February Move Set Changes Part II: PvP move stats

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This article is the second part of the move pool changes article done for PvE. In this one, we will analyze how the stat changes applied to several moves influenced the PvP metagame and we will discuss whether or not these changes successfully contributed to balance the current meta. Given the length of the analysis, there will be a Part III in the near future, covering the meta shake-ups and which Pokémon ibenefited the most from these move stat changes.

If you want to check out the full list of PvP move stat changes applied in the latest update, you can do it here. Remember that moves have different stats for PvE (raids and gym battles) and PvP, and the stat changes made only apply for PvP battles.

Nomenclature → EPT: Energy Per Turn, DPT: Damage Per Turn, DPE: Damage Per Energy.

Fast Moves

Smack Down

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Smack Down Rock Fast 10 12 (+20%) 8 8 (-) 2.67 (-) 3.3 → 4.0 (+20%)

Smack Down has now become the best Rock type fast move for PvP. Rock Throw has the same DPT but Smack Down has ~6.67% better EPT (2.67 vs. 2.5), so there is no doubt that Smack Down is now the best option out there.

Waterfall

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Waterfall Water Fast 10 12 (+20%) 8 8 (-) 2.67 (-) 3.3 → 4.0 (+20%)

Waterfall also had its power increased by 20%. Thus, its viability has increased. However, unlike Smack Down, it has some competitors out there, which are Bubble and Water Gun. Although Waterfall is the Water type fast move with the highest DPT (4 vs. 2.67 and 3, respectively), its EPT is still behind (2.67 vs. 3.67 and 3, respectively), which makes it a bit worse than both Bubble and Water Gun. However, it got a nice boost and Pokémon that can only learn Waterfall as a water type fast move could experience an increase in viability.

Confusion

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Confusion Psychic Fast 12 16 (+33.3%) 12 12 (-) 3.0 (-) 3.0 → 4.0 (+33.3%)

Confusion also got a nice buff in its base power. However, it still has a massive duration, which makes it a bit worse than Psycho Cut in most situations. A DPT of 4.0 is respectable, but Psycho Cut’s advantage is that has an EPT of 4.5, 50% higher than Confusion’s. Overall, Confusion is now a much better move, but it all depends on the scenario and matchup.

If the opponent can shield up and most of your damage will come from your fast moves, then Confusion is a better choice. However, if you want to charge up the energy faster in order to fire off more charge moves and burn your opponents’ shields or deal damage when your opponent cannot shield up, then Psycho Cut is the best option. Pokémon that were only able to learn Confusion as a Psychic type fast move are definitely happy about this update. For example, Venomoth can now be used effectively as a counter to Toxicroak in TheSilphRoad’s Twilight Cup.

Frost Breath

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Frost Breath Ice Fast 6 (+16.7%) 5 5 (-) 2.5 (-) 3.0 → 3.5 (+16.7%)

Frost Breath is now a better move but Ice Shard (which was also buffed) and Powder Snow are better, as they both have better EPT.

Ice Shard

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Ice Shard Ice Fast 8 (+12.5%) 10 10 (-) 3.3 (-) 2.67 → 3.0 (+12.5%)

As you can see, Ice Shard’s EPT is significantly better than Frost Breath’s. It might not hit as hard, but overall it is a better fast move. Is it as good as Powder Snow though? Well, Powder Snow has a 20% higher EPT (4.0), but it has a lower DPT (2.0), so it is a similar case to the one discussed above regarding Confusion vs. Psycho Cut. Higher EPT (Powder Snow) is generally better, but it all depends on the matchup.

Razor Leaf

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Razor Leaf Grass Fast 8 11 (+37.5%) 4 4 (-) 2.0 (-) 4.0 → 5.5 (+37.5%)

This is probably the most significant buff seen in this update. Razor Leaf‘s DPT is really, really high. In fact, it’s the fast move with the highest DPT out there. Counter, for example, is a great move with one of the highest DPT values with 4.0, and Razor Leaf’s is 5.5, which is insane. The only downside about this move is its low EPT, which makes Vine Whip situationally better.

If you have Frenzy Plant as your charge move, choosing between Razor Leaf and Vine Whip might be difficult. If your opponent cannot shield up against Frenzy Plant, then you want to have higher energy gain with Vine Whip in order to take advantage of the damage output of Frenzy Plant. However, if most of your damage will come from your fast move, Razor Leaf is a better option than Vine Whip. If you are not dealing super effective damage, then you also prefer Vine Whip due to its higher EPT in order to charge up your energy faster and fire off a non-grass type charge move.

Shadow Claw

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) EPT +/- DPT +/-
Shadow Claw Ghost Fast 6 6 (-) 7 8 (+14.2%) 3.5 → 4.0 (+14.2%) 3.0 (-)

Shadow Claw now has an A-Tier EPT, which makes it even better. In fact, it has the same EPT as Powder Snow or Vine Whip, both great moves EPT-wise. It is also the best Ghost type fast move, better than Lick.

Charge Moves

Body Slam

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Body Slam Normal Charged 50 60 (+20%) 35 35 (-) 1.43 → 1.71 (+20%)

Body Slam is probably the best Normal type charge move for PvP. Its low energy cost (35) makes it a very solid choice if you want to burn your opponent’s shields or deal reasonable damage before fainting. Overall, a great energy-efficient charge move that is now even better.

Dazzling Gleam

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Dazzling Gleam Fairy Charged 100 110 (+10%) 70 70 (-) 1.43 → 1.57 (+10%)

Dazzling Gleam is still worse than Moonblast, which has the same energy cost (70), but more power (130). Furthermore, a 70 energy requirement makes it difficult if you want to spam it or burn your opponent’s shields. A decrease in the energy requirement would have made it a better charge move for sure.

Flamethrower and Thunderbolt

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Flamethrower Fire Charged 70 90 (+28.6%) 50 55 (+9.1%) 1.4 → 1.64 (+16.9%)
Thunderbolt Electric Charged 80 90 (+12.5%) 45 55 (+22.2%) 1.78 → 1.64 (-7.9%)

These two moves are affected by a “standardization” process. What does that mean? Niantic made the energy requirements and base power equal, which had different consequences for both moves. Flamethrower was a pretty bad charge move, and the 20 additional base power makes up for the slight increase in energy requirement. However, Thunderbolt was a really good charge move and the slight increase in energy requirement is not worth the significant increase in energy requirement. This means that overall, Flamethrower was buffed and Thunderbolt was nerfed.

Flamethrower is still outperformed (by far) by Blast Burn, but for those Pokémon that cannot learn it, it’s still a nice alternative. Thunderbolt, however, just got significantly worse and it is now outperformed by Wild Charge. Even Thunder Punch and Discharge are situationally better due to their low energy requirements.

Psyshock

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Psyshock Psychic Charged 65 70 (+7.7%) 45 45 (-) 1.44 → 1.56 (+7.7%)

Psyshock is not a bad charge move, and it was slightly buffed. What makes it acceptable is its low energy requirement, but other moves with that same energy requirement have better base power, such as Avalanche (90). Overall, a welcome change that helps it a little bit but not an overpowered move by any means.

Iron Head

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Iron Head Steel Charged 60 70 (+16.7%) 50 50 (-) 1.2 → 1.4 (+16.7%)

Iron Head was a really bad Steel charge move, not only because of its stats but also because there were better options such as Meteor Mash or Magnet Bomb. Now, it has the same stats as Heavy Slam, but it is still outperformed by the moves just mentioned. It is a better option than high-energy requirement charge moves such as Flash Cannon, though.

Thunder Punch and Ice Punch

Move Type Power (before) Power (after) Energy (before) Energy (after) DPE +/-
Thunder Punch Electric Charged 45 55 (+22.2%) 35 40 (+%) 1.28 → 1.38 (+6.94%)
Ice Punch Ice Charged 50 55 (+10%) 40 40 (-) 1.25 → 1.38 (+10%)

The damage and base power values of Fire Punch were used as reference values for Thunder Punch and Ice Punch. To be honest, changes are barely noticeable, but still good for their users. Fire Punch, Thunder Punch, and Ice Punch are generally used as shield breakers or surprise/coverage moves, and the same trend will be seen after this update. Furthermore, the base power of both Thunder Punch and Ice Punch has been increased, which is good news for their users, such as Medicham or Hitmonchan. Not the best charge moves of their respective types DPE-wise, but great choices for PvP regardless due to their low energy requirements and the ability to force your opponent to shield up early in battle.

Conclusion

Most of the changes made were necessary to balance things out. Some Pokémon were too overpowered in comparison to others with worse moves, and the main purpose of the latest update was to help these less powerful Pokémon reduce the performance gap with the dominant ones.

Although some changes still need to be made and some choices might seem a bit odd, the general trend seen is positive. Sure, there’s still work to do in the future, but the majority of changes made are welcome.

The metagame should always change and evolve in order to keep things fresh, and hopefully, this trend continues in the future and more moves and Pokémon become relevant and claim the spot they deserve. Niantic developers are listening and will hopefully try their best to keep the metagame fresh and balanced.

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