Toucannon asks:

You’ve often been asked abregout the type balance in the games, but I was wondering: if you’ve ever played the Pokemon TCG, do you think that the balance of the types shown there would be more akin to what a realistic balance between the types should be like? After all, each type tend to be competitive there while still retaining their uniqueness (even more so, in case like Grass or Electric), and it encourages mono-type lineups by making them easier to run, while multi-type are more versatile but harder to run.

Hmm.

So, I am on the record as thinking that seven or eight types is a better number than seventeen or eighteen, because it lets you develop each one a bit more in terms of identity and philosophy.  I don’t know if the TCG… actually does that, because it’s kind of shackled to the video games and the type system that exists there, but in principle you could do that.  Like, if you’re going to have only seven types in your base game then I don’t think two of those should be Fire and Lightning, because those each correspond with only a single video game type, one of which isn’t even very common.  But you kind of have to, because those types’ elemental powers give them very firm and narrow identities, and so you transfer them one-to-one into the TCG and wind up constricting them quite severely.  That’s why so many of the early Delta-Species Pokémon are Fire or Lightning; you needed Pokémon who could go in a mono-Fire deck but weren’t weak to Water, and previously there were almost none of those.  Meanwhile, no one knows what to do with Poison; those Pokémon used to be part of Grass, then for quite a long time they were in Psychic for some reason (because… purple?), now apparently they’re Dark?  Which kind of brings us full-circle to the beta of Gold and Silver when Umbreon was drafted as a Poison-type, and no one ever thought to get rid of the Pokédex lines about Umbreon having poisonous sweat, but that’s neither here nor there.

I suspect the Pokémon TCG would be a better game if it didn’t have to care about the video games or its own status as, essentially, merch for another series that doesn’t pay much attention to it. Put a pin in that and come back to it if I ever start writing about the TCG regularly.

I’m also not super-hyped about Pokémon having, at most, one weakness and one resistance, or about weaknesses and resistances being triggered by the Pokémon’s type and not by a move’s type.  This is partially dictated by the TCG encouraging decks with a small number of types, but that wouldn’t actually transfer to the video games unless you came up with something analogous to energy cards, which… well, you could; that might be interesting and it would provide a rationale for so many important characters being type specialists.  What would that mechanic actually be, though, and how would it be justified?

So I guess my answer is that it depends on the details of exactly what you mean and how you would apply the TCG mechanics to something that is not a card game.

Maybe I expect too much from people who submit questions to me here.

Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

Imagine Game Freak gave us a new set of starters in a future generation, but instead of the traditional Grass-Fire-Water scheme, it’s a trio of types that have zero interaction with one another; say, Dark, Poison, and Flying. I can only imagine how the fanbase would react upon the initial announcement…

…BUT, upon reaching their fully-evolved forms, they adopt secondary types that are – you guessed it – Grass, Fire, and Water to become Dark/Grass, Poison/Fire, and Flying/Water, thereby simultaneously doing something new with the starters while still adhering to the tried-and-tested formula (and yes, I did choose those three types specifically so that each starter would have a double weakness, and not to each other). Obviously Game Freak shouldn’t announce the final forms prior to the games’ release to maximize that surprise factor. What do you think? Sound like a fun idea?

Honestly I think the initial fanbase reaction would be positive, because “a new starter type trio, even if it makes no sense” tends to get brought up a lot as a fun way to shake up the formula (if anything I suspect some people would be disappointed by the eventual return to Grass/Fire/Water, but whatever; you can’t please everyone).  I’m… sceptical; like, of all the things you could do to change Pokémon’s formula, “change the types of the starters” seems like maybe the tamest.

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Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

You know how you can’t freeze a Pokémon during intense sunlight? What if we did the reverse and have it so that you can’t burn a Pokémon when it’s hailing (which I think makes quite a bit of sense); do you reckon that’ll make hail a more competitively-viable weather condition, considering many Pokémon rely on either burning others or being burned themselves? Happy holidays, btdubs!

Hmm.  I like it as a subtle buff to hail. I am wary because Sun and Moon already nerfed burn significantly by reducing its damage from 1/8 per turn to 1/16, to balance it with poison (which does 1/8 per turn but doesn’t reduce the victim’s stats), but hail is probably still niche enough that this is fine.  More importantly to me, it feels weird for hail to have this effect without rain also getting it, since it’s usually rain that weakens Fire attacks and thematically it makes just as much sense (if not more) for rain to soothe burns.  I think the issues with hail hint at a broader problem of the Ice type struggling to find an identity distinct from Water, which kinda goes back to generation I.  In a way, it’s actually of a piece with my old complaint that “Grass-types Don’t Get Nice Things” – the type’s identity has always been defined in such a rigid way that flavour considerations rule out a lot of good mechanical possibilities for rebalancing it, particularly in the case of buffing the hail weather condition.

Also, happy thing and stuff to you too, and to everyone else reading!

Leo M.R. [Patreon Cultist] asks:

What do you think of getting rid of weather altogether, but in replacement give ALL of the types terrain effects instead? The same rules still apply (only affect grounded Pokémon, only one can be active at any given time, etc.), of course. I always did find it kind of unfair how certain types are so advantaged in specific weather over other types, but those other types have no equivalent for themselves (e.g. Poison, Dark, Bug). Now that we’ve got type-specific terrains, what do you think? I figure the effects of intense sunlight can be taken over by Fiery Terrain, rain by Watery Terrain, hail by Icy Terrain, and sandstorm by Sandy Terrain. I have some fun ideas about the other types but I wanna hear your thoughts about the idea first. Cheers!

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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?

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Ashe asks:

You mentioned a while back that if you had your way, Pokémon would have less types, and Water would be one of the types on the chopping block. Can you elaborate more about which types you’d cut and why, and what would remain in your ideal type chart?

It goes through… iterations, depending on how much wild abandon I’m feeling from day to day, and what kind of scope I’m imagining for whatever hypothetical redesign of the Pokémon games that would give me this opportunity.  The common thread of my logic is that (contrary, I think, to a lot of fans) I don’t believe more types actually make the game better. Once you have about seven or eight you’ve probably already exhausted 90% of the strategic depth they add to the battle system (compare the TCG, which originally had just seven, although it was more or less forced to expand to eleven by the introduction of new types in generations II and VI, as well as the proliferation of Dragon-types starting in generation III). Having more just makes it harder to memorise all the relationships, and makes the game harder to get into. Like, I get it because I had the bulk of it seared into my impressionable child brain when I was nine, changes in generations II and VI notwithstanding, but if I picked up my first Pokémon game today, in my late 20s, I’m not sure I’d think that was worth my time (though I admit it helps that recent games in the core series display the type effectiveness of your moves against your opponents).  There’s an argument that more types enable a wider range of creature designs, but I think you can actually achieve the same result with fewer types more broadly defined. But let’s actually take a stab at answering this question.

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Toucannon asks:

So, MegaEvolution is something of a base-breaking point for pokemon fans, but you’ve been known to mention it being a good thing for some pokemon (in terms of improved useability). Thus, I ask: which of the 50 or so existing megaevolutions would you say are necessary and worth keeping, and which ones are superfluous and shouldn’t have been introduced at all?

Well… based on that particular criterion, probably fewer than half of them were a good idea, maybe even fewer than a third, which is a pretty terrible success rate.  Terrible enough, in fact, that I think it’s pretty clear this rationale wasn’t really a major part of Game Freak’s process for deciding which Pokémon to give Mega Evolutions to (even though it’s something I like), and therefore arguably not a good way of judging them.  Particularly in the first round in X and Y, Mega Evolutions primarily went to Pokémon that were already fan favourites, like the Kanto starters, Mewtwo and Gyarados, and most of those were already at least decent.  But… well, you asked, so okay, let’s make a list…

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