— PICK YOUR POISON —
Season 8 brings with it an overhaul to Poison type moves. This should allow more Poison types to enter the GO Battle League scene and make a bigger impact on Silph Arena and other community formats. Let’s look at the Poison type Pokémon that stand to benefit. (Note: All moveset parameter discussion and resulting simulations are purely speculative based on precedent for current fast and charge moves and the descriptions given in the announcement from Niantic.)
Poison Jab: This Poison-type Fast Attack now deals more damage
A buff to Poison Jab might have some of the most significant meta implications. Already an above average move at 3 DPT and 3.5 EPT, a buffed Poison Jab could now be one of the best fast moves in the game. An increase to 3.5 DPT would certainly make it stronger, while an increase to 4 DPT would give it the same parameters as Counter. Even with just an increase to 3.5 DPT, Skuntank can now pick up one-shield scenario (1S) wins against Cresselia, Deoxys Defense, Drifblim, and Charm Alolan Ninetales. This will buff the relevance of Pokémon such as Beedrill, Skuntank, Alolan Grimer, Grimer, Roserade, Seaking, Muk, Scolipede, Nidoqueen, Tentacruel, Seviper, Nidorino, and Nidoking. More on a couple of these later!
Poison Sting: This Poison-type Fast Attack now generates more energy
Poison Sting was buffed previously, but that change fell a bit short and the move did not see significant play. This buff likely puts the move on par with Thunder Shock, Mud Bomb, and Psycho Cut at 1.5 damage per turn (DPT) and 4.5 energy per turn (EPT), three of the best energy generating fast moves in the game. This will benefit notable Poison Sting users Drapion, Qwilfish, Vespiquen, Ariados, and of course Whirlipede!
Poison Fang: This Poison-type Charged Attack now has a 100% chance to decrease the opposing Pokémon’s Defense stat.
It might not be an exaggeration to describe the new Poison Fang as the best bait move in the game. The only other charged move in the game guaranteed to drop the opponent’s Defense by one stage is Sand Tomb, but Poison Fang would be a significantly better move, with 40 base damage and 35 energy cost, instead of Sand Tomb’s 25 base damage and 40 energy cost. It provides a more substantial damage contribution than Sand Tomb, while also outspeeding it. Icy Wind and Lunge also famously have a guaranteed chance of decreasing an opponent’s stat, and are very beneficial to the Pokémon that learn them. These moves have higher damage per energy (DPE) than Poison Fang (~1.33, vs Poison Fang’s ~1.14), but cost 10 more energy, so the speed of Poison Fang would be useful for baiting, charged move races, chipping low-health things, and, perhaps more importantly, means it layers the stat changes faster. As a result, it might be more desirable than even those great moves. Poison Fang has the same damage and energy values as the original Power-Up Punch, before PuP was nerfed. It might not reach the full potential of that once exceptional move because the stat changes are now lost on switch, and a Defense drop is less useful than an Attack buff for sweeping multiple Pokémon. But this improvement should be enough to make Poison Fang a very desirable move.
Nidoqueen and Crobat will now be able to learn this updated Poison-type Charged Attack.
We will talk about Crobat later when talking about Cross Poison, so we will focus on Nidoqueen as potentially the most meta relevant Poison Fang user! Nidoqueen looks especially promising among the Poison Fang users, with higher stat product than all the others except its pre-evolution, the best fast move with the newly buffed Poison Jab, and same-type attack bonus (STAB) Ground charged moves providing broad Poison + Ground type coverage that is only resisted by a handful of dual types such as Skarmory. Nidoqueen was previously forced to use only 55 energy charge moves and Poison Fang is a much needed low energy cost move. With a 3.5 DPT Poison Jab and the new Poison Fang, Nidoqueen is now likely to win the one-shield scenario (1S) against Altaria, Talonflame, Shadow Machamp, Shadow Victreebel, Meganium, and Munchlax, in addition to a bait option against 1S Toxicroak. Perhaps Nidoqueen will be the monarch of this newly buffed group of Poison types? Long live the Queen!
Cross Poison: This Poison-type Charged Attack now deals more damage and has a higher chance of sharply increasing your Pokémon’s Attack stat
In the Main Series Games, Cross Poison comes with an increased critical hit rate. We’ve seen a similar move with this property in Night Slash (50 damage for 35 energy and a 12.5% chance at a +2 Attack Boost). This description makes it sounds like Cross Poison could become a Poison typed carbon copy of that move. This would be a nice buff to what used to be a very lackluster move, although the attack boost will likely lead to frustration from those who do not enjoy random chance buff/debuff mechanics. This will benefit potential Cross Poison users such as Galvantula, Ariados, Parasect, and Armaldo. For Galvantula specifically, generally worse Flier matchups save Mandibuzz and worse 1S Azumarill, Jellicent and Skarmory matchups suggest that dropping Discharge for Cross Poison is highly unlikely. Similarly, dropping Lunge also sacrifices a valuable STAB move that allows Galvantula to be one of the safest Electric types against typical Grass and Ground threats. Ariados, however, is the new spider on the block and we’ll talk about its trio of new moves later in the Lunge section.
Crobat will now be able to learn this updated Poison-type Charged Attack
We mentioned Crobat before with Poison Fang, and now Crobat can also learn Cross Poison! Crobat comes with both new and improved 35 energy Poison move options to choose from. While Cross Poison can potentially boost Crobat’s attack power and deals more damage, Poison Fang will lower the opponent’s defense and that guaranteed stat drop from Poison Fang might make it the preferable move. Either way, by gaining one of these 35 energy Poison type charge moves, Crobat can run a similar moveset to Golbat with access to Air Slash, Poison Fang or Cross Poison, and Shadow Ball. Either Poison Fang or Cross Poison gives Crobat a potent bait option against 1S Alolan Marowak and Jellicent and allows it to likely take down 1S Medicham, 0S Shadow Machamp, 0S Obstagoon and 0S Politoed. However, Golbat’s edge in bulk and speed to Shadow Ball can still pay off in certain matchups such as 0S Defense Deoxys. While Crobat’s lower stat product and slower fast move likely keeps it behind Golbat in Great League (GL), Crobat has the potential to bring Golbat’s game to the Ultra League (UL) level, which is an exciting prospect.
Acid Spray: This Poison-type Charged Attack will now require less energy to use
Acid Spray has mostly played a role as a shield-bait move (e.g. Tentacruel) or on high damage fast move Pokémon (e.g. Victreebel), but overall has not made a significant impact on the meta. At a lower energy cost, it should put increased pressure that can help force switches or prey on trapped Pokémon, increasing its meta relevance. Acid Spray users that could benefit include Victreebel, Tentacruel, Scrafty, Quagsire, Escavalier, Ferrothorn, Alolan Muk, Muk, Swalot, Eelektross, Qwilfish, Garbodor, Arbok, and Octillery. Even with a modest 3.5 DPT buff to Poison Jab and decrease of Acid Spray to 45 energy, Tentacruel sees some notable gains. In the no-shield scenario (0S), Tentacruel can now defeat Mandibuzz, Medicham, Serperior and Air Slash Tropius, and in the 1S now likely win against Mandibuzz, Obstagoon, Talonflame, Umbreon, Meganium, Tropius and Shadow Victreebel with a potential IV-dependent fast move matchup with Venusaur. Tentacruel genuinely threatens Grass types now potentially allowing it to see slightly more use in GL—bad news for the blue bunny. We’re interested to see how this might impact the other Acid Spray users listed above as well.
— ADDITIONAL MOVESET UPDATES —
Dragon Tail is currently only a slightly above average fast move, and tends to be overshadowed by fellow Dragon fast move, Dragon Breath. Pokémon that learn both moves almost always prefer Dragon Breath. Dragon Pokémon that only learn Dragon Tail tend to be overshadowed by ones that learn Dragon Breath. Additionally, Pokémon that use Dragon Tail without STAB, such as Steelix and Lugia, are held back slightly by their unremarkable fast move. It seems like a sensible target to buff, however it is unclear if that is what we are getting. The announcement says Dragon Tail’s damage output will increase but its energy generation will decrease, and we will have to find out whether the former will be sufficient to offset the latter. One unit of energy generation tends to result in more damage than one unit of damage output, due to the DPE values of charged moves and the fact that two charged moves can have different type multipliers applied to their damage output. The higher value of energy is especially the case if the Pokémon has strong charged moves, such as Steelix and Lugia, which, as previously mentioned, don’t benefit from STAB on Dragon Tail. As a result, the damage buff to Dragon Tail will have to be substantial for this not to be a nerf overall.
Dragon Tail’s current base parameters are 9 damage (3 DPT), 10 energy (~3.33 EPT), 3-turn duration. For comparison, Dragon Breath’s parameters are 4 damage (4 DPT), 3 energy (3 EPT), 1-turn duration. An example change that wouldn’t nerf Dragon Tail would be to make it a 3-turn version of Dragon Breath, with 12 damage and 9 energy. It would be only slightly less desirable than that move, due to the less agile duration and a damage formula that benefits short duration moves. However having two Dragon fast moves with such similar parameters might be unappealing. Hopefully Niantic finds another way of buffing this move while lowering its energy generation, such as 13 or 14 damage (4.33 or 4.66 DPT), with 8 energy generation (2.66 EPT). Or who knows, maybe we’ll have to face losing with two shields remaining to a Charm clone! Seriously though, please don’t Niantic :S.
This move had its damage output slightly nerfed last summer, in an apparent attempt to target Registeel, which also had Flash Cannon nerfed at the same time. These nerfs may have been slightly premature given Registeel was already about to face heavy competition in the GL from the newly released Pokémon Galarian Stunfisk, whose superior type coverage and cheaper charged moves may have displaced Registeel even without Registeel’s nerfs. The introduction of Candy XL further extended Galarian Stunfisk’s competition into the UL. The combination of these things has crashed Registeel’s usage compared with before, so much so that Melmetal is sometimes more popular in GL metas and in open UL. It appears Niantic has decided to reverse course by buffing Focus Blast’s damage. This may not be enough to fully salvage Registeel. The Flash Cannon nerf was arguably more detrimental because it worsened how quickly Registeel could access its fastest charged move, and this problem will remain. However, Registeel can’t complain about anything that brings it slightly closer to its former glories. Other Focus Blast users that could see slight buff are Regirock, Hypno, Gengar, Ampharos and Mew.
Rock-type Weather Ball: Hippowdon
In the main series games, Weather Ball could take one of five types, depending on the weather. Normal, Fire, Water, and Ice are already Weather Ball types available in Pokémon GO, but Rock has not been available. Now the final Weather Ball is getting added to the game, to be initially learned by one Pokémon, Hippowdon. Weather Ball is a strong charged move with above average DPE and the game’s lowest energy cost. People almost always run it on the things that can learn it, and it has improved the viability of several Pokémon when added to their movepools.
Hippowdon doesn’t get the STAB on Rock, so Weather Ball’s strength here might be more comparable to Pokémon that get STAB on Aqua Tail, Cross Chop, or Dragon Claw. However, Hippowdon does learn Ground-type charged moves Earth Power and Earthquake, and Rock + Ground is a famously good type coverage combination, with Chesnaught, Torterra, Breloom, and Virizion being the only things in Pokémon to resist both moves. Weather Ball Rock is much faster to charge than Hippowdon’s current Rock move, Stone Edge, and enables it to carry this broad type coverage while still having a speedy charged move. However, Hippowdon doesn’t see the biggest benefits from this move due to its similar parameters to Body Slam, which it already learns without STAB. Hippowdon has always been limited by its fast moves, which are fairly average and also don’t benefit from STAB. As a result, the gains in simulations we see for it are limited to Charm Alolan Ninetales and Fliers such as Mandibuzz, Drifblim, Skarmory and Talonflame that are still often dependent on shield scenarios and fast move typing.
It will be also interesting to see if any other Pokémon will be granted this move in the future.
Feather Dance: Pidgeot
This move had already been datamined, and it turns out Pidgeot will be the first Pokémon to learn it. No other move in Pokémon GO is guaranteed to drop the opponent’s Attack sharply. Octazooka does this sharp Attack drop but only with a 50% chance. This stat change is very potent, and we expect Feather Dance to have low DPE to provide balance.
Pidgeot currently has a strong fast move with Gust, and one of the highest DPE charged moves in the game with Brave Bird. It is held back slightly because its fastest charged move is the weak Aerial Ace, which is a significant downgrade from the Sky Attack learned by common Normal-Flying alternative Noctowl. The energy cost of Feather Dance is currently unknown, so we are yet to see whether it can replace Aerial Ace in situations where a faster charged move is needed.
Lunge is an excellent charged move, with a respectable energy cost and DPE and a very powerful guaranteed drop to the opponent’s Attack. Ariados will learn this move, while simultaneously benefitting from the buff to its fast move, Poison Sting, and its charged move, Cross Poison. It will be able to choose from strong fast moves, a solid 35 energy move, the excellent Lunge, and the high DPE Megahorn. Although a spooder comparison might appear best at first [insert double Spider-Man meme here], Galvantula and Ariados have several contrasting matchups against roles such as Fliers, Waters and Charmers. In comparison to Beedrill, Ariados picks up 0S wins against Cresselia, Mew, Umbreon and Stunfisk, while only dropping 0S Toxicroak without the threat of Drill Run. Beedrill has the edge in the 1S matchups against Galvantula, Lapras, Shadow Machamp, Mew and Registeel, whereas Ariados has potential wins against Sableye, Stunfisk, Swampert and Air Slash Tropius. Critically, the Poison Sting and Cross Poison buffs appear to be enough to allow Ariados to consistently win the 1S against Azumarill, but similar to Beedrill, Ariados cannot defeat 0S Azumarill. Although Beedrill has an excellent coverage option in Drill Run and will see a buffed Poison Jab as well, Lunge also can narrow the margins of seemingly poor matchups and set up the next Pokémon for success making Ariados an interesting pick to keep an eye on. Hopefully this powerful movepool is enough to improve Ariados’s relevance in PvP.