Pokémaniacs, assemble! It’s time for us to discuss another passive pokémon power! And this week, I feel like floating some facts about fleet-feeted fighting figments of pixelized monsters your way. Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to keep the Sonic the Hedgehog puns to a minimum. Grab your track shoes, people. This is Ability of the Week: Speed Boost!
Yeah, you’ve probably heard of this one before, particularly if you’re a fan of utilizing the oft-overlooked Bug-type demographic. Speed Boost first came onto the scene in generation three, and at the time, it was the signature Ability of Yanma and Ninjask. Generation four introduced Yanmega, and another user of Speed Boost. The ranks would swell again with the implementation of the Dream World in Black and White Versions with the Blaziken and Sharpedo lines gaining Speed Boost as their Hidden Abilities. Overall, that’s eight pokémon and four evolutionary families.
The effect of Speed Boost is to grant the user, well, a speed boost.
NO-AH-AH-AH. STOP THAT, SONIC. You don’t belong here. That’s how… *shudder* Sonichu happens. Readers, if you don’t know what that is, do yourself a favor and keep it that way. Anyway. After every turn, the pokémon with the Speed Boost Ability gets a one-step increase to their Speed stat. So the question is, how do you best implement the Ability?
Goal number one with Speed Boost, from my perspective anyway, is to make it through at least six turns to make it to the maximum +6 Speed stat. That means longevity, which is not something the Speed Boost users are built for. Counteract this with Protect and get three of your Speed Boosts with no risk involved. Of course, Leftovers are a solid standby item to recover health lost on the turns in between using Protect. You could also use a Resto/Chesto strategy to recover, or if you’re the pessimistic type, a Focus Sash to prevent the one-hit KO. Your held-item is of course going to depend on which pokémon you use Speed Boost with, so let’s dive into our candidates.
A More Efficient Janitor, Or: How I Stole Travis’ Schtick for the Day
The two Dream World Speed Boosters are already reasonably strong and fairly popular battlers. Speed Boost, for the most part, simply makes them more deadly. The original fire-fighter, Blaziken, and the furious feeding-frenzy, Sharpedo, both have Attack stats of 120 and reasonable Special Attack stats. However, they both have less than stellar offerings in the defensive departments, which pretty much cements them in the role of potential sweepers. Speed Boost only makes them more apt at the job. Straightforward, attack-heavy, STAB-taking-advantage-of move sets may just be the best route to travel here. Crunch or Night Slash are all but requirements on Sharpedo. For the Water-type STAB, I tip my hat to Dive. You might question this, considering how vocal the It’s Super Effective! team have been against Fly in the past, but consider this: Dive grants a free turn of invulnerability for Speed Boost to work in, and since the induction of Scald, Surf has become less and less popular, which is your only threat while using Dive. This is also a free turn for Leftovers to work. Meanwhile, Blaziken’s usual bread and butter are still applicable here: Sky Uppercut, Flare Blitz, Brave Bird, etc. In fact, this might be the case to pair Speed Boost with a devil-may-care attitude, and let the chicken just roast itself with a Life Orb. With enough Boosts under your belt and powerful enough attacks, Blaziken ought to be able to just one-shot most anything.
Yanmega, meanwhile, operates in much the same capacity as the Dream World users. The biggest difference is that instead of working with Attack, Yanmega operates with Special Attack, and it’s capable of weathering a few more hits than Sharpedo and Blaziken. Oh, and because it’s one of the only two Speed Boosters from the last generation, people are going to see Speed Boost coming from a mile away. You’re going to want to take advantage of its STABs with Air Slash and Bug Buzz (or Signal Beam if confusion is your bag). It also has a few off-type Special moves like Psychic and Shadow Ball to round out its arsenal.
Strike Hard and Fade Away, Or: Passing the Bug
Ninjask is one of those pokémon that is really good at one thing, but ONLY that one thing. At 160, it has the highest base Speed of any pokémon in the game other than Deoxys’ Speed form, and that’s all it has going for it. But, it does have Speed Boost, and it’s the only Speed Booster that can use Baton Pass. What’s more is it has access to Swords Dance, which means on turn two, at minimum, you can Pass +1 Speed and +2 Attack to a solid benchwarmer. If you can hold out with a couple of Protects for a few extra turns, you can very quickly accumulate a solid amount a stats to give to the next pokémon in line. Regular readers of this column know that I’m a fan of experimentation with pokémon move sets. I know that the “correct” move set for Ninjask involves Substitute and X-Scissor, but let’s mix it up a little. Throw some risk/reward gameplay in there. Have your Ninjask use Swagger on turn one! Ninjask is so brittle that if it gets hit by pretty much anything, it’s going down anyway, so why not? In the meantime, you’re building stats, Protect. Build stats, Protect. If luck is on your side, the opponent will hurt themselves each time, and then Ninjask laughs all the way back to its pokéball as it Baton Passes out.
And the Rest, Or: That’s All, Folks!
Wait. I don’t have another topic to discuss. Shoot.
And that’s Speed Boost! Give it a few turns, and it’ll turn your Wally West of a pokémon into The Flash! Then all that’s left to worry about is getting it to work on an Apple toy.
Because iPhones and things don’t work with Flash typically.
Like, web pages and movies and things.
Okay, I’m done talking now.