Moves we need more of

By Codraroll and A.
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Jirachi by LifeisDANK

Art by LifeisDANK.


Moves. What would Pokémon be without them? Part of the appeal of the games comes from the incredibly diverse range of moves available with a wide range of primary and secondary effects. There are over seven hundred moves in the games at present, and although each Pokémon can only carry four moves out of a movepool spanning from 1 move (Unown) to 670 (Smeargle), the high number of Pokémon and the moves they learn allow for practically infinite combinations to be used.

New moves are created every generation, adding yet more possible playstyles to the mix. Sometimes, entirely new mechanics have to be implemented for the sake of one new move. Often, the newly introduced idea is good enough to warrant repetition; for instance, there are several moves with the exact same basic functionality as Hyper Beam and Overheat. However, other times, the new mechanic is implemented for one move that is given to a very small number of Pokémon and then seemingly forgotten. These are moves with unique and exciting effects that many Pokémon would appreciate, but for some reason their use and usefulness are limited, either because they remain too obscure or because the few Pokémon that get them have much better options they would rather use. Or maybe that one effect is very sought-after for competitive reasons but still limited to one move with limited distribution, which forces players to pick their Pokémon and their movesets from a very small pool. The prime example would be Rapid Spin before the change in Defog mechanics—more on that below.

Note that the move niches we examine here have to be deeper than just "deals much damage, is accurate, has certain typing." We know the comment sections on social media will swarm with suggestions about high-power Ghost-type moves, physical Rock-type moves with high accuracy, or Ice-type moves in general, but that is not the focus of this article.

This article examines the moves that are too unique for their own good. They have effects—either primary or secondary—that make for very interesting playstyles, but the moves are either rarely used because they are too obscure or used too much because there are no other options. This goes for not just competitive usage, but also in-game. Sometimes, you need to optimize in order to beat a human opponent, but other times you might want to breeze through the games in a fun way, using obscure or exotic moves and strategies. Wouldn't it be great if these ideas were given a second chance and expanded upon with more moves?

Hazard Removal

Possibly the ur-example of an excessively limited move niche until Gen VI, and thus the best example to start the article with. Entry hazards have been a very dominant force in the metagame ever since some designer at Game Freak created Stealth Rock in a fit of madness. Technically, Spikes was the first entry hazard, but the craze began in Gen IV with the addition of what arguably is the most controversial move ever implemented, as it dealt moderate to heavy damage to every Pokémon upon switch-in based on their typing and took only one turn to set up. A Rock weakness was soon considered so crippling for a Pokémon that it could make or break the Pokémon's viability. A quadruple Rock weakness sent most Pokémon without powerful redeeming traits plunging down the tiers. Toxic Spikes and eventually Sticky Web also joined the family of stackable hazards that may be scattered on the opponent's side of the field to punish Pokémon switching. Because switching is a very powerful strategic move in competitive play, it is vital to carry moves that can rid you of entry hazards. However, an imbalance quickly became apparent: there were a lot more Pokémon able to set up the hazards than there were to remove them. For many generations, Rapid Spin was the only move that could perform this job. It never saw wide distribution, making the comparatively few so-called "spinners" very popular, even those that lacked power or versatility to be useful for anything else—clearing hazards was considered such an important task that a whole teamslot could be dedicated to it. Likewise, Ghost-types soared in popularity because their immunity to Normal-type moves allowed them to "spinblock."

However, starting in Gen VI, Defog is also capable of clearing hazards, albeit from both sides of the field. Relying on Defog to remove hazards hampers any hazard strategies of your own. Defog also hasn't seen wide distribution since it was an HM in Gen IV. Clearly, more moves ought to be able to remove hazards, making more Pokémon able to fill the vital hazard-removing role.

I will also briefly address the possibility of adding more hazard moves, particularly variations of Stealth Rock. Why should the Rock type have a monopoly on hazards that inflict type-based damage upon switching in? While this is a tempting question to ask, the answer ought to give itself: it would make hazards way too dominant as a play style, especially if the free stacking mechanic were kept. However, with only one type of "Stealth ____" on the field at any time, several possible types of type-based entry hazards ought to be manageable. Part of the reason why Stealth Rock had such an impact is because it hits a lot of Pokémon super effectively and quite many 4x effectively too. Rock is just a very good offensive type. Other types of "Stealth ____" would lower the risk for the currently afflicted Rock-weak Pokémon, at the possible expense of some others (finding out what entry hazards to run would add another layer of complexity to team-building). However, it would certainly be a controversial move, so I will not conclusively suggest adding any more hazards to the game under the current circumstances.

Bypassing Type Effectiveness

When picking moves for your Pokémon, there are times when you have to weigh Base Power against accuracy, such as in the case of Flamethrower and Fire Blast. However, regardless of how you argue, you'd find no reason to choose Ember over either. Most types in the game have moves with a Base Power of 80 or more with perfect accuracy, which makes damaging moves of lesser base power cleanly outclassed. But for two rare moves, being the weaker option still doesn't condemn them to uselessness. These moves hit targets other moves of their type can't, at least not with the same effect. Freeze-Dry scores super effective hits on Water-types, which normally wall Ice moves all day. Thousand Arrows hits flying or levitating targets, unique for a Ground-type move. These options ought to be available for more types, sacrificing some Base Power for greater effectiveness against certain targets.

Dual-type Moves

This move is notable enough to have an entire section of the Smogon forums named after itself. Flying Press is our eminent article workshop and a move that deals Fighting and Flying damage combined. Or, well, technically, it is a Fighting-type move whose type effectiveness has been modified (it is not boosted by Flying Gem or Sky Plate, nor does it activate Coba Berry), similar to the paragraph above, but on a conceptual level it uniquely combines two types into one single attack. That is a gimmick too interesting to restrict to a single move learned by a single Pokémon, currently only found in a single (pair of) game(s). It is understandable that too many of these moves would be a headache to keep track of for new players, but if used sparsely, dual-type moves would be perfect as signature moves for certain Pokémon or evolutionary families.

Clearing Weather/Terrains

Weather has been a very strong force in the metagame for several generations, and it adds a lot of flavor to in-game locations as well. But while there are several moves and abilities that summon weather, or swap the current weather out with a different one, there is no way to instantly end a weather condition and return the skies to normal. The abilities Cloud Nine and Air Lock negate the effects of weather, but the weather itself does not disappear until the weather's counter runs out. One might argue that there is more use in setting up a favorable weather for yourself rather than just ending the weather altogether, but most weathers can be double-edged swords unless you build a team around them—each weather has a drawback that harms all players equally. As seen in the recent Video Game Championship, "terrain wars" are now a factor as well. Moves that simply clear weathers, terrains, and maybe even Rooms (Trick Room, Wonder Room, Magic Room) and normalize the battlefield would be a very disruptive force to many a strategy.

Changing the Target's Typing

A Pokémon's typing might be the most important factor of its battle plan. Typing determines what moves a Pokémon will get STAB on and how much damage it takes from moves of various typings. So a move that outright replaces the target's typing will certainly turn a few tables. However, only the narrowly distributed Soak takes full advantage of this mechanic, and it changes the foe's typing into what is arguably one of the best in the game, mono-Water. Other moves that turn foes into more disadvantaged typings (such as mono-Ice or mono-Rock) might cause a bigger splash in the metagame than the current watery iteration.

Trick-or-Treat and Forest's Curse were added in Gen VI, but had one notable different from Soak: They do not subtract or change any typings, but merely add the Ghost or Grass type to the foe's, respectively. This means that the target will still have its STAB moves unchanged and retain its type-based immunities as well as most resistances. Overall, these two moves are a lot less useful than the full-on type change brought on by Soak.

Type-specific Attack Negation

The concept of a move blocking out/canceling other moves has been explored with things like Taunt and Torment, but Powder puts an interesting spin on it by doing severe damage to those using Fire-type attacks in the same turn. Variations of Powder could be extremely effective in a doubles metagame as either a tech choice or a meta call, as you have the potential to cancel out a key move, inflict a good chunk of damage to your opponent's Pokémon, and let your partner attack scot-free. Proper distribution to support-oriented Pokémon could be quite the game changer in said popular competitive formats. Types that come into mind are Rock, Ice, Normal, Water, Electric, and Ground due to the ubiquity of their spread moves or just high damage moves in general.

Incoming Attack

These moves aren't used too often, but Future Sight has seen some niche usage on Pokémon like Mind Plate Mesprit and Assault Vest Slowking. A move variation with a typing that possesses great coverage or even of higher Base Power could potentially be a great option in competitive play, as it presents a perplexing dilemma to your opponent. Do they stay in, do they switch out? When will they switch? Who's going to take the hit? What about the other move your Pokémon is free to use that turn? The issue with both Future Sight and Doom Desire is that both moves have mediocre coverage at best, and the Pokémon that possess the moves have other, superior options. If given to a type that is offensively powerful (say Rock or Fighting), players might give it a second glance. A physical variant could also be a possibility.

Immunity Removal

Getting rid of a target's immunity is always a good concept in theory, though most of these moves remain relatively uncommon. However, Smack Down and Foresight in particular have seen relevant play, the former being used by Ground-types like Landorus-T in order to smack its would-be answers with a STAB Earthquake, and the latter being used in tandem with Rapid Spin by Pokémon like Blastoise or Hitmontop in the lower tiers to guarantee a successful Rapid Spin one way or another. A variation benefiting a type that has overall good offensive potential but is hindered by immunities like, say, Electric or Ghost could see some possible usage to muscle past usual answers.

Typing as a Cost (moves that "spend" your typing)

Being able to manipulate one's type so easily has a lot of defensive applications in theory, as it allows you to withstand otherwise lethal blows by modifying/removing a type that gives you trouble. This has been seen in Conversion and its sequel, but what Burn Up and Roost have as an advantage is that they do other things aside from changing your typing. Burn Up provides a relatively powerful and accurate Fire attack, whilst Roost offers great recovery. Possible variations would fall under either one of the two categories, status-related or damage.

Moves with Multiple, Simultaneous Secondary Effects

The Fang moves have been occasionally used in competitive play for certain Pokémon for supplementary coverage, although their power leaves much to be desired on occasion. The possibility of multiple effects occurring in one move is always a plus. Variations that could possibly exist are those that could inflict volatile status + non-volatile status, or even the same type of status as one hopes to fish for either, or stat boosts/reduction. Pokémon moves have always had RNG elements to them, and making more moves that could trigger multiple effects is something that can be considered in a competitive setting.

Swapping Stats

Power Trick is an interesting idea in theory, but its distribution is significantly limited and its potential users have better options in their movepool. Speed Swap or variations of it could be extremely potent in doubles and be a niche option in singles if given the right distribution. If a move swaps around a Pokémon's attacking stats, mixed lure sets could even be a viable possibility.

Granting Temporary Immunity

Magnet Rise has seen some occasional use with Pokémon such as Magnezone to capitalize on removing one of the common ways to eliminate it. A Pokémon with a relatively good defensive typing but that suffers from a common weakness could consider running a move like this in order to buffer and surprise attackers which gives you more momentum as you can force a switch. This nets you a free turn, which you can use to set up hazards or stat boosts, use support moves (Wish, Rapid Spin, Heal Bell, etc.), or simply double switch out to keep the offensive pressure in your favor. It can also be potentially used for sweepers to attempt a sweep on a timer with the temporary immunity in place.

Moves Whose Effects are Different for Certain Types

Curse is a unique move that has been in the game for about 17 or so years now, and the premise is extremely simple. Two different effects occur depending on the user's type: Ghost-types use it to inflict a status condition on their target, other types boost their stats with it. A lot of untapped potential can emerge by reusing the concept of this move. What if it could be a damaging attack for one type, and a powerful support move for another? Possibilities are pretty broad with this one.

Changing the Typing of a Pokémon's Moves

This is pretty simple to understand, yet it can be extremely versatile if a variant is given to a support-oriented Pokémon. Need to cancel out a dangerous attack? Or in doubles, maybe even change your partner's attack to surprise an opponent? In singles, it could work in tandem with an ability that absorbs or neutralizes the particular type. All in all, this is a one-size-fits-all concept for support purposes, and if more variants emerge, they could really make a splash in several metagames.

Stacking Boosts, then Releasing

While Swallow and Spit Up never really took off due to how inefficient they are compared to most moves, Stockpile has seen some decent niche use here and there. Variants where the stacks don't disappear after use, or are far easier to accumulate over time, could potentially be of use. Note that this mechanic is implemented to some degree with Defense Curl and Rollout/Ice Ball.

One-Time Attack Booster

Charge has been out there since Gen III, and it got an extra boost with the advent of Z-Moves. Now the user can unleash a potentially destructive Gigavolt Havoc, although this is extremely telegraphed. A spin-off of Charge that would boost an attacking stat or even Speed could especially be deadly, as well as if a charge move were built for a type that has no immunities (say, Ice or Rock). The sheer threat of a Charge-esque-boosted Z-Move is more than enough to force players into a deadlock situation. Do they switch out in order to eat the attack? Or do they stay in, as they're predicting you to use a coverage move instead?

Normal-type Multi-strike Moves

Clearly, there aren't enough of these moves already. Gen I added six of them, and since then only Tail Slap has followed the tradition. Another two dozen or so ought to give the game (particularly the early-game) the diversity we used to enjoy back in the first Generation.


The designers have displayed great creativity when making unique and memorable moves for the Pokémon games, no doubt about that. Still, it is sad to see that some of this creativity misses many players entirely, because the relevant moves might be too obscure to be encountered during play—a common fate for signature moves for weaker Pokémon. Other times, diversity is needed for other reasons, to prevent common strategies (or counter-strategies) from being centered around the small handful of Pokémon capable of learning the desired move.

Perhaps these move ideas will be reused in the future, or the moves distributed more widely. Perhaps not. Either way, we hope this article has shed some light on rare moves, or at least helped pointing out how some common moves are really unusual when you think about them twice. Perhaps some of you will be inspired to try out some unusual strategies in your next playthrough, or even surprise your opponents in competitive play? Good luck!

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