Larry asks:

Hey, so I know you’re an utter madman and would like to eliminate types from the chart. That sounds really unnecessary but. If you got to rebalance the type chart a bit, change some of the dynamics, what would you do? How will you help the poor ice types? Will you finally stop the steel types?

I think you’ve maybe misunderstood me, because to me these are two unrelated issues.  I don’t think the 18-type chart is, in principle, impossible to balance (I do think that 900 Pokémon are, in principle, impossible to balance, but that’s another whole thing).  I don’t want to cut down the number of types because I think it would make the game more balanced (I mean, it might, but I don’t think it’s the only or best way to do that, and it wouldn’t be enough on its own).  I want to cut it down… as weird as this will sound, basically for aesthetic reasons – to whit, I think it’s an ugly, overcomplicated mess that doesn’t actually need to exist.  Beautiful or elegant game mechanics, to me, are ones where complex gameplay and strategy arise from the interactions of simple rules and principles.  The type chart means that Pokémon does this in reverse: the fundamental rules are complicated and counterintuitive, but the resulting gameplay is not particularly any more interesting than it would be using a greatly reduced system.

I will admit, having said all this, that (like many things) I say this stuff partly just to be contrary.  I’m not even all that committed to it; I just want to force everyone to think about it.  I mean, people talk all the time about what new types they’d want to add, from time to time people ask me to talk about types I’d like to add; so clearly no one thinks the type chart is sacred and can’t be changed.  Why is it so much more uncomfortable to talk about getting rid of some of it; why is anyone bothered when I say that I think that might be a good idea?  It’s an uncontroversial axiom of good design that you should leave out or trim down elements that are unnecessary or bloated, but after last year’s… invigorating discussions… about Sword and Shield, I get the impression that a good chunk of the Pokémon fan community is pretty strongly opposed to what I think is a fairly obvious principle.  I’d like people to consider, when they talk about game design in Pokémon and all the cool ideas they want to add, whether there are also things they’d like to remove – because that can also improve a game.

Anyway, to the question you actually asked… whatever, Steel should have a lot of resistances but maybe it could do with one more weakness (Water?), Grass and Bug are comically shafted and shouldn’t be resisted by so many things (maybe lose Flying for Grass and Ghost for Bug), thematically I just think it would be really neat for Normal to be strong against Fairy (it should really be strong against something)… and at that point I guess you should probably stop and playtest for a bit before tinkering any further. Something like that.

8 thoughts on “Larry asks:

  1. I always thought steel should be weak to electric. Steel type obviously is really just metal type, and while plenty of metals are not very conductive, the first thing we often think of to conduct electricity is metal. If water is weak to electric, why isn’t steel?

    On the other hand… electric could use another weakness. One weakness just seems ridiculous, even if ground is one of the best attack types.

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    1. Amusingly enough, Chris singles out Ground as the type that least needs/deserves to exist. The flavor of immunity to Ground applied to moves like Mud Shot should illustrate why.

      Personally, Electric feels like it should have one or more mutual weaknesses, because conductivity goes both ways. Stick water or a fork in an electrical socket and the socket isn’t any happier about it than you’ll be. (Assuming you can be unhappy while dead, which is emphatically not a given even for some afterlives)

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      1. Oh I’m well aware of Chris’s views here and believe it or not, I do agree. There are too many times, and ground isn’t necessary. Though I’m admittedly chaotic myself, and contrary for the sake of being contrary. I respect that. But I also honest to goodness think Pokemon needs some fat trimming. I was for the Pokedex cull, though the cowards are bringing a bunch back as DLC. I’d be down for halving the number of types. We have a lot.

        But given the premise of this question, just rebalancing existing types, I do think electric needs to be dealt with (your solution is good).

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  2. While I do disagree on the details, I strongly sympathize with an aesthetic approach to game mechanics.

    And being contrary is of course fun (especially with Leaf Storm) – personally I contend that the Special Atk-Def split and the Physical-Special split were perhaps ultimately good for game balance, but from an aesthetic perspective I prefer the asymmetry of the original system.

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    1. As backwards as it may sound, I think there was something very positive about the old ways of having only the Special stat as well as the types being represented as either entirely physical or special. One of the problems we have now is that very few Pokemon are really encouraged to use both their Attack AND Special Attack stats at the same time. Some might be able to flex between the two, and even fewer will want to carry both at once. This ultimately means that every point that a Pokemon like Espeon has in their Attack are almost completely worthless (the only impact this stat has being the damage you deal with Struggle if it comes to it, and the damage you receive from confusion damage and Foul Play. Two of these are things that mean you actively want less attack power and not more).

      Special Attack is even less prominent with physical attackers having basically no use for this stat whatsoever. The only thing that it can possibly be used for are gimmicky power swap mechanics, which can also be applied to the physical attack stat as well.

      This is also a reason why the nature system is so horrendously imbalanced. The point of natures is to consider trading one of your stats for another in part, but when most Pokemon sacrifice a stat they don’t use at all, or actively want to be as low as possible, it’s not really a trade-off system anymore. In fact, it actually hurts to Pokemon that want to try and use mixed sets–particularly weaker Pokemon that excel in both Attack and Special Attack, but are then forced to sacrifice important stats like Speed or Defenses because their stat total can’t be too high despite a huge chunk of those points often going to waste. Take Cacturne, a Pokemon with high attack stats who has little Speed and low defenses. He normally cannot sustain himself on the battlefield, but imagine if we dropped his 115 base stat total in one of his attack and distributed those points to his Speed, Defense, and/or Special Defense. Now he’d suddenly become a significantly stronger Pokemon, though typically you’d want a stat spread that also complimented his style and theme.

      I don’t mean to say that the old Special Stat was perfect, or that we should never have had the physical/special split, but I don’t think the perfect symmetry we do have is a good system, necessarily.

      Honestly, I’d rather each Pokemon’s move list get dramatically culled down and for them to have access to all of their moves in battle, not just 4. Then you could create a reason for Pokemon to care about their Attack and Special Attack if they naturally carried moves of both categories.

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      1. Yes, that’s a good point! The system as a whole, including Natures and EV:s, really do mixed attackers a disfavor. One possible solution could be to “couple” stats together, so that EV:s that go into Attack also go into Special Attack, and vice versa. (My idea would be to have four “EV groups”: Attack+Sp Atk, Speed, HP and Defense+Sp Def – no idea how this would work in practice, but it could make life easier for mixed attackers, tanks and attackers that are both slow and frail, like Cacturne.)

        One could also tie stats into the calculations of, say, secondary effects (which could also somewhat reduce the RNG hax factor). For example, the likelihood of getting a Burn could be tied to Special Attack – which means that a Cacturne that solely focuses on physical attacks will still get some use from its 115 Sp Atk.

        I also agree that they should limit the movepools a bit, but I’m not sure about giving Pokémon access to all their moves instead of four. But given that Hidden Power is no longer in the game and only a select few Pokémon get access to ridiculous amounts of coverage, I think six moves could be an improvement.

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  3. Nah. Add at least twenty more types for a real glorious mess. Noone will remember what is good against what anymore!

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