When it comes to building a raiding team, what are the most important factors? Dealing Super Effective damage, getting STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) on those attacks, and having a good mix of powerful attacks/high attack stats are generally the first features on people’s minds. These are all factors that maximize a Pokemon's DPS (Damage per Second), as quickly defeating a raid boss increases the odds of success for the raid, as well as personal rewards. Mewtwo, Metagross, and Rayquaza are some of the Pokemon that many players think of first when DPS comes up, as are many, many Shadow Pokemon. But what about bulky options, commonly referred to as TDO (Total Damage Output) options? Pokemon that have lower DPS but high staying-power are frequently called "anchors", and players will occasionally put them at the back of their teams to keep from wiping out before the raid boss goes down. This was important when raids were released, as fainting out would result in lower rewards, but now it's generally an overlooked concept as it tends to not be very rewarding. But what about going even farther than that?
We generally think of TDO and bulk at the same metric, but the data above that highlights the highest neutral TDO counts in the game shines a very different light on this metric. At the top of this list is Mega Mewtwo Y, which actually loses bulk when compared to its base forme, but makes up for it with an absolutely absurd attack stat.
Meanwhile, pokemon like Lugia have far, far more staying power and survival time despite a lower TDO.
This is interesting, but ultimately a worthless metric, right?
Let's switch gears for a moment. The introduction of the controversial Mega Evolution system is potentially huge (or will be if Niantic fixes it). Many players have been excited for the massive DPS that these power-house Pokemon bring with them, such as the aforementioned Mega Metwo Y, or the also oppressive Mega Rayquaza. And to add to this power, Mega Pokemon are also confirmed to grant a flat damage boost and a boost to the Mega Evolution's STAB type(s) for all active Pokemon as long as they're on the field! This makes these frightening Pokemon even more outstanding, and for the first time ever, we have the ability to directly support other players in a raid!
|Stat Bonus||STAB Bonus|
Imagine it for just a moment: hugely oppressively forces like Mega Mewtwo Y or Mega Rayquaza not only bring absolutely staggering power to raids, they also boost the entire team at the same time. This has the potential to change the entire raid meta as we know it!
The Overlooked Metrics
Let's set up a raid for a moment, shall we? Let's assume that Reshiram (without its signature moves, of course) returns to raids, and that with it we are given the entire set of Mega Evolutions. Here is what our list of Mega Evolutions with full Dragon Type movesets will look like:
Mega Rayquaza has a downright superior lead in this raid, making it the best choice. meanwhile, at the very bottom we have the cute little cotton-puff that is Mega Altaria.
These are the two greatest extremes on the list, so let's break down their stats in this raid a bit:
|Pokemon||DPS||TDO||Time on the Field||% of Raid Boss's HP|
This is a very, very stark comparison. Mega Rayquaza has Mega Altaria beaten by every metric save time on the field (calculated by dividing TDO by DPS). It's downright pathetic.
Since the vasy majority of Five Star or Mega raids cannot be soloed, let's throw in some team-mates for even farther comparison. For this thought experiment, we're going to assume the following:
- Every team mate has a full team of 6 maxed out Rayquaza
- No one else on the team is willing and/or able to Mega Evolve.
With that in mind, here's what they'll be using, calculated both with and without the Mega Boost/Mega STAB Boost:
Pretty interesting, right? Just having a team mate with a Mega Evolution on the field helps out the team quite a bit. And it doesn't matter which of the Dragon Types you pick: so long as the Mega Evolution has Dragon as one of its types, it will grant the STAB boost to all Pokemon on the field using Dragon Type movesets.
...but wait, this brings up something interesting. If we only have one Mega Evolution to play with on our theoretical team, then maybe we want to look at things a little differently; maybe we want to keep our Mega Evolution alive for as long as possible? Dodging will definitely help, but now we can't help but start to think even deeper; at what point will a frail but powerful Mega Evolution be actually outclassed by a bulky but weak Mega Evolution in terms of total-team DPS? And this is where the entire way that we look at Mega Evolutions can begin to change, and where our understanding of raids in general starts to flip upside down.
Using all of the data that we've already calculated, we can actually work this out. By taking the DPS of our megas, the time that they're alive, and the boosted/unboosted DPS of our team-mates, we can see just what happens to the whole team's DPS with each of our focused mega evolutions. Note that for the calculations here, we calculate the Mega Pokemon's boosted DPS along-side the chosen party Pokemon's boosted DPS and continue this for the duration of both Megas. When the Mega with a lower time on the field drops, it is replaced by the same Pokemon that the party is using and all Pokemon on that side of the calculation lose their mega boosts.
With only three players on the field, the added time that Mega Altaria is on the field and spreading its mega boosts actually out-paces the sheer power of Mega Rayquaza in terms of whole-team average DPS. That's right; Mega Altaria is actually superior to Mega Rayquaza in some situations. We actually have a Pokemon with inferior DPS and TDO to Rayquaza giving us higher actual performance in practice!
So does this mean that we should all abandon our plans to Mega Evolve our Rayquazas and instead raise our Altarias from Great League CP and max them? Well, no. As with many, many parts of this game and life in general, this setup is full of variables. So let's take a look at a few of them:
- The more players that are in the raid, the more effective this strategy is
- Dodging to keep your Mega Evolution alive is very useful to keep the Mega Boost alive, but the Pokemon with the highest survivability will generally benefit the most from this as they will tend to gain an even larger time margin over DPS options.
- In smaller raid groups, the DPS-option is generally stronger
- This strategy entails less personal rewards, though it may grant more Mega Energy from Mega Raids
- This generally only works in raids with a small number of Mega Evolutions available among the raid group's members. If players stagger high-DPS Mega Evolutions to keep the boost active for as long as possible, this strategy becomes less viable.
- This strategy is most effective when other players are using high-DPS options with the same STAB attacks as the Mega Evolution on the field. Anyone who's seen an Aggron on the field knows that this is not always the case.
- This strategy tends to be highly variable. Strengths/Weaknesses can greatly swing its effectiveness.
- Only the Mega Evolution's types are boosted, and sub-types can also make a difference. If one Mega Evolution has a sub-type that offers a STAB boost to a second viable Super Effective type, then that Mega Evolution may be more effective in reality due to the Pokemon used by team mates
So with the already established knowledge in mind, the question arises: "how many other types have this type of issue?" Well, here's a quick run-down of what each type has to offer, and how the bulky options stand up to the DPS options in general:
All DPS/TDO totals are calculated using average damage. If a Pokemon does not have two attacks that match a given type, then the next best moveset that includes one attack of the given type will be used for calculation instead.
Grass Type Mega Evolutions
The top DPS Mega option for Grass Type is Mega Sceptile, but it's also a fairly frail Pokemon in general, which puts the fairly bulky Mega Venusaur in a great place in terms of whole-team DPS. Generally speaking, Mega Venusaur will out-pace Mega Sceptile at 2-3 players on the field given strong general counters. Note that this is full of variables, as Mega Sceptile's Dragon sub-typing can give it some great resistances, though it can't boost a second Super Effective type, as it's impossible for a Pokemon to be weak to both Dragon and Grass, and Mega Venusaur's Poison typing generally won't be very helpful, which can pull it down in some raids.
Meanwhile, Mega Abomasnow just doesn't have the power to keep up with these two as a Grass attacker.
Fire Type Mega Evolutions
|Mega Charizard Y||21.882||645.4|
|Mega Charizard X||18.907||430.5|
Mega Blaziken rules this meta, but not to the degree that it may appear. While its DPS is definitely higher, Mega Charizard Y's higher time on the field deficit can make it the whole-team DPS superior with as few as two players in a raid, given the proper non-mega counters. That said, the sub-typings for both Mega Blaziken and Mega Charizard are potentially synergetic with Fire, and the difference isn't massive between the two, so both are entirely viable and useful. Mega Charizard X, meanwhile, can become the longest-lasting Fire Type mega given the resistances that Dragon can give, but it will never be able to grant dual-stab boosts that are Super Effective, as Fire and Dragon cannot be simultaneously Super Effective against the same Pokemon.
Primal Groudon is included here despite not technically being a Mega Evolution as current datamines suggest that it will be considered a Mega Evolution in Go when it's released. Primal Groudon is an anomaly in the Fire Mega meta due to the fact that it lacks a Fire Type fast move, and has poor Fire Type charged moves overall. It could be the ruler of this category, but instead it's largely niche.
Mega Houndoom and Mega Camerupt... just don't match up. Weaknesses to both Fire and Dark are not extremely common, though they could give Mega Houndoom a niche in specific raids, while Mega Camerupt is just a worse choice, with its only advantage being its ground sub-typing, which isn't very useful in general and just makes it compare to Primal Groudon even more.
Water Type Mega Evolutions
Primal Kyogre is included here despite not technically being a Mega Evolution as current datamines suggest that it will be considered a Mega Evolution in Go when it's released. And ooooh boy, is it dominant. With the highest DPS and time on the field in neutral scenarios of all Water Type megas, Primal Kyogre is the gold-standard of its type. Its only real drawback may be its Mega Energy cost, as we don't yet know how that will stack up.
With the silver medal, Mega Swampert tends to take the lead with Mega Blastoise and Mega Gyarados taking up the rear. Among these three, any could be the top pick for a given raid if their sub typings (or lack there-of) give them an advantage.
Finally, mega Sharpedo is basically a worse Mega Gyarados, and Mega Slowbro's rock-bottom DPS and lack of a good Water Type charged move makes it basically worthless in this meta.
Electric Type Mega Evolutions
For Electric Types, we have a frail DPS option and a fairly bulky TDO option, and the difference really shows. Because Mega Ampharos has DPS close to Mega Manercric and a TDO that is substantially higher, it can take the whole-team DPS advantage with as little as two players. To add to this, its Dragon sub-typing gives it a slew of new resistances, though it also makes it weak to Ice; a common coverage type for Water Type raid bosses.
Bug Type Mega Evolutions
So when it comes to Bug Type Mega Evolutions, we have an issue to address. That issue is the fact that Mega Heracross has the highest DPS and TDO of its mega brothers, but is also a regional Pokemon. This is vexing for many of us, but don't be too distraught; its Fighting sub-typing tends to hold it back, especially against Psychic Type raids, where its performance outright falls like a stone. That said, it's also the only Bug Type Mega Evolution that resists Dark Type attacks, making it great for preying on this fact, especially since Dark is one of the most common types for a double-weakness to Bug. For these reasons, Mega Heracross is a mixed bag of a Mega Evolution; the top of its kind when played to its strengths, a bit of a liability when not.
Mega Pinsir and Mega Scizor are the two that genuinely go head-to-head. Mega Pinsir's Flying sub-typing tends to be a bit of a blessing, as it brings out a double-resist against Grass. It also gains a number of weaknesses, including a double rock weakness, so it can be a very risky pick when compared to other Bug Type Megas in specific raids. Mega Scizor also double-resists Grass, but also resists a whole lot more than that thanks to its Steel sub-type. As a Mega Evolution, it generally has the same time on the field as Mega Heracross, and potentially even longer thanks to its laundry list of strengths. In fact, this list also lets it resist Psychic Type moves, giving it far wider utility in many raids than its contemporaries. Its main drawback is the fact that if something even thinks of using a Fire Type attack, it folds like a house of cards. Regardless, Mega Pinsir's actual performance is outstanding, and potentially on a par with or even better than Mega Heracross, while Pinsir is niche but just as outstanding if played to its strengths.
Mega Beedrill is the outlier here. It has solid DPS that compares to other Bug Type Mega Evolutions, but its frailty leaves it a bit less effective. It's definitely still usable, especially since the other Bugs will probably take more energy to Mega Evolve, but it tends to come up as the weakest option.
In looking at the Mega Bugs, let's also be honest with ourselves; even with Mega Evolutions, Bug Type is still just inferior in most raids. When planning for this type, don't put too much of an emphasis on them in general.
Flying Type Mega Evolutions
|Mega Charizard Y||24.377||771.9|
Flying Type Mega Evolutions are... awkward, to say the least. Among them, only Mega Rayquaza, Mega Charizard Y, and Mega Pidgeot actually have Flying Type moves, and among those only Mega Rayquaza and Mega Pidgeot have full Flying Type movesets available. The most obvious head-to-head here will be between Mega Rayquaza and Mega Pidgeot, and it's a fairly straight-forward matchup. Mega Rayquaza beats Mega Pidgeot by every metric including sub-types, as a weakness to Dragon and Flying is possible, but nothing is weak to Mega Pidgeot's sub-type; Normal. The one advantage that Mega Pidgeot may have is the fact that it's likely to be on a par with Mega Beedrill in terms of Mega Energy cost, while Mega Rayquaza is almost sure to be among the most expensive Mega Evolutions in the game.
Mega Charizard Y is worth a mention, as Fire and Flying have outstanding offensive synergy, making everyone's favorite Fire starter absolutely viable in this metric despite not having a Flying Type charged move.
Lastly; Mega Salamence, Mega Aerodactyl, and Mega Pinsir don't have any Flying Type moves to their names currently, meaning they can't really be judged very well in this metric. They're usable if you just want to give the boost and don't care about your own DPS, potentially even optimal when facing the right raid boss/moveset, but they don't really count as Flying Megas in practice.
Poison Type Mega Evolutions
Poison is another awkward type. The only Poison Type Mega Evolution with a pure Poison Type moveset is Mega Beedrill, who we already know is fairly frail. The other options are Mega Gengar and Mega Venusaur, both of which lack Poison Type fast moves. Overall, all three are viable. In terms of neutral DPS, Gengar rules this meta, but its lack of a Poison Fast Move hinders it a bit. Its Ghost typing can help out in some raids potentially, but not many. Mega Venusaur is bulky and will stay on the field for a long time in general, but the synergy between Grass and Poison is not that great offensively, meaning its DPS will likely be fairly poor. Mega Beedrill will tend to have the highest DPS when against a Pokemon weak to Poison but not Ghost, and its Bug typing can have some synergy, such as Vs. Grass Type raid bosses, but it's also very frail and won't spread around its boosts for long. Overall, Poison is a Mega meta of balances. Too bad Poison is such a lackluster type on offense in general....
Ice Type Mega Evolutions
We only have two Ice Type Mega Pokemon to look at here, and it's actually a pretty straight-forward case. With a mere 2-3 players, Mega Abomasnow overtakes Mega Glalie in terms of whole-team average DPS, and potentially even more if its Grass Typing becomes advantageous, especially considering the fact that Mega Glalie only resists one type: Ice. However, Mega Abomasnow can also fall behind if the fairly large list of weaknesses that Grass sports become an issue against a certain raid boss. In truth, both have worthy merits in this meta.
Fighting Type Mega Evolutions
|Mega Mewtwo X||28.041||1153|
Fighting is a crowded type by way of Mega Evolutions with a number of viable choices that will tend to pull ahead or fall behind based on the individual matchup.
Mega Lucario is generally the top choice, as it has a lot going for it. Its high DPS is thanks to its outstanding moveset, and its Steel sub-typing not only gives it a huge list of resistances, but also provides a boost that has great synergy, as both Fighting and Steel deal Super Effective damage to Rock and Ice Types. Mega Blaziken has less damage as a Fighting Type and is on the field for a shorter time, but its Fire typing has some synergy with Ice Types in particular, and can also provide a different set of resistances. Finally, Mega Heracross has the longest general time on the field thanks to its bulk, making it the strongest supportive option in general, though its bug typing is fairly lackluster in terms of type-boost synergy.
On the other side of the spectrum, Mega Gallade's poor moveset drops its performance substantially and its Psychic sub-type is not very synergetic with Fighting as a supporter. Mega Lopunny has the same issues, but its Normal sub-typing is even worse. Finally, Mega Medicham is basically a worse Mega Gallade, including all of the disadvantages.
The last Fighting Type Mega is Mega Mewtwo X, which has a huge attack stat that's off-set by a lack of Fighting Type fast move and the aforementioned issue with Fighting and Psychic having lackluster offensive synergy.
Ground Type Mega Evolutions
Primal Groudon is included here despite not technically being a Mega Evolution as current datamines suggest that it will be considered a Mega Evolution in Go when it's released. And boy is it a force to be reckoned with! With its huge stats and good moveset, Primal Groudon sets the bar for Ground Type Megas, but it's not dealing with pure advantage. Ground and Fire won't add much boosting synergy when put together, though it does have a good amount of time on the field. It also has the issue of likely having one of the highest Mega Energy costs in the game when released. Next up are Mega Garchomp and Mega Swampert, both of which enjoy high stats, a decent amount of time on the field, a fairly synergetic sub-typing, a stellar moveset on both types, and likely a lower energy cost than Mega Groudon. Among Ground Types, Mega Swampert and Mega Garchomp are sort of the goldilocks; everything just seems to be just right. Finally, mega Steelix has sky-high time on the field and synergetic typing that can even provide a double strength to Rock. If played right and with 3-4 team mates, Mega Steelix has the potential to give a whole-team average DPS boost for the duration of most raids. The main issues that Mega Steelix face that hold it back in this role are its lack of a Ground Type STAB fast move, and low general DPS. Still, when faced with a ground-weak raid boss with 3-4 team mates that don't have good Mega Evolutions to use, Mega Steelix can be an outstanding choice... though it is very niche, to be honest.
Outside of the viable Mega Evolutions, Mega Camerupt outright falls short of the mark, coming across as a vastly inferior Mega Groudon with no real niche to its name in terms of Ground Type Mega Evolutions.
Rock Type Mega Evolutions
Rock Type exemplifies the beginning of this article fairly well. Mega Aerodactyl has higher DPS and It has the advantage of a synergetic typing vs. Bug Types, but its time on the field is fairly low. Mega Tyranitar, meanwhile, is very bulky and has an outstanding amount of time on the field and high DPS. Rock and Dark have limited boosting synergy together, but with a bit of team planning, a full team of players using Rock Types could benefit from a boost that out-paces Mega Aerodactyl's whole-team average DPS with just 2 players.
The anomaly in Rock Type Mega Evolutions is Mega Diancie. It's the only Pokemon capable of Mega Evolution that we don't have access to at all, and we likely won't for at least another year or so. It's hard to say how it will place, as we don't know what moves it will be given.
Special note for Rock Types: Mega Aggron is not on this list, as it actually loses its Rock sub-typing on Mega Evolution.
Psychic Type Mega Evolutions
|Mega Mewtwo Y||31.236||1322.3|
|Mega Mewtwo X||30.307||1246.2|
This is the big one. Psychic has more Mega Evolutions than any other type, and they're quite diverse.
First up is the one that everyone is already looking forward to; Mega Mewtwo Y. Despite its relative frailness, its absolutely titanic DPS makes up for it in spades. The options that are more on the average team DPS side of the spectrum are Mega Metagross and Mega Latias, who use their huge bulk and resistances to spread around the Mega Boost for as long as possible, though it takes 3-4 other players on average to make them worth-while.
Mega Alakazam, Mega Gallade, Mega Gardevoir, Mega Latios, and Mega Mewtwo X are other good options, each bringing something new to the table thanks to their typing and/or stat differences. While the previous set of Pokemon outclass them outright, they are decent stop-gaps or budget picks for Psychic Type Mega Evolutions.
Mega Medicham and Mega Slowbro just plainly fall short. They're far weaker than the other options on the list and are generally not worth using unless you're desperate.
Ghost Type Mega Evolutions
Mega Gengar is basically the ultimate Ghost Type. It stands head and shoulders in terms of DPS, TDO, and neutral time on the field. Its one issue is its fairly large list of weaknesses, but even then it's generally the best choice. Mega Banette is basically a worse Mega Gengar without the Poison sub-typing.
Mega Sableye has roughly 1/3 the DPS of Mega Gengar, and a similar time on the field. That basically kills its viability, right? Well, no. Mega Sableye has a few features that actually make it very attractive as a supportive mega. In particular, the fact that it double-resists Psychic Type moves thanks to its Dark typing, while Mega Gengar is weak to Psychic. This alone can sway the tide of whole team average DPS more than most might think possible:
At 3 players in the raid, Mega Sableye can overtake Mega Gengar's performance. And it may actually be better than that! In general, players bring Dark and Ghost Types to Psychic raids, and while Mega Gengar only boosts Ghost, Mega Sableye boosts both. Given the right team comp, Mega Sableye could potentially overtake Mega Gengar with just 2 players.
Dragon Type Mega Evolutions
|Mega Charizard X||19.356||615.6|
We've already covered Mega Rayquaza and Mega Altaria, so we'll focus on the remaining dragons instead.
Mega Garchomp is an outstanding choice for a Dragon, as it has great time on the field and great resistances, as well as a fairly synergetic typing in select raids. Mega Salamence has performance semi-close to Mega Rayquaza, though its additional average time on the field is fairly negligible, and will only make a difference in large parties. Mega Latios is very close to Mega Salamence, but it tends to not stay on the field for as long. Mega Latias is a good alternate average full team DPS option, though its sub-typing isn't as advantageous as Mega Altaria. Finally, Mega Charizard basically has no niches among the Mega Dragons aside from potential scenarios where its Fire type could be useful.
Dark Type Mega Evolutions
As is frequently the case, we have a top DPS option with Mega Absol, and a full team average DPS option with Mega Tyranitar. As should be obvious by now, Mega Tyranitar tends to spread the full team average DPS boost enough to beat out Mega Absol at 2-3 players given proper team comps, though its Rock typing tends to hurt more often than it helps and can skew numbers more in Absol's favor in some cases. Mega Gyarados is another decent option, that can hold its own very well and enjoys a different set of resistances thanks to its Water Typing.
Mega Sharpedo, Mega Houndoom, and Mega Sableye are outclassed, though Mega Sableye... well, take a glance up at the Ghost section to get an idea for what it can do, though it's less effective as a Dark Type Mega as everything double resists Psychic, and Mega Sableye is neutral to Ghost. Still, its ability to boost both Ghost and Dark Type moves gives it a very strong niche here as well!
Steel Type Mega Evolutions
Steel has Mega Metagross. End of article.
Seriously though; Mega Metagross is massively oppressive. TDO options are Mega Aggron and Mega Steelix, though it would take a fairly large group of players using Steel Types for either to take the full team average DPS advantage. Of these two, Steelix has some real issues, as its Ground sub-typing gives it a few additional weaknesses and removes a few strengths while also having lower DPS than Aggron despite a similar total time on the field.
Mega Lucario and Mega Scizor are usable, but not optimal in general. Steel has some synergy with Fighting, giving Mega Lucario a few niches, but it has little to none with Bug, making Mega Scizor less useful.
Mega Mawile... is bad. Just ignore it.
Fairy Type Mega Evolutions
Fairy Types are generally best used for their double resistance to Dragon, which generally makes Gardevoir the top pick due to its high DPS, time on the field, and outstanding resistances. This is especially the case given the fact that Mega Altaria only has a 1x resistance to Dragon, though its Dragon typing does offer a number of additional resistances that can help it pull ahead in terms of full team average DPS.
Mega Mawile falls behind, but its triple resistance to Dragon can work if combined with a super effective Fast Move. Given a large group and/or a raid full of Fairy and Steel team mates, it has the potential to be optimal.
Mega Audino is the weakest of the group, even lacking a Fairy Type fast move. However, it has a decent time on the field, and its Normal sub-type can be useful when facing something packing Ghost Type moves, so it actually can rise to the top of full team average DPS given the right scenario.
Normal Type Mega Evolutions
So what's the best choice for a given raid? In general, it's probably still better to go for the top DPS option, assuming its TDO/time on the field isn't too low to compensate. Thinking about whole team average DPS can be extremely useful in some scenarios, and can lead to additional rewards if played correctly, though a multi-player staggered high-DPS option is still the best overall play. Regardless, this very concept is ground-breaking for raids, as we finally have a metric to consider beyond pure damage, and a way to actually support our team mates as we do our best to take down a given raid boss. Please, Niantic, get this system working properly so that we can all reap its benefits!