Type (re)Design 1: I doubt the logic of type differences will ever be rigorously explained in-game to satisfy veterans who grew up with the series but I am curious about tinkering with weaknesses/strengths from a design perspective. For instance, I think it’s a design flaw that Rock- and Ground-type – hardy “earthen types” if you will – have so many weaknesses in common because it that discourages these types from appearing together in future designs given how crippling a 4× weakness to both common Water- and Grass-type attacks can be. An early idea I had was to combine these types into a single Earth-type but I realize this is unlikely and would mean cancelling out some of the more interesting resistances/immunities of either Rock- and Ground-types. My other idea would be to remove Ground-type weakness to Water-type attacks (becoming 1× normal damage) and remove Rock-type weakness (also becoming 1× normal damage) to Grass-type attacks. That means the Rhyhorn and Geodude families for instance would only suffer 2× weakness to either Grass- or Water-type attacks.
Thoughts? Or is this plea overly specific?
I have… a bit of a history of badmouthing Ground as a type that doesn’t really have a point, or any thematic unity. You could get rid of it, I think, and we would manage without it. I tend to think that, all else being equal, a smaller and less complicated type chart is actually better, as long as it doesn’t restrict design space. There is an argument that we need some variable in the game that makes Flying Pokémon immune to Dig, Earthquake and Magnitude, but every other strength and weakness of the Ground type either overlaps with Rock (as you noted – weak to Grass and Water, strong against Fire) or doesn’t actually seem flavour-essential. Why do Ground attacks need to do extra damage to Poison-types? Or reduced damage to Bug-types? There are also plenty of Ground attacks that… don’t seem like Flying-types should automatically dodge them? Drill Run, Mud Shot, Sand Tomb, Earth Power… Bonemerang, for heaven’s sake. I think it would actually make more sense to have specific attacks flagged as “this doesn’t work on anything that flies or levitates.”
Wow, really loving all your articles and posts! That’s awesome that you like the Grass type; they don’t get enough love. But I gotta know: what’s your opinion on the Ground type in general? For the longest time it’s been my favorite (but that might be nostalgia talking since I used to love Sandshrew when I was 8). Now that I’ve looked over some of your posts about Pokemon designs….I do notice Ground has a lot of rather generic looking desert animals with no particular extraordinary powers, lol
Ground… Ground is sort of odd because, aside from Normal, it’s the element with the fewest proper defining characteristics. Many of them are either subterranean or desert creatures – and let us note that these are two extremely different things, and that there is really no reason to clump them together while separating Rock. This seems to be the deal for most Ground-type attacks, but not all Ground Pokémon are anything like this. What, for instance, makes Marowak a Ground-type? What makes Garchomp a Ground-type, other than having the Sand Veil ability (which is shared by Cacturne)? What makes Nidoking and Nidoqueen Ground-types? You mention Sandshrew, and I think perhaps it is worth noting that, as of his introduction in Red and Blue, Sandshrew never actually learned any Ground attacks on his own – Sand Attack being considered a Normal-type attack at the time, which really makes you wonder why they labelled Sandshrew a Ground-type in the first place. In Gold and Silver, of course, Sand Attack became Ground-type, but the newly introduced Sandstorm was a Rock-type attack, and has been ever since. The first Sand Stream Pokémon, Tyranitar, was a Rock-type also. Sort of makes you wonder why other sand Pokémon, and the sand-based attacks introduced in Ruby and Sapphire, didn’t follow suit. The only thing I can think of that they all have in common is that they live on the ground, and even that goes out the window when you encounter bloody Gligar and his nonsensical Ground/Flying type. It might be instructive, furthermore, to question why Kangaskhan, Dunsparce and Stoutland, to name a few, are not Ground-types.
I’m honestly not sure Ground really needs to be a type at all. It has very little in the way of thematic unity or purpose, and if I had been doing this ten years ago I might have suggested eliminating it entirely and splitting all of its belongings between Rock and Normal (although this would happen at the price of making Normal even larger and more nebulous than it is already). You asked for my opinion on the Ground type, and I suppose I’ve given it… I don’t really ‘get’ it. This is not to say that individual Ground-type Pokémon are poorly designed; some of them are, of course, but others are amazing. It’s just that the type as a whole is such a vague and, frankly, poorly thought-out idea that they don’t really have anything in common as a group. Is it really necessary to have two ‘miscellaneous’ types?