AOTW: Sand Force

How’s it going, training fanatics? Welcome back to Ability of the Week! Well, if you’ve listened to the M.G.C. or O.L.D.S.C.H.O.O.L. episodes of It’s Super Effective or dropped by the PokéTalk forums, you know that our esteemed Editor-In-Chief SBJ has been cooking up a PKMNcast “Gray League”, with as-close-to-real-life-as-possible Gym Leaders for you to challenge. And like many of you, I’ve been planning and training a type-exclusive team; in my case, Ground-types. And this week I’m waxing intellectual about a handy Ability that’s putting in an appearance on one of my roster. This is Ability of the Week: Sand Force!

I’ve touched on weather effects before now in my article on Snow Cloak and Sand Veil, and we’re revisiting them today. It seems to be a bit of an up-and-coming fad, people building teams around a single type in the game, and the Gray League is promoting that idea. And, I think, when building a team based around one type, your corresponding weather effect is an important element to include. Not only are there weather effects that damage your opponent but not any of your team (Sandstorm for Ground types, Hail for Ice), but many pokémon have Abilities that are activated when their corresponding weather effect is in play (Swift Swim, Chlorophyll, etc). Sand Force is activated when a Sandstorm is in play, and increases your pokémon’s Ground, Steel, and Rock-type attacks base powers by a whopping 30%! A pokémon with Sand Force also gains immunity to damage dealt by the Sandstorm (at the moment, this only matters to Shellos, who may have this Ability via the Dream World, as every other pokémon with Sand Force is already immune to a Sandstorm’s damage. And like you’re really gonna use Shellos).

Fourteen pokémon (seven evolutionary lines) have access to Sand Force, most of which obtain it from the Dream World. The three that can have it naturally are Drilbur, Excadrill, and Landorus. The other evolutionary lines with access are Dugtrio, Gastrodon, Probopass, Gigalith, and Hippowdon. Of all these, my favorite candidates for Sand Force users are Dugtrio, Gigalith, and Excadrill. Dugtrio has access to moves like Earthquake and Stone Edge, a respectable Attack stat, and good Speed. It lacks the capacity for a Steel-type move, though. Gigalith, too, has some huge attacks- Earthquake, Stone Edge, and it may learn Flash Cannon via TM91 (not recommended due to a negligible Special Attack stat). Instead, breed with a Golem to get Heavy Slam.

I’ve made it no secret on the show lately that I really like Excadrill, and I’m intending to use one on my Ground team. The spade-fisted mole has high Attack and decent Speed, and apart from Probopass, it’s the only Sand Force-user who can have a STAB Steel move, too. Excadrill’s primary Achilles’ Heel is that it has very few choices for Steel and Rock-type moves to compliment it’s Ability, but with the Ability in play and a few tweaks, he still shows his chops. Here’s the Excadrill I’m working on, which is still subject to change:

Nature: AdamantWhat people don't realize is that spiked gauntlets and visors are very "in" right now. Excadrill and The Shredder are doing the cover of Vogue next month.
Ability: Sand Force
Held Item: Muscle Band

Earthquake (100 Power, 100 Accuracy)
Rock Slide (75 Power, 90 Accuracy)
Metal Claw (50 Power, 95 Accuracy)
Hone Claws (+10% Attack, +10% Accuracy)

Now, I’ve already got another pokémon that activates a Sandstorm earlier in my roster, so Sand Force is already in play on my first turn. You’ll want to make sure that you have a Sandstorm on your pokémon, or another monster on your team with the Sand Stream Ability. If you choose the former option to activate the Sandstorm, you’ll want to use a Smooth Rock to extend the duration of the weather condition. Back to my Excadrill, Hone Claws takes care of the accuracy issues on Rock Slide and Metal Claw on turn one. Now, bear with me here, because none of the online damage calculators I know of have updated for Black and White yet, so I’m doing this manually and am unsure of the proper formulas, but with STAB and Sand Force factored in, the base damage done by each of these moves should be:

Earthquake – 195
Rock Slide – 97.5 (plus a 30% chance of causing the target to flinch)
Metal Claw – 97.5 (plus a 10% chance of increasing Attack by 10%)

And that’s not even factoring in boosts from the Muscle Band or Hone Claws! This is an Ability to be reckoned with! Snag yourself an applicable Ground-type and see what you can come up with!

Bit longer than my usual article this week, but hopefully you found it enlightening and enjoyable. I think we’ll do one more Ability that’s new for generation five next week, then go back to mixing it up between all the gens again. Any requests for next week’s article? Sound off in the comments! See you next time, folks!