Hidden Ability Revamp: Luxray, Pyroar, Avalugg, Zebstrika and Samurott
by, 11th April 2014 at 04:05 PM (5055 Views)
Gen VI changed the mechanics of the games in a lot of different ways, but an overlooked fact is that is also marked the first time in the franchise's history that Game Freak actively retconned Pokemon abilities. Several Pokemon had their Hidden Abilites changed, opening up the possibility for Pokemon that had long since given up on getting good ability a second chance. While Hidden Abilities gave a lot of Pokemon a new lease on life, just as many did little or nothing to help.
I'll be looking at some possible changes that could benefit some Pokemon that got a raw deal with their current Hidden Abilities. While they've certainly been chosen to improve battling ability, more than anything they'll be choices that give the Pokemon some kind of direction in the role they are meant to play, and let them stand out a bit more from the crowd. I've tried to keep it thematic so that the abilities match the Pokemon, so no silly things like Magic Guard Charizard or Huge Power Pidgeot.
- Guts -> Sheer Force
Anyone who has tried to use Guts Luxray in the past has probably noticed the dreadful lack of synergy it has. A slow Pokemon suffering status damage each turn with no way to boost its speed, a main STAB that inflicts recoil, no STAB on Facade and only one weak priority move adds up to a quick demise for our electric lion friend, even if the enemy doesn't land a hit on you!
Sheer Force on the other hand capitalises on all of Luxray's strengths and mitigates many of its weaknesses at the same time. Luxray achieves great coverage with Crunch and the elemental fang moves, but without STAB their power is lacking. Sheer Force boosts them up to an usable power while also jacking up Wild Charge (or Spark if a bulky spread is desired, which is also aided by recoil-less Life orb). Luxray also posseses a respectable 95 special attack, opening up special and mixed attacking possibilities. Ever been on the receiving end of Nidoking's sheer force boosted Earth Power? Even as a special attacker Luxray will be hitting harder than that, and chances are your special walls won't be safe either.
- Moxie -> Vital Spirit
Game Freak must have a thing for giving lion Pokemon great Hidden abilities that just happen to be a terrible choice for those particular Pokemon. One look at Pyroar's stat spread is all you need to realise why Moxie isn't such a great choice, with 68 base attack even getting that first KO is going to be a challenge, and Pyroar really doesn't have the movepool to go mixed either.
Vital Spirit not only fits the vigilant nature of this Pokemon described by the Pokedex, but also gives it something very important; a niche. A fire type that can switch freely into Sleep Powder and Spore is a handy thing to have, and unlike the other Pokemon that can claim to do that, Pyroar is fast, packs a strong secondary STAB that ignores subs, and isn't an overweight duck man with both his arms stuck in Pringles cans. A win on all counts if you ask me.
- Sturdy -> Filter
Avalugg is another in a long string of bizarre attempts by Game Freak to convince us that Ice is a defensive type, and they really pulled all the stops on this one. With the second greatest physical bulk in the game, Recover and Rapid Spin, Avalugg seems built to contribute some invaluable support to its team, and surely a useful ability like Sturdy helps it do that, right? Eagle eyed players have probably already noticed the contradiction here, to spin away hazards Avalugg must first switch into them, taking damage and thus negating Sturdy, rendering it all but worthless most of the time.
If you've ever used Mega Aggron, you'll know that once your Defence hits the stratosphere, even super effective hits start to lose their sting. That's where Filter comes in, as while Avalugg is stuck with four common weaknesses, between Filter and its gargatuan physical bulk even STAB Flare Blitzes and Close Combats will struggle to dent Avalugg's defences. While Ice will always be a horrible defensive type to have, taking the edge off those weaknesses can make a world of difference in helping Avalugg take on the game's most titanic hitters.
- Sap Sipper -> Reckless
As we've seen with Luxray, physical Electric types tend to be unfortunate cases. Zebstrika seems to have been built to hit hard and fast, but falters pretty...well, hard, on the "hard" part. A base 90 STAB move coming off a modest 100 attack doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents when you're liable to be squished like an over-ripe tomato by anything that doesn't keel over in one hit. Sap Sipper seems like a good option to grab a bit more power, but in practice it doesn't work so well, as all you have to hit Grass types (and anything that resits Electric) with is a rather tame unSTABed Return, and relying on your opponent to patch up Zebstrika's wimpiness isn't exactly the best strategy in the first place.
Reckless boosts Wild Charge up to a healthy 108 base power, which backed by a Choice Band is going to take a big chunk out of anything that doesn't resist it, made all the more threatening by Zebstrika's blazing 116 speed. It also gives you viable coverage in the form of Double Edge, which gets cranked up to a very usable 144 power, enough to put a sizeable dent into anything immune or resistant to Wild Charge. If Game Freak are feeling particularly generous, they could also throw in Flare Blitz (and seeing how Zebstrika learns Flame Charge, I'm not sure why they haven't), giving you a trio of hard hitting moves which achieve appreciable coverage together.
- Shell Armor -> Technician
Samurott is a favourite of mine, so it getting Shell Armor as its Hidden Ability annoys me for two reasons. One, Torterra already gets Shell Armor, none of the other starters share abilities, so surely they couldn't even bother to think up something different for Samurott? Two, Emboar and Serperior got amazing abilities that either transform them into serious threats or synergise with their playstyle perfectly. Shell Armor is useless on Samurott, who while fairly bulky, is not a defensive Pokemon by any means. I get that it fits from a flavour point of view, but when you have to struggle as hard to stand out as Samurott does, a useless ability doesn't help in the slightest.
Technician is not only a great choice thematically, but from my experiences using Samurott also one that best improves its playstyle. Samurott is very reliant on Aqua Jet both to sweep and clinch KOs, and with a Technician boost its power actually eclipses that of Azumarill's by a significant margin. Since Samurott usually has to boost with Swords Dance to achieve a usable level of power, being able to hit hard with strong priority off the bat improves its versatility a lot. With a stronger Aqua Jet, you could also get away with running just one STAB move, freeing up a slot for more coverage moves such as Superpower, a 90 base power Aerial Ace or Encore/Taunt to grab a setup opportunity. Special and mixed sets also benefit from being able to run a 90 base power Hidden Power, and Icy Wind becomes a usable alternative to Ice Beam that can patch up Samurott's low speed.
That's it for now, next time: Swampert, Pidgeot, Shiftry and more!
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