Hello there, trainers! Friday’s Ability class is now in session, please take your seats. SBJ, stop shooting spit wads in Aaron’s ears! This week, folks, we’re discussing a rare but useful little Ability that can make critical hits absolutely devastating. Recommended listening: Misirlou by Dick Dale (AKA, the theme from Pulp Fiction). This is Ability of the Week: Sniper!
Before we get into the meat and potatoes, let’s have a quick primer on critical hits, just to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. From Bulbapedia, a critical hit “will double the damage done after type effectiveness calculations occur, leading to the possibility of a doubly-super effective move that gets a critical hit to do eight times as much damage as normal.” There are six levels determining the probability of scoring a critical hit. Most moves sit at level one, or a 6.25% chance of scoring a crit. Equipping a Scope Lens or Razor Claw, or using a move with an increased critical hit ratio like Slash, sit at level two, or 12.5% You can continue to stack levels with certain Abilities and multiplying items through level five, for a 50% chance, and two new moves in generation five sit at level six and have a 100% chance of scoring a crit. If you plan on increasing the odds of critical hits, though, don’t bother with building Attack or Special Attack stats, as “When a move scores a critical hit, damage is calculated based on either the modified or unmodified attack and defense stats, whichever is more advantageous to the attacker.” You can find all this information and more specifics at this page.
So! On to Sniper. This ability, very simply, causes critical hits to multiply the damage dealt by three rather than two! So, for example, most Pokemon players know that Slash has a high critical hit ratio. Slash deals 70 damage normally, or 140 damage when a critical hit is scored. If your Pokemon has Sniper as their Ability, and a critical hit is activated, Slash would deal 210 damage! Simple Ability, but highly effective. The catch is that not many monsters in the game can have this Ability. Outside of the Dream World, only three evolutionary lines can use it, all of them rarely used, but no less useful; Kingdra, Octillery, and Drapion. Inside the Dream World, Beedrill, Fearow, and Ariados can make use of Sniper, too. Of course, to make the most of Sniper, you’ll want to take advantage of your STABs, and preferably, select moves with increased critical hit ratios. And naturally, you wouldn’t go wrong with the aforementioned Scope Lens and Razor Claw to automatically move your move up to the next level of probability. Focus Energy, too, increases your odds by two levels!
Out of the three main Sniper users, I think the most useful one is probably the Drapion line, but all have their pros and cons. For instance, Kingdra is the only one who can learn Focus Energy, increasing your odds of landing the 3x critical hit. Octillery, meanwhile, has an expansive move pool, making him a great candidate for a Scope Lens or Razor Claw to compliment his Ability. Drapion, though, can learn at least two moves with an increased critical hit ratio (Cross Poison and Night Slash), one of them with a STAB.
That should just about take care of things for this week, everybody! Polish up those crosshairs, and I’ll see you next time! Later, folks!