With the start of Season 8 comes a new move rebalance. New moves, changed moves, and updated movepools. As always, it’s really exciting to see what’s changing, and to get the opportunity to see what that might mean!
On the whole, the move update is focused on improving Poison as a type! It’s historically been super underserved, with most of its moves being mediocre, and most Poison-types being relatively niche.
There has been some debate in the community about whether or not Charm is too powerful (it’s not) and if it needs a nerf (it doesn’t). Rather than going that route, though, Niantic has decided to add more offensive counterplay. Since historically Steel and Poison have been underwhelming offensive types, the best way to answer Charm (and Fairy-types in general) is to just run a Steel-type and hope for the best. With powerful Poison-types, now you actually have a way to counter Fairies offensively, rather than just defensively!
Whether or not these changes will be successful is, of course, yet to be seen, but if nothing else stronger is stronger!
As a warning: This Meta Implications is significantly longer than normal. There are a lot of changes, and most of them are really worth a deep dive. I think the information here is worth reading!
Two moves (1.5?) added: Weather Ball Rock is just another Weather Ball (only available to Hippowdon and Normal Castform), and Feather Dance is a debuff move only added to Pidgeot. Let’s walk through them!
Weather Ball: Rock
Weather Ball is a 60 Power/35 Energy charged move. Those stats are incredibly good, as we’ve seen from things like Ninetales, Abomasnow, and Politoed. So, what’s it do for Hippowdon? Well, honestly, it’s a little difficult to say. Typically the Pokémon that really benefit from Weather Ball are the ones with fantastic energy generation, letting them spam the move out constantly. Hippowdon, on the other hand, does most of its work with its fast moves, leveraging the coverage of Bite/Ice Fang/Thunder Fang/Fire Fang. Historically, it’s paired that with Body Slam (Another 60/35 move without STAB) and Earth Power, and seen literal no play in the Great League metagame due to disadvantageous typing and lack of a niche. So the real question is, “Is Rock coverage so much better than Normal coverage?” and the answer is “Probably not, no.” Running Ice Fang, in the 1shield, WB:R allows it to pick up Mandibuzz. Fire Fang, WB:R lets it pick up Talonflame, Tropius (Air Slash), Drifblim, and Skarmory. Thunder Fang, you pick up Galvantula, Jellicent, Mandibuzz, Alolan Marowak, Alolan Ninetales (Charm only) and Skarmory. On the whole, it seems to be meaningfully better, but it likely fails to cross the threshold into “Good,” and odds are, you’ll continue to never see Hippowdon in Open Format Great League. That said, Hippo’s seen play in Silph formats before, and it likely will again, and a new move can never hurt!
In Ultra League, your results look pretty similar. You’re better against Articuno, Drifblim, Gengar, and Typhlosion, and worse into Machamp (and other Fighters). But you’re still not quite good enough.
Feather Dance is a 35 Power/45 Energy Flying-type charged attack, with a 100% chance to reduce its target’s Attack stat by 2 stages. For reference, this is a 100% chance to do what Octazooka can only do half the time. That’s an incredibly powerful effect, on a move that deals basically no damage. As of right now, this is only available on Pidgeot, so let’s just look at it in that context. Currently, Pidgeot’s main moveset is Gust + Aerial Ace and Brave Bird. Since Aerial Ace isn’t a great move, this means your gameplan is often “bait with Aerial Ace, then try to nuke with Brave Bird.” In these cases, Feather Dance is a strict upgrade, since it costs the same amount of energy and has a better effect when shielded. So look. At first glance, this might make you think “Pidgeot’s just going to be a sim hero. It’ll look great when you get your bait and nuke, but it’s definitely actually trash.” It’s not, though. Turns out, Feather Dance is actually kinda nuts. Let’s look at the wins Pidgeot has with only Gust + Feather Dance. Unsurprisingly, you’ve got the easy wins like Every Single Grass-Type, or Ghost-types like Sableye, Haunter, and Alolan Marowak. But then you get into more interesting ones. You beat Toxicroak, Machamp, Munchlax, Swampert, Medicham, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Wigglytuff, Whiscash, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Clefable, Jellicent, Vigoroth, and Altaria. You can technically beat Galarian Stunfisk by shielding twice and going straight Feather Dance, but it’s slight, and they don’t have to shield at all. Notable losses include Ice Beam Azumarill, Abomasnow, Deoxys-Defense, Thunder Punch Hypno (though not Shadow Hypno), Galvantula, Galarian Stunfisk, Skarmory, and Bastiodon. Throw in the Brave Bird and you’ve got the potential to beat IB Azu, Deoxys-Defense, Hypno, and Lapras. In Great League, Pidgeot actually has the potential to join the legion of powerful Flying-types.
Moving on, let’s look at Ultra League, where Pidgeot’s wins are similarly notable. Straight Feather Dance, you’re beating Clefable, Cresselia, Dragonite, Escavalier, Ferrothorn, Gallade, Gengar, Giratina-Altered (both Shadow Claw and Dragon Breath), Machamp, Swampert, Togekiss, Toxicroak, and Venusaur. ALL STRAIGHT FEATHER DANCE. Additionally, you can beat Umbreon, Tangrowth, Snorlax, Obstagoon, Alolan Muk, Dragonite (normal AND Shadow). If you debuff and land a Brave Bird, you can even beat Skarmory in the 1shield (and you beat it in the 2 straight Feather Dance!) This thing is honestly kinda terrifying.
A number of moves received some number tweaks. Acid Spray, Poison Jab, Poison Sting, Cross Poison, Poison Fang, Dragon Tail, and Focus Blast. As usual, one by one:
Acid Spray is a Poison-type charged move with 20 Power, and its energy cost is getting reduced from 50 to 45 Energy. It’s a minor change, and it is by nature a bait move, so rather than looking at specific gains, let’s briefly run through the Pokémon that serve to benefit from a cheaper Acid Spray! Real talk, though, this move is kinda a meme, and it’ll likely remain a meme in most situations. However, Tentacruel likes this. It’s honestly the one Pokémon that legitimately runs Acid Spray, because it needs something to bait with before firing off its Hydro Pumps, and saving 5 energy every bait is really nice! It’s likely not enough to flip Tentacruel into being super meta, but it’s nice to see! Other than that, Victreebel sometimes runs Acid Spray as a secondary move. Since you’re so often incentivized to shield Victreebel’s charged moves anyway (they hit really hard, even resisted!), Vic can run Acid Spray or Leaf Tornado. Acid Spray costing 5 less energy makes it an even more tempting option! Other than that though...eh. Bite Muk? Escavalier? Alolan Muk’s Poison Jab/Dark Pulse/Acid Spray set looks a little stronger than before, too. Mostly don’t worry about this one.
On that topic, though, Poison Jab. Previously a 3 DPT/3.5 EPT move, it’s up to 3.5 DPT/3.5 EPT. It’s not massive, but it’s a meaningful boost. 28 Pokémon (and 8 Shadow Forms) learn Poison Jab, so we’re not going to go over all of them, but we will take a look at some highlights! Tentacruel notably benefits (from the Acid Spray buff too), and can now beat Meganium, Shadow Victreebel, and Razor Leaf Tropius in the 1shield. A-Muk running PJ/DP/AS can now beat Azumarill by investing 1 shield (though it can lose to Hydro Pump sets in the 1-2 if Azu baits well) just with Poison Jab + Acid Spray. It can also handle Froslass, Galvantula, and Meganium. This set might remain a meme, but it’s at least more notable than it was before! If you’re the one person at rank 3 running Poison Jab Toxicroak, you’re happier, but you should still probably TM to Counter. Nidoqueen picks up a lot as well, though this generally gonna be more tied to the addition of the now-buffed Poison Fang than a little boost to Poison Jab. More on that later, though.
Poison Sting got buffed a while back (to a 1.5/4), and it’s getting buffed again now, to a 1.5 DPT/4.5 EPT move. This change brings it in line with other high-energy moves like Mud Shot, Thunder Shock, and Psycho Cut. It doesn’t really have many notable users, though, saving both of us some time and effort. There are basically 3: Drapion, Qwilfish, and Ariados. Ariados is gonna benefit more from the Cross Poison buff and the addition of Lunge, though, so we’ll save its full analysis until a little later. That brings us down to 2.
Drapion is a mon that’s gone through a lot. Initially just “Bite + maybe some charged moves”, it’s picked up a series of other toys to play with letting it really leverage some solid charged moves as well. Running Crunch+Sludge Bomb, the added energy generation lets Drapion pick up Alolan Marowak, Medicham, Munchlax, Alolan Raichu, Umbreon, and Venusaur. Aqua Tail + Sludge Bomb, you pick up Cresselia, Ferrothorn, Hypno, Medicham, Munchlax, Obstagoon, Scrafty, and Umbreon. Aqua Tail + Crunch, new PS lets you beat Abomasnow, Chesnaught, Ferrothorn, Froslass, and Mandibuzz. Note that for Open Great League, you’re not going to want to give up Sludge Bomb, since it’s your only way to hit Azumarill. Pairing that with Crunch lets you hit all the Ghosts and Psychic-types in the format. This set functions kinda like Alolan Muk, it just moves a little faster. Note: You still can’t beat Galarian Stunfisk if you run Aqua Tail.
With the advent of XLs, Drapion can perform in Ultra League too! Since Aqua Tail isn’t super useful here, let’s just look at the PS/Cr/SB set. The added speed lets you now pick up Drifblim, Gallade (normal not Shadow), and Snorlax (both normal and Shadow). (you beat Cresselia consistently, and you can only beat Shadow Claw variants of Gira-A, though neither of those are new). This isn’t super likely to move Drapion into the meta in either format, but hey: better’s better, and it’s pretty likely to find a limited format where it can shine!
Qwilfish also has a bunch of interesting movesets, though for the sake of open Great League, we’re just going to look at Poison Sting + Aqua Tail and Sludge Wave. New Poison Sting lets it beat Chesnaught, Galvantula, Lapras, Meganium, Munchlax, Obstagoon, Scrafty, and Venusaur (generally bait-reliant). Once again, not likely to really break into the open Great League meta, but it’s very cool!
Cross Poison doesn’t suck now! Previously, it was a 40 Power/35 Energy move (Bone Club clone). Now, it’s 50 Power/35 Energy, and has a 12.5% chance to give you +2 Attack! For reference, this is just a Poison-type Night Slash, and Night Slash is pretty good! Now for what’s not good: nothing actually gets it. Armaldo’s still terrible, Galvantula will vastly prefer its typical Discharge/Lunge set, and Parasect...eh. Ariados does learn it, but again, talking about Ariados in its own section later. This isn’t building up to any incredible “Ariados is the best thing ever,” by the way, it’s mediocre, but we gotta organize this spiel somehow.
Now THIS one’s cool. Poison Fang’s staying a 40 Power/35 Energy move, but it’s now picking up a 100% chance to reduce its target’s Defense by 1 stage. That’s a really powerful effect. Not only can it just pile damage on more and more, Poison Fang is now a massively powerful bait move. It’s cheap, and when you do eventually land your big move, it’ll now deal that much more damage! Not too many Pokémon learn it, though. Venomoth, of course, if you were around in the early Silph days, made great use of it. Carvanha and Sharpedo are far too squishy to actually leverage it, though they certainly appreciate the extra help. The real notable ones are Golbat, and two new Pokémon in Crobat and Nidoqueen. Since Crobat and Nidoqueen get their own sections later, let’s just focus on Golbat now! Golbat’s set of choice is to run Wing Attack + Poison Fang and Shadow Ball. If you bait well, you have the potential to pick up wins against Drifblim, Hypno, and Jellicent in the 1shield, which is nice. Potentially more interesting, though, are the wins that it gets straight Poison Fang. Without even bothering to throw a Shadow Ball, you can now beat Cresselia, Deoxys-Defense, Diggersby, Mandibuzz, and Umbreon in the 1shield. More importantly, though, you’ve got a HUGE win over Azumarill, and a close win against Altaria in the 2shield. You do need to throw a Shadow Ball to beat Ice Beam Azu in the 1shield, though, so keep an eye on that! Shadow Golbat’s a little interesting, with a 1shield win against Altaria, but on the whole you seem to give up more than you pick up, so it may be worth just sticking with the nonshadow version.
Dragon Tail’s been a generally pretty uninteresting move. With 3 DPT/3.33 EPT, it’s totally outclassed by...pretty much everything good. Now, though, it’s been rebalanced, currently a 4.33 DPT/3 EPT move. While losing some energy is rough, you now generally have a higher damage output than even Dragon Breath! Note that that’s not entirely true, as it’s a 3-turn move and it loses some of Dragon Breath’s ability to force breakpoints, but you can read more about that here. In general, though, this is gonna mean that anything that can learn both Dragon Breath and Dragon Tail should be running Tail. That means Gyarados (this one requires an Elite TM), Dragonite, and Palkia will be shifting over to DT. The more interesting thing to look at is that the Pokémon previously burdened with DT can now actually make use of it in interesting ways! The ones we’ll run through are Flygon, Garchomp, Groudon, Haxorus, Giratina-Origin, Steelix, Lugia, Dragalge, and Milotic! Note that in most of these cases (all except Steelix, Lugia, Dragalge, Milotic) we’re not going to compare to previous DT performance. Instead, we’ll look at how Dragon Tail compares to its other, currently preferred fast move.
Flygon currently runs Mud Shot + Dragon Claw, and Earth Power (or rarely Stone Edge). In Great League, Dragon Tail actually looks pretty good, letting you pick up wins against Obstagoon, Pelipper, Sableye, Talonflame, and Venusaur (with Earth Power). You do give up Shadow Victreebel in the 1shield, and risk losing a win against some Hypno movesets. In Ultra League, Dragon Tail seems to generally just be an upgrade. You now can beat Charizard (non-DB), Shadow Dragonite (not normal), Gallade, Shadow Claw GirA (not DB), GirO, Machamp, Obstagoon, and Snorlax. You do give up Registeel and Galarian Stunfisk, though.
Garchomp has two primary current movesets: the bait/nuke Mud Shot+Sand Tomb and Outrage set, and the double nuke Earth Power + Outrage. Garchomp uh...is gonna wanna stick with Mud Shot, though. In the case of the Bait/Nuke set, you give up potential wins against Dialga and Metagross in the 1shield and pick up...Palkia? You do a little better in the 2shield, picking up Dragonite, Yveltal, and Zekrom, but it doesn’t look great. Dragon Tail + double nuke is even less exciting, barely picking up anything and giving up quite a lot.
Groudon runs Mud Shot + Fire Punch and Earthquake. This one’s got some nuance to it, so let’s run through even shield scenarios. In the 2shield, you pick up Dragonite, Giratina-Altered, Giratina-Origin, Ho-Oh, Landorus-I and Landorus-T, and Yveltal, all at the cost of Heatran, which isn’t super common anyway. the 1shield is iffier, though, as you give up the Dialga matchup, and a potential win against Metagross and Mewtwo. You pick up Yveltal, both Landoruses (Landori?), Giratina-Origin, and Dragonite, though. In the 0, Dragon Tail actually seems to come out on top? Dialga needs to throw a Draco Meteor to beat you, so you beat Thunder variants. You beat Giratina-Origin (you already beat Altered), opposing Groudon, Ho-Oh, and Lando-T. This one might be sleeper powerful, though I don’t want to downplay the cost of no longer consistently answering Dialga, since that really is one of Groudon’s primary roles.
Haxorus is somewhat of an offmeta (bad) pick that saw a little play in Master Premier, so rather than focus on “Yeah it loses to everything in open Master”, we’ll look at it in MLPC and pray that format actually comes back some day. Typically, it runs Counter + Dragon Claw and Night Slash. Trading Counter for Dragon Tail gives up 0.5 EPT of energy generation, but it picks up 0.33 DPT, and of course trades Fighting damage for STAB Dragon damage. This lets you pick up double nuke Garchomp, Gengar, DB Gyarados, and Machamp. However, you do now lose to Metagross, Rhyperior, and Snorlax (normal and Shadow).
Gira-O historically has always run Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball (and Ominous Wind/Dragon Pulse). It should stay that way. Your matchup spread ends up about the same, just a little worse against a lot of things. Ghost has good coverage. Do note that if you go all in, and run Dragon Tail + Dragon Pulse, you can beat Superpower Snorlax as long as it doesn’t shield twice (you don’t have to shield at all).
Now for the ones that actually ran Dragon Tail before. Starting with Steelix. It’s still not, like, good enough in anything, and hasn’t been in a long time, but it’ll perform better in limited formats. In Great League, you can beat Deoxys-Defense, Drifblim, Jellicent, and Air Slash Tropius (not RL). However, the lost energy generation (you’re one Dragon Tail slower on every second Crunch, for example), you can no longer handle Alolan Marowak or Sableye in the 1shield. This has no meaningful impact on Steelix’s performance in Ultra League, flipping exactly 1 matchup: you now have a very slight win against Drifblim.
Dragalge was a bit of a bummer when it first dropped. A lack of any particularly noteworthy moves made it kinda hard to consider bringing out. However, with Dragon Tail letting you pour on damage, it actually looks a lot more interesting. Running DT+Aqua Tail and Gunk Shot in Great League (gotta hit Azu somehow!), you’ve got wins against some notable Pokémon, like Galvantula, Pelipper, Vigoroth, Talonflame, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Deoxys-Defense, Alolan Marowak, and every Grass-type except Abomasnow and Meganium. You even can pull a 1shield win against Ice Beam Azumarill if you bait well! You’re not beating the big Steels (Skarm, Bast, Gunfisk), and you’re taking SE from Hypno’s Confusions since you’re Poison-type, but it’s definitely going to move from “Don’t do this” into “potentially interesting” in Great League. Moving up to Ultra, we’re going to swap out Gunk Shot for Outrage due to the increased prevalence of Dragon-types. In Ultra Premier, it retains some really strong wins against Grass-types. You also beat A-Muk, Charizard, Galvantula, Dragonite, Mandibuzz and Umbreon, Machamp, and Empoleon. Notably, you do actually lose to Talonflame here, as well as Abomasnow, Galarian Stunfisk, and every single Charmer. Could certainly be worth looking into!
Milotic has always been a little bit of a niche Pokémon. It’s a Water-type in a game with a lot of incredibly powerful Water-types. In Great League, it doesn’t look meaningfully more usable than it was before (again, oversaturated format. Not Milotic’s fault.) You pick up a slight win against, like...Umbreon and Vigoroth? Sableye too. But it’s frustrating to see a non-Dragon-type Dragon Tail user that can’t beat Altaria. In Ultra, you pick up a win against non-Shadow Dragonite, Snorlax, and Gallade, and an incredibly close (literally 1 HP with default IVs) win against Giratina-Altered (but only if it’s running Shadow Claw). Milotic’s gonna be stronger in Draft formats, but don’t worry about using it in open format.
Lugia was definitely worried seeing “Dragon Tail generates less energy,” but it turned out mostly alright. The majority of your matchups are the same. Notably, you do technically give up the Kyogre and Mewtwo 1shields (if Mewtwo is running Ice Beam or Shadow Ball, you’re still fine if it’s Focus Blast). If you really want those matchups back (and a vastly improved Togekiss matchup) you can go for Extrasensory instead. In the 2shield, you give up the Dialga matchup (Dialga’s left with literally 1-2 HP. Check those IVs! If their Dialga has less than 13 HP, you still win it!), but you do pick up Zekrom. That said, while the sim losses don’t look great, we can’t discount how valuable the added ability to farm down is. You apply significantly more fast move pressure, and since Aeroblast is so powerful, coming out of a matchup with extra energy because you didn’t need to throw a move to KO can mean a lot.
Focus Blast is going from 140 Power/75 Energy to 150 Power/75 Energy. It was like this before, then they nerfed it to 140. But now it’s back at 150. The nerf didn’t matter. The buff also doesn’t matter. Enjoy your Focus Blasts, kids.
Ariados gained access to Lunge, an incredibly powerful Bug-type attack. 60 Power/45 Energy, reduces your opponent’s Attack by 1 stage. You’ve seen it. You’ve been hit by it. Galvantula makes incredible use of it. Ariados also benefited from the Poison Sting and Cross Poison buffs, making it a much more complete Pokémon. So now, with Poison Sting + Cross Poison and Lunge, how good is Ariados? Frankly, not fantastic. You have some notable wins (every Grass-type including Air Slash Tropius), every Charmer, and even Azumarill and Umbreon! However, you get wrecked by the Fire-types, Flying-types, Steel-types (Bast/Gunfisk), Ghost-types, and even things like Hypno which shreds you with Confusion damage. Ariados is fine, I guess. It’s significantly better than it was before, but Bug just isn’t the most exceptional type to be, even with the buffs. Don’t feel too bad about leaving this one on the bench moving forward. It doesn’t make it up to Ultra League CPs, either.
Nidoqueen is looking fantastic right now. Not only did it benefit from the Poison Jab buff, it also picked up access to the newly improved Poison Fang, giving it a really strong bait move! you’re likely to run Poison Jab + Poison Fang and Earth Power to give you a hit on all the Steel-types in the format. Nidoqueen can be Shadow, too, so we’ll run through the shared wins, and the advantages to each one.
Both normal and Shadow Nidoqueen (in the 1shield) can beat Altaria, Bastiodon (straight Earth Power in the 0 and 1, and with one successful Poison Fang bait in the 2shield), Clefable, Deoxys-Defense, Galvantula, Machamp, Meganium, Charm A-Tales (not Powder Snow), Pidgeot (see? it DOES have counters!), Registeel, Stunfisk (normal, not Galarian), Tropius (either fast move), and Vigoroth. Normal can beat Alolan Marowak, Sableye, Talonflame, Toxicroak, and Shadow Victreebel. Shadow, on the other hand, picks up Azumarill (kinda common!), Mandibuzz, Medicham (IP/P), Galarian Stunfisk (very bait reliant), Umbreon, and Venusaur. Keep in mind that a lot of these wins will involve baiting Poison Fang and then landing an Earth Power, and that’s somewhat risky. However, early battles have shown that it performs well, and if any Poison-type mon breaks into the meta, it will be Nidoqueen. Personally, I’d advise Shadow over normal, since the matchups it picks up are a little more common, and boosted Poison Jab + Poison Fang spam can do more work. If you can’t get one though, don’t worry! The normal Nidoqueen does fine too!
Crobat gained two new moves: Cross Poison and Poison Fang. While Cross Poison is more powerful the first time, Poison Fang actually matches Cross Poison’s DPE after one debuff, and starts outpacing after that. This means, if you’re not getting the Cross Poison boost, Poison Fang just outperforms! Then, since Golbat does Crobat’s job better in Great League (Wing Attack’s energy generation is more valuable than Crobat’s Air Slash), let’s just look at this mon in Ultra League. Since you lose to both Giratina and Cresselia, we’re not running this mon in Open Ultra, so then let’s finally shift over to Premier. Much like Nidoqueen, you’ve got the Normal and Shadow variants, so let’s run through those.
Both beat Clefable, Granbull, Togekiss, Drifblim, Escavalier, Excadrill, Jellicent, Machamp (normal and Shadow), Obstagoon, Scrafty, Tangrowth, Toxicroak, and Venusaur. Normal beats Abomasnow (though it loses to Shadow Abom), Bronzong, Dragonite (normal, not Shadow), Gengar (heavily bait-reliant on both sides), and Gyarados. Shadow beats Charizard, Dragalge, Kingdra, Alolan Muk, and Charm Alolan Ninetales (both lose to Powder Snow). On the whole, it seems like a coinflip as to which is better, and which one you want to run will come down to the specific matchups your team needs it to handle.
Hoo, boy. There’s a lot there, but I hope you found it beneficial. I don’t think any metagames are going to be totally reshaped by any of these changes. There will definitely be some new tools for people to work with in Great and Ultra (and maybe Master, depending on how the Dragon Tail changes shake out). As an added note, Normal Castform’s Weather Ball has been changed to Rock-type to go along with Hippowdon. This is gonna mess with your Venture Cup practice, but won’t really affect any open format games. This has been confirmed by Niantic Support to be intentional (or at least not something they intend to change back just yet).
Season 8 should be an interesting one, with a lot of positive changes. From some neat rewards to spreading out when you get your Korrina cosmetics, it should be fun to start up the grind again!
Remember: Your GBL rating does not reflect your value as a person. Don’t stress too much, do your best, and try to have fun. Be kind to others, limit how much Grasshole you play, and beware the Feather Dance.