Inkay is available as a rare encounter on Route 8 and Azure Bay in Kalos. Malamar is only available by evolving Inkay.
Malamar is both useful and fun to use. Its set up strategy is different from most other set up-sweepers, as one of few Pokémon that can set up with a damage-dealing coverage move. Similarly, its support strategy is also quite unconventional since it still relies on Malamar’s ability to hit its opponents directly.
Malamar's usefulness depends quite a bit on which Ability you receive. A Contrary Malamar can be one of the most fun Pokémon to nuzlocke with in any generation! Malamar has acceptable bulk, a decent defensive Dark/Psychic typing, and a reliable way to boost its stats with Superpower, as well as several offensive coverage moves. Just avoid Bug-types like the plague, and watch out for untimely Fairy coverage moves, and you should have no problem taking a Malamar to the end!
With that said, Suction Cups Malamar is no slouch either. While it no longer has a way to set up stat boosts, it can still function as a very effective support Pokémon. Malamar learns both Reflect and Light Screen by level and has access to many different status moves too.
If you ever get the chance to use this strange little squid, see if you have a spot for it on your team. It usually doesn’t disappoint.
Gym #2 - Grant (Cyllage City, Rock-type): Inkay is a bit too frail to take on these powerful Rock-types. Aside from lacking super-effective coverage, Inkay is also slower than both Amaura and Tyrunt. Amaura’s Refrigerate-boosted Take Down can splatoon your squid with a critical hit before you get to move. Tyrunt is manageable, but not recommended. Inkay’s Foul Play 2HKOs Tyrunt, so if you have absolutely nothing else, you can try Reflect and Hypnosis and hope for the best. Tyrunt’s Bite is a 2HKO, so watch Inkay’s health closely if you want to do this. Some PP stalling may be necessary or helpful. Much easier if you overlevel to have Malamar for this battle, especially with a Reflect up against Tyrunt.
Korrina (Geosenge Town, Fighting-type): Inkay definitely needs to lie low here, as its stats are pathetic compared to her two Lucario. The Lucario come with set up moves and a strong neutral-effective STAB and Inkay cannot out-damage them at even levels. Malamar is much, much better. Power-Up Punch and Feint can hardly touch Malamar even at +3. On the contrary (heh) Malamar can use Foul Play to take advantage of their Attack boosts and Psybeam is also a decent 3HKO on each.
Rival (Tower of Mastery): Inkay will struggle in this matchup. Meowstic outspeeds Inkay and 3HKOs with Disarming Voice. Inkay’s Foul Play or Payback can 2HKO but watch out for critical hits. Absol is completely out of the question. It hits very hard, has set-up moves and resists all the moves you’ll have at this point. Braixen is safely 2HKOd by Foul Play or Payback if Inkay hasn’t taken any prior damage. Quilladin is also safe with Foul Play. Frogadier outspeeds and 2HKOs with Water Pulse, avoid it. If you already have a Malamar, Meowstic is OHKOd by Foul Play. Malamar can also take care of all 3 starters, 2HKOing Braixen (Foul Play/Payback) and Frogadier (Payback) and 3HKOing Quilladin (Psybeam). None of them deal significant damage. Be wary of Absol or avoid it completely. It can OHKO Malamar with a critical hit Bite after a single Swords Dance and Malamar doesn’t have the moves to stop it yet.
Gym #3 - Korrina (Shalour City, Fighting-type): Hopefully you've got a Malamar by now, because it’ll have no problem sweeping this gym at level 32. If you have Reflect, you can set up on Mienfoo since it has nothing to really damage Malamar. Psybeam, Reflect, Psybeam and it goes down. Machoke is also 2HKOd by Psybeam. A Contrary Malamar might even get a Speed increase from Rock Tomb, although it will probably just use Power-Up Punch. Hawlucha is the most dangerous of the three, since it can 3HKO Malamar with Flying Press and carries Hone Claws to boost its stats. Malamar can still 2HKO it with Psybeam, but make sure it hasn’t lost too much health when Hawlucha comes in and watch out for crits.
Rival (Coumarine City): Malamar is a great lead. Meowstic’s Disarming Voice is now a 5HKO and you are guaranteed to OHKO it with Payback. So you have the option to do that immediately or set up a Reflect first if you have it. Absol is still not pleasant, and the Reflect won’t always help since it has Super Luck. It’s best to leave it to another Pokémon, but at least Malamar can run Reflect support this time. Braixen and Frogadier are both 2HKOd by Payback if you have it, or 2-3HKOd by Foul Play if you don’t. Quilladin is a 3HKO with Foul Play.
Gym #4 - Ramos (Coumarine City, Grass-type): Malamar is reasonably safe in this battle, but may not be able to solo this gym. Jumpluff is naturally faster than Malamar and 4HKOs with Acrobatics. Malamar 2HKOs with Payback. Weepinbell is also comfortably 2HKOd with Foul Play or Psybeam (or Aerial Ace if you used that TM), but it may use Poison Powder and the residual damage coupled with Jumpluff’s potential Leech Seed would prevent Malamar from fighting Ramos’ ace, his Gogoat. Gogoat can be handled fairly effectively with Reflect, since Foul Play will 3HKO it. Watch out for crits, because Grass Knot has a chance to 3HKO Malamar without Reflect. Only attempt Gogoat if Malamar has escaped the first two unscathed, or somehow gets a free switch in.
Aliana (Kalos Power Plant): Not an ideal opponent, but doable if you teach Malamar Return. Mightyena can’t do much damage, carrying Assurance as its only offensive move. Assurance is a 4HKO on Malamar. Contrary Malamar may have fun. Mightyena has Intimidate, which is an immediate Attack boost, and its Scary Face will be a free Speed boost as well. Things get tricky when you figure in Swagger, since it will lower Contrary Malamar’s Attack by two stages and confuse it. Suction Cups Malamar could absorb the Intimidate and set up a Reflect to support another teammate instead.
Gym #5 - Clemont (Lumiose City, Electric-type): Malamar at even levels may be able to support a teammate here, but there’s usually no chance it’ll be able to solo. Sturdy Ground-types are usually a better way to tackle this matchup. While Emolga is pretty weak and easily 2HKOd by Payback or Foul Play, it will constantly Volt Switch into Clemont’s more powerful Magneton and Heliolisk. Both have a chance to 2HKO Malamar with Thunderbolt. What’s far more terrifying is Magneton’s ability to set up Electric Terrain and make taking hits from any of these Pokémon much harder. One strategy for this battle is to start with Payback to either weaken Emolga or break Magneton’s Sturdy, then use Hypnosis and Light Screen before switching into a more capable teammate. It might just save you a wipe.
Rival (Route 14): Meowstic has Light Screen and Psychic, not that either will matter to a Dark-type physical attacker like Malamar. Disarming Voice is no longer threatening, a 5HKO on Malamar. You can use Payback or Foul Play to 2HKO it. Absol is dangerous as always; take it down with another Pokémon before it starts stacking Swords Dances, since your moves are resisted. You should be able to defeat Delphox easily, either OHKOing or 2HKOing with Payback or Foul Play. Both Chesnaught and Greninja are doable as well. Chesnaught has an obvious disadvantage against Malamar, but is only 3HKOd by Psybeam or Psycho Cut. Watch Malamar’s health since Seed Bomb can 2HKO with a critical hit. Greninja will not deal significant damage but resists all of Malamar’s moves. You can reduce the risk by setting up Reflect and/or using Hypnosis, followed by Foul Play or Payback to slowly whittle away its health.
Gym #6 - Valerie (Laverre City, Fairy-type): We all knew it was coming. Let Malamar sit out on this one. Unless you want it to set up screens on Mawile. It can do that, but that’s it.
Celosia and Bryony (Poké Ball Factory, tag battle with rival): Manectric and Liepard don’t hit very hard. However, it is advised to have another Pokémon take down Liepard as soon as possible because it could start setting up Hone Claws and it resists Malamar’s moves. Malamar can sub in after Liepard is gone to 2HKO Manectric with Payback. A more stall-based Malamar could use Hypnosis and set up screens, or use Toxic to slowly wear down the Liepard. This is not usually recommended though, since the Liepard could use the set up turns to stack stat boosts.
Mable (Frost Cavern): Houndoom will be hard to take down without Superpower, as it resists or is immune to both of Malamar's STABs. That said, Superpower is not a guaranteed OHKO, and Houndoom can 2HKO Malamar with Foul Play if the Contrary Attack boost is factored in. Use a different attacking move first to avoid this risk.
Rival (Anistar City): Almost the same as the last rival battle. Malamar is an even better lead now. Malamar can OHKO or 2HKO Meowstic with either Payback or Foul Play, but Contrary Malamar might take the opportunity to set up some Attack and Defense boosts with Superpower before the Meowstic goes down. The battle should be a cakewalk after that, regardless of which Pokémon the rival carries. Just make sure your Malamar has high health when the Absol comes in. Suction Cups Malamar may not be able to solo, but can wear down Meowstic safely before setting up screens at the last minute to help a teammate out. While the Eeveelutions are not particularly powerful in this battle, they can all outlast or out-damage Malamar and should not be fought.
Gym #7 - Olympia (Anistar City, Psychic-type): Unlike the last gym, this gym is completely Malamar-sweepable if you watch out for coverage moves. Contrary Malamar can use Hypnosis on the Sigilyph and then spam Superpower for the free Attack boosts. This may seem like overkill, but it makes stalling out the Reflect less tedious since you have no way to outspeed or OHKO the Sigiyph in the first turn. Air Slash does 40% at most with a regular hit and Sigilyph typically goes for the screens first anyway. At +3, Sigilyph can be OHKOd by with a Reflect up, then Slowbro and Meowstic are easily taken care of with either Payback or Night Slash.
Lysandre battle #1 (Lysandre Labs): At this point, as long as you can set up with a couple Superpowers, you can basically do anything. You can’t set up on Mienfoo since it tends to use Swords Dance on the first turn. Take it out immediately with Psycho Cut. Murkrow will go down to neutral Superpower, which is either a 1 or 2HKO. It deals negligible damage with all its attacking moves. Foul Play is the most dangerous if Malamar is setting up; it 4HKOs Malamar. Pyroar is OHKOd by Superpower as well, and after that, Malamar can 2HKO Gyarados with either Psycho Cut or Night Slash. Make sure Malamar has enough health to take a critical Aqua Tail from Gyarados on the first turn, it does up to 80%. A more stall-oriented Malamar can be used to set up a Reflect, allowing a teammate to take on Lysandre’s team of strong physical attackers (and Pyroar). Hypnosis or Toxic might also be useful.
Aliana (Lysandre Labs): Mightyena isn't really much trouble. Malamar usually outspeeds and is guaranteed to OHKO with Superpower if it has Contrary. In fact, Contrary Malamar is very useful for the Druddigon that comes in later as well. The matchup is only really possible with a step-up of Malamar's offensive capabilities, because Druddigon is very strong. It is 2HKOd with Superpower. Suction Cups Malamar can still be useful, taking advantage of its inability to OHKO Mightyena. It can absorb the Intimidate for a teammate and wait patiently to set up a Reflect just before Mightyena faints. As long as Mightyena doesn’t score too many defense drops with Crunch, that is. Suction Cups Malamar should leave Druddigon to another teammate.
Celosia (Lysandre Labs): On Shift, Malamar can take on Manectric. It hits somewhat hard, but you should have the upper hand over it due to higher bulk, 2HKOing it with either Psycho Cut or Night Slash. Avoid Drapion and its X-Scissor for obvious reasons. On Set, avoid this matchup altogether, since Drapion may set up dangerously with Acupressure and you don’t want it to have a free switch when Malamar has to be withdrawn.
Bryony (Lysandre Labs): Both Liepard and Bisharp are easy OHKOs for Contrary Malamar with Superpower. Suction Cups Malamar also OHKOs Liepard with Superpower, but Bisharp becomes risky since it carries X-Scissor. Using stall or support strategies is possible but not likely thanks to Liepard’s Taunt.
Mable (Lysandre Labs): Mable’s Houndoom can hit quite hard with Flamethrower, taking off slightly less than half of Malamar’s health with a high damage roll. It can’t OHKO Malamar with a critical hit, regardless of IVs and Nature on either side, but keep it in mind since the Weavile that comes in second will outspeed. Drop a Superpower on Houndoom to OHKO it. You can do the same with Weavile if you have Contrary and haven’t taken too much damage already. Avoid it otherwise; Weavile is a strong physical hitter and Night Slash might off Malamar. It has a high crit ratio and does up to 65% with a critical hit.
Xerosic (Lysandre Labs): Crobat carries X-Scissor and outspeeds Malamar. Avoid it. The mirror match against Xerosic’s Malamar depends on your Malamar’s level, Nature and IVs. If they are close enough in level, there is a chance that his Malamar could gain the advantage through Superpower stat boosts. An unboosted Superpower from his Malamar is a 3HKO, becoming a 2HKO after the first boost. Make sure your Malamar has a Speed stat of at least 99 to prevent the speed tie. Avoid this matchup with an Attack-reducing Nature.
Lysandre battle #2 (Team Flare Secret HQ): Now that Lysandre has a Mienshao, Malamar is a slightly less effective lead. High Jump Kick does about 95% to Malamar with a critical hit. You can guarantee the OHKO with Psycho Cut or Psychic if your Malamar is carrying a Twisted Spoon from the Lost Hotel. Mienshao tends to use Swords Dance on the first turn, so don’t attempt to set up on it. Honchkrow is 2HKOd by Contrary Malamar’s Superpower and is safe to fight if Mienshao hasn’t done too much damage to Malamar. Its first Retaliate is its strongest move, taking off just under half of Malamar’s health. Heal as needed; Honchkrow usually outspeeds Malamar. After two Superpowers, Pyroar is also OHKOd by Superpower. It does outspeed, so prepare for its Fire Blast, which is a 2HKO. Gyarados has Intimidate, which should bring Contrary Malamar up to either +3 or +4 depending on when Lysandre switches it in. Have fun destroying it with Psycho Cut, a 1-2HKO. Be careful of its Aqua Tail, which is a 2-3HKO on Malamar. Gyarados also outspeeds Malamar. Suction Cups Malamar can’t do much here since it can’t set up on Mienshao and has no safe switch-ins.
Xerneas (Team Flare Secret HQ, X only): Megahorn? Moonblast? Don't do this. Not only is this a death sentence for Malamar, it will also probably drag down the rest of your team too.
Yveltal (Team Flare Secret HQ, Y only): This is a bit better, as Malamar can hypothetically take one Oblivion Wing- it’s a 2-3HKO. Use something better if you have it. Support Malamar can set up Light Screen for a teammate or use Toxic to allow a bulkier Pokémon to slowly stall out Yveltal. It’s unlikely Malamar will be able to do much else.
Lysandre battle #3 (Team Flare Secret HQ): ...Third verse, same as the second? Damage calcs and strategy are exactly the same as in the last Lysandre battle, as long as you’re keeping up with the level curve. Mega Gyarados is actually easier to deal with thanks to its new Dark-typing. Again, just watch your HP and switch if necessary.
Professor Sycamore (Couriway Town): Venusaur can be 2HKOd by Psycho Cut, however it outspeeds Malamar and usually locks itself into Petal Dance, which is a 2HKO. If you can PP stall Petal Dance, Contrary Malamar can set up to with Superpower and prevent it from becoming annoying with Synthesis. At +6 Attack, it can easily OHKO both Charizard and Blastoise with Superpower. Without PP stalling, this battle is tougher. Charizard 2HKOs Malamar with Flamethrower and Blastoise out-damages Malamar with Aqua Tail- a potential 3HKO. Suction Cups Malamar is better for setting up a Light Screen and switching out than attempting to solo.
Shauna (Route 19): Malamar is lucky that Shauna leads with Delcatty. With a Black Belt from Reflection Cave equipped, Malamar can outspeed Delcatty and OHKO it with Superpower. Contrary Malamar will appreciate the stat boosts and Suction Cups Malamar will appreciate not being annoyed with Charm and Cute Charm. Goodra’s Dragon Pulse is only a 3HKO, so Malamar can safely 2HKO with Superpower and set up more boosts. Greninja is OHKOd by Superpower at +1, but that’s only if you get a chance to hit it, since it carries Double Team. Delphox is OHKOd by Night Slash at +1. Chesnaught can safely be 2HKOd with Aerial Ace at +1. Suction Cups Malamar can safely take on Delphox and Chesnaught in the same way as Contrary Malamar. It will have to avoid Goodra and Greninja, since they out-damage. Be careful of Defense drops from the Delcatty with Suction Cups Malamar. With that said, Malamar is a really bad lead for the fight that follows, so use a different lead if you don’t have a strong Talonflame counter on your team.
Tierno (Route 19): Avoid this whole fight. Malamar is too vulnerable to crits from Tierno’s Pokémon and they all outspeed. Crawdaunt and Talonflame also carry set up moves and any unnecessary switches will create opportunities for them to boost their Attack stats.
Trevor (Route 19): With no advantage against any of Trevor’s Pokémon, you don't really need Malamar here. Raichu’s Thunderbolt is a 3HKO. You can 2HKO it with any of Malamar’s STABs or Superpower. Use Foul Play instead of Superpower to try and prevent Static from triggering. Odds are that Raichu will use Nuzzle anyway but you can try. Another reason for not using Superpower with Contrary Malamar is Aerodactyl’s Supersonic. Aerodactyl is also 2HKOd by Foul Play and it doesn’t even 4HKO Malamar with any of its moves. Avoid Florges, Moonblast does way too much damage to even consider fighting it.
Gym #8 - Wulfric (Snowbelle City, Ice-type): Contrary Malamar’s Superpower wrecks Wulfric’s team. It outspeeds and 2HKOs Abomasnow, with Abomasnow’s Energy Ball and Ice Beam doing no more than 46% to Malamar. Cryogonal is OHKOd. Keep your health up in case it uses Confuse Ray. Its Ice Beam is a 3HKO on Malamar. Be cautious of Avalugg and its absurd Defense stat. At even levels, you should still 2HKO it with Superpower, but its Avalanche is a 2HKO, taking almost 96% of Malamar’s health with a crit. Suction Cups Malamar may make use of the Flamethrower TM instead. It 2HKOs Abomasnow and Avalugg and 3HKOs Cryogonal. Foul Play is an alternative for Cryogonal, 2HKOing it.
Rival (Victory Road): Malamar is still a good lead, especially when carrying a Black Belt. It can safely 2HKO Meowstic with Night Slash or Foul Play as usual. Suction Cups Malamar will probably want to set up screens here, while Contrary Malamar will be busy setting up boosts with Superpower, after which it can take care of every Pokémon. Even Absol can be safely OHKOd with Superpower if Malamar has a Black Belt equipped. Altaria will be the toughest; its Dazzling Gleam is a strong 3HKO. Malamar can OHKO it with Rock Slide at +3 Attack or with Night Slash at +5 Attack. Of the Eeveelutions, Vaporeon is the most threatening. It is bulky and its Muddy Water is a 3HKO. Avoid fighting it with Suction Cups Malamar. Jolteon and Flareon can both be attempted safely with Night Slash or Psycho Cut. Flareon will be easier to fight if your Malamar carries Foul Play. Greninja is the safest starter to fight because it carries nothing to damage Malamar. You can 2HKO it with Superpower. Delphox is also relatively easy to 2HKO with STAB Night Slash or Foul Play, but its Flamethrower has a chance to 2HKO, so watch Malamar’s health carefully. Chesnaught’s Brick Break and Seed Bomb are relatively harmless, both are 3HKOs. Malamar can outspeed and 3HKO with Psycho Cut.
Elite Four Wikstrom (Pokémon League, Ironworks Chamber, Steel-type): Wikstrom is a mixed bag for Malamar. Malamar is not recommended as a lead. Klefki’s Dazzling Gleam does more damage to Malamar than it can deal and it has a chance to OHKO Malamar on a critical hit. Even if you want to take the chance, Klefki can make life difficult for your whole team with Spikes and will prevent Superpower stacking with Torment. Probopass has Sturdy to prevent being OHKOd by Superpower, but is relatively harmless. It 4HKOs Malamar with Power Gem. Scizor has X-Scissor. ‘Nuff said. Aegislash, on the other hand, bows down to your superiority. Cackle in joy if you have a strong Dark-type STAB move. They all OHKO or 2HKO if you play around Aegislash’s King’s Shield well. Aegislash is no pushover, 2HKOing Malamar with Iron Head, so watch your health if you attempt this.
Elite Four Malva (Pokémon League, Blazing Chamber, Fire-type): Malamar can be used in this fight. If it picked up Rock Slide by TM, that could be useful in this fight. With that said, you would most likely prefer a Water, Ground, or Rock-type for most of this battle. Setting up screens on Malva’s Pyroar is a good idea, all her Pokémon hit very hard. Pyroar’s Noble Roar makes it increasingly hard for Contrary Malamar to set up with Superpower, but Malamar 2HKOs it with Superpower either way. It outspeeds and has a chance to 2HKO with either of its STAB moves, so some gambles may be necessary without Light Screen up. Suction Cups Malamar should avoid Torkoal. Rock Slide will be Malamar’s strongest move against Torkoal, but Contrary Malamar’s Superpower may be necessary to counter Torkoal’s own stat boosts from Curse. Torkoal’s Earthquake is a 4HKO at best and this should be an easy fight barring unlucky Stone Edge critical hits. Chandelure should be avoided if possible. It carries Confuse Ray, which may put Malamar at risk because of previous stat boosts from Superpower. Flamethrower is also a guaranteed 2HKO on Malamar and Chandelure is likely to outspeed. Even if Malamar does manage to land a hit, it might suffer because of Chandelure’s Flame Body. Talonflame is easy with Rock Slide. Foul Play is also a decent 2HKO, but Talonflame’s Flare Blitz and Brave Bird are respectable 3HKOs, so keep Malamar’s health up.
Elite Four Drasna (Pokémon League, Dragonmark Chamber, Dragon-type): Malamar should carry a Lum Berry, there are status effects flying around in this battle. Dragalge’s Sludge Bomb is a 3HKO, but Malamar can 2HKO it with Psycho Cut. The Lum Berry will take care of Dragalge’s Poison Point if it activates. Druddigon will prevent Malamar from setting up because it carries Dragon Tail. Malamar can 3HKO it with Foul Play if it allows you to stay in long enough. Its Revenge is also a 3HKO, but it will always be slower because it is a reduced priority move. Watch out for Altaria's Moonblast, a solid 3HKO. Altaria may also use Sing, it’s usually better to leave this one to another teammate. Noivern should also probably be avoided if Malamar has taken any damage before it comes in. Its Dragon Pulse is just as dangerous as Altaria’s Moonblast. If you do attempt them, Rock Slide is your best bet, 3HKOing both Altaria and Noivern. Setting up screens is an option for support Malamar, but given all the switching and healing it probably won’t be very helpful.
Elite Four Siebold (Pokémon League, Flood Chamber, Water-type): Suction Cups Malamar should stay out of this fight. Contrary Malamar can probably set up on Clawitzer with Superpower. Clawitzer’s Water Pulse can 2HKO Malamar with high damage rolls and has a chance to confuse Malamar, so it is advisable to either set up screens or put it to sleep before attempting this. Gyarados 3HKOs Malamar with Waterfall, but should not be taken lightly because it can flinch hax or set up with Dragon Dance. If Malamar is at +2 Attack, it can 2HKO Gyarados with Rock Slide or Thunderbolt. Otherwise, keep Malamar far away. Avoid both Starmie with Dazzling Gleam and Barbaracle with X-Scissor for obvious reasons.
Champion Diantha (Pokémon League, Radiant Chamber): Malamar shouldn’t lead, Hawlucha’s X-Scissor is much too powerful for your squid. If you can guarantee a safe switch in, either on Tyrantrum or Aurorus, Contrary Malamar can then starting setting up Superpowers. Be warned that Tyrantrum’s Head Smash will OHKO Malamar on a critical hit. Malamar is faster and 2HKOs it with Superpower. Aurorus is much safer, especially since it’s slower and OHKOd by Superpower. Gourgeist goes down easily with one or two Night Slashes, but take careful note of the new Dark and Ghost weaknesses added if it uses Trick-or-Treat. Superpower will 2HKO Goodra and all its moves are 3HKOs. Avoid Mega-Gardevoir at all costs, its Moonblast will obliterate your Malamar before it even moves.
AZ (Credits): Torkoal’s best move- Lava Plume- is a weak 4HKO. Contrary Malamar will have fun setting up with Superpower and destroying AZ’s whole team. Finally, an opponent slower than Malamar. Torkoal is 3HKOd by Superpower, after which Golurk and Sigilyph are easily OHKOd by Night Slash. Your only worry will be flinches from Sigilyph’s Air Slash. Suction Cups Malamar won’t have as much fun, but can still participate in this fight. Torkoal can be 4HKOd by Rock Slide or Foul Play. Golurk is more dangerous with Phantom Force. It can 2HKO Malamar if it gets an unlucky crit, but fortunately, it’s a two-turn move and Malamar is faster. Malamar can 2HKO with either Foul Play or Night Slash. Sigilyph is also 2HKOd by Night Slash and its Air Slash is a 4HKO.
Beyond this point, Malamar will have outlived its usefulness for the most part. It is unfortunate that Kalos has many strong attackers with Bug and Fairy coverage. If you play carefully, Malamar can still get work done.
When you first get Inkay, it will have Foul Play, Swagger, Psywave, and either Reflect or Topsy-Turvy. Don't worry, better moves are right around the corner. You'll get Hypnosis and Psybeam at levels 18 and 21 respectively, at which point you have to start deciding what type of set to run. Payback is next at level 27, and will probably be Inkay’s go-to move until more powerful STAB options come along. Almost immediately after evolution, Malamar can learn Light Screen at level 31, which is a must if you've decided on a support role (or got stuck with Suction Cups as its ability). Pluck is interesting but a little redundant as a coverage move. Then we hit the big boys. Psycho Cut, Slash, Night Slash, and Superpower arrive in quick succession at levels 39, 43 and 46 respectively. For the love of Lugia, please use Superpower on Contrary Malamar. Psycho Cut and Night Slash are your best physical STAB moves, and that leaves room for a screen, Hypnosis, or a fourth attack in the last slot.
There aren't actually many TMs that will be useful, unfortunately. Return or Facade are always options for strong physical moves, before the set fills out. Thief can be helpful in the early game and you’ll be swimming in Heart Scales too as a bonus. Rock Slide is an interesting coverage move, as is Aerial Ace, although evasion-hax is not that prevalent in this game. You can also use special STAB moves like “Dark Pulse” and “Psychic” or coverage moves like “Flamethrower” and “Thunderbolt” situationally, but Malamar doesn't have great Special Attack and Superpower only raises Attack, so it's not usually worth it.
Standard Contrary: Superpower, Night Slash, Psycho Cut, Hypnosis/Light Screen/Rock Slide/Return
Standard Suction Cups: Reflect, Light Screen, Hypnosis/Toxic/Psycho Cut, Night Slash
Hybrid Contrary: Reflect, Light Screen, Superpower, Night Slash
Steel-type Pokémon: Steel will always be a good teammate for Malamar. Most Steel-types will resist both of Malamar’s weaknesses. Steel is also a good defensive type with many resistances and Steel-types usually have good bulk to cover for Malamar’s mediocre defenses.
Fire-type Pokémon: Fire-types also resist both of Malamar’s weaknesses and effectively deal with Malamar’s massive Bug weakness. While they’re usually not as bulky as Steel types, Fire is a strong offensive type in Kalos and special attackers in particular will pair well with Malamar.
Most bulky Pokémon: Malamar’s biggest weakness aside from specific types is its inability to take strong unresisted attacks well. Malamar pairs well with bulky teammates because they allow Malamar to take healing opportunities and pop into battles as and when required.
Minimum stats are calculated with 0 EVs, IVs of 0, and a hindering nature, if applicable.
Maximum stats are calculated with 252 EVs, IVs of 31, and a helpful nature, if applicable.
Inkay Line Ratings
What Nature do I want? Special Attack-lowering natures are the best, since Malamar functions best as a physical attacker. Speed-lowering natures aren’t too bad either, especially since Payback is available to Malamar so early and Malamar can be great in a slow Trick Room team. Anything else that doesn't raise Special Attack at the cost of one of your other stats is also fine.
Which Ability do I want? Not even a question, Contrary. It goes fantastically with Superpower. Suction Cups isn’t a bad Ability, but it doesn’t do much for Malamar.
At what point in the game should I be evolved? There's no reason to keep Inkay around any longer than you have to... just remember to flip that DS upside-down when you reach level 30.
How good is the Inkay line in a Nuzlocke? There are plenty of variables like IVs, Ability and Nature that will play a role in deciding this, but when Malamar works, it’s fantastic. Very much so. Just watch out for Bug and Fairy-types, and let this squid do its work.
Weaknesses: Fairy, Bug (x4)
Neutralities: Normal, Fighting, Flying, Poison, Ground, Rock, Ghost, Steel, Fire, Water, Grass, Electric, Ice, Dragon, Dark