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Exploring the World of Pokemon Types and their Applications in Battle
An Introduction into Pokemon Typing
Typing has always been a core component of the Pokemon multiverse throughout all aspects of its world-renowned media. Within context of Pokemon battling however, each type has distinct advantages and disadvantages against others - like a complex version of rock, paper and scissors. It can be a daunting task to learn the typing web so this article will aim to briefly explore each type and discuss their capabilities and drawbacks in battle.
Fire - Enter the Inferno
Fire is commonly labeled as the most popular type thanks to our old friend Charizard and although there is an attached aesthetic to Charizard and its fire type kindred, they are not to be iced over lightly especially when we talk about competitive battling. A common fire type will rely on a strong offense complimented by its decent speed total to quite literally incinerate opponents. Because most Pokemon in this category have a consistently high SpA stat while lacking in physical attack, there is a tendency to rely on their high damage special attacks such as Fire Blast and Flamethrower making its kind a dime a dozen. However, fire type physical attackers like Infernape and Rapidash still have great options with moves like Flare Blitz and Flame Charge. When it comes to competing, fire has a key advantage over the egregiously defensive steel types, giving you the upper hand against formidable steel type tanks such as Skarmory and Metagross with an inherent advantage over grass, ice and bug types. While being very offensive, fire types have a hard time dealing with common rock, ground and water type threats. Water type attacks are expected because of their typical STAB hosts and easily counterable through correct applied switch-ins, however rock and ground moves are very common in physical coverage movesets so be careful when encountering Pokemon with massive movepools and common applications of Rock Slide and Earthquake. Overall, fire types are very reliable in battle but maybe not so much as a pet.
Water - Ebb and Flow
Who doesn't love Magikarp? Water type Pokemon are beautiful, graceful and powerful beings essential to most any team build. Second only to dragon types in defining the competitive meta, common water type threats are feared for their survivability against the majority of opposition disregarding the power or potency of the strongest offensives. Physical and special defense base values for each Pokemon vary but they are the strongest in total HP count on average. Generally, water types are absolute tanks with a fair amount of firepower. These tanks rely on special attacks similar to their fire type counterparts with moves like Scald but there are others that sacrifice bulk for potentially overwhelming physical attacking prowess under the usage of moves like Waterfall and Aqua Jet. In fact, some of the hardest hitting Pokemon up to generation six are physical water types and still remain so -- the most notable being Mega-Swampert (20th) and Mega-Gyarados (18th). Many water types may also utilize an extensive list of status moves for setup, disruption or self-healing commonly putting them in team support roles for their versatility. These advantages are clearly excellent providing several options for a win condition, however the major contribution to their tanky status is credited by their lack of type disadvantage. Water Pokemon have two weaknesses -- grass and electric. This element is crucial when team building. Be sure to have answers to grass and electric type attacks if possible to adequately protect your most threatening water types. Water type attacks have the edge against fire, rock and common ground types making them an excellent counter to some of the most offensive threats in the game. If I were you, I would pick up a water Pokemon or three for your team.
Grass - Nature and Pokemon
Grass type Pokemon are perfect staples for team building. They give off a friendly aura and an impressive green thumb. Nurturing and care is the motto of the grass type, however they are enduring fighters and have made their impact in the battling scene. Grass types typically excel at maintaining their health passively while supporting their team or going on the offensive. Moves like Leech Seed, Synthesis and Giga Drain are most common - giving grass types multiple options to stay alive and healthy. Although grass types have access to virtually unlimited sustain, they have plenty of weaknesses. Weak to fire, poison, bug, flying and common ice type coverage, grass types have many counters as they aren't the bulkiest of rivals and can be decimated by a solid attack. Should you want to main grass types (or any type for that matter), simply know their limits. Like fire types they also rely on special attacks but have some physical coverage options with attacks like Power Whip and Leaf Blade. Unique moves such as Aromatherapy and Heal Bell can categorize grass types as clerics for excellent team support by sacrificing a move slot for the ability to cleanse your entire team of status ailments at any time which comes in handy to get otherwise disabled team members back into the fight. Clerics aren't too popular in the high-end competitive scene but when applied correctly to specific team dynamics they can provide the edge if a burn or paralysis could mean the difference between winning or losing, and grass types do it best.
Electric - The Brewing Storm
Okay first of all, it's the amperage of an electric shock that kills you, not the voltage. Anyway, we are finally at the last main elemental type in Pokemon. How can you not like electric types? I mean look at the adorableness that is Pikachu! Aside from that, when discussing the competitive advantages of electric types you can't ignore their superior speed stats. They are fast... and I mean FAST. More specifically, some of the most agile Pokemon in the game are Electrode (10th), Mega-Manectric (13th), and Jolteon (14th). Utilizing their speed is going to be your ticket to getting the drop on your opponent. You can provide team support with Light Screen, do a hit-and-run with Volt Switch or use the iconic disruptive status move Thunder Wave to paralyze the opposing Pokemon. Complimenting their high speed average, attacks like Thunderbolt and the infamous low accuracy Thunder can dish out some solid damage - giving you the edge against flying and water type threats. Electric types are also mostly special attackers with minor physical options. They aren't typically bulky so protect them from overwhelming, brute force and their one weakness to ground type attacks. If you don't know what item would be best on your electric type Pokemon try an Air Balloon -- making you immune to ground type attacks until you take direct damage! Still be aware that any electric type attack you use against a ground type will have no effect. If you want an option against ground types try Hidden Power Ice; that way if you are forced to fight a ground type you won't be completely out of luck. Electric types are great for support and fast hits to give you the edge in battle.
Normal - They're cool I guess
When certain Pokemon can't be categorized as having any fantastic or mythical characteristics, they get classified as normal types. Don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with them (#normallivesmatter) but they typically aren't fan favorites. If there are any normal type fanboys out there I apologize. Getting into their applications in battle, normal types are all over the place because of their versatility. A range of capabilities are available for individual battle styles and roles including bulky tanks, sweepers, supports or clerics making them virtually limitless. As a fresh switch of offensive momentum, normal type Pokemon are usually physical attackers with moves like Return, Body Slam and Extreme Speed. Although I make the mistake of describing the normal typing as bland, many normal Pokemon are certainly not. Mega-Lopunny has the 12th highest speed in the game, Porygon-Z is 35th highest in special attack (which may not seem impressive but I include legendaries when ranking stats) and Slaking is 14th highest in physical attack. If you want to talk about bulk, Snorlax, Chansey, Blissey and Mega-Audino are especially difficult to knock out with exception of their only weakness against fighting types. Normal types can't hit super-effectively but they are immune to any ghost type moves so they are great coverage for Pokemon that despise ghost type attacks -- simply switch in a normal type and you're golden. With unparalleled versatility and a headstrong conviction, normal Pokemon are great contenders for that sixth party slot. It's no mistake to have one of these not-so-average Joe's on your side.
Ice - Best Served Cold
Cold and terrible, ice types are very formidable opponents. They are some of the strongest fighters out there; excelling at both special and physical attacks (including the physical priority attack - Ice Shard). They have distinct type advantages over grass, flying and common ground and dragon types. With fast and hard hitting attacks, ice type Pokemon can easily intimidate some of the most common threats in the meta game including Salamence (and its mega form), Landorus-Therian, Gliscor, Dragonite and many others. Specific dragon types have a duel flying type causing a four times weakness to ice type attacks -- this is an advantage that not many other typings have. Defensively, ice types hit the rocks. I mean that quite literally considering ice types are weak to rock, steel, fire and the highly offensive fighting type. With that many weaknesses, unfortunately it gives ice types a bit of a nerf. They do have some defensive gems like physically defensive Avalugg or specially defensive Regice if you're looking for an underused tank. Overall, ice types are an excellent choice as a reckless hitter or disruptive deceptor. If you need quick offensive coverage, look no further.
Poison - Intoxicators
Poison types are severely underrated. If used correctly, poison types can give you the edge you need to win. Poison types are very versatile - being able to run offensive and defensive movesets with relative ease. They can utilize physical and special attacks almost equally giving them many options on an offensive approach to either focus on hitting hard or chipping at your enemy. The poison type holds quite the plethora of physically defensive and specially defensive Pokemon with the ability to also hold mixed defenses with ease. Poison types are most known for their bringer of death, the master of status stall itself - Toxic. This move damages your Pokemon compounded over time with each passing turn. You won't want to keep your Pokemon who are inflicted with Toxic out for too long for fear of large, unnecessary amounts of damage. Poison types are weak against ground and uncommon psychic types thus adding to their bulkiness. They have an advantage over grass and fairy types (since fairy types are more common as a counter to dragon and fighting types, poison types are more common so teams with dragon and fighting type Pokemon can handle fairy types) giving them a rather small range of super-effective hits. To make matters a bit worse, steel type Pokemon are completely immune to poison type moves. But never fear, poison types are reliable companions and excellent counters to many threats. Don't count them out! The poison typing has produced many battling gems.
Rock - The Immovable Object
Rock types have very similar traits as ground types. They exceed in physical attacks and physical defense, they hate special attacks and they are weak against water and grass type Pokemon. Rock types are also weak against fighting, steel and unfortunately its sister ground typing. Offensively, rock type attacks decimate fire, ice, flying and bug type Pokemon. If a defensive wall or attacker is what you seek, rock and ground types is what you get.
Ground - The Unstoppable Force
The physical attack Earthquake is the bane of many Pokemon. Ground types use it best and that is why they are so feared. They hit as hard as a fighting type, are as defensive as a water type and sometimes as quick as an electric type. Although their physical prowess is unmatched, ground types are lacking in special attack and defense. Should you be hit by a Scald or Hydropump, it will be lights out. Ground types are effective against fire, electric, poison, rock and steel types. The only real drawback offensively is that ground type moves have no effect on flying types but they make it up with ground type's immunity to electric types moves. Ground types are weak to water, grass and ice types. Again be very mindful about any opposing special attacks as they could be very deadly against your ground types. Ground types exceed at physicality so be aware of their potential but also their limits.
Flying - Sky Dwellers
Swellow was one of my first companions on my first Pokemon adventure in Pokemon Emerald so it's fair to say that is why I love him so much and I have chosen him to represent the flying type. These predators are the best of companions. Through thick and thin they will never let you down. You know how I said electric types are fast? Well, flying types on average are even faster with Ninjask (2nd) and Mega-Aerodactyl (6th). Flying types tend to have slightly less offensive capabilities, however. They also tend to rely on physical attacks but also have special attacks like Air Slash and Hurricane. They aren't very defensive in most cases unless they have a dual typing so they tend to lack in that aspect. Even with all these downsides, flying types usually have the speed advantage over most Pokemon which gives them the edge during mid-late game. They have the offensive advantage over grass, bug and the overpowered fighting type. They are weak to electric, rock and ice type attacks but they have their trademark ground type immunity. Flying type Pokemon are excellent for late win conditions to aid you in victory.
Psychic - Anthropomorphic Beasts
In the first generation, psychic types reigned true dominating the Kanto region. With dark types, more ghost types and formidable bug types, psychic Pokemon have become much less common. Even with their nerfs, psychic Pokemon are frickin' monsters. They have some of the highest special attack stat in the game with Mega-Mewtwo Y (1st), Deoxys-A (4th) and Mega-Alakazam (5th) including other psychic types taking the 6th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 19th spots. Although psychic type are notorious for their special offense, they have very limited physical use with few exceptions. They have the type advantage over poison and fighting types but also can't hit dark types as they are immune to psychic type attacks. Psychic types are great for fairy type support on your team against potential opposing poison types while the fighting type effectiveness goes without saying how important that is. Psychic types are weak to ghost, dark and bug types and with their extremely low average defenses, they don't like being hit with solid attacks in the slightest. Psychic types have arguably the best offensive capabilities in all of Pokemon. It's difficult to go wrong with one!
Bug - The Emerged Underdogs
In the first generation of Pokemon, bug types were simply terrible. No hate against any of them (because they're still awesome and it's my third favorite tying) but for real that were trash competitively. When the second generation was introduced, Pokemon like Scizor and Heracross entered the meta, giving bug Pokemon a staple in battles. As more generations were introduced, more and more bug type legends emerged to strengthen the once weak bug Pokemon. Bug types are very versatile in battle. Special and physical attacks are equally as viable for bug type Pokemon. Some bug types can be very defense oriented with good natural stats like Volcarona has or with a well matched dual typing like Escavalier and Scizor. A Pokemon like Mega-Heracross is an example of physical power unmatched as he is part bug type and the second highest in base attack only under Mega-Mewtwo X. The pure bug type has offensive advantages over grass, psychic and dark types. Defensively, bug types are weak to fire, flying and rock type attacks. They may seem pathetic by name but these insects are not to be trifled with.
Dark - Pranksters
When I say the dark types are pranksters, I mean that quite literally as the ability Prankster (which gives status moves +1 priority) originates from dark type Pokemon. Dark types are the most unpredictable Pokemon out there. If you enjoy playing into your opponent's mind with tricks and shenanigans, dark type Pokemon are for you. Offensively, they are almost always physical with exceptions. Moves like Knock Off, Pursuit and Foul Play are excellent examples of how dirty dark type Pokemon like to play. They don't excel in the damage department directly in most cases but they will surely mess up your team with side effects and disruption. Dark types can get super effective hits on psychic and ghost types while receiving the same treatment from fighting, bug and fairy types so hey don't take the cake on a type advantage aspect. As an added bonus, dark type Pokemon are immune to any psychic type moves. Dark types do have limitation however so make sure your team can support it for its vulnerabilities. Once you master dark types, don't be afraid to unleash their potential. But should you need to fight one of these jokers, be prepared.
Ghost - Nightmare Fuel
Ghost Pokemon are shrouded in mystery. Even after 20 years of Pokemon, they remain the most secretive. Ghost types are generally excellent in battle. Offensively, they usually rely on special attacks as there are very uncommon physical ghost type attacks like Shadow Punch and the slightly more common priority Shadow Sneak. Ghost types have a fair share of fast hard hitters like Gengar or Chandelure but they also have some defensive gems should there be a well matched dual typing. Mega-Sableye is an excellent example of this with his high defensive stats and his Ghost and Dark typing which makes him weak to only fairy type attacks. Ghost type Pokemon fall short with offensive advantage as it is only over psychic and other ghost type Pokemon while also not being able to hit normal type Pokemon. They make it up with defensive advantage as they can't be hit by normal or fighting type moves and are only weak to other ghosts and dark types. Ghost types can really turn the tides of battle. Try to fit one in your team!
Dragon - The Gods
Dragon types have the highest base stat average in every field except defense only under rock, ground and steel types. That in itself testifies how much power these monsters can unleash. Simply because of the existence of dragon types, it makes it a necessity to have an ice or fairy type Pokemon or coverage move on your team to help you handle their ferocity. Dragon types like to focus on physical attacks but can also often be mixed attackers with the powerful Draco Meteor special attack. They also tend to have enough natural bulk to take numerous hits while dishing out massive amounts of damage. Should you want to add bulk to your dragon type, you may come short since ice and fairy type moves are so common as coverage among most teams. This makes most bulk investments obsolete. However, dragon types resist all the main elementals (fire, grass, water and electric). This can give you an advantage where bulk does matter for a safe switch-in. As mentioned before, dragon types are weak to ice, fairy and other dragon type attacks. Offensively, dragon is only good against dragon, however the damage is always there giving dragon type attacks a leg up without the need for type advantage. The only downside is that fairy Pokemon are not affected by dragon type moves. Overall, dragon types are just overpowered. Have a counter to it, even with your own dragon type, or you may lose before the battle even starts.
Fairy - From Newcomer to Heavygunner
Since the second generation, new typings hadn't been introduced. That was until generation 6 when the fairy type emerged. At first, fairy types were generally unaccepted and hated on but overtime people have begun to warm up to the newcomers and even claim them as their favorite typing. After a while, Pokemon fans began to realize how balanced the game became with fairy types. Being strong against fighting, dragon and dark types (all being very strong and overpowered), which didn't have many counters before, fairy types became the bane to some of the strongest Pokemon. To top it off, as mentioned before, dragon type moves have absolutely no effect on fairy Pokemon. Defensively, they are only weak to poison and steel types so they only have a handful of viable counters. They can excel at either physical or special attacks so in that sense they are very versatile. They also have several extremely defensive gems they are difficult to take down. Fairy types are generally great because they balance the game, *cough* give a buff to steel types *cough* and even though they are small in stature, they are powerful to behold.
Steel - The Metal Wall
My second favorite typing, in my opinion steel types are the most defensive Pokemon in the game and not just stat-wise. They resist normal, grass, ice, flying, psychic, bug, rock, dragon, steel, fairy and are immune to poison. Like...holy crap. With ten resistances and an immunity, steel types will wall out so. many. Pokemon. Having a fire, ground or fighting type Pokemon or coverage move is almost essential to counter these beasts as they are weak to those types. Offensively, steel types are usually physical with the one exception being the special move Flash Cannon. Steel types often have excellent coverage as well with common fighting, electric, ground and rock coverage moves. If that isn't enough, they have type advantage over ice, rock and fairy type Pokemon. With the introduction of fairy, steel Pokemon and moves became way more common to handle the newcomers. Steel types are awesome. It's so difficult to go wrong with one. It's extremely beneficial to have one on your team as they can support so many Pokemon on its own. Use steel types.
A Note for the Future
If you have any questions, see any mistakes in the article or feel I should add more information please feel free to contact me about any of your concerns! Also, with the much anticipated seventh generation going to be introduced with Sun and Moon on November 18th 2016, should any new typings be introduced, I will include them in this article. Feel free to check out the typing chart provided by the Pokemon Database and participate in the poll below. Thanks for sticking around for this long! I hope to see you in my next article. So long!
Full Typing Chart
What's your favorite Pokemon type?
© 2016 Anthony Werner