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.

Osprey asks:

This is a slightly odd question (or set of questions), but I’ve been thinking lately about how Pokemon perceive or relate to their own type, and whether type distinctions induce some kind of cultural difference among Pokemon. Are Pokemon aware of their own type? Do type distinctions arise “naturally,” or are they simply human-created terms used to organize and taxonomize Pokemon by their salient features? Do Pokemon feel culturally closer to Pokemon who share their type? What about Pokemon from “allied” types, like Water and Ice, or Rock and Ground? Is a Pokemon like Abomasnow who has two types that are fairly “far apart” from each other able to “code switch” to an extent– to “lean in” to his Grass-type features when he’s hanging out with other Grass pokemon, and to his Ice-type aspects when he’s up on the mountain with the other Ice-types?

What do you think about this?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

I tend to think that the world makes more sense if Pokémon type is a construct created by humans in order to understand how Pokémon fight and predict which Pokémon will have advantages against certain others.  If Pokémon type is a natural thing that exists independently of humans, then you need to do a lot of work explaining what it is and how it arises (especially considering that Pokémon of the same type do not usually seem to be related species), and this is work that Game Freak has not done.  I think it would probably imply that each type corresponds to some metaphysical source of magical power that Pokémon can tap into – and honestly I think that might be true anyway for some of the more mystical types like Dragon and Fairy, but for most of them there simply isn’t anything that hints at it in official sources.  Of course, because this is something that Pokémon’s creators probably haven’t thought about, there are a few stray things that do strongly suggest Pokémon types are in some way natural and absolute, like Arceus having forms for every type, and Hidden Powers existing for every type (except Fairy), and there being no exceptions to the type chart.  So… basically, I know what the answer would be if I were in charge, but I’m not confident in anything given the world as we actually see it.

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jeffthelinguist asks:

Currently the only pure flying type Pokémon is a legendary. If you were tasked with creating a pure flying type Pokémon that isn’t legendary, what would you make?

uggggggghhhhhhhhh

Flying

what even is Flying

A few months ago I got asked about single-type Flying Pokémon and the final sentence of my answer was “no one planned for any of this, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s 20 years too late to do anything about it – but hey, that’s the type chart for you,” which… well, that sums it up, doesn’t it?  I don’t think there’s a single thing that all Flying Pokémon have in common, not even the literal ability to fly, because Dodrio is a Flying-type (and frankly “flight” would also be a pretty generous description of what Gligar and Jumpluff do).  The one single-typed Flying Pokémon we do have, Tornadus, is a sort of wind elemental, but it would be a stretch to say that wind is the unifying core of the Flying type, because a lot of Flying Pokémon like Fearow and Emolga have no wind-related flavour and can only learn wind attacks as egg moves, and now in generation VII we have Minior and Celesteela, who can’t even do that.

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Dosidicus Giygas asks:

There’s an interesting parallel in Gen I between Eevee’s three original evolutions and the three Legendary Birds in terms of typing. Fire, ice, and lightning are common elemental distinctions in RPGs with magic/energy/psionics/whathaveyou, so it makes sense that Pokemon would draw from this tradition for inspiration, though it’s a little odd that there is a discrepancy between Vaporeon (Water Type) and Articuno (Ice Type). Any thoughts on why that is? Furthermore, why didn’t Game Freak apply this logic to the starters, who are halfway there anyway? For something more varied/interesting? For a better justification of type balance?

Type balance isn’t exactly right, because I don’t think it’s about fairness, or at least not entirely, but it’s something like that.  Grass/Fire/Water has this nice rock/paper/scissors relationship that serves as an easy and intuitive introduction to one of Pokémon’s core mechanics, which is a pretty valuable thing for new players.  It doesn’t really work if you try to shoehorn Electric in there, because thematically there just isn’t an obvious relationship between Electric and Fire.  Other games that use Fire/Ice/Lightning don’t usually have “type advantages” in the same way as Pokémon does; several iterations of Final Fantasy, for example, have Fire and Ice being strong against each other, with Lightning doing its own thing (often being strong against mechanical enemies); Final Fantasy X adds Water as a fourth element to form another opposed pair with Lightning.  Pokémon just has different needs to those games.

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[Asks: Asks: Asks: Asks:] asks:

How do you feel about the lack of single type Flying pokemon? I’ve always felt it was odd that there is only one pure Flying type.

I tend to think Game Freak’s notion of what the Flying type actually is has changed quite a bit since generation I, perhaps to the extent that no one has ever quite known what it’s supposed to be.  All the generation I Flying-type attacks are bird-themed – Wing Attack, Drill Peck, Sky Attack (in Japanese, Goddo Bādo, a transliteration of the English “God Bird”) – which makes sense, since we have reason to suspect, on the basis of MissingNo and other bits of stray game data from Red and Blue, that it was originally called the “Bird type.” This, of course, is why Flying is strong against Bug.  Gust was a Normal-type attack originally, and Whirlwind still is.

Continue reading “[Asks: Asks: Asks: Asks:] asks:”

Adamfrolick asks:

Really love your blog! I was wondering if you could clear something up between the relationship of a pokemons type and there relation to a pokemons physicality or physiology. Like, rock types are weak to fighting cause they are made of rocks and with enough strength, someone could shatter one. But in the case of, lets say, a ground type, it isn’t necessarily made of ground? Like, Hippowdon is just a sandy hippo, so why would it be weak to grass?

Ground is… tricky… I tend to sort of recuse myself from attempting to explain anything to do with the Ground type because I don’t think it actually makes sense and I’m not sure there’s a good reason for it to exist.  You could probably explain those particular relationships by positing that they have sort of porous exoskeletal plates which can become waterlogged very easily, and from which Grass Pokémon can also drain water effectively (that being notionally the same reason Grass is strong against Water).  Honestly, though, I’m not totally convinced there is a consistent relationship between type and physiology.  We know that the same type can encompass Pokémon with radically different biology, and we know that Pokémon within a type do not necessarily share a common ancestor.  I kinda lean towards thinking that “type” is just something humans came up with to describe how Pokémon behave in battles and create a heuristic for which of two Pokémon is likely to be favoured in any given match-up, not a real biological phenomenon.

Anonymous asks:

In your opinion, what Pokémon best represent each type and what they’re all about? So like, what’s the most representative Normal-type, Ice-type, Dragon, Ghost, Fairy, Ground, and so on?

Hmmm… wellllll, I’m going to hedge my bets by saying that there are several types, like Normal and Ground, where I don’t know “what they’re all about” and I’m honestly not sure a convincing answer exists, perhaps not even in the minds of Game Freak’s designers, but let’s give it a shot… Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Anonymous asks:

What do you think is the logic behind Zubat’s Poison typing?

Well, for one thing, Game Freak seem to have disliked the idea of pure Flying-types up until generation V, when we got Tornadus, and it’s not really clear what else Zubat could possibly have been (no Dark type when he was introduced).  For another, vampire bats are technically venomous by some definitions, since their saliva has special properties that inhibit clotting and increase blood flow to the area of a bite.

Anonymous asks:

Hi dear pokemaniacal, what do you think about a new “Cosmic” type added to the game? A type that would´t bother much the current metagame, given to very little pokemon in form of Megas to don´t mess too with the current types (like Solrock/Lunatone, Clefable, Sigilyph, Deoxis and the likes or few forgotten ones as Xatu) or just only to the new legendaries to add more mysticism and exclusivity to them. Anyway, what pokemon would you give this type? Match-ups? Would this type have right to exist?

I pretty much have to refer you to this recent question and answer, which is kinda my default reply to anything involving adding more types.  I just don’t think it adds anything worthwhile at this point – is the fact that we don’t have a whole type dedicated to Pokémon associated with celestial phenomena really a significant limitation on design?  If we want something we can give to legendary Pokémon to make them more powerful, well, sure – we’ve pretty much thrown game balance out the window with them long ago anyway, and there are good aesthetic reasons for wanting them to stand head-and-shoulders above other Pokémon.  But personally I’d rather overhaul the way we interact with legendary Pokémon in the games completely.

Godzillakiryu91 asks:

What seven would that be, and what would decide where an existing Pokemon would get placed?

I knew someone would ask that next.

To be honest it’s not even so much a revision of the current type chart as throwing it out altogether and starting from scratch.  Sort of a “can I just do this completely differently?” thought experiment, which probably has to go along with massive changes to how we do status effects, PP, accuracy, and several other things (including doing away with physical/special).  Pokémon don’t even have types at all, they just have weaknesses and resistances to attack types (of which attacks can have one, two, or even none), and those are assigned case-by-case.  

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