Ninetales, The Fox Pokémon. Legend has it that this mystical Pokémon was formed when nine saints coalesced into one. It is vindictive and relentless by nature. Those who cross it even once will be cursed for a thousand years, along with their descendants.Said to live for a thousand years, this Pokémon uses its supernatural abilities to manipulate fire. It can burn its prey to a crisp as it pleases.
Based on the fox spirit of Japanese mythology, Ninetales has been a popular Pokémon for its looks. Ninetales competitively, sadly, never really shown any promise competitively till Dream world dropped in generation 5, gaining Drought previously locked to Groudon. This made Ninetales a potent threat, and still is, being a pivot of all sun teams. However the weather nerf in generation 6 really hurt Ninetales and now it has to compete with Torkoal for main Drought user, who is arguable better in most situations, Ninetales struggles to carve a spot for itself in OU. That said, Ninetales more aggressive nature can lend itself quite well for a hyper offensive style Sun team with its high base speed and access to Nasty Plot as well as its speed used with Ninetales support movepool, allowing it to risk burning most of its physical counters before they can attack it.
Flash Fire - When hit with a Fire move, raise Special Attack by one stage - A strong ability as Heatran has shown, Flash Fire is sadly overshadowed by Drought being better overall.
While outclassed partly by Torkoal's superior bulk and ability to set up Stealth Rocks, Ninetales can still run an effective tanky set. Will-O-Wisp furthers Ninetales bulk, halving physical attacks that it takes in theory. Pain Split is the only form of recover available to Ninetales and can help against really tanky threats such as Zygarde and Tyranitar. Flamethrower is the main STAB move, gaining a nice boost from Drought so it still packs a decent punch. Last slot is open to Toxic for tank threats such as Zygarde, Chansey, and Zapdos while Solar beam can be used to pressure out Tapu Fini or Energy Ball for if you don't think you can maintain Drought ex into other weathers.
A more aggressive option, Drought can be used to make more damaging plays. Flamethrower is still the main STAB, however Fire Blast can be used to hit threats really hard. Solar beam is a must run because the set is opting to go for as much damage as possible, and pairs with Grassium Z for Bloom Doom to decimate Rock, Ground, or Water threats. Hidden Power Fighting allows Ninetales to muscle through Rock threats like Tyranitar but is open for other moves such as Psyshock for special walls or Hidden Power Ice for Dragons like Zygarde. Last slot is either Nasty Plot with Grassium Z or Fire Blast with Choice Specs.
Rest - Being the only real recovery available to Ninetales, Rest is an option. However, Ninetales is already a frail Pokémon, meaning it's going to make it hard to recover from Rest itself. This is compounded with Ninetales weakness to Stealth Rocks as using Rest often means having to switch said Pokémon out or risk your opponent setting up on a freely crippled target.
Torkoal - With how aggressive Ninetales can be played, Torkoal is a strong partner with its ability to survive longer, set up Stealth Rocks, and can spin away enemy hazards or use Explosion for momentum. This partner is only good on a designated sun team however.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Ninetales has never been a dominant presence in VGC. While it was the only available auto-sun setter in generation 5, it did not have a good matchup against Politoed or Tyranitar, the featured Pokémon of the fabled weather wars. The newer generations have not been any kinder to Ninetales, mainly because better options have appeared. Mega Charizard Y burst onto the competitive scene in X and Y to finally give sun teams a fair fight, while Sun and Moon introduced another option that can also thrive under Trick Room in Torkoal. These two newer Drought Pokémon have made Ninetales the forgotten sun user, but some of its moves do set it apart to be an option on dedicated sun teams.
Ninetales does not have the firepower of Mega Charizard Y or even Eruption Torkoal, so it can make up for this by playing a bit of a support role. A Focus Sash helps it take any one attack, and maximum speed with a Timid nature helps it outspeed common Pokémon like Landorus-T and Adamant Mega Kangaskhan. Max special attack gives it a bit of an offensive presence, and of course Drought is the ability of choice to take away its water weakness, boost fire moves, and ideally support teammates with moves or abilities boosted in the sun.
Heat Wave provides good sun-boosted STAB spread damage, while Solarbeam or Energy Ball give grass coverage. Solarbeam is more powerful, but of course really needs the sun to be up, so Energy Ball can be a better option if you want to rely on bringing Ninetales to a weather war. Will-O-Wisp cripples physical attackers like Landorus-T or Mega Kangaskhan, while Disable can surprise an opponent to shut down their best move, which is especially good with Ninetales’ good speed. Protect can be useful to dodge Fake Out and keep your Focus Sash intact, and also pairs nicely with Disable against slower opponents on the target’s first turn of using the move you want to Disable.
Other Options & Partners
-Firium Z can give Ninetales a very powerful attack, especially in the sun, to make up for its mediocre special attack.
Tyranitar - Tyranitar is a massive problem and wall to get over for Ninetales. If Ninetales can burn Tyranitar with Will-O-Wisp, Tyranitar is almost removed from the game. However, if Ninetales misses Will-O-Wisp Tyranitar will OHKO back with Stone Edge, even with a tank build. Tyranitar can also win a weather war due to its lower speed and Pursuit Ninetales if it tries to retreat in from of Tyranitar. Lastly, Tyranitar can easily set up Stealth Rocks without a lot of fear, again just the burn of Will-O-Wisp.
Alolan Ninetales, The Fox Pokémon. It creates drops of ice in its coat and showers them over its enemies. Anyone who angers it will be frozen stiff in an instant. Possessing a calm demeanor, this Pokémon was revered as a deity incarnate before it was identified as a regional variant of Ninetales. The reason it guides people all the way down to the mountain’s base is that it wants them to hurry up and leave.
With its new typing to try and bring in older fans, Alola Ninetales got a new role and lease on life per say. With it still maintaining a weather inducing ability, this time Snow Warning, Alola Ninetales also gained a unique combo with the move Aurora Veil. This sets both Reflect and Light Screen but only while Hail is active, synergizing perfectly with Alola Ninetales ability. This makes it a top contender for being a lead for Hyper Offensive. However, Alola Ninetales got a speed boost, which sounds great but this allows all other weather inducers to set up their own weather, as slowest inducer sets the weather, on top of its inability to get over Steel types without using Hidden Power Fire, and having a quad weakness to Bullet Punch. Overall though, Alola Ninetales is strong, matching up well into most weather inducers, struggling only with Tyranitar and the Drought users (only really prevalent one in OU is Mega Charizard Y).
Snow Cloak - Increases Evasion by one stage in Hail - A strong ability, if Alolan Ninetales didn't get Snow Warning. Because of this, Snow Cloak is completely overshadowed by Snow Warning, making it a useless ability overall outside Monotype, but even then Snow Warning is better for a secondary inducer with Abomasnow.
Aurora Veil Lead
The generic Alolan Ninetales set, this functions as a lead, setting up Aurora Veil for the team. This makes that the first and most important move of the set. Freeze Dry is a nice attacking option to prevent Alolan Ninetales from being forced out purely by Taunt. Hypnosis is a solid third option, helping to stop boosting threats from trying to just get a free boost while Alolan Ninetales sets up Aurora Veil and switch out. Encore is another option for the same effect but while its more accurate it's not a guaranteed lock down and can easily get you killed. Last option is for Hail to reset Hail if Alola Ninetales has something like Hippowdon or Politoed switch in at the same time or into it to negate the weather, and as such requires a bit of prediction to be used to the fullest.
Leaning on its good offensive typing, Alola Ninetales can just try to run over threats with Choice Specs. Freeze Dry is the primary Ice STAB, having high base damage and the ability to hit Water types for super effective damage, while Dazzling Gleam is the best Fairy STAB option to hit most other threats that resist Freeze Dry. Hidden Power Fire is a must so Steels don't completely wall you as well as give a nasty surprise to threats such as Scizor and Ferrothorn. Last slot is open to Aurora Veil, just because it's that good and you will be switching out a lot anyway and can bluff Light Clay to bait, or run Blizzard which will have 100% accuracy with Snow Warning going.
Icy Rock - An option if your goal is to focus on Hail, this is generally a flimsy idea due to Hail being a mediocre weather compared to the other weather, namely Sand. It is an option however but Hail really struggles in OU with the prevalence of Steels and powerhouse Fire types.
Boosting Sweepers - Due to Aurora Veil, Alolan Ninetales can work well with most boosting or scarfed sweepers due to Aurora Veil halving incoming damage creating more chance to set up or create space. While Volcarona is one of the best, other good options are Scizor, Salamence, and Zygarde.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Alolan Ninetales saw a lot more usage in 2017 than its cousin from Kanto ever had in a previous format. Alolan Ninetales’ better speed and access to Aurora Veil made it quite useful as a support Pokémon, and 100% accurate Blizzards in its hail gave it some nice offensive presence. While it is weak to most other weather setters since it outspeeds any non-Choice Scarf weather setters (and loses the initial weather war), Alolan Ninetales is very useful on bulky teams attempting to set up by boosting their stats.
As cool as the other side of the pillow!
Similar to its cousin, Alolan Ninetales plays a support role. With a Focus Sash, it can live any one hit and reliably get Aurora Veil up unless the opponent double targets it with faster Pokémon. Maximum speed is even better on this Ninetales, as it can outspeed Pokémon like Mega Kangaskhan and Garchomp. Maximum special attack provides some power to be a little bit of a threat, and Snow Warning brings up the Hail for Aurora Veil and Blizzards that can't miss.
Blizzard is a great spread move that cannot miss in the Hail. Aurora Veil is Ninetales' best support move, but it has a few options for a secondary attack. Freeze Dry gives the best coverage as it hits water types super effectively, but Moonblast is strong STAB that will also threaten fighting types. Icy Wind helps provide speed control to further diversify the support it can provide. Protect keeps Ninetales safe from certain attacks and allows it to dodge Fake Out and keep its Sash intact, but Encore can be useful to lock your opponent into an unappealing move.
Other Options & Team Ideas
-Light Clay is one of the most used items on Ninetales (especially on bulkier sets) to increase Aurora Veils duration.
Countering Alolan Ninetales
Defoggers - Due to the change to Defog, Alolan Ninetales main use can be outed easily due to Aurora Veil counting as Reflect/Light Screen. While most Defog users can't do it in the face of Alolan Ninetales, it will make it hard for Alolan Ninetales to maintain its pressure. Latios/Latias and Zapdos are some of the foremost and none want to take Freeze Dry, while even Tapu Fini can't because of Freeze Dry being super effective against Water types. Scizor is the only Defogger that can Defog in front of Alolan Ninetales.
Locations in Games
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