Pokémon Analysis 17 – Winter is Coming!
So here we are, we’ve made it through searing sun, relentless rain and sordid sand to arrive at our final weather analysis, only to be greeted by blistering blizzards! Phew, that’s enough alliteration for one article!
Similarly with rain, we’re spoilt for choice with weather setters. Whilst Sand and Sun only have one setter, Rain and Hail have a whopping two! Not only that but Hail has access to an exclusive move Aurora Veil – which is the equivalent of setting both a Reflect and Light Screen in one turn. That’s about it however in terms of positives; yes, you get access to a fully accurate Blizzard too but Hail as a dedicated archetype has a few glaring weaknesses. The most viable Hail setter is quicker than all other weather setters, which means you’ll have to be switching it in to guarantee setting hail; the VGC 17 legal Hail equivalent to Lilligant, Stoutland and Golduck offers much less damage output than the aforementioned trio whilst the offensive diversity between setter and sweeper is seriously lacking. That being said, Hail is an extremely fun strategy to play around with away from a tournament setting, so let’s jump into some frosty sets!
Setter 1: Alolan Ninetales!
The Alolan form of Ninetales is a thing of beauty; unfortunately, its stats aren’t. Respectable HP and Sp. Def, coupled with a very high base speed stat, looks promising to begin with, however I’m sure we all wish that horrendous 81 Special Attack stat was swapped with its high Special Defence. Access to a wide array of support moves redeems Ninetales somewhat, but not being able to OHKO Assault Vest variants of Garchomp signifies just how much Alolan Ninetales is lacking in the offensive department.
That being said, Ninetales is the only Pokémon with access to both Snow Warning and Aurora Veil, giving it a niche role to play on many teams in the format – even without the assistance of a Slush Rush sweeper.
Set 1: Unlucky 13?
Ninetales-Alola @ Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Aurora Veil
If you go to the Pokémon Global Link website and find Alolan Ninetales’ stats for Championship battles, this is the set you’ll come across. Very simple, very effective, the goal of Battlespot’s 13th most common Pokémon is to simply set up Aurora Veil and support her team mates further by spamming fully accurate Blizzards or, against those pesky water types, Freeze-Drys. Protect and Focus Sash serve to increase Ninetales’ longevity whilst the EV spread ensures we at least speed tie with Kartana and hit as hard as we possibly can, despite the overall low base Special Attack.
Despite a low Special Attack stat, Ninetales still hits hard against what we need it to:
252 SpA Ninetales-Alola Blizzard vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Garchomp: 232-276 (126.7 – 150.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Ninetales-Alola Freeze-Dry vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Pelipper: 232-280 (138.9 – 167.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Ninetales-Alola Blizzard vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kartana: 121-144 (89.6 – 106.6%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO
Usually we’d post a few defensive calculations to show off how supremely bulky our spreads are… but, well, this one… kind of isn’t. You’ll certainly be making use of that Focus Sash, but it can turn a couple of weaker hits into 3hko’s…
84 SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Ninetales-Alola: 57-67 (38.2 – 44.9%) — guaranteed 3HKO
+1 28 SpA Porygon2 Thunderbolt vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Ninetales-Alola: 55-65 (36.9 – 43.6%) — guaranteed 3HKO
204+ SpA Drifblim Shadow Ball vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Ninetales-Alola: 57-67 (38.2 – 44.9%) — guaranteed 3HKO
This is the spread you’ll probably come across, and make use of, the most – but Ninetales certainly has a few alternative options…
Set 2: Eight turns of Aurora?!
Ninetales-Alola @ Light Clay
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 116 HP / 4 Def / 28 SpA / 108 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Aurora Veil
– Blizzard/Icy Wind
– Encore/Freeze Dry
Ahh, now here’s something a little different! I commented before that Ninetales had a fairly decent Special Defense stat, alongside access to some interesting supporting moves; well this is the spread that takes advantage of both these features! The purpose of this spread is to set up Aurora Veil (which will last Eight turns thanks to the Light Clay item), disrupt your opponents whilst supporting your partner Pokémon and – hopefully – stick around long enough to set another Aurora Veil. The choice of attack is between Blizzard and Icy Wind – with 28 Sp. Atk investment, Ninetales can still OHKO non bulky Garchomp, whilst Icy Wind grants access to speed control. Encore and Disable can make great use of Ninetales’ speed stat by trapping an opponent into a passive move, stopping their most powerful attack or locking them into struggle. Freeze Dry and Moonblast are decent options for extra offensive options and Protect naturally increases Ninetales’ longevity but I’d honestly opt for Encore and Disable in the final two slots. For memes.
So – those EVs look interesting right? Well, the 28 in Sp. Atk do this…
28 SpA Ninetales-Alola Blizzard vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Garchomp: 184-220 (100.5 – 120.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
Whilst the Special Defense investment is designed for these calculations…
252 SpA Nihilego Sludge Bomb vs. 116 HP / 108 SpD Ninetales-Alola: 134-162 (82.2 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 116 HP / 108 SpD Ninetales-Alola in Psychic Terrain: 115-136 (70.5 – 83.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
However, with an Aurora Veil up, this Ninetales can survive some extremely powerful attacks:
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 116 HP / 108 SpD Ninetales-Alola in Psychic Terrain through Aurora Veil: 145-172 (88.9 – 105.5%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Sludge Bomb vs. 116 HP / 108 SpD Ninetales-Alola through Aurora Veil: 115-139 (70.5 – 85.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Garchomp Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 116 HP / 4 Def Ninetales-Alola through Aurora Veil: 127-150 (77.9 – 92%) — guaranteed 2HKO
So. That’s your first setter, but how about setter number two?
Ahhh. Now (stats wise) this is more like it. Vanilluxe is much more well rounded than Ninetales with respectable 71/85/95 bulk, a huge 110 Special Attack and usable 79 speed. The drawback? No Aurora Veil access. If it did we could build plenty of fun sets with the ice cream cone, but without? It’s limited to one role.
Set 1: The one and only!
Vanilluxe @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 60 HP / 252 SpA / 196 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sheer Cold
– Flash Cannon/Hidden Power Fire
Okay. So here it is. As said above, the low base speed could be worked with, but we need the Choice Scarf. Vanilluxe’s role is to sit alongside our Slush Rush user and Fire off quicker and more powerful Blizzards than Ninetales is able to produce. The Timid nature is needed so we can outspeed Pheromosa, but if you didn’t care about that you could run Modest to maximise damage output. The moveset is pretty self explanatory, Blizzard guarantees solid spread damage, Freeze-Dry hits water types for super effective damage whilst Sheer Cold guarantees at least a 30% win condition against any opponent in the end game. The fourth slot is open for additional coverage, Flash Cannon guarantees this Vanilluxe will be able to hit each Guardian for super effective damage whilst Hidden Power Fire is Vanilluxes best way to OHKO Assault Vest Kartana.
This double Ice Cream packs a frosty punch!
252 SpA Vanilluxe Blizzard vs. 28 HP / 52 SpD Assault Vest Garchomp: 180-216 (96.2 – 115.5%) — 75% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Vanilluxe Blizzard vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kartana: 147-174 (108.8 – 128.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Vanilluxe Hidden Power Fire vs. 84 HP / 164 SpD Assault Vest Kartana: 136-164 (93.7 – 113.1%) — 62.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Vanilluxe Freeze-Dry vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Golduck: 128-152 (82.5 – 98%) — guaranteed 2HKO after hail damage
252 SpA Vanilluxe Freeze-Dry vs. 244 HP / 88 SpD Gastrodon: 232-276 (106.9 – 127.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
So yeah, basically a harder hitting version of Ninetales. But can it take a hit in return?
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 60 HP / 0 SpD Vanilluxe in Psychic Terrain: 133-157 (86.3 – 101.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 60 HP / 0 SpD Vanilluxe in Electric Terrain: 129-152 (83.7 – 98.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 SpA Nihilego Power Gem vs. 60 HP / 0 SpD Vanilluxe: 140-168 (90.9 – 109%) — 50% chance to OHKO
228+ Atk Gigalith Rock Slide vs. 60 HP / 0 Def Vanilluxe: 122-146 (79.2 – 94.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Surprisingly, yes! Honestly, I was astonished by these calculations. If it could set Aurora Veil I’d probably want to run it over Ninetales. Perhaps you will too… depending on which Slush Rush set you choose to partner it with…
But who is this Slush Rusher I keep referring to? Well, Beartic isn’t available this season, but fortunately a former Kanto all star is back with a few new tricks…
Sandslash’s base stats don’t look too terrible from the off. Yes, that Special Defence is pretty abysmal but Sandslash is here to take advantage of the speed boost granted by Slush Rush, hitting hard and fast. Its base 100 Attack is fairly usable but the drop in power is certainly noticeable after a single intimidate, so take this into consideration before simply leading Sandslash + Hail. This being said, I have two sets for your consideration; the one you choose is completely based off the Hail setter you wish to partner it with!
Set 1: Sanic & Tales
Sandslash-Alola @ Groundium Z/ Life Orb
Ability: Slush Rush
EVs: 76 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 44 SpD / 132 Spe
– Iron Head
– Icicle Crash
– Earthquake/Swords Dance
Okay, Sandslash is pretty difficult to work with. Its typing leaves it 4x weak to both Fighting and Fire whilst its 75/65 Special bulk leaves it incredibly vulnerable to almost any Special attack. The speed investment allows Sandslash to outspeed Pheromosa under Hail, the Attack pretty much needs to be maxed out (honestly, Sandslash isn’t hitting very hard without a Life Orb or Swords Dance Boost) whilst the defensive investment generally helps Sandslash survive attacks which aren’t super effective. Protect is absolutely essential as you’ll want to keep Sandslash around as long as possible, Iron Head and Icicle Crash both receive the STAB boost and score super effective hits on both Tapu Lele & Bulu, and Garchomp respectively. The final move choice couples with the item choice. Earthquake ensures you won’t be completely walled by Fire types and, when boosted by the Z crystal, can even pick up a surprise KO against the likes of Arcanine and Marowak – provided you aren’t intimidated. If covering Fire types isn’t something you’re overly concerned with you could opt for Swords Dance and/or a Life Orb to boost Sandslash’s distinctly average damaged output into something more respectable.
252+ Atk Life Orb Sandslash-Alola Iron Head vs. 164 HP / 92 Def Tapu Lele: 182-218 (109.6 – 131.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ Atk Life Orb Sandslash-Alola Icicle Crash vs. 252 HP / 60 Def Tapu Bulu: 148-174 (83.6 – 98.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO after hail damage and Grassy Terrain recovery
252+ Atk Sandslash-Alola Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Arcanine: 226-268 (114.7 – 136%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ Atk Sandslash-Alola Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Marowak-Alola: 172-204 (102.9 – 122.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ Atk Sandslash-Alola Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Muk-Alola: 238-282 (112.2 – 133%) — guaranteed OHKO
Whilst defensively we can take a couple of hits:
252+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 76 HP / 44 SpD Sandslash-Alola in Psychic Terrain: 126-148 (78.7 – 92.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Power Gem vs. 76 HP / 44 SpD Sandslash-Alola: 117-138 (73.1 – 86.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Sandslash-Alola: 120-144 (75 – 90%) — guaranteed 2HKO
However, I feel you may want to partner your Sandslash with an Ice Cream cone a little more…
Set 2: Sanic and the Cone.
Sandslash-Alola @ Life Orb
Ability: Slush Rush
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 44 SpD / 204 Spe
– Iron Head
– Aurora Veil
– Icicle Crash
– Protect/Earthquake/Rock Slide
So, Vanilluxe doesn’t get access to Aurora Veil? Well, Sandslash does! The plan here is to lead with your Ice Cream Cone and Sandslash, fire off a powerful Blizzard and set the Aurora Veil with Sandslash. Iron Head and Icicle Crash are necessary for that STAB boost whilst Protect should always be preferred; however, if you don’t feel the need to protect your Sandslash from Super Effective attacks, you could run an extra coverage move in this slot. The EVs are straight forward, 204 Speed outspeeds Shoma’s Drifblim by a point whilst maximising your attack plus the added damage from Life Orb allows you to OHKO both Drifblim and Tapu Lele with Icicle Crash and Iron Head respectively. 4 investment in HP minimises Life Orb recoil and the rest are distributed between our defences for general bulk.
The EVs and item choice on this Sandslash make it – alongside a Hail setter – an effective anti lead to the popular Drifblim/Lele combination, but you probably won’t ever see a competent opponent lead these two into Sandslash + Vanilluxe/Ninetales making this set a “for fun” spread.
252 Atk Life Orb Sandslash-Alola Icicle Crash vs. 4 HP / 132 Def Drifblim: 237-281 (104.8 – 124.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 Atk Life Orb Sandslash-Alola Iron Head vs. 164 HP / 92 Def Tapu Lele: 172-203 (103.6 – 122.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 Atk Life Orb Sandslash-Alola Icicle Crash vs. 244 HP / 12+ Def Mandibuzz: 135-164 (62.5 – 75.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
So there we have it. All our weather analyses are complete! Huzzah! As for the verdict on Hail, I actually used Sandslash/Ninetales during Europe’s International Championship. I finished day one with a distinctly average 5-4 run but this wasn’t a reflection on the ability of this Hail duo. Honestly, Hail isn’t a strategy which will be setting the world alight at the World Championships but, given the right matchup, Hail can do a lot of work. Don’t be expecting to win too many tournaments with these duos, but DO expect to have a lot of fun!
Interested in giving hail a try? Well, you’re in luck! Shortly after this article is released we’ll be giving away one of these duos to FIVE lucky participants! Check out our Facebook page for more details!