A few weeks ago, I posted in the PokéTalk forums asking you for topics for AOTW. A few folks responded, and this week we’re analyzing the first of your requests! If you played Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions, then you probably hurried your way to a GameStop last year to snag yourself some certain lustrous legendaries in hopes of cashing them in in Black and White for a Zoroark of your very own. Well, the figment-forming fox pokémon is privy to an Ability of its very own, and today we’re picking apart his prestidigitation! This is Ability of the Week: Illusion!
As I said, Illusion was introduced in generation five, and is the signature Ability of the Zoroark evolutionary family, who are the only pokémon that may use it. Illusion is similar to Imposter, in that it automatically changes the pokémon using it into another monster. But, unlike Imposter, Illusion doesn’t Transform Zoroark, it only puts up a façade of one of your other pokémon. Before Zoroark even enters the battle, it copies the physical appearance of the pokémon you have in your sixth pokéball holster, and even mirrors their pokéball. The Illusioned pokémon will not copy moves, weaknesses, or Abilities, but simply replicate the appearance of the monster it’s mimicking. The Illusion will last until your monster receives damage from a direct attack from the opponent.
So, what’s the benefit to Illusion? From this editorialist’s point of view, it’s mostly for the lulz. In a VS battle, your opponent gets to see your party beforehand, so they’re going to know you’re packing a Zoroark. If you’re playing a 3V3, it’s almost a better strategy to just play with your opponent’s expectations and not use Zoroark. Then, they’re going to be throwing out Fighting or Bug moves in hopes of one-shotting the Illusioned monster. The other possibility is to pack moves onto your Zoroark that don’t telegraph that it actually is Zoroark. If we look at its move list, Zoroark has access to Flamethrower, Toxic, Aerial Ace, Shadow Claw, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast, and a few other non-STAB moves that could potentially mislead an opponent, particularly if you have another pokémon on your team that has access to one or more of those moves (like Alakazam, for example).
As far as exclusive Abilities go, the Illusion Fox Pokémon and his kid brother’s signature passive power feels like a lot of talk, but not much action. If you can find a way to viably integrate it into your battle strategy, kudos to you. I don’t think it’s going to win you too many competitive matches, but at least you’ll be having some fun with it!