AOTW: Solar Power

One thing is for sure, Abiliteers. At 88° in the shade in suburban Chicago in May, it’s officially an early summer. Time to haul my pasty white butt out into the sun for a change, I think. …Why do I suddenly hear raucous laughter echoing across Lake Michigan? Travis, is that you!? Shut up, I go outside sometimes! That one time. For five minutes. Okay, three minutes. Travis, shut up! Okay, fine, so I, like my nerd forefathers before me have only a passing awareness of the glowy yellow thing in the sky, or the fact that interacting with it occasionally might be good for me. But that’s not gonna stop me from positing a presentation of pyretic propaganda! Break out the SPF 50, kids, because this is Ability of the Week: Solar Power!

This somewhat obscure Ability was introduced in generation four, and at the time was usable by only three pokémon: Sunkern, Sunflora, and Tropius. In generation five, the roster has been expanded to include the Charmander evolutionary line via Dream World. The effect of Solar Power is something of a double-edged sword. A weather-triggered Ability, it boosts the Special Attack stat by 1.5x in bright sunlight in exchange for depleting 1/8th of the users health at the end of each turn. Useful, yet a detriment. Fun, right? Now, normally, I’m an advocate of staying power in a pokémon, getting the monster on your side to hold out as long as possible. But in this case… well, 1/8th of your health is a pretty hefty sacrifice to undergo every turn, and Leftovers will only counteract half of that loss. So, we’re going the glass cannon route, and just enhancing the firepower of our candidates!

With so few potential pokémon to use, and such a niche weather condition, there’s really only two ways to play Solar Power from where I’m standing: gratuitously abusing no-charge Solar Beam, or gratuitously abusing Flamethrower/Heat Wave. Now, there’s more than one way to get to that particular endpoint, and more than one way to enhance it, but that’s ultimately what we’re boiling down to. First of all, no matter what you do, breeding and training for excellent Special Attack is essential, as Solar Power won’t benefit your physical attacks at all. I think that the Life Orb is your best bet with complimenting the Ability as well, no matter which pokémon you go with. Wise Glasses could be a worthwhile substitute if you’re concerned with longevity, but as we said, at best, your pokémon will only be out for eight turns before it goes kamikaze and knocks itself out, so you may as well go for the gold. The other consideration for Solar Power is how you want to set it up. All the users of the Ability can use Sunny Day, but if you have access to a monster with Drought, that’s obviously going to be your best bet. Consider a double battle arrangement with a Dream World Ninetales packing Wide Guard and Confuse Ray as a supporter.

I never thought I’d say it, but from the Grass pokémon with Solar Power, your best option is probably Sunflora. With over 30 more points in its base Special Attack stat, Sunflora packs a bigger wallop than Tropius. That said, the Fruit Pokémon outspeeds Sunflora by a reasonable margin, and EV training in Speed would certainly help its case, despite its inferior offensive prowess. The other key differences offered between the Grass-types include Sunflora’s access to Giga Drain and Ingrain to help counteract the HP loss, and Tropius’ access to a STAB’d Air Slash.

But now, let’s move on to the big guy that we didn’t even know that this Ability was made for.

God, he’s cool.

High base Special Attack? Charizard’s got it. Good base Speed? S’got that, too. And STAB’d Flamethrower. And STAB’d Air Slash. AAAAAND no-charge Solar BeamUUUUNGIWANTONEGUYS. Let’s talk some numbers here. Charizard has a base Special Attack of 109. And then you activate Solar Power, and its stat increases to 164! You breed this guy with a Modest nature and IVs in Special Attack and Speed, EV train it in Special Attack, it’s going to be nigh unstoppable! Couple the impressive stat with that Life Orb we were talking about, and the Flame Pokémon suddenly becomes death on wings.

And that takes care of Solar Power! As if you needed another reason to “go green”, you can add butt-kicking to the list now!

Phew. Folks, waxing intellectual over Abilities week after week can take it out of a guy. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half now, and over 65 articles, I’ve discussed… wait. Guys, I’ve discussed 99 Abilities so far. I guess that that means next week I’ll have to do something extra special. I’ll see you next time for Ability #100…