|Forum Home > Pokemon > A Discourse on the Competitive Implications of the Fairy Type|
As more information is leaked in the coming weeks, and eventually as Pokémon X and Y are themselves released, I will update this post accordingly.
For the first time since Diamond and Pearl introduced the new Physical/Special categorizations in 2007, a fundamental balance of power in competitive Pokémon is about to shift. Of course, one new type isn't going to cause quite the far-reaching tremors that mechanic change did (enabling modern staples like Dragonite, Gyarados, and Gengar to take full advantage of STAB, for instance), but the Fairy type is sure to have a marked effect as I can already see.
To start, I'll just list a few facts we now know about the Fairy type:
-Offense: Super-Effective against Dark, Dragon, Fighting; Not Very Effective against Fire, Poison, Steel
-Defense: Resists Bug, Dark, Fighting; Weak against Poison, Steel; Immune to Dragon
-Currently single-typed Jigglypuff, Marril, Gardevoir, and Mawile will adopt Fairy as a secondary type. It is unknown if any of their evolutionary family members will adopt this change as well. Confirmed also are five new pure Fairies, including a new Eevee form and X Version mascot Xerneas, who will presumably have Uber stats and not affect the majority of the competitive metagame. A dual-type Electric/Fairy has also been announced.
-A few Fairy moves have been revealed in name and animation only, except Moonblast, which is the signature move of Xerneas and therefore not expected to affect the non-Uber metagame. So, effectively, we know nothing of practical use regarding Fairy moves.
-Unrelated to Fairies, but Steel will no longer resist Dark and Ghost.
What are some conclusions that can be drawn from the information we have now?
-Fighting just got a lot less broken.
Fast, physical Fighting types like Lucario and Infernape literally punched holes in the 4th Gen metagame. It was well checked by the common Flying type, and even completely negated by the powerful Ghost type, but still was considered one of if not the single best offensive type in the game, rivaled only by the might and accessibility of Ground's Earthquake. The fact that it's both weak to and ineffective against Fairy means bad news for the aforementioned sweepers and even bulky threats like the fearsome Bulk Up Conkeldurr. And it's sure to be prevalent not only for this reason, but probably more so for the reason below...
-Finally, a new way to check Dragons!
No longer are the same handful of good Ice types or tiresome Dragon-on-Dragon wars needed to stop such mighty threats as Dragonite, Salamence, and Haxorus. Not only are these beasts threatened to be felled by a strong Fairy attack (assuming one exists, which it's almost sure to), but a sweep at the hands of a DD Nite or a Choice-Outrage Mence can potentially be put completely to rest by the mere presence of a Fairy thanks to a complete immunity to the Dragon type. This will likely keep Garchomp out of Ubers this time around, and, perhaps unfortunately, mean another Generation of Latios. It may even see the mighty Rayquaza dropped down to OU! Meanwhile, the quad-weakness to Ice many powerful Dragons share will keep that type from becoming irrelevant.
-Flash Cannon now has a reason to exist.
Since Gen 4, the Steel type has had a powerful and accessible offensive move; but it just hasn't mattered because from an attacking standpoint, anything Steel could do, Fighting could do better. Fairies make this no longer true. This new type seems like the ultimate balancer, the check to end all checks, but measures will need to be taken to assure that Fairy doesn't just becaome the new Dragon; the advent of offensive Steel moves like Flash Cannon and Meteor Mash into the metagame is one such measure.
-Weezing just became an even better wall.
And this is the other such measure. Poison just became a better type all-around in the process. Although its greatest advantage is likely defensively, with the ability to resist these new Fairies, although Poison so far being one of just two types Super-Effective against them makes it relevant offensively as well. Poison has long been championed as an underrated type; those days may be over as it moves firmly into the spotlight and can no longer be ignored.
-So did Gardevoir and Mawile.
As of now, Psychic/Fairy and Steel/Fairy look like two of the best defensive typings ever imagined. Gardevoir is the one that jumps out at me first; its pre-existing Special bulk and access to recovery in Wish look like they may team with Gardevoir's newfound resistances and Dragon immunity to make an excellent wall. Mawile's typing from the standpoint of pure matchups is even better, removing its Fire weakness and leaving it vulnerable just to Ground and Ghost, though as of now it lacks good recovery. Depending on how Mega Evolutions are categorized, though, Eviolite usage is an intriguing possibility for Mawile, too.
-Umbreon, on the other hand...
Umbreon is my favorite Pokémon, and one I championed throughout my career as a Gen 4 battler as the single most underrated wall in the game. So naturally I was deeply saddened to find Dark had gained a new weakness in Fairy, and one that looks to be so jarring in that. With weaknesses to Fairy AND Fighting, the age of the defensive Dark type ends before it ever really began. This is the one change I am vehemently opposed to, as Umbreon will likely now plummet to the ranks of NU, never to be heard from in the competitive universe again. Completely objectively, one can be optimistic in that Tyranitar just got a little less broken, and OU Darkrai is now a conceivable possibility. Completely subjectively, god damn this is depressing.
-A small check for Metagross and Jirachi, and the potential end of Bronzong.
This final tidbit seems to be getting lost in the shuffle: Steel no longer resists Dark and Ghost. This is really only relevant for the few Psychic/Steel types, but all of them have always been relevant in the highest levels of competitive play since their induction. This is more good than bad, as Metagross and Jirachi have long been considered just a hair TOO good, and a good chance to be OHKO'd by a faster Gengar's STAB Shadow Ball should remedy that nicely. Poor Bronzong, though... His shtick as a wall has always been that it only has one weakness, and as that weakness is determined by Ability (Heatproof or Levitate), you never know which it is until you find out by trial and error. This is no longer so as the same Gengar can threaten an OHKO on Zong, too.
-Speaking of ^, Gengar appears to now be indispensable, possibly too much so.
As Ghost just got a bit better and Poison just got loads better, the game's premier Ghost/Poison type naturally seems to be in prime position to accept a boost in popularity. There's just one problem in Gengar's case: As it was, he was already considered one of the best Special sweepers in the history of the franchise. In every Generation, even prior to Gen 4 in which Ghost was no longer universally Physical and he finally had access to decent STAB, Gengar has been one of the first Pokémon trainers went to to fill their need for a fast, powerful Special presence. Given STAB Ghost to counter the ever-present threat of strong Psychics, STAB Poison to counter the brand-new threat of Fairies, and a natural immunity to all Fighting AND Ground type moves, two types I previously described as the best offensive types in the metagame? Add in a simply marvelous movepool from which to select the final two moves to supplement Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb (Thunderbolt, Energy Ball/Giga Drain, Focus Blast, Psychic, either Hidden Power Ice or Fire), and we might be looking at Ubers for our not-so-friendly ghost. Fortunately for Gengar fans, the Authorities That Be on matters of competitive tiers have a track record of allowing near-unstoppable, universally chosen offsensive powerhouses to run rampant through most of the life of a given metagame (2007-2010 for Salamence in Gen 4, and the entire lifespan of Gen 5 for Latios), so there is reason to hope he'll stick around. We should all have faith and take comfort in the knowledge that as soon as they've had time to render Final Judgment, the esteemed Smogon University will either encourage Gengar's continued use or ban him to Ubers, whichever makes the least sense.
Melancholy over the sudden irrelevance of my favorite Pokémon aside, Game Freak's implementation of this new type looks to be about as well done as we could possibly have hoped for. In the end, it'll come down to the power and accessibility of new Fairy moves; if they're too powerful or accessible to too many of the game's great sweepers, all we'll have is another Dragon on our hands: an imbalanced, overpowered type that'll take years of metagame tweaking to get right. But if the moves are too weak or only usable by a handful of easily checked Pokémon, none of this may matter at all. All in all, this Umbreon fan has to grudgingly admit that the Fairy type looks to change the game for the better.
Update brought about by this link.
-I'm both scared and hopeful to learn of the new breeding mechanics. So far, Game Freak has done nothing but make breeding easier. Let's hope this trend continues so we don't give prospective battlers yet another reason to hack.
-Lots of stuff that sounds like it'll make raising Pokémon a little easier.
-New rules for Shadow Tag makes having a good, fast Ghost even more important, and may possibly see the competitive return of Wobbuffet (I know Smogon allowed him in 5th).
-"When distributing new moves and abilities, priority was given to new Pokémon." This statement initially makes me a little uneasy, but it's been true of every new Generation thus far. As a long-time series loyalist though, and having already seen my favorite Pokémon get competitively destroyed, pretty much any statement like this is going to make me nervous.
-"Some moves, with focus on special ones, have had their power and accuracy revamped." Moar accurate Focus Blast plz?
-Mega Evolution: Still no idea how the hell it works.
-"The standard selection process for Pokémon to be Mega-Evolvable is based on three points: visual looks, popularity and game balance." I wish it was all about the third point, personally... Regardless, Game Freak has always put out a competitively balanced product. And the bit about Mega Evos being of "the class of Legendary Pokémon" makes me think they may not see competitive play at all. Or that some will make Ubers and some won't. Or a completely divided community with some users not wanting to battle them at all. Smogon has a mess on its hands, for sure.
-Sky Battles. What is this I don't even. At least they're optional, unlike the pants-on-head retarded placement of Triple and Rotation battles that made Black and White 2 Nuzlockes so goddamn frustrating.
That's about all I've got. We're less than three weeks away now, so I doubt if we'll get too much more info before the games are released. Though I am still hoping for pictures of final evolutions for the starters. Still don't know which one I'm taking.