Ambipom, The Long Tail Pokémon. To eat, it deftly shucks nuts with its two tails. It rarely uses its arms now. They work in large colonies and make rings by linking their tails, apparently in friendship. Split into two, the tails are so adept at handling and doing things, AMBIPOM rarely uses its hands. ť
Ambipom makes a real breakaway from the "Mister generic" curse that blights most Normal types. In fact, it's got quite a few option at its disposal: on an offensive front, it makes for quite the capable Choice Bander with Technician throwing in a touch of the unorthodox too; on a supporting front, it makes for a very effective Baton Passer; and on a disruptive front, a mix of Fake Out, U-Turn and Taunt can leave your opponent tugging at their hair. It hasn't got the raw stats to break out of the Underused tier, but within the Underused tier it makes for a very effective competitor.
Pick Up: is useful in game, where you can gather all sorts of items for free, but it's useless in competitive battling. As a consequence, never use this ability.
Technician: gives a 50% boost to moves with a 60 Base Power or lower. This makes for a very strong ability and plays a central role in many of Ambipom's move-sets. As well as boosting some moves that it would have considered anyway (such as Pursuit and Fake Out) it also makes a fresh set of moves viable (such as Swift and Double Hit).
Flinch and Flee
- Fake Out
It's a cruel move-set, but that's what's effective about it. Whilst you aren't shredding chunks of HP out of your foes, you are picking up plenty of “free” damage. Fake Out is a lead out move (after all, it can only be used on Ambipom's first attacking turn) which is free damage (except against flinch-immune Pokémon or Pokémon hiding behind Substitutes). Whilst its initial Base Power is unimpressive, it adds up when you throw on a STAB and Technician boost. U-Turn follows in the role of “free” damage. Thanks to Ambipom's Speed, very little should be able to strike Ambipom with a move before it uses U-Turn; so you get some free damage, you can scout to make sure your opponent isn't switching and then once you've landed the U-Turn, you can switch straight to a counter.
The last two move-slots are somewhat debatable. They're not so much “filler” as moves that are dependant on what you want to do:
Return fills the role of “reliable” STAB move, although thanks to Technician, it's given some competition by the slightly more powerful Double Hit (and by striking in two separate attacks it gives it a chance of breaking Substitutes and then striking the Pokémon hidden behind it, presenting a different option). Still, Return edges ahead thanks to its 100% accuracy (against Double Hit's 90%).
Brick Break gives Ambipom a super-effective hit to aim at Steel and Rock types, who are otherwise safely built against this move-set.
Payback is favoured for a super-effective hit on Ghost types (again, pretty safely built against the rest of this move-set). Technician already sends it to a decent 75 Base Power, but if the opponent switches (or on the unlikely occasion that they move first), it doubles to a more impressive 150 Base Power; which makes it additionally useful for predicting opponents fleeing from an anticipated Fake Out.
Taunt works more for a leading Ambipom than a non-lead. Lots of Pokémon are lined out to use supporting moves, especially opposing leads who adore Stealth Rock. Another important service it can provide for Ambipom itself is some safe protection from Thunder Wave, since much of what Ambipom does revolves around its strong Speed stat.
When it comes to item choice, Silk Scarf is the safe option, giving a flat 1.2x boost to Fake Out and Double Hit. Life Orb gives a larger 1.3x boost but comes at the cost of 10% HP for every hit, which for a start ruins the idea of “free damage.” The upside is that this also makes moves like Brick Break and Payback more threatening, which is ideal when you consider Ambipom's average Attack stat.
- Baton Pass
Ambipom is one of the fastest Baton Passers out there, and it also possesses the desirable Nasty Plot to pass onto its team-mates. It's pretty straightforward Baton Passing fare. The remaining move-slots can be varied, but usually comes to three strong choices. Taunt keeps foes from using Haze, Whirlwind and Roar to remove your stat-boosts, and of course, it keeps statuses at bay; Substitute also keeps statuses at bay but also provides an additional benefit that Ambipom can Baton Pass to a team-mate; and Swift provides solid special STAB (thanks to Technician) to benefit from Nasty Plot boosts should the opportunity to score a KO come along.
- Return / Double Hit
I use the term “Direct Attacker” ahead of “Choice Bander” simply because Ambipom has the kind of move-pool that would favour the freedom of a Life Orb, but that doesn't rule out Choice Band. Both have well-documented negatives, but it's the give-and-take trade for the much needed power boost.
Return leads the way as your core STAB move, but once again, Double Hit slightly outmatches Return for power but comes with the added benefit of having a chance to break a Sub and then strike the foe behind it. Since the power difference is negligible, but the PP and accuracy difference isn't, Return remains the stronger option, since the Substitute situation is fairly situational.
Payback is there once again for the Ghosts, although if you get the secondary effect, it's a nifty bonus.
Brick Break is the “reliable” way to strike Rock and Steel types, but Focus Punch always gets a bit of a look for its raw power and potential when coupled with sound prediction.
The final move-slot throws back to the initial move-set. U-Turn can be used for a mix of damage and the freedom to switch to a team-mate in one go, Fake Out can be used for the “free” damage (although you wouldn't want to couple it with Choice Band) and Pursuit can be used to hunt down fleeing foes.
EVs and Nature:
You'll be running max Speed on all of the move-sets, since it relies on its Speed to escape from most situations unscathed. Since the aim is to remain unscathed, maxing out Attack is usually the priority for the remaining EVs, although the Baton Passer can use max HP when it isn't carrying any offensive moves (and if it was carrying offensive moves, it'd be max Special Attack anyway).
Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball, Grass Knot, Hidden Power, Quick Attack, Agility, Thunder Wave, Last Resort.
Ambipom has a few good special attacking options, either for putting together a Nasty Plot sweeper or replacing Swift on the Baton Passer as its direct attacking move. As a note on Hidden Power, shoot for a Hidden Power of Base Power 60 or less to benefit from Technician.
Quick Attack benefits from Technician too, although Ambipom rarely needs a move to help it strike first, especially in the UU tier where it should be the fastest Pokémon (barring Scarfers and a couple of exceptions).
Agility is another boost it can Baton Pass if you have slower team-mates that need some stat-boost help.
Thunder Wave is one of those iffy moves that doesn't fit perfectly onto any of its move-sets, although on the “Flinch and Flee” set you can use it as an added threat to use on any Pokémon that are switched in with the intent to counter.
Last Resort is a 130 Base Power STAB move. The downside? It can only be used when all other moves have been used at least once (and it can't be used on its own, although pairing it with Fake Out makes this side-effect negligible). It makes for a rather limited offensive move-set, but it's worth a mention, if only as a bit of a gimmick.
Being somewhat unconventional in its approach, Ambipom isn't easy to “counter”, particularly the “Flinch and Flee” variant. When faced with Fake Out, switching or taking the hit, you'll probably lose a turn, and a boosted Fake Out can be surprisingly impressive (for the sake of example, Electrode would take around 30-40% damage from a Silk Scarfed Fake Out). U-Turn can be similarly impressive, and in the case of both, you don't even get an opportunity to strike back at Ambipom itself. Your best bet against those two moves is to turn to a Pokémon who resists them, limiting the value of the “free” strike; such as Steel and Ghost types - although you have to be aware of the possibility of a Brick Break or Payback backing those two moves.
The Baton Passer is a more conventional foe, although equipped with the blistering pace to escape any strong attackers (and Taunt access to prevent Haze, Roar and Whirlwind) also makes it difficult to counter. Strong priority moves (Mach Punch particularly) will strike it before it can Baton Pass away, and the same applies to strong Choice Scarfers.
Up against a conventional direct attacker, prediction and tough walls tend to do best. Spiritomb is especially desirable since it's immune to Ambipom's STAB attacks and possesses no weaknesses, and despite Brick Break weaknesses, Steelix and Regirock can stand up to it.
If you can land paralysis on Ambipom, it becomes significantly less of a pest. It relies almost entirely on its Speed stat to let it get away from situations unscathed, so slowing it to a halt exposes its fragile defensive stats. Of course, with Taunt and Substitute at its disposal it's far from easy to land a status on Ambipom.
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