How to Fix Ground Types in Pokémon GO

If you are a fan of the Pokémon series as a whole and have a basic understanding of competitive play, you know how powerful Ground type moves are. If you don’t know already, Ground type moves have 5 types that are weak against it, including Steel types, which are known for their sturdiness and bulk, and Electric types, which have Ground type as their only weakness. That’s why in the main series games, Earthquake is relatively common. It has a solid 100 Damage, which is a lot for a move with no drawbacks and 100% accuracy. There was a time that it was a go-to move for Pokémon to cover up their weaknesses, plus it pairs well with Rock type moves.

Given how offense-oriented Ground types are, and considering that Pokémon GO basically rewards Pokémon that are offensively inclined, it is surprising that there is little to no representation of Ground types outside being counters to Electric. When Regirock and Registeel came to play, other counters are preferred over Ground types that are not named Groudon. This is because there is a hidden issue when it comes to Ground types that can be fixed easily. What problem am I referring to? It’s the overall power of Ground type moves.

Ground-type Moves

Unlike my earlier article about Fairy types, Ground types doesn’t have a problem with representation and Pokémon stats, since Rhydon and Golem are staples in the meta while Groudon is the very face of Ground type Pokémon when it comes to Legendary Pokémon available in the game. Ground types also have a plethora of moves to choose from. The problem is how these Ground type moves are implemented in the game.

Last month, I have computed the Cycle DPS of every possible moveset in the game (7,874 movesets to be exact), and grouped all the movesets where the Fast and Charge Moves are of the same type. Almost all types have their most powerful moveset at around 18 DPS (w/o STAB), except for two: Bug, Ground, and Fairy, since there’s no Fairy Fast Move.

Type Fast Move Charge Move Cycle DPS
Dragon Dragon Tail Draco Meteor 20.01
Fire Fire Spin Overheat 20.00
Grass Vine Whip Solar Beam 19.91
Fighting Counter Dynamic Punch 19.82
Ghost Shadow Claw Shadow Ball 19.81
Normal Quick Attack Hyper Beam 19.49
Flying Wing Attack Sky Attack 19.31
Electric Thunder Shock Wild Charge 19.09
Psychic Confusion Future Sight 18.95
Poison Poison Jab Sludge Bomb 18.89
Steel Steel Wing Heavy Slam 18.44
Ice Frost Breath Avalanche 18.32
Dark Snarl Foul Play 18.23
Water Bubble Hydro Pump 18.17
Rock Rock Throw Rock Slide 18.15
Bug Bug Bite Bug Buzz 16.74
Ground Mud-Slap Drill Run 16.51

DISCLAIMER: This does not include moves that are not released yet, and Community Day Exclusive Moves like Frenzy Plant. If all moves are included, it will have Vine Whip and Frenzy Plant (20.83), Fire Spin and Blast Burn (20.45), Bubble and Hydro Cannon (21.47), and Mud Shot and Precipice Blades (19.61) as the best moveset of their respective types, while Smack Down and Rock Slide (18.15) will tie with the best Rock type moveset.

The problem is not that Ground types are the weakest. I mean, Rock types get by with a 17.91 DPS moveset with Rock Throw and Stone Edge. The problem is how far the damage difference is between the Bug and Ground against the rest of the types.

One more thing to mention is that the best Ground Charge Move, Drill Run, is not even available for Ground type Pokémon currently available. That means that realistically speaking, the best usable Ground type moveset is Mud Slap and Earthquake, which is almost flat 16 DPS already.

Fast Move Charge Move Cycle DPS
Mud Slap Drill Run 16.51
Mud Shot Drill Run 16.33
Mud Slap Earthquake 16.05
Mud Shot Earthquake 15.73
Mud Slap Mud Bomb 15.62
Mud Slap Dig 15.43
Mud Shot Mud Bomb 15.28
Mud Slap Bulldoze 15.27
Mud Shot Dig 15.10
Mud Slap Bone Club 14.88
Mud Shot Bulldoze 14.86
Mud Slap Sand Tomb 14.49
Mud Shot Bone Club 14.32
Mud Shot Sand Tomb 13.97

Drill Run is the only usable Charge Move for Ground types but it pairs poorly with Mud Shot and Mud Slap, so you might think that the solution is increasing the distribution of Drill Run. The problem is that not only has Drill Run limited distribution on the main series games (which Niantic can nothing can do with), it’s still relatively weak compared to other Charge Moves.

You may also think improving the Fast Move would solve this issue. Looking at the damage output of other Fast Moves, they actually do similarly with known moves. Mud Shot is basically Thunder Shock with less than 1 Energy Gain, while Mud Slap is similar to Dragon Tail but slower and more Energy Gain. To fix Ground type moves, we can either a) improve Charge Moves that have a wide distribution, which are Earthquake and Bulldoze or b) add new moves.

Improving Existing Moves

Charge Move (1-Bar) Power Cooldown (in seconds)
Earthquake 120 3.6
Blizzard 130 3.1
Gunk Shot 130 3.1
Hydro Pump 130 3.3
Focus Blast 140 3.5
Draco Meteor 150 3.6

Earthquake has too low Power for a 1-bar move. Focus Blast, Hydro Pump, Gunk Shot, and Blizzard (as seen above) are faster yet they do more damage than Earthquake. Draco Meteor has the same cooldown as Earthquake but deals a lot more damage. Increasing Earthquake’s Power to 145 increases the Cycle DPS with Mud Shot to 17.78, which might not be much, but it makes Earthquake usable now. Meanwhile, adjusting it to 150 makes Earthquake one of the best Charge Moves in the game. Since we still want it to be balanced, increasing it to 145 will do, since Draco Meteor is more of a special move. Even at 145, it is enough to make Groudon’s best moveset be Mud Shot and Earthquake with 21.34 Cycle DPS.

Charge Move (2-Bar) Power Cooldown (in seconds)
Bulldoze 80 3.5
Sky Attack 80 2.0
Sludge Bomb 80 2.3
Thunderbolt 80 2.5
Hyper Fang 80 2.5
Rock Slide 80 2.7

Unlike Earthquake, Bulldoze’s problem is its cooldown. 3.5 seconds makes it one of the slowest moves among moves with 80 damage. While yes, bumping the damage to 100 can help, we already have a slow Charge Move that hits big, which is Earthquake. If Earthquake is the Ground type version of Zap Cannon, Bulldoze should be the Ground type version of Wild Charge. It gives users more option rather than just picking which move is the best DPS-wise. Dropping Bulldoze’s cooldown to 2.3 seconds makes it equal in terms of both damage and cooldown with Sludge Bomb, which is enough to put its Cycle DPS with Mud Shot to 17.57.

Finally, a minor change Niantic can do is just increase Mud Shot’s Energy Gain from 7 to 8, to make it similar to Thunder Shock.

Adding a New Move

There are two Ground type moves in the main series games that can be added to the game that Niantic can use these moves to fix this Ground type problem.

Magnitude is a Ground type move that is usually learned in a Pokémon’s earlier levels, making it likely to become a Fast Move. While Ground types are not really lacking on the Fast Move side of things, there will still be a huge increase in Cycle DPS if we improve the Fast Moves. Since Magnitude is similar to Earthquake, I can see this move as a powerful yet slow move along the lines of Dragon Tail, but since Dragon Tail is too powerful let’s make this move the Ground type version of Rock Smash. Magnitude and the updated Earthquake will effectively have 17.77 Cycle DPS.

Pokémon that can learn Magnitude
Golem Rhydon Camerupt
Donphan Dugtrio Sandslash
Whiscash Nosepass Lickitung

Earth Power is a special Ground type move opposite to the physical Earthquake in the main series games. Since there is no Physical/Special split in Pokémon GO, Earth Power will more likely be the same as moves like Thunderbolt and Ice Beam. The best thing about Earth Power is that it’s a Move Tutor move in the main series games, meaning almost all available Ground types can learn this move.

Since the Bulldoze we updated is already a great 2-bar Charge Move, let’s make Earth Power a 3-bar Charge Move so we can have options. A great 3-bar Charge Move to base off is Leaf Blade, so let’s just make Earth Power a Ground type version of Leaf Blade but with 0.1s more cooldown. When paired with Mud Shot, Earth Power will have a 18.17 Cycle DPS.

Why did I choose to power down these new moves? It’s because introducing more powerful moves will make the current Ground moves irrelevant, to avoid instances where people invested Stardust on a Pokémon that’ll be worthless in the future. I made sure these new moves, while still powerful in their own right, not too powerful enough to make current movesets obsolete.

Effect in the Meta

Fast Move Charge Move Cycle DPS
Mud Shot Earthquake 18.69
Mud Shot Bulldoze 18.39
Mud Shot Earth Power 18.17
Magnitude Earthquake 17.77
Mud-Slap Earthquake 17.69
Magnitude Bulldoze 17.61
Magnitude Earth Power 17.56
Mud-Slap Bulldoze 17.52
Mud-Slap Earth Power 17.48
Mud Shot Drill Run 16.98
Magnitude Drill Run 16.67
Mud-Slap Drill Run 16.51

With these changes, Ground type usage will increase, since 5 types are weak against it, as mentioned earlier. The only other type with 5 types weak against it is Fighting, and Machamp is doing fine right now. Jolteon may still not be easy to solo, but at least it’s now possible to do it without the aid of Legendary Pokemon or weather boosts. Granted, it’s only possible on a team of maxed out Rhydon, but you have to blame Jolteon’s Defense stat for that.

Once Generation IV comes in full swing, you’ll see more use for Ground types since Dialga and Heatran are weak against it, the latter being double weak because of its dual Fire and Steel typing. Also, if the Legendary Beasts and Legendary Golems get the same treatment as the Legendary Birds, in which they are available for a 3-hour period across all available gyms, Ground types will also be in demand, since they are strong against 4 out of those 6 Legendary Pokemon.

Ground and Fighting types also have an edge in PvP, especially Ground because if it’s paired with a Rock type move, in the current meta, only Breloom can resist both moves. Ground types can also threaten powerful Pokemon such as Tyranitar and Metagross, and almost all the Dragon types with a Rock type coverage move, since most of them are part Flying type.

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Avid Pokémon Fan since 2000

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