So, if you read my entry on Leafeon all the way to the end, you may have gleaned that I don’t particularly think much of Glaceon either. It’s nothing personal. I actually have a certain affection for Glaceon; she’s pretty cute, as Ice-types go, and she’s not exactly a terrible Pokémon either. On sober reflection, though, I think she’s rather bland, and, much like Leafeon, struggles to develop an aesthetic or competitive niche within her large family.
With an elegant, lithe exterior concealing incredible powers over ice and snow, Glaceon is certainly an adorable yet dangerous Pokémon… but there’s not really a lot to her. She has a sort of diamond motif that I guess creates a pleasing allusion to snow crystals, and she’s… blue. Which is good, because ice is sometimes blue. As an Ice Pokémon, she is capable of causing her body temperature to plummet, draining heat from the air around her to create chilling gales. This also freezes her fur into needle-like spines, which she can fire at her ene-
Wait. Go go gadget Pokédex.
“It lowers its body heat to freeze its fur. The hairs then become like needles it can fire.”
Game Freak, are you seriously telling me you got so lazy that you stole Jolteon’s flavour text?
Yes, that is exactly what they are telling me. What’s more, because it worked so well for Jolteon, they chose to represent this power in game with a silly little move that no-one will ever use (I don’t care how badly you need a priority attack) because Glaceon’s physical attack stat is appalling – Ice Shard. Unlike Jolteon, Glaceon doesn’t really look like she has any business using an attack like this, probably because it’s something that was pasted on at the last minute and not an actual part of the design. I’m sorry, but if this doesn’t say “we ran out of ideas” then I don’t know what does. Glaceon’s elegant and beautiful like Vaporeon, sure, but Vaporeon is a creative hybrid of terrestrial and aquatic features, whereas Glaceon is just a nice shade of cyan. She has magical freezing abilities, but so do most other Ice Pokémon. I don’t think I would be upset with this design if I thought there were an evolution on the way; it feels incomplete, as though it’s waiting for elaboration, and detail… but no; Glaceon is the evolution. I find myself without any reason to care about her.
As with Leafeon, Glaceon’s method of evolution makes it obvious what kind of environment she’s meant for (if her icy powers weren’t already enough of a clue) – set off by the Ice Rocks found near Snowpoint City in Sinnoh and beneath Twist Mountain in Unova, Glaceon is a cold-adapted Eevee, at home in alpine and boreal forest terrain. It’s strange that she doesn’t seem to have any of the features normally associated with cold-adapted species, like large size (to reduce your surface area to volume ratio) and thick fur (for insulation), but I suppose many of the normal rules for living in cold climates go out the window anyway for Glaceon and for several other Ice Pokémon, who are actually colder than their surrounding environments. Glaceon fights by chilling the air around her, so for her a high surface area, and hence small size, makes sense to maximise her ability to drain heat from the atmosphere. Glaceon and Leafeon are the first Eeveelutions to really embrace the idea that Eevee’s unusual properties are a result of her adaptability, which is great, because it’s a fun idea that gives Eevee and her weird split evolution a great deal of significance and some interesting implications. However, they also neglect to do much of anything with the idea. Forest Eevee is a Grass-type, alpine Eevee is an Ice-type; they take on the characteristics of the environment that they live in… but this leads to Leafeon competing with tall trees for light to photosynthesise, and Glaceon using cold attacks to defend herself from other cold-adapted species. This is a slight problem that hides beneath a lot of Pokémon, but we tend to ignore it because there’s a certain intuitive rightness about it. When you set up a species as ‘the adapter,’ though, it draws attention to the fact that it doesn’t actually make a lot of ecological sense for Pokémon to adapt in this way and develop these powers… more on that next time, though.
As far as battles go, Glaceon has one big, important selling point: she commands the most powerful Ice attack in the game (barring legendary Pokémon), a devastating Blizzard which, backed up with Hail to boost its accuracy, will level just about anything that doesn’t resist it. Realistically, Ice Beam is a lot more reliable, and will still hammer the opposition pretty severely. This, sadly, is where the good news ends. Ice is a great offensive type, hitting four other elements for super-effective damage, including Dragon. However, it is also hands-down the worst defensive type in the game, sporting only a single resistance (to itself). This would not be such a problem if Glaceon were set up as a sweeper, but she isn’t – she’s actually quite slow. Her greatest assets, after her monstrous special attack, are her defence and special defence, which, in combination with her poor HP, are good but not amazing (to be fair, she can boost her physical defence with Barrier and retaliate against special attacks with Mirror Coat, but that takes time and moveslots). Glaceon will face a lot of hits from faster Pokémon as she attempts to freeze-dry her way to glory, and although she’s pretty bulky for an attacker, the lack of resistances makes it very difficult for her to handle repeated assaults. It also reduces her suitability for using all the neat little support moves that her family has access to, like Wish, Baton Pass, Heal Bell and Yawn. The other major problem for Glaceon is that, like all her brothers and sisters before her, her offensive movepool is quite small. After Ice Beam, she’s got Shadow Ball and Signal Beam, which are helpful but don’t have a lot of power and are from fairly weak elements – and the truly damning thing is that, if she wants to manage neutral damage against most Steel-types, she has to resort to the decidedly lacklustre Water Pulse (available from a 4th-generation TM). Basically, she has the wrong stats and movepool for a sweeper, the wrong type for a tank, and no other viable choices.
As far as I can tell, Black and White didn’t do much for Glaceon… if anything. The new move tutors in Black 2 and White 2 seem to have added Hyper Voice to her movepool, along with those of all the other Eevee evolutions; I haven’t mentioned it in any of their entries because Normal attacks are generally less than stellar choices, but Glaceon is so desperate for weapons that it might be worth a shot. Frost Breath, a weak Ice attack that always scores critical hits, is amusing against anything that favours Calm Mind or Amnesia but substantially weaker than Ice Beam otherwise. Her abilities aren’t much help either; both improve her staying power in Hail, but weather strategies can be tricky to pull off at the best of times, Hail is easily the hardest to build a team around, and as we’ve already seen Glaceon has problems trying to act as a tank anyway. Snow Cloak grants a helpful but unreliable 20% evasion chance (potentially good for use with Double Team, but Double Team is often frowned upon for its emphasis on luck); you’re probably better off with Ice Body, which lets Glaceon slowly regenerate in Hail, but that does invite rather unfortunate comparisons to Walrein, who does the same thing about a million times better.
The really sad thing is that Glaceon isn’t even the only member of her family with powerful Ice attacks, because the rule that Water-types can use Ice moves seems to override the rule that Eevee’s evolutions aren’t allowed diverse offensive movepools. Vaporeon’s Ice Beam is a lot weaker than Glaceon’s, naturally, but it’s also not the only thing she’s good at. That, for me, sums up Glaceon’s problems; she simply doesn’t do anything special. The designers seem to have decided that they needed a seventh evolved form for Eevee, but neglected to develop any sort of conceptual basis for what they were creating. The end result is “Eevee, only blue and chilly,” which is a real pity because Ice is a fun type to work with and think about, and there’s nothing wrong with the idea of an Ice-type Eevee… it’s just not enough on its own. Glaceon is just another of those Pokémon who needed a little more thought, never got it… and probably never will.