How would you change/better balance Ice type Pokemon, aside from making them resistant to water-type attacks?
Well… I think Ice should be bad defensively; I think that works as a type identity thing. It doesn’t need to be as bad as it is, though. Resistance to just one other common, strong attack type probably makes it about as good defensively as Psychic, which is a poor defensive type but not actually comical, and supports a decent variety of tank and support Pokémon. Water… well, Water does seem like the most logical choice there; it’s not perfect, because one thing that Ice-type tanks need is a point of distinction from Water-type tanks (who both resist Ice attacks and can normally learn them). Maybe there’s an argument there for resistance to Dragon (although at that point you probably need to give Dragon a buff somewhere else) or Ground, instead of Water. I know you said aside from that, but I really don’t know that there needs to be much more, at least not in terms of adjustments to the type chart itself; Ice is also really strong offensively and I don’t want to risk overtuning it. I like the more indirect buffs like the addition of new Hail synergies – Aurora Veil, Slush Rush, Ice Face – and I like the suggestion in the comments of this post that Ice-types should get a physical defence buff during hail, to parallel the special defence buff that Rock-types get during sandstorms.
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I’d say sacrificing the type identity would be a worthy sacrifice in order to make Ice-types actually good for something. Especially considering most Ice-type Pokémon are slow tanks anyway. Flying and Water are both strong offensive types, so those would probably be the simplest options. Ground, Dark, Fairy and especially Ghost could probably survive an offensive nerf as well, but they make less sense than Flying and Water. (I can recommend Dragonflycave’s Interactive Type Chart for people who don’t want simple options, and also have 7 consecutive hours to spare because trying to balance the type chart is… Not necessarily the best thing to hyperfocus on.)
I think making Ice resist Water isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and you can easily make Scald work as a super effective attack against Ice types just as Freeze-Dry works the other way around, and I think those moves in combination with the two naturally resisting one another would better represent the relationship the two really have with each other.
I do like the idea of adding a defense buff to Hail since that continues to help it as a weather type compete with Rain, Sun, and Sandstorms, but I also think it wouldn’t be a bad thing to take away Ice’s weakness to Rock attacks. Rock can stand to be taken down a peg slightly, and there’s no obvious reason for Ice to be weak to it other than “you can break ice with a rock,” which I mean, sure? You could also break ice with a block of wood though, or a strong enough gust of wind, or just a body slam from a large animal.
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Ah – Rock might be /the/ strongest offensive type, so maybe that’d work out. If Rock’s neutral to Ice, it’s basically in the same position as Flying and Water are presently, which is to say that it would still be an excellent offensive type.
Three of Ice’s weaknesses seem to be about “breaking” it though, so I’d say its weaknesses to Steel and Fighting are as disputable as its weakness to Rock.
If Ice resisted Dragon and had a physical defence buff (or even a speed buff?) in Hail I’m not sure you would need a further buff to Dragon to counteract it. The fact that Dragons typically have high stats and high-powered moves was why the Fairy type was introduced in the first place; they didn’t elementally dominate the type chart. The Fairy type wasn’t needed (I’m not opposed to it, though) – buffing Ice (and maybe Steel) slightly would have corrected the Dragon-type’s dominance as of Gen V.
I take *some* issue with that characterisation. The fact that nothing resists Dragon attacks except Steel pre-gen VI does matter – I mean, Fire has Overheat, which is widely available and just as powerful as Draco Meteor, and there are plenty of Fire-types with special attack stats as high as Salamence’s, but Fire was just easier to stop.
In principle I do get the argument that Dragon Pokémon don’t *need* any help, but that does also mean Dragon Pokémon who *don’t* have particularly impressive stats get screwed over, and I don’t like the way that constrains design space. Like… does this mean that the type chart dictates we shouldn’t have another Druddigon or Altaria?
Actually, I’d take the existence of Druddigon and Altaria as evidence for why Dragon didn’t need hobbling – they’re two Dragon-types that aren’t godly-powerful, but they’re still fine as they are. And we’ve had weaker Pokemon from every other type, why should Dragon be the exception?
Druddigon and Altaria aren’t impressive statwise, but they’re still on par with a lot of nominally more powerful Pokemon simply by virtue of being Dragon-type and having the benefits (large movepools, type-resists, good abilities) that this brings. Much as Ice being defensively poor characterises it as a type, Dragons having higher-on-average stats and very wide movepools works to characterise that type in turn. But this in turn is counteracted by the lack of elemental advantage over other types. It doesn’t (and didn’t) dominate in the same way that Psychic used to.
Buffing Ice slightly wouldn’t make weaker Dragons significantly worse, and it wouldn’t create a large gap between them and better Dragon-types like Hydreigon or Salamence since they’d have been brought down a peg by this change as well.