Pokémon Face-Off: Ninetales Edition

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After beating Pokémon Moon, I decided to take advantage of my first-ever female starting Pokémon and flood the world with Littens! In doing so, not only would I be able to share my good fortune with the world, but I could also grab some of the Sun-exclusive Pokémon I’d been eyeing.

My first Litten trade netted me an Alolan Vulpix…and it was love at first sight. I’ve only raised it to Lv. 10 so far, but it’s been impressive enough that I’m already dreaming of how awesome it will be as a full-powered Ninetales.

Of course, I’ve had a little experience using Kanto-based Ninetales before, and found them to be very capable battle partners. Was one Ninetales version better than the other? There was only one way to know: a face-off!

(As always, the data in the following analysis comes from the good folks at Serebii.net.)

The Types

Kanto Ninetales (Fire) Alolan Ninetales (Ice/Fairy)
Strong Against… 4 Types 6 Types
Ineffective Against… 4 Types 2 Types
Can’t Hit Type? No No
Resists… 6 Types 3 Types
Weak To… 3 Types 4 Types
4x Weakness? No Yes (Steel)
Immunities? No Yes (Dragon)

The moral of this story is simple: The dual-type giveth, and the dual-type taketh away. Alolan Ninetales is both stronger and weaker against more Pokémon, and features both an immunity and a 4x weakness. (Pro Tip: Do not throw a Dragon-type against Alolan Ninetales.)

Kanto Ninetales earns a slight edge here by virtue of the head-to-head matchup: Fire-types are super-effective against Alolan Ninetales, but Kanto Ninetales laughs off both Ice and Fairy attacks.

Advantage: Kanto Ninetales (slightly)

The Stats

Statistic Kanto Ninetales Alolan Ninetales
HP 73 73
Attack 76 67
Defense 75 75
Spec. Attack 81 81
Spec. Defense 100 100
Speed 100 109
Total 505 505

The stats, like the Pokémon themselves, are nearly identical, but the differences that do exist are more important than they may appear:

  • Kanto Ninetales has a higher Attack stat, but since its Special Attack is still higher, most players will prioritize that over Attack, making the bonus meaningless.
  • What Alolan Ninetales lacks in Attack, it makes up for in Speed, which can’t be worked around like a low Attack stat. Nine points isn’t a huge difference (depending on the Pokémon’s IVs, a Kanto Ninetales may still be faster), but it’s something.

Advantage: Alolan Ninetales (slightly)

The Abilities

Kanto Ninetales Alolan Ninetales
Flash Fire Snow Cloak
Drought Snow Warning

I’ve always found Flash Fire to be a pretty useless ability—Fire-type attacks are ineffective against Fire-type Pokémon, so the ability rarely gets activated (unless an NPC randomly decides to use a fire move against you). Snow Cloak is at least something you can activate yourself in a single battle, although it requires a move that Alolan Ninetales only learns via TM/breeding.

Drought and Snow Warning are mostly a push, although the latter will cause damage to non-Ice types every round.

Advantage: Alolan Ninetales (slightly)

The Moves

Kanto Ninetales Alolan Ninetales
Top 3 STAB Attacks
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Fire Blast Fire 110 S Blizzard Ice 110 S
Inferno Fire 100 S Ice Beam Ice 90 S
Flamethrower Fire 95 S Dazzling Gleam Fairy 80 S
Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks
Extrasensory Psychic 80 S Extrasensory Psychic 80 S
Hex Ghost 65 S Hex Ghost 65 S
Feint Attack Dark 60 P Feint Attack Dark 60 P
Other Notable Moves
Confuse Ray Confuses Target Confuse Ray Confuses Target
Nasty Plot Raises Spec. Attack Nasty Plot Raises Spec. Attack
Will-O-Wisp Burns Target Mist Protects Stats From Lowering

Unsurprisingly, both Ninetales fall into the same category and speedy Spec. Attack specialists (although neither has a huge Spec. Attack stat), and for the most part their movesets complement that role very well. Since both Ninetales learn the exact same non-STAB moves, so the difference comes down to who can wield their type more effectively.

In general, Kanto Ninetales’s Fire moves are stronger and more accurate than Alolan Ninetales, although Blizzard becomes 100% accurate when paired with the Snow Warning ability. Additionally, while both Ninetales have the unofficial “go-to” move for their type (Flamethrower and Ice Beam), Alolan Ninetales has to settle for Dazzling Gleam instead of the superior Moonblast (which it can only learn via breeding). Finally, Will-O-Wisp is a much better option than Mist, and the former move also reduces an opponent’s Attack to help cover for Ninetales’s unspectacular Defense.

The little dings against Alolan Ninetales’s moves all add up to push this category into the corner of its Kanto counterpart.

Advantage: Kanto Ninetales

The TMs

Kanto Ninetales Alolan Ninetales
Top 4 TM Moves
Name Type Power Physical/
Special
Name Type Power Physical/
Special
Solar beam Grass 120 s Hail Creates Hailstorm
Energy Ball Grass 90 S Aurora Veil Boosts Def. and Spec. Def. in hail
Calm Mind Boosts Spec. Attack and Spec. Defense Calm Mind Boosts Spec. Attack and Spec. Defense
Dark Pulse Dark 80 S Dark Pulse Dark 80 S

Despite the fact that the two learn most of the same moves, Alolan Ninetales falls woefully short when the differences are considered. While Aurora Veil dovetails nicely with Alolan Ninetales’s Snow Warning ability (and Hail allows even Snow Cloak Ninetales to get in on this action), Kanto Ninetales gains two strong Grass-type moves that let it strike back against Ground- and Rock-type Pokémon that normally eat Fire-types for breakfast. Additionally, Solarbeam can fire in one turn instead of two when paired with Kanto Ninetales’s Drought ability.

Advantage: Kanto Ninetales

 The Results

Make no mistake, Alolan Ninetales is a pretty cool Pokémon with a decent set of stats and moves, and one could easily imagine it being a handful on the competitive scene with a Hail-based moveset. This face-off, however, goes to the original Ninetales based mostly on its superior moveset.

Winner: Kanto Ninetales

Of course, this doesn’t take into the power and/or prevalence of different Pokémon types in different places. (For example, I tend to run into a lot of Dragon-type Ubers when battling online, and given how successful my Florges and Gardevoir were against them, an Ice/Fairy type would make them all cry for their mother.) When comparing the Ninetales head-to-head, however, it turns out you can’t beat the original model.

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