type thanks to Protean and thus becoming immune to Electric type moves. Although you mentioned Spikes and Stealth Rock, I would like to mention Toxic Spikes for a little bit.

Hope this helps!

edited by
An additional point.  Stealth Rock is a 1 turn, fire-and-forget.  Spikes, on the other hand, takes 3 turns of use to reach peak effectiveness.  This is then further compounded by the existence of moves such as Defog, Rapid Spin, etc which remove field hazards.  Or even Cinderace's Court Change, to swap field effects.
5 votes

The actual fact that people prefer use Stealth Rock over spikes is,

  • Spikes doesn't hit Flying types or those with Levitate.
  • Many Pokémons can learn Stealth Rock (138). But only 38 Pokémons can learn the move Spikes.
  • You have to waste three turns to reduce 25% of your opponent's HP in case of Spikes. If Rock is Super Effective to a particular opponent, it would reduce 25% of opponent's HP with just one move using to lay those Spikes or Rocks.
  • Almost all the Pokémons (especially Rock, Steel and Ground types) learning Stealth Rock are bulky and can easily survive a move and lay a Stealth Rock.
  • The main intension of moves like Spikes and Stealth Rock is to ruin the effectiveness of Focus Sash or Sturdy.
  • Those who can learn Spikes aren't that bulky to set up 3 spikes (and wasting three turns). Ferrothorn can set up spikes, but can be easily knocked out by a fire move. Pincurchin, Skarmory etc can set up spikes for three turns, but one defog would ruin the efforts done in three turns.

Hope this helps :)

edited by
pokemns? also spikes doesn't hit pokemon with Air Balloons, that's what Primal said
4 votes

The main reason is that to get 25% damage off Spikes, you need 3 turns to set them up. Even then, it doesn't do type-based damage.

Stealth Rocks, on the other hand, take one turn to set up and can do up to 50% of an enemy's health in one switch-in.

Another reason is the simple availability. Just scroll through the learnsets of Spikes and Stealth Rock and you can see many more Pokemon learn Stealth Rock. To set up three layers of Spikes, a Pokemon has to be pretty bulky. To set up Stealth Rock at the beginning and get the full potential, you just need to slap a Focus Sash on anything. And in those three turns of setting Spikes, your enemy could be setting up with boosts. by the time you get one layer of Spikes up and switch out into a counter for said Pokemon, they could already have something like 4+ Attack/Special Attack.

This isn't to say Spikes are useless, because before Stealth Rock and even somewhat recently they've had uses. Spikes suicide leads were very common in the days of GSC and RSE, most of them having Spikes + Explosion. One of the most promient of these was Cloyster, who's typing and sky-high defense allowed it to safely set Spikes and explode. It resisted common attacks and could freely threaten some Rapid Spinners such as Claydol and completely wall other attackers like Snorlax. (Not Starmie, though. This has turned into a rant on Cloyster in RSE/GSC...)

More recently, Klefki found success using Spikes in XY/SM UU. It has an amazing defensive typing with Steel/Fairy and ability in Prankster, as well as access to other utility. Thunder Wave was common as a way to shut down sweepers.

Throughout the years, Skarmory has been one of the best Spikers and Stealth Rock setters. Again, great typing in Steel/Flying, providing multiple useful immunities and ensuring at least one layer of Spikes or Stealth Rock with Sturdy. And that's not even mentioning it's stats. 140 base defense and not utterly terrible speed like most walls. Skarmory has been in OU since it's recent fall from grace with the release of DLC-2/Crown Tundra.

This entire answer has covered singles, however. Hazards have never had much use in Doubles, because there isn't as much switching, and battles are usually over in 12~ turns.

The introduction and widespread distribution of Levitate in gen 3 also hurt Spikes' viability, while Stealth Rock always hurt incoming Pokemon.


Stealth Rocks are a lot easier to set up then Spikes are, more Pokemon learn Stealth Rock, and it's type-based damage can be utterly devastating. Rock-type as a whole has always had good offensive presence (not so much defensive though, eek). When Stealth Rock was introduced in Gen 4, Charizard fell to freaking NU after being UUBL for three consecutive generations. Granted that wasn't the only reason, but still. More recently, hazards as a whole have been debuffed, with the introduction of Heavy-Duty Boots and the Gen 6 improved Defog. They're still an important part of the metagame, just not as threatening as they once were. Also, here's a cool video by False Swipe Gaming on the impact of Stealth Rock in competitive.

edited by
3 votes

Well, there are a couple of reasons for this.
1.Stealth Rocks with normal effectiveness do the exact same amount of damage as a layer of spikes
They both do 12.5%.
2.Pokémon with levitate, flying types, and Pokémon holding air baloons are immune to spikes
3.Stealth Rocks does incredible damage to targets if it is super effective
Super Effective Stealth Rocks do as much as 3 layers of spikes, 25%.
4.Some Pokémon have access to stealth rocks and not spikes

Sniped :)
1 vote

Spikes cant hit flying-type Pokemon, Pokemon with the 'levitate' ability Pokemon under 'magnet rise', or Pokemon holding an air balloon! Spikes can also be deflected by magic bounce, and it has the same base 'damage' as stealth rock. also, in most situations, setting up spikes can take too long and is pretty situational.

Magic bounce also deflects stealth rock.