AOTW: No Guard

Hey there, trainers and trainerettes! Thanks for showing back up to your weekly Abilities class. As the resident Move Maniac Aaron Spriggs will gladly tell you (and likely shout from the rooftops), powerhouse moves are great, but if you can’t hit your target, all of the base damage in the world doesn’t mean jack-squat. Some people try to negate low-accuracy issues with items like the Wide Lens, or else moves like Lock-On or Hone Claws. Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to bypass the need for such things with, what else? Another Ability! No stopping me now- this is Ability of the Week: No Guard!

Introduced in generation four, No Guard is effectively a way to break through the defenses of stalling pokémon, such as Sand Veil-users or pokémon that make liberal use of Protect or Detect. If your pokémon has this Ability, it’s attacks, under normal circumstances, will not miss. Yeah. Low accuracy attacks, high accuracy attacks, even- get this- one-hit knockout moves like Fissure and Guillotine will not miss. (Clarification: One-hit knockout moves are not covered by No Guard in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions due to a programming glitch, but they are in all subsequent iterations of Pokémon.) No Guard lets you bypass the accuracy check in a basic battling exchange, hit a pokémon during the invulnerable turn of moves like Fly, and if the base accuracy of the move you’re using is below 100%, it has a chance to break through a Protect or Detect shield.

Now, there is a trade-off. Separation of the plates makes Well, we wouldn't want to make things too easy, now, would we?you more susceptible to knives and gunfire.

…Wait. Wrong script.

While it’s a pretty sweet deal not having to put up with accuracy issues, there are a couple of catches to this Ability. The primary Achilles’ heel to No Guard is that your opponent’s attacks also get to bypass the accuracy check and therefore always hit you. You still have the advantage, in that your opponent might not know for sure that you have this Ability, or they might not even know that the Ability exists, but be cautious regardless. Not so much a catch, but another side effect of this Ability is that your wild pokémon encounter rate increases if the No Guard-user is leading your party, but that’s not applicable to battle.

So you’ve decided that you’d like to give No Guard a try, and who can blame you? Never missing is a pretty sweet prospect, despite the potential risk of giving your opponent the same bonus. Let’s take a look at which pokémon can actually use No Guard, and it’s a pretty short list. Only six pokémon, over three evolutionary lines have access to this Ability, and as far as I’m concerned, only two of them are viable battling choices: Machamp and Golurk. (Karrablast can obtain No Guard as its Hidden Ability, but it turns into Overcoat when it evolves to Escavalier.) Both Machamp and Golurk (via Dream World) are fine choices for No Guard, both have almost the exact same defensive stats so they can soak up damage from the opponent’s No Guard boost equally well, and both boast Attack of 120 or greater. Machamp perhaps has a slightly greater capacity to make use of No Guard due to the STAB it can have on Dynamic Punch, which is pretty much No Guard’s bread and butter. Dynamic Punch dishes out 100 base damage and always confuses the target if it lands. While it typically only has a 50% chance to land… well, you know the rest. True, Golurk can use Dynamic Punch too, but 150 damage with STAB plus confusion is an amazing deal. Both Machamp and Golurk can also use Stone Edge, another powerful attack with less than perfect accuracy. And actually, Bruno’s Machamp in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions uses both of these moves and has No Guard for its Ability!

It’s pretty clear that No Guard can help you unravel the tightly woven fibers of an opponent’s evasiveness strategy. Get yourself a heavy hitter and see about laying some waste. That does it for me, guys! See you next week!