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

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Ground is tied with Fighting for the title of type that can hit the most opposing types for Super Effective damage. This means that Ground should have been one of the strongest types in the game from the start, much like Fighting. But... it's had a rocky past. However, things have definitely changed, and Ground is seen in a very different light nowadays. But just how has this view changed, and how does Ground perform nowadays in the grand scheme of Pokemon Go's intertwined web of type matchups? Let's take a look and see.

The State of the Type

The current top Ground 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 to make things a bit easier on us, here's the list of the current candidates that we'll be working with in this article:

Ground is an interesting type. On the release of Pokemon Go, types weren't really utilized for Super Effective damage much due to the relatively low power of the Super Effective boost and the relatively high power of the STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) multiplier. This means that powerhouse types like Dragon pretty much ruled the game with their overwhelming relative power and outstanding neutral coverage. Ground Types... basically didn't exist in those days. Ground had some of the weakest attacks in the game, with Earthquake coming up substantially weaker than what we have now while still holding the title of best Ground Type Charged Move. This was a type that was aggressively ignored by Niantic for a very long time, only given small increases in power as time went on, usually demonstrated by incremental buffs to Earthquake from time to time. And while we had powerful attackers like Groudon and Rhyperior rise in these days, it really wasn't until Shadow Garchomp dropped that the type started to genuinely shine. And it wasn't until Primal Groudon's release that it absolutely skyrocketed.

Right now, Ground is considered one of the strongest types in the game in terms of raid performance. This is due to the type's wide Super Effective coverage combined with the tremendous power of Primal Groudon looming over the meta from on-high. This presence is compounded by the fact that Primal Groudon doesn't even need to be on the field to boost its fellow Ground Types, simply on the same team. This alone means that the damage output on the top Ground Types goes from great to oppressive in many cases, especially in clear weather.

Right now, Ground is a pretty varied type, with the top attackers all sporting different advantages and disadvantages to help differentiate them from one another. For example; Shadow Excadrill's frail, but its Steel sub-typing makes it potentially outstanding depending on the moveset that it's facing. Shadow Rhyperior has titanic natural bulk, but a Rock sub-typing that can leave it vulnerable to a lot of common moves. Shadow Mamoswine has high average performance, but is fairly frail and has to carry around an Ice sub-typing that leaves it vulnerable to multiple types that it would otherwise be able to counter very effectively, like Steel and Fire. Shadow Garchomp has outstanding general performance, with a Dragon sub-typing that gives it a lot of extra resistances, but it's also going to drop very quickly against common Ice Type movesets while also fearing Dragon and Fairy moves. Groudon is a vanilla Ground Type, which has its own advantages, and its sheer power also makes it fairly competitive with the Shadows that rule the type. Lanrorus - Therian has very, very few weaknesses thanks to its Flying sub-typing, but like Shadow Garchomp, it's got to be very careful of Ice Type coverage. And the list goes on, from here, with each of the main competitors sporting some unique trait that makes them unique and powerful in a given situation. This mixed-bag of top attackers gives Ground one of the most varied sets of Pokemon that stand at its forefront, giving players a number of viable Pokemon to choose from....

...except with Mega Evolutions. Just stick with Primal Groudon.

Ground Type Moves

As of the publishing of this article, we currently have access to 14 different Ground Type attacks, divided into 3 Fast Moves and 11 Charged Moves.

Fast Moves Charged Moves
Mud Shot Bone Club
Mud Slap Bulldoze
Hidden Power (Ground) Dig
Drill Run
Earth Power
High Horsepower
Mud Bomb
Precipice Blades
Sand Tomb
Scorching Sands

The Good Moves

Ground Types simultaneously got a bad and great deal by way of Fast Moves. This is because we only have a grand total of 3 Ground Type Fast Moves in the game, but at the same time every natural Ground Type Fast Move is genuinely good! In this case, we have Mud Shot and Mud SlapMud Shot offers superior energy generation, and is the move of choice for frail attackers that rely on racking up Charged Moves as quickly as possible to put out high damage. Mud Slap, meanwhile, hits harder, and tends to score higher total average damage for bulkier attackers that can rack up more Fast Move hits. That said, they're both legitimately fine, and can work on any Ground Type Pokemon regardless of their stats.

For Charged Moves, nothing beats Precipice BladesIt's a move with huge damage output backed by good usability, and it is the move that ensures the sheer dominance of Groudon and its Primal Reversion. Next up is the newly released Scorching Sandswhich hits very hard and actually rivals Precicpice Blades to a certain degree, though it's definitely still a bit weaker. Still, its far wider distribution is legitimately great. Next is High Horsepowerwhich has great average damage output despite only being single-bar. A bit behind that is Earth Powerwhich has stronger distribution and has the advantage of being 2-bar, making it less likely to waste energy. Drill Run is next, and it's basically a slightly worse Earth Power, which is still fine. Finally, Earthquake is the original big-name Ground Type move, as we've already discussed. It's had... a dubious past, but it's actually pretty good now. It suffers from the typical one-bar move issues, but it's still fine.

The Bad Moves

Did you happen to catch that, when mentioning the good Ground Type Fast Moves above, the wording chosen is "every natural Ground Type Fast Move is genuinely good"? Yup, it's time to take another look at Hidden Power (Ground)Weaker stats and a legitimately annoying randomness factor that players can't actually effect beyond "catch another Pokemon and try again" mean that Hidden Power is, once again, a bad move.

For bad Charged Moves, we've got Mud Bomb, Dig, Bulldoze, Bone Cluband Sand TombHonestly, there's not much interesting to say about these moves aside from "they're not great".

The Future of Ground Types

Currently Unreleased Ground -Type Pokemon

Currently Unreleased Ground-Type Moves

  • Bone Rush**
    • Marowak
  • Bonemerang*
    • Marowak, Alolan Marowak
  • Fissure
  • Headlong Rush
  • Judgment*
    • Arceus
  • Land's Wrath*
    • Zygarde
  • Magnitude
  • Mud Sport
  • Multi-Attack*
    • Silvally
  • Rototiller
  • Sand Attack
  • Sandsear Storm*
    • Landorus
  • Shore Up**
    • Palossand
  • Spikes
  • Stomping Tantrum
  • Thousand Arrows*
    • Zygarde
  • Thousand Waves*
    • Zygarde

*: Signature Move
**: Formerly a Signature Move

The Non-Threats

Aside from the Pokemon that aren't fully evolved, we can pretty safely rule out Silvally, Sandaconda, Toedscruel, Arceus, and Ting-Lu due to a lack of strong stats or good moveset potential.

For Signature Moves that probably won't pan out in the future (if we get them at all), we have Multi-Attack, Bonemerang, and Judgment. 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.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + Earth Power
  • Current Best Moveset (Therian): Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Current Best Moveset (Incarnate): Mud Shot + Earth Power

Landorus - Therian Forme is among the best non-Shadow/Mega Ground Types in the game thanks in part to its genuinely great Attack stat. Its power was reduced compared to initial projections thanks to the fact that it was given the inferior Earthquake, so it does have a bit of room to grow, but that's far from the most exciting prospect for Landorus' future. In Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the Forces of Nature were all given access to their own unique Signature Moves, and Landorus definitely wasn't left behind. Sandsear Storm is Landorus' very own Ground Type Signature Move, and it has the potential to bring this feral genie up to a brand new level of power if Niantic looks on it favorably.

Oh, and this would also help the Incarnate forme, but it's likely always going to be below Therian due to its lower Attack stat... unless it's given a strong Sandsear Storm where Therian isn't for whatever reason.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Slap + Scorching Sands
  • Current Best Moveset: Mud Slap + Earthquake

Rhyperior and Shadow Rhyperior are amazing for Rock Type damage output, but they lag a bit behind when it comes to Ground Type damage. Don't get this statement wrong, as they're both still very good for ground type damage. However, a damage gap definitely exists when comparing their two STAB movesets. That gap can be closed a fair bit if Niantic ever replaces Earthquake with a substantially stronger move, like Earth Power or Scorching Sands, the latter of which is substantially better than Earthquake, as we've already covered. With this change, Rhyperior becomes substantially better as a Ground Type, and rises to be able to even better rival the power-houses of the type like Shadow Garchomp depending on the matchup.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + Scorching Sands
  • Current Best Moveset: Mud Shot + Earth Power

Shadow Garchomp is one of the absolute best Ground Types in the game, and normal Garchomp is genuinely great in its own right as well. However, they still have room for improvement in the form of Scorching Sands! The actual performance increase isn't tremendous, but it would definitely help Garchomp and Shadow Garchomp become even better than they are now.

And then there's Mega Garchomp. Even ignoring the theoretical boost that it would also enjoy with Scorching Sands, Mega Garchomp is set to be genuinely powerful, hitting like an absolute truck. However, this is also a Pokemon that's coming too late to genuinely shine, as it just can't quite reach the sheer power of Primal Groudon. At best, it will be a secondary option that will be a great backup, especially when it's able to Mega Evolve for free with a bit of work.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + High Horsepower
  • Current Best Moveset: (Any) + High Horsepower

Ursaluna and Shadow Ursaluna already have access to their best possible Charged Move in High Horsepower, but they don't have much utility in raids primarily due to their abject lack of a Ground Type Fast Move. Simply adding Mud Shot improves Shadow Ursaluna in particular substantially, and allows it to become the powerful Ground Type attacker that it wants to be.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Slap + Scorching Sands
  • Current Best Moveset: Mud Slap + Earth Power

Shadow Golurk is always lurking just outside of the top options, standing just under most people's radar. But that could change if it's ever given access to Scorching Sands. If this ever happens, it would sit right around Groudon in terms of DPS but with lower TDO. But it also has a situationally useful Ghost sub-typing that could make it fairly optimal depending on the raid.

Basic Golurk would also benefit from Scorching Sands, but that wouldn't really be enough to make it relevant. 

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + High Horsepower or Earth Power
  • Current Best Moveset: Mud Shot + Earthquake

Ah, Mega Swampert; the forgotten Ground Type Mega Evolution. Trampled the moment that the two Primal Reversions dropped, it has fallen off of a number of radars... but it could rise again. In the Main Series, it has access to High Horsepower and Earth Power, so it could very well see some additional power in the future... but definitely not enough to let it rival the monster that is Primal Groudon.

This would also help Shadow Swampert and even normal Swampert as well, though they may prefer Earth Power over High Horsepower due to their relative frailty.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Slap + High Horsepower or Earth Power
  • Current Best Moveset: Mud Slap + Earthquake

Krookodile isn't exactly making waves in the Ground meta as it sits. It's an okay option that can put in work, but it's definitely not worth much investment. However, Krookodile has access to High Horsepower in the main series, which... won't do much for it. But that would put a future Shadow Krookodile about on a par with Groudon, albeit with a lower average TDO when its Dark typing doesn't prove advantageous.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + Scorching Sands
  • Current Best Moveset: (Any) + Earth Power

Nidoking lacks a Ground Type Fast Move, meaning it's never had the opportunity to have any real note-worthiness outside of its... somewhat dubious... Poison moveset. However, in the Main Series it has access to the strongest possible generally-available Ground Type moveset, which would skyrocket Shadow Nidoking in particular to... about Landorus - Incarnate's performance, but with less average TDO.

Non-shadow Nidoking, meanwhile, doesn't really even register. Oh well.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Hidden Power (Ground) + Scorching Sands
  • Current Best Moveset: (Any) + Earthquake

Oh boy, here's a strange one.

Zygarde is the big-bad 3rd legend of Generation 6/Kalos.... but actually, it was given its special Complete forme in Generation 7/Alola. As a Ground Type, it's got the issue of having a severe lack of Attack and a bad Moveset, so it's really not even on the raid radar at the moment. However, it's got huge potential! With signature Ground Type moves like Land's Wrath, Thousand Waves, and Thousand Arrows, Niantic could easily make a full new moveset for Zygarde, and make it powerful enough to be genuinely threatening... if it's given a Fast and Charged move set that's absolutely broken. And that really only applies to Zygarde's serpentine 50% forme!

Why do we mention this random stipulation, when the Complete forme has the same base stats plus a titanic increase in HP in the main series, thus making it objectively better? Because that HP increase put it over the CP-limit in Pokemon Go and enacted the 9-antic nerf, meaning Complete Forme is bulkier than 50%, but also deals substantially less damage due to its cut Attack stat.

The only way to make both of these versions good would be to make Land's Wrath a Fast Move and then give Thousand Arrows to one Zygarde and Thousand Waves to the other, and then adjust them to make each version as strong as it should be. Still, chances are that we won't see Niantic go to quite that much effort to a single Pokemon, and Zygarde's most likely utility in the future will be strictly PvP-related. Time will tell.

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.

Blood Moon Ursaluna has the potential to be an interesting Pokemon. It's slightly stronger than Ursaluna in terms of base stats, and it also got the ability to evolve from Usraring in the main series, meaning we could even get Shadow Bloodmoon Ursaluna right from the get-go. However, we have no idea what its main-series moveset will look like as of now, and its status as a semi-regional-evolution means that it will probably will be its own thing that can't actually evolve from Ursaring in Pokemon Go, so it could land just about anywhere on the utility list in the future. It's an odd one with a lot of variables, but it's still got potential.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot + High Horsepower

One of the oddities of the type, Sandy Shocks sports at least decent Attack and has great Ground Type moveset potential. It's not going to make any large waves, but it's just strong enough to potentially show up on our raid guides in the future.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot or Mud Slap + High Horsepower

A two-for-one, because these two Pokemon actually have an identical Attack stat, plus identical top-moveset potential! Honestly, these two likely won't make huge waves when they drop, with Iron Treads probably standing out a bit more thanks to the defensive utility of its Steel sub-typing. Still, they likely won't be horrible, so this Paradox duo is worth a mention here.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Mud Shot or Mud Slap + Earth Power
  • Current Best Moveset: (Any) + Earth Power

Poor, poor Camerupt. It would have been fairly valuable early in the life of Mega Evolutions, as it could pull double-duty and act as our lone Ground Type Mega Evolution. However, now it's forced to be in the shadow of Primal Groudon. And to make things worse, it even shares the Primal titan's typing, meaning it has nothing to differentiate itself from its extremely daunting competition. As it sits, the only hope at all for Mega Camerupt is that Niantic gives us the Mega Energy to attain it for free at some point. And  even then, it's probably not worth giving the effort needed to get it leveled up and able to Mega Evolve for free a decent portion of the time. It's set to be an okay pick for a newer player, but ultimately passed up in favor of substantially better options that outclass it in every possible way. Still, it won't be objectively horrible, so it shows up on this list regardless. 

The Looming Shadows

Shadow Groudon is coming. We already have Shadow precedent for the Box Legendaries, and Shadow Groudon will absolutely wreck the meta, basically crushing everything else under the massive weight of its sheer offensive presence. Seriously; nothing can stand up to this monster.... save Shadow Landorus - Therian. If Landorus is given access to a strong Signature Move like we outlined above, then it could take the crown even from Shadow Groudon due to its huge base Attack stat. Shadow Landorus - Incarnate could also be good, but it will still lag behind its better forme.

Of course, all of the above still pale in comparison to Primal Groudon, for the record.....

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 Ground Type Pokemon with a Gigantamax forme:

Verdict for the Future

As we've already covered, Ground is a massively powerful type that will tend to out-perform most of its competition due to just how great the top attackers for the type are. However, there is still room for improvement. The best generally-available Ground Type Charged Move is Scorching Sands, but it's not quite as strong as some of the titanically powerful generally available moves from other types, like Shadow Ball or Brutal Swing. And while the list of unused Ground Type moves isn't extremely long, it definitely still has room to expand. This means that we could see some changes... just don't expect anything to dethrone Primal Groudon.

When it comes right down to it, what Ground needs the most right now is more Fast Moves. All of the top Ground Type Fast Moves are nothing but the Pokemon slinging mud around, which doesn't exactly inspire awe.... imagine the magma Godzilla that is Primal Groudon rising from a volcano with a roar, only to... start hurling mud around. Even if only on a par with Mud Shot and Mud Slap, maybe something like Magnitude would work well as a means to give Ground something a bit more on-theme, and maybe a bit more power, as well?

Either way, Ground is actually pretty secure in the future. Outside of theoretical large-scale changes to movesets, this is probably one of the most secure types in the game as far as future-proofing goes. The most likely big changes in the future are Shadow Groudon, Shadow Landorus - Incarnate, and Landorus' Signature Move, if Niantic ever sees fit to make it available. And while any of the above would shak eup the type, these Pokemon are already top recommendations for Ground Type investments, so we're not super likely to see major shifts in the future. 

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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.