December 2019 Legacy Moves Update

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As a part of their recent Community Note, Niantic announced that select Kanto region Pokemon will be able to re-learn some of their legacy moves. We went through the newly available move sets and analysed their impact in PvP and Raids.

Complete list of returned legacy moves:

  • Arcanine: Flamethrower
  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot
  • Machamp: Cross Chop
  • Golem: Ancient Power
  • Gengar: Shadow Claw
  • Exeggutor: Confusion
  • Pinsir: Fury Cutter
  • Gyarados: Dragon Breath, Twister
  • Snorlax: Body Slam
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath, Dragon Claw

Arcanine: Flamethrower


Flamethrower is a powerful Fire type move, but Arcanine needs more than a new charge move to be competitive. Fire Blast is already “good enough” in Gym battles and raids, but Flamethrower has the bar advantage. Given that Arcanine is not a popular choice for raiding teams, we don’t expect much from this move set. For Trainer Battles, Flamethrower is a better option than Fire Blast. If you’re running a Fire Fang / Wild Charge Arcanine, unlocking Flamethrower is a solid option. Still, there are better and stronger Fire types out there.

Poliwrath: Mud Shot


Mud Shot is an excellent move for Trainer Battles, and it’s the best fast move you can have if you’re running Poliwrath on your PvP teams. Combine Mud Shot with Power-Up Punch and Dynamic Punch to have a capable Poliwrath. In raid battles, you’ll more frequently want Bubble or Rock Smash, but Mud Shot is not a bad option by any means. Poliwrath with Bubble and Dynamic Punch deals only 10% less damage than a Poliwrath with Mud Shot and Dynamic Punch. This difference shouldn’t be noticeable in larger raid groups.

Machamp: Cross Chop


Cross Chop is Machamp’s “ancient” charge move, and if memory serves us correctly, you never wanted Cross Chop on your Machamp. PvP performance aside, Dynamic Punch still reigns supreme for Machamp and we suggest you keep your Machamp’s as they are. Sounds rough? Well, unless Niantic reworks Cross Chop, there’s really not a lot to talk about here – Dynamic Punch deals more damage for the same amount of energy / bars, and Close Combat is being reworked for Trainer Battles.

The jury is still out whether Close Combat will be better than Cross Chop for Trainer Battles, but you’ll likely end up with Cross Chop and Stone Edge as your charge moves in PvP.

Golem: Ancient Power


Since it’s introduction, Ancient Power has evolved into a decent charge move for Trainer Battles, but remained strictly worse than Stone Edge in raids. For Golem, Stone Edge is still the go-to move for raids, and the upcoming buff to Earthquake makes Ancient Power only viable for Trainer Battles. If you’re using Golem in raids, you’ll want Earthquake and Stone Edge, otherwise you want Earthquake and Ancient Power.

Gengar: Shadow Claw


Shadow Claw Gengar returns! Most of our readers have read our Lick versus Shadow Claw Gengar comparison in the past, and are well aware that Shadow Claw is Gengar’s best fast move for raids and Gym battles. This remains true for Trainer Battles as well, where Shadow Claw sweeps the floor with Lick. In Trainer Battles, not all moves were created equal, and Shadow Claw falls in the same category as Counter, Dragon Breath and Confusion: it’s amazing. Unfortunately, Giratina has taken over Gengar’s role in every League where it can be used, so think twice before spending your hard earned TMs.

Exeggutor: Confusion


Over the past two years, we kinda forgot that Exeggutor was one of the best Psychic and Grass types you could get in Pokemon GO. Confusion doesn’t make Exeggutor better in raids and Gym battles, but it does boost its performance in Trainer Battles. However, chances are you’ll never spend a TM to get an Exeggutor with Confusion. Exegcute is a common wild spawn during Sunny weather, and there’s seemingly always a Field Research task that rewards it, so maybe it’s better to spend your TMs on something else.

Pinsir: Fury Cutter


Finally! Fury Cutter is Pinsir’s best fast move and we’re pleased to see it return. Fury Cutter improves Pinsir’s raid performance by roughly 15% compared to Bug Bite, which is great if you have a high level Pinsir team. Trainer Battle performance and pairings are hard to predict, as Pinsir takes reduced damage from Fighting, Grass and Ground type moves. Easily countered by common Great League Pokemon, it’s hard to find a niche where Fury Cutter Pinsir would be viable in PvP.

Gyarados: Dragon Breath, Twister


Dragon Breath gives Gyarados an option to have a Dragon type fast move, which can be an excellent surprise in PvP. Gyarados had access to two Dragon type fast moves throughout Pokemon GO’s life span, Dragon Tail and Dragon Breath, but they were not widely available when PvP came around. A lot of us TM-ed into Waterfall once it became available, betting that Waterfall and Hydro Pump Gyarados is going to be great. Kyogre had something to say about that.

As far as Twister goes, we think you’ll want to avoid it for raids. Back in 2016, Twister Gyarados was a meme, which, I guess, means that the Twister Club is back in business? Time for some new merch!

Snorlax: Body Slam


We’ve always wondered why Body Slam Snorlax became a legacy move set. After all, it’s almost a signature move for Snorlax. Luckily, Body Slam is making a return, making Snorlax a nightmare to battle against once again. I’m sure a lot of us remember how irritating it was to take down gyms defended by Zen Headbutt and Body Slam Snorlax – those days are coming back it!

In Trainer Battles, Body Slam unlocks a special way to play with Snorlax: shield burner. With 35 Energy to activate, Lick can charge Body Slam in 12 turns, which creates the same pressure as Dragon Breath / Dragon Claw users. We look forward to see how this will change the real world PvP meta.

Dragonite: Dragon Breath, Dragon Claw


Last, but certainly not least, is Dragonite’s return to form with Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw. Dragonite with Dragon Breath and Outrage outperforms a Dragonite with Dragon Tail and Outrage by 5%, which is probably enough for the hardcore player base to go on a TM spending spree.

Dragon Claw is a monster in PvP and, when combined with Hyper Beam or Hurricane, it has the potential to burn your opponent’s shields with ease, especially if you don’t use it immediately and trick your opponent into thinking it’s Hyper Beam.

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Zeroghan started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. A lover of all things Pokémon, web development, and writing.

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