I will burn my dread
From the outside looking in, Fire-Type Pokemon can be a bit deceptive. The image of fire evokes a strong Pokemon with destructive forces, yet you shouldn’t worry about a Fire-Type’s offense. Rather, you should worry about its defense.
The Fire-Type is the second-most defensive Type in the franchise. It sports an incredible six resistances, ranging from the prominent Fairy-Type to the defensive powerhouse Steel-Type. Yet make no mistake, Fire-Type Pokemon are still capable of notable offense as well. Four Types take super effective damage against the Fire-Type, once again including the Steel-Type and the aggressive Ice-Type.
On paper, this combination of offense and defense should make the Fire-Type one of the deadliest Types in Pokemon. That said, once you really look at the average Fire-Type’s capabilities, you’ll see some glaring weaknesses that you can exploit. Here are some tips to help you counter any Fire-Types you’re up against.
Pick the Types that counter it best
Of all the types in the game, two reign supreme in countering Fire-Types: Rock and Water.
These are the only Types that resist Fire-Type attacks and deal Super Effective damage in return. Ground-Type Pokemon can also deal Super Effective damage, but they lack the native resistance to Fire that Rock and Water have. Having said that, if you’re using a Pokemon with a hybrid Typing, take both its Types into account when determining its ability to counter Fire-Types. For example, Cloyster isn’t a preferable pick despite its Water-Typing, as its Ice-Type nullifies its resistance to Fire-Type attacks. Meanwhile, Garchomp can deal incredible damage with Earthquake while resisting incoming attacks thanks to its Dragon-Typing.
For clearing the main game, Rock, Water, or Ground-Type Pokemon will all suffice. That said, if you’re dipping into competitive play, you’ll want to consider the potential counterplays. Pokemon like Charizard and Arcanine can learn Solar Beam, a Grass-Type attack that deals Super Effective damage to Fire’s counters. What’s more, Solar Beam doesn’t need a turn to charge up if Sunny Day is active, which already is used to boost Fire-Type attacks. Also consider your opponent’s potential to terastalize into a different Type to block any Super Effective attacks you throw at it. If a Fire-Type Pokemon has a secondary type, such as Armarouge, you may be better off targeting its secondary type. Just keep your opponent’s strategy in mind and prevent them from exploiting any of your Pokemon’s weaknesses.
The Burn conundrum
When facing Fire-Type Pokemon, there’s a notable elephant in the room you need to consider: Burn.
As you likely know, the Burn status condition will slowly chip away at your Pokemon’s health. Unfortunately, it will also cut the power of all your Pokemon’s physical moves in half. This can be a huge problem for Fire’s counters. Earthquake is far and away the strongest Ground-Type move, yet it is a physical attack. Rock-Types are almost exclusively physical attackers, as Ancient Power is the only notable Rock-Type Special Attack. Even Water-Types alternate between Physical and Special attackers, with notable Pokemon like Quaquaval prioritizing the Attack stat.
In other words, one use of Will-O-Wisp from a Fire-Type Pokemon will severely cut your Pokemon’s offense. That said, there are some notable counterplays. First, Special Attackers can shrug off Burn easily. They’ll still take chip damage, of course, but that’s manageable without the loss of offense. Second, some abilities turn the Burn condition into a positive effect. Drifblim’s hidden ability Flare Boost is one such example, as it dramatically raises Drifblim’s Special Attack after a burn is inflicted. If you can correctly predict when your opponent will inflict Burn, switching in to a Pokemon like Drifblim can dramatically turn the tide of battle.
Alternatively, your best play could simply be to KO your enemy before it can cripple you. After one Swords Dance, a Garchomp can outspeed Armarouge and score a KO with Earthquake. Simple counters like this leave you more room to check other competitive threats, just be mindful if your team is routinely crippled by opponents who use burn strategies on you.
Aside from the Burn status effect, there are several moves and abilities that directly interact with enemy Fire-Type Pokemon.
The most obvious move to talk about is Rain Dance. This weather effect is typically used to strengthen teams of Water-Type Pokemon, as Rain Dance boosts Water-Type attacks by 50% while its active. That said, it also reduces the damage of Fire-Type attacks by 50% as well. This gives you a defense option to shutdown an enemy Fire-Type that can be deployed before it even hits the field. Rain Dance can also cancel other weather effects on the field, making it a strong counter to an enemy that uses Sunny Day. Keep in mind that the moves Thunder and Hurricane have 100% accuracy during rain, which your opponent may abuse if given the opportunity.
Furthermore, there are abilities that effectively give Pokemon Fire-Type resistance regardless of their own typing. Thick Fat halves incoming damage from incoming Fire and Ice-Type attacks, which is handy for Pokemon like Appletun who would otherwise take neutral damage from these moves. Dachsbun’s signature ability Well-Baked Body is another intriguing example, as it completely nullifies Fire-Type attacks and increases its Defense by two stages if a Fire-Type attack is used on it. No Type has native immunity to Fire, which gives Pokemon like Dachsbun a unique niche if you can make its movepool work to your advantage.
Find your strategy
There is no best answer to countering Fire-Type Pokemon. Every monster and every team is different, a strategy that shut down one team may struggle against another set-up with identical Pokemon. Again, for the main story, you don’t have to worry about any of this. Just use those Rock and Water-Type monsters to your advantage, and feel free to get a Ground-Type working for you as well.
Understanding the unique properties of Fire-Type Pokemon is essential to becoming a master Pokemon battler. Remember, if there’s a strategy that consistently works to shut down your team, feel free to try it out yourself! Either you’ll enjoy victory after victory, or you’ll quickly discover the best counterplay you should have been using. Best of luck battling!