An albeit unexpected, but much needed move and combat rebalance was announced by our overlords at Niantic a few days ago. The update is officially live and most of the changes have been implemented, so let’s take a second look at the news.
The key highlights of this combat rebalance include:
In this article we will mostly cover Points 3, 4, and 5 and go over the winners and losers from a PvP and PvE perspective as a result of the newly added moves and newly acquired learn-sets, as well as, the nerfs and buffs to existing moves.
The energy cost to fire off a Night Slash has been reduced in Trainer Battles and now requires only 35 energy to be activated. Furthermore, it now has a 12.5% chance to buff the user’s attack by 2 stages. The base damage has not been changed and is still at 50, thus giving Night Slash an overall buff.
Although it is mostly used as a coverage move in PvP due to not many Dark Types actually learning it, several Pokémon will benefit from the early damage window of Night Slash and the potential +2 attack buff.
The Winners of the Night Slash buff include:
Icy Wind received a slight buff in PvP as well, as it now guarantees to decrease the opposing Pokémon’s attack stat by 1 stage. The energy cost and base damage have not been tinkered with and remain at 60 base power with a 45 energy cost.
The Winners of the Icy Wind buff are:
The first nerf on this list, Hydro Cannon’s base damage was reduced from 90 to 80 in PvP only. Out of the 3 Starter Community Day exclusive moves, Hydro Cannon was always the strongest (and continues to be in PvE), however with its base power now being slightly nerfed in PvP, it makes the Water type starters a little less threatening.
The most notable Losers of the Hydro Cannon nerf are:
Niantic decided to nerf Frustration and Return in a pretty major way in PvP only, and the once low energy costing, fast charge moves now require a significant 70 energy to pull off, essentially making Return a Hyper Beam clone. One can say this nerf has only caused “frustration” among the PvP community, and the “return” on investment into Shadow/Purified Pokémon is now minuscule.
The major Losers of this Frustration/Return nerf include:
Receiving an increase in base damage in both PvP and PvE, Mud Slap now does 18 damage in Raids and Gym Battles, and 11 damage in PvP. Several Pokémon have benefited from this slight buff.
The major Winners of the Mud Slap buff include:
A move that you probably didn’t know even existed, Sand Tomb until now was only available to a very select few NFE (Not fully evolved) Pokémon. However with the latest move shake-up, Sand Tomb received a buff in PvP only, and can now be learned by a few strong Pokémon. In PvP, Sand Tomb is a low energy costing (35 energy cost), low damage dealing (25 base power) charge move that is guaranteed to decrease the opposing Pokémon’s attack by 1 stage. In many ways, it is like a de-buffing Power-up Punch.
The Winners of the Sand Tomb buff include:
The next major buff benefiting several Ground types has come in the form of a base damage increase to Earthquake in both PvE and PvP. Earthquake now does 140 base damage in Raids and Gym Battles, and 120 damage in PvP. This upgrade has now closed the gap between Earth Power/Drill Run and Earthquake users, and has made the latter more viable than before.
The major Winners of the Earthquake buff include:
(PvP & PvE)
(PvP & PvE)
(PvP & PvE)
Overheat has been tinkered with in the world of PvP only. Not necessarily a direct buff, but Overheat now charges up faster (55 energy cost) with a slight reduction in base power (130 base damage). The primary caveat however, is that upon using Overheat, the user’s attack will be reduced by 2 stages. This benefits several PvP Pokémon that can now charge up to Overheat much faster, do enormous damage, and then swap out to negate the attack debuff.
The Winners as a result of the Overheat buff include:
Receiving a similar treatment to Overheat, Draco Meteor too now charges up slightly faster in PvP only (65 energy cost), however the base damage has remained the same at 150. Just like Overheat, DM also reduces the user’s attack by 2 stages after it is used.
Winners of the Draco Meteor adjustment are:
Following the trend of Overheat and Draco Meteor, Psycho Boost is 3rd move in PvP only to receive similar treatment wherein it charges up slightly faster (35 energy cost) however drops the user’s attack by 2 stages upon being used. However, unlike the above 2 moves, Psycho Boost isn’t a hard-hitting move to begin with, therefore this change has made Deoxys’ signature move slightly less desirable and is overall a nerf to its performance.
As such, the Loser of the Psycho Boost nerf, and the only Pokémon who can learn this is move is:
Similar to the 3 moves above, Close Combat now charges up much quicker (45 energy cost) doing a solid base 100 damage in PvP only. The drawback however is that, it now reduces the user’s defense stat by 2 stages upon being used.
However, this adjustment can be considered an overall buff to the move, and the Winners as a result of this buff are:
A unique Water type move learned only by the Remoraid and Horsea family in the main series games, Octazooka now makes a splash in Pokémon GO for the first time. Requiring 50 energy to pull off, and doing only 50 base damage doesn’t sound too impressive, however Octazooka’s biggest advantage is that it has a 50% chance to reduce the opponent’s attack by 2 stages upon being used!
While Octillery doesn’t quite have the stats to make it in PvP, the biggest Winner as a result of Octazooka being added to the game is:
This new Steel type move is a much welcomed addition to the roster of Steel type charged moves currently available in Pokémon GO. It does a modest base damage of 35, however only requires 35 energy to be fully charged up. The highlight however, is that Mirror Shot has a 30% chance to reduce the opponent’s defense by 1 stage upon being used!
The biggest Winners to the addition of Mirror Shot are:
Power-up Punch’s Bug type cousin has arrived in Pokémon GO. Fell Stinger requiring 35 energy and doing a base damage of 20, guarantees to increase the user’s attack by 1 stage every time it is used.
The Winners as a result of Fell Stinger’s addition are:
The first PvE viable move on this list arrives in the form of Lucario’s signature move from the main series games, Aura Sphere. Although learned by several other Pokémon in the main series games, Aura Sphere is currently only learned by Lucario in Pokémon GO. Officially the best charge move in the game, the addition of Aura Sphere has caused Lucario to soar to the top of the Fighting type DPS charts, now making it the Number 1 Fighting Type in Pokémon GO.
As such, the one and only winner to this addition is:
Probably the most lackluster of all the new moves added, the Fighting type move, Superpower, is a coverage move at best. In PvE, Dynamic Punch is the superior of the two. Slightly better in PvP, it does a base damage of 85, requiring a relatively cheap 40 energy to pull off. However, it decreases the user’s attack and defense by 1 stage upon being used. Not many fighting types learn Superpower (Hariyama being the only one), as such, it is a decent coverage move for some Pokémon.
The biggest Winners are:
To conclude, this mega, winter 2019 combat rebalance has been one of the significant game rebalances in recent months and has caused widespread meta shake-ups in PvP and PvE. It seems like this update came just in time for the official GO Battle League that is set to launch in early 2020 and Niantic is hoping to take the competitive aspect in Pokémon GO to the next level!
Which change(s) were you most happy about? What changes would you like to see in the future?
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