It’s a May heat wave, with the just-announced Fennekin Community Day, but also with the LONG-awaited arrival (basically NOW) of VOLCARONA in GO. How does this hot bug shape up in PvP? Well, first we can summarize that in our Bottom Line Up Front….
- Volcarona looks nice in theory, but unfortunately mostly pales in comparison to other Fires that have risen over time. Keep in mind the buffs to Charizard, Ho-Oh, and many others (Incinerate, Ember, etc.) that have taken place since Volcarona was first added to the Gamemaster 3+ years ago!
- It has more than enough size to burst onto the Master League scene, but looks unlikely to offer anything that, say, Ho-Oh doesn’t already do better… with current moves, at least.
- In lower Leagues, Volcarona’s shaky bulk and vulnerabilities to Water, Flying, and other types hold it back even further.
- That COULD change with a little move tweaking. For example, the addition of the JUST-announced Mystical Fire could shake things up nicely!
- Larvesta MAY be a more worthy investment, but obviously only in the lowest of Leagues.
Alright, now for the deeper dive….
VOLCARONA Stats and MovesVolcarona BugFire
Great League Stats
|139 (139 High Stat Product)||105 (104 High Stat Product)||109 (112 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-9-15, 1499 CP, Level 15.5)
Ultra League Stats
|180 (178 High Stat Product)||134 (138 High Stat Product)||142 (143 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-14, 2498 CP, Level 25.5)
Master League Stats
|234 (236 at Level 51)||171 (172 at Level 51)||178 (180 at Level 51)|
(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs, CP 4106 at Level 50, 4155 at Level 51)
Good news first: Bug/Fire is an overall favorable defensive typing, with literally twice as many resistances as it has weaknesses. Volcarona resists Bug, Fairy, Fighting, Ice, and Steel damage, and double resists Grass. It is left vulnerable to Water, Flying, and double weak to Rock. But still, some good stuff in there! Resisting Fairy AND Fighting is pretty rare, for one thing.
But the stats are… not ideal. In Great League, Volcarona’s stats and overall bulk are in the same zip code as Primeape, Greninja, Luxray, Ursaring, and Deoxys… the Speed Forme of Deoxys. It is very slightly bulkier than those, but only ever so slightly. That’s not fantastic company to be among. Its neighbors are similar in Ultra League, with things like Pinsir, Houndoom, Tapu Lele (the never-seen Psychic Lele), Staraptor, and Galvantula having roughly the same Attack, (lack of) bulk, and stat product. Yuck.
In Master League, the closest straight comp I can find is Galarian Zapdos, which has the exact same stat product but gets there with 10 less Attack tha Volcarona, about the same Defense, and 8 less HP. Perhaps a more familiar comparison is Dragonite, which has roughly the same Attack as Volca… but 8 more Defense and 10 more HP (and thus nearly 200 more CP and a Total Stat Product more than 700 greater than Volca).
- Fire Spin – Fire type, 3.0 DPT, 3.33 EPT, 1.5 CoolDown
- Bug Bite – Bug type, 3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 0.5 CD
So… so. Fire Spin is an above average move, at least, if not terribly exciting. Fire, of course, has its uses in PvP, burning through Steels, Ices, Grasses, and Bugs especially, but with the downside of being resisted by the numerous Waters and Dragons you’ll encounter in all three major Leagues (plus Rock types and other Fires). But Fire Spin, once regarded as the best Fire-type fast move, is quickly developing a reputation as being one you don’t want to be “stuck” with, with the rise of Incinerate and even Ember.
Speaking of Ember, not all that long ago it was basically a clone of Bug Bite, with the same perfectly average 3.0 Damage and Energy Per Turn. That can be fine, and there are certainly a number of very competitive Pokémon that run off of Bug Bite or one of its clones like Water Gun and Lick. (See: Forretress, Araquanid, Tapu Fini, Blastoise, Rainy Castform, Snorlax, Lickitung, etc.) But most of them have spammy charge moves and/or bulk to make up for its general slowness. Volcarona… well… does not.
- Overheat – Fire type, 130 damage, 55 energy, Reduces User Attack -2 Stages
- Bug Buzz – Bug type, 100 damage, 60 energy
- Hurricane – type, 110 damage, 65 energy
- Solar Beam – Grass type, 150 damage, 80 energy
Yeeeeeeah. So here we have a Pokémon with a flimsy frame, slow-ish energy generation, and now not a single charge move costing less than 55 energy (and that one debuffs Volcarona!). 🥵 It’s getting hot in here, and not for good reasons.
So the way the math works out, each Fire Spin generates 10 energy. That works great with 50-energy Blast Burn, like old-school, per-Wing Attack buff Charizard, but it’s kinda awkward with 55 energy moves like Overheat. Yes, you’ll reach the second one with one less Fire Spin thanks to the 5 leftover energy of getting to 60 energy with your first six Fire Spins, but uh… that’s if you even live that long. It doesn’t help that each subsequent Fire Spin will deal only about 70% of the damage it would have before debuffing yourself with Overheat.
Instead, you could just use it all up on 60-energy Bug Buzz, which deals roughly 30 less damage, but at least comes without a drawback. After that, though, we again get somewhat awkward, with Hurricane and its intriguing coverage costing 5 more energy, which means overcharging with another Fire Spin. And by then, twenty one turns will have passed, or 10.5 seconds of real time. In that same timeframe, Galarian Stunfisk can reach two Rock Slides, Charizard can reach two Dragon Claws, Swampert can reach two Hydro Cannons, (actually, those last two both happen as Fire Spin gets to a mere 60 energy)… you get the idea.
Bad bulk + average energy gains + 55 and up charge moves is just not a formula for success for a PvP Pokémon, but here we are.
You can probably guess that the numbers that result are… less than you’d hope.
So first off, you can’t even get Volcarona in Great League yet (well, not without shenanigans, at least), as a Hatch-level (Level 20) one will never, ever end up at 1500 CP or less. But when (if?) we finally get them in the wild, or even as in Research… it’s still not very good, even with #1 rank IVs. Yes yes, it’s obviously a nightmare for (most) Grass types, but folks, this is a Fire type that fails to torch the likes of Registeel, Skarmory, Trevenant, and Froslass, and a Bug that cannot normally defeat things like Defense Deoxys, Obstagoon, Scrafty, and others. Not to even mention that, more than any other League, super effective Water, Rock, and especially Flying damage are particularly prevalent in Great League (literally about half of the core meta), holding Volca way down.
So here’s the first League where you can actually deploy hatch-level Volcarona. Does it fare any better than it (theoretically, at this point) does in Great League?
Most of the wins are zero surprise: Grasses, double-weak-to-Fire Steely Bugs, a couple of Fairies, a couple Ices. (At least Walrein shows up now.) Registeel pops into the win column now, unlike Great League, so that’s nice. Buzzwole, Greedent, Cresselia… okay, nice. But that’s the end of it. This thing loses to Trevenant, Powder Snow Alolan Ninetales, the other notable Fires, of course all the big Dragons and Waters and Grounds and Poisons, and even all the notable Fighters (keeping in mind it resists Fighting damage… heck, even Steely Cobalion is a loss!) and Darks (which a good Bug should be able to beat). Heck, even friggin’ Heatran gets the same number of wins.
I want to like Volcarona in Ultra League… it’s such a cool design and the typing SHOULD be more interesting. It just can’t overcome its flaws. Something a little cheaper like Flame Charge would help a bit, but even that represents probably its best performance. It’s just too much to overcome, at least in CP-capped Leagues.
So what if we remove the CP cap and let Volca really stretch its wings?
Volcarona goes safely north of 4000 CP, close to things like Dragonite and Lugia and other big name ML competitors, and higher than stuff like Landorus, Hydreigon, Snorlax, Mamoswine, Gyarados and many others. Master League is where lack of bulk can be hidden the most as high CP ‘mons flex their full might, but does that work for Volcarona?
Once again… not all that well.
Fairies don’t want to see it, not even Zacian (and it CAN beat Xerneas as well if it goes double Overheat, and it does burn through the likes of Melmetal, Mamoswine, Zarude, and Metagross, and manages to also take down Snorlax and Yveltal, for what that’s worth. But nope… no Dialga. And don’t even me started on (again) all the Dragons and Waters and Grounds that bury it. Heck, not even scared-of-Bugs Mewtwo or Lugia have anything to fear. It’s a daunting, uphill climb of a meta to overcome, yet again. And Volcarona is just not equipped to make that climb.
Yet again, something like Flame Charge would help, but only to a limited degree. Mewtwo moves to the win column, as does the BIG get: Dialga. Finally. Still doesn’t really hold a candle to Ho-Oh, however.
Now it does look almost sorta viable in Master League Premier, but I mean, its wins (Fairies, Grasses, Ices, Steels) are exactly what you’d expect, and its losses (Waters, Grounds, Dragons) are as well. It does exactly nothing that is particularly special. Heck, you’re just as well off with something like a Charizard… MUCH easier to build, even the Shadow version.
…BUT WAIT! A MYSTICAL FIRE BURNS! 🔥
Just as I’m getting ready to finally push this article out, here comes news that Fennekin Community Day is coming, and not just with the expected Blast Burn, but also a 60-damage, opponent Attack nerfing new move Mystical Fire. (Three cheers for procrastination paying off… woot woot!) And yes, Volcarona can learn it, giving it potentially just the spammy AND life-extending move it needs. I say “potentially” because we don’t know that Niantic has any intentions of actually giving it to Volcarona (or anything other than Delphox), and following past precedent, it’s actually likely it will be limited to Delphox for at least a while. We also do not know the cost, as Niantic has long ago taken up the frustrating practice of releasing damage OR energy cost of upcoming moves, but never both together. Until the good PokeMiners find it (or it goes live in New Zealand… whichever comes first), we’re left to guess. But PvPoke has already made a reasonable assumption that it will cost 45 energy, which would make it a clone in energy, damage, and debuff to Icy Wind and Lunge. Seems a safe guess. And how about that? If Volcarona got that kind of move, suddenly we’d be cooking with gas! 🔥 Same in ML Premier and even back down in Ultra League! Keep your fingers crossed, folks. There may be some life in those dying embers after all.
Almost forgot about it, but yeah… LARVESTA itself has some usage on its own, and CAN, of course, be built under 1500 CP even from hatch size. It actually has to be pushed at least somewhat into XL territory to really work in Great League, a daunting prospect that also takes regular candy away from the 400 you need to evolve a Volca in the first place.
Larvesta lacks Fire Spin, but instead sports Ember, which these days deals 3.5 DPT, but generates only the average 3.0 EPT. It also lacks Overheat, but instead has the Flame Charge I kept pining for for Volcarona, a move which deals only 65 damage for 50 energy, but at least comes cheaper than other charge moves AND buffs Larvesta’s Attack stat.
Now at the end of the day, it still has the same bulk and typing issues as Volcarona, and struggles similarly in Great League, though at least it can outright beat Registeel, Froslass, Trevenant, and Lickitung, great pickups that more than make up for the Mandibuzz and Umbreon that Volcarona and its big Overheat can overcome instead.
Honestly though, it’s more likely to possibly make an impact in Little League, where it can best Galarian Stunfisk, Chansey, Walrein, Toxicroak, and of course, a score of Grasses, Ices, Bugs, and Steels… though frustratingly, not Bronzor. (I HATE that guy!)
With current moves? Nah, Volcarona doesn’t really have it. It needs a cheaper charge move like Flame Charge or, likely best case scenario, Mystical Fire to emerge. Could it happen? Absolutely. WILL it? Hopefully Niantic doesn’t just save that for a 2024 Community Day….
Alright, that’s it for today! Sorry this one took a while. but still on time, right? Whew.
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon.
Good hunting! Stay safe out there, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!