Here Growly, what is it boy? You found something? You found a Pokemon of the Week? Good boy! That’s right this week we are looking into Arcanine and his little sibling Growlithe. This legendary dog has been a favourite Pokemon for many since the very first days of Generation 1 so I hope we can all catch a little bit of nostalgia along with learning something new in this week’s article!
Description: The Legendary Pokemon
Abilities: Intimidate / Flash Fire
Hidden Ability: Justified
Competitive: [Smogon UU] [Smogon VGC 2017] [VGC 2017]
Evolution: Growlithe -> Fire Stone -> Arcanine
Origin: Arcanine’s name comes from the words arcane and canine, which can be simplified to legendary dog. To me it has always looked like a tiger combined with a dog but as I have now learned it is has its origins in Japanese and Chinese mythology. You have probably seen statues like this before known as Shisa, Komainu, or Guardian Lions they resemble a combination of a lion and a dog and are meant to ward off evil spirits.
Original Appearance: Pokemon Red and Blue
Dex Entry [Moon]: The fire burning inside its body serves as the energy to fuel it as it runs great distances. It appears in many legends.
Guardians Rising – (more info here)
Arcanine may not be a true legendary but its majestic appearance would tempt you to think otherwise, just look at that Guardians Rising card. For me Arcanine has always been a top contender for the Pokemon I would like to travel with, likely because I associate it with the loyalty and friendship a real canine provides.
Arcanine is one of those Pokemon blessed with 3 fantastic abilities. Justified is the most outclassed but I like its flavour, after all Arcanine originates from statues meant to ward off dark spirits. I like the ability but it is much better on a Fighting type so luckily it is relegated to the HA slot. Flash Fire of course provides the very rare Fire immunity for your team which is a little redundant for a Fire type resist but the Fire type attack bonus allows for powerful prediction plays in battle. Pairing Flash Fire Arcanine with a Fire weak Pokemon like Scizor is a lot of fun. Finally, the most widely used ability is Intimidate which is one of the most powerful abilities in the game and is only countered by a few Competitive/Defiant Pokemon, like Bisharp. Coming full circle, if Bisharp ever does become popular then it is time to break out the Justified Arcanine instead!
On the stats side of things Arcanine is one of the most well rounded Pokemon out there with good bulk, speed, and mixed offenses combined for a respectable 555 baseline. It would be hard for Arcanine to be bad with these stats! His attacking movepool is solid since he is a Generation 1 Pokemon with powerful STABs such as Flamethrower and Flare Blitz and coverage in the form of Wild Charge, Bulldoze, Iron Head (not VGC legal), Close Combat, and believe it or not Outrage/Dragon Pulse. I normally only see Wild Charge and Close Combat out of those moves which is why the extent of the movepool really surprised me after looking into it more. I like how some of the moves such as Flare Blitz and Outrage are only learned by Growlithe, as if it has to learn those during its angsty puppy phase. Last of all we can’t forget Arcanine’s signature move, wind whipping through its mane, Extremespeed.
One of the big reasons why Arcanine is so popular in VGC is the support tools it is equipped with. Intimidate being the big one but also Snarl, Will-o-Wisp, and Morning Sun. The first singles set we have is defensive due to the power of Intimidate and Morning Sun. I think Rocky Helmet is ideal on this set but as always Leftovers are viable. Flare Blitz gives you the strongest attack and you can heal off the recoil anyway. Since this set is easy to switch in on, Will-o-Wisp or Toxic is necessary to threaten your counters with a status condition. Will-o-Wisp being better if you want to hard counter the physical threats even more but overall I think Toxic is stronger since it does more damage over time. If you are worried about being set up on then Roar is a necessary move but if not then priority Extreme Speed will be very useful.
The offensive set is the one I have seen most often and runs max Speed, max Attack, and the ability of your choice. Your attacks are again Flare Blitz and Extreme Speed combined with your choice of coverage. Normally Wild Charge is chosen to counter Water type switch ins. Smogon suggests Life Orb but honestly I think a Choice item is better. Choice Band can absolutely tear through teams and Adamant Choice Band with Extreme Speed priority is never something to laugh at.
If you are interested in VGC sets then I highly recommend checking out the Smogon or Trainer Tower pages for good spreads and move sets. At a high level there is a similar offensive set that runs a Z-crystal instead of a boosting item as well as Protect. This is fantastic for countering a Pokemon like Celesteela or Kartana. One thing I haven’t seen anywhere else is a Dragonium Z Arcanine with Outrage as coverage, this is capable of OHKOing Defensive Garchomp which has been a major threat this year. Then there is a defensive version that runs Snarl, Flamethrower, and Will-o-Wisp to constantly debuff the opponents as well as either Sitrus or 50% heal berry for recovery. Of course both these sets run Intimidate since it effects both opposing Pokemon.
The set I am going be testing out this week is singles Special Arcanine. Since its special movepool isn’t as powerful I am choosing a more supportive version with Intimidate. The moveset is Solar Beam, Fire Blast, Will-o-Wisp, and Dragon Pulse/Morning Sun. Obviously the goal is to be a lure and catch the opponent’s Water type counters off guard with Grassium Z Solar Beam. If you have a sun team then you get triple bonuses from boosted Fire attacks, one turn Solarbeam, and 70% Morning Sun. My favorite part is that a Modest Arcanine with full Special investment can finally OHKO Alomomola so it is over folks we have found my favourite set!!! As with most lures you don’t want to show it right away. They likely won’t switch in a Water type or might Protect because they expect Wild Charge so save it until you have pretended you don’t have anything to hit Water types once or twice, you only have one shot. Here are some replays I have of it in action.
In stories he is legendary, to his enemies he is ferocious, and to his trainer he is loyal but at his core we all know what Arcanine is…a good boy.
Until next time, SumtimesIFly