Typing Review: An Overview of Ghost Types for Raids in Pokemon Go

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If you want spooky, look no farther than the Ghost Type. This is a type that rose to the forefront of Pokemon Go fairly early in the raid meta as people realized just how many powerful Psychic Types the game would eventually have to offer, and shortly after started kicking themselves for throwing away their old Shadow Claw Gengar as the move had become legacy by that point. Nowadays, Ghost is primarily considered a glass-cannon type, with several members sporting a huge average DPS, yet low bulk that is backed up by Ghost's poor defensive matchups against the only two types that it preys on; Psychic and Ghost. This is a type that ruled the game for a very long time, but has finally seen some major competition thanks to the titanic Dark Types that finally threaten its rule.

The State of the Type

The current top Ghost Type attackers in the game are already outlined in our Best Attackers by Type list, linked above, so we recommend that you take a look at that to get a better list-breakdown, but these are the current candidates that we'll be working with in this article:

Ghost has traditionally been among the stronger types in Pokemon Go, shining fairly early in the Raid meta's release thanks to the power of Gengar. That fame has never really changed, as power-house options like Chandelure, Giratina - Origin Forme, and especially Mega Gengar. However, Ghost has fallen off a bit as of late thanks to the raw power of Brutal Swing being given to Tyranitar and Hydreigon, who have substantially better defensive synergy against the Ghost and Psychic Types that Ghost and Dark both prey on. They even go so far as to share a weather boost (that basically never exists 99% of the time), forcing them to compete even more than they otherwise would. Still, Ghost has never been a bad type and likely never will be.

The Secondary Options

While we normally go in-depth about the "second tier" options, Ghost Types tend to fall off pretty hard after the top few options, so we won't really go into any more of them here.

Ghost Type Moves

As of the publishing of this article, we currently have access to 13 different Ghost Type attacks, divided into 5 Fast Moves and 8 Charged Moves.

Fast Moves Charged Moves
Astonish Night Shade
Hex Ominous Wind
Hidden Power (Ghost) Poltergeist
Lick Shadow Ball
Shadow Claw Shadow Bone
Shadow Force
Shadow Punch
Shadow Sneak

The Good Moves

The absolute best Ghost Type Fast Moves are Lick and Shadow ClawLick sports great energy generation as its biggest advantage, allowing it to pump out power-house Ghost Type Charged Moves with ease. Meanwhile, Shadow Claw is a bit slower in terms of energy generation, but it has higher base damage output to keep it competitive, even potentially optimal if the two moves would result in launching a similar number of Charged Moves. The two tend to sit pretty close in terms of actual performance, but Lick will tend to pull ahead a bit when paired with strong Charged Type moves. Just on the heels of these two moves is Hexwhich has higher energy generation than Lick, but has substantially lower raw power and is quite a bit slower than the competition, leaving it with the bronze medal of Ghost Type Fast Moves. It's still a great move, but it does lag a bit behind the competition.

For Charged Moves, we start with Giratina's Signature Move: Shadow ForceThis is a powerful move with the lone drawback of being single-bar, but the high bulk of both of Giratina's formes makes this very manageable. Following this is Shadow Ballwhich is the gold-standard Ghost Type Charged Move against which all other Ghost Type moves are weighed. Finally we have Shadow Bone. It's an objectively good stat-line, but is definitely weaker than Shadow Ball. It's currently the signature move of Alolan Marowak in the main series, which does it no favors here, but hopefully a time will come when it will gain more users. It just feels less like it has to be reserved for a specific Pokemon than moves like Technoblast. 

The Bad Moves

We only have two bad Fast Moves for Ghost Types, and we have to start with Hidden Power - Ghost. Lower stats plus the objectively bad, non-repeatable dice roll requirement to actually get the Ghost Type variant makes it basically worthless. Finally, Astonish is one of those moves that Niantic likes to throw on Pokemon to ruin them on release. While it actually has decent energy generation, its damage output is just plainly bad.

Sadly, the majority of Ghost Type Charged Moves are just bad. First on the list is the sheer disappointment that is PoltergeistReleased for Litwick Community Day, it's definitely one of the worst Community Day moves in the game, as it's objectively worse than Shadow Ball in every possible way and was a genuine disappointment. Going down-hill from there, Shadow Punch, Ominous Wind, Night Shadeand Shadow Sneak are all trash moves that aren't worth considering.

The Future of Ghost Types

Currently Unreleased Ghost-Type Pokemon

Currently Unreleased Ghost-Type Moves

  • Asteral Barrage*
    • Shadow Rider Calyrex
  • Bitter Malice*
    • Hisuian Zoroark
  • Confuse Ray
  • Curse
  • Destiny Bond
  • Grudge
  • Infernal Parade*
    • Hisuian Typhlosion
  • Judgment*
    • Arceus
  • Last Respects*
    • Houndstone, Basculegion
  • Moongeist Beam*
    • Lunala, Necrozma - Dawn Wings
  • Multi-Attack*
    • Silvally
  • Nightmare
  • Phantom Force
  • Rage Fist*
    • Annihilape, Primeape
  • Spectral Thief*
    • Marshadow
  • Spirit Shackle*
    • Decidueye
  • Spite
  • Trick-Or-Treat*
    • Gourgeist

*: Signature Move
**: Formerly a Signature Move

The Non-Threats

Aside from the Pokemon that aren't fully evolved, we can pretty safely rule out Aegislash - Shield Forme, Silvally, Mimikyu, Polteageist, Cursola, Basculegion (F), Skeledirge, Ceruledge, and Brambleghast due to the lack of strong stats or good moveset potential.

Candidates that will only make the cut if we get some new, really good moves that they can utilize are Basculegion (M), Houndstone, and Anihilape. While potential exists, these Pokemon are not projected to be genuinely great for the Ghost meta unless their signature moves end up really powerful for whatever reason.

For Signature Moves that probably won't pan out in the future (if we get them at all), we have Trick-or-Treat, Spirit Shackle, and Multi-Attack . This is because of low stats, odd moves, or other issues with the Pokemon that can utilize them.

On that note, Pokemon frequently gain access to moves that aren't signature but that bring them into viability regardless. This means that even our low-priority list isn't 100% safe, as they're simply the least likely to see new viability in the future given what we currently know.

The Existing Threats

Pokemon in this section have already been released into Pokemon Go, but their future is still bright. Due to moveset updates or other bonuses, they have the potential to rise on the list to varying degrees.

Note that we may treat select unreleased Mega Evolutions and alternate formes as Existing Threats, where applicable, due to their base-formes already existing in-game.

  • Current Best Moveset: Psycho Cut + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

While it's extremely unlikely that Mewtwo will ever be given access to Hex (which is why we won't include Shadow Mewtwo on this list), it's still a monster of an attacker that can moonlight in Ghost damage using the same moveset that basic Mewtwo was famous for back in the early days of the Raid meta. It likely will never see the power or utility of Mega Gengar, but it's still extremely strong in its own right despite not getting STAB damage on Shadow Ball.

  • Best Currently Projected Moveset: (Any) + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

Lunala is a bit of a sad case. It's got less power than Dawn Wings Necrozma with the same typing, and even Moongeist Beam might not save it from obscurity as Dawn Wings Necrozma can learn it in the mainseries too, as we've already discussed. Honestly, Lunala has great potential in-and-of itself and it may eventually have the chance to shine, but if it wants to be good despite the existence of Dawn Wings Necrozma, then the former is going to need to lose the moveset lottery while Lunala scores a Ghost Type Fast Move for itself.

The Future Threats

These are the Pokemon that we don't currently have in-game, but have the potential to join our Top Attackers by Type list if Niantic does them justice. Note that this list won't necessarily order Pokemon according to their potential, as we will take likelihood of a good implementation into consideration as well.

  • Best Currently Projected Moveset: (Any) + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

Definitely one of the most anticipated Legendary Pokemon of Galar, Calyrex is a monster when riding Spectrier, making it a Psychic/Ghost Type Pokemon. This thing has raw power that rivals Mega Gengar, and moveset potential to put it at the forefront of the Ghost meta... on paper. The main issues here stem from the fact that current datamines don't show that it has access to a Ghost Type Fast Move, and it also suffers from having a Psychic sub-typing, meaning it has a huge double-weakness to Ghost Type attacks. This makes it a bit of a glass-cannon in Ghost raids, though it will actually be a benefit when taking down its fellow Psychic Types. There's also the issue that we don't yet know how fusion Pokemon will work in Go, so it's anyone's guess as to how Calyrex - Shadow Rider will work until Kyurem gets access to its Black/White formes to act as the prototype for the concept.

The greatest hope that Calyrex - Shadow Rider has for the future is the fact that it has a very strong Ghost Type Signature Move in the main series by the name of Astral Barrage. If this move turns out to be on a par with most other Legendary signature moves and Calyrex - Shadow Rider is given access to a Ghost Type Fast Move, then we may see the King of Bountiful Harvests take up the title of King of Ghost Type Attackers as well.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

One of our missing Ultra Beasts, Blacephalon is basically Chandelure taken to the next level. With a tremendous Attack stat and an outstanding moveset, Blacephalon actually has the potential to rule the non-Mega Ghost meta and even surpass Calyrex - Shadow Rider given existing moves. However, Niantic is likely to only allow it to be good in the Ghost or Fire meta, so it's a coin-flip as to how strong it will realistically be, though that coin may be more weighted towards Fire as that's the type of its signature move, Mind Blown.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

When fused with Lunala, Necrozma has access to one of the highest Attack stats among Ghost Types, and one of the best possible movesets. While sitting a bit below the already covered Pokemon if given its ideal moveset, it still sits in a very strong position potentially, especially given the fact that it can learn Lunala's Ghost Type Signature Move in the main series: Moongeist Beam. If it gets access to Shadow Claw and Moongeist Beam turns out to be great, then Dawn Wings Necrozma is another Pokemon with Ghost-crown potential. That said, it also suffers from the same issues of a Ghost/Psychic Typing that we discussed with Calyrex - Shadow Rider.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

Flutter Mane has a fair bit of potential thanks to its high Attack stat, good moveset potential, and outstanding Fairy sub-typing. It's set to sit around Shadow Banette in DPS terms with the right moveset, but with around twice the TDO and generally better resistances. If given its best possible moveset, Flutter Mane will definitely be a premier Ghost Type, and potentially optimal when its typing is advantageous.

  • Best Currently Projected Moveset: Fury Cutter, Psycho Cut + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

Aegislash is an interesting Pokemon to say the least. It has one of the best Attack stats among all Ghost Types, a potentially outstanding Steel sub-typing, and non-STAB Fast Moves that actually work in its advantage. Fury Cutter is among the best Fast Moves in the game due to its outstanding energy generation, and it has synergy with Ghost Type moves against Psychic. Psycho Cut is a bit worse, but definitely not bad and potentially useful against targets that are weak to Ghost and Psychic alike, like Mega Gengar or Marshadow. And hey, it may also get Shadow Claw before release, which rectifies all of the moveset issues that it would have otherwise suffered with!

So why is such a DPS juggernaut so far down on this list? Because of its Deoxys-esque bulk tier. While not actually as frail as Deoxys thanks in part to its wide list of resistances, when Aegislash drops its shield it gains huge damage potential but drops its defenses to paper-thin levels. Aegislash is set to be an absolute glass-cannon, but if it can drop multiple Shadow Balls it has the potential to sit in a fairly comfortable spot on our Raid Guides. Still, it's likely to be a bit of a risky Pokemon by that same token.

  • Best Currently Projected Moveset: (Any) + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

While easily overlooked due to just how great Calyrex - Shadow Rider has the potential to be, Spectrier in-and-of itself is actually pretty strong. Its DPS is almost identical to Shadow Banette, but it has a lot more TDO to make it substantially more reliable. Honestly, even if we don't get the best possible version of Shadow Rider Calyrex, Spectrier may still be very worth using for its mono-Ghost typing.... if Niantic fixes its Fast Moves pre-release.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

If given its best moveset, Marshadow is set to sit around Gengar but with additional TDO and a sub-typing that makes it similarly weak to the Psychic Types that it would otherwise seek to prey on. However, this is one of many Mythical Pokemon with a Signature Move in the main series, and Marshadow's is the Ghost Type Spectral Thief. Since Niantic seems to generally like giving many Mythical Pokemon their Signature Moves on launch, we may see Spectral Thief whenever Marshadow drops, but Niantic also likes to hamstring many note-worthy Pokemon on launch, so don't be surprised if its best Ghost Type Fast move turns out to be Astonish, assuming it gets a Ghost Type Fast Move at all.

  • Best Currently Projected Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

Finally, a future-release with its best possible moveset already datamined to be the current projection!

Despite the fact that Dragapult is well known for its Speed in the main game, and Speed has a poor stat-conversion formula in Go, it's actually got some potential in the future. If it manages to keep the combo of Hex + Shadow Ball, it can potentially sit right around Chandelure, but with a situationally better sub-typing and somewhat better neutral TDO. So it will be a good Pokemon, but not a huge deal until it inevitably gets the Shadow treatment. And let's be honest; it'll probably happen someday as Niantic has a track-record for eventually turning all of the pseudo-legendary Pokemon into shadows as-is. 

  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

With the right moveset, Hisuian Zoroark has the potential to sit around Chandelure on the Ghost charts but with lower bulk, so good but nothing must-have. However, its unique Ghost/Normal typing means it's the only Ghost that resists Ghost Type moves, making its TDO better than it appears on the surfact. But the real potential of Hisuian Zoroark is the fact that it has a Ghost Type Signature Move in the main series called Bitter Malice. If this move drops and is superior to Shadow Ball, then Hisuian Zoroark could be a genuine threat.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

Now we're well into the borderline options. Cursola, the evolution of Galarian Corsola, has the potential to sit right around Gholdengo, but without the useful Steel sub-typing. It's got the potential to be a decent Ghost, but more a backup option.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball

While pretty low on the list due to its lower estimated performance, Polteageist is set to have its best possible Ghost Type moveset, meaning it will be a solid second-tier Ghost Type raider.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

Another second-string Ghost Type, Dhelmise also has the potential to be a decent option thanks to its outstanding moveset.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball

One of the starters of the Hisui region, this ancient version of Typhlosion isn't set to be really great, but it's note-worthy for its access to a Ghost Type signature move; Infernal Parade. As is the case with most Signature Moves, this could very well give Hisuian Typhlosion some real future advantages if it pans out.

The Looming Shadows

Of all of the Shadow Pokemon currently missing in the game, Shadow Gengar is the one that is arguably the most glaring. All of its trade-evolution brethren have Shadow formes, and Shadow Gengar has the potential to be a very, very potent Pokemon if ever released. That said, it will arguably be overshadowed if we ever get Shadow Chandelure. A few Very likely candidates on the list due to their status as cover legends, Shadow Giratina - Altered, Shadow Giratina -Origin, and Shadow Lunala will all probably show up at some point, though we haven't quite reached the point where we've seen 3rd-version Legends given the Shadow treatment, so Giratina is a bit iffier. Shadow Necrozma - Dawn Wings could also show up eventually, but the odds are even more stacked against it due to its status as a 3rd-version Legend and a Fusion Pokemon. And while we don't really have any precedent for shadow Mythical Pokemon, Shadow Hoopa - Confined could actually be pretty strong as well. Other potentially note-worthy shadows among our currently available Ghosts would be Shadow Gholdengo, Shadow Decidueye, and Shadow Trevenant

The Gigantamax Factor

While not extremely likely, it's possible that Niantic could release the Dynamax/Gigantamax system first introduced in Generation 8/Galar into Pokemon Go. For those unaware, this system turns Pokemon giant, gives them new/overpowering moves, and grants a tremendous HP boost while active. And while the release of this feature isn't super likely, we thought it best to at least list the possible candidates with unique formes just to cover all bases, so these are all of the Ghost Type Pokemon with a Gigantamax forme:

Verdict for the Future

While sporting less relative power than it once had since Tyrantar was given Brutal Swing, Ghost is still an outstanding type in a lot of ways, albeit a type that desperately needs more good, non-signature moves. Honestly, Niantic could make a really good move from any of the generally-available options on our Unused Moves list and throw them onto a lot of the more mediocre Ghosts to shore up the type's limited number of viable options. 

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress Pokemon Go site lead with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization and a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.