Saturday, August 27, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #19: New Pokemon Nine, Volcarona

The King of all Moths. 
Sun Pokemon

Tier: OU (as of January 2012) 
H.P.: 85
Attk: 60
Def.: 65
Sp.A: 135
Sp.D: 105
Spe: 100

Abilities: Flame Body: Really the only choice Volcarona has for an ability at the moment. Though much less capable of taking physical hits than special, the 30% burn chance is welcome on anything that might otherwise threaten Volc with a powerful Physical move.

Swarm: Probably a better ability for Volcarona in comparison with Flame Body, Swarm allows the power of its STAB Bug moves to be boosted if at lower health. This will definitely come in handy, but unfortunately it has yet to be released through the Dream World, so Flame Body is the one for now.

            Volcarona is today’s hottest Bug-type [literally], becoming arguably the best Special Attacking Bug since Speed Boost Yanmega of last generation. With a perfectly unique typing, overall legendary-esque stats, and an exclusive array of moves, this new fire moth shines as a wondrous new sweeper in the Black and White metagame. 

            In overviewing Volc’s innumerable assets, one cannot help but notice its immensely powerful 135 base Special Attack stat, alone capable of making Volcarona a top-tier threat. This, partnered alongside a very above average Speed and excellent Special bulk, makes it very easy for this Pokemon to effectively utilize team support and solid prediction skills to take out unsuspecting opposition. However, if these aren’t enough to have you crying over Volcarona yet, wait till you hear the rest of the good news. This Pokemon loves to dance. Flamenco, ballet, you name it. Not cool enough for you? Well then, take into consideration its two favorite dance moves, Quiver Dance and Fiery Dance, and you’ve got yourself a dusty sungod just waiting to demolish things. Quiver Dance, one of the most powerful boosting moves in the entire game now, and definitely one of the best new boosters added in gen 5, gives a +1 raise to Volca’s Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed stats; it’s three highest. That is essentially a Special variation of Dragon Dance, fused with Calm Mind. After one Dance, this hot moth is capable of outpacing a huge portion of the metagame that is not itself boosted, and blasting apart Specially weak teams with its impeccable STAB moves. You are in extreme danger if you let this thing set up on you.
            But that’s not all. Its other Dance move, Fiery Dance, is no less threatening. A slightly weaker STAB in comparison with Flamethrower and Fire Blast, this 80 Base Power tango has a high chance of boosting Volcarona’s Special Attack to even greater heights [an additional +1]. When used after a Quiver Dance or two, Volc can have a reliable means of receiving continual Sp.Atk raises, while already sitting at a rather untouchable Speed stat, meaning little to nothing will be able to survive its flaming wrath. Though its coverage is limited, with a fair amount of boosts, you’ll soon forget that “Not very effective” means the target should be taking less damage!

            There is, however, an enormous detriment to the perfection of this winged beast. Though “limited coverage” is easily compensated for, you may notice that both of Volcarona’s typings share a common weakness; to the Rock type. This means that everyone’s favorite entry hazard, and therefore all its users, becomes Volcarona’s arch nemesis. In short, Volca will be losing a whopping 50% of its health upon switching into a field plagued by Stealth Rock, even further limiting its sweeping potential. This means that hazard removal/prevention is ideal when using Volcarona on a team, lest you be limited to only two switch-ins per match; not nearly enough to breeze through the opposing team.

Potential Sets:

  1. Standard Sweeper
252 Sp.Atk/6 Sp.Def/252 Spe
Timid @ Life Orb/Leftovers
-Quiver Dance
-Fiery Dance/Flamethrower/Fire Blast
-Bug Buzz
-Hidden Power Ground/HP Grass/Solarbeam

            This is probably the most commonly used Volcarona set. Outright, this spread hits 369 Special Attack and 328 Speed, making it a dangerous threat even without any Quiver boosts. However, after a Dance, Volcarona’s stats hit massive heights, making it easily one of the most deadly forces to reckon with in OU. A little reminiscent of DD Mence in 4th gen, albeit a Special version of it, this Quiver Dance set becomes all the more devastating the more boosts are acquired. In terms of moveset, the two most important STAB moves are used here, though Fiery Dance may be traded for a more powerful counterpart if you feel the need. The last slot is taken by a Hidden Power of your choice. Ground is the best bet, allowing Volcarona to hit mon that would otherwise completely wall it, such as Heatran, Infernape, and Terrakion, for SE damage, though Grass takes care of Swampert and the increasingly popular Gastrodon, as well as other Water types. If used on a Sun team (which fully optimizes Volcarona’s usability), Solarbeam may also be added into the mix for a powerful no-charge offensive. 

  1. Bulky Sweeper
248 HP/252 Def/8 Sp.Def
Bold or Modest @ Leftovers
-Morning Sun
-Quiver Dance
-Fiery Dance
-Bug Buzz

            It may appear odd to emphasize on Volcarona’s lesser defensive side, but with a rather good 85 HP stat and even usable 65 Defense, as well as Flame Body chance, this can shape Volc into a rather tough to take down offensive tank of sorts. Morning Sun is its best means of recovery, so use it wisely. The remaining three moves are obvious.
            As said before, Volcarona functions even better in the Sun, and this set is no different; Morning Sun essentially restores 2/3 of Volc’s health in a Drought, as opposed to restoring only ½ health in normal circumstances and ¼ in Rain or Sand. If you are still skeptical of the viability of this set due to a lacking physical Defense stat, consider that the investment will allow you to take hits you would not normally be able to take, in which case you may proceed to set up a Quiver Dance and recover off the damage. After a few Dances, Volc should be at high enough Speed and power to handle anything that stands in its way.
            *You may notice the EV spread requires 248 HP EVs and 8 Special Defense. The reason 252 HP is avoided here is because of the fact that Volcarona, being 4x weak to Stealth Rocks, will take an even 50% damage upon switching into SR. With 248 HP EVs invested, 373 HP is reached, which means that 186 HP (approximately half of its health) will be lost upon switching in. This leaves Volc with 187 remaining HP, enough to allow it to switch in one additional time.

  1. SpecsCarona
252 Sp.Atk/6 Sp.Def/252 Spe
Timid @ Choice Specs
-Fiery Dance/Flamethrower/Fire Blast 
-Bug Buzz
-HP Ground/HP Grass
- Hurricane/Solarbeam/U-Turn

            Even though Volcarona has one of the mightiest Special Attack stats in the OU metagame, a Choice Specs is rarely, if ever, seen. This may be due to the fact that one Quiver Dance alone gives it the equivalent of a Choice Specs and Choice Scarf boost, meaning it might not see too much of a need to be locked into one move only. Another reason for this may also be Volcarona’s Stealth Rock weakness. With Specs, it loses out on potential recovery from Leftovers or Morning Sun, meaning its switch-in capabilities are inalterably confined here. For these reasons, Rapid Spin support is almost a necessity with this set, as it will allow Volcarona to flourish more completely, and with its already high Speed, it can function as a late-game sweeper/moderately fast revenge killer with its powerful movepool.
            Fiery Dance is awesome to have on this set, especially due to the fact that many opponents will suspect you to be a standard QD set, and perhaps attempt to Taunt you. This means you can fire off a Dance, possibly receive an additional +1 Special Attack, and continue to wreck whatever else your opponent sends in to counter you. I personally like this set all the more because of its unpredictability, and it can score a few notable kills that Volcarona might not otherwise see through.

  1. VolcaResto
160 HP/252 Sp.Atk/96 Spe
Modest @ Chesto Berry
-Quiver Dance
-Fiery Dance
-Bug Buzz

            Because of its excellent stat spread and exceptional boosting move in Quiver Dance, Volcarona is an ideal user of the Chesto-Resto strategy, where it boosts up as much as conceivably possible, then proceeds to recover off ALL acquitted damage and status inflictions with a Rest. By being asleep with Rest, Volc’s Chesto Berry will then activate, immediately waking it up and allowing for it to either continue setting up, or begin to sweep.
            The given EVs to this set provide maximum offensive power, along with as much bulk as possible, with a Speed stat (260) capable of  outspeeding notable things like Gliscor, Skarmory,  and even Scizor, so that you are then able to act accordingly. This also outspeeds Special Wall Jirachi, who might otherwise be scared out due to a prospective Fiery Dance or burn rate from Flame Body. I would try to get this set in mid to late game, when you already know a majority of the opponent’s sets, and have possibly idealized your position by removing certain threats. This way, you will know what you are up against precisely, and can effectively attack or setup while your opponent worries about how to handle you. Obviously, removal and/or prevention of Stealth Rocks is needed for this set, as otherwise Volcarona’s setup and sweep capabilities will be diminished greatly, and you will very unlikely get up even one QD. Another threat to this set is opposing Sleep moves (Spore, Sleep Powder, etc) and fast Taunters. The former, while rare, is quite predictable, and is probably better to use something else on your team as Sleep Fodder, lest Volcarona’s Chesto Berry be used prematurely. As for the fast Taunters, the majority of these (bar some Prankser users) are typically very fragile, and can thereby be dealt with by another one of your team members.

  1. Choice Scarf
252 Sp.Atk/6 Sp.Def/252 Spe
Timid or Modest @ Choice Scarf
-Fiery Dance/Flamethrower/Fire Blast 
-Bug Buzz
-HP Ground/HP Grass
- Hurricane/Solarbeam/U-Turn

            This set shouldn’t need too much explanation, as it functions as a quicker version of the Specs set. Fiery Dance is the most optimal move here, as by boosting Volcarona’s Sp.Atk, in tandem with the Choice Scarf Speed increase, you may turn into an excellent Revenge/Sweeper, as long as certain things like Heatran and Dragonite are out of the way. Otherwise, if you can deal with those two, and anything else that walls the set (particularly Fiery Dance), you can have a great time disposing of your opponents in a quick, probably painful, manner.

            Conclusion: There really is nothing quite like Volcarona. It cannot be compared to other Quiver Dancers, as it very easily outclasses them. Its role in the new metagame as one of the most dominant Special Sweepers remains strong, and although it retains one of the most crippling entry-hazard weaknesses in the entire game (weak to all 3 types of hazards!) its pros very easily outweigh the cons, and its generous enough movepool and required team support are ideal in overcoming these. You could say it is one of the most blessed Pokemon in BW OU, possessing several tools that allow it to follow through with its flaming wrath of destruction. Volcarona is overall a solid threat in the current metagame, and will likely remain so for a very long time to come.

Competitive Usability: 8.5 out of 10 

I think Volcarona is pretty cool as far as design goes. As a new Bug-type threat it is generally original, and though we’ve seen several Moth Pokemon before now, its unique secondary Fire typing really does shine through an orange and red fade of the wings. I also like the contrast presented in the light blue sides of its underbody, and the shimmering diamond-blue eyes that seem to pierce coldly into the hearts of its opponents, while the rest of it burns radiantly around. I like this Pokemon’s design, even though I feel a little worn out in the whole Moth department.  

Aesthetic Design: 8 out of 10


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