Cacnea is a truly amazing Pokemon with sandstorm set up, thanks to its ability, Sand Veil. It's the only Pokemon in Little Cup that is immune to the effects of sandstorm that isn't a Rock-, Ground-, or Steel-type and isn't named Cleffa. Not only that, but Cacnea can become one of the most threatening Swords Dance sweepers in LC, as it boasts the strongest priority move in the game (tying with ExtremeSpeed), Sucker Punch, and has a solid movepool to back it up. Unfortunately, that's where the praise is cut short. Cacnea is really hindered by its low Speed and frail defenses. What really hurts it is not sharing a Dark-type to have a STAB Sucker Punch, unlike its evolution, Cacturne. Aside from this, its ability is only useful if it is used on the same team as Hippopotas, meaning you're forced to use up a team slot to take advantage of it.
Through it all, Cacnea still comes out as a worthwhile Pokemon, and is a potent threat, with a good helping of prediction and a side of luck. Consider using it if you need a good Grass-type with priority and already have sleep support on a teammate, or if you are using Hippopotas. If you don't already have sleep support on a teammate, Cacnea's role is somewhat challenged by Bellsprout, who has slightly less power, but has access to the ever useful Sleep Powder. They do have separate abilities and typing that set them apart, however. All in all, Cacnea is a solid Grass-type Pokemon who can pull off a few interesting roles.
Cacnea is one of the most threatening Swords Dance sweepers in LC since it has access to Sucker Punch, the strongest priority move in the game. After one Swords Dance, Cacnea's already great Attack stat is boosted to a sky-high 38, allowing it to fire off deadly attacks that can OHKO many LC Pokemon.
Sucker Punch should never to be underestimated even without the STAB boost; Cacnea has two other options to choose from for the third slot: Focus Punch and Seed Bomb. The choice of secondary attacking move is dependent on your final move. If you select Substitute then Focus Punch is the preferred move as it is more powerful and provides better coverage than Seed Bomb, and it gives Cacnea a shield to ensure Focus Punch hits. It's also very helpful should your opponent try to out-stall Cacnea's Sucker Punch PP, as it gives you the perfect opportunity to set up Substitute. On the other hand, if you select Encore, then Seed Bomb should be used. This is because Encore doesn't provide a shield like Substitute does, so Focus Punch tends to be a riskier option. Swords Dance, Encore, and Sucker Punch are also a ridiculously good trio. If your opponent even thinks about stalling out Sucker Punch's PP, they'll be hit with Encore, easily giving you a free Swords Dance boost as they are forced to switch out. If they attempt to avoid Encore by attacking, they will be hit by Sucker Punch. Either way, Cacnea is always going to be in a win-win situation with either Substitute or Encore, so it's really up to personal preference.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While Cacnea is typically seen either running Swords Dance or Substitute and Focus Punch, this set is an excellent alternative, allowing Cacnea to make use of its remarkable Attack and Special Attack stats to dish out respectable amounts of damage to a number of Pokemon.
Sucker Punch is Cacnea's main attack, compensating for Cacnea's low base Speed and dealing a respectable amount of damage to most Pokemon. Brick Break provides excellent coverage alongside Sucker Punch, hitting Munchlax and Steel-types, such as Aron and Shieldon. The choice between Seed Bomb or Energy Ball depends if you'd rather hit physically weak pokemon such as Mantyke, or specially weak pokemon such as Gligar. If you have no preference, Energy Ball is the best choice as it has a 10% chance to lower the opponent's Special Defense by one stage. Hidden Power Ice is Cacnea's best way to dispose of Gligar, but Hidden Power Fire has better overall coverage and can strike Croagunk, who otherwise resists most of Cacnea's moves.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Cacnea's excellent offensive stats are often offset by its mediocre Speed. Luckily Cacnea can get 14 Speed, so with a Choice Scarf Cacnea becomes a potent revenge killer who can outpace all other non Choice Scarfed Pokemon.
Unlike the other sets, Dark Pulse is chosen over Sucker Punch, as Cacnea can reliably dispose of Pokemon such as non-Choice Scarf Gastly thanks to the increase in Speed. Brick Break is vital on this set as it hits Pokemon like Houndour who would otherwise wall this set. Brick Break also allows Cacnea to strike the likes of Munchlax and Steel-types such as Aron and Shieldon for super effective damage. Cacnea has two options for a STAB move: Needle Arm and Seed Bomb. Although Needle Arm has 20 less Base Power than Seed Bomb, it has a handy 30% chance to flinch your opponent. Hidden Power Ice is preferred over Hidden Power Fire in the last slot, as it allows Cacnea to strike the ever so common Gligar, who would otherwise stop Cacnea cold. However, Hidden Power Fire has the benefit of hitting Croagunk and Bronzor for super effective damage, making it decent option over Hidden Power Ice.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Cacnea can utilize Choice Band and Choice Specs to further boost its excellent offensive stats, allowing it to dish out an immense amount of damage to the majority of Pokemon. If you decide to run a Choice set, it comes down to power and coverage. Choice Band Cacnea has stronger attacks to work with then a Choice Specs set, as it can use physical attacking moves such as Brick Break, Sucker Punch, Return, and Seed Bomb to hit a variety of Pokemon for respectable damage. However, Choice Band Cacnea misses out on Hidden Power to broaden its range of attack types, and being locked into Sucker Punch gives the opponent a chance to set up. When using Choice Specs, Cacnea has access to moves such as Dark Pulse, Energy Ball, and a Hidden Power type of your choice. In general, it will be difficult to pull off a successful Choice Band or Specs set, ssince Cacnea's middling Speed and lackluster defenses will hinder its effectiveness greatly.
A combination of Destiny Bond, Endure, and Salac Berry can be used to great effectiveness. Even though it may be difficult to pull off, it's still a very threatening combination that can easily down one of your opponent's Pokemon. By mastering this strategy, it's almost guaranteed that Cacnea will be able to KO one or sometimes two of the opponent's Pokemon.
Cacnea can become a very potent special threat with Nasty Plot. It has access to strong moves such as Energy Ball and Dark Pulse, and it can definitely put the hurt on many Pokemon. However, Nasty Plot Cacnea is almost always going to be inferior to Swords Dance Cacnea. This is because Cacnea has much better physical attacks to abuse, including the ever so helpful Sucker Punch, while Cacnea only boasts Energy Ball, Dark Pulse, and Hidden Power for special attacks. That is not to say Cacnea can't use Nasty Plot though. With with Substitute and sandstorm support, Cacnea can inflict heavy damage upon its foes.
Another way Cacnea can utilize Nasty Plot is by using it with Sucker Punch. By using a mixed set with Nasty Plot, Energy Ball, Hidden Power Fire, and Sucker Punch, Cacnea can become a pretty dangerous sweeping force. Having access to an 80 Base Power priority move definitely helps against faster foes, while Energy Ball and Hidden Power Fire provide excellent coverage. The only reason this set is not seeing much usage is because Houndour and Croagunk generally outclass it with their own Nasty Plot mix sets, as they both have a STAB on their priority attacks and a better movepool to work with.
Cacnea is one of the few Pokemon who can use Spikes in Little Cup. With Spikes, Cacnea can fit into a stall-oriented team, providing residual damage for the team. With Sand Veil and sandstorm in play, Cacnea can set up Spikes relatively well. Cacnea can also use Leech Seed to further frustrate your opponent, but bulkier Grass-types tend to do this better, such as Shroomish and Turtwig. Drain Punch can be used as Cacnea's Fighting-type move on the Mixed set or Mixed Scarf set. With Drain Punch, Cacnea loses power; however, it recovers HP equal to half of the damage Cacnea has dealt to the opponent's Pokemon. Lastly, with Counter and Focus Sash, Cacnea can make an effective Pokemon in the lead position, having a chance to knock out any lead that is physically based.
Checks and Counters
Without Hidden Power Ice, Gligar stops Cacnea in its tracks, as Gligar can withstand its common physical moves of Seed Bomb and Sucker Punch thanks to its naturally high Defense, respectable HP, and ability to heal off any damage taken with Roost. Gligar can then proceed to dispose of Cacnea with a STAB Aerial Ace. If Gligar lacks Aerial Ace, it fails to be such an immediate threat, but it can deal solid damage with Stone Edge and even Earthquake. Similarly, without Hidden Power Fire, Croagunk proves to be quite bothersome, as it resists the majority of moves Cacnea is seen using, such as Seed Bomb, Sucker Punch, and Brick Break. In addition, Croagunk can make quick work of Cacnea with Ice Punch, which strikes it super effectively.
Houndour resists Sucker Punch and Seed Bomb and can threaten Cacnea with Fire Blast. However, Houndour must be wary of Brick Break and Focus Punch, both of which can OHKO Houndour. Snover is not exactly a counter, but it can get rid of the sandstorm that is usually paired up with Cacnea, thanks to its ability, Snow Warning, which summons a permanent hailstorm. In addition, Snover can threaten it with STAB Ice Shard if Cacnea is not behind its Substitute
Duskull can stop Cacnea cold, especially if it lacks Seed Bomb. Duskull's excellent Defense, immunity to Focus Punch, and access to Will-O-Wisp to cripple Cacnea make it a great a Pokemon to combat it. Although Sucker Punch hits Duskull super effectively, it will only work if Duskull attempts to hit Cacnea with one if its damaging attacks. Duskull doesn't need to directly attack Cacnea as it can easily reduce Cacnea's power with Will-O-Wisp and proceed to stall out its Sucker Punch with relative ease. Drifloon can switch in on a Focus Punch thanks to its immunity to Fighting-type moves, and proceed to set up Substitute as Cacnea uses Sucker Punch. On a similar note, Duskull can also burn as Cacnea attempts to strike it with Sucker Punch; however, Duskull is not the best switch-in, as it does not resist Seed Bomb like Drifloon does.
Pokemon who have a Choice Scarf (or are faster than Cacnea) and can work around Sucker Punch make decent checks to Cacnea. For example, Magby can use Mach Punch to avoid being hit by Sucker Punch and resists Seed Bomb, Stunky is resistant to both Sucker Punch and Seed Bomb and can hit Cacnea with a powerful Crunch, and Machop also resists Sucker Punch and can destroy Cacnea with DynamicPunch. Do note, however, that all of the aforementioned checks will take heavy damage from Focus Punch, assuming Cacnea is behind its Substitute.