GO Battle League Season 12 Move Rebalance: PvP Analysis Part II

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You thought I was done. Heck, I thought I was done. But nope! Niantic dropped the rest of the details of the big GBL Season 12 move shakeup mere minutes after I published yesterday’s big giant overview of what we knew at the time. Well now, we have the final stats for buffs to some moves, and nerfs to a couple of others.

So while I still have some Double Kickers (hello, Sacred Sword trio!) and a whole new meta analysis (hello, Little Jungle Cup Remix) to still get to, let’s eat this elephant one more bite a time and see what the rest of the move shakeup does to the various metas. Here we go!

New moves in GO Battle League Season 12

Two new moves are coming into the game this Season, Double Kick and Fairy Wind!

Double Kick Fighting

  • Trainer Battles: 8 Damage
  • Gyms and Raids: 10 Damage

Fairy Wind Fairy

  • Trainer Battles: 3 Damage
  • Gyms and Raids: 9 Damage

GO Battle League Season 12 Move Changes

Several moves are getting updated damage and energy generation values this Season.

Zap Cannon Electric

  • Trainer Battles: Chance to lower the opposing Pokémon’s Attack is no longer guaranteed

Icicle Spear Ice

  • Trainer Battles: Energy cost increased

Rollout Rock

  • Trainer Battles: Energy generation decreased

Ancient Power Rock

  • Trainer Battles: 40  ➡ 60 power
  • Attack and Defense increase amount has been lowered

Ominous Wind Ghost

  • Trainer Battles: Attack and Defense increase amount has been lowered

Silver Wind Bug

  • Trainer Battles: 40  ➡ 60 power
  • Attack and Defense increase amount has been lowered

Quick Attack Normal

  • Trainer Battles: Energy generation increased

Tackle Normal

  • Trainer Battles: Energy generation increased

NORMAL REALLY DOESN’T MEAN WEAK!

Quick Attack Normal

  • Trainer Battles: Energy generation increased

Tackle Normal

  • Trainer Battles: Energy generation increased

So in possibly the biggest surprise of the whole move rebalance, Normal fast moves got some big buffs! And yes, that’s “moves“, plural, as both QUICK ATTACK (already a little underrated even pre-buff) and lowly, butt-of-many-JRE-jokes-over-the-years TACKLE both got some more energy generation going for them now.

Quick Attack was already a clone of perfectly acceptable PvP moves Sucker Punch and Wing Attack, with only 2.5 Damage Per Turn (DPT), but above average energy generation of 3.5 Energy Per Turn (EPT). That’s a fine PvP move that was very serviceable for the few things that needed it. (Alolan Raticate comes immediately to mind.) But now? Now it’s a clone of Vine Whip, with the same 2.5 DPT but now 4.0 EPT, quite a bit above average.

So while you madly scramble for Pokemon that have this move, let me show you a couple of the bigger highlights:

Raticate (Alola) DarkNormal

First off, the aforementioned ALOLAN RATICATE gets more interesting, with new win potential versus Walrein, Mandibuzz, Whiscash, and Politoed. Shadow A-Rat is even better. Not sure it will suddenly break out in Open, but it will be much more interesting in formats where it already had play like Kanto Cup, Halloween Cup, and more.

Staraptor (Shadow) NormalFlying

So funny story. Couple months back, we had this big Community Day event for STARAPTOR where it got Gust as an exclusive move to maybe-hopefully bring it into relevance. Well, it also has Quick Attack, and uh… what was the point of Gust again? 😝 I still wouldn’t recommend relying too heavily on the thin-as-paper Staraptor, but if you DO use it, I think you know what to do from here forward. Gust, we hardly knew thee.

There actually aren’t a ton of other things (at least in Great League and on up) that want to run Quick Attack… most things that have it happen to have a more desirable fast move alternative, even after the Quick Attack buff.

However, it DOES have the looks of a legit viable alternative for a few Legendaries/Mythicals, such as MELOETTA (Aria)‘s and VICTINI‘s Confusion for metas where they are viable, and even to ZACIAN‘s Snarl (in that latter case, beating things like Zekrom, Landorus, and Garchomp more easily, but struggling now versus Melmetal and Lugia). It’s also an option for Virizion, but we’re saving that and the other Swords Of Justice for another time….

Perhaps the biggest impacts of Quick Attack will come in Little League. The first one that comes immediately to mind for many is VULPIX, star of several Little League Cups thus far. And yes, the buff IS a pretty significant boon, with new wins versus stuff evolved things like Vigoroth, Nidoqueen, and Golbat, and non-evolved things like Wynaut and Ember Vulpix.

There’s been some debate about Quick Attack vs Ember Vulpix to this point, but I think Quick Attack is more likely to pull away now. And another breakout star in the making is humble ZUBAT, who lacks the Flying fast moves of its later evolutions but DOES have Quick Attack.

And I was mocked for building one and burning an Elite TM (for Sludge Bomb) last season. Who’s laughing now, suckas? Mwaha. Anyway, there will be others to take a closer look at in the future too, like Fletchling, Alolan Ratticate, Eevee, Pikachu, and maybe even stuff like Pidgey. I know I will certainly be looking closer at them from here on out!

And what of Tackle? It’s been a truly dreadful move to this point, with the average 3.0 DPT, but only 2.0 EPT. But now it moves up to Water Gun/Bug Bite territory, with their same 3.0 DPT/3.0 EPT.

And a TON of things have it in GO, and I can’t even begin to highlight them all. The vast majority still have other moves (usually with STAB) that will still win out, but there ARE a few worth highlighting:

Xerneas Fairy

XERNEAS gets a Runerigus-with-Shadow-Claw and Miltank-with-Rollout kind of boost with this change, a true Zero (Xero? 🤔) To Hero story in both one shield and shieldless scenarios. The only wins it used to have in 1v1 shielding were Garchomp, Snorlax, and sometimes Zacian. But now it’s beating most all Dragons (only the Giratinas continue to give Xerneas real trouble), Darks, and Fighters you’d expect a Fairy to handle, plus Zacian all the time now, as well as stuff like Magnezone, Excadrill, Mamoswine, Gyarados, and fellow Fairies Togekiss and Sylveon too.

It still deserves a better fast move, though with none on the immediate horizon, at least it’s viable now with what it’s got. Nothing needed a Tackle buff more.

And as I said, other things in Great League and up that might consider it have better moves going for them: GREEDENT‘s Bullet Seed (though Tackle is a legit sidegrade option in Ultra League now), BEWEAR‘s Shadow Claw, the various STAB fast moves of CASTFORMs (yes, even Normal Castform still prefers Hex, it seems… I did look), GIRAFAMAJIG still wants Confusion, and no, long-time jokey spice “TackleTrode” (Electrode) and Tackle Starmie are still not a thing even now… sorry!

And things like DUBWOOLMILTANKGALARIAN WEEZING and others would be MUCH more excited if they didn’t just get better fast moves too. (Double Kick, Rollout, and Fairy Wind, respectively… see yesterday’s article for details on them!)

So where does that bring us? Back to Thanos. Wait, I mean… uh… to Little League, yeah. Similar to the advantages Vulpix has versus other Fires with Quick Attack, I could see things like Bulbasaur, Chkorita, Tepig and others turning to Tackle for widespread neutral damage, particularly versus opponents that share their same typing. But yeah… even here, Tackle’s impact is more of a ripple than a wave. It just continues to be no better than the second best fast move for nearly everything that has it.

So what’s the verdict?

  • Quick Attack‘s buff pulls Alolan Raticate closer to meta, becomes Staraptor’s new best fast move, and is a truly legit alternative for a number of Legendaries and Mythicals that have it. But its greatest impact will likely be in Little League on things like Vulpix and new rising stars like Zubat. 
  • Tackle pulls Xerneas up by its bootstaps and allows it to FINALLY be truly meta in Master League, but the impacts elsewhere are barely noticeable. It may emerge as a sidegrade option for things like Greedent, but don’t expect to suddenly see Tackle popping up left and right. Basically everything that has it still has a better option.

ANCIENT SILVER

Ancient Power Rock

  • Trainer Battles: 40  ➡ 60 power
  • Attack and Defense increase amount has been lowered

Silver Wind Bug

  • Trainer Battles: 40  ➡ 60 power
  • Attack and Defense increase amount has been lowered

Hey, I’ve been writing frantically for days now, so forgive the lame section title here. 😝

Anyway, both ANCIENT POWER and SILVER WIND move back towards true PvP relevance with a big power boost from 45 damage up to 60. To somewhat compensate, their 10% chance at double boosting the user’s Attack and Defense is now just a single boost (and still just a 10% chance), but honestly, I’ll take the harder hits from the charge move itself any day.

There are the more obvious beneficiaries that already run one of these moves, like TOGEKISS in Master League (Ancient Power is a legit weapon now, and picks up a win versus Landorus as just one example of the improvement) and ALTERED GIRATINA (can now turn the tables on Gyarados and Togekiss in Master League, both pretty impactful changes!), but what about things that don’t run AP or Silver Wind currently and may now want to?

For Ancient Power, the Legendary Bird trio are all a consideration, as both their original Kanto forms AND their new Galarian versions ALL have Ancient Power in their arsenal, and in several of those cases, it’s the cheapest charge move they have available, and conveniently provides great coverage versus Ice types that make them fret.

I think AP becomes a legit consideration on GALARIAN ZAPDOSGALARIAN ARTICUNO, and KANTO ARTICUNO in particular, as they could all use a cheap and/or non-debuffing move like AP. G-Zap’s other two moves hit for huge damage but both severely hobble it, G-Cuno likely now wants AP rather than expensive Future Sight and can rely on Confusion for Psychic-type damage, and OG Cuno doesn’t really need the coverage of Hurricane so much as it might appreciate the speed of Ancient Power instead, basically trading a move that hates on Fighters for one that hates on Ice types instead.

Things that have Ancient Power but haven’t seen much play include RELICANTH and XL fave BAYLEEF in Great League, and ALTERED GIRATINA (again) and MAMOSWINE (maybe?) in Ultra and/or Master Leagues. Not all that many in number, but I DO think Ancient Power will help them all climb up higher. Yes, even Giratina.

As for the other side of the coin, basically NOTHING meta currently runs Silver Wind. So what could possibly emerge (if anything) with this suddenly relevant Bug move?

The biggest Silver Wind user back before it got its big nerf way back when was VENOMOTH. But other things have shifted since then, such as its Poison Fang getting a big boost and taking over as its main “bait” move to set up Bug Buzz or Psychic (the move). Even the OG Silver Wind user doesn’t really want it now. And I’m sorry to say that I don’t think anything else does either.

There’s stuff like LEAVANNY, but it has the mighty Leaf Blade and Leaf Storm in the way. LEDIAN fans don’t really gain anything with Silver Wind OR its new move Dynamic Punch. (I know I’m not showing sims for all of these, but with PvPoke still in the process of updating and taking/posting screenshots of ALL of these on my home copy of PvPoke being a time-consuming pain, just trust me for now, bro.) While I LOVE Silver Wind in a vacuum, there’s just nothing that has it that suddenly looks like it will be breaking out. Maybe in the future!

So what’s the verdict?

  • Things that already have and at least sometimes use Ancient Power (Togekiss, A-Giratina, Relicanth, Bayleef) certainly appreciate the buff and want to stick with AP now, and rise a little bit in performance moving forward. (Yes, that means A-Gira likely wants it over Shadow Sneak now.) Others that have it but haven’t wanted to use Ancient Power probably want to now rethink that decision… Zapdoses and Articunos especially.
  • But Silver Wind, despite being a really solid move now, just doesn’t look likely to thrust anything that has it up the rankings. Hope for it to be more widely distributed down the line. 🤞

MELTING ICICLES

Icicle Spear Ice

  • Trainer Battles: Energy cost increased

So way back when ICICLE SPEAR was added to the game and we did not yet know what its energy cost was going to be, I actually ran full simulations with 35- AND 40-energy versions of Icicle Spear, and while some things have certainly shifted around since then, I think it’s still the best place to read more extensively about the differences between Season 11’s 35-energy Spear and Season 12’s 40-energy Spear.

That said, I know many players are asking “how bad are Walrein and Registeel now?!” While Regi is a little hard to predict, as nothing about Zap Cannon changed except the debuff to the opponent’s Attack went from ALWAYS working (100%) to merely just MOSTLY always working (66%), Walrein is a little easier to quantify, so let’s do at least that much for now.

Walrein IceWater

And again, as PvPoke is in a bit of a state of flux as he diligently tries to wrap his mind around all the big changes in a short timeframe, I thought it best to simulate the differences offline, which means I can’t just link to sims. But I DO have pictures for this one! (Unfortunately time only allowed running non-Shadow sims, but this should still give you a good idea.)

  • In Great League, the fall is noticeable but not TOO huge. Formerly close (5 HP or less) wins against Cofagrigus and Jellicent slip away, as do Politoed, Shadow Ninetales, and the big one, Talonflame. That last one is the biggest “ouch” of all.
  • The biggest dropoff is in Ultra League, where TEN former wins can all flip to losses: Abomasnow, Fire Spin Charizard, Jellicent, Politoed, Scizor, Skarmory, Snorlax (Shadow and non-Shadow), Umbreon (with either Last Resort or Psychic), and Galarian Stunfisk. Ooooof. This one DOES hurt.
  • Even in Master League, where slightly higher costs can sometimes be masked, there are still four new losses: Lugia, Swampert, Sylveon, and Yveltal.

So what’s the verdict?

Is this the death of Walrein? Not hardly. Call it what this whole shakeup really is: a rebalancing. Walrein will remain part of any meta it was part of before, and can still be absolutely dominant, don’t kid yourself. But this DOES bring it down a couple notches, and allows the meta to catch up to it a bit. Many will celebrate that fact, but for those who don’t, the sky is not completely falling. You can still run Wally, just be on the lookout for some of its formerly close wins to no longer be wins at all. Study the sims hard and know when to still stick with it and when to bail. Good luck!

Okay, I have to admit I’m pretty fried after all this analysis and writing the last couple frantic days, so I gotta call it off for now right here. Still to come: an analysis on the Swords Of Justice Legendary trio with Double Kick, because they WILL be impactful in Ultra and Master Leagues moving forward. I also need to try and get some guidance out there on Little Jungle Cup Remix, but I have to admit: the meta has shifted much more than I initially anticipated, AND PvPoke is not yet updated and that’s a LOT harder to guesstimate offline, so I’m kind of stuck until we see how the meta shakes out after PvPoke’s cut at it. I will still strive to get those out in the next day or two, but I’m pretty beat right now and need to step away and catch up on some real life stuff for a little bit. Not even your friendly neighborhood JRE can do EVERYTHING with as little time as Niantic left us before the new season’s start. I beg your patience, and as always, I will strive to reward it as soon as I am able.

So, until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for regular PvP tidbits, or Patreon if you prefer. Or please feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. Thanks again for reading, and catch you again soon!

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