Can a bad moveset choice render a Pokémon useless?

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Pokémon are able to learn fast and charge moves. Sometimes, the number of moves they can learn is rather limited. However, in some other cases, there are plenty of fast and charge move combinations and it can be a nightmare to choose which one suits your Pokémon best. Slaking is an example of Pokémon with fewer combinations of moves possible because it can only learn Yawn as a fast move.

Mewtwo, on the other hand, can learn two fast moves (Confusion and Psycho Cut) and four different charge moves (Psychic, Focus Blast, Shadow Ball and Hyper Beam).

The purpose of this article is to illustrate the importance of having a good moveset on your Pokémon and how a bad choice or a bad movepool can render a Pokémon useless.

To STAB or not to STAB, that is the question

The best possible way of introducing this question is by using a couple of examples. The Pokémon that will be used are Groudon and Mewtwo, due to the fact that their STAB charge moves are not that great and in some situations it might be better to use other moves that do not benefit from STAB. All Cycle DPS calculations have been made using the formula found in this article.

Pokémon Fast Move Charge Move Cycle DPS (with STAB)
Groudon Ground Mud Shot Ground Earthquake Ground 18.87
Groudon Ground Mud Shot Ground Solar Beam Grass 19.72
Mewtwo Psychic Confusion Psychic Psychic Psychic 20.79
Mewtwo Psychic Confusion Psychic Shadow Ball Ghost 21.60

As it can be seen in the Table above, both options are viable but depend on the situation. Earthquake and Psychic are not great moves in Pokémon GO, because they only have a base power of 120 and 100 for a full 1-bar charge move. Solar Beam has a base power of 180 for the same amount of energy, even though the cooldown is a bit larger than the one for Earthquake and it does not benefit from STAB on Groudon. Shadow Ball on Mewtwo does not benefit from STAB either, but it will be a great choice in most situations because it is one of the best charge moves in the game having a massive 100 base power on each use and being a 2-bar move.

Machamp can also be used to illustrate the issue with STAB. It does learn Bullet Punch (fast move) and Heavy Slam (charge move), which are not bad moves. However, Steel type is not very relevant in the metagame from an offensive point of view and both moves do not benefit from STAB on Machamp. On the other hand, Machamp with Counter (fast) and Dynamic Punch (charge) is the Fighting type king and the gym wrecker by definition.

Which moves should I aim for then?

As always, it all depends on your playstyle and personal preference. If you want to use Groudon as a Ground attacker, Earthquake is the one to choose. If you wanted to use it as a Kyogre counter when Kyogre raids were out, Solar Beam was a better choice. If Precipice Blades (Groudon’s signature move) is introduced in the future, it will probably outperform Earthquake in every possible aspect and Groudon would get a significant buff in viability.

The same applies for Mewtwo. If you plan to use it to wreck Machamp in raids, Psychic would probably be the best choice. If you plan to use it as a gym attacker, then Focus Blast would probably be the best choice (due to the fact that most gym defenders are Normal type). Shadow Ball is a great generalist choice if you want to use Mewtwo as a Mewtwo or Alakazam counter, but using him to fight gyms won’t be the best choice as it won’t deal a lot of damage to Blissey, Chansey, Snorlax and Slaking, which overpopulate most of the gyms in the current meta. In a similar way as Groudon with Precipice Blades, Mewtwo with Futuresight (a move that is currently in the game and is significantly better than Psychic) would be an even better attacker. It’s a bit sad that a Pokémon with a massive 300 attack stat does not even get the best Psychic type move in the game, isn’t it? Even “downgrading” Psychic to a 2-bar move (maintaining the same 100 damage or similar) would significantly buff its viability.

The Metagross scenario

Metagross is a pseudo-legendary Pokémon introduced in Genaration 3. It has a massive 257 base attack stat and a good typing for defensive purposes (Psychic / Steel). For comparison, Tyranitar has a base attack stat of 251, which is slightly lower. The issue with Metagross is that its movepool is not that great. It can learn Bullet Punch (Steel) and Zen Headbutt (Psychic) as fast moves and Earthquake (Ground), Flash Cannon (Steel) and Psychic (Psychic) as charge moves. All possible moveset combinations can be found in the Table below.

Pokémon Fast Moves Charge Moves
Metagross Psychic / Steel Bullet Punch Steel Flash Cannon Steel
Psychic Psychic
Earthquake Ground
Zen Headbutt Psychic Flash Cannon Steel
Psychic Psychic
Earthquake Ground

Metagross does not learn Futuresight in the main series games, and thus it is not likely that it will be able to learn it in Pokémon GO. Flash Cannon is a decent Steel type move but it is far from what Metagross deserves, along with the fact that Steel type is not very useful from an offensive point of view. Earthquake is not a great move in the game either and in this case it does not even benefit from STAB, therefore it is not recommended to keep it on Metagross, unless you want to use it to counter one of its weaknesses, Fire type moves.

Does this make Metagross useless? No, but it could be a much better Pokémon with a better movepool. This goes to show how important moves are and how a bad moveset choice can sometimes render a Pokémon useless or decrease its viability. Take this into consideration in the future if you want to make the most of your Pokémon and experience their true potential in battle!

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Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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