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Tier 6 Raids: The Pros and Cons

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Introduction

On October 14 2019, it was announced that Darkrai, the greatly anticipated Mythical Dark-Type Pokemon, would join raids for the upcoming Halloween event. Players new and old alike were excited; this would be a great opportunity to catch this wonderful edition to the family of Psychic- and Ghost-Type counters! After a few calculations, it was discovered that Darkrai would be a comfortably beaten 3-Trainer raid given optimal counters in most situations, which had many players even more excited for what was to come.

A few days later, October 17 rolled around and we saw a strange CP total on raid-boss Darkrai, a CP that told a tale; Darkrai would be a Tier 6 boss, and dreams of the comfortable 3-man raid victory were over.

This change was not terribly unexpected; it started with the initial free-release of Mewtwo into the raid scene, and seems to follow high-profile Pokemon and Mythics when they are released. However, that doesn't change the fact that many players are now voicing their discontentment with this tier and the lack of advantages that it now brings. In order to shed some light on the subject, we have compiled a list of the major arguments for and against Tier 6 raids, some opinions on how the issues with the tier could be fixed, and a list of Pokemon that are projected to be Tier 6 in the future. It is our hope that this will put the situation into focus, and show just how much of a difference this actually makes for players seeking to catch the elusive Pitch-Black Pokemon.

Understanding Raid Stats

Before we can comment on the Tier 6 situation, let’s first try to understand it. To begin with: Tier 6 technically does not exist. Tier 6 raids show up as Tier 5 in-game for all intents and purposes, with the only way to tell the difference being the CP of the raid boss. A more technically correct way of describing Tier 5 would be “Enhanced Tier 5”, but since the raid boss HP plots to the same point where a Tier 6 would rest, we’re going to continue to refer to it as “Tier 6”.

So what exactly makes a boss of one tier more powerful than a boss from another tier? Is it their base stats? Their movesets? Well, yes, but actually no. While Attack, Defense, and Moveset are all large factors as to how hard a given boss is to beat, the main factor is HP. But it’s not the Pokemon’s base HP that matters! In fact, the base HP of a boss is literally thrown out the window when a Pokemon becomes a raid boss, as all raid bosses in a given tier have the same HP value assigned to them. This is why Chansey is considered a laughably easy Tier 3 raid boss, while Shuckle borders on low Tier 4 difficulty. 

Raid Boss HP by Tier
Raid Tier Boss HP
Tier 1 600
Tier 2 1800
Tier 3 3600
Tier 4 9000
Tier 5 15000
Tier 6 22500

Raid Boss HP Graph

As you can see on this chart, tiers 1-3 follow fairly light HP increases, but then Tier 4 begins a steep increase, and this is where solo runs generally become impossible with a few small exceptions. With this information established, we only need one more piece of information in order to figure out just how many people we’ll need in order to win; how much time we have.

Raid Time by Tier
Raid Tier Raid Time (In Seconds)
Tier 1-4 180
Tier 5-6 300

Now it’s just a simple matter of a bit of division to work out what kind of total DPS we’ll need in order to win each tier.

DPS Needed to Defeat a Raid Boss of Each Tier
Raid Tier DPS Needed
Tier 1 3.3
Tier 2 10
Tier 3 20
Tier 4 50
Tier 5 50
Tier 6 75

Raid Boss DPS Graph

One factor that should stand out on this chart is the DPS needed for Tier 4 and Tier 5 raids. Because of the additional time given for the tier up, the DPS needed is actually the same for both. However, it’s still a harder battle as it’s going to need a higher TDO in order to win due to the HP increase. The high DPS needed is also why short-man players usually try to aim for a counter-boosting weather

TDO requirements are also fairly easy to figure out. Below is the table for TDO needed on each individual Pokemon for a single team to take a raid boss of each tier without having to relobby. It can be divided among the number of trainers at a given raid in order to get a realistic number for anything beyond a solo run.

TDO Needed for a One-Team Raid Victory
Raid Tier TDO Needed
Tier 1 100
Tier 2 300
Tier 3 600
Tier 4 1500
Tier 5 2500
Tier 6 3750

Raid Boss TDO Graph

Even if we could achieve the DPS needed to solo high-tier bosses, the TDO requirements to take down a Tier 4+ boss with a single team of 6 Pokemon is a bit insane, especially since many high-DPS Pokemon tend to have a lower TDO due to low defense, warranting the term “Glass Cannon”

From here, we can figure out the DPS of every player’s counters and work out the absolute minimum number of players needed for a given boss based on how much DPS and TDO is needed. In order to figure this out, we recommend looking at Gamepress’s own DPS/TDO Spreadsheet for a very accurate look at where we stand.

Margin for Error

Keep in mind that the DPS and TDO mentioned are based on everything going perfectly. Frequently they do not, meaning you’ll actually need even more DPS and/or TDO than what’s calculated in order to achieve the win

  • Outside of using the early-start exploit, the game will usually take 5-7 seconds to actually start the raid, and the timer is going the entire time.

  • Each time a Pokemon faints, you will have about 3 seconds of 0 DPS while your next Pokemon takes the field. This has been calculated in the proceeding graphs via the Swap Discount option in the DPS/TDO Spreadsheet

  • Having your entire team faint/having to re-enter takes about 10 seconds

  • Dodging will increase your TDO, but tends to reduce your DPS a bit as you’re not attacking when it’s used. That said, it can increase DPS as it gives more chances to use powerful charged moves, especially with Glass Cannons

  • Glitches happen. You will find moments where you’re dealing 0 DPS, and times when you have 2x your normal DPS..

The Conclusion of the Calculations

While some players would say that the change from a tier 5 to a tier 6 is a nearly insurmountable challenge to many players, here’s how the change actually effects raids; if you take a given Tier 5 boss and raise it to Tier 6, it will take roughly 50% more DPS to beat. In essence; an easy 2-man becomes a somewhat difficult 3-man, a 3 man becomes a 5 man, etc. Here is how it plays out in reality:

Data Source: Gamepress' Comprehensive DPS/TDO Spreadsheet

Data Source: Gamepress' Comprehensive DPS/TDO Spreadsheet

Tier 6 Raids: Pros and Cons

So now that we know just what a Tier 6 is when compared to a Tier 5, let’s look at the actual pros and cons of this change.

Pros:

It Puts An Emphasis on the Social Aspect of the Game

From the very beginning, Niantic has made one fact very clear: they want Pokemon Go to be not just a game, but a social experience. By requiring more people for a high-profile raid like Darkrai, Niantic is encouraging the social aspect of the game to a greater degree.

It Puts An Emphasis on High-Level Play

Many of us have been asking for more endgame content, and Tier 6 raids are definitely the highest level Raid content available that isn’t attached to a player-based rule system such as Draft. It encourages players to focus more on boss counters and optimized gameplay. It also encourages more experienced players to share their knowledge with newer and more casual players.

It’s No Real Change for Many

Many people already have large raid groups that they work with, and tend to see 6+ people at any given raid. As such, the change to Tier 6 is actually a non-issue for them. 

It Offers Increased Pokemon Value

How many Legendaries have you transferred for Candy? Let’s face it; most legendaries, even those with high power like Rayquaza, don’t have much intrinsic value. They’re fairly easy to get with a small group, and don’t have much value outside of being Shiny or having particularly high IVs. Darkrai in particular has a lot of baggage attached to it already: it’s a tier 6, it’s untradable, and it’s relatively hard to catch due to its movement pattern. For once, we have a Pokemon with some actual intrinsic value due to the challenge of simply obtaining it. 6-8 months down the line, a Darkrai in someone’s lineup is going to be just a bit more impressive than most other legendaries due to the relative hassle that it took to actually obtain it.

It Gives More Candy? (No longer applicable)

In the past, Mewtwo Tier 6 gave 5 candy per capture instead of 3. This was at least a bit of reparation for the harder boss, but this has not been the case since Mewtwo’s initial non-EX Raid release.

Cons:

Harder to Gather a Raid Group

This is especially important to Rural players who may only have a community of 6 to play with. The more people that a raid needs, the higher the odds are that the raid won’t get done at all. We’ve all had it happen; wait at a raid for a group to show up, only to fail due to a lack of people, or going in with raiders who have sub-optimal counters. This is a very real problem that severely limits all players, but deals a heavy blow to players that don’t have access to a large group to raid with.

Encourages Cliquish Groups

If you have a choice between a group of active 6 players who are tried-and-true raiders who play well and a group of 20 players, all of which range from new players to effective raiders, wouldn’t you choose the former? When a player finds a group that works, they’re going to tend to stick together. And while this isn’t an issue in-and-of itself, it tends to result in the more experienced players banding together while newer players are left in the dust. This is especially bad in raids that require more and more high-level players to take, leaving less room for newer players that can be “carried” through the raid. While this scenario isn’t always the case, it is a definite problem for many.

Higher Odds of Issues

At virtually every raid that I go to, I expect to hear someone say “Back out, he/she didn’t make it in” (and occasionally I’m the one being backed out for). Pokemon Go is not a perfect game; it has many, many glitches. On top of this, every player is going to have their own problems: their Phone died, they lost connection, they had GPS drift: every issue leads to a new delay, and every delay makes the raid harder to complete. This is already a problem for any multi-man raid (and some single-man raids), but it’s compounded all the harder by the need for more people.

It’s Artificial Difficulty

Tier 6 Pokemon aren’t actually any harder to beat than Tier 5s, you just have to throw more bodies at it to win. It takes basically no additional skill to win, making it nothing more than an artificial difficulty spike in order to give the illusion of high-level play. In all truth, the buff to Tier 6 adds absolutely nothing of value to the fight.

It Discourages Less Privileged Players

So you have a team of 8 players. One has a full team of maxed Machamp, one has a few Hariyama and a few Gardevoir, one has a team consisting of Bug Types like Scizor, Pinsir, and Yanmega, and the rest are using whatever high-CP Pokemon they may have. Does your team win? Hard to say really, and that’s the problem. The higher the player count needed, the harder it is to successfully guess the number of players needed to win, and the more knowledge/resources you’re going to need in order to low-man the raid. Once again, this leaves less privileged/knowledgeable players in the dust and makes a game that’s supposed to be inclusive far more exclusive by comparison.

TIer 6 Raids: How to Fix Them

So this all begs the question; how could Niantic fix the issues? As with any speculative answer, the possibilities are vast. However, here are a few answers that we feel are both viable and realistic.

Increased Rewards

When Mewtwo re-entered raids with Psystrike as a Tier 6, it was less a negative response and more a mixed-response because of the bonus of 5 candies per raid. An additional 2 extra candy per run was enough to allow many people to accept the additional hurdles that Tier 6 brought. The return of 5 candies per raid feels basically mandatory at this part, but I feel that it could be expanded even more: what if each Tier 6 raid gave a minimum of 3 Rare Candies per turn, or had a much higher chance to give Charged TMs? What if each raid gave increased Stardust? Many would still argue that it’s not worth the hassle, but just a small token for the community like this makes it far more appealing and acceptable to many players.

Make Tier 6 Raid Bosses Easier to Catch

Most Tier 5 raid bosses have a low catch rate. This is fine in general, as it adds an extra challenge to the raid at the end. However, with the additional trouble of Tier 6 raids, a loss of the raid boss becomes all the more devastating. Another way to help rectify this would be to increase the base catch rate of Tier 6 bosses and/or increase the base number of Premier Balls granted on victory. This would especially help new players who lack friendship and gym badge bonuses, and encourage new players rather than discourage them due to low realistic odds of actual success.

Tier 6: The Future

We have some very important precedent in regards to what has been Tier 6 so far. 

  • Former EX Raid Boss
  • Mythical Pokemon that isn't the "Mew" of a given generation

We can draw the conclusion that the following Pokemon are likely to be EX Raid bosses in the future based on what we've seen so far. Note that this isn't a complete list or a sure list; Niantic has a way of changing the way that specific mechanisms work in the game to keep us on our toes, but these seem like generally safe bets.

Conclusion

When it comes right down to it, one of the best ways to fix Tier 6 raids is to get rid of them entirely. They’re tolerable at best, and give no advantages to the player, simply enforcing an artificial difficulty spike to make notable raid bosses seem more imposing than they should be. Admittedly, the tier could be worthwhile if the rewards scaled to the added risk of not being able to get enough people to win, but as of right now it simply has no viable reason to exist. Many of the aforementioned problems would persists despite the rewards, but it would at least make the reward more worth the risk, and might leave fewer players groaning when they see that abnormally high CP for a newly released Legendary or Mythical Pokemon Raid.

About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization. A Pokemon player since its inception, and a Pokemon Go player since day 1.