Best Grass, Fire and Water, period.
- Mega Blaziken is tied with Mega Charizard Y (slightly higher DPS but less bulk). The difference is splitting hairs and largely depends on typing, but if I have to pick one, Blaziken.
- Yes, Mega Sceptile > Kartana, though not by much. Also, Mega Sceptile > any Electric.
- Mega Swampert is better than even Primal Kyogre with Surf! But that will end when Origin Pulse comes, assuming it’s actually a good move.
- Mega Swampert also boosts Ground-type XLs while beating them.
- DO NOT PURIFY your Shadow Swampert!!!!!
Mega Blaziken and Swampert are both top-tier Fighting and Ground, but not by far and will be outclassed.
For FOMO regarding other possible exclusive moves: (Details below)
- Aura Sphere Blaziken is OP, but unlikely to happen soon. (I’m saving a few just in case, but I have enough fire Blaziken already.)
- If you don’t even have enough grass/fire/water ones, forget about it. Just get FP/BB/HC, won’t regret it.
Keep reading for:
- Equivalent Rating (ER) explained (new metric by u/Elastic_Space shown on GamePress)
- Fast move considerations for all 3 starters (double move, then keep Counter and Mud Shot)
- Early thoughts on Primal Kyogre
- Future and speculative attackers
- Hisuian Decidueye, Typhlosion and Samurott (they’re the best uses for the unevolved species, but not too notable except Shadow Hisuian Typhlosion)
Last Saturday, on December 3, 2022, the Hoenn starters Sceptile, Blaziken and Swampert had their Mega Evolutions released during a special raid day. Their past Community Day moves, Frenzy Plant, Blast Burn and Hydro Cannon, were also available during the 3-hour event, either from catching the raid boss or evolution.
- If you forgot to evolve, you might not need to worry: The CD moves may be featured again during Hoenn Tour in February 2023 (even if you don’t buy a ticket), though there’s no official confirmation.
Each one of their megas immediately became the best raid attacker among their primary types, Grass, Fire and Water. Additionally, they all have secondary typings (Sceptile gains Dragon upon mega evolving). Blaziken and Swampert also temporarily become top-tier Fighting and Ground attackers respectively, although they will eventually be surpassed by future megas.
Due to a delay in writing, obviously this article won’t help anyone decide how hard they should go on the raid day. (I published a miniature version of this article before the raid day for this purpose.) But I still want to answer the following questions:
- How strong are Mega Sceptile, Blaziken and Swampert, compared to existing options?
- What do the future prospects look like for Grass, Fire and Water-type attackers?
I will look at Fighting and Ground types in the coming weeks.
If you don’t understand any of this, don’t worry. Appendix 1 at the end may help you if you’re curious.
A few brief notes on changes since my last full-scale article in late October.
- A new theoretical metric has been proposed by Reddit user u/Elastic_Space and adopted by GamePress: Equivalent Rating (ER). Nothing mysterious – It’s basically DPS3*TDO but scaled, or more specifically, (DPS3*TDO)1/4.
- For those who are unfamiliar with DPS3*TDO, it’s a metric to quickly estimate how good an attacker is in practice, without having to run tons of simulations. It takes both DPS (speed) and bulk into account. All this can be said for ER.
- This is to maintain linearity for comparisons (e.g. 20% better would mean ~20% more ER, not 200% more). For more details, read this Reddit post.
- I will be showing ER in my charts in place of DPS3*TDO.
- For my own articles, I’ve decided to retire the “Average Scaled TTW with dodging” chart, typically the 4th plot.
- This is because TTW with dodging seems like an unrealistic scenario. For the vast majority of attackers, dodging always makes your TTW worse (you don’t deal damage when dodging), unlike Estimator.
- Additionally, this change also helps reduce my own workload to a more reasonable level (making these plots takes a surprisingly long time!).
- Now, each type will have 5 plots instead of 6: ASE, ASE with dodging, ASTTW, ER, DPS.
Before we dive into type-specific comparisons, let’s take a look at the base stats of all three starters and their mega evolutions:
- Sceptile: 223 attack, 169 defense, 172 HP
- Mega Sceptile: 320 attack, 186 defense, 172 HP
- Blaziken: 240 attack, 141 defense, 190 HP
- Mega Blaziken: 329 attack, 168 defense, 190 HP
- Swampert: 208 attack, 175 defense, 225 HP
- Mega Swampert: 283 attack, 218 defense, 225 HP
The Gen 3 starters already had a reputation for being the “best” starters in raids (in Gen 1-5), or at least having the highest DPS. Sceptile and Blaziken are both attack-weighted glass cannons, while Swampert has the right balance of attack and bulk, and the right moves.
Their mega evolutions push these traits to the extremes. Mega Sceptile and Blaziken both gained almost 100 base attack on evolution, now having 320+ base attack! Both have the highest attack among megas of their types, and rank well above-average among all megas. And that’s not even considering their overpowered (OP) Community Day moves yet!
- For reference, Mewtwo’s base attack is 300. I consider anything with 300+ attack as OP.
Mega Swampert’s base attack may not be as outstanding by mega standards, akin to the linkes of Pidgeot, Houndoom, Manectric and Lopunny. Even Mega Gyarados has higher base attack, not to mention Primal Kyogre. But Mega Swampert’s secret weapon is its insanely OP CD move, Hydro Cannon. It’s the strongest of all three starter moves, and often still considered the “golden standard” among OP moves.
Without further ado, let’s see what happens in practice when you combine monstrous stats with OP moves!
Mega Sceptile among Grass-type attackers
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.
See Appendix 1 (at the end of this article) for technical details and how to read the charts. The Chandelure analysis also contains explanations on ASE vs ASTTW.Sceptile (Mega) GrassDragon
Remember when I said Kartana is so OP that it puts every Grass attacker to shame? Less than 4 months later, Mega Sceptile is here to challenge that. With higher base attack, more bulk and a better move in Frenzy Plant, Mega Sceptile is about 4-5% better than Kartana, and is the best Grass attacker.
- Just like Kartana, Mega Sceptile is way ahead of everything else: 16% better than Mega Venusaur, and 18% better than Shadow Tangrowth (best shadow).
- Even though Mega Venusaur has 46% more bulk than Mega Sceptile, with a DPS difference that large, I doubt it will matter even with the mega boost involved. I haven’t done any numbers on this, but my guess is that Mega Venusaur will probably only overtake Mega Sceptile in very large lobbies.
- Also consider that against water-type bosses, Mega Sceptile is significantly better than any Electric attackers, including Mega Manectric.
Honorable mention to non-mega Sceptile: It’s still a viable option if you happened to evolve some extra Treeckos during raid day, and is generally the best Frenzy Plant user, all things considered. However, even a Level 30 Kartana is significantly better than Level 50 Sceptile. It’s also outclassed by many other options, including most shadows, Tapu Bulu and Roserade.
Bullet Seed or Fury Cutter?
TL;DR: Use Bullet Seed, but Fury Cutter has its niches and is not far behind.
Back in 2019, there were discussions of Bullet Seed vs Fury Cutter. Even though Fury Cutter doesn’t get STAB and rarely deals Super Effective (1.6x) damage to targets that you want to use a Grass attacker against, it has a few things going for it:
- Bullet Seed is a bad move in PvE. With 7.27 Damage Per Second (DPS) and 12.73 Energy Per Second (EPS), it has well below-average damage (though still higher than non-SE Fury Cutter), and its energy gain is not enough to make up for it.
- Fury Cutter, on the other hand, has very high energy gain of 15.0 EPS, the third highest in PvE. This works great in charging up the OP Frenzy Plant.
- Fury Cutter also has a much shorter duration (0.4s to Bullet Seed’s 1.1s), which is good for dodging.
I’ve compared Bullet Seed vs Fury Cutter against all bosses (but not specific boss movesets). In terms of Pokebattler estimator values, at Level 40:
|Bullet Seed better||Fury Cutter better|
|No dodge||45/57 (79%)||12/57 (21%)|
|Dodge||42/57 (74%)||15/57 (26%)|
About half of Fury Cutter’s win cases are when the boss is weak to both Grass and Bug (e.g. Mega Gyarados/Sharpedo, Mega Slowbro). But there are also bosses where Fury Cutter wins despite a typing disadvantage, most notably T5 Kyogre, and T5 Groudon with dodging.
Note that even when Fury Cutter is worse, it’s not far behind. The difference is less than 1% in both estimator and TTW.
Ultimately, stick with Bullet Seed. Fury Cutter’s advantages seem more like a curiosity than serving any actual purpose.
Mega Blaziken among Fire-type attackers
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.Blaziken (Mega) FireFighting
Mega Charizard Y has been the definition of Fire-type attackers for more than 2 years since its release. It was also a necessity in several hard solos, such as T5 Genesect and Mega Abomasnow (before mega raids were made easier).
Now, Mega Blaziken (with Blast Burn) joins Mega Charizard Y in its elite tier – both are equally good top-tier Fire attackers, well ahead of others.
- Mega Blaziken is ~15% better than Shadow Moltres (100% IVs) and 19-20% better than Reshiram.
- Detailed comparison of Mega Blaziken vs Mega Charizard Y below.
Again, honorable mention to non-mega Blaziken: It’s the best Blast Burn user and definitely viable, hovering around Moltres/Entei level depending on the metric. But it has now been outclassed by Darmanitan and Chandelure (without its CD move), not to mention premium options like Reshiram and shadows.
Fire Spin vs Counter
Counter is generally one of the best fast moves in PvE, being slightly better than Fire Spin. Unlike Sceptile’s fast move debate, here Counter doesn’t have a significant energy advantage, but has even more things going for it:
- Fire is super effective against: Grass, Bug, Ice and Steel. Conveniently, Counter is also super effective against Ice and Steel.
- And of course, Counter does get STAB.
As a result, Counter becomes the optimal move (in neutral weather) whenever both Counter and Fire Spin have the same effectiveness. This means against Ice and Steel bosses, not including those that take neutral or resisted damage from Counter (e.g. Solgaleo, Metagross), nor bosses that are double weak to Fire (e.g. Kartana). But still, in nearly half the cases, Counter will be better!
Mega Blaziken vs Mega Charizard Y
TL;DR: Largely depends on typing, but Blaziken does seem to handle neutral situations better, and thus is the better pick against more bosses (60-80%). Either way, it’s splitting hairs.
While Mega Blaziken has an insane 329 base attack, Mega Charizard Y’s 319 is close, and it comes with 24% more bulk. As a result, here’s how they compare using different metrics at Level 40:
- DPS: Blaziken 4.4% higher
- ER: Charizard Y 0.6% higher
- ASE: Charizard Y 0.2% better (aka equal)
- ASE dodge: Blaziken 1.3% better
- ASTTW: Blaziken 1.5% better
Note that Blaziken uses either Fire Spin or Counter depending on situation. (The sims sometimes allow Charizard Y to use Wing Attack too, though it’s legacy.)
Breaking this down by each raid boss, at L40 (again, not including specific boss movesets
as I forgot to run the sims):
|Blaziken better||Charizard Y better|
|Estimator||41/62 (66%)||21/62 (34%)|
|Estimator dodge||50/62 (81%)||12/62 (19%)|
|TTW||51/62 (82%)||11/62 (18%)|
In the cases where Mega Charizard Y wins, there’s usually a typing advantage due to the boss’s movesets. This includes moves of the following types: Grass, Fighting, Ground, Psychic, , Fairy.
On the other hand, Mega Blaziken comes with its own set of advantages, namely against the following moves: Rock, Dark, Electric, Ice. However, it does seem that Mega Blaziken still has an advantage in neutral situations. There’s also a good number of Grass-type T3 bosses where Blaziken is better.
I think when there are no obvious typing differences, the difference is minimal. Mega Blaziken has stronger individual power, but in medium to large raid lobbies, Mega Charizard Y’s extra bulk (thus better survival time) may contribute more by boosting other players’ damage longer.
One more practical advantage in favor of the fire chicken: Mega Blaziken helps boost your allies’ Fighting-type damage in addition to Fire. This is especially true against the more common Ice– and Steel-type raid bosses, where people may have a better Fighting team than a Fire team.
- While Mega Charizard Y can do the same for both Fire– and -type counters against Grass and Bug bosses, in reality these cases are very rare.
Mega Swampert among Water-type attackers
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.Swampert (Mega) WaterGround
Yup, yet another off-the-chart mega starter. Mega Swampert with Hydro Cannon is the best Water attacker currently. This time, however, the dominance over other options is not as huge: Mega Swampert is about 7-8% better than Mega Blastoise, and 10-12% over Shadow Swampert. Significant enough to be firmly ahead in rankings, but not the 15%+ difference we saw with the other two megas.
- Bulk considerations: Mega Swampert is actually bulkier than Mega Blastoise (by 10%). So unless typing makes a difference, Mega Swampert is clearly better.
Perhaps the biggest bonus in practical use: Mega Swampert allows you to get boosted Candy XL chance against Ground-type raid bosses (e.g. against Primal Groudon), in addition to taking them down with Water-type attacks! This will always have value, even if Origin Pulse Primal Kyogre outclasses it in raw power.
“But what about Primal Kyogre?” I’ll leave that as a mystery… Until the “future attackers” section.
Yet another honorable mention to non-mega Swampert. It actually fares better than Sceptile and Blaziken, in that everything strictly better than it is a mega, shadow or legendary. (The other starters face competition from Roserade, Chandelure etc.) So regular Swampert is still one of the best cheap options. However, Hydro Cannon Greninja will outclass it whenever Froakie CD happens, and so does every water starter in later generations.
DO NOT PURIFY!
Since Swampert already has its shadow form released, a few people may be tempted to purify a high IV Shadow Mudkip/Swampert for a purified 100% Mega Swampert. DO NOT do that!
- A high IV Shadow Swampert is much rarer and harder to find than a 100% Mega Swampert, which can come from wild catches, field research, eggs, raids, etc.
- You can only run one mega at a time, but you can run up to 5/6 Shadow Swamperts. If you keep it as a shadow and find yourself another Mega Swampert, you can run that mega and this shadow, plus maybe even more shadows!
- Mega Swampert is only 10-12% better than Shadow Swampert, but the shadow is 18% better than a regular Swampert when the latter is not mega evolved.
- The difference between a 100% IV Mega Swampert and a 90%+ is minimal for raids.
- If your shadow is already a Swampert and you purify it, you get Return, not Hydro Cannon. Even if your Shadow Swampert already got rid of Frustration. Ouch.
Mega Swampert vs Mega SceptileWater and Grass attackers are often used interchangeably, mostly against rock and ground types. So it’s natural for the two top-tier megas to have a battle themselves!
I didn’t run any simulations, but from the numbers alone:
Mega Sceptile has 6% more DPS, but Mega Swampert has 4% more ER (DPS3*TDO). In theory, this means Mega Swampert should be slightly better than Mega Sceptile in performance.
Ultimately, I think both megas are very similar, and it will usually come down to type advantages. Also consider that in practice, Grass types typically find a bit more usage than Water types in raids.
Water Gun vs Mud Shot
This is kind of a mashup of the last two “fast move comparisons” sections. Mud Shot has a lot of advantages:
- Mud Shot has higher energy gain than Water Gun, just like Fury Cutter. This allows it to charge up the OP Hydro Cannon faster.
- Water is super effective against: Fire, Rock and Ground. Conveniently, Mud Shot is also super effective against Fire and Rock.
- Mud Shot also gets STAB.
Thus, in neutral weather, Mud Shot is better than Water Gun when they have the same effectiveness. Typically, this is against Fire and Rock bosses, not including those that take neutral or resisted damage from Mud Shot (e.g. Aerodactyl), nor bosses that are double weak to Water (e.g. Primal Groudon).
Considering that Ground-type raid bosses are generally less common than Fire and Rock, you may find yourself using Mud Shot (Mega) Swampert more than Water Gun!
Mega Hoenn starters in their secondary types
I will have articles dedicated to Fighting and Ground types in upcoming weeks, which will include Mega Blaziken and Mega Swampert. But here’s a summary:
- Mega Blaziken with Counter/Focus Blast is a top-tier Fighting attacker. Its ASE is between Terrakion and Shadow Machamp, but with dodging or in 6+ player lobbies (ASTTW), it rises above Terrakion. However, it will eventually be outclassed by Mega Lucario, Mega Mewtwo X and Mega Heracross.
- Mega Swampert with Mud Shot/Earthquake is only worse than Shadow Mamoswine (with the new High Horsepower). However, the difference between it and the best non-shadow non-mega options (Garchomp, Landorus-T, Excadrill) is also not huge. It will also be outclassed by Mega Garchomp and Primal Groudon.
- It’s definitely the best Ground-type mega at the moment. When Mega Steelix doesn’t even have a Ground-type fast move, that bar is extremely low.
- Mega Sceptile doesn’t have a Dragon-type fast move yet, so it can’t function as a Dragon attacker. Even if it gets Dragon Breath, it only seems marginally better than non-mega Rayquaza.
- More details later.
I highly recommend unlocking second charged moves on your Mega Blaziken and Swampert, so that you can use them for both types. And as I discussed earlier, you can probably keep Counter and Mud Shot as fast moves more often than not!
Better moves? / Reasons not to evolve?
Since all three starters had their Community Days in 2019, some veteran player may have had more than enough high IV/hundos. Is there a point in saving them for another future exclusive move, that’s NOT Frenzy Plant, Blast Burn or Hydro Cannon?
First thing to be made clear: I don’t think they’ll get much improvements on the Grass, Fire and Water front. An improvement IS still possible: Mega Sceptile can theoretically get Magical Leaf, which would be a small but firm upgrade over Bullet Seed (I’ve discussed it in the Kartana article, or chart only). But even if it happens, I think it’s more likely to be a permanent movepool addition due to GBL, instead of an exclusive move.
Now let’s consider the secondary typings.
There’s actually a legitimate reason to do it! Aura Sphere is a legal move for Blaziken in the MSG. IF it ever comes to Go – and that’s a BIG IF there – Aura Sphere Blaziken will be a monster.
- Its non-shadow form already lands between Shadow Machamp and Shadow Hariyama. Not touching Terrakion, but much better than Lucario and Conkeldurr.
- Aura Sphere Mega Blaziken is even stronger than Mega Lucario!
- I’ve discussed both in September (article, charts only).
The big question is how likely that would happen. Niantic seems to be keeping Aura Sphere exclusive to Lucario (despite its wider distribution in Gen 8 MSG). Another Blaziken raid day with Aura Sphere in a few years when contents run out won’t surprise me, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Sceptile needs the most love in its secondary typing moveset. It needs Dragon Breath, the only possible fast move. Then, for the best raid performance, it still needs Outrage.
- Even if it gets Dragon Breath, it only seems marginally better than non-mega Rayquaza.
- Getting both Dragon Breath and Outrage will help it pull much closer to Shadow Dragonite levels. But there are still way too many better dragon megas: Rayquaza, Garchomp, Salamence, Latios, maybe even Latias.
Despite the rather lacklustre power, Dragon Breath/Outrage Sceptile may be the most likely of the three, as both moves should also be an upgrade in PvP. I can totally see this happening as an exclusive move for a future dragon-themed event (not that I want more exclusive moves! 🙁).
Earthquake is not the most ideal ground move for Swampert, or anyone. What if Swampert gets Earth Power, just like every other ground-type Pokemon wants to? It will be an improvement, but a small, boring one (5%).
- Regular EP Swampert is worse than Donphan. Shadow EP Swampert is worse than Rhyperior.
- The impact is mostly on its mega, but even then, it’s still way below Mega Garchomp and Primal Groudon.
Even worse, I think it’s the least likely of the three. Getting Earth Power means an upgrade to Swampert in PvP, or at least an alternative. And Swampert is one of the last Pokemon that needs a buff in PvP.
[Verdict/TL;DR] Aura Sphere Blaziken is OP and the only one worth saving for, but not likely. DB/O Sceptile may be more likely, but not strong enough and not worth speculating.
If you don’t have enough of them for grass/fire/water, forget about all this.
Future and Speculative Attackers: Grass
Now let’s look at how the three starters and their megas fare in the future. Will more megas (and Primals) outclass them? How about competition from non-megas?
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.
I already covered most of these future attackers when writing the Kartana article, so I’ll leave the more detailed explanations there. A few additions: Gen 9 (Meowscarada and Brute Bonnet), possible signature moves (Zarude and Tsareena), Shadow Kartana, and Grass Knot Mega Mewtwo Y.
The only things that can threaten Mega Sceptile are Shadow Kartana, and a purely hypothetical Mega Mewtwo Y with Grass Knot.
Here’s a run-through.
Mega Sceptile/Kartana tier
- Shadow Kartana will obviously be OP.
- Mega Mewtwo Y, if given Grass Knot, can ironically become the best Grass-type mega, but good luck waiting for that to happen. A nice curiosity though.
- Shadow Rillaboom (Gen 8 starter) with Frenzy Plant, when it comes, will probably thread the needle between Mega Sceptile and Kartana.
Mega Venusaur tier, or above
- Shadow Roserade is quite consistently here, or even above it.
- Two mythicals that wait for better moves: Shaymin Sky needing Magical Leaf, and Zarude needing its signature move, Jungle Healing. If they do happen (and if Jungle Healing is good), they have potential to join this tier, but still well below Kartana.
Shadows and Zarude tier
- Shadow Sceptile‘s ASE is rather disappointing (too glassy), but still hangs around current shadows. With dodging or in bigger lobbies (ASTTW), though, it rises above this tier and essentially ties Mega Venusaur.
- Frenzy Plant Rillaboom is only slightly worse than Zarude and other shadow Frenzy Plant users. Best starter by far, and will be very affordable… In 2027.
Between Zarude and Tapu Bulu/Roserade
- Brute Bonnet (Gen 9, paradox Amoonguss), if given Magical Leaf/Grass Knot. Looks like a slower Zarude/Rillaboom.
- Meowscarada (Gen 9 starter) with Frenzy Plant (assuming Magical Leaf). It has the highest DPS among starters, but lacks Rillaboom’s bulk.
- Tsareena (Gen 7) with its signature move, Trop Kick, if it’s good. Also a perfect CD candidate.
- Hisuian Deciueye, if given Magical Leaf/Frenzy Plant. It does have marginally better stats tan the Alolan counterpart, but the key is to get Magical Leaf (PLA moveset). If it gets Razor Leaf (Gen 9 moveset) instead, won’t be much better than regular Decidueye.
- Tsareena with its current Game Master moveset, Magical Leaf/Grass Knot. Around Roserade/Tangrowth level.
- The other CD starters: Chesnaught and Decidueye. Chesnaught does seem like the best FP starter pre-Rillaboom, but that doesn’t mean much.
Future and Speculative Attackers: Fire
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.
Information overload, I know. I’ll break it down by tier again.
First, the only things that may threaten Mega Blaziken and Mega Charizard Y are:
- Primal Groudon (Ground/Fire), IF given two new moves: Fire Fang and Overheat.
- Shadow Reshiram with its signature move (Blue Flare or Fusion Flare) if it’s actually good.
Without the new charged moves, both will likely fall short of surpassing the megas, though Shadow Reshiram with Overheat gets really close to tying Mega Charizard Y. Primal Groudon with Fire Fang/Fire Blast (or Fire Punch) will probably be below that, but still better than all others.
A word on Primal Groudon:
- It gains a Fire subtyping upon Primal Reversion (speculated to be similar to Mega Evolutions in PoGo), but the only Fire moves Groudon can currently learn are Fire Blast and the legacy Fire Punch.
- In the MSG, Groudon can learn Fire Fang, and could learn Incinerate in Gen 5-6.
- Having a fast move alone already makes Primal Groudon more than functional as a Fire attacker, with 331 base attack.
- As for how likely that will happen? Probably not on release, and probably not before Niantic finishes milking Precipice Blades, but I would be surprised if it does not come as a raid-exclusive move at some point. Incinerate would also be very useful for PvP.
Now, back to other future attackers.
Between megas and Shadow Moltres
- Shadow Reshiram, as mentioned above.
- Galarian Zen Darmanitan (Ice/Fire), IF given Fire Fang. This beast has 323 attack and already has Overheat in its GM moveset, but the fast moves are Ice Fang and Tackle. If that changes before release (or even during a future CD), FF/O Galarian Zen Darmanitan immediately becomes the top-tier fire attacker… In addition to the top-tier ice attacker.
- Shadow Blacephalon with its ideal moveset (Fire Spin/Overheat). It actually has higher DPS than the megas, but bulk holds it back.
- Shadow Chandelure and Shadow Darmanitan. Just like how their non-shadows sit above Moltres.
Shadow Moltres/Entei and Reshiram tier
- Shadow Heatran. Yes, it’s actually useful, about the same as Shadow Moltres and Shadow Entei as the top non-megas… Until Shadow Reshiram destroys them.
- Shadow Blaziken (BB), and Blacephalon with its ideal moveset (Fire Spin/Overheat). They’re very close in performance: slightly below Reshiram without dodging (ASE), around Shadow Entei with dodging or in 6+ raider lobbies (ASTTW).
- FS/O Blacephalon does out-DPS Reshiram and Shadow Moltres, but I doubt it lives up to that in practice. If you already built Reshiram teams, don’t worry too much.
- Mega Mewtwo Y with Psycho Cut/Flamethrower. Close to Reshiram.
- Shadow Hisuian Typhlosion (with Blast Burn). This one I’m unsure about due to lack of simulations. On paper, it looks to be just below Shadow Blaziken, but significantly above Shadow Johtonian Typhlosion. If it ever becomes a thing…
Shadow Charizard tier
- The other shadows of currently viable attackers: Shadow Emboar (BB) and Shadow Flareon.
Darmanitan and Chandelure tier
- Volcarona. Has Niantic forgotten about it? Anyway, it’s basically a bulkier Chandelure with the same DPS, so it performs similar to or slightly ahead of the Darmanitan/Chandelure group. All very viable non-shadow non-mega non-legendaries, but it will certainly arrive too late to stand out.
- Blacephalon with a more “realistic” moveset: Fire Spin/Fire Blast. This is if Niantic screws up its moveset. Blacephalon will almost certainly be viable, the question is if it will be worth rare candies when Reshiram exists.
Worse than Chandelure
- Volcanion (Gen 6 mythical). A worse Entei, ranges from above BB Blaziken/Emboar to below depending on metric. Definitely not worth rare candies.
- The other Blast Burn starters. BB Delphox is the best of the rest, basically being a slower but bulkier Blaziken, but still unable to outperform it. Incineroar and Cinderace (Gen 8) are Charizards that came too late.
- Mega Camerupt. It’s a mega, but it’s still a Camerupt.
Future and Speculative Attackers: Water
For individual charts, or if you’re having trouble viewing the images, here’s an imgur link.
Primal Kyogre and Origin Pulse
(Since Pokebattler has not added Primal Kyogre and Groudon yet, I can’t run simulations on them, and have to rely on DPS and ER for primals.)
Niantic has announced that Primal Kyogre and Groudon will be released during Hoenn Tour in February 2023. While we have no idea how they will be implemented, it has been widely speculated they will be handled like mega evolutions, being temporary forms with a cost per use.
I will write more dedicated articles on both once we know more information, including whether they’re temporary and whether they will come with their signature moves, Origin Pulse and Precipice Blades. But for now, let’s see what we have.
On paper, even Primal Kyogre (with Surf) still falls just short of Mega Swampert in both ER and DPS. This means: Until Origin Pulse arrives, and/or in case Origin Pulse becomes a bad move, Mega Swampert will be the best Water-type attacker for a long time!
- (Technical) How can you estimate Primal Kyogre’s sim results on the ASE/ASTTW plots? Use Shadow Kyogre with Origin Pulse. It has a similar ER as Primal Kyogre with Surf, but similar DPS as Primal Kyogre with OP. So take the “Shadow Kyogre (Origin Pulse)” line, move it down a bit, and that’s where Primal Kyogre will likely be.
With the CURRENT stats of Origin Pulse, Primal Kyoger with OP will indeed surpass Mega Swampert in all metrics. However, it’s important to note that current Origin Pulse stats have been in the Game Master since 2018, and it’s likely to change before release.
I won’t speculate on how good Origin Pulse will be, but u/Elastic_Space wrote an article recently on this topic, with different hypothetical scenarios. TL;DR: Current stats for Origin Pulse are actually “less than intermediate” in terms of improvement, and while it’s enough for Primal Kyogre to surpass Mega Swampert, it will take more for regular Kyogre to overtake Shadow Swampert.
Other future Water attackers:
Mega Swampert and Mega Blastoise tier
- Ash Greninja with Hydro Cannon. In Gen 7, this thing literally has stats of a mega, but with the extra stats entirely dedicated to attack, and an OP move. Its DPS is literally off the charts. The only question is if we will ever see it with such broken stats: In Gen 9 MSG, Ash Greninja now has identical stats to regular Greninja.
- Shadow Kyogre, with or without Origin Pulse. This is one I can actually sim, so enjoy the ASE and ASTTW plots. They all lie above Mega Blastoise. You can also see the current “OP” stats are not that OP at all.
- Shadow Palkia IF given Waterfall. Palkia always lacked a Water-type fast move in its legal learnset… Until 3 weeks ago, when it can finally learn Waterfall in Scarlet/Violet. IF Waterfall Palkia ever comes to PoGo, Waterfall/Hydro Pump Palkia will be almost identical to Surf Kyogre, mayyybe a hair better.
- Palkia can get Surf too, but that’s too much speculation.
- Shadow Inteleon (Gen 8 starter) with Hydro Cannon. It’s an insane glass cannon – when regular Inteleon does as well as shadow starters, you know what happens to its shadow. In practice, it will most likely surpass both Shadow Origin Pulse Kyogre and Mega Swampert.
Shadow Swampert tier, or slightly below
- Shadow Kingler. It’s VERY glassy and the data shows it. In both ASE and ASTTW, it falls behind Shadow Swampert and does’t live up to its full potential. But check out ASE with dodging: here, it’s higher than even Mega Blastoise! Shadow Kingler is an amazing glass cannon (though still worse than Shadow Kyogre), but you really, really need to dodge when using it.
- The other pre-Gen 6 shadow starters: Shadow Samurott and Shadow Empoleon with Hydro Cannon. Unlike Kingler, neither can truly surpass Shadow Swampert – at best they can tie it.
- Inteleon with Hydro Cannon. Like I said above… Regular Inteleon does as well as shadow starters. Just like Rillaboom. Crazy. However, just like the other shadow starters, it can’t surpass Shadow Swampert in practice.
- Palafin Hero (Gen 9), IF given the most optimal moveset Waterfall/Surf. With mega-like stats and 295 base attack (after 9% nerf), even a rather typical moveset puts it on the same level as shadow starters. We’ll see how it’s implemented.
- Kyogre with Origin Pulse (current stats). Continues to fall behind Shadow Swampert, but can catch up with other shadows.
(Verdict: Shadow Swampert is indeed a future-proof non-legendary shadow, until Shadow Greninja and Primarina come to play. Sophisticated users can make use of Shadow Kingler with its high DPS, but it’s frail and inconsistent.)
- Quaquaval (Gen 9 starter) with Water Gun/Hydro Cannon. I expect it to fall between Origin Pulse Kyogre and Surf Kyogre. Better than Gen 1-7 starters, too bad it came right after Inteleon.
- Origin Palkia, IF given Waterfall. Despite how ugly it looks, Origin Palkia’s stats are strict upgrades over Altered/regular Palkia, with 6 more attack and 8 more defense. So if given Waterfall (and either Hydro Pump or Surf), it should land safely above both Kyogre and Altered Palkia.
- Origin Palkia is not in the plots because I forgot.
- Palkia IF given Waterfall. Explained above. Palkia has higher base attack than Kyogre and a better typing, but those are mitigated by Hydro Pump vs Surf.
- Primarina with Hydro Cannon. Same DPS as Kyogre, and about the same performance. This used to be seen as the future of HC starters… Until Inteleon came along.
- Shadow Palkia (with Dragon Tail). Even without a water-type fast move, it’s still functional, just not amazing.
Between Kyogre and Swampert
- Greninja (Bubble/Hydro Cannon). It already starts to out-DPS Surf Kyogre, but the low bulk holds it back. Note that Water Shuriken has been datamined as a fast move, so depending on how good it is, Greninja’s performance may rise further – but not by much.
- Hisuian Samurott (with Hydro Cannon). Gaining 6 attack at the cost of a similar drop in defense and HP, it should be better than Unovan Samurott in raids. So it will probably surpass Swampert by a little bit, but still worse than Greninja – which means it won’t mean much when it arrives.
Swampert tier and worse
- Mega Sharpedo. Basically a Kingler clone. Too glassy and not strong enough for a mega.
- Wishiwashi School Form (Gen 7). No movesets yet so I plotted both Surf and Hydro Pump, but honestly both are not very notable, around the likes of Gyarados and Feraligatr.
- Volcanion (Gen 6 mythical). Similar performance as Gyarados with its current GM moveset (Water Gun/Hydro Pump). Even Surf won’t change much. Just like itself as a fire type, it’s usable but way too outclassed.
Articles coming up next
When my IRL schedule permits, I plan to analyze the following:
- Fighting: Keldeo and Mega Blaziken. By Friday before the ticketed event starts, I’ll try to put up a simple plot with Keldeo and other current attackers. Full article with future and speculative attackers coming next week (I have a whole lot of them to talk about!).
- Ground: Mega Swampert, Shadow Mamoswine and Shadow Golurk.
- Ice: Mega Glalie, when it enters raids. Maybe Niantic will surprise us with B/W Kyurem too?
- Shadow Mewtwo and other shadow legendaries: I was working on this during most of November, but the workload is absolutely huge, so I diverted my attention to this article instead. It will definitely come at some point, but no ETA.
- Dragon: Mega Salamence since its mega portrait is being hinted at in the datamines.
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 Estimator, best suited for realistic shortmanning (2-5 raiders).
The Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) plots are similar, but best suited for medium or large lobbies (6+ raiders). This metric assumes no relobbying (i.e. reentering the raid after all Pokemon fainted).
The ER (aka DPS3*TDO scaled) and DPS plots are for experienced players who want to check these metrics.
In all six plots, the higher, the better. Example: Mega Sceptile is generally better than Kartana, which is better than Zarude, 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: Looking at the “ASE no dodging” plot, A Level 30 Kartana performs similarly to Level 40 Mega Venusaur and Level 45 Shadow Venusaur.
Reminder: All plots show average performance against many raid bosses. Against a specific raid boss, the rankings can be different.
- 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.
- The middle two plots using Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) follow the same methodology, but replaces Pokebattler estimator with TTW.
- “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, Kartana’s ASE at Level 40 drops from 1.004 without dodging to 0.991 with dodging, so dodging generally helps Kartana’s performance.
- However, Zarude’s L40 ASE rises from 1.137 to 1.172 with dodging, so dodging may hurt Zarude more than it helps.
Appendix 2: Past analyses on other types
- Bug: Bug Out
- Dark/Ghost: Shadow Force Giratina-O (no future attackers yet); Chandelure CD (with Shadow Chandelure)
- Dragon: Shadow Salamence (no charts yet)
- Electric: Bug Out
- Fighting: September update (most recent); Galarian birds, Ultra Beasts & Sneasler
- Fire: This article
- Flying: Staraptor CD
- Grass: This article; Kartana (more future attackers)
- Psychic: September update/Psychic Spectacular
- Rock: Gigalith CD
- Steel: Mega Aggron
- Water: This article
Missing types: Fairy, Ground (planned – Mega Swampert, Shadow Mamoswine), Ice (planned – Mega Glalie), Poison