During my keyword research for these Pokemon Scarlet and Violet articles, I discovered something that I didn’t expect. While I’ve always liked Tropius as a Pokemon, and I was sad that it was absent from Sword and Shield, apparently it’s far more of a fan favorite than I ever realized. So, Tropius returning to mainline Pokemon with Scarlet and Violet is clearly a big win for the fan-base. But, is Tropius good outside of its great design and fan appeal?
In any case, Tropius is a particularly popular Pokemon on the mobile app Pokemon GO. We won’t discuss its relevance to that app, although I do dabble in it here and there. Here we will be focusing on the Pokemon video game franchise proper and how Tropius fits in both in the competitive scene and in your Paldea region adventure.
First, let’s dig into Tropius’ lore and find out what the heck is up with the fruit around its neck. Fortunately, Tropius’ Pokedex entries reveal much about the Fruit Pokemon’s background. Apparently, this Pokemon really loves a particular fruit and ate nothing but that fruit continuously, thus eventually resulting in its own outgrowth of its favorite fruit. This fruit isn’t just a favorite of Tropius; apparently, its a “highly favored tropical snack.” Therefore, this Pokemon has good taste.
Interestingly, in Alola, the region of Sun and Moon, the fruit around Tropius’ neck is “especially sweet compared to those in other regions.” Some ranchers will even raise Tropius as part of their business. In every region, children are particularly fond of the fruit that Tropius grows in bunches around its neck, and this Pokemon is happy to let them pick said fruit.
The last aspect of Tropius’ lore we should discuss is its “wings.” They aren’t really wings at all, being that they are in fact, just really broad leaves. However, apparently they are big enough and aerodynamic enough for Tropius to take flight. Having a fruit-eating dinosaur that can fly with leafy wings is honestly a pretty awesome design, even if it makes no scientific sense whatsoever.
So, now that we’ve established why Tropius is a popular Pokemon among the in-game world’s denizens, let’s see just how good it is when we force it to battle for a living. While Tropius has decent base stats, the Fruit Pokemon suffers from its dual Grass/Flying typing on defense than it benefits from that typing on offense. As a Grass-type Tropius has a weakness to Fire, Flying, Ice, and Poison type moves, and additionally as a Flying-type has an additional weakness to Ice, plus a weakness to Rock-type moves. It does enjoy double resistance to Grass-type moves, as well as resistances to Water and Fighting type moves. But, on defense, Tropius has a lot of potential boogeymen to take it down.
So, what does Tropius provide on offense? According to Smogon University, Tropius was a “poor man’s Exeggutor” in its debut generation of Ruby and Sapphire. It could use the popular Sunny Day / Solarbeam combo for its main attack, use a sun-boosted Synthesis for massive recovery, and pack either Hidden Power Fire or Hidden Power Ice for type-coverage. Thanks to its Chlorophyll abilities, Tropius’ speed stat is doubled in intense sun. So, as part of a Sunny Day strategy, it was a useful, mid-tier Pokemon, albeit nowhere as well as Exeggutor who was a top-tier mon in that same generation.
The real problem with Tropius is that while its stats are OK, they’re not incredible. A base 99 HP stat is quite good, especially with the Sunny Day & Synthesis combo regaining two-thirds of Tropius’ health. Its defenses are decent with 83 base Physical Defense and 87 Special Defense. Its 51 base speed is not good, but again, Chlorophyll makes up for that weakness quite a bit. However, where Tropius is especially meh is its attacking stats, only 68 base Physical Attack and 72 base Special Attack.
Another way trainers would build Tropius in Generation 3 is to instead build a physical attacking version, eschewing the Sunny Day and Synthesis plan for Swords Dance and physical attacking moves in Hidden Power Flying and Earthquake. Some builds still ran a much less effective Synthesis or Substitute. As Smogon’s content writer points out, though, Tropius Substitute’s aren’t as strong as they could be if Tropius instead had a base HP of 101 rather than 99. While I don’t totally understand the math behind it, my understanding is that the Substitutes of a 101 base HP Pokemon would survive an extra hit, which is obviously very strong.
Fortunately for Tropius, its fortunes improved somewhat in Diamond and Pearl. This is because it gained a second potential ability in Solar Power. It also benefited greatly from the reworking of how physical and special attacking moves are distributed. Previously, all moves of each type were either physical or special. This no longer being the case means that Tropius could lean in more towards a fully special attacking set, for which it was better suited.
Although Solar Power is a great ability, essentially acting as a Life Orb boosting Special Attack in intense sunlight, many Tropius still ran with Chlorophyll. Early on in Ruby and Sapphire competitive play, Tropius actually moved up a bit in the rankings, becoming mid-to-high tier rather than just mid-tier. This is because it gained two new moves in Energy Ball and Air Slash, both special attacking moves with same-type attack bonus (STAB). It also gained Roost as a recovery option and defensive variants often ran Toxic, too. Some Tropius even packed Whirlwind to pull out another random Pokemon from the opponent.
Another variant actually returned to the Swords Dance play from Generation 3, but this time, it used Life Orb to boost its attack at the expense of a bit of HP each turn. Also, Leaf Blade was now part of Tropius’ arsenal as a Same-type attack bonus Grass-type physical move. It would still pack Earthquake, but also now had the benefit of also packing Aerial Ace. Tropius could alternatively use Roost.
A third build of Tropius would also emerge with Solar Power. It would still pack a Life Orb in some cases, or Choice Specs, and ran entirely special attacks. This Tropius relied on a teammate to set up Sun (or your opponent could, too), then go to town with Solarbeam or Leaf Storm. It also packed Air Slash and Hidden Power Fire, both special attacks. This Tropius could seriously injure many top threats, and one with a Timid Nature could even OHKO some meta threats, such as Slowking, Tangrowth, Meganium, and Magneton.
Unfortunately, Diamond and Pearl was the height of Tropius in competitive Pokemon. In Black and White, a slew of new Pokemon power crept Tropius out of the higher tiers, and eventually even out of the mid-tiers. It probably didn’t help that Black and White brought with it Team Preview, so opponents knew to prepare for Tropius and its many weaknesses. According to Smogon, Tropius dropped to the very lowest tier of PU (which stands exactly for pee-yew). When it did see play, it was a purely defensive variant, running Leech Seed and Substitute, with Protect or Toxic in its third move slot. Its only attacking move was usually Air Slash.
However, Black and White did gift this defensive Tropius with a Hidden Ability called Harvest. This meant that Tropius could hold a Berry, in most cases a Sitrus Berry, with a 50 percent chance of restoring that Berry at each end of turn. But, in intense Sun, that chance is 100 percent. Talk about a useful defensive wall! Sometimes Tropius would still run Roost, but Leech Seed, Substitute, Protect, and Air Slash was your most common move set.
Sadly, Tropius would fall even further with the release of Generation 6 and the X and Y series of games. It eventually became entirely untiered in Gen 6, and it would remain untiered going into Gen 7, Sun and Moon. In what little capacity it did appear, it was pretty much a clone of Black and White Tropius. Sword and Shield thankfully left Tropius entirely out of its Pokedex, giving it a break from the ignominy of untieredness.
Of course, like all Pokemon created up until Generation 4, Tropius was one of a slew of Pokemon who made their first appearance since Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon in the Gen 4 remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. It’s a shame I didn’t get around to writing a BDSP article about Tropius, as I focused on Legends Arceus regional forms instead. Tropius does see a tiny speck of usage in BDSP competitive singles on Pokemon Showdown; sadly, my go-to stat site Pikalytics doesn’t have a proper page for Tropius for BDSP.
However, Serebii.net does have a breakdown of Tropius and its movepool for BDSP. Fortunately, Tropius still has Dragon Hammer which it gained during Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but now also learns it by level up at 46, swapping out Bestow which wasn’t that useful anyway. Hopefully, this upgrade remains in Scarlet and Violet. Why is this important? There’s something we haven’t touched on just yet.
While it seems that Tropius in Scarlet and Violet will be best build as a defensive tank, getting Harvest as a Hidden Ability will be impossible during regular game play, requiring an Ability Patch whenever they become available in the Gen 9 games. So, there is another possibility. You see, in Heart Gold and Soul Silver, way back in Gen 4, Tropius could learn Dragon Dance as an Egg move. The reason this is important? Dragon Dance boosts both Attack and Speed.
It’s fully possible that we could have a Dragon Dance build of Tropius going into Generation 9. Thanks to the Tropius in the Grand Underground of BDSP, not only does it have a chance to know an egg move like Dragon Dance, it actually now learns Dragon Dance at level 30 by level up! This is a move pool change I’m not sure many people noticed; I certainly didn’t until sitting down to write this very article!
What would a Dragon Dance Tropius look like? Naturally, it would be best off running Harvest as its ability and Sitrus Berry as its item for recovery, and be of an Adamant nature. It would run Dragon Dance, Leaf Blade, Aerial Ace, and either Earthquake or Dragon Hammer depending on what type coverage your team needs.
Some trainers on YouTube have already been building Dragon Dance sweeper builds of Tropius in BDSP, such as this Pokemon Showdown showcase of Dragon Dance Tropius by Pineapple Fred (harsh language warning on the nickname!) or this team breakdown with a Jolly Tropius with Dragon hammer and Leaf Blade by ThatsAPlusOne. I greatly prefer Pineapple Fred’s build, and ThatsA’s gets owned by an Ice Beam and doesn’t get to start Dancing until 27 minutes into the video.
Is this a competitive Tropius build going into Gen 9? Probably not, especially since this BDSP Tropius doesn’t have to contend with any Pokemon after Gen 4. But, the fact that Game Freak / ILCA opened up this possibility in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl means that this opportunity could well exist in Scarlet and Violet.
The good news is that clearly Tropius has not been entirely left behind. The seeds were there (pun not intended) for a Dragon Dance Tropius to exist, and BDSP finally realized this potential. Is Tropius a good Pokemon? I’d say, if you’re looking for a fun Dragon Dance sweeper or defensive wall with Harvest, yes, Tropius may fill a niche for you!
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