VGC18 Pokémon Analysis – Volcarona

Written by Zac Emerzian

Pokemon Showdown! January Rankings – 
Unweighted: 26th (6.47749%)
1500: 22nd (7.23836%)
1630: 20th (8.22456%)
1760: 25th (6.73196%)

 

Everyone’s favorite fire moth has returned to VGC. However, now more than ever, Volcarona finds stiff competition in the Fire Pokemon department. Much of the Heat Wave spamming limelight was taken by Mega Charizard-Y when X and Y rolled around, and now Incineroar is further encroaching on its spot as a premier Fire-type Pokemon.

That said, Volcarona is still a force to be reckoned with. Now that Lum Berry has fallen by the wayside, Volcarona has room to benefit greatly from the two biggest item changes in the 7th generation. The advent of Z-Moves gives Volcarona incredible offensive power that Charizard-Y cannot achieve without crippling itself with Overheat. Volcarona can also capitalize on its respectable bulk and hold a pinch berry in order for it to boost more or prolong its sweep.

Volcarona’s unique typing, excellent stat line, flexible item choice, and great movepool ensure that players will always be able to find uses for the incinerating insect.

Notable Moves

  • Quiver Dance – As the single best boosting move that isn’t a Z-move or Geomancy, Quiver Dance is a big reason to run Volcarona.  The boosts to Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed all augment Volcarona’s strongest stats. It’s Volcarona’s superb stats and offensive coverage that allow it to abuse Quiver Dance better than its Bug-type brethren.
  • Heat Wave – The strong STAB spread move of Heat Wave also distinguishes Volcarona as a better sweeper than other bugs.  Heat Wave allows for consistent damage without having to worry about attacking into a Protect and wasting a turn.
  • Flamethrower – Heat Wave suffers from imperfect accuracy and spread damage reduction, so Flamethrower acts as a more consistent option.  It does lose the ability to pressure damage on both slots however.
  • Protect – A VGC staple.  Volcarona enjoys being able to Protect itself from Rock Slide.
  • Overheat – Overheat is a much stronger Fire-type STAB option that works better on a bulkier support Volcarona since the two stages of Special Attack reduction can hamper a potential sweep.  It makes for one incredibly strong Inferno Overdrive.
  • Fiery Dance – Volcarona’s signature move is an odd one. It’s base power is comparable to Flamethrower, 80 instead of 90, but it trades the 10% chance to burn for a 50% chance to increase Volcarona’s Special Attack.  While the least used of its Fire-type options, Fiery Dance can make its way on to both offensive or supportive Volcarona sets.
  • Bug Buzz – The go-to Bug STAB option.  However, since the introduction of Fairy-types, Bug-type coverage has lost some of its offensive prowess.  Bug Buzz is no longer mandatory on offensive sets, merely one of the options.
  • Giga Drain – Where Bug Buzz’s popularity has fallen, Giga Drain’s has risen.  Just like how Charizard-Y often carry Solar Beam to remove the Water and Rock-types that resist its Heat Waves, Volcarona can run Giga Drain to do the same.  Volcarona also appreciates the added recovery and potential Grassy Terrain boost.
  • Hidden Power Ice – Ice coverage alongside the speed advantage can help Volcarona beat two of its biggest threats, Landorus-T and Mega Salamence.
  • Rage Powder – One of the other reasons to use Volcarona is for its access to the coveted Rage Powder.  The redirection allows Volcarona to fill more of a support role and help its allies set up. Rage Powder synergizes with Volcarona’s Fire-type, as the Grass-types that are immune to the effects of Rage Powder can be hit hard by its strong Fire-type moves.  Flame Body also works well with Rage Powder; Volcarona can redirect contact moves from the likes of Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Metagross and put that 30% burn chance to use.
  • Tailwind – A great option on supportive sets.  Since they often forgo Quiver Dance, the speed boost provided by Tailwind can ensure that Volcarona and its partners can outspeed the enemy.
  • Roost – A more fringe option on the likes of supportive Volcarona.  The reliable recovery can allow Volcarona to redirect more attacks away from a sweeper.
  • Will-o-Wisp – Another option for a support Volcarona, Will-o-Wisp can cripple physical attackers and shores up Volcarona’s weaker Defense stat.
  • Hurricane – An interesting option if your team has a rain mode.  Z-Hurricane is also a great Kommo-o answer.
  • Whirlwind – This is an option if you really want to stop Trick Room or Belly Drum.  Whirlwind works better on a more supportive Volcarona.

Notable Items

  • Firium Z – The incredible fire power of an Inferno Overdrive at an increased stage of special attack can significantly chunk or KO would-be counters to Volcarona.
  • Pinch Berry – The go-to item on bulkier support Volcarona as it allows it to stick around longer.  A pinch berry is also a good option on an offensive Quiver Dance set as the effective added bulk can help Volcarona set up or maintain a sweep.
  • Choice Scarf – Whereas typical Volcarona sets need a turn to set up a Quiver Dance, Choice Scarf allows Volcarona to exert immediate offensive pressure with its raw power and excellent coverage.

Sample Sets

Set 1: Offensive Quiver Dance
Volcarona @ Firium Z
Ability: Flame Body
Level: 50
EVs: 20 HP / 52 Def / 212 SpA / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Giga Drain / Bug Buzz / Overheat
– Quiver Dance
– Proect

Offensive Calcs
  • +1 212+ SpA Volcarona Giga Drain vs. 252 HP / 44+ SpD Tapu Fini: 100-118 (56.4 – 66.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (100, 100, 102, 102, 104, 106, 106, 108, 108, 110, 112, 112, 114, 114, 116, 118)
  • +1 212+ SpA Volcarona Inferno Overdrive (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T: 198-234 (101 – 119.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (198, 201, 202, 205, 207, 210, 211, 214, 217, 219, 222, 223, 226, 228, 231, 234)
  • +1 212+ SpA Volcarona Bug Buzz vs. 252 HP / 244+ SpD Gothitelle: 174-206 (98.3 – 116.3%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
    (174, 176, 180, 180, 182, 186, 186, 188, 192, 192, 194, 198, 198, 200, 204, 206)
  • +1 212+ SpA Volcarona Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Metagross: 186-218 (119.2 – 139.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (186, 186, 188, 192, 192, 194, 198, 200, 200, 204, 206, 210, 210, 212, 216, 218)
Defensive Calcs
  • -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 20 HP / 52 Def Volcarona: 136-160 (83.4 – 98.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (136, 136, 136, 140, 140, 144, 144, 144, 148, 148, 152, 152, 152, 156, 156, 160)
  • -1 252 Atk Mold Breaker Mega Gyarados Waterfall vs. 20 HP / 52 Def Volcarona: 134-162 (82.2 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (134, 138, 138, 140, 144, 144, 146, 146, 150, 150, 152, 152, 156, 156, 158, 162)
  • 252+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 20 HP / 52 Def Volcarona: 135-160 (82.8 – 98.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (135, 138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 145, 147, 148, 150, 151, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160)
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. +1 20 HP / 4 SpD Volcarona in Electric Terrain: 115-136 (70.5 – 83.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (115, 117, 118, 120, 120, 121, 123, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130, 132, 133, 135, 136)
With this offensive spread, Volcarona can potentially sweep through teams after setting up a Quiver Dance. Firium Z lets Volcarona fire off a powerful single target Fire-type attack when Heat Wave damage won’t cut it. The coverage move of choice usually comes down to Giga Drain or Bug Buzz. Giga Drain generally provides more useful coverage, but the increased power of Bug Buzz can be good, especially if you want to hit Psychic-types like Cresselia or Gothitelle harder. Overheat is an option if you don’t need any coverage move and want a really strong Inferno Overdrive. The speed stat ensures that you outspeed Modest Scarf Tapu Lele and Adamant Scarf Landorus after one Quiver Dance boost.

Set 2: Scarf Volcarona
Volcarona @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Flame Body
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 28 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave / Fiery Dance / Flamethrower
– Overheat
– Giga Drain / Bug Buzz
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Bug Buzz / Rage Powder

Offensive Calcs
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Hidden Power Ice vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 172-204 (101.1 – 120%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (172, 172, 176, 176, 180, 180, 184, 184, 188, 188, 192, 192, 196, 196, 200, 204)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Hidden Power Ice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 188-224 (113.9 – 135.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (188, 192, 192, 196, 196, 200, 200, 204, 208, 208, 212, 212, 216, 216, 220, 224)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Bug Buzz vs. 220 HP / 92+ SpD Cresselia: 116-140 (52 – 62.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (116, 120, 120, 122, 122, 126, 126, 128, 128, 132, 132, 134, 134, 138, 138, 140)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Heat Wave vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Amoonguss: 116-138 (52.4 – 62.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (116, 116, 120, 120, 120, 122, 122, 126, 126, 128, 128, 132, 132, 134, 134, 138)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Bulu: 182-216 (102.8 – 122%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (182, 182, 186, 188, 192, 192, 194, 198, 198, 200, 204, 206, 206, 210, 212, 216)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Metagross: 162-192 (103.8 – 123%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (162, 164, 164, 168, 168, 170, 174, 174, 176, 180, 180, 182, 186, 186, 188, 192)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Overheat vs. 252 HP / 252 SpD Amoonguss: 228-270 (103.1 – 122.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (228, 230, 234, 236, 240, 242, 242, 246, 248, 252, 254, 258, 260, 264, 266, 270)
  • 252+ SpA Volcarona Overheat vs. 180 HP / 148+ SpD Celesteela: 198-234 (101.5 – 120%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (198, 200, 200, 204, 206, 210, 210, 212, 216, 218, 222, 222, 224, 228, 230, 234)
Defensive Calcs
  • -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 4 HP / 28 Def Volcarona: 136-164 (84.4 – 101.8%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
    (136, 140, 140, 144, 144, 144, 148, 148, 152, 152, 152, 156, 156, 160, 160, 164)
  • 252 SpA Choice Specs Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Volcarona in Electric Terrain: 135-159 (83.8 – 98.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (135, 136, 138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 145, 147, 148, 150, 151, 153, 154, 156, 159)
This Volcarona is meant to outspeed most things and deal significant damage with one of its coverage moves. The moveset is very much team dependent. Either way, you’ll likely want some consistent Fire-type attack. Take your pick of spread damage, a burn chance and more damage, or the ability to potentially snowball with a Special Attack boost or two. The significant damage output of Overheat makes it really hard to pass up on a set like this, where you usually want switch out after an attack anyway. Hidden Power Ice can make a lot of sense as well since you can outspeed and KO many Landorus-T and Mega Salamence. You’ll usually want at least one of Giga Drain or Bug Buzz due to the solid coverage they provide. Rage Powder can be an interesting last slot since redirection can be a powerful option when Volcarona is not in a position to dish out damage. Like the Quiver Dance Volcarona set, this one outspeeds Scarf Landorus-T and Scarf Tapu Lele automatically thanks to its Choice Scarf.

Set 3: BULKarona
Volcarona @ Mago Berry
Ability: Flame Body
Level: 50
EVs: 228 HP / 228 Def / 4 SpA / 44 SpD / 4 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Overheat / Fiery Dance
– Tailwind / Giga Drain
– Rage Powder
– Protect

Offensive Calcs
  • 4 SpA Volcarona Overheat vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Metagross: 176-210 (112.8 – 134.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (176, 180, 180, 182, 186, 188, 188, 192, 194, 194, 198, 200, 200, 204, 206, 210)
  • 4 SpA Volcarona Overheat vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Amoonguss: 228-270 (103.1 – 122.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
    (228, 230, 234, 236, 240, 242, 242, 246, 248, 252, 254, 258, 260, 264, 266, 270)
Defensive Calcs
  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 228 HP / 228 Def Volcarona: 160-192 (84.6 – 101.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
    (160, 164, 164, 168, 168, 172, 172, 176, 176, 180, 180, 184, 184, 188, 188, 192)
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 228 HP / 44+ SpD Volcarona in Electric Terrain: 153-180 (80.9 – 95.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (153, 154, 156, 157, 159, 162, 163, 165, 166, 168, 171, 172, 174, 175, 177, 180)
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 228 HP / 44+ SpD Volcarona: 136-162 (71.9 – 85.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (136, 138, 139, 142, 144, 145, 147, 148, 150, 151, 153, 154, 156, 157, 159, 162)
  • 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Zen Headbutt vs. 228 HP / 228 Def Volcarona in Psychic Terrain: 153-181 (80.9 – 95.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    (153, 156, 157, 159, 160, 162, 165, 166, 168, 169, 171, 174, 175, 177, 178, 181)
  • 252 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 228 HP / 44+ SpD Volcarona in Sun: 160-190 (84.6 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
    (160, 163, 165, 166, 169, 171, 172, 174, 177, 178, 180, 181, 184, 186, 187, 190)
Since this Volcarona is primarily meant to support the team through redirection, bulk is critical. Protect and Rage Powder are essential, but you can pick either Overheat and Tailwind or Fiery Dance and Giga Drain. Overheat lets this set retain more immediate offensive pressure, if only for one attack, which gives you room to run Tailwind for more team support. Fiery Dance and Giga Drain are more passive, but if you get a Special Attack boost from Fiery Dance Volcarona is much more threatening, since at +1 Giga Drain can chunk even bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini and help Volcarona survive even longer.

Partners and Cores

Between Quiver Dance sets, Rage Powder sets, and Scarf sets, Volcarona can be built around or be just the thing you need when team building.  As such, it has found itself on many different types of teams. These are some of the many cores/partners that Volcarona can be a part of. They are divided into the three different archetypical sets since their roles vary significantly.

Quiver Dance Partners

  • Volcarona + Hitmontop: Good old Top-Moth is still an option, and the synergy between these two Pokemon is really quite remarkable.  Fake Out can buy Volcarona a turn to set up a Quiver Dance, Intimidate bolsters Volcarona’s lackluster Defense stat, and Hitmontop can also use Wide Guard to protect Volcarona from the dreaded Rock Slide.  Close Combat from Hitmontop can also remove troublesome Pokemon like Tyranitar, Heatran, and Incineroar, while a Rock Slide or Stone Edge can be teched on to help beat Mega Charizard-Y. While old, this combo is not to be underestimated.
  • Volcarona + Mega Kangaskhan: A more modern take on the Top-Moth combo.  What Mega Kangaskhan loses in supportive options it makes up for in raw power.  Fake Out is still there to help Volcarona set up a Quiver Dance and Kangaskhan’s Low Kick and Ice Punch can clear the field of Tyranitar, Incineroar, Heatran, Mega Salamence, and Landorus-T.  This pairing can provide a team with a Mega Evolution and Z-Move in one strong package.
  • Volcarona + Oricorio: Now that Volcarona is back in the format, Dance Dance Revelation is better than ever.  As the best Quiver Dance user, Volcarona is an excellent partner for Oricorio. Since Volcarona provides Fire coverage, Pom-pom Oricorio’s Electric-type Revelation Dance is usually the best form to use.  Electric, Fire, and Flying (with Oricorio’s Z-Hurricane) coverage is too good to pass up and can win games if you can set it properly.
  • Volcarona + Aerodactyl: Thanks to Mega Aerodactyl’s blistering 150 base speed, it can Sky Drop a threat while Volcarona Quiver Dances.  You can make the speed stats so that Volcarona will still underspeed Aerodactyl after a Quiver Dance, so Volcarona can Firium Z to finish off the threat after being released by the Sky Drop.  Beyond that set up strategy, this combo can also deal strong and fast spread damage with Heat Wave and Rock Slide. Aerodactyl also has tech moves like Iron Head, Ice Fang, and Sunny Day to further improve the offense of this pair.  Taunt, Whirlwind, and Wide Guard can stop potential issues like Rock Slide and Trick Room.
  • Volcarona + Sand: The offensive pressure of the typical sand core of Tyranitar and Excadrill can give Volcarona a chance to set up a Quiver Dance and continue exerting pressure.  A Scarf set can also be used to keep the offense coming. The coverage provided by Heat Wave and Giga Drain supplements the sand core by being able to better handle bulky Steel, Grass, and Water-types.

Rage Powder Cores

  • Volcarona + Azumarill/Linoone/Tyranitar/Mega Salamence: Volcarona’s Rage Powder sets can best help strong setup Pokemon, like Belly Drum Azumarill or Linoone and Dragon Dance Mega Salamence or Tyranitar (Mega or regular).  These setup Pokemon generally have trouble with physically bulky Grass or Steel-types, like Kartana, Aegislash, or Amoonguss, so Volcarona’s Fire-type coverage can remove these roadblocks.

Choice Scarf Cores

  • Volcarona + Sand: This is same idea as pairing Quiver Dance Volcarona with Tyranitar and Excadrill.  The coverage that Scarf Volcarona provides with Overheat, Giga Drain, and HP Ice can hit problematic Pokemon for the sand duo to go up against, like Landorus-T, Amoonguss, and Tapu Fini.

A solid team that makes great use of Quiver Dance Volcarona is Mr.GX’s team (on the Trainer Tower sample teams thread) of Suicune, Tapu Koko, Volcarona, Landorus-T, Ferrothorn, and Mega Kangaskhan.  Kangaskhan can use Fake Out to help Volcarona set up a Quiver Dance, Suicune can make sure Volcarona and the rest of the team have the speed advantage with Tailwind, Koko’s Taunt can stop Trick Room, and the Z-Move on Tapu Koko and Landorus can remove a threat to Volcarona while it sets up a Quiver Dance.  Ferrothorn completes the Fire-Water-Grass Core, improves the Trick Room matchup, and adds to the bulk of team.

Here are a few more teams that make use of the molten moth:

  • A Sand Team that features a bulky Quiver Dance Volcarona by Hang can be found here.
  • Ujimatsuchiya make a somewhat stardardish team featuring Scarf Volcarona, here.
  • Tman’s infamous Linoone Team is a great use of Rage Powder Volcarona.

Threats

Volcarona’s great strengths are matched with equally great weaknesses.  More than other Pokemon, Volcarona needs team support to function, else it will get swatted.  As such, Volcarona relies on its allies to remove its threats. In the past, Volcarona feared paralysis crippling its sweep.  However, now that Thunder Wave (and paralysis in general) has vanished from the metagame, Volcarona only has to fear bad type matchups, other forms of speed control, and random Rock Slides.  Oh, and rain. Volcarona doesn’t appreciate rain.

Bad Type Matchups – Volcarona struggles with opposing Fire-types since they can usually hit it harder thanks to Volcarona not resisting Fire.  Beyond that, Water and Rock-types that can shrug off Giga Drain spell trouble since they can fire back with super effective hits.  Dragon-types that aren’t four times weak to Ice can also wall Volcarona fairly well.

  • Heatran
  • Charizard (X or Y)
  • Incineroar
  • Blaziken
  • Gyarados (not mega)
  • Tyranitar (regular and mega)
  • Nihilego
  • Kommo-o
  • Mega Salamence

Speed Control – Trick Room, Icy Wind, and opposing Tailwind can all rob Volcarona of the speed advantage it craves to pick up knockouts on threatening Pokemon.

  • Cresselia
  • Mimikyu
  • Gothitelle
  • Porygon2
  • Mega Gardevoir
  • Politoed
  • Milotic
  • Suicune
  • Zapdos
  • Mega Salamence
  • Whimsicott

Rain – While Volcarona can hit fairly hard with Giga Drain and Bug Buzz and remove the common Steel-types, it is still hard to bring Volcarona to the rain matchup.

  • Ludicolo
  • Pelipper
  • Politoed
  • Mega Swampert
  • Kingdra

Alternative Options

Alternates are hard to find for Volcarona.  It’s pretty much the only boosting Fire-type aside from unconventional picks like Nasty Plot Houndoom and Calm Mind Chandelure; though the Rage Powder and Scarf sets have more obvious alternatives.

Special Fire-types

  • Mega Charizard Y
  • Heatran
  • Mega Camerupt
  • Blaziken
  • Rotom-Heat
  • Mega Houndoom (if you’re feeling bold)
  • Moltres

Redirectors

  • Togekiss
  • Clefairy
  • Lucario
  • Amoonguss
  • Vivillon
  • Parasect

Choice Scarf Fire Sweepers

  • Blacephalon
  • Chandelure
  • Entei
  • Rotom-Heat
  • Heatran

Conclusion

Volcarona’s prospects don’t look especially bright at the moment.  With the release of Intimidate Incineroar, the competition for Fire-type Pokemon has grown fiercer.  However, Volcarona has a respectable VGC pedigree and has lived through a lot. It has been a notable threat in every format in which it has been legal, even making top 8 at Worlds in 2013, 2015, and 2016.  While Volcarona has certainly seen better days, it still performs well in a number of unique niches that will likely keep it relevant for the foreseeable future.

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