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Double Slap. Fury Swipes. Arm Thrust. What do these moves have in common? Bulbapedia classifies these attacks into a category called “Swipe Moves”, or else “Multi-Hit Moves”. These are those attacks that deal a little bit of damage per hit, but generally hit anywhere from two to five times per turn. Sure, a base damage of 25 doesn’t seem like much, but if you land that elusive fifth hit, your Tail Slap has just dished out 125 damage to your opponent. It’s a classic risk/reward scenario. Well today, we’re taking out the “risk” half, and just keeping the creamy “reward” center. This is Ability of the Week: Skill Link!
So, Skill Link. This Ability was introduced in generation four, but don’t feel too badly if you’ve never heard of it. Prior to Black and White Versions, Skill Link was exclusively found on Shellder and Cloyster, and even now, is attainable only as a Hidden Ability on the Ambipom and Cinccino families, and that’s it. What Skill Link does, though, is actually pretty darn cool. If a pokémon with Skill Link uses a Swipe Move, and it connects, it will automatically strike the maximum number of times (usually five). This thing is like taking a soldier with a machine gun that normally just randomly sprays and hopes to hit something and turns him into a sniper. Not too many pokémon that can use this Ability, so, what the heck, let’s just look at all three of them!
The little furball Cinccino has a pretty darn good Speed stat and decent Attack, and perfectly enough, has quite a few Swipe moves in its arsenal. Take it to a Move Rememberer for Bullet Seed, Rock Blast, or Tail Slap, all of which are effectively 125 damage attacks with Cinccino, and Tail Slap even gets a STAB on top of that! It also has access to Double Slap as a Minccino, but the other moves are better options, to be sure. Try outfitting the little chinchilla with a Thunder Wave or Baton Passing a few Dragon Dances onto it, and this guy could be a decent sweeper!
Ambipom is very similar to Cincinno in terms of its Attack and Speed, and it’s actually a hair stronger looking only at base stats. And also like Cinccino, it has a couple of Swipe Moves to pick from for Skill Link to take advantage of. Ambipom’s Double Hit is nothing to sneeze at- with STAB it works out to 105 base damage, but believe it or not, Fury Swipes or Double Slap are the superior attacks in Ambipom’s move set with Skill Link in play. Double Slap with STAB and Skill Link dishes out about 113 damage, and Fury Swipes 135! Now, neither of these moves have perfect accuracy, but Wide Lens and/or a Hone Claws is a quick and easy remedy to that.
Cloyster is a pretty sweet physical wall, with 180 in Defense, and it can also dish damage out, with an Attack stat of 95. And wouldn’t you know it, two of its signature moves are Swipe Moves! First up, Spike Cannon. This is a Normal-type move that’s been around since Red and Blue Versions, where it was exclusively found on Cloyster, Omanyte, and Omastar. Spike Cannon has a maximum hit count of five, each dealing 20 damage. If you can do your math, you know that that’s a 100 damage attack with 100% accuracy! Now, here’s where things get fun. Cloyster has a second signature Swipe Move, that only a few other monsters can learn. But, amongst them, only Cloyster has Skill Link. I’m talking about a move called Icicle Spear. This attack has a base power of 25, can score a maximum of five hits, has 30PP, and Cloyster gets a Same-Type Attack Bonus from it. Yes, folks, this is an attack that with Skill Link and STAB, will deal just shy of 190 damage each turn. Did I mention that you get 30 uses out of it, too? Because you do. This attack dishes out more than a powered up and STAB’d Avalanche, folks. I’d like to see the Walrus and the Carpenter stand up to this thing!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Skill Link. Sorry I couldn’t work in an ocarina reference. I wanted to, I really did. By the time you read this, Wizard World Chicago Comic Con will be in full swing, and the other Lonely Robot Comics artists and I will be knee deep in one of the windy city’s most nerdtastic affairs. If you’re gonna be in the area, stop by, because it promises to be a blast! As usual, if you stop by our booth and snag any two Lonely Robot Comics books, and mention The Pokemon Podcast to me, I’ll do a quick pencil drawing of you as a pokémon trainer with your fave monster (or anything else, I’m not fussy) as a free bonus! See you there!