Time to move on: How to rework Pokemon Go’s TM system

Pokémon GO Hub
Pokémon GO Hub

Hello Trainers!  When Pokemon Go first launched in 2016 it became evident very quickly that we were missing a lot of major features that we all were very used to having in the main series games.  One of those features was the ability to change a move we didn’t want to a move that we did.  That functionality was eventually bestowed upon us in the form of fast TMs and charge TMs.  Finally, we had a way to update the moves of our Pokemon, no longer would your perfect maxed out Gyarados be stuck with Twister as a charge move.

These new TMs came with a catch, they are completely random.  For anybody who’s ever felt the frustration of having to use multiple TMs to change a single move, it’s very clear that Pokemon Go’s TM system is in need of a major overhaul.  Don’t get me wrong, having TMs is way better than not having them at all, and their introduction was a huge leap forward.  However, with the upcoming Pokemon Battle League, the ever-growing PVP community and the increase in moves being introduced into the game the perfect time to overhaul the TMs in Pokemon Go is now.

So let’s go through a few ideas, ways that Niantic could overhaul the way TMs work in Pokemon Go to make them more efficient, easier to use, and less hair-pullingly frustrating.  We’ll weigh the pros versus the cons, my thoughts on the idea and then rate each idea with a ranking.  If you need a refresher on how TMs currently work, check out our article about it here.

Let’s get into it.

*Disclaimer – These are all idea’s that I’ve collected through research throughout the internet, each idea I’ve seen posted multiple times.

Regular Fast and Charge Moves

First, we’ll talk about the moves that are regularly available under the current TM system.  This excludes any Community Day exclusive moves, and any legacy moves.

Make TMs more common

Idea #1 – Make TMs more common
Increase the drop rate of both fast TMs and Charge TMs
Pros Cons
More TMs means more chances to get the move you want Doesn’t really solve the problem
Bag space
Thoughts: This is by far the easiest solution, but not the best.  Yeah, you’ll get more TMs which is always a good thing, however, if the Pokemon you’re trying to swap moves on has three or more moves the potential to use 3, 4, 12 TMs is still there.
Recommendation Rating: 2 – Better, but not by much.

Permanent TMs, 1 per move

Idea #2 – Permanent TMs, 1 per move
Introduce a specific, 1 use TM for each move in Pokemon Go
Pros Cons
Makes getting the move you want very easy, just find and use the right TM. Bag Space, won’t somebody think of the bag space!
Makes switching between moves to suit specific situations very easy. Getting the TM you’re looking for could prove difficult
Thoughts: The main series games you can get a TM that is dedicated to a single move.  Implementing that sort of system in Pokemon Go would probably prove to be a nightmare.  How would trainers obtain these TMs?  With over 65 fast moves and over 150 charge moves I think that hunting down the TM you’re after could potentially be more aggravating than the current system.  There are bound to be more moves coming, so it’ll only get worse.

Also, who out there has room in their bag for over 200 TMs?  To make this even the slightest bit feasible Niantic would have to make it so these TMs didn’t count towards the Item Bag count.

Recommendation Rating: 1 – Not practical for Pokemon Go

Let us choose the move when we use the TM.

Idea #3 – Let us choose the move when we use the TM.
A simple pop up menu that lists all of the available moves
Pros Cons
Would make getting the move you want very easy. Current TM drop rates would inevitably plummet.
Makes switching between moves to suit specific situations very easy.
Thoughts: This is one of the best, and frankly easiest solutions.  I think we all know that if Niantic did implement this that the drop rates of TMs would drop significantly and they might even end up in the shop for coins.  Which would inevitably leave trainers in the same situation they are currently in, having Pokemon with awful move-sets.
Recommendation Rating: 8 – Excellent, but not perfect.

Rechargeable Infinite Type TMs

Idea #4 – Rechargeable Infinite Type TMs
A TM dedicated to a single type that is infinitely reusable but requires some sort of recharging between uses.  Used in conjunction with the current TM system.

(ex: Fast Dark TM, a Charged Dark TM)

Pros Cons
Would make getting the move you want easier. Bag Space, bag space, bag space!
Always having a TM you could recharge might ease the trainers’ frustration around TMs. Again, it doesn’t solve having to use multiple TMs to get the move you want issue.
Thoughts: This idea would be ideal for Pokemon that have only 1 move of a specific type, you could just use this and be guaranteed to get the move you want.   It would even work for Pokemon that have 2 of one move, and already knows one of them.  However, for Pokemon that have 3 or more of a single type move, like Raikou with 3 electric charge moves, it’s not a very practical solution.  Also, what method of recharging would be used?  The obvious choice is probably walking, like egg incubators.  How far would you have to walk 5km? 10km?

I think it’s an interesting idea that solves a lot of the issues that trainers have but adding 36 permanent items into the game takes up valuable bag space and sorting through to find the TM you’re looking for might get annoying.

Recommendation Rating: 7 – Solves a lot of issues, but not all of them

Get rid of TMs all together

Idea #5 – Get rid of TMs all together
Allow trainers to change the moves on their Pokemon by paying candies, stardust or a combination of both.
Pros Cons
Bag space!! Stardust is already at a premium for a lot of trainers.
Easier access to move changes Candies can be tough to get for legendaries or rare Pokemon
Thoughts: This is actually a fairly good option in my opinion.  Giving trainers the ability to change moves whenever we want for candies or stardust would be amazing.

One could argue that this would lower people’s desire to raid, and therefore effect Niantic’s bottom line but I disagree.  I think the desire to raid wouldn’t change all that much, the rare candies and the stardust from raids would be even more valuable under this system.  Niantic could also put starpieces back into the shop.

Recommendation Rating: 8 – Excellent, but not perfect.

TMs give you an option to accept the new move or not

Idea #6 – TMs give you an option to accept the new move or not
Update the functionality of the TMs so they give you the option to accept the move it’s going to give the Pokemon or not, the TM would only be consumed if you selected no.
Pros Cons
No more bouncing between moves you don’t want Random factor, you could still get the wrong move several times in a row
You can eventually get the move you want Niantic could nerf it with a cooldown, or make us recharge it.
Thoughts:  There are situations where you are trying to move from one useful move to another.  (Think Chandalure switching from Overheat to Shadow Ball or vice versa).  This would prevent you from losing one all-together.

Would Niantic attach a cooldown on this?  Otherwise, it would be a potentially frustrating version of option #3 swapping between moves over and over, with the benefit of not losing the TM of course.   The question is how long of a cooldown?   5 minutes?  10 minutes?  Could you reduce the cooldown with walking, candy, or stardust?

Recommendation Rating: 8 – I really like this one.

Fix the TMs so they don’t repeat moves

Idea #7 – Fix the TMs so they don’t repeat moves
Update the functionality of the TMs so they don’t pick a move until the Pokemon’s entire move-pool has been cycled through.
Pros Cons
No more bouncing between moves you don’t want Still random, there’s the potential to waste TMs
You will know how many TMs you need to guarantee you get the move you want. Mew …
Thoughts: This, in my opinion, is the best option.  Not too overpowered like the pop up would be, but infinitely less frustrating than the current way that they are handled.   If your Pokemon had 4 charge moves, you would know that you would need 3 TMs to guarantee you get the move you wanted.

I don’t think that this would end up with a drastic reduction in the TM drop rate, but given that the usage would inevitably go down I’m sure at some point the drop rate would be lowered at some point.

Recommendation Rating: 9 – I vote for this one.

Legacy Moves

Next, we’ll talk about the moves that are not regularly available under the current TM system.  These are moves trainers can’t TM onto their Pokemon because they are what are called “Legacy” moves.  Moves that Niantic has removed from a Pokemon’s move pool, or moves that were only available during a limited-time event such as raid days or Community days.

Community Day TMs

Bonus Idea #1 – Community Day TMs
Community Day Special Research to Unlock 1 (or more) Community Day TMs that would allow trainers to TM the special Community Day move onto an already evolved Pokemon for that specific Community Day.
Pros Cons
Evolved something before it had a community day?  No worries! Slightly devalues Community Day Pokemon after the event.
Thoughts: I would love to have this, personally.  I know there are a few trainers out there with Pokemon they evolved before their community day was announced.  Or even trainers who evolved Pokemon before Community Day’s were even a thing!  This would allow trainers to fix the move on one of those Pokemon, during that Pokemon’s specific community day.

I know some people will be opposed to special research on Community Day, but it could be as simple as 1 step…

Make 10 Great Curve Ball Throws
Catch 20 <Community Day Pokemon>
Evolve 1 <Community Day Pokemon> to <Final Evolution Community Day Pokemon>

This TM would, of course, would give one Community Day Pokemon the exclusive Community Day move and nothing else.

Recommendation Rating: 10 – Niantic, are you listening?

Legacy TMs

Bonus Idea #2 – Legacy TMs
A special single-use TM that grants the Pokemon of a trainers choosing a move from its move pool that is currently unavailable
Pros Cons
Evolved something before it had a community day?  No worries! Slightly devalues legacy move Pokemon.
Regret TM’ing away a legacy move?  We got you!
Thoughts: A TM that would allow us to give any Pokemon a legacy move would be amazing.  Just think of all those hatches, or catches you made away after an event or even after Niantic removed an item from its move pool.

The question becomes how would trainers obtain such a glorious item?  A rare reward for beating Giovanni perhaps?

Recommendation Rating: 10 – Niantic, are you listening?

Let us unlock Legacy moves

Bonus Idea #3 – Let us unlock Legacy moves
Allow trainers to unlock legacy moves on Pokemon
Pros Cons
Evolved something before it had a community day?  No worries! Slightly devalues legacy move Pokemon.
Regret TM’ing away a legacy move?  We got you! Will probably cost stardust, let’s be honest
Thoughts: Being able to “unlock” a legacy move on a Pokemon would be awesome, perhaps through the new buddy system that’s coming?  We could raise the friendship of our Pokemon to such a level that they get so happy they gain the ability to learn a move previously unavailable to them.
Recommendation Rating: 9 – Great idea

I think we can all agree, that pretty much any of the solutions I’ve laid out here would be an improvement over what is currently in place.  Some are much better than others, and each of them has their drawback.  I don’t think that anything that Niantic puts into place will make everybody happy, or solve all the problems the current system has.

Do you have a potential solution that I didn’t list?  Which of the ideas do you think is the best one?  Do you have Pokemon that you wish had a legacy move?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this subject in the comments, (and any TM horror stories as well).  Hopefully one day Niantic hears our pleas and reworks the TM system.  Until then, keep grinding those raids and as always, stay safe out there.

I've been playing Pokemon Go since the game launched way back in 2016, I am a loyal Valor player and also a content creator on YouTube going by the name Professor Glaw.