Is Sandslash (Gen 1) Good in Pokemon Sword and Shield?

Sandslash has been an interesting Pokemon to me since Gen 1 of Pokemon. While it gained a new Ice/Steel form in the Alola region of Sun and Moon, there are some interesting reasons to consider the original Gen 1 Ground-type Sandslash for your team. While it’s not one of the best Pokemon you could have on a Sandstorm team, it does have a hidden ability and a decent move pool that make it somewhat worth considering.

Typically, Sandslash has the ability Sand Veil, which raises its evasiveness by one stage in a sandstorm. While that’s not awful, the Hidden Ability Sand Rush doubles Sandslash’s speed in a sandstorm. With plenty of Pokemon that set up sandstorms with abilities, Sandslash goes from a 65 base speed to a 130 base speed in the sand. That makes it fairly viable to either set up Stealth Rock, Spikes, or Toxic. On offense, it can use Knock Off to strip an item off of an opposing Pokemon or go all-out for an Earthquake. With a decent 100 base attack stat, it can do a fair amount of damage.

As you’d expect from a Pokemon with spikes on its back, Sandslash has solid physical defense, with a 110 base defense stat. The problem is that its special defense is a 55, which is quite below average. If you do want to use Sandslash competitively, you’ll want one with an Impish nature (plus Defense, minus Special Attack), with heavy investments in both HP and Defense, with some going into Speed to outspeed some of the faster utility Pokemon in competitive play.

Sandslash seems like a pet Pokemon to me, and not one that I would invest my time and energy into building for competition. Alolan Sandslash is quite interesting as an Ice/Steel type, but takes on new weaknesses that traditional Ground-type Sandslash doesn’t have. I’ll talk about Alolan Sandslash in a separate article as his move pool is drastically different thanks to the new dual-typing.

In the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Sandslash has had some very interesting cards. One of the early cards that was rather tricky was Brock’s Sandslash from Gym Heroes. Actually, it was one of two Brock’s Sandslash cards in the same set. The #23 card had two attacks. One of them is called Needles, which is a coin flip, but if you win the flip, the defending Pokemon was both Paralyzed and Poisoned – something you notably can’t do in the video games. The other attack, called Sandstorm, forced your opponent to flip a coin during the next turn if they attack. If your opponent loses the flip, their attack does nothing.

What are your thoughts on Sandslash as a Pokemon, competitive or otherwise? We’ll discuss Alolan Sandslash, too, which plays as a completely different Pokemon.

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