Chances are you’ve been playing Pokémon Sun or Moon for a while now. Since it did release November 18, 2016, you’ve had plenty of time to play through the story mode, maybe collect some Ultra Beasts, and mess around in the Battle Tree. You may be looking to expand your experience and maybe even dip your toes into the competitive game. But if you’re new, it might be a little intimidating to look into optimal stat builds, breeding strategies, and what role each Pokémon brings to the game.
We thought we might help you out with that. Abilities are an important part of the metagame because they add extra functionality on top of their normal stats and typing, so it’s important to understand what they do and how they’re useful to create a successful team. We thought we might narrow down some of your choices to just some of the best new abilities that were introduced by the new games, just to give you some insight into how abilities can completely change a Pokémon and alter your team. And, hey, even if you’re already an experienced battler, this list may give you some ideas for your own team!
10. Innards Out
- Pokédex #: 771
Starting off this list is an oddball Pokémon with an oddball ability. Innards Out activates when Pyukumuku is KO’d, and does damage equivalent to the amount of HP it had remaining before it fainted. So if Pyukumuku has 50 HP, and then gets knocked out with the next attack, it would deal 50 HP of damage to its opponent. If this sounds useful for your team, then check out Route 7 or Hano Beach. They show up pretty frequently.
You may be wondering why you’d want to use Pokemon that are encouraged to be KO’d. After all, it’d be best for Innards Out to be used when it’s first brought out when it has full HP so it can be brought down in one shot rather than waiting until the brink of death. However, the best way to use this ability is as a deterrent for sweepers. Don’t plan to have it faint after one turn, but instead use it to take a decently big hit, predict to use Pain Split to even out the damage between you and your foe, and brace for its eventual demise and take down your opponent with it!
- Pokédex #: 764
Coming up next is an ability exclusive to the very first wearable Pokémon. Triage gives priority to moves that heal, meaning so long as Comfey is trying to heal itself, it gets to go first unless its opponent is using a super priority move like Fake Out. Anyone in need of a Comfey should check out the Lush Jungle. Settle in for a hunt though, as they have an extremely low encounter rate.
You may think, looking at the description above, that Triage only affects moves like Synthesis and Recover, which simply heal outright. However, it also works for moves that attack and drain HP from its opposition, like Draining Kiss. This makes Comfey an amazingly annoying Pokémon to go up against, as it can set up a passive draining move like Leech Seed (which does not get the priority boost, sadly), and heal itself with Draining Kiss before its opponent can get in a definitive blow.
8. Emergency Exit
- Pokédex #: 768
Anyone who struggled against Guzma in the campaign should realize how frustrating this ability can be. Emergency Exit switches out Golisopod as soon as its HP drops below 50%. It’s pre-evolution, Wimpod, has the same ability under a different name (Wimp Out). If you want to inflict the same pain onto others as Guzma did to you, head over to the rocky shores of Route 8, Poni Breaker Coast, or Poni Wilds. You can’t find Wimpod in random battles though. Instead, you’ll see it running around on the overworld and will run at first sight of you. You’ll have to corner it and force it into a battle. Don’t hurt it too much in your attempt to catch it though because its ability will actually send it out of battle if you do!
Emergency Exit is something of a double-edged sword. It means that, if you’ve got momentum on your side, activating Emergency Exit can disrupt your strategy and force you to bring out a Pokémon you may not want to. On the other hand, every time Golisopod is brought out onto the playfield, it can use its signature move, First Impression; a hard-hitting, high-priority move that can only be used on Golisopod’s first turn when it’s sent out. Emergency Exit allows it to switch out safely without fear of your next Pokémon taking a hit. That way, when Golisopod is sent out again, it can use First Impression again. Try pairing it with an HP draining move like Leech Life to restore its health back to over 50% and keep chaining this pattern with First Impression.
7. Queenly Majesty and Dazzling
[Tsareena and Bruxish]
- Pokédex #: 763 & 779
We don’t generally grant ties on our list, but we had to grant an exception because, despite their different names, Dazzling and Queenly Majesty do the same thing. Both abilities prevent the usage of any priority moves, and if their opponent attempts to use one, they’ll waste their turn. It might take a bit before you can acquire a Bruxish or Tsareena though. Bruxish can be found by fishing at the designated spots on Routes 13, 14, and 15, along with the Secluded Shore; but you have an incredibly small chance of encountering one. For Tsareena, you’ll need to find yourself a Bounsweet in the Lush Jungle, level it up to level 18 to evolve it to Steenee, then make sure Steenee learns Stomp at level 29 to evolve it to a Tsareena. Make sure your Bounsweet’s ability is Oblivious before you start raising it though, as if it has Leaf Guard instead it won’t get Queenly Majesty when it evolves to Tsareena.
Both Bruxish and Tsareena benefit from the abilities in their own ways. While Bruxish already resists most of the more common priority moves like Mach Punch and Bullet Punch, it does hold a nasty resistance to Sucker Punch, one of the strongest priority moves in the game. Dazzling allows Bruxish to not be taken advantage of with a surprise Sucker Punch and attack as normal. Tsareena, on the other hand, supports no such resistances to most priority moves (barring Aqua Jet and Water Shuriken), thus making her a good option to switch to against Pokemon that abuse priority moves that are locked into a single attack, thanks to being equipped with a Choice Band.
[Mudbray and Mudsdale]
- Pokédex #: 749 & 750
Question: who used Mudsdale to cheese through the story of their copy of Sun or Moon? It’s okay if you did, as it’s understandable. It’s already a hard hitting Pokémon with high defenses. Chances are you abused healing items mid-battle while it would raise its defense with Stamina, which gives a boost to its defense stat every time it’s hit. It’s actually a pretty handy ability for the competitive game as well! If you somehow missed getting a Mudsdale though, you can find Mudbrays almost every other battle at the Paniola Ranch. Just catch one and level it up to 35 so it’ll evolve into Mudsdale.
One fun trick that doubles battlers are discovering is that Stamina increases Defense with every hit it takes from an attack, rather than a single attack being used against it. That means that if it gets hit with an attack that hits it multiple times like Rock Blast, it will boost its defense by one level for every hit it takes. Pair it up with a Pokémon with the Skill Link ability (which ensures that multi-hit moves hit the maximum number of times), have them attack Mudsdale, and watch its defense soar! Or, if you’re fighting a Skill Link user yourself, switch into Mudsdale for the same effect.
- Pokédex #: 775
If you think Komala looks like it’s in a state of perpetual slumber, you’d be right. In fact, according to its Pokédex entry, Komalas spend their entire lives sleeping. This grants Komala its signature ability, Comatose, which essentially gives it the “Sleep” status effect at all times while still allowing it to attack. If you’d like to test this out, track down one of these seemingly innocuous somnambulists, check out Route 11 on Ula’Ula Island.
If you’re wondering why a Pokémon that’s always asleep would be useful, consider the following: a Pokémon can only be afflicted one status effect at a time (outside of Confusion, which stacks). This means that Komala avoids being hit with any other status effect since it already has sleep on it! You do need to worry about moves that affect opponents under the Sleep status differently like Dream Eater and Wake-Up Slap, but thankfully those are extremely rare to find in the competitive scene. It’s worth it solely for the complete immunity to being burned (which hurts every turn and halves your attack stat) alone!
- Pokédex #: 746
We’re not exaggerating when we say Wishiwashi is only usable thanks to this incredible ability. Once Wishiwashi hits level 20, it can activate Schooling, which will summon an immeasurable amount of other fish to its aid and effectively transform it into a new Pokémon. However, if it ends a turn with less than a fourth of its health left, it’ll revert back to its singular self. You shouldn’t have many troubles finding one either, as you can find them all over by fishing on Akala or Melemele Island.
Excepting HP and Speed, Schooling boosts all of Wishiwashi’s stats to monstrous levels, turning it from a pathetic, Magikarp level Pokémon into a real threat to any team. Its defenses raise so high that it can often tank several hits, while its offenses allow it to return in kind with super-powered Hydro Pumps. You do need to be careful about not letting its HP go too low though or it’ll lose all those wonderful stat gains. We recommend teaching it Rest and equipping it with a Chesto Berry so you can heal its HP back up and wake it right back up so you can keep the thrashing going!
- Pokédex #: 778
Everyone’s favorite fake Pikachu manages to sneak onto this list! That freakishly cute costume is more than just for show, though. It also serves an important function for battle, letting it take an extra hit in battle! If you want one of these little guys for yourself, head over to the abandoned Thrifty Megamart on Ula’Ula Island. However, be prepared for a hunt, as they are notoriously difficult to find.
Mimikyu’s Disguise makes it so it completely negates the first damaging attack made against it. This means that Mimikyu has a free turn to do whatever it needs to do. Need to set up a Swords Dance? No problem, Mimikyu can set up one up without fear of being brought to near death in a hit. Have a member of your team hurting? Switch out to Mimikyu to take the hit for them. You can even set up a Substitute and it’ll take the hit before even using up the Disguise! Just beware of Pokémon like Greninja that commonly have multi-hit moves, which will break the Disguise and continue to deal damage.
[Stufful & Bewear]
- Pokédex #: 759 & 760
Despite its cuddly façade, beware Bewear (sorry). Even though all it wants to do is hug you, don’t let it! Its loving nature and sugary sweet appearance hide a valuable ability in Fluffy, which halves the damage of moves that make direct contact in exchange for an added Fire type weakness. This turns Bewear into a defensive powerhouse on top of its already solid attack stat. Do yourself a favor and hunt down a Stufful on either Route 8 or the Akala Outskirts and raise it up to level 38 to evolve it into Bewear.
While Fluffy is a great defensive ability, keep in mind that it’s not going to raise its defenses against moves like Earthquake or Stone Edge, which don’t involve its user actually touching their target to cause damage. However, a lot of heavy hitting sweepers like Scizor rely on moves that make contact, making Bewear a great wall to consider if your team has problems with the hard hitters. Even better, most of the better Fighting-type and Flying-type moves that Bewear would normally be weak to are contact moves, effectively giving Bewear neutral resistance to those moves.
1. Beast Boost
[Nihelego, Buzzwole, Pheromosa, Xurkitree, Celesteela, Kartana, Guzzlord]
- Pokédex #: 793, 794, 795, 796, 797, 798, 799
Better find yourself an Ultra Beast if you want to make use of this killer ability. Beast Boost raises the highest stat of the using Pokémon every time they KO an opposing Pokémon (barring HP). Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until you beat your copy of Sun or Moon to actually catch any of them, so we’re not going to spoil that surprise for anyone who hasn’t made it that far yet. However, chances are if you care about the competitive game, you’ll make it there eventually since you have to beat the game to unlock of a lot of the options anyway.
At first glance, Beast Boost looks pretty similar to the ability Moxie, which raises the user’s attack stat for each time they knock out an opponent. However, the difference is that, with proper training and investments, you can effectively work it to raise any stat you want. This is especially dangerous in the hands of Pheromosa, whose sky-high speed can be boosted even further with a single KO, making it so that after a boost she is almost impossible to outspeed. Or maybe raise the rather bulky Guzzlord to have a higher attack power so that it can whittle down its first enemy and turn it into an offensive powerhouse. There’s a lot of versatility with this ability, and knowing how to raise your Ultra Beast can make all the difference.
We don’t mean to make this the end-all, be-all list on the subject of abilities. There are a lot of other great new abilities that were added in Sun & Moon. We just hope we gave you some new ideas for your own team as you delve deeper into the vast depths of the Pokémon competitive scene. Do you have your own ideas? Think we missed anything? Please, comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear your experiences!