Abby… Abby Normal
The Normal-Type is, ironically, one of the least normal Types in the Pokemon franchise.
Normal-Type attacks do not deal Super Effective damage to any Type in the game. The best they can do is neutral damage, yet Rock and Steel-Type Pokemon have native resistances to Normal attacks. Additionally, Normal has a unique relationship with the Ghost-Type in that both are immune to each other. This is the sole defensive boon of the Normal-Type, which we’ll discuss later. Regardless, this lack of offense and niche defense makes many Normal-Type Pokemon unfavorable after clearing the early stages of the main game.
That said, you absolutely shouldn’t write off Normal-Type Pokemon. In fact, if you aren’t prepared to deal with the Type, an opponent can easily wipe the floor with you. The Normal-Type isn’t particularly great on its own, but many Normal-Type Pokemon can be immensely powerful on the battlefield. To avoid this fate, here are some tricks you can use.
Normal’s sole counters
Only one Type deals Super Effective damage to Normal-Type Pokemon: Fighting.
Fighting-Type Pokemon are already very potent. They hit five Types for Super Effective damage while only taking big hits from three Types. Anyone building a casual team should absolutely use a Fighting-Type to cover all their offensive bases. Additionally, Fighting-Type Pokemon are generally physical fighters (as their Type name implies), and many Normal-Type Pokemon sport weaker Defense than Special Defense. If you’re starting a fresh playthrough of a Pokemon game, a strong Fighting-Type can take you through several encounters.
Your other option is to prioritize defense with a Ghost-Type Pokemon. While Ghost and Normal-Type Pokemon are immune to each other, you can mitigate this by adding coverage moves to your monsters. For example, Gengar can learn Focus Blast, a powerful albeit inaccurate Fighting-Type move that scales with its Special Attack. Alternatively, Pokemon with hybrid Ghost-Typing like Rotom or Mimikyu can lean into their secondary Type to take down Normal-Types. Just keep in mind that Normal-Type Pokemon can run coverage moves like Crunch to counter Ghosts in the same way.
Now, because of the unique properties of the Normal-Type, one specific Pokemon reigns supreme as a Counter: Annihilape. With its hybrid Ghost/Fighting Typing, Annihilape is the rare Pokemon that can dish out Super Effective damage to Normal monsters while having immunity in return. Honestly, Annihilape is strong enough to recommend for both casual playthroughs of Scarlet & Violet and competitive battling. Its unique knack for destroying Normal-Type Pokemon is a bonus.
Fear Normal-Type moves
Given the Normal-Type’s lack of offense, it’s easy to write the Type off as a joke. However, in competitive play, you will realize this is a grave mistake. It’s not the Type itself you should be worried about; it’s the moves Normal-Type Pokemon can utilize.
One huge example in Scarlet & Violet is Maushold. At first glance, this mouse family sports subpar stats and a pure Normal-Type. This completely belies the absurd damage potential Maushold is capable of. Its signature move Population Bomb only has a base power of 20, but it can hit an enemy up to 10 times with 90% accuracy. Give it a Wide Lens to boost its accuracy and the ability Technician to raise Population Bomb’s base power, and all the sudden you have a Pokemon capable of ridiculous damage. It can even outperform Garchomp’s Earthquake!
There are several other tools in the Normal-Type toolbox that significantly boost their usefulness as well. Extreme Speed is like a beefed up Quick Attack, and it’s the most powerful priority move in the game. Fake Out is another strong priority move that will always make the target flinch, which can only be blocked with the use of Protect. Finally, there is the support potential of Normal-Type Pokemon. Moves like Helping Hand and Follow Me are immensely useful in Doubles Battles, and they can easily ruin your strategy while your opponent sets up their own play to sweep your team.
There’s no single counter
Because these moves can be used in so many different strategies, it’s hard to describe one counterplay you should use. Just know that unless a Pokemon like Maushold becomes dominant in the competitive meta, most Normal-Types are on the field to play a support role. Your best bet is to keep take note of dominant strategies you consistently see so you can form a counterplay. The default option is to use strong Fighting-Type Pokemon to take Normal-Types down quickly, but this will only get you so far against the myriad of strategies that involve these monsters.
That said, in 3v3 or 6v6 singles, you’ll be much less likely to see as many of these support Pokemon pop up. Experiment in the format you’re trying to play in until you find a strategy that gives you consistent results. Good luck battling!