Mission Mid-Typing: aborted

Now the games are out (for several countries, sorry for those left out) so I’m going straight ahead and discuss some of the things we have learned since the first few hackers got the game. For games with such an intrincate system as Pokemon discoveries would take a lot of time without hacking and it also serves as an easy way to discard the wild speculation that happens early after the games released. Today I’m going to talk about something the miners did not find in the Gen VII pokemon games: new mid-type attacks.

A Mid-type move is a Pokemon damaging move that deals damage through calculating a middle ground between two existing types. The only existing Mid-type attack is Flying Press, which is essentially a Fighting move crossed with the effectiveness of a Flying move. Types that resist Fighting type become neutral to Flying Press if Flying is effective against them (like Bug), if they are resisted for one type and neutral to the other they remain resisted and if it resists both Fighting and Flying then is doubled resisted. As far as offense goes you make are using a new attacking type with its own damage chart which happens to get a STAB bonus from an existing type (Flying Press gets STAB when Fighting Types use it as it’s listed as a Fighting type move).

Back in the early Gen VI I found that the novelty of Mid-types was very cool and that could lead the Pokemon franchise into fresh new directions, I intended to write an article about the possible competitive interest of these moves back when I was a mod in Pokemon Plus. Another attack-type variant (Freeze-Dry) was introduced in that same Gen, suggesting that Game Freaks was experimenting with the introduction of new Attacking types. But while I was preparing my article I came to the realization that Mid-types had serious limitations. In Pokemon games the best attacking types are those with important or near absolute neutral coverage (Ghost, Flying, Gen I Psychic, Pre-Gen VI Dragon, etc.), hitting stuff for super-effective damage is welcomed, but if you’re easily walled by a number of types then your STAB bonus goes wasted. Mid-typing cancels out your bonuses and flaws offensively, but because if you combine a good attacking type, many interactions will be neutral and they will risk to become résistances by combination. If you look at the damage chart for Flying Press, you’ll realize that it’s resisted by more types that either Flying or Fighting individually… And that it’s super-effective to the same amount of types Fighting hits. So you’re not trading up when you come up with a mid-typing move like Flying Press, what you are doing is changing your Super Effective targets, you are not looking for things that are good on a main STAB, but something that is more akin to coverage. To make matters worse Hawlucha (one of the two users of Flying Press) already has STABs that hits every type covered by Flying Press, so what sets the move appart is that it’s doubly effective and double resisted by a different subset of Pokemon. And the other Flying Press user has no STAB for it, so you could replace it with any other particular coverage move that better compliments the main STAB (since we are talking about Pikachu Libre, Ice would be such typing).

In all honestly, I can’t say I’m surprised that mid-type attacking moves went forgotten through Gen VII. Realizing their effectiveness is counter-intuitive and takes time. For the new player they are opaque and difficult to read, for the competitive one they provide niche advantages that don’t address any case that regular coverage cannot address and from a design perspective they are just terribly limited from the get to go. They did boost Flying Press’s Battle Power in Gen VII leaving it as an ok option, but without turning it into a go-to move either. That’s likely the better choice: it’s weak coverage, so in order to be effective it has to be highpowered, but not so much so that players are forced to run it and learn its clunky mechanics. The only other honest way to deal with it would be to scrap it altogether.

It’s worth noting that the enhanced types (like Freeeze-Dry) did not get more developped in Gen VII either. Enhanced Types reach a mark that Mid-types never get, by giving you a STAB move that hits by super effective damage something that used to resist you (in mid-typing this always gets balanced out). The reason for leaving those alone is likely very different: those moves are actually a bit too good and they become easily relevant. This forces new playes to either quickly catch up with exceptional moves or to be crushed by them, which leads to frustration. So understandably, enhanced moves should be added sparingly, maybe only for a subset of signature moves or small utility ones, or they should be left alone.

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