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.
+ Abilities - How much Drought does for Ninetales can't be understated. This makes Ninetales stand out in a sea of average Fire types, being one of two inducers outside of Ubers. This makes Ninetales a mandatory consideration when running a Sun team in any tier.
+ Movepool - Ninetales actually has a deep movepool to pull from, with solid coverage and support moves. Ninetales has access to Nasty Plot, to go for a sweep or pressure out threats with Sun boosted Fire Blast backed with strong coverage like Solar beam, Energy Ball, Shadow Ball, Psyshock, and Dark Pulse. Defensively Ninetales has moves such as Will-O-Wisp and Pain Split to make it hard to handle for some Pokémon and help deal with its low Defense stat.
- Stats - There's no way to get around the fact that Ninetales has terrible stats. The Speed is nice in some situation, but as the lowest speed sets their weather this hinders Ninetales in weather wars, how rare those are now. Ninetales has low HP, Defense, and Special Attack which can all be worked around with Will-O-Wisp or Nasty Plot respectfully but this means you need to run a move specifically to get around Ninetales stats.
- Typing - Ninetales suffers from is mono Fire typing, lacking the secondary coverage to help break through things with raw power. This puts Ninetales in competition with other Fire type and Nasty Plot users like Salazzle who have a secondary typing. This is further compounded by Fires lack of resistances (Fairy, Fire, Steel, Grass, Bug) as well as Fires weakness to common threats (Ground, Water, Rock). One resistance is also negated due to Drought boosting Fire moves, however Water moves effectively hit for neutral.
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.
Drought - Casts Sunny Day upon entering the battlefield - An amazing ability, this is what made Ninetales one of the best Pokémon in generation 5. Even with the weather nerf and Torkoal having Drought, Ninetales is still stronger inducer in most sun teams due to their aggressive natures.
-Toxic/Solar beam/Energy Ball
Item Attached: Heat Rock
EVs and Nature:
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.
-Hidden Power Fighting
-Nasty Plot/Fire Blast
Item Attached: Grassium Z/Choice Specs
EVs and Nature:
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.
Chlorophyll Users - Similar to Torkoal, Chlorophyll users work well with Ninetales due to Drought giving them a +2 to their speed. Most Chlorophyll users can also switch into threats for Ninetales such as Landorus Therian and Tapu Fini and get pressure rolling. In OU Venusaur is the best choice but as you descend tiers Victreebel, Vileplume, and Sawsbuck are all good options as well.
Rapid Spin/Defog Users - Due to Ninetales, and Sun teams, weakness to Stealth Rocks a form of hazard removal is key. While unlike its Alolan counterpart, Ninetales can make use of Defog users such as Zapdos and the Lati twins, while Rapid Spin users such as Excadrill and Starmie are good options if you wish to maintain hazards of your own.
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.
-Solarbeam / Energy Ball
-Will-O-Wisp / Disable
-Disable / Protect
Item Attached: Focus Sash
EVs and Nature:
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
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.
-Choice Scarf can be useful surprising Pokémon like Kartana with faster fire attacks or burning faster Pokémon.
-Flamethrower, Fire Blast, and Overheat all are options to add another fire move to the set for more power and avoid Wide Guard.
-Hidden Power Ice can damage Mega Salamence or Landorus-T, while Hidden Power Ground threatens Heatran, who can otherwise wall Ninetales. While none really offer a whole lot, Extrasensory, Psyshock, and Dark Pulse can offer coverage if needed. Foul Play can be an interesting tech move to punish strong physical attackers.
-Roar is one of Ninetales’ best support moves, which can surprise opponents trying to set up Trick Room or otherwise boost their stats. Imprison has a few niche uses, but can be used similarly to Disable to shut down certain moves, especially against Mega Charizard Y. Sunny Day can reset the sun on predicted Politoed, Pelliper, or Tyranitar switches.
-Nasty Plot gives Ninetales much greater offensive presence, but is tough to set up effectively with its bulk.
-Psych Up can copy boosts from your opponent.
-Incinerate, available from a generation 6 TM, can destroy berries and ruin certain strategies.
-Chlorophyll users like Venusaur or Lilligant naturally appreciate the automatic sun.
-As previously mentioned, Heatran walls Ninetales, so ground or fighting types to threaten it are appreciated if Ninetales does not have Hidden Power Fire.
-Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain boosts Solarbeam and Energy Ball, as well as weakens opposing Earthquake.
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.
Zygarde - With Zygarde's massive bulk and typing, it can easily set up on Ninetales. The Substitute set is the worse as if Ninetales can't burn Zygarde with Will-O-Wisp, Ninetales has no option to deal with Zygarde while the offensive set struggles on any set if you opt out of Hidden Power Ice. Dragon Dance also is noteworthy as after one boost, Zygarde will outpace Ninetales again giving you only one real chance to stop it. This also applies to Salamence, who has a chance to win a speed tie with Ninetales, and Dragonite, who general carries a Lum Berry anyway.
Stealth Rocks - While seeming generic as heck, Ninetales is banned hard by Stealth Rocks due to its need to switch in consistently for maintaining Drought. This makes its very important against Ninetales to maintain Stealth Rocks as it will discourage or prevent Ninetales from switching back in.
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).
+ Speed - Alolan Ninetales sites at a nice tier as far as speed, being able to outpace Pokémon with a base speed of 108 and lower. This allows Alolan Ninetales to threaten some major threats in tier such as Zygarde, Garchomp, Landorus Therian, and Salamence on top of being one of the fastest inducer of Reflect and Light Screen, making it a solid lead for Hyper Offensive teams.
+ Aurora Veil - Feeding off of Alolan Ninetales speed, Aurora Veil is perhaps the one thing keeping Alolan Ninetales in OU. This move allows Alolan Ninetales to set up Reflect and Light Screen in one move as long as Hail is active, which isn't a problem for Alolan Ninetales. This makes Alolan Ninetales semi splash able with team building aggressive teams, halving incoming damage for 5 turns (8 with Light Clay).
- Typing - Despite having Fairy typing, Alolan Ninetales is dragged down by its Ice typing. While Ice compounds its ability to crush Dragon types, Ice lacks many resistances and even shares weaknesses with Fairy, adding Fire and Rock, making Fighting hit for neutral, and makes any Steel move hit for 4x its base damage. Overall Alolan Ninetales only has 3 resistances and a single immunity (Bug, Dark, Dragon, Ice), of which two are really relevant being generous (Dark and Dragon), with 4 weaknesses (Steel, Fire, Rock, and Poison).
- Ability - Despite how good Aurora Veil is and what it does for Alolan Ninetales, Snow Warning does hurt/hinder how well it can be used. This stems from Hail itself, damaging Pokémon that aren't Ice every turn. While Sandstorm does the same thing, Hail only has one type that resist its effect, compared to Sandstorms 3, all 3 are common in OU as well. This on top of Hail doing nothing outside of making Blizzard have 100% accuracy, Snow Warning will overall harm a team for the first 4 - 7 turns, as the first will be Alolan Ninetales setting up Aura Veil.
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.
Snow Warning - Casts Hail upon entering the battlefield - Much like normal Ninetales, Snow Warning is one of the main reasons to use Alolan Ninetales, especially since Snow Cloak only benefits from Hail as well, meaning needing another Hail setter, Abomasnow, or running Hail itself, meaning losing a move all negatives overall.
Aurora Veil Lead
Item Attached: Light Clay
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs and Nature:
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.
-Hidden Power Fire
Item Attached: Choice Specs
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs and Nature:
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.
Volcarona - Volcarona is one of the better boosting sweepers to pair with Alolan Ninetales due to synergizing with more than Aurora Veil. With Alolan Ninetales struggling with Steel types, Volcarona loves all Steels as it creates it really easy to start boosting. This is compounded with Aurora Veil, taking even less and allowing Volcarona to boost up on Fire types that get baited in as well. Volcarona also likes that Alolan Ninetales makes a spinner a high priority as it itself demands one be in play to do anything.
Bisharp - Due to Alolan Ninetales struggling with Defog users, Bisharp is an excellent partner as it discourages people from using or even bringing in their Defog user. Bisharp also does well into most Defog users, easily handling Latios/Latias, and can handle Mega Scizor decently well, but struggles with Zapdos due to it carrying Heat Wave.
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!
-Freeze Dry / Moonblast / Icy Wind
-Encore / Protect
Item Attached: Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs and Nature:
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
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.
-Choice Scarf can surprise your opponent and threaten any other Choice Scarfers like Landorus-T
-Ice Beam is a strong single-target ice attack, and Dazzling is another strong STAB coverage move, but both are tough to fit on a set.
-Hidden Power Fire can threaten Kartana, Scizor, or Ferrothron, while Hidden Power Ground deals with Heatran. Extrasensory, Psyshock, and Dark Pulse give additional coverage. Foul Play is again a niche tech move.
-Roar is great on support sets to deny Trick Room, while Disable works similarly to Encore to disrupt the opponent. Charm strongly weakens physical attackers, and Imprison can prevent certain moves your opponent may have. Hail is niche but can reset the weather should your opponent switch in their own weather user.
-Nasty Plot is tough to set up, but makes Alolan Ninetales more of a threat.
-Psych Up can copy boosts your opponent has and cancel out their strategy.
-Slush Rush users appreciate the speed boost in Hail, but there are only a couple of options currently.
-Pokémon looking to set up over multiple turns (like Snorlax in VGC 2017) appreciate the added protection from Aurora Veil.
-Teams with a need for Landorus-T and Garchomp answers/deterrents can look to Alolan Ninetales and its Blizzards for help.
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.
Steel Pokémon - Due to both of Alolan Ninetales STAB moves being resisted by Steel types, Alolan Ninetales has a really hard time breaking through any Steel types. Celesteela does have a neutrality to Alolan Ninetales Ice STAB, but can pressure it back with Heavy Slam or Flamethrower and overall just tank for a while due to its high bulk, while offensive ones such as Mega Mawile can just set up either a boosting move or a Substitute in Alolan Ninetales face and it can't do a lot if it lacks Encore. Scizor and Mega Scizor are the worst for Alolan Ninetales as outside of nailing Alolan Ninetales with Bullet Punch, they can also Defog away Aurora Veil, hurting Alolan Ninetales usefulness even more.
Sand Stream Inducers - Both Tyranitar and Hippowdon, despite being weak to each of Alolan Ninetales STAB moves, give Alolan Ninetales trouble. Being slower than Alolan Ninetales, both override Alolan Ninetales Snow Warning, stopping it from setting up Aurora Veil, which is the main reason to use it, compounded with Tyranitar's powerful STAB Stone Edge which destroy Alolan Ninetales while Hippowdon can set up Stealth Rocks, or just hammer it with Earthquake, however Hippowdon is by far the most vulnerable to being KOed back with Freeze Dry.
Locations in Games
Evolve Vulpix (Blue/Yellow)
Trade from Blue/Yellow (Red)
Evolve Vulpix (Silver)
Trade from Silver (Gold/Crystal)
Evolve Vulpix (LeafGreen)
Trade from Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/LeafGreen (FireRed)
Evolve Vulpix (XD)
Trade from Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/LeafGreen (Colosseum)
Evolve Vulpix (SoulSilver)
Trade from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum/SoulSilver (HeartGold)
Black 2/White 2:
Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire:
Evolve Vulpix (Sun)
Trade from Sun/Ultra Sun (Moon)
Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon:
Evolve Vulpix (Ultra Sun)
Trade from Sun/Ultra Sun (Ultra Moon)