April’s Community Day event brought Dragon Pulse to Ampharos. If you’re unfamiliar, in Gen 6 of the console games Ampharos gains a Mega Evolution that gives it a Dragon sub-typing (along with a glorious mane). While an electric sheep getting a Dragon sub-type is as strange as a Hawaiian palm tree getting it, in the case of Ampharos it makes a bit more sense.
Ampharos’s Japanese name is Denryu, which directly translates into “Electric Dragon.” Whether or not Ampharos was destined to ascend into its Super Saiyan 3 Dragon form in its inception or not, the fact remains: Dragon Pulse is a move the “Electric Dragon” Ampharos can learn.
While we don’t know why Pokemon GO chose now to reference Ampharos’s Mega Evolution, what we do know is what it means for Ampharos in the Pokemon GO meta! And since its performance change is a little one note, we decided to tack on a Mega Ampharos fantasy analysis on top of it!
Dragon Pulse isn’t as game-changing as Frenzy Plant and Ampharos isn’t as meta defining as Dragonite, but its inclusion allows Ampharos to ascend from “honorable mentions” to tier 4 on the gym defender tier list! Electric is a fantastic type for gym defense, being only weak to Ground-type attacks. Volt Switch is also one of the greatest fast moves for gym defense, having a high base power and pervasive neutral coverage. All this combined with Ampharos’s above average bulk, one would assume it’d be a top-tier defender before Dragon Pulse, that is until you notice its original charge moves.
Focus Blast is a powerful charge move and is able to hit the dreadnaught gym cleaner Tyranitar for super effective damage. Unfortunately, it has a 100 energy cost and is as slow as molasses. In the event Ampharos gets the chance to use it, it will be easily dodged. Same goes for one of its more memorable moves, Zap Cannon. Thunder can punish attackers with its early damage window, but ultimately lacks the punch needed to be a real threat. Volt Switch almost makes up for these faults with its raw, consistent damage, but Ampharos ultimately lacks the punch needed to make the great. That is, until Dragon Pulse.
Dragon Pulse isn’t the greatest charge move in Pokemon GO by any stretch, but it can be surprising from a gym defender. It goes without saying that being able to hit Dragon-type gym sweepers for super effective damage is definitely a boon. While it is missing out on punishing Tyranitar and Machamp, aside from Wild Charge, Dragon Pulse is truly the best multi-bar Ampharos can acquire. Despite being the “Light Pokemon” it doesn’t learn doesn’t Dazzling Gleam.
While the inclusion of Dragon Pulse in Ampharos’s movepool seems random, it does reference its Mega Evolution, which has a Dragon sub-typing. While we don’t know when or how Niantic is going to implement Mega Evolutions, we do know their stats and therefore can run sims on them in GoBattleSim!
With increased stats and stellar Dragon sub-typing, Mega Ampharos could be quite the threat on gym defense. While the Dragon-typing will make it weak to heavy hitting Dragons such as Rayquaza, Mega Ampharos packs some serious threat, able to KO less attentive Rays ~20% of the time. This damage increase is so salient that Ground-type attackers could move from being a more niche option to a more substantive one.
Taking a look at Mega Ampharos in Rayquaza raids with Charge Beam + Dragon Pulse, it appears to be a solid option performing roughly at the level of Cloyster. Against Aerial Ace, its Flying-type resistance kicks in, giving it a tankiness and total damage output that rivals Aggron, while still maintaining its Cloyster tier DPS. While this is all mildly interesting at best, it gets even cooler when you bring in Mega Ampharos’s ability, Mold Breaker.
Mega Evolving was introduced in Gen 6 of the main series games. While other derivative games of the Pokemon franchise have introduced Megas ahead of that schedule, so far Pokemon GO has been linear with which Pokemon it introduces. That said, other features of the franchise have been introduced early (egg hatching, attacks from up to Gen 6) or not at all (held items, abilities). Since Mega Evolution in the main series is a temporary transformation rather than a whole new Pokemon, it stands to reason that Megas could be introduced at any time.
How Megas could be introduced in Pokemon GO is an interesting topic of debate. In the main series, your Pokemon can only Mega Evolve if it’s holding a Mega Stone specific to its species. You are only allowed to have one Mega Evolved Pokemon on your team at a time, and your Pokemon regresses to its normal state after combat. Other derivative games of the franchise have kept the “one per team” rule but may give the transformation a time limit rather than having it be an option per encounter. How this is handled in GO could drastically change how they’re used and valued.
While the implementation and conditions surrounding Megas in GO won’t be known until they’re introduced, their existence gives credence towards being mindful of Pokemon that could get these evolutions down the line. Our Max CP of all Pokemon page lists all Pokemon who have Megas and what their CP would be given the current stat formula. While some Pokemon only make small gains or stay purely defensive, others, such as Tyranitar, could go even further beyond what we currently consider powerful.
While Dragon Pulse Ampharos doesn’t have the power of Frenzy Plant Venusaur, the rarity of Dragonite, or the nostalgia of Surf Pikachu, it is a nice small gain for a prickly gym defender. The reference to its Mega Evolution also opens up the door to potential Mega’s in GO. While they were originally released in Gen 6, most of the Pokemon are from Gens 1-4. It wouldn’t be too unfounded to get them a bit earlier than expected. Until then, all we have is our dreams.