Generalists in Pokémon GO: Are they still useful?


Soon after type effectiveness multipliers were changed, trainers started wondering whether powering up generalists was still worth their dust or not. If you didn’t know, generalists are the opposite of specialists. They are usually Pokémon with high attack stats, great movesets and the ability to hit pretty hard even without the super effective damage bonus.

The old super effective multiplier was x1.4, and the “new” one is x1.6 (+14.3%). Similarly, the not super effective damage multiplier was reduced from x0.714 to x0.625 (-12.5%). This little change had a massive impact in raids and gym battles, and generalists were definitely not happy about it. Today, we’ll discuss whether or not they are still useful in the PvE meta.

Damage multiplier changes

Let’s showcase a couple of examples. First of all, Shadow Ball Mewtwo, the former best ghost type attacker. Shadow Ball Mewtwo was often used as a psychic type counter, due to the fact that its huge attack stat paired with Shadow Ball dealt a massive amount of damage. And since there are plenty of psychic type raid bosses, SB Mewtwo could be used in plenty of scenarios. However, the main problem Mewtwo had in this particular case is that both of its fast moves (Psycho Cut and Confusion) were resisted by psychic type raid bosses.

SE multiplier changes

Resisting those moves was not that big of a deal in the past as it is now. Not only you’re dealing less damage with your fast move if you compare it with a specialist ghost type attacker such as Giratina-O or Gengar (who also benefit from the STAB multiplier), but you’re also dealing significantly less damage as before because the not super effective multiplier was also reduced. Thus, the difference is more noticeable now and specialists benefit the most out of it. And that’s one of the main reasons why Shadow Ball Mewtwo was outclassed by other attackers to fulfil that role, despite having a significantly higher attack stat and the same charge move as them.

If you think that the super effective damage increase is quite steep, think about the 2x super effective multiplier (from x1.96 to x2.56). Using rock type attackers against a fire/flying type raid boss was highly recommended in the past. Now, it’s almost compulsory.

Raid battles

When you think about generalists in Pokémon GO, you definitely think about Rayquaza (+the other top-tier dragons), Meteor Mash MetagrossMewtwo and perhaps other options such as Moltres or Kyogre. When Mewtwo was an EX raid boss, pretty much all lists of counters included Tyranitar, some of them included Gengar and in some cases, Pokémon such as Rayquaza or Dragonite were suggested. Rayquaza didn’t deal super effective damage, but its massive attack stat and wonderful moveset made it stand out as a generalist and it performed quite well if you didn’t have enough specialist counters in your team. Now, with the new multipliers… do trainers still use generalists in raids? Let’s see.

If we take a look at the Deoxys-N simulation in this article, we see how well Meteor Mash Metagross performs (full credit to Pokébattler). True, with the CP & stat rework things have changed a little bit, but it is still representative of the old meta. Now, if we reproduce the same raid conditions (Ultra Friends, same moveset, no weather boost) and sort by the estimator (# of trainers needed), Metagross ranks #13 in performance, and if we sort by Overall (same metric used in the article linked) Metagross falls from the #3 spot to the #8 spot (#7 if we don’t consider Giratina-O, which wasn’t released back then). Even Banette or Scizor perform better than MM Metagross in this scenario, and Rayquaza ranks #16.

If you check our DB, the counters for this specific raid scenario are the following ones:

Counters for ZH/HB Deoxys-N

As you can see, generalists are now worse than before and you should definitely consider building strong teams, or at least focus on the most relevant offensive types for raids, such as rock, dragon, electric, grass, ghost, water or fighting… All of the counters above deal super effective damage with at least one of their moves, and the first full-generalist is MM Metagross in rank #12. Gotta work hard and spend dust to earn those damage balls!

Gym battles

Here is where it gets interesting. Blissey is the best gym defender, before and after the rework. Even after the CP & stat rework and the changes to the super effective multipliers, Blissey is still the queen of gym defense. However, not all gym defenders are normal types. In fact, the most optimal lineup should ideally alternate between the normal type gym defenders (Blissey, Chansey, Snorlax) and other good gym defenders that resist fighting type moves and deal super effective damage to most gym attackers. A good example of a wonderful gym defending lineup is:

Pokémon Stats Max CP Best FM Best CM
Blissey Normal 129 169 496 2757 Zen Headbutt Psychic Dazzling Gleam Fairy
Togekiss FairyFlying 225 217 198 3332 Charm Fairy Dazzling Gleam Fairy
Chansey Normal 60 128 487 1255 Zen Headbutt Psychic Dazzling Gleam Fairy
Metagross SteelPsychic 257 228 190 3791 Zen Headbutt Psychic Meteor Mash* Steel
Snorlax Normal 190 169 330 3225 Zen Headbutt Psychic Body Slam* Normal
Dragonite DragonFlying 263 198 209 3792 Dragon Tail Dragon Outrage Dragon

Other good alternatives are:

  • Milotic: Waterfall or Dragon Tail + Surf or Blizzard
  • Gardevoir: Confusion or Charm + Dazzling Gleam
  • Exeggutor: Confusion* + Psychic or Seed Bomb

If they are sorted this way, you need to consider switching your attacker when you want to take down a gym. Togekiss double resists fighting type moves, and your Machamp army will definitely not enjoy that.

Several options come to mind: the first one being to create a gym offense lineup with some of the best specialist gym attackers (Machamp, MM Metagross, a Mewtwo with 2 charge moves, Raikou, …). You could also unlock Rock Slide for your Machamp army and see how it goes. Or you could use generalists, accepting that your TTW (Time To Win) will probably be not as good as if you were using specialists but you will avoid switching in and out losing energy because generalists are usually good (or at least decent) against everything. Of course that’s probably one of the best defensive lineups, but plenty of gyms are full of non-optimal gym defenders, and that’s where generalists could be pretty useful.

Vs. Blissey

We will compare how C/DP Machamp, DT/OR Rayquaza, BP/MM Metagross and PC/FB Mewtwo perform against the best gym defender, Blissey. Simulations were performed in Pokébattler (again, full credit to their website) with No friendship boost, Extreme Weather, Charge move dodging and level 40 attackers.

Pokémon Fast Move Charge Move DPS TTW (s) TDO
Machamp Fighting Counter Fighting Dynamic Punch Fighting 24.58 33.3 1450
Mewtwo Psychic Psycho Cut Psychic Focus Blast Fighting 21.87 37.9 2955
Rayquaza DragonFlying Dragon Tail Dragon Outrage Dragon 18.59 46.8 1461
Metagross SteelPsychic Bullet Punch Steel Meteor Mash Steel 16.09 50.1 3555

Machamp acts as the specialist, Mewtwo as a pseudo-specialist (Focus Blast deals super effective damage), and the other two as generalists. As you can see, their DPS (and TTW) are lower than Machamp’s, the best specialist out there when it comes to taking down Blissey. Mewtwo performs quite well in this scenario, and if you have unlocked its second charge move, you can definitely use it as a great gym sweeper.

Rayquaza and Metagross on the other hand… it depends. Against Blissey, there are better options as you can see, and if you are a regular gym battler you probably know that Blissey will be there defending almost 100% of the time. If you want to optimize your strategy and the amount of time needed to take down a gym, you definitely need to power up specialists. Generalists will work better only in those cases when switching in & out constantly (because the defender resists your charge moves) is required, due to the amount of energy lost and time wasted between switches and filling your energy bar again.

Vs. an optimal defensive lineup

The outcome is pretty clear, you definitely need to have a team of specialists and optimize your charge move energy usage between switches. Most generalists are not prepared to take down an optimal defensive lineup efficiently. Thus, their performance would generally be worse in that particular scenario.

Vs. non-optimal gym lineups

If the gym lineup is not optimal, then generalists have a chance. Of course, provided those Pokémon have different type combinations. Another case where generalists would stand out would be against a gym full of Pokémon with low motivation. Since you won’t land plenty of charge moves, using a specialist is not necessary, and just jumping in with a generalist would probably be enough and it would also reduce the number of switches required.


As you can see in this article…

  • Generalists are not as useful as they were in the past, mainly due to the changes applied to the (non-)super effective damage multipliers
  • There are still a few scenarios where you could use them effectively
  • The raid scene is now plagued with specialist attackers
  • Taking down a gym is not as difficult as it once was. Thus, having a team full of specialists is not 100% required

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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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