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Thinking Outside the Box #2 -- Ninetales

Posted August 1st, 2013 at 4:32 PM by Cosmic Fury

Sorry that this has been long overdue, but I present Issue #2 in Thinking Outside the Box.

This time, we'll be covering Ninetales and the rarely explored properties that can allow it to be a superb wall and at least a decent troll on the battlefield. So, what options can we explore with it? This article takes us fairly in-depth on much of what we can accomplish using our Ninetales.

First off, we need to get to know how tough this thing is. We know it doesn't have an impressive Special Attack stat, but it has great Special Defense, good status moves, and good setup in Calm Mind. It also has a good-looking 100 base speed, making it a superb candidate for a fast wall. Unfortunately, its defenses are average at best without burning your opponent with Will-o-Wisp, but that slight problem can always be worked around.

Knowing this, we can devise any amount of sets based off of Ninetales's great movepool. Unfortunately for most players, they have no idea that this Pokemon has the opportunity to abuse an insane amount of sets, allowing it to last a lot longer by itself on the battlefield.

Please note that all of the sets I put forward to you have maximum speed on here, preferably Timid nature. Feel free to tailor the EV spreads for yourself, as every creative team has different needs for its members. This one aspect I will leave largely to your imagination, creativity, and ingenuity.

I hope everyone reading this enjoys our coverage on this widely underestimated Pokemon, and can have a greater appreciation of what they can do with it. Please don't hesitate to give feedback on this article, and I also encourage you to post creative sets of your own based on stuff mentioned here in the article.

Without further ado, here are some sets which might prove very useful to you.


The Average Joes

First off, there are the classic and well-known Toxic/Will-o-Wisp stall sets. They utilize mostly Protect/Substitute + status move. They are almost never seen without other walls to aid them in keeping the opponent at bay. These sets aren't bad at all on paper, but when you're short on Pokemon in late, you're going to be hard-pressed to have Ninetales stay in and survive, especially if you've got hazards hurting your team.

The main threats are those immune to status, such as other Fire-types (for WoW), Steel types (for Toxic) and Heatran in general. Leftovers recovery is a must if you plan on stalling. Calm Mind works well if you wish to stay in longer.

For offensive moves, Fire Blast/Flamethrower and Energy Ball/Solarbeam are best for coverage, depending on your needs. Ninetales has numerous other attacking options such as Dark Pulse, Psyshock, Hidden Power, and many other moves that can be used depending on the situation.

Either way, having the sun up and running at all times is nearly always mandatory for these sets, because Ninetales is next to powerless without a boost if it finds itself out of the sun.


Special Wall

Then, there's our special wall set, namely the little-known Overheat + Power Swap combo. These sets are not entirely weather-dependent, but still can definitely use it.

Our first set heavily abuses the whole concept of passing off stat drops to the opponent, after you've abused the dropping move in the first place, allowing you to potentially wall them to the extreme after using said moves. To take this to the next level, I recommend using Calm Mind to further boost your special defense, making you that much harder to kill -- at the same time as boosting your Overheat or whatever other coverage move you've got in store for them. Having your opponent sitting at -1/-2 Sp. Att. and yourself with boosted Sp. Def. is going to take your Ninetales far in terms of survivability against opposing special attackers (especially slower ones). I guarantee it.

With this set, coverage is appreciated, so you're going to want to run Energy Ball along with Overheat, so that you can wreak your havoc in all weathers, especially against stuff that resist Overheat as is.

As for other options, in place of either Energy Ball or Calm Mind, you can run Foul Play to surprise your opponent. However, this set implies your Ninetales will be a straight-up special tank with that set, so you'll have to sacrifice either some of your special coverage or your boosting move for this to work. Overall, Foul Play won't really work completely well with this set.

Other options: There are a few alternative coverage moves you could pursue with this set. If your team already has good grass-type coverage, you could always run stuff like a Hidden Power of sorts, although Energy Ball + Overheat gives you perfect SE coverage against all the other weather starters, and for a threat list for special attackers, you only really need to worry about getting hard-countered by Heatran, if you play your cards right. If you're very concerned about opposing Fire-types, HP Rock would be best, as it gives more coverage, and is able to hit flying/levitating foes. All in all, you're likely best off sticking with Energy Ball and letting your Ninetales's teammates do the dirty work on that end.

If you're not so keen on running Calm Mind, then dump all of your EV's into Sp. Att. and go for an extra coverage move -- preferably Hidden Power Rock/Ground, so that you can deal with Heatran & Company. However, the boosts are very much appreciated, and your Ninetales isn't nearly as durable without it.

As for seeking other options than Power Swap, Ninetales does get Psych Up, which simply copies a setup sweeper's boost. This move does get an honorable mention at the end of this article for that reason. However, you're best off using Power Swap on this particular set, because you cannot dump massive special attack drops onto your foe -- not to mention you'll not be able to keep the Sp. Def. boosts you'll be getting from spamming Calm Mind every now and then for bulk.

If you wish to deter physical sweepers as well, Will-o-Wisp may be used, but you'll miss the boosts in Sp. Def. that Calm Mind will bring you, along with the offensive coverage that Energy Ball gives you, because not everything is deterred entirely by a burn.

Working Moveset: Overheat, Energy Ball/Other Coverage, Power Swap, Calm Mind -- All EV's in Speed, and Sp. Att./Sp. Def (depending on your needs)

General Threats: Fast Sweepers (especially physically inclined ones), Very Fast Walls (Status Stall), pink blobs (Status/PP Stall), Tyranitar (Will nearly always tank you), and definitely Heatran (unless you run HP Rock/Ground).


Physical Wall

If you already have the special walls required on your team, you can always go for making Ninetales physically bulky and dumping most or all of your EV's into Defense and Speed. If we pursue this road, we all know that Ninetales has the perfect move to mitigate its often sub-par defenses: Will-o-Wisp. Used well, this move will put your opponent to shame.

Ninetales has 186 Def. without investment -- 249 with all EV's dumped in. Burning the opponent effectively doubles your Defense, so either way, you're incredibly bulky. I recommend packing as much as you can afford into your Special Attack, however, as you'll definitely need it.

Since this set is specifically tailored to give physical sweepers a run for their money, there are several options you can pursue to make them supremely annoyed. Besides using your usual coverage move of Flamethrower, you can attempt to wear them down along with their burn. You can also use Foul Play, which turns their own attack stat against them -- without any offensive investment on your part. You can never go wrong with either of these moves, regardless of how much you invest.

Psych Up may also be used to copy and bypass a setup sweeper's attempts to overpower you or outspeed you in spite of a burn. You can also use it on walls as they set up, and then knock them down a peg or two with either Flamethrower or Foul Play. Barring that, you can always force them out with Roar to drag in the next victim, which you would have an obvious advantage over.

As always, Energy Ball is recommended for coverage, if you're not a fan of using Foul Play on Ninetales. However, in this case support options are completely viable with this set, including Substitute, Disable, and other viable moves mentioned at the end of this article. In addition, you can go with HP Rock or HP Ice to help you out with good coverage against most physical sweepers out there.

Working Moveset: Flamethrower, Foul Play/Energy Ball, Psych Up/Roar, Will-o-Wisp

General Threats: Fast Special Sweepers, Very Fast Physical Sweepers, Rain in general, Tyranitar, Heatran


Mixed Wall

If you're feeling extremely adventurous and love making bold moves, then there are quite a few options Ninetales has up its sleeve to make it annoy Pokemon of all types, as well as bypass the usual walls. All one has to do is look carefully to see that this Pokemon has the right tools to survive for long periods of time -- even if it doesn't really do all that much in return.

First and foremost is what you need to do about physical sweepers. Unfortunately, Ninetales has no direct way of boosting its defense or lowering the opponent's attack (unless you lack Drought and use Charm, and that's out of the option). However, it has Will-o-Wisp, which cuts the opponent's Attack in half when it hits, in addition to wearing its HP down.

On the special side, you've got Calm Mind, and you've also got the Overheat + Power Swap combo mentioned earlier. You've also got Psych Up as an option, along with Roar for burn shuffling and stat-clearing. The latter is especially useful if you want to keep the boosts and handily get rid of them for your opponent.

As this set is specifically a wall, you're not going to be really putting any investments into Sp. Att. Therefore, I recommend that you toss Foul Play somewhere in there for physical sweepers (if not, Calm Mind will find a very welcome spot on this set). As for setup sweepers, something like either Psych Up or Roar is recommended, to either steal their boosts and hit them with it on the next turn, or simply pass a burn to the next victim. As for special defense, Calm Mind is recommended.

An Overheat + Power Swap combo is feasible with this sort of set, if you're also using a combination of Calm Mind and Will-o-Wisp to wall and/or outpace them. If you don't care for Overheat, then you can use Foul Play + Flamethrower as coverage, and use a combination of Calm Mind/Psych Up and Will-o-Wisp to wall or outpace them.

For an attacking move, Flamethrower is strongly recommended over Fire Blast because of PP, if you're not going down the Overheat path. You won't get very much coverage, but you'll be hitting them for 16 turns longer because of it, and those turns could prove to prove to be the life or death of your Ninetales, if Foul Play doesn't prove favorable to your chances of victory or survival.

As for other options, there are plenty. Substitute + Disable, your classic Poison + Burn stall, a generic Will-o-Wisp + Calm Mind set, as well as a status pass set with Roar are all feasible options that can be effective against either walls or slower/lower-powered sweepers. Many other options are found out there, but these are (in my opinion) the best available ones.

Working Movesets: -- Overheat, Power Swap, Will-o-Wisp, Calm Mind/Foul Play -- Best for working promptly against most sweepers slower than 328 speed. Requires some prediction, but easy to pull off.
-- Flamethrower, Foul Play, Will-o-Wisp, Calm Mind/Roar/Psych Up -- Best against slow setup sweepers and walls that like to set up
-- Flamethrower, Energy Ball/Calm Mind, Substitute, Disable -- Best for walls and Pokemon that cannot deal more than 75% damage to Ninetales.


Honorable Mentions

These are just a few more things from Ninetales's bag of tricks. Below I've got some honorable mentions for some good moves that this particular Pokemon can effectively abuse in many different sets.

Note that these moves are geared towards the article's overall theme: using this Pokemon to either wall or (literally) annoy your opponent's team to death. Just note that for best results, you might want to have Substitute in your moveset to better abuse these moves.

Disable -- To completely run circles around stuff that rely too heavily on a single move for either walling or sweeping to afford getting hit with one of this nasty move.

Psych Up -- To bypass setup sweepers (esp. Quiver/Dragon Dancers) and potentially kill them off more easily. Best used with Will-o-Wisp to really pack a punch. Can be used instead of Power Swap where mentioned. Overheat can still be used because you still get rid of the -2 drop after using this move. However, you don't drop their Sp. Att. instead.

Roar -- Forces an opponent to switch. Best used for passing burns around, or otherwise forcing a powerful setup sweeper out as they set up, if you find that they're too much for you to handle at the moment.

Pain Split -- May be used alongside Leftovers for a bit of extra recovery. Can be abused in a substitute set meant for walling. However, watch out for opponents with low HP, especially sweepers.

Hypnosis -- Puts the opponent to sleep. Allows you to completely go to town on them. However, it has very poor accuracy, and the amount of turns they go to sleep for is also very unreliable.

Mimic -- Used for status/hazard setting mainly for opposing walls. Can be considered gimmicky, but easily pulled off behind a Substitute if you're faster than they are.

Sleep Talk -- Can be used along with Rest, Calm Mind, and a coverage move. However, that sort of stuff is best left to bulkier stuff all around like Suicune, for example. If you try this with Ninetales, just watch as it gets dropped by the first strong physical attack that hits it.

Captivate -- A reliable means to drop your opponent's Special Attack, but ONLY if they're the opposite gender. You're better off using the Overheat + Power Swap combo for better power and reliability, even with the cost of an extra moveslot.


Many things remain out there that are viable in making stuff like Ninetales a good Pokemon to use for things other than their intended purpose. It's always rewarding when we use something that nobody else does, and it works anyway.

These articles are intended to inform my readers about stuff that lies just beneath the common labels and sets that people readily like to pin on any Pokemon. However, my blog is more than just letting you know that there is a whole lot of interesting stuff out there to use.

I hope to encourage you to think creatively as well, and in doing so open up a world of possibilities that only you have the potential to unlock.

Thank you for reading, and I would love feedback on my blog. You're the reason I worked to bring this to you, and I hope to see you again with another interesting issue soon.

~Cosmic Fury

PS: I'd also appreciate assistants to help me with this blog, if you're up to it. Thanks!
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