Black, White, and Ugly: Speculation of a Madman

By Deck Knight. Art by Caladbolg~ and Yilx.
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Over the generations, Pokémon has experienced many changes. Most of them have been welcome developments, advancing the game forward to its current iteration. Each metagame was unique in its own way, with ADV being one of the most highly regarded generations. Then DP came and took everything to a new level. Suddenly you couldn't account for everything; diversity was ramped up to extreme levels, and many people who were used to the steady flow couldn't catch up to the DP metagame. If anything, Platinum additions sealed off any hope for these crusty veterans.

Now a new generation is coming, sure to bring even more Pokémon, moves, abilities, and items. Let us descend into this nightmare together, and describe all the horrible things now so we can be prepared for them. What you are about to see may shock you, may awe you. It may even make you quit this Pokémon thing on your doctor's orders.

Just so you're aware, "possibility" is fairly randomly decided. There's no actual way to know, so these predictions are just what I think any given change might have. If it isn't 10/10, it's essentially just meant to alleviate your concerns. This is why the scariest possibilities have things like 3/10, whereas more plausible things are 7/10 and 8/10.

Episode I: The Phantom Update (Move Updates)

Every generation experienced some changes to established moves. Dig has changed Base Power twice in the three generations since the original. Outrage got a makeover in DP and went from one of the lamest moves to one of the most dominant. Hypnosis got boosted and then nerfed again in the span of a single generation. Zap Cannon got a power boost up to 120 in DP.

Here are a few moves that could receive a makeover:

Dig / Dive

  • Current BP: 80
  • Current Acc: 100%
  • Current PP: 10
  • Effect: Avoids damage first turn (bar Earthquake/Magnitude and Surf/Whirlpool, respectively), attacks second turn.
  • New BP: 100
  • New Acc: 100%
  • New PP: 10
  • Effect: Avoids damage first turn (bar Earthquake/Magnitude and Surf/Whirlpool, respectively), attacks second turn.

Game Freak goes back to its roots. The moves are probably still pointless, although the power boost will ironically make them attractive on Choice Band sets with no other options (hi, Arcanine). They never could decide how to deal with these moves.

Possibility: 8/10.


  • Current BP: 100
  • Current Acc: 50%
  • Current PP: 5
  • Effect: Deals damage and confuses (100%).
  • New BP: 120
  • New Acc: 50%
  • New PP: 5
  • Effect: Deals damage and confuses (100%).

DynamicPunch gets the upgrade Zap Cannon got last generation. As we all know, Machamp is not quite scary enough.

Possibility: 9/10.


  • Current BP: N/A
  • Current Acc: 60%
  • Current PP: 20
  • Effect: Inflicts sleep status.
  • New BP: N/A
  • New Acc: 70%
  • New PP: 20
  • Effect: Inflicts sleep status.

I think I've seen this one before. Game Freak is probably schizophrenic enough to do it, too.

Possibility: 7/10 (I like these odds).

Night Slash / Psycho Cut / Shadow Claw

  • Current BP: 70
  • Current Acc: 100%
  • Current PP: 20
  • Effect: High critical-hit ratio.
  • New BP: 90
  • New Acc: 100%
  • New PP: 15
  • Effect: High critical-hit ratio.

The Leaf Blading of the high-crit moves. It's a bit of a stretch since Leaf Blade always had 15 PP, but these moves are overdue. Game Freak has no problem pumping up offensive power and these boosts would be a huge boon to several physical attackers. Weavile, Absol, and Honchkrow are probably the most notable in their respective metagames, but Banette, Medicham, and Gallade won't be crying either. These moves feature heavily as coverage moves for less popular attackers, and are sure to see a rise in usage.

Possibility: 7/10.


  • Current BP: 80
  • Current Acc: 80%
  • Current PP: 20
  • Effect: Deals 1/4 recoil damage to the user.
  • New BP: 120
  • New Acc: 100%
  • New PP: 15
  • Effect: Deals 1/3 recoil damage to the user.

Also known as the Fighting-type Double-Edge. What makes Submission a likely candidate is that it was a TM in RBY, where it had wide distribution. Forget about Superpower—Submission is the new king. There are several Pokémon that could benefit from an updated Submission.

In OU, Breloom and its massive HP recovery prowess through Poison Heal might have to tread carefully, but as effective as the SubPunch set is, a less conditional power move would alter its cards significantly.

Hitmonlee stands out as the most immediate beneficiary in UU. Reckless is a generally forgotten ability for several reasons. Double-Edge and Hi Jump Kick are Hitmonlee's only recoil moves, and Close Combat has the same effective power as Reckless Hi Jump Kick with more accuracy and a less exploitable drawback. Limber has a universal utility, especially when so many of UU's best Pokémon can run Thunder Wave or Stun Spore. With Reckless, Hitmonlee's Submission would have 144 Base Power and, unlike Hi Jump Kick, could not be subverted via Protect. Ghost-types could still switch in, but Hitmonlee would suffer no consequences, instead of a crash. It might be slightly suicidal, but it's no Selfdestruct or Explosion. This change would allow even more offensive versions of Hitmonlee, and with a higher PP option to use over Close Combat, even Limber Hitmonlee would benefit. Hitmonlee has excellent Special Defense and would prefer to lose 50 HP to Milotic rather than suffer -1 Special Defense, leaving it vulnerable to Surf. Blaziken would also like a strong, relatively drawback-free Fighting STAB to exploit. Unhindered by Superpower's Attack drop, Blaziken could be a massive force for mowing opponents down. Agility Blaziken might finally come into vogue with its risky, but absurdly powerful, playstyle.

On the defensive end, Hariyama and its gobs of HP would love a Fighting move with the same power and accuracy as Close Combat that does not sacrifice its defenses in the process. For a Pokémon capable of being built around 3HKOs and 4HKOs, this power boost would be welcome.

As terrible as a recoil move is against Blissey, if every single biped in Pokémon had a move that could scrap the pink blob, she'll soon be out of work, or praying for some new move combinations courtesy of, say, a Wish and Seismic Toss tutor to bring her back to relevancy as a real Charm-er.

Speaking of good bipeds, Aggron, Golem, Marowak, Rhydon, and Sudowoodo would love Submission (and Rhydon would finally have something relevant over its fatter counterpart). Oh, and Clefable would be able to counter itself. Hope they consider Bagon a bit stubby too, or we'll have Submission Salamence to contend with as well.

Possibility: 8/10.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones (New Moves)

While move updates can occasionally cause headaches, each new generation brings with it immense levels of power creep. Fighting used to be that laughable type with the weak STAB that found no place in a metagame dominated by Psychics. Now it is the type with some key resistances and more wall-breaking moves than you can shake a stick at. While assuredly Game Freak can create entirely new moves to terrify its audience of small children, they already have ample experience phoning it in with a clone. To date we have five renditions of Double-Edge, with Head Smash tossed in as a modified sixth for good measure. We also have five Hyper Beams and two Giga Impacts. Just be glad they cloned Aeroblast instead of Sacred Fire. Quick Attack has been getting cloned since Generation II. Don't expect them to stop now.

Here are a few fun moves based on Game Freak's obsession with duplication:

Fire- and/or Electric-type Vacuum Wave

These two types already possess a fair few Speed demons, so these moves aren't a stretch. Now even Ampharos can catch Gyarados unaware. Priority moves have been a weak brew for the most part, but if Fire moves were unpopular before, I cannot imagine having to deal with Flash Fire Heatran will be any more palpable than Bullet Punch Scizor.

Possibility: 9/10.

Ice-type Double-Edge

It might not work with SD + Sash on Weavile, but Choice Band Weavile would love to tear through teams with something like this. Ice has already pawned off physical attack effects like Revenge and Mach Punch. Game Freak's cloning machine will not be denied.

Possibility: 9/10.

Ice-type Stealth Rock

File this under any type, really. Even Grass will cause bulky Water and Ground usage to plummet. An Ice-typed Stealth Rock would better be called "Dragonsbane" than whatever cute name Game Freak thinks up, because it will kick most of them to the curb. The three hazards already available make pseudo-hazing and double-Ghost nightmares to deal with. Stall's insatiable appetite for more residual damage will never cease. Who will be your Dragonsbane counter?

Possibility: 9/10 (Game Freak are sadistic jerks).

Dark-type Rapid Spin

On the flip side, a Rapid Spin that Ghosts aren't immune to would make the previous concerns melt away. Then all you have to do is keep the move's users off the field. While another hazard would cause great groaning, this move would obliterate stall in its entirety. Bet it goes to Clefable.

Possibility: 6/10.

There are certainly more possibilities. You can take a current boosting move and simply change an affected stat, and voila, all new strategies are at your fingertips.

Speed + Accuracy Boosting Dragon Dance

Of all the stats that Game Freak has made moves to alter, accuracy is one of the least touched. It's been confirmed that Zoroark will have a move that boosts its Attack and accuracy stats one stage. Whether it gets wide distribution or not remains to be seen, but it could just be the first in a series. A Speed + accuracy boost, properly distributed, could be a much greater menace. Base Power is the greatest contributing factor to the power of most moves, and the only drawback to these attacks are generally low Power Points and/or accuracy.

One forgotten move that comes to mind with this boost is Dragon Rush. Addressing both its poor accuracy and enabling its 20% flinch chance simultaneously, this combination gives more power than Dragon Claw without the locking effect of Outrage, and also benefits any of your other powerful but inaccurate moves. Aggron could use this to great effect to bolster Head Smash's accuracy. Tyranitar could also use this to put the edge back in Stone Edge.

Possibility: 6/10.

Episode III: Revenge of the Missingno (New Types)

Although the Bird-type will never be coming to a cartridge near you, with its dual Water Guns and its Sky Attack, a new type (with new moves, of course) could drastically alter the game balance. Imagine if you will, a type with the following qualities:

An extremely odd combination to be sure, but one which turns the Dragon/Steel paradigm on its head, while simultaneously subverting bulky Waters and giving Poison STAB a reason for being. Sludge Bomb Metagross isn't just a joke anymore. Game Freak seems to have solidified the type chart after their misadventures in RBY, but there's always room for one more.

Possibility: 4/10.

This combination: 1/10.

Episode IV: Some New Dope (Item Diversity)

Scholarly opinion on Game Freak concludes that whatever they are smoking, it is very powerful and possibly unstable at the subatomic level. Ever since Leftovers dominated the scene in GSC, items have been creeping upward in usefulness, with DP being their apex. You may also note that your old item PC is gone. Game Freak has warped the physics of the Pokémon World to make your trainer's pack the Bag of Holding every little hobbit and orc ever dreamed of. In truth, Hammerspace makes up 99% of Pokémon physics.

Adding new items would be a very quaint addition with some small impact, but for those truly seeking nightmares, imagine if you could combine existing items at some decrease in their respective effects. Let us assume these ground rules:

  1. Only two items may be synthesized at a time, and synthesized items cannot be resynthesized.
  2. Direct (item-granted) boosts to attacking stats, Speed, and damage are averaged, provided they are over 1.2x.
  3. Healing factor of synthesized items are halved.
  4. All effects of a consumable item are checked against before the item is consumed.

To explain these rules, here are a few possible synthesized items (please ignore the terrible names):

LiechiSalacJuice (Liechi Berry + Salac Berry): At 25% HP, this Juice is consumed and Attack and Speed are raised by one stage.

Since these berries both operate by giving +1 boosts, their effect is not halved. Such an item could bring back the ancient Substitute + Reversal strategy (and SubBerry strategies in general), and would be particularly lethal in the hands of Lucario.

BandScarf Set (Choice Band + Choice Scarf): This Pokémon's Attack and Speed are raised by 1.25x. Once they select a move, that is the only move the Pokémon may use until they are switched out. (You still can't change your moves when you faint.)

Since Choice Band and Choice Scarf apply direct benefits to stats, their effect is halved. An important note is that this item completely alters normal Speed tiers. For example, an Adamant BandScarf Set Salamence with max Speed EVs reaches 373 Speed, enough to outrun Base 120s.

LifeBand (Life Orb + Choice Band): This Pokémon's Attack is raised by 1.25x. This Pokémon deals 1.15x more damage with its attacks. This Pokémon loses 10% HP whenever it uses a damaging attack. Once this Pokémon selects a move in battle, it can only use that move until it faints or switches out.

A very niche item, to be sure, it provides a 1.44x effective boost to physical attacks and a 1.15x boost to special attacks, for the drawbacks of Life Orb and Choice Items combined. Talk about hyper offense. In turn, it would also be one of the most lethal items to Trick to a stall Pokémon.

ExpertScarf (Expert Belt + Choice Scarf): This Pokémon deals 20% more damage when striking the opponent with a super effective attack. This Pokémon's Speed is raised by 1.25x. Once this Pokémon selects a move in battle, it can only use that move until it faints or switches out.

This item establishes Rule 2, which stipulates that 20% or lesser boosts are unaltered. This provides some breakage of the Speed tiers and also rewards move diversity.

LumSash (Lum Berry + Focus Sash): This Pokémon is left with 1 HP if it would have been KOed by an attack while at 100% HP, consuming this item in the process. If this Pokémon is afflicted with a status effect, that effect is nullified and this item is consumed.

Or as some might call it, the ultimate lead item. When considered with Rule 4, Lead Machamp loses a lot of its sting.

Recovery Sash (Leftovers + Focus Sash): This Pokémon is left with 1 HP if it would have been KOed by an attack while a 100% HP, consuming this item in the process. This Pokémon recovers 3.125% HP per turn.

This gem is a bit more specialized, allowing you to regain Focus Sash's one-time effect if you are able to get back to full health. Especially notable on Lucario, for recovering off Stealth Rock damage.

Toxic Lunch (Toxic Orb + Leftovers): At the end of the turn, this Pokémon is badly poisoned. This Pokémon recovers 3.125% HP per turn.

A favorite with Breloom and Quick Feet Pokémon, increasing their longevity a bit, and, in Breloom's case, providing bonus healing, bringing it up to 15.675% per turn.

DampBooster Water (Damp Rock + Mystic Water): Rain Dance lasts one additional turn when used by this Pokémon. This Pokémon does 20% more damage with Water-type attacks.

Due to truncation in Pokémon, +3 rain turns becomes +1, but this gives rain sweeping even more oomph. The boosting item could also be another type, like Grass or Ice if Ludicolo was setting up Rain Dance.

Dragon Sand (Dragon Fang + Soft Sand): This Pokémon does 20% more damage with Dragon and Ground attacks.

Recombination of type-boosting items would work wonders for many Pokémon, especially since they do not lose any effectiveness in the synthesis process.

Sky Iron Alloy (Sky Plate + Iron Plate): This Pokémon does 20% more damage with Flying and Steel attacks. If this Pokémon is Arceus, its typing becomes Flying/Steel.

Much like the boosting moves above, except this makes Arceus an even greater monster in Ubers. Multitype's only real weakness is that it can't benefit from the marvelous resistance combinations of dual-typed Pokémon. With this addition and the ability to choose your primary typing for Judgment, Arceus may have to be banned to a league of its own. Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Hanks approve.

It can get further complicated with special synthesis-only items. "Anti-Life" and "Anti-Choice" synthesis items could halve the effects of the notorious items, while removing their drawback. It'd also be fun to randomly throw about the terms while your friends are debating politics, then hide behind the "I'm only talkin' Pokémon" defense.

In any case, this would explode item diversity to impossible heights, disrupt Speed tiers, and make it impossible to prepare for current threats, never mind whatever new Pokémon Generation V throws at us. Item Clause would be obsolete even if it were enforced.

Possibility: 3/10 (But pray to your savior, or get one just the same).

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Code (Game Mechanics Changes)

Remember how Hyper Beam used to be a good finishing move? Remember when the most threatening thing about Sneasel was catching a cold? Remember when you didn't have to KO 126 Golbat through Confuse Ray before you finally had enough Speed to clip them away, even while you were 20 levels up the whole time? Mechanics change, and between minor nuisances like needing six HMs to get through a dungeon instead of two and things that might actually affect your metagame, Game Freak likes to keep our research staff busy. If you have time to come out of the acid rain, contemplate the abyss of mechanics changes that could await you.

Hyper Beam moves don't recharge after a KO or if they break a Substitute

This old RBY-inspired gem is the most questionable since it was axed from even Pokémon Stadium, but there's no denying it would breathe new life into these otherwise forgotten but high-powered moves. Get used to "Infernape used Blast Burn" now, while you still have a chance to adapt.

Possibility: 6/10.

Pursuit takes priority over Baton Pass

Pursuit already strikes opponents using U-turn. Taken to its logical conclusion, Pursuit now deals with Baton Pass, U-turn, and apparently causes bad weather. Pursuit for Uber tier!

Possibility: 8/10.

SolarBeam stops being nerfed by weather not named Sunny Day

SolarBeam already has enough weaknesses. Without the turn increase and power drop in sandstorm and hail, SolarBeam could be more viable. Rain Dance would probably still nerf it as Sunny Day's counterpart, but there's no reason Tyranitar should get a free(r) pass or that Abomasnow should be without a powerful special Grass-type move.

Possibility: 7/10.

SolarBeam charge turn prioritizes switching

SolarBeam is, again, a very terrible move in a realm full of Tyranitar and Hippowdon, with the occasional Abomasnow. What this would do is give SolarBeam's charging message a +6 priority like Focus Punch's, so that if Sunny Day is out and Tyranitar switches in, Tyranitar is hit immediately rather than sandstorm requiring it to charge. Did I mention SolarBeam has enough weaknesses already?

Possibility: 6/10.

Hail pumps up Ice-type Defense

Making it a true counterpart to sandstorm, and also making Stallrein even more unbearable. Regice is back in business, baby!

Possibility: 7/10.

Recovery prioritizes damage at end of turn

Leftovers gets another boost by keeping even low HP Pokémon alive in bad weather. This would make stall even harder to break and provides a key turn that could decide a match.

Possibility: 7/10.

Status orbs activate immediately

Toxic and Flame Orb activating immediately upon entry into battle would diffuse the ability to receive other status effects before activation (like Breloom's Spore) and allow Facade to be used by Pokémon like Swellow and Ursaring on the first turn. A small change that could make a big difference for a few Pokémon.

Possibility: 7/10.

Rapid Spin removes hazards even when blocked or used against no target

Removing the effect of spin blocking for Protect and the Ghost-type would be a death blow for stall. It's been how it is for three generations now, but that never stopped Game Freak before.

Possibility: 6/10.

Abilities can be bred

Breeding opens the door to a lot of new moves, but if the parents could also influence abilities or lead to entirely new ones, the Pokémon universe as we know it might implode. Just imagine what Smeargle could pimp out Own Tempo to. Good thing it isn't a Dragon. (As if you would breed Own Tempo to anything...)

Two words: Intimidating Fairies.

Possibility: 3/10 (Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here).

Episode VI: Return of the Cash Cow (New Pokémon)

This is a given until we find out Zoroark is a cleverly crafted fan prank, like that Dark/Fighting/Psychic starting trio with the kangaroo, triceratops, and dingo or whatever they were. It's really going to depend on what we get, but here are a few things to look out for.

Water and Fire in OU, Grass to UU

Game Freak has been getting better at starters, but thus far only the Water- and Fire-types have consistently managed to break into OU during their generation. Blaziken had its day before the monkey got in the henhouse, and while Empoleon never supplanted Swampert, room was made for it. Venusaur, Meganium, Sceptile, and Torterra are sadly relegated to UU or worse. I don't see the trend changing, although Fire-types without a sub-typing rarely make it, and Grass/Steel could be interesting and OU worthy.

Possibility: 8/10.

Darker, Edgier Trio

Game Freak has already made God, so now they'll probably make Satan. The sins of humanity need to be atoned for, and a Poison/Dark/Ghost trio would do the trick. They've been a bit cutesy in the past, but Game Freak will try to grow the beard a little.

Possibility: 7/10.

More 600 Dragons

Dragonite, Tyranitar, Salamence, Latias, Latios, Garchomp... If it isn't Dragon-typed, it certainly has Dragon Dance. Even when ADV brought Metagross, it still had time to make Salamence a three-stage proper and add in Latias and Latios for good measure. ADV is best known as "Dawn of the Dragon" anyway, but so far only two 600 Dragons have managed to get themselves banned. If we're lucky, they'll flub up on typing.

Possibility: 10/10 (This is like predicting rain in Ireland).

Exploding Whale

Japan is still sore about the whaling industry going away, so invariably all their whales get Selfdestruct. Whether it's a whale or something else, Game Freak always has a trustable combustible in the new Pokémon roster. Golem, Electrode, Weezing, Forretress, Claydol, Drifblim, plus everything else that learns Explosion via TM. Something is going to set you up the bomb in Gen V.

Possibility: 10/10 (BOOM!).

Superfluous Electric Rodent

The marketing gimmick that never dies. If it wasn't the famous rat's pre-evolution, it was some wannabe hangers-on like Plusle, Minun, or Pachirisu. Hitting toy shelves in a store near you, welcome a cuddly, fluffy, largely pointless cash cow (err, rat)!

Possibility: 10/10 (Water is also wet).

The Birds and the Bees (and Rats)

The real question here is why did they make Fearow at all, knowing that both Pidgeot and Dodrio would one day outshine it? Now Staraptor has taken rule of the roost, and it can only go down from its Normal/Flying early bird perch. By the same token, none of the starting forest Bugs has ever amounted to much, even when given fabulous evolution gimmicks. IOU one Normal/Flying-type and two Bug-types. Also expect some useless new Normal-type woodland creature to stalk you through all of your travels.

Possibility: 10/10 (Caw! Buzz! Squeak! DING!).

Fossil Fuel

Undiscovered Pokémon lie in wait around every corner, just waiting for white-coated geneticists working in mines (you heard that right) to excavate them. While most of them have been oceanic (don't let the typing fool you), Game Freak appears to have picked up jungle fever. If I had to guess, this next set is going to have a duo with a speedster and a plodder. In either case you'll probably have to dig them up; it's been a long time since someone would just give one up after you defeat them in battle.

Possibility: 10/10 (Easy predictions rock!).

Four Stages

"Evolution 3" was vaguely referenced in CoroCoro, but nobody knows what it means. It could be untranslatable gibberish or it could actually be evolution related. If it means fatter, slower versions of old Pokémon like it has for the last few generations there isn't much concern, but I don't think Dusknoir needs to evolve again. This may mean they're finally going to fill out the roster of two-stage Pokémon, which has a huge level of potential. Whatever it is, it's difficult to gauge the effect until we know what is evolving.

Possibility: 4/10.

Final Prediction and Conclusion

Goddamned Bats

Just remember you haven't been able to escape Golbat-infested caves for four generations. Don't think that trend is going to stop now.

Possibility: 5/10 (Thanks, Confuse Ray!).

Pokémon Black and White are coming and could drastically alter how we play Pokémon. Our burgeoning threat lists are sure to get broader, more items are in the pipeline, and new strategies may come to light based on unknown and unforeseen moves. Only a proud few may be able to withstand this sea change, but it is the responsibility of each trainer to be prepared for the nightmares that await. In the world of Pokémon, only change is guaranteed.

To quote Seven Deadly Sins from Smogcast #1: "Game Freak hates you and everything you stand for."

So don't lose any sleep, now, ya hear?

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