Ninetales, The Fox Pokémon. Its nine tails are said to be imbued with a mystic power. It can live for a thousand years. Very smart and very vengeful. Grabbing one of its many tails could result in a 1000-year curse. According to an enduring legend, 9 noble saints were united and reincarnated as this Pokémon. It has long been said that each of the nine tails embody an enchanted power. A long-lived Ninetales will have fur that shines like gold. This Pokémon is highly intelligent - it can understand human speech. Ninetales casts a sinister light from its bright red eyes to gain total control over its foe's mind.ť
The first generation's beloved nine-tailed fox, inventively named Ninetales, returns for another generation of competitive battling. It still pulls a rather average showing as a competitive Pokémon, but in the Underused tier, it still succeeds in being relatively unique and relatively popular. Sub-par stats keep it well away from the realms of Standard battling, but it can excel in the Underused environment with its fairly strong move-pool. It isn't a beast, but it's adequate, and it can get the job done.
Flash Fire: makes Ninetales immune to Fire moves. In addition, if Ninetales is hit by a Fire move (including Will-o-Wisp), it receives a very nice 50% power boost to its own Fire moves, aiding its sweeping potential.
Nasty Plot Special Sweeper
- Nasty Plot
Simple, straightforward and other words that begin with 's', Nasty Plot makes Ninetales a very viable special sweeper. The addition of Energy Ball also enhances your sweeping options, giving Ninetales a means to threaten Water and Rock types. With Waters and Rocks out of the way, this gives Flamethrower license to sweep, particularly if you pick up that lovely Flash Fire boost. In the final move-slot you have Hypnosis. This is primarily there to dispose of Pokémon who can hinder your sweeping chances. Grass and Fire, whilst decent, is not the best sweeping combination, and can be halted by Pokémon such as Altaria, Fire types, Grumpig, Mantine and any other Pokémon who resists Fire moves without a Grass weakness. Since there isn't a catch-all move for these Pokémon, Hypnosis carries the important job of covering the lot of them, with your team-mates having to do the rest.
Leftovers or Life Orb is far from an unfamiliar choice. With that Stealth Rock weakness being a factor, that tasty 1.3x offensive boost from Life Orb does come with a potentially heavy cost. Leftovers on the other hand helps you recover from that Stealth Rock weakness, gives you the potential to take a hit or two and eliminates the possibility of a self-inflicted KO.
Not as simple as the above move-set but still rather effective. Double-Status is a bit of a disruptive classic. Put one Pokémon to sleep and then hinder the next Pokémon to be thrown at you. Whilst Hypnosis is almost always useful, Will-o-Wisp is slightly situational, since it's a crippler on physical attackers but a mild annoyance on special attackers. Nevertheless, they make a decent twosome and backed by Flamethrower and Energy Ball, should be able to give your opponent a decent run-around.
Leftovers is an obvious choice for a defensively-minded move-set, but Wide Lens is also useful. Hypnosis and Will-o-Wisp have notoriously unreliable accuracies, and Wide Lens bumps them up by 10% of their original (in other words, Hypnosis goes up to 66% or 77% whilst Will-o-Wisp goes up to 82.5%).
EVs and Nature:
At Base 100 Speed, you'll really want that Timid boost to edge you ahead in those close Speed battles that occur around the 300-327 Speed marker. Timid Jynx, Modest Manetric, and so forth. Plenty of Pokémon fall into the category of “faster than Modest Ninetales, slower than Timid Ninetales.” Unless you're taking an inadvisable defensive approach, max Speed is one of the most sensible EV investments you can make.
In the case of both move-sets, max Special Attack is listed. In the case of the Special Sweeper, this is for obvious reasons. With the more less-offensively-inclined Double-Status move-set, the Special Attack EVs supplement your attacking stats, and whilst defensive EV investment isn't wasted, Double-Status Ninetales isn't designed to be a hit-taker.
Fire Blast, Overheat, Dark Pulse, Hidden Power [Ground / Rock / Ice], Extrasensory, Calm Mind, Grudge, Sunny Day, Solarbeam.
Fire Blast gives Flamethrower some firm competition. Whilst Flamethrower edges favour for its PP and accuracy (two desirable qualities in a core sweeping move), Fire Blast packs enough power to raise questions, particularly when accounting for the occasional boosts it can benefit from. Overheat isn't really competition for Flamethrower on the sweeper move-set, but on the Double-Status move-set, which'll do plenty of switching, that Special Attack drop is fairly negligible, making it a viable option.
Dark Pulse catches a super-effective hit on Grumpig (who picks up a makeshift Fire resistance from Thick Fat). Hidden Power [Ground] or [Rock] catch super-effective hits on Fire types and Hidden Power [Ice] catches a super-effective hit on Altaria. These are all Pokémon who give the Energy Ball-Flamethrower combination problems, but as noted on the sweeper move-set, without a catch-all move for all of them, it's safer to run with Hypnosis.
Extrasensory would give Tentacruel troubles it would've otherwise lacked, but since it's been evicted to the Standard tier, there's little use for the move, short of whacking the not-so-threatening Qwilfish.
Calm Mind boosts Special Attack and Special Defence simultaneously. There's no doubt that Ninetales would be using this if Nasty Plot was absent, but Nasty Plot is in the mix. Ninetales doesn't have the defences to be playing the defensive-offensive game that Calm Mind brings, and it's simpler and usually more effective to take the Plot boost and run.
Grudge is more a move to be using when you've built your team around another Pokémon, rather than “for the sake of it.” A successful Grudge results in a KOed Ninetales but the opponent being stripped of all of the PP they had on the move that delivered the killer blow. The main reason to be using this is to pave the way for a team-mate. Deprive an opponent of all of a move's PP, especially if it's their core or only offensive move, and you really open up some space for a team-mate to exploit.
Sunny Day and Solarbeam round things out as options. Sunny Day does a three-way job of boosting Ninetales' Fire moves, neutralising its Water weakness and giving it one-turn Solarbeams to play with. It's simplistic and has some potential, but Plot-boosting is the safer sweeping route, and Sunny Day should only be exercised when it benefits Ninetales' team as well.
Since Fire-Grass is Ninetales' staple attacking combination, the aforementioned Pokémon get yet another mention (in the absence of an unusual move used purposely to deal with them). Thick Fat Grumpig, Altaria and Mantine can all stand in the way with relative comfort. Fire types resist both moves, and of course, fellow Flash Fire beneficiaries are even better off. So long as they themselves pack an effective move to hit back with, fellow Fire types make for good “stand in the way and beat one-on-one either through attrition or forcing a switch” counters. Of course, all of the aforementioned need to worry about Hypnosis. The best case scenario when matched with Hypnosis is to simply force Ninetales to use it on something else (preferably something equipped to deal with the Sleep status), thereby activating the sleep clause and nullifying the threat that Hypnosis poses. Short of the Pokémon themselves being equipped with Sleep Talk, there isn't any other real way around Hypnosis for the aforementioned Pokémon.
Although not a “counter” for Ninetales, Stealth Rock can give it problems, as it does with all Pokémon weak to it. Light Screen can help deal with sweeper Ninetales variants whilst Taunt and Substitute make good weapons to use against the disruptive variants.
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