#291 – Ninjask
Japanese Name: テッカニン (Tekkanin)
Classification: Ninja Pokémon
Weight: 26.5 lbs
Gender Ratios: Male 50% – Female 50%
Base Stats: HP 61 / Atk 90 / Def 45 / SpAtk 50 / SpDef 50 / Spd 160
Ninjask, the blindingly fast support Bug. This fragile Pokemon has some fantastic options available to him under the care of a trainer who is looking for a great supporting member to her team. At first glance, Ninjask appear to have some potential going for it as a sweeper, which in NU or perhaps even UU tiers could work very well for him as well. However, even in the OU tier, smart playing can bring forth an astounding support Pokémon.
Ninjask’s base stats show some obvious areas that he can excel at. He has a very good base Attack stat and one of the highest base Speeds in the game (outclassed only by Deoxys). These two things give him the potential to be either a powerful NU Sweeper or, with his absolutely fantastic ability, a great Baton Passer. You’re going to have to make a decision on what role you want Ninjask to fill before you start building him up.
At lvl 31, Ninjask will learn Slash, which is a nice move that will always hit for neutral damage (unless your opponent is a Ghost, in which case, why are you using Ninjask in the first place?!) and has a high critical hit ratio. At lvl 52, he learns X-Scissor, which is an absolutely deadly STAB move for this Ninja-Bug. At base 80 Damage and 100 Accuracy, Ninjask is sure to do some serious damage. Ninjask has access to TM28 – Dig, which will absolutely rock the minds of any Electric Pokemon that pops out to try and play to Ninjask’s Flying typing. TM40 – Aerial Ace is another option for a STAB Attack for Ninjask, though it’s base power is rather low for a Sweeper at only 60. If you’re worried about Ninjask getting into a tight spot, with his Base Speed, you won’t ever be outsped and thus can opt for TM89 – U-Turn to get him out of harm’s way. As far as Egg Moves are concerned for a Sweeping Ninjask, there’s an interesting possibility for Night Slash, a very powerful Dark type attack with a high critical-hit ratio.
A Support Ninjask is a completely different beast. Now, I’ve seen a lot of builds that opt to give Ninjask 4 non-attacking moves, but I personally find this to be a grievous oversight on the part of the trainer. There is always a possibility that you will get into a spot where this Pokémon is your only option, and if you have no method to do damage to an opponent, all you can do is sit by and wait for your opponent to finish the match. (I actually ran in to this situation in the NU tournament I participated in this previous Saturday, and my Ninjask was my final Pokémon. My opponent laughed and said “Support Ninjask, oh no!” He never expected my Ninjask to be carrying a damage-inflicting move. Which really saved my bacon.) My suggestion would be to opt for X-scissor, which is Ninjask’s strongest STAB attack that plays to his better base attack stat. A Support Ninjask’s bread and butter is going to be Baton Pass, which it learns at lvl 45. There are a plethora of things that Ninjask can learn to Baton Pass away to another Pokémon to really create a devastating combination. The first being Mind Reader at lvl 19. Mind Reader Baton Passed away will insure that the next attack you land against the opponent will hit. This can be a bit of a gamble if the opponent switches out, but it will certainly make a Stone Edge attack from another team member absolutely deadly. Ninjask also learns Swords Dance at lvl 25, which when Baton Passed will pass a sharp increase in the Attack stat on to the next Pokémon. At lvl 38, Ninjask will learn Agility, which sharply raises the Speed Stat, which can then be Baton Passed on to a Pokémon who can become deadly with that boost to Speed. A Support Ninjask may also gain some survivability with Protect and Substitute, both available to him through TM.
Abilities may seem pretty clear cut for a Ninjask to most. For me, it’s always going to be Speed Boost. This Ability, which raises the Pokemon’s speed by 1 stage at the end of every turn, is only available to a handful of other Pokémon, including Yanmega, Sharpedo, and Blaziken (who is considered to be an Uber in most tiers now). However, if you’re running a Sweeping Ninjask and are anticipating coming up against a lot of Light Screens or other such moves, his DW Ability, Infiltrator, might work out. However, I’m still going to put my chips in the Speed Boost ring. ESPECIALLY if you’re Baton Passing things. With Speed Boost, you can fire off a single Swords Dance and then Baton Pass and because of Speed Boost happening between them, you’ll ALSO pass on a boost in speed!
EV Training can be pretty straight-forward for Ninjask. If you are anticipating some Pokémon to go up against specifically, you can of course adjust the EV spread to make sure you just barely finish off a certain Pokémon or survive an attack from another. But my suggestion would be to pump his Attack with a full 252 and then opt to spread the other 252 between Defense and Hit Points. There is very little reason to put any EVs into Speed when he is already outspeeding every Pokemon allowed in every tier without them.
Held Items for Ninjask, in my opinion, start and end with the Focus Sash. Opening with a Ninjask might find you facing a Pokemon who will obviously be slower than you, but may also hit you waay too hard. If you put that Focus Sash on him, you’re going to guarantee two hits (if you’re running a Sweeper) or at least 1 Swords Dance and Speed Boost (if you’re running a Supporter).
Ninjask can be an absolutely fantastic support Pokémon. I may keep mine on my OU team if I can learn to play him a little better. Affectionately named Hagakure for the traditional Book fo the Samurai (‘cuz I’m ironic like that), I’m in love with this speedy little bugger.