Friday, April 29, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #9: Old Pokemon Three

 One of the most badass-looking Pokemon introduced in Red and Blue version, the original Legendary dog.

H.P.: 90
Attk: 110
Def.: 80
Sp.A: 100
Sp.D: 80
Spe: 95

Abilities:  Intimidate: Intimidate on something with 90 HP and 80 Defenses is always a benefit, no matter the set. And while Arcanine doesn’t have the best defensive typing out there, it will still be able to sponge physical hits and retaliate with a powerful move of its own. This is definitely one of Arc’s best options, though its other abilities are not much worse.

Flash Fire: This ability adds an immunity to Arcanine’s spectrum of taking hits, as well as boosts the power of its own Fire moves when hit with an opposing Fire. Flash Fire is great because, unlike Intimidate, it allows you to switch in on a predicted Fire move and take no damage at all, whereas with Intimidate you are still susceptible to the oncoming hit. Overall, this ability is not a bad one by any means, and it really just depends on what weaknesses your team has when making the decision.

Justified: Last but not least, Arcanine’s newest ability (that it acquires from the Dream World) does not allow it to take hits any better. Instead, however, it awards it +1 Attack when hit by a Dark-type move. This allows for great potential with a Banded or Scarfed set, for if you are able to predict a weak incoming Dark move, Arcanine will receive indubitable strength. Unfortunately, unlike the other Pokemon that receive this ability (e.g. Absol, Lucario, Terakion, etc.), Arcanine does not resist Dark, meaning if your opponent is an overpowered force, Canine might not end up with the better end of the stick (bad dog pun). Still, this ability can prove to be very useful in many situations, though the other two options are probably better.

            Analysis: Despite its pretty amazing stats and pretty awesome offensive typing, Arcanine really has never been anything better than above-average. For nearly every generation since its introduction it has been subjected to the UU tier, where its lack of a good movepool really disallows its good stats and good abilities to shine. In generation four it got Flare Blitz which added a much needed powerful Fire STAB to its arsenal, but otherwise it was no different and competition from Infernape, and even Blaziken, arose. Fast forward about three years later and Arcanine is still in the same boat. It has gotten a little better, though, with the addition of a couple new-and-improved physical moves at its disposal (namely Close Combat and Wild Charge), giving it effective Fighting and Electric coverage over the previously awful Reversal and Thunder Fang, but while it may look the part, it doesn’t quite live up to its name as the Legendary Pokemon.

Potential Sets: 
*Note: All of these sets can be altered between Intimidate and Flash Fire to fit your preference, though Intimidate is probably the best option overall. If you are feeling extra bold, however, you may try out the new Justified.
I Could Teach You, But I’d Have to Charge…
200 Atk/ 108 Sp.Atk/200 Spe
Naughty @ Life Orb
   -Flame Charge 
   -Dragon Pulse  
   -Flare Blitz 
   -Extremespeed/Bulldoze/Close Combat

            Just as with all Fire types, this Generation has brought about a move that allows for a Speed increase in the form of a weak attack. While Flame Charge is not perfect, it allows for Arcanine to get some damage in (however slight) while boosting its decent speed to even greater heights. This set functions as more of a mixed wallbreaker variant, with Blitz and D-Pulse for excellent coverage. Extremespeed is great for a priority move, though Bulldoze rounds off the coverage quite precisely, though at a cost of power (unfortunately Arcanine still doesn’t get EQ). Close Combat is always a wonderful option, but keep in mind that with Life Orb and the defense drops, Arcanine won’t be living long or taking any hits well.

2.      Bandanine
252 Atk/252 Spe/4HP
Jolly/Adamant @Choice Band
-Flare Blitz
-Close Combat
-Wild Charge/Bulldoze

            Black and White brought us Darmanitan, who is the now-premium physical Fire type. His typing and Speed stat are identical to Canine’s, and his Attack power is a whopping 30 points higher. If this is already enough to make you think “why are you even mentioning Arcanine, then?”, think again. Intimidate + much better bulk overall allows Arcanine to switch in with a slight more ease than its orangutan brethren, while its movepool is a little different as well. Of course Sheer Force, Rock Slide, U-Turn and Earthquake are all beyond stellar, but one of the fastest, most powerful priority moves in the game alongside Close Combat and even Wild Charge for coverage allow the Legendary Pokemon to gain advantages over Darmanitan for other reasons. Arcanine also has the potential to run a Mixed set, though this has nothing to do with BandCanine.

3.      Earn Your Stripes  (Scarf set)
128 Atk/ 128 Sp.Atk/252 Spe
Naïve/Naughty @ Choice Scarf
   -Flare Blitz/Fire Blast
   -Close Combat
   - Wild Charge
   - HP Ice/Grass/Ground

This set is a bit similar to the Flame Charge Mixed set, but this one takes no time to set up. Of course, Flare Blitz is ideal here again, though if you don’t like that recoil, Fire Blast may be happily added. Close Combat and Wild Charge don’t quite need explaining at this point, and the last slot may be filled with a Hidden Power of your Choice. Ice takes care of the fact that Dragon Pulse is not in this set, as it hits many of the most potent Dragons for 4x damage. Also, it can easily dispose of unsuspecting Gliscor/Landorus. Grass allows for the opportunity to hit Water and Ground types, though Wild Charge already deals with the former. Ground is to hit other Fire types for SE damage. In terms of the EV spread here, max Speed is attained to allow Canine to outspeed A LOT of things. If you think it’s fast enough already, you may select the Naughty nature, though Naïve provides further speed enhancement. The rest are split in the offensive stats so that damage may be dealt effectively from both sides of the attacking spectrum.

4.      The Morning’s Son
20 HP/252 Atk/236 Spe
Adamant/Jolly @ Life Orb/Leftovers
-Morning Sun
-Flare Blitz

            This set functions more as a support-ish/Sun supporter. Morning Sun is an unreliable form of recovery outside of the Sun, though it is really all Arcanine has. Will-O-Wisp with Intimidate are like brothers, and again Blitz and ExSpeed really show the opponent what you’re made of. Overall, this set looks like a lot of fun. In the sun.

5.      Special
4 HP/252 Sp.Atk/252 Spe
Timid/Modest @ Choice Specs/Life Orb/Expert Belt
-Fire Blast/Flamethrower
-Dragon Pulse
- Hidden Power Ground/Hidden Power Grass

            Sure there are things out there that can do this better, but at least Arcanine isn’t outshined by Darmanitan in this respect. Specs with 100 base Special Attack really allow for many Blasts to be Fired off, while again D-Pulse and HP do what they do in terms of coverage. The last slot is filled by noneother than Extremespeed for Revenge/Priority purposes, and it should be noted that even with a Timid or Modest nature and no Attack investment, Arcanine still hits 230 Attack, which of course could be better, but that’s why this isn’t a Physical set. As far as items go, this set is designed more for the Specs, though Life Orb may be added if you still want power with no Choice lock. Expert Belt is also a good option if neither of the formers appeal to you, though it will only boost the power of Super Effective moves and it will only boost them by 20%, though with the Belt you may attempt to feign Specs to trick your opponent.  

          Conclusion:   It does have many assets, but unfortunately a lot of its competition, both new and old, have all that and more. Take Darmanitan for example. It may seem silly nowadays to run a solely physical Arcanine set with this beast running rampant. 140 Attack and the exact same Speed stat as Arc? Yeah, you’re better off running more of a mixed set. But whichever way you choose to look at it, Arcanine still stands as one of the first generation’s greatest gems, and I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to ride on the back of one of these as you prance about the land destroying everything in your path with fire from your mouth? Arcanine is very cool. 

Competitive Usability: 8 out of 10 

Aesthetic Design: 9 out of 10

*A particular shoutout to my friend, The Last Taquito, for suggesting an Arcanine analysis.*


  1. Just out of curiosity, why did you go with the EV spread you did on the mixed set?

  2. On the Scarf set I just wanted max Speed, and then I figured I'd put even EVs in the offensive stats.
    In the Flame Charge set I wanted more Attack because that is Arcanine's primary offense, then I put 200 Speed just to have decent Speed before a FC.

    To be honest, I'm not the best with coming up with mixed spreads xD
    But I've tried them out, and they work for me :)

  3. Well, I don't really know about the attacks at this point, but on the first set, increasing the speed from 200 to 216 lets you outspeed Timid Heatran as well as neutral base 90s like Lucario, Roserade, and PorygonZ. 236 would let you outspeed positive base 80s, notably Mamoswine and Togekiss. 200 doesn't really hit much specifically, so if you don't want to go faster, you should probably drop to 192 to stay ahead of positive nature Smeargle.

  4. Well, I don't know about the attacks, but on the first set, 200 speed isn't the most efficient number. 216 speed lets you beat Timid Heatran as well as neutral base 90s like Lucario, Porygon-Z, and Roserade. 236 speed lets you beat positive base 80s, notably Mamoswine, Togekiss, Venusaur and Kabutops.

    If you don't want to increase your speed investment, leaving it at only 192 is best to let you still beat Smeargle. Or if you don't care about Smeargle, 176 still lets you beat neutral base 85s like Heracross, Qwilfish and Toxicroak.