Osprey asks:

I know you get a lot of questions about type chart balance, and it seems like people are always trying to mess around with adding and subtracting weaknesses and resistances to improve their favored types (I’ll cop to a longstanding desire to see a defensive buff for Ice, my favorite type).

But recently on a forum, I ran across a suggestion that I found remarkable for both its simplicity and its potential to have a huge impact on game balance: reduce the super-effective damage multiplier from 2x to 1.5x across the board. What are your thoughts about this?

Hmm.  The big sticking point for me is that it pretty heavily devalues type coverage.  You already do get Pokémon from time to time who have access to such powerful attacks from their own types that coverage moves are only worth it against two or three specific Pokémon with double-weaknesses.  If super-effective damage is only worth +50%, then it’s no better than the +50% same-type bonus, and usually there’s no good reason to use anything outside attacks from your own type (this also means that Pokémon with two types, who already tend to be better than Pokémon with just one, are even stronger).  On the one hand, this helps out Pokémon with poor movepools, who are generally worse, so it’s something of an equalising influence on that particular axis of power.  On the other, manoeuvring your team to score super-effective hits and avoid the same from your opponent is a pretty big part of Pokémon’s core gameplay in both casual and competitive settings, and I don’t think the game would be better for largely cutting it out.

Now, if you also, as part of this change, reduce STAB to something like +20% or +30%, or even eliminate it entirely and replace it with some other kind of bonus (think stuff along similar lines to Toxic, which never misses when used by a Poison-type), then we get a broader de-powering of Pokémon attacks in general that slows battles down and tips the overall balance of the game towards defence and stall tactics.  That might well be something you want; I don’t think there’s necessarily a single optimal balance point for what the pace of the game should be.  I do think it’s worth emphasising, though, that this actually hits fast Pokémon more than anyone else, because a big part of the advantage of high speed is that going first gives you a chance to knock out an opposing Pokémon without any risk of retaliation.  If you rebalance the game so that one-hit KO’s are just much rarer, then speed is a significantly weaker and less important stat than it is now.  This may well be something that you think is fine, or it may not be.  My instinct, though, is that we should make a third change that slightly raises the importance of speed in some other way (you might, for instance, re-introduce the generation I relationship between speed and critical hit rate; I’m not wild about that because it means more games coming down to luck, but this might not feel so oppressive in light of the chances made to critical hits in generation VI).

3 thoughts on “Osprey asks:

  1. Yeah, any sweeper worthy of the name would have speed around Persian’s or higher, who in RBY mechanics could already guarantee critical hits on its Slash IIRC. Double the crit rate while halving the crit bonus the way XY did and now you’re just critting on everything unless the opponent is immune. (Also, more generally, STAB really is probably too high for its own good)

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  2. I think the damage multiplier of Super Effective moves should be left as is, but I think the multiplier of doubly SE moves could stand to get lowered from 4x to 3x. 3 times as much damage is still drastic and dramatic, but slightly less damning than 4x. Since I haven’t ran any calculations from this, I can’t be sure it would actually matter…

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  3. When I was a kid I always thought moved would do more damage if their PP was lower, came from a bit of confirmation bias where it felt like I’d attack, miss the KO, but after they healed the same attack would do it (now I know it’s just the high-low rolls that game also does in the background). That mechanic would probably be a good STAB replacement if it only worked on your type. Coverage would give you some immediate umph with prediction or cheeky left-pick choice, while STABS would be good for just hitting hard as using them unlocks them a little more power later.

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