Mega Aggron as a raid attacker: A meme or actually useful?

Related Articles

Even though the Test Your Mettle event has ended, Mega Aggron is still in mega raids until Tuesday, September 27. Mega Aggron loses its Rock subtyping upon evolution and turns into a pure Steel type, thus becoming the third Steel-type mega released in Pokémon GO, after Mega Steelix and Mega Scizor.

“But I thought Aggron is bad?” Yeah, Aggron’s terrible reputation (especially among dedicated players) is why so many people wrote off Mega Aggron before it even arrived. But maybe, just maybe, the mega evolution is enough to exceed people’s expectations…

You can now follow me (@teban54) on Twitter!

TL;DR

Mega Aggron is actually decent! Still worse than Metagross, but it’s likely the best Steel-type mega for group raids that we have now!

  • Mega Aggron’s individual power is still WAY below even non-shadow Metagross, but in line with Mega Scizor (a hair below), and well above Mega Steelix.
  • In raids with more than 3 total players, if some others are also using Steel types, Mega Aggron becomes the best (currently released) Steel-type mega to run, and is better than not using a mega.
  • When it gets to 6 players (a typical remote lobby), the above may become true even if others are not using Steel types.
  • In duos, or 3-5 raiders without type matching, Mega Scizor is likely the best Steel mega, but just running Shadow Metagross is better if you have them.
  • Mega Aggron is a direct upgrade over Mega Steelix. (Steelix is still good for XL boosts.)
  • Overall, Mega Aggron’s best utility will likely be against Fairy-type bosses (Zacian, Xerneas) by boosting other people’s Metagross, in which case it contributes more than just running Metagross yourself. Against Rock and Ice-type bosses, probably not worth it.
  • All these megas will eventually be put to shame by Mega Metagross.

Keep reading for:

  • Why Aggron got a bad rap, and why I think that hate is unnecessary now
  • Future Steel types (Zacian Crown!)
  • The ultimate speculation: What if every other Steel type gets a Meteor Mash clone?
  • List of my previous analyses (in Appendix 2)

Why do people hate Aggron?

In places like r/TheSilphRoad, Aggron is probably the most hated Pokémon of all time. Everyone frowns the moment they enter a raid and see an Aggron on the battle field, sent out by other raiders. Some people even go as far as not keeping any Aggron in their storage.

There’s a long list of Reddit posts regarding Aggron since it was released in 2018, and even the titles themselves don’t do it any favor:

But why does Aggron get such a bad reputation? It’s actually quite simple: Aggron is a subpar raid attacker, but until not long ago, its defensive stats and typing made the game frequently recommend it to casual players – who then end up not contributing enough damage and possibly failing the raid.

Is (non-shadow non-mega) Aggron bad? Certainly yes, though maybe not as bad as everyone is saying.

  • Aggron’s base attack stat is 198. That’s very subpar compared to useful raid attackers today, such as Rhyperior’s 241, Metagross’s 257, and Rampardos’s 295. FWIW, Abra has 195 base attack.
  • Aggron does have very impressive bulk with high defense. However, defense and HP matter significantly less than attack for raid attackers. Plus, Aggron’s bulk is getting into what I consider “too much” category, where additional bulk does little in boosting in-raid performance.
  • The saving grace is that Aggron is blessed with the best non-signature Steel-type charged move, Heavy Slam, and an okay double-Rock moveset in Smack Down/Stone Edge. However, that’s not enough for a Pokémon with 198 base attack.
  • As a result, non-shadow Aggron is around #10 among non-shadow non-mega Steel attackers, and #16 among non-shadow non-mega Rock attackers. Subpar, yes, and that’s typically below the “Budget counters” tier on my charts – but not by much. In fact, Aggron as a Rock type is not far below Golem, which used to be the best counter against the Kanto birds in 2017!

However, being #10 means there are literally hundreds of Pokémon worse than Aggron in raids where you need Steel-type damage. People hate Aggron not because of how bad it is, but because of how frequently it appears in recommended battle parties.

  • Until a few months ago, the recommendation algorithm in raids and gyms emphasizes on survival instead of dealing damage. Pokémon that can tank the boss’s fast and charged attacks are often recommended.
  • This algorithm really favors Aggron, not just because of its insane bulk, but because Rock/Steel has a huge number of resistances. So when the raid boss has moves that Aggron resists, such as Normal, Psychic and Dragon moves, Aggron is usually recommended even when it doesn’t deal super-effective damage back.
  • While the algorithm had niche uses of letting sophisticated raiders “guess” the boss moveset, it proved to be disastrous with casual raiders. They ended up entering raids with recommended Pokemon, such as Aggron, that survive forever but deal little damage. This often caused people to fail the raid, even though they could have won with the best counters available in their Pokebox.
  • The algorithm also frequently neglects the moves on your Pokémon, thus sending out Aggrons with Dragon Tail and Thunder. In this case, it’s truly bad.

The good news is, we won’t see (non-mega) Aggron being recommended any longer – the algorithm has been greatly improved! I don’t recall when the change happened, but now the algorithm clearly prioritizes damage over survival. I myself have seen my Fire team being recommended against Kartana, Ghost and Dark against Deoxys, Shadow Metagross against Zacian… Today, using the recommended team should be quite close to choosing a best possible team. No need to trash all your Aggrons or keep them fainted anymore!

Does Mega Aggron change things?

Upon mega evolving, Mega Aggron sees a few interesting changes. The negative is that it loses the Rock subtyping, making it unable to properly function as a Rock-type mega nor boost other players’ Rock damage. But on the positive side, its base attack rises to 247, above fellow Steel-type Mega Steelix’s 212, though still below Mega Scizor’s 279 and future Mega Metagross’s 300. In other words, lower than most megas, but still not bad.

Even more interesting is Mega Aggron’s top-tier bulk. Its 331 base defense is the highest of all megas (though Mega Steelix comes close at 327 and with more HP). I have showed previously that the best megas in group raids may not be glass cannons, but the ones that balance DPS and bulk, thus boosting other players’ damage for longer. Can Mega Aggron do that?

Before we get to that question, let’s look at individual power first:

Steel attackers ranked by their average in-raid performance from Pokebattler sims, aka Average Scaled Estimator (ASE). Without and with dodging respectively.
Steel attackers ranked by DPS^3*TDO and DPS respectively.

See Appendix 1 (at the end of this article) for technical details and how to read the charts.

Aggron (Mega) Steel

Well, if your baseline is Meteor Mash Metagross, then Mega Aggron is bad… Just like every other Steel type. Even L50 Mega Aggron is barely better than L30 Metagross in raw power. And if your baseline is Shadow Metagross, then Mega Aggron is a joke.

But compared to other Steel-type megas we have today, Mega Aggron is actually quite good! Its individual performance is quite similar to Mega Scizor (a little bit below on average, but can easily change when it comes to specific bosses), and far above similarly tanky Mega Steelix.

  • Mega Scizor has a bit higher DPS than Mega Aggron, but is glassier. This is where Aggron having Heavy Slam really helps to mitigate the disadvantage in base attack stats, since Scizor has to work with a worse moveset.
  • Mega Steelix and Mega Aggron have very similar bulk, but Mega Aggron’s DPS is way better.

Also, if you have a good Shadow Aggron, purifying for its mega evolution may be a good option. While Shadow Aggron is not the worst raid attacker out there, it’s far from even decent options that are much cheaper, and I doubt it has much future potential compared to existing options (even with broken moves).

Comparing Steel-type Megas

Let’s do a more detailed comparison between the megas: Scizor, Aggron and Steelix.

Suppose you’re fighting a Rock-type raid boss with anywhere between 2, 3, 6 or 10 total raiders. Everyone else uses the same Pokémon at Level 40, which can be one of the following: Shadow Metagross (MM), Metagross (MM), Machamp or Dragonite. You have the option of choosing any of the megas, and once it dies, you continue with either Shadow Metagross or regular Metagross.

Comparison of steel-type megas against an arbitrary rock-type boss on GamePress DPS/TDO spreadsheet

All data are based on the GamePress DPS/TDO spreadsheet with no simulations involved, so actual performance against specific raid bosses may differ.

Here’s a quick example of how to read the table: Look at the value 3.20 in red, under Mega Scizor and 3 players. This means:

  • At first, the other 2 players use Machamp and you use Mega Scizor.
  • When your Mega Scizor dies after 37.8 seconds, you use Shadow Metagross and the other 2 players continue using Machamp, up till the 51.2s mark (survival time of Mega Steelix).
  • At this point, the total damage is equivalent to 3.20 players all using Machamp during the same time.
  • In this scenario, you’re better off not using Mega Scizor and just bringing one or two Shadow Metagross instead, which would have been equivalent to 3.35 Machamps (to the left).

The greater the value, the better.

Since Metagross (regular or shadow) has higher DPS than all released megas, there are legitimate cases where not using any Steel-type mega is better:

  • If you use regular Metagross: With 2 players, the other player is not using Steel types.
  • If you use Shadow Metagross:
    • With 2 players;
    • With 3-5 players, others are not using Steel types;
    • With 6 players, others are using trash (e.g. Dragonite).

If you want to use a mega (i.e. not any of the cases above), Mega Scizor is the best mega in the following cases:

  • With 2 players;
  • With 3-5 players, others are not using Steel types;
  • With 6 players, others are using trash (e.g. Dragonite).

Mega Aggron is the best mega in the following cases:

  • With 3-5 players, others are using Steel types (shadow or regular Metagross);
  • With 6 players, others are using proper counters, Steel or not;
  • With 7+ players.

Morale of the story is that, under general circumstances (especially when no megas have a typing advantage):

  • If you’re confident others are also using Steel types (e.g. against fairies like Zacian and Xerneas), Mega Aggron is the best mega and indeed worth using, unless you’re pulling a duo.
  • If you’re not sure what others will bring (e.g. against rock and ice), Mega Aggron may still be better with 6 or more raiders. With 2-5 raiders, Mega Scizor is the better mega, but Shadow Metagross will be even better if you have one.
  • Mega Aggron is also generally a direct upgrade over Mega Steelix.

I think Mega Aggron’s best usage will be against Fairy types, where you’re more certain that at least a few others may use Steel types, aka Metagross.

When beating Rock or Ice-type bosses, it might be better to use megas of another type, or just aim for neutral damage by not bringing any mega at all. This is because such bosses typically have a huge number of weaknesses (most notably Fighting), and Metagross remains very elusive, especially for casual players.

Note that the above analysis is very coarse, and does NOT consider:

  • Typing advantages due to boss movesets. For example, Mega Scizor will perform better than above against Close Combat Zacian, and Mega Steelix better against Wild Charge Zacian.
  • When not all Pokémon are at level 40
  • XL boosts from using megas

Future Considerations: Steel types

Future steel attackers (some with speculative moves) ranked by ASE, without and with dodging respectively.
Future steel attackers (some with speculative moves) ranked by DPS^3*TDO and DPS respectively.
Zacian (Crowned Sword) FairySteel Without introducing new steel-type moves, there is one non-mega that may outclass non-shadow Metagross: Zacian’s Crowned Sword form.

Both Zacian and Zamazenta have Crown forms in the future, where they gain Steel subtyping and have base stats akin to megas. Zacian Crown is a lot more promising for raids (and likely PvP too), with a monstrous 332 base attack, higher than Mewtwo and on par with Xurkitree. Even with a mediocre moveset Metal Claw/Iron Head, it’s already enough to overcome regular Metagross in power; however, Shadow Metagross remains supreme.

  • Fortunately, MC/IH is a moveset that the base Zacian form already learns today, and it’s also among the current moveset for Zacian Crown in Game Master (credits to PokeMiners).
  • I do think Zacian Crown’s moveset is guaranteed to be changed before release, since its current moves will completely break Master League way more than Zacian Hero does. However, I think Metal Claw and Iron Head are safe bets. Neither are good moves in PvP, and they’re also among the few Steel-type moves Zacian can legally learn.
  • Zacian Crown will also be a top-tier Fairy attacker, despite not having a Fairy fast move (and can’t possibly learn one in the future).
  • Zacian does have a future Steel-type signature move, Behemoth Blade. I won’t elaborate too much on it, but it shouldn’t take a overly strong move for Behemoth Blade Zacian Crown to outclass Shadow Metagross. Unless Niantic completely screws up the move, like Sacred Fire, the [email protected] moves and Seed Flare.
Metagross (Mega) SteelPsychic Another highlight is Mega Metagross. Its mega evolution (300 base attack) didn’t go the attack-heavy route like Garchomp, Gengar and others did, and therefore Mega Metagross still has lower DPS than Shadow Metagross. However, having 50% more defense is enough to make up for it. Mega Metagross ends up having similar individual power as Shadow Metagross, but when you take the mega boost into consideration, Mega Metagross (or Megagross?) should be the clear winner, and settles the debate for the best Steel-type mega to run.

  • If anyone is wondering: DO NOT PURIFY your Shadow Metagross! That thing is much, much rarer than a regular one. Instead, find a good non-shadow Metagross to mega evolve in the future.
Lucario (Mega) FightingSteel The only other Steel-type mega is Mega Lucario. Unfortunately, with its current moves (Bullet Punch/Flash Cannon), it’s a disappointment – even the mega ends up having similar or worse performance than Mega Scizor and Mega Aggron.

However, did you know Lucario can learn Meteor Mash in the main series games? IMO, a Lucario raid day or some other event is a question of when, not if; and should one happen, Meteor Mash is a perfect candidate for an exclusive move. While Mega Lucario with Meteor Mash doesn’t quite catch up with Mega Metagross, it’s quite close, and even has higher DPS (thanks to its 310 base attack).

  • Regular Lucario with Meteor Mash continues to be underwhelming as a Steel type. No, it’s not MM Metagross, not even close. If you want to compete with Metagross, use Counter/Aura Sphere instead.
  • Should you save your Riolu for a Community Day or raid day? IMO, no. Lucario is already one of the most useful Pokémon in all of PvE (not just raids, but gyms and Rocket battles too!), and the one Pokémon that benefits the most from a second charged move in PvE. Aura Sphere/Shadow Ball, Power-up Punch/Aura Sphere, and Power-up Punch/Shadow Ball all have PvE uses, and replacing any of them with Meteor Mash will likely come with drawbacks. If you have an extra Riolu, saving it for Meteor Mash could be an option, but that should be more of an afterthought.

There are a few other future Steel-type legendaries. All are well below Meteor Mash Metagross, but may be functional as anti-Fairy counters if you don’t have (enough) Metagross. Solgaleo PsychicSteel

Solgaleo (Gen 7 legendary, one of Cosmog final evos) is the most immediate one, but its current Game Master moveset doesn’t even have a Steel-type fast move, so it becomes similar to (non-mega) Aggron as a steel attacker. Ouch. But IF it gets a Steel fast move before release, with Metal Claw/Iron Head, Solgaleo will become the #3 non-shadow non-mega Steel attacker, just below Dialga (and of course way below Metagross).

  • Note: Solgaleo can theoretically learn Heavy Slam, which would be another improvement. But the GM moveset has Iron Head and not Heavy Slam, so that’s unlikely at this point.
  • Solgaleo does have a Steel-type signature move, Sunsteel Strike, in the future.
Necrozma (Dusk Mane) PsychicSteel

Solgaleo can fuse with Necrozma (Gen 7 legendary) to become Dusk Mane Necrozma in the main series games, although we don’t know how the fusion will work in PoGo. If DM Necrozma gets Metal Claw/Iron Head, it will become a small upgrade over Dialga (so #2 non-shadow non-mega Steel), but still way below Metagross. Zamazenta (Crowned Shield) FightingSteel

Zamazenta does get a Crowned Shield form, but it gains more defense, unlike Zacian Crown which gains more attack. As such, Zamazenta Crown ranks quite low among Steel types, even with its current double Steel moveset. It should be similar to Genesect, Jirachi and Excadrill, which are all somewhat usable Steel types that do not have practical significance.

Note: I forgot to consider future shadows when making the plots. Shadow Excadrill (the most plausible shadow) has higher DPS than regular Metagross but much lower DPS3*TDO, so I expect it to fall a bit below Metagross in performance.

The Ultimate Speculation: What if every steel type gets a new move as good as Meteor Mash?

This wild exercise is mainly for entertainment, not intended to be anything serious, and will almost never happen. Its goal is to examine the (optimistic) ceiling of all non-Metagross Steel types, and exactly how future proof Metagross is.

First, here are some Steel-type moves that can possibly lead to improvement of Steel attackers, and notable PvE users:

  • Steel Beam. Learned by: Steelix, Scizor, Aggron, Metagross, Jirachi, Empoleon, Lucario, Magnezone, Dialga, Heatran, Excadrill, Escavalier, Bisharp, Genesect, Aegislash, Solgaleo, Celesteela, Kartana, Magearna, Melmetal, Zacian.
  • Steel Roller. Learned by: Steelix, Aggron, Metagross, Magnezone, Heatran, Solgaleo, Celesteela, Magearna, Melmetal.
  • Metal Burst. Learned by: Aggron, Dialga, Escavalier, Bisharp, Solgaleo.
  • Smart Strike. Learned by: Aggron, Excadrill, Escavalier, Celesteela, Kartana,
  • Sunsteel Strike, the signature move of Solgaleo and Dusk Mane Necrozma.
  • Double Iron Bash, the signature move of Melmetal.
  • King’s Shield, the signature move of Aegislash.

Of course, these moves will probably not be as overpowered as Meteor Mash, but just showing the possibility.

Even if they’re not overpowered moves, they can still be solid additions in PvE. Steel types have basically no good PvE charged moves besides Meteor Mash and Doom Desire (even more OP than MM, but only Jirachi learns it). We really need even an above-average Steel charged move, which can be as good as moves like Dynamic Punch, Leaf Blade, Shadow Ball, etc. This will help bridge the gap between MM Metagross and everything else.

If Aron gets a Community Day or Mega Raid Day (both may still happen in future), there’s a good chance it may get a new Steel move from the first 4 on this list.

Here’s the actual speculation where we make every single one of these a Meteor Mash clone. I won’t present any charts here due to how unrealistic it is, but here are the main findings:

  • A few things can possibly outclass MM Metagross: Dusk Mane Necrozma, Dialga, Mega Scizor and Solgaleo. They’re clustered around the Zacian Crown line on the charts, all above Metagross by a solid margin, but all below Shadow Metagross.
    • Note that Dialga’s signature move is dragon type. I don’t expect a significant improvement on its Steel moves for a long time.
    • Don’t forget Solgaleo needs to get a Steel-type fast move first.
  • MM Excadrill performs very similarly to Metagross, with higher DPS but less bulk. (Excadrill has only 2 less base attack than Metagross, but a better fast move in Metal Claw.)
  • MM Genesect and MM Mega Aggron will be just below Metagross, but still significantly above all non-Megagross counters today. On the charts, MM Mega Aggron is halfway between the lines for Metagross and Dusk Mane Necrozma.
  • MM Scizor performs similarly to Dialga. Still very usable but way below Metagross.
  • MM Melmetal lies between Shadow Scizor and Genesect/Jirachi/Excadrill. Not having a Steel fast move really hurts it. Double Iron Bash may have more uses in PvP than PvE, unless they make a new Steel fast move.
  • I forgot to run sims for MM Kartana, but it also lacks a Steel fast move and has to rely on Razor Leaf. As such, against Ice and Fairy, it will likely be further below MM Genesect and MM Mega Aggron. Against Rock, it will be top tier, with “MM clone” replacing Leaf Blade.

I didn’t consider any shadows in the above, but how shadows compare to Shadow Metagross will be similar to how their respective non-shadows compare to regular Metagross. All shadows of the abovementioned Pokemon, except Melmetal and Kartana, will likely surpass regular Metagross.

Overall, Metagross remains rather future-proof: While it’s not invincible, the Steel types that may outclass it (Zacian Crown, Solgaleo/DM Necrozma with signature move, Dialga with better move) are expensive, likely far away, and may not even happen in some cases.

Shadow Metagross remains almost definitely future-proof, unless we see more ways to get shadow legendaries in the far future. Or unless Excadrill indeed gets a move even stronger than Meteor Mash, plus a shadow.


Appendix 1: Guide on how to read the charts & Technical details

Don’t know how to read the charts?

If you’re totally lost, just look at the first two plots, or just the first one if you don’t dodge in raids. These two plots are based on my Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which approximates in-raid performance using Pokebattler. The DPS3*TDO and DPS plots are for experienced players who want to check these metrics.

In all four plots, the higher, the better. Example: Shadow Metagross is generally better than Metagross, which is better than Dialga, if they’re all at the same Pokémon level. But everything listed is perfectly usable and will let you pull your weight in raids.

You can also compare different attackers at different levels: points on the same horizontal line mean they’re equally as good. Example: A Level 30 Metagross performs similarly to Level 45 Dialga and Level 50 Mega Aggron.

Reminder: All plots show average performance against many raid bosses. Against a specific raid boss, the rankings can be different.

Technical details:

  • The first two plots are based on my in-house Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which estimates in-raid performance by automatically computing the average Pokebattler estimators against a variety of T5, Mega and T3 raid bosses, scaled so that the best attacker at L40 gets 1.0. The smaller, the better. For more details, refer to my Venusaur analysis in January and the comments.
  • “ASE Dodge” uses simulations with the “Dodge Specials” + “Realistic Dodging” options on Pokebattler. You can compare it to ASE without dodging to see how much dodging helps an attacker.
    • For example, Shadow Scizor’s ASE at Level 40 drops from 1.391 without dodging to 1.370 with dodging, so dodging generally helps Shadow Scizor’s performance.
    • However, Metagross’s L40 ASE rises from 1.177 to 1.181 with dodging, so dodging may hurt Metagross more than it helps.

Appendix 2: Past analyses on other types

Related reading

Popular today

Latest articles