Pokemon Review (BW2): Mareep, Flaaffy & Ampharos

Mareep, Flaaffy & Ampharos
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Mareep, the little electric sheep, has traditionally been a pretty good, early Electric-type choice in any game it's been featured in. It's great to see it return in Black 2 and White 2. It evolves into Flaaffy at level 15, then into Ampharos at level 30, making it pretty average for a three stage evolution line (actually, level 15 is pretty nice to reach its middle form). Mareep has moderate stats, although pretty good Special Attack for a basic Pokemon. Its Speed isn't that great, though. Flaaffy makes gains in all of those areas across the board, possessing decent Special Attack and moderate other stats, while still being rather slow. Lastly, Ampharos has a great amount of Special Attack, good HP and Special Defense, and even enough Attack to hit with if it needs to (although it is much better at using Special-based attacks). Its Speed is very lackluster, though. Thankfully it has only one weakness: Ground-type attacks. The whole evolution line has just one ability: Static, which has a 30% chance of paralyzing the foe if it makes contact with it in an attack. It's pretty helpful and helps compensate for Ampharos' low Speed.

Mareep starts off with Tackle for doing damage and Thunder Wave for paralyzing the foe. Thunder Wave is helpful early on when trying to catch tougher-to-catch Pokemon, plus it is helpful in tough fights to slow the foe down and hopefully give you some extra turns if they're fully paralyzed. It also has Growl to lower the foe's Attack. It gets ThunderShock at level 8, which is early enough to be useful and makes for a powerful attack early on in the game. Cotton Spore is learned at level 11, which lowers the foe's Speed by two stages, but Thunder Wave effectively lowers it even more, lowering it to 25% of the original, so don't bother with it. At level 15, it learns Charge, which raises its Special Defense by one stage and also causes the next Electric-type attack to hit harder on the next turn. It's not that great, though. Flaaffy gets Take Down at level 20, which is rather meh as far as attacks go, but it does have high power in a time where it doesn't have much else to attack with. Electro Ball is learned at level 25, which does more damage based on how much faster Flaaffy is than the foe; while Flaaffy is notoriously not very fast, it is capable of paralyzing the foe with either Static or Thunder Wave, which boosts the power of Electro Ball by a lot. Thankfully, even at its worst, Electro Ball has 60 power, which is better than ThunderShock by a lot. It gets Confuse Ray at level 29, which is downright annoying when coupled with paralysis, although Flaaffy and Ampharos have other things they should typically be doing. When Flaaffy evolves into Ampharos at level 30, it picks up ThunderPunch after evolving. It's a Physical-based attack, so Electro Ball — even against faster Pokemon — will typically do as much or more damage, but since Electro Ball doesn't have much PP, you can get rid of something else you don't need if you want. Ampharos gets Power Gem at level 35, which is an odd Special-based Rock-type attack. That gives it an edge against Ice- and Bug-type Pokemon, but since it already has Flying-types covered, it's not necessarily worth it. At level 40, it gets Discharge, which is a nice move for it, hitting for 80 power (Special-based!) and having a nice 30% chance of causing paralysis. It hits all adjacent Pokemon in a Double or Triple Battle, too. It gets Cotton Guard at level 46, which raises its Defense bythree stages (!!). That, coupled with Light Screen, make it pretty tough to take down if you want to go with a defensive Ampharos. The only other moves it learns leveling up are from TMs, although if you swap a Heart Scale in the Pokemon World Tournament, you can reteach Fire Punch for some additional type coverage, although it is a Physical-based attack.

TM moves give Ampharos a little more variety, but not by much. There aren't too many helpful TMs early on for Mareep, unfortunately. Light Screen is an option for Flaaffy or Ampharos for reducing the damage from Special-based attacks. Volt Switch can be used for some decent damage and a switch out to a different Pokemon, hopefully after paralyzing the foe with Static. Later on, one of the biggest things you'll have to consider is whether to go with Thunderbolt or Discharge. The extra paralysis chance of Discharge is really nice, but Thunderbolt has more power. It's a personal choice, really. Bulldoze is also an odd option for Ampharos, hitting for Ground-type damage, but it does lower the foe's Speed which can help Ampharos outspeed it on top of increasing the potency of Electro Ball (if you go that route). For Move Tutor moves, it can learn Signal Beam for 4 Red Shards in Driftveil City, which is nice for giving it an edge against Psychic-, Dark-, and Grass-type Pokemon — things it doesn't have an answer for on its own. Magnet Rise can be taught in Lentimas Town for 4 Blue Shards, which gives it an immunity to Ground-type attacks for five turns. It's slow, though, so if you're planning on using it to counter Ground-type attacks, you're probably going to be hit with one in the process; you're usually better off just avoiding them and using a separate Pokemon, but it is still an option.

The little sheep is still a solid Pokemon throughout the game. However, it faces a lot of competition from the likes of Electabuzz/Electivire, Magneton, and Jolteon, all of which are available fairly early on. Ampharos is easily the bulkiest, but it is also the slowest. Magneton's Steel-type is very helpful in most situations, while Jolteon's extremely high Speed and comparable Special Attack give it a chance, although it doesn't learn any good Electric-type attacks until level 37. Any make for a decent choice, and I certainly can recommend Mareep to get you started if you are interested.

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