Its off to the races this week PUCL as we take a look at the fiery Rapidash. Rapidash is most well known for its appearance in the 33rd episode of the anime, “The Flame Pokemon-athon”, which is a surprisingly catchy episode title. This episode contains a menagerie of Pokemon you would think of as racers, such as Onyx, competing in a marathon with Ash’s borrowed Ponyta/Rapidash coming out on top! In game Rapidash is far less competitive, being regulated to Smogon’s PU tier. This is something I wish I knew as a kid when I found a Rapidash right before the Elite 4 in Pokemon Silver and thought I could ride it to victory. Spoiler alert…I couldn’t, thankfully I had a Feraligatr. Let’s head into the summary and see if we can find what hidden traits might make Rapidash special!
Description: The Fire Horse Pokemon
Abilities: Runaway / Flash Fire
Hidden Ability: Flame Body
Competitive: [Smogon PU]
Evolution: Ponyta -> Level 40 -> Rapidash
Origin: Rapidash’s name is quite easy to decipher. Rapid stands for the adjective and ash is a reference to its Fire typing. It was a cute play on words in the anime episode I mentioned earlier, where our protagonist, Ash, races rapidly. I learned its Japanese name is even simpler, Gallop, as in the English word for a horse moving at a run.
Original Appearance: Pokemon Red and Blue
Dex Entry [Alpha Sapphire]: Rapidash usually can be seen casually cantering in the fields and plains. However, when this Pokémon turns serious, its fiery manes flare and blaze as it gallops its way up to 150 mph.
Despite its wonderful horn, Rapidash is actually not a unicorn by any official documentation. I wish that it had been treated as one though because I really liked Viger’s suggestion on the podcast that it be given the Fairy typing. Fire/Fairy is a unique type combination and could have helped Rapidash find its place. The strength of Rapidash comes from its 5/5 Speed stat combined with a 3/4 Stamina stat and 3/4 Jump stat, allowing it to conquer the Hurdle Dash mini-game in Pokemon Heart Gold / Soul Silver. It also lends itself well to the Relay Run event but a 2/3 Power skill just isn’t that appealing. Perhaps with the right nature it could have a strong showing there as well.
In the anime it is revealed that Rapidash’s flame will burn its rider unless it trusts them. Maybe that is why I had such a hard time battling with my newly caught Rapidash in the Johto League…or it could be because Rapidash is a PU Pokemon. I am normally a big fan of lower tier Pokemon because they aren’t as developed by the community leaving more room for you to be creative with the sets. However, I took a look at Rapidash’s movepool and I just wasn’t that excited. As always though, lets start with abilities. Flash Fire is likely the way to go, giving you an immunity and helping you shore up any teams weak to Fire. Run Away has no effect in battle and its use in game is quite limited for a faster Pokemon like Rapidash who can normally run easily. The Hidden Ability, Flame Body, is similar to Poison Point on Nidoking last week. Rapidash just does not have the bulk required to make the best use out of it, with only 65 HP and average defenses of 80 it won’t be taking enough contact hits to be worth it.
Rapidash is not available in Alola and therefore isn’t allowed in the VGC this year, so we will stick to singles. Despite travelling at speeds of up to 150mph, which is over twice highway speeds, Rapidash only has a Speed stat of 105 which may have been fast in Generation 1 but is no longer the case. All of its stats lead you to believe that it should be a Physical Attacker but in upper tiers it won’t be able to out speed any other threats, and with only average bulk and a terrible defensive typing it is hampered by that fact. In lower tiers though it does have the opportunity to make use of its movepool. Flare Blitz is a great STAB, Drill Run covers opposing Fire types you are walling with Flash Fire, and Wild Charge counters Water type switch ins. From there you can add coverage through Poison Jab, Megahorn, Iron Tail (75% accuracy, yuck!) or Bounce/Z-Supersonice Skystrike. I wanted to suggest going mixed and using Grassium-Z to activate Bloom Doom off of Solar Beam, similar to the popular Heatran set, but Wild Charge already hits Water types so it isn’t really necessary. If you have enough coverage and want to add some utility then I highly recommend Morning Sun to heal all of the recoil damage you will be taking. If Rapidash’s attack stat of 100 isn’t doing it for you either and you want to build more bulky then Will-o-Wisp is a great move to consider. One interesting move I toyed around with was Hypnosis/Z-Hypnosis but unfortunately Rapidash doesn’t have any set up moves outside of Flame Charge to take advantage of a sleeping opponent. As for items, common choices are Leftovers for healing recoil damage, and Charcoal for boosting Flare Blitz. Personally I think that Choice Band is also a valid option if you have 4 attacking moves. Normally a Pokemon in this role would use Life Orb but due to the recoil of Wild Charge and Flare Blitz, Rapidash would kill itself before it did much damage to the opponent.
The only non-standard set I could think of is a Sun setter. In the PU tier Rapidash would need to set up sun itself. The set would run max Speed with the remaining EVs in physical bulk. For moves you would have, Sunny Day, Solar Beam/Will-o-Wisp, Fire Blast/Overheat, Morning Sun and using Flame Body with Heat Rock. This set would have access to 66% heal through Morning Sun so it may be able to take some hits and get use out of Flame Body for spreading burns. Solar Beam and Fireblast are powerful moves in the Sun even without much Special Attack investment, and Will-o-Wisp helps against non contact attackers. Unfortunately, you do have to set the sun up yourself which takes momentum and makes the preferred item, Leftovers, less viable since you want to be running Heat Rock for the extra turns of sun. I wouldn’t say this set is particularly viable, but it is different than the previous one which I have seen in Random Battles so often.
Finally, in the TCG both of Rapidash’s standard cards are not too impressive. As someone who just started the TCG I have used the Steam Siege Rapidash to great success in the Theme Deck format since it is a part of the Fire Theme Deck. Slap a Burning Energy on there and you can start doing 90 damage a turn on turn 2. Outside of theme decks however I can’t see a real place for either card.
With that I will ride off into the sunrise, it was supposed to be the sunset but my Rapidash used Sunny Day again, come on girl we practiced this.
Until next time, SumtimesIFly.