Fixing the Grass-type (Part 1)
by, 19th March 2011 at 06:47 AM (3475 Views)
And this is it: the topic of today’s article is about fixing the Grass-types. You know, it kind of baffles me as to how the Grass-type is less privileged in terms of competitive battling, and we will see why later. But first, I would like to bring up two different games that gave plants an edge. The first is the Yugioh Card Game. In that game, the Plant-type was nothing to talk about in the past, but it slowly became one of the better types to use, thanks to certain cards (like “Gigaplant”, “Lonefire Blossom”, “Dandylion” and “Pollinosis”) and a certain character (Akiza). Another game I would like to bring up is Plants vs. Zombies, which is where the plants have a chance to do something epic, and that is zombie-slaying, and boy do they have a good variety.
Surely there must be lack of appreciation to Grass-types in Pokémon. However, this only applies to the video games. In the anime, Grass-types provide some great utility, like providing fruits and nurturing plants. In the Trading Card game, because of the way the game is designed (explanation later), Grass is basically as good as any other type there.
Instead of leaving it picture-less as I had done in the “Upgrading the Poison-type” article, I decided to put my own drawings as pictures to make the article more pleasing to the eye (maybe some will think I have some favouritism or something, but whatever). Also, there will be an index for easier navigation.
- New types of Pokémon
- Type Coverage
- Attack Distribution
- New Moves
- Modification of Existing Moves
- New Status Ailment
- Type Chart Change
- Past Improvements
Before we go and look at how we can potentially fix the Grass-type, we need to identify some of the problems that prevent Grass-type from being one of the best, which generally hurt their influence in the face of typical competitive battlers. These are the problems I think they have, so this list may be debatable.
1) Grass-types are weak to a good number of types and their attacks are resisted by many - The Grass-type has an innate weakness to five types, which is the most for a single type which Rock shared. With this many, there are many fronts that the type is vulnerable to. However, on the bright side, with the exception of Bug, two of their weaknesses rarely overlap for combinations, which gives them some leeway as far as bad weaknesses go. Another merit is that their resistances are pretty good. Anyway, this doesn’t apply to the TCG as I have said, because most Pokémon have only one weakness, and for Grass-types, that’s usually Fire.
A lot of types resist the Grass-type, with a total of seven of them. To make matters worse, five of the types are very useful types defensively (Dragon, Steel, Poison, Flying, Grass), meaning that it’s easy to find a Pokémon that resists Grass attacks. One could argue that Grass isn’t meant to be the best offensive type, but then, offence is sometimes the best defence.
2) Water’s movepool privilege – This point is tied to problem #1. You see, many Water-types are blessed with the ability to learn Ice attacks. While not every Pokémon can actually take advantage of them (like Alomomola and Kabutops) or actually learn them (Seismitoad’s family and Keldeo), the fact that the useful Water-types learn them means that Grass-type’s general advantage over the Water-types are not justifiable, due to this weakness, with very few exceptions (Abomasnow, Ferrothorn and Ludicolo).
3) Grass-types typically don’t have good offensive coverage – Unless the Grass-type is special (like Tangrowth) or have a secondary type (like Torterra), the average Grass-type doesn’t have a lot of coverage. It's been mentioned that Grass isn't a particularly good offensive type, so the lack of privileged coverage hurts. Ice-types and Poison-types have limited coverage too, but the difference is that Ice is a great offensive type, while Poison encourages a defensive playstyle. As a balanced type (so to speak), I feel that their offensive presence must at least be decent. Now, there are Grass-types with coverage (Sceptile, Sawsbuck and Victreebel, for example), which is good, but I feel that the general Grass populace need something...worthwhile.
4) Lack of privileges under Weather – Rain teams generally benefit the Water-types since they have Swift Swim users and also have a boost to their Water attacks as well. The Grass-type, however, boasts no such advantage. In the Sun, Grass attacks are not boosted (only Fire is), and unless they have Weather Ball (Victreebel and Roserade) or Hidden Power, they have no added benefits unless they have the Abilities.
5) Sap Sipper Pokémon – The Grass-type is already subpar in terms of attacking, and what baffles me is the addition of this ability. Sure, there are the most annoying Grass-type status moves like Spore and Leech Seed, but if the intent of the ability is to do that, I couldn’t think of a good reason the ability also happens to negate the attacks as well. There are other abilities that are similar in effect, but unlike this one, the attacking ability of those types are quite good (Storm Drain and LightningRod), and Justified doesn't grant an immunity to Dark attacks. Perhaps when only Grass-types got the ability, it wouldn’t be that bad. Maybe this ability is beneficial for the metagame and I am thinking too much. Who knows? This may not be a legitimate problem after all. (Fun fact: Sap Sipper negates GrassWhistle!)
So, what can be done to the Pokémon to solve their problems? Let’s explore the problems and come up with some solutions that will buff the Grass-type.
Let’s begin with the Pokémon themselves. In this section, we will look at how to make the Grass-types better. Here there will not be any type chart change, because if there’s something I picked up, type chart changes are not the only thing that will fix the Grass-type, which most of the thread is comprised of. That part will be saved for the last.
New types of Pokémon
Diversification of the Grass-type would be ideal, for there are so many different varieties of plants that allow us to take notes from. These are what I feel would have made great competitive niches:
One particular Grass-type we could use is one that’s immune or resists Fire. This is important because a Grass-type that isn’t affected by Fire can go to the forefront to protect others from Fire-types. It is especially important that it can handle Heatran, Volcarona and Moltres, so Rock attacks are a must for this one.
Another type of Grass-type is inspired from carnivorous plants, which means that it has to be able to manhandle those Bug-types which Grass-types don’t usually do. The first thing it needs is an ability that renders Bug attacks useless and traps them through contact (because these plants won’t let them go). This would mitigate some of U-turn’s use, which actually causes the user to get out, but immunity prevents this. Moreover, a Bug-type will be trapped if they wanted to U-turn out of this Pokémon. It would be even better if old Pokémon got the ability, especially Carnivine.
A wooden Grass-type would be nice if it has an exclusive ability that mitigates most of its weaknesses. It can be called Thick Wood, which will halve Fire and Flying attacks, and quarter Ice attacks. This is because Wood has vastly different properties from leaves, which means that applying the type chart with the conventional Grass-type will not make an ounce of sense. A Grass-type like this will be the perfect way to promote diversification.
Now for a Grass/Ghost Pokémon. It will have the designated role of a Spin-blocker, and can also possess a Ghost Curse and Leech Seed combination, which I believe is potent, as they both drain health at a steady rate. If the Pokémon have Will-O-Wisp, that’s even better because, well, burns puts the player at an advantage.
As I don’t have as much to say for the new Grass-types with competitive niches as those with aesthetics (as I had done in “Unexplored Grass-types Beings and Things”), I think that would suffice as a list.
As I have mentioned before, one of the problems with the type is that many of them have rather narrow coverage, in which Hidden Power is the best bet on getting a secondary one, limiting any chance of getting a third coverage. In addition to this, Grass attacks also don’t have the best when it comes to covering other types with just one move. Fire + Grass cover Water, Grass, Rock, Ground, Bug, Ice and Steel, but not Fire and Dragon. Ground + Grass cover Water, Rock, Ground, Fire, Electric, Poison and Steel, but not Bronzong, Grass, Bug, and Flying. Rock + Grass cover Water, Rock, Ground, Fire, Ice, Bug and Flying, but not Steel and Poison, Dragon and Grass paired with Fighting or Steel. I think I have explained enough: it’s hard to find the ideal coverage with Grass attacks. Unless this Grass-type has a secondary type (like Torterra and Cradily) or are special (like Sceptile and Tangrowth), they will have narrow coverage (Carnivine, Lilligant, Whimsicott, Maractus and Serperior comes to mind).
What can be done about this problem? Logically, we introduce a coverage move Grass-types should be able to logically learn. This has been done in the past, actually. For example, Fire-types doesn’t have their universal SolarBeam move until Generation 4, and Water-types, well, they have Ice attacks from the beginning.
Let’s start with a universal Ground attack for Grass-types. Earth Power will be a nice fit, but unfortunately, not every Grass-type got them last Generation (Torterra, Celebi, Shaymin, Cradily and Sunflora got it). By right, the Grass-types can have the power to move the earth, since they are very close to earth. Because Earth Power was a Move Tutor, there’s hope that this Generation, we will finally have the universal ability to learn Earth Power, which will help those specially-based ones like Lilligant and Roserade.
Now for a universal Fire attack. There are three instances in which Grass-types can have Fire attacks, but they are not direct. The first is Hidden Power (naturally), which requires a special combination of Individual Values (innate numbers for each Pokémon which raises their stats) to get, meaning it’s usually a difficult task. Another is through the use of Weather Ball, which will turn into a Fire attack under the Sun, but few Grass-types have it (Roserade, Victreebel and Cherrim being the only users). The third is Natural Gift, and that requires the appropriate berry. Currently, there are no logical Fire moves that Grass-types learn, so let’s make one! With a bit of suggestion, there could be a move called Solar Laser (see the New Moves section for more details), which is basically a Grass attack treated as a Fire-type. Unorthodox, I know, but we have Psyshock and Psystrike, which are attacks that work differently from other attacks.
Another possible universal coverage move could be of the Rock-type, which is more logical than a natural Fire attack. One possible Rock-type attack that I came up with is Stone Seed, which similar to the previous move I mentioned, is a Grass-type attack treated as a Rock-type, and because of this, it will have STAB (see New Moves for more details).
While there are other ideas for type coverage (Dragon and Ice attacks comes to mind), these moves are what I feel are appropriate for the Grass-type that will strengthen their coverage.
If the Grass-type were to move to the direction of being a supportive type, then there will be some needed tweaks to increase its synergy with other types that can also support the Grass-type. In the manga, Sunflora and Quilava were shown to have worked together to defeat the opponent using the Sun strategy, so the application’s there.
A field effect akin to Mud Sport and Water Sport is a good idea. It may be called Level Ground (That’s the Japanese name for Bulldoze, but the effect is different). Its effect will be that it will reduce the damage of Rock attacks and removes Stealth Rock, which will greatly support some of the types weaker to that attack.
There may even be another field effect which can boost the power of Fire attacks, which will aid the Fire-types and Grass-types in a way. The effect may be called Leaf Pile. It piles up leaves on the opponent’s side of the field, and a fire attack will blaze it up, creating a health-reducing effect in addition of a more powerful Fire attack. While Sap Sipper Pokémon will remove the effect, they all will hate Burn, since most of them are better with Physical attacks. (More info in New Moves section)
Some Grass-types can even provide an advantageous team up with Water-types, who can resist their main weaknesses. Besides Ludicolo, we have Amoonguss who is very bulky and have guaranteed Sleep, for example. One idea to promote this synergy is to make a recovery move that will be buffed in the rain, or maybe have an ability that protects Water-types.
Basically, by buffing the synergy with other types, the team factor Grass-types have will have some noticing. I must admit that I am not entirely familiar with this section (this was suggested), so I hope that what I have to say here are good ideas.
There are some Grass attacks that not every Grass-type get, and while some of the examples are understandable (like Jumpluff not being able to use Petal Dance), the better Grass-type attacks deserve wider distribution, or at least distribution that makes those others more useful. Synthesis is a great example of this, as it got the Move Tutor treatment.
Let’s start with Leech Seed. This is one of the more annoying status moves, since it takes the opponent’s health and heal yours, rendering any of your Pokémon harder to take out. What’s more, it doesn’t have any drawbacks, except that 10% chance of missing and the inability to affect Grass-types. I believe that Foongus and Oddish should get a share of this move too, as they are the only ones I can see with the move (which is why Lileep is excluded). If Paras gets to finally have this move (you can check to see if he/she learns in previous generations), they may have a chance.
Growth deserves a wider distribution to promote Sun’s playstyle, especially those with Chlorophyll who are yet to have the move. I would say that the Pokémon that deserves this move are Leafeon, Oddish and Deerling. All of these Pokémon possess Chlorophyll as one of their abilities, therefore this move will aid their offensive capabilities well. It's true that Leafeon will usually still use Swords Dance since his Special Attack is low, but Growth will at least give him the option to use Hidden Power.
In the last 4 Generations, every Grass-type learns Swords Dance, but in Generation 5, not every one of them do (Whimsicott, Simisage, Maractus and Amoonguss), which I am guessing owes to Growth’s buff. However, I am going to go ahead and suggest all Grass-types that don’t have the move have it, especially Simisage (who doesn’t have either Growth or Swords Dance).
Some powerful Grass-type attacks could also be given to some existing Pokémon. Power Whip’s distribution is very limited, and some extra Pokémon could use this move, like Serperior, Simisage and Breloom. For Wood Hammer, it would be distributed to Sawsbuck, Meganium and Cacturne. Leaf Blade may also have wider distribution, particularly to Meganium, Simisage and Shiftry.
A wider distribution of Cotton Guard will also work wonders to the Grass-types as with Ingrain, especially to those that learn Baton Pass as well. So far the only Grass-types that Baton Pass are animals, so the best thing to do here is to give Baton Pass to a Pokémon that already learns Ingrain or Cotton Guard. Maybe Sawsbuck can receive the move Cotton Guard and do the passing as well.
Speaking of Baton Pass, maybe this suggesting seems absurd, but I would love it if some more Grass-types got this move. This is because every Grass-type thus far has at least a boosting move and some even has Ingrain. The ability to pass on the boosts will add more utility to the Grass-type. So far, only three families have this move: Celebi, Sewaddle and Deerling. If Chikorita, Snivy and even Foongus got this move for example, they will be much better Pokémon than they already were.
As far as distributions go, it will be one of the more realistic possibilities, seeing as how it is easy to patch up a Pokémon by giving them new learning options.
Because of how long this article will be, I initially considered it as a two-parter, but it turns out to be a three-parter in the end. Hopefully the article will still be a great read nonetheless!
(Part 1) ● (Part 2) ● (Part 3)
Thanks for reading.
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