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Most users ever online was 39 on Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:07 am
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History of Pokemon's Metagame Part 3: RSE

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PostLinty on Fri May 06, 2016 11:45 am

The RSE generation. One of my favorite generations even though the game itself is probably the guiltiest in terms of padding game design as over half the routes were waterways meant to be traversed via Surf or Dive. This of course meant endless random encounters and trainer battles. My favorite thing about the RSE generation was the addition of abilities, introduction of Salamence, changing weather conditions and most importantly the overall balancing from Gen 2.

The Third Generation: The Great Complexity

Something very important to note is that Gen 3's metagame has the most balanced metagame to date. There was a lot of variety to choose from with the new additions to the mechanics and new addition of Pokémon. As such, this was, what I found, to be one of the best metagames since nothing felt overly powerful in the generation and had so many different Pokémon to choose from.

In the early stages, Game Freak tried to shake things up by introducing double battles. Trainers could choose to fight in 2-on-2 battles. The mechanics changed a bit by having Pokémon choose their targets along with other moves changing in use in doubles such as Earthquake, which would hit every active Pokémon on the field regardless of team. Doubles became a niche choice but continued to draw interest because of one other important addition Game Freak brought to RSE that made doubles interesting: abilities.

Abilities did many different things but most are a constant factor to how a Pokémon battle. Some Pokémon were supplemented by their abilities like Gyarados with Intimidate. Gyarados' defenses were somewhat ample, but Intimidate automatically lowered the opponent's attack by one stage, giving Gyarados a buffer of physical bulkiness to switch in. Other Pokémon however, we defined by their ability. Tyranitar was the sole recipient of the ability Sand Stream, which automatically summons a permanent Sandstorm when Tyranitar arrived on the battlefield.

Sometimes, great sounding abilities were even on unfortunate Pokémon. Sharpedo had Rough Skin, which caused damage to attackers who made physical contact with it. Unfortunately, Sharpedo was much too frail to punish physical attackers very much with its unique ability. Every so often, there would also be Pokémon that are incredible on paper but are purposely held back by their ability. Slaking is overwhelmingly powerful but Truant only allows it to move every other turn.

RSE's mascot legendaries had abilities which brought something that made weather based teams more interesting: permanent weather changes. Kyogre, the Sea Basin Pokémon, expanded the sea with its trademark ability Drizzle which would summon permanent rain until another weather condition was called in. Its nemesis, Groudon, the Continent Pokémon, evaporated water and raised land masses with its ability Drought which created permanent harsh sunlight until forcibly changed. These two abilities could of course be recreated to a lesser extent for 5 turns with their respective attacks, Rain Dance and Sunny Day.


Rain and sunny conditions enhanced certain attacks while weakening others. Water-type attacks became strong during rain while weakening fire attacks while sunlight did the opposite. More importantly, many abilities worked with special weather effects that encouraged team construction. Many rain specific teams outside of using Kyogre in the Ubers tier had leads that could guarantee rain being set up on the first turn. The rest of the team would then be configured with Pokémon with the ability Swift Swim, which doubled the user's speed in rain. Good team construction dictates that the other Pokémon on the team would be enhanced by rain but would not be dependent on it. With the introduction of weather and abilities, team construction could become more diverse to function with a theme or ability rather then overall balance or tactics.

That's not to say all changes were as obvious as causing rain to suddenly come pouring down. One last big change was the addition of Pokémon natures. If you first started playing Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out the Mudkip you were given had a Sassy personality. Well asides from assuming your Mudkip had a good sense of humor, it also meant your Mudkip excels a bit in special defense at the expense of speed. People who loved min/maxing their strategies could now catch and breed Pokémon with a specific nature to tailor them to their needs on the team. For example, you'd prefer a Zangoose that was Jolly because it sacrificed special attack, which it never uses, to increase speed so that it can get the drop on slower Pokémon. Natures are probably the biggest thing that defines whether or not a person is serious about battling other trainers as the difference in power can be quite obvious.


With the advent of strategies such as Swift Swim with rain and its opposite in Chlorophyll with sunlight, plus a much wider distribution of moves like Agility and Dragon Dance, the metagame progressed from the stall tactics from GSC and started on the rise of offensive tactics the current generation is now known for. As we're now over 300 Pokémon, it's become harder to point out all the big threats. Let's work our way down from returning contenders to the ones that have lost a bit of their edge, then about choices who received important abilities, and end with new threats.

Snorlax, Starmie, Blissey, and Gengar have all held firm to their position while Rhydon clings to the borderline tier while its brother in rocks Golem has since gone the way of the Underused tier. Exeggutor used to see lots of usage in the previous generation but despite receiving Chlorophyll now, it's just not bulky enough to justify it's poor speed without getting sun set up. That and the existence of Blissey walling it, although to be fair, a lot of Pokémon hate Blissey. Speaking of which.

The infamous core of Skarmbliss still exists in Gen 3's metagame. Although Gen 3 has a multitude of options to counter the common defensive core of Gen 2. Skarmbliss was still used as a very common core and it wasn't until Gen 4 where it stopped seeing much play. Due to Gen 3's nature of being a mostly offensive/balanced metagame, Skarmbliss was still effective until it came across new counters that existed such as Blaziken, Salamence and Magneton with the newly introduced ability "Magnet Pull".

Tyranitar saw a huge jump in popularity when it received Sand Stream. Just as there are Sun and Rain teams, there exist Sandstorm teams but unlike the former two weather conditions, sandstorm damages anything that's not part Rock, Ground, or Steel-type. Dugtrio, the classic Ground-type from the original RBY generation saw a resurgence when it received Arena Trap, letting it revenge kill very effectively. If your Water-type got KO'ed by an Electric-type, Dugtrio can come in, prevent it from switching thanks to Arena Trap, and revenge kill it with a good Earthquake. And Heracross, the plucky Fighting/Bug-type from Gold and Silver, also defined the strategy of absorbing status affliction moves when it received Guts this generation. Many walls like to employ the burn status to not only hurt Pokémon every turn but also neuter the attacking power of physical sweepers. But with Heracross on your team, it can take the burn and throw out extremely powerful Mega Horn thanks to Guts boosting attack by 1.5x when suffering.

My favorite Dragon Pokémon.

Like every generation, the newcomers tend to make a splash as new threats but that also makes singling them out easier. Salamence, the new Dragon-type of this generation, easily became one of the most powerful Pokémon and it just isn't as used today as it used to but it's still feared. With a diverse physical movepool, access to Dragon Dance, and Intimidate to weaken whatever it switches into. Salamence is even feared by its counters since it can take chunks out of them and once they're down, nothing else really stands much of a chance. One of the few non-Legedaries that were banned during one point in time.

Metagross also became popular for the obvious fact that it's part steel, which makes switching this physical brawler in a breeze. And despite stall tactics falling off in this generation, RSE also introduced Dusclops, one of Pokémon's premier stall ghost Pokémon. Not only was it tough to kill but its ability, Pressure, cause enemies to use two PP for every attack instead of one.

Look at these goofballs.

It goes without saying that Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza (who appropriately has an ability which negates all weather effects) were all in Ubers, but it may surprise you to know that Wobbuffet was in Ubers as well. The theory that comes up the most is because of his ability; Shadow Tag. Shadow Tag acts like Arena Trap except it also works on Flying-types and Levitate and its access to Encore, letting it trap and Encore whatever it wants, and allowing the trainer to switch in something that will appreciate the free set up time and it was eventually banned to Ubers.

Although the theory that I think was much more sensical was that if 2 Wobbuffets met on the field of battle, the battle would never end since they cannot do direct damage to each other. Which is why its pre-evolution; Wynaut, who also had this ability was also banned. It has since been update to not work against other Shadow Tag users. That being said, Wobbuffet is really good among players who love predicting their opponents and love using Encore.

Weather teams were definitely powerful, but they were actually quite niche compared to other strategies. However, Rain and Sun did establish themselves as a powerful strategy in the lower tiers, though Sandstorm is always prevalent since Tyranitar is prevalent. Like a torch bearer, Tyranitar's strength being boosted by its ability also hinted at what could happen if more Pokémon received interesting abilities, which is something we'll see in future generations. The minor addition of the hold item known as a Choice Band, which boosts attack by 1.5x at the cost of locking you into one move, would also act as a hint at what to expect in future generations.

With Salamence and Tyranitar using Dragon Dance to boost Speed and Attack, the metagame has snowballed into something dictated mostly of immediate attacks and immediate results. Defensive strategies were still viable in this Gen even if it has changed from Gen 2's stall metagame, most notably how common the Skarmbliss core still was. This was the most optimal metagame that one could have hoped for.

Pokemon's Metagame Part 2: GSC
Prince Takumi
The Xyz Prince
The Xyz Prince
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PostPrince Takumi on Sat May 07, 2016 3:08 am

I've never played competitively during this gen, sadly. But if it really is the best gen in terms of a balanced meta game, what would be the least balanced?


What did you expect? Our fates are joined. You can't keep me away!
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PostLinty on Sat May 07, 2016 1:55 pm

Gen 1 was probably the least balanced metagame. With most of it's focus being surrounded by Psychic, Normal and Electric-type Pokemon. On top of the poorly designed way of handling critical hits where it depended on Speed not on Luck. I say it's the least balanced since there was no real counter to Psychic-types. Gen 1 had incorrect coding and made Psychic-types immune to Ghost and the only Bug-type moves were insanely weak and any Pokemon that tried to use it would have been outsped and OHKO'd by Alakazam. There was also no real good counter to Normal-types since their only weakness is Fighting and no good Fighting-type existed in this generation. Along with most battles only used 10 of the available Pokemon from the 151 in Gen 1. My first part of this series goes in to depth about this.
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