Hello PUCL, is anyone else feeling particularly chilly today? The weather report said there was a Snow Warning but with a chance of a Pokemon taking the world by storm (it actually turned out to be true here in Canada because it snowed yesterday). That’s right it is Alolan Ninetales! This Pokemon is cold as ice and willing to sacrifice its fire typing to become the first every Ice/Fairy type and does it ever live up to that title. Quite possibly the most elegant Pokemon to date Ninetales has always had an eerie beauty to it that transfers perfectly to its new ice typing. I’m not just saying that because Elsa made being an ice queen cool either. Alolan Ninetales actually had a feature in the PUCL radio drama that aired this week, played by TheFluffiestWhimsicott! Alright lets get started.
Description: The Fox Pokemon
Type: Ice / Fairy
Abilities: Snow Cloak
Hidden Ability: Snow Warning
Competitive: [Smogon UU] [Smogon VGC 2017] [Wolfe Glick VGC 2017] [Pre-bank OU Pokeaimmd]
Evolution: Alolan Vulpix -> Ice Stone -> Alolan Ninetales
Origin: You would expect Ninetales to be spelled as Ninetails because it has nine tails. However the actual name is a play on the word tail by replacing it with “tale”, as in story such as a fairy tale, which became a lot more fitting in Alola where Ninetales gains the Fairy typing. Ninetales is based on a fox and as I learned it is based on the Japanese legendary foxes known as kitsune.
Original Appearance: Pokemon Red and Blue [Alolan: Pokemon Sun and Moon]
Dex Entry [Sun]: 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.
*This card is not yet available and will be coming out in Guardians Rising. Details can be found here.
My personal preference for Pokemon has always been creative or misunderstood but even I have fallen for the majesty that is Alolan Ninetales. Its glowing white coat and flowing tails are a sight to behold. Once again however we seem to be on a trend of Pokemon Sun exclusives so the first time I ever got to play with Ninetales was when “Elsa” was distributed by Thatch and Shamu to patrons.
Ninetales is the proud owner of the exclusive move Aurora Veil and it single handedly makes this Pokemon the best Hail setter around. The ability Snow Warning lets Ninetales set up hail when it switches in, much like its Kanto relative does with sun. Aurora Veil provides both a Reflect and a Light Screen but can only be used in Hail. With a base speed of 109 it is faster than many leads in the meta allowing it to get up Aurora Veil turn 1 so running max speed is advised. There aren’t many teams that value Hail being up which means Light Clay is generally preferred over Icy Rock to extend the duration of Aurora Veil, but if you are running a snow synergy team I would use Icy Rock to extend the Hail. One of my favourite strategies to use in lead situations is to Encore the opposing lead into their setup move, such as Stealth Rock, giving you a free switch into your next Pokemon. Ninetales not only has access to Encore as I mentioned is fast enough to out speed the opposing lead on turn 2 to use it. Due to its lackluster bulk and poor defensive typing Ninetales normally ends up shattering within the first couple of turns, but Aurora Veil is worth it.
Ninetales has access to strong STAB moves in the form of Blizzard, which is 100% accurate in Hail, Freeze Dry to hit Water types, and Moonblast. They all favour Ninetales’ preferred Special Attack, although it needs to be noted that at a Special Attack of 81 it is still lacking power. To accommodate that I sometimes run Life Orb over Light Clay to get more out of Ninetales attacks because Ice and Fairy coverage are very powerful. Of course since the introduction of Tapu’s more Steel types have started popping up that hard counter Ninetales, so you may want to run Hidden Power Fire to account for that. If only Alolan Ninetales kept the original Ninetales’ Fire type movepool…one can dream. There used to be far fewer Steel types pre-bank so Ninetales actually received a steep nerf after bank was released.
In VGC Ninetales plays a similar role as singles, trying to get Aurora Veil up to support the team. One stand out in doubles however is Ninetales access to Icy Wind which is very rare in VGC 2017. This allows it support your team through boosting defenses or through speed control depending on what your team needs. Since you likely also want to run Protect you only really have room for one of those supportive moves. Blizzard also expands its versatility in Doubles by being a spread move. I personally am a very big fan of fast Encore users in VGC to Encore your opponent into Protect. If you can spare the move slot, try it out.
Ninetales fills a niche and there isn’t much it does outside of that. However, I have still tried to think up a new set for this week. Taking inspiration from a similar Xukitree set you can create Z-Hypnosis Ninetales. This is an offensive Ninetales that runs Hypnosis, Blizzard, Nasty Plot, and Moonblast. The goal is to use Z-Hypnosis to boost your Speed and sleep the opponent, giving you an opportunity to set up your Nasty Plot and sweep. The downsides to this set are you need to hit the Hypnosis, Nasty Plot is not as strong as Tail Glow, and your STABs are easily walled by any Steel types. Xurkitree doesn’t even need to run Tail Glow because of its massive Special Attack giving it room for more coverage moves, something Nintales cannot afford to do. Still feel free to give it a shot and let me know if you have any luck. I would heavily suggest UU for this experiment.
Winds swirl around you, snow beats against your face, this is not what you thought you would find when you entered the realm of Ninetales, but now you know…it is a kingdom of isolation.
Until next time, SumtimesIFly.