In October 2018, Niantic teased a change in the way Pokemon CP is calculated, and later applied and rolled back a rebalance. That rebalance has been confirmed to happen on November 14th at 1:00PM Pacific time. While we’re still waiting for the rebalance to be applied to generation 1-3 Pokemon, all generation 4 Pokemon currently in the game have stats in line with the new system.
Without getting too deep into the technical details of the rebalance, it works as follows: Pokemon with unbalanced Defense and Special Defense stats in the main series games will see their PoGO Defense stat decrease, while HP values were adjusted to make Pokemon more equal. You can read about how exactly Pokemon stats were affected here. In this article, we’ll take a look at the biggest winners and losers among the Pokemon from generations 1-3 and their place in the meta.
Because of the mechanics of the rebalance, the Pokemon that benefit most from the rebalance are those with low base HP stats and balanced Defense and Special Defense in the main series games, with frailer Pokemon tending to improve more than bulkier ones in general. The two statistics we’ll consider in determining the effect of the rebalance are TDO (total damage output), a useful metric for determining the capability of a gym defender, and DPS*TDO (damage per second times total damage output), used to measure a Pokemon’s capability as a gym attacker and raid counter by considering attacking power and bulk.
Biggest Winners: The Glass Cannons
When you think “glass cannon”, the first Pokemon that should come to mind is Gengar. It’s long been one of the leaders in the game in terms of pure DPS, but with that power comes extreme frailty; many trainers have avoided investing in Gengar just because it doesn’t last very long in battle. The rebalance remedies this somewhat, giving Gengar nearly 25% more bulk and the ability to fight long enough to make use of its impressive Attack stat and strong moves. With Lick now commonly available and nothing on the horizon to supplant it as a Ghost-type attacker in gen 4 - a generation full of Psychic-type legendaries - things are looking up for Gengar.
While non-Gengar, Mewtwo, or Tyranitar attackers into Psychic are often overlooked in the current meta, it’s worth mentioning that other glass cannons will gain significant bulk from the rebalance and should start to see more use. Banette, Absol, and Cacturne will still be quite fragile, but gain 25-28% TDO each. The extra bulk could mean using another charged move or two.
Scizor and Pinsir, meanwhile, enjoy more than a 15% increase in TDO and remain the best attackers into Psychic in rain weather. All of them will have higher value in PokeDraft and unique 6 challenges, or will be good additions to your team if you just like variety.
Biggest Losers: The Brick Walls
Probably the most notable effect of the stat rebalance is to nerf the game’s bulkiest and most annoying gym defenders. While only Blissey and Chansey will actually lose HP, other popular defenders Snorlax and Slaking gained little HP to counteract their losses in Defense.
While Blissey and Chansey remain the best defenders in the game, they each lose about a quarter of their bulk and will not quite be the deterrents to taking gyms they once were. This, it seems, is really the goal of the rebalance.
The story isn’t nearly as bad for Snorlax and Slaking. Though they will lose bulk and CP, the rebalance won’t hurt them nearly as much as Blissey and Chansey. Still, very few Pokemon in the game actually lose TDO as a result of this rebalance, and Snorlax and Slaking are among them.
Possibly Useable Now: Deoxys
Deoxys has been in EX raids for weeks now but has still not found a place in the meta despite its enormous Attack stat, being too glassy for most players to consider using. This may change with the rebalance, as Normal Forme Deoxys gains 34% in TDO, helping to solidify its position as one of the best Electric attackers currently in the game. Unfortunately, this still might not be enough to make it worth using, especially in a long fight against a legendary raid boss where it may necessitate an extra re-lobby.
Deoxys’s Defense and Speed Formes remain of little value, but when released, Attack Forme Deoxys will have the best pure DPS in the game. Unfortunately, it has not much more than half of Normal Forme Deoxys’s TDO, and so deploying it in battle will be risky. Even with the additional 40% TDO granted by the rebalance, Attack Forme Deoxys will likely go down with the first charged move and is probably only worth using against defenders with weak fast moves. It will be interesting to test it out when released to determine the situations in which it can actually shine, but in some matchups it could actually be a great attacker.
Easily Overlooked Losers: Kyogre and Groudon
With identical stats in GO, the rebalance didn’t do a whole lot for these two, increasing their TDOs by only about 2.7% each. This outcome is easy to overlook because they’re so far ahead of everything currently released with the same typing that it basically doesn’t matter. Groudon’s position as the best Ground-type attacker may be challenged by Garchomp eventually, but with Palkia lacking a Water fast move, Kyogre is still by far the best Water-type by miles.
Breloom has a higher Attack stat than Machamp and access to the same incredible Counter and Dynamic Punch moveset but is usually overlooked among Fighting-types in favor of bulkier options like Hariyama (which we’ll discuss below). It isn’t quite ready to become the best Fighting-type option (especially as Machamp benefits from the rebalance as well), but the gap with Machamp has closed a bit, and in some matchups, Breloom will be the superior option.
Poor Hariyama. With the same moves as Machamp and Breloom but with a lower Attack stat, pre-rebalance Hariyama had the highest TDO of any Fighting-type. The buff to Machamp pushes its TDO past that of Hariyama on average, making it the clear best option among attackers of its type. While Hariyama is technically better post-rebalance than previously, its gains lag behind the gains of the other top Fighting-types, and it may lose its place among GO's top attackers.
Winners: The Starters
Seven of the gen 1-3 starters rank inside the top 36 in TDO*DPS increase due to the rebalance. Charizard and Blaziken benefit the most of the bunch, losing nothing in Defense and gaining a good chunk of HP to become usable Fire-types behind Moltres. Sceptile, despite its unbalanced defenses, gains the most HP of the bunch and inches its way into the top tier of Grass-type attackers, finally gaining a bit of bulk to go with its excellent Attack stat and charged move. While Blastoise, Meganium, and Typhlosion all trail well behind the best attackers of their respective types, some extra TDO should raise their stock in formats such as PokeDraft.
Feraligatr’s unbalanced defensive stats and Swampert’s relatively large HP pool mean they don’t benefit as much as the others from the rebalance, though both make out okay, gaining an average 12% in TDO respectively, more than the amount gained by Vaporeon. Both are a Community Day away from being solid options as Water-types behind Kyogre.
The story for Entei is similar to that of Hariyama. Though it retains its status as highest TDO Fire-type and gains a little bit of bulk, the increased TDO of its peers Charizard, Blaziken, and Moltres, each with higher DPS, means Entei’s position as a meta-relevant Fire-type is diminished. Combining these changes with the fact that Charizard enjoys a double-resistance to Bug- and Grass-type, consider reaching for Charizard instead of Entei in these specific matchups. Entei still shines against Ice-types, where Charizard and Moltres only take neutral damage.
Winners: The Elite Dragons
While not nearly as glassy as Gengar or Breloom, Salamence is an elite attacker that could use a bit more bulk. It gets it with this rebalance due to its balanced defensive stats and moderate HP. A few more seconds out of Salamence could be enough to fire off a second Draco Meteor, and should make it more useful in many matchups.
Dragonite is certainly not known as a glass cannon, but it benefits even more from the rebalance than Salamence due to a lower HP stat. It’s one of the few usable defenders that actually benefits from the new system, and continues to be a top generalist as well.
Meanwhile, Rayquaza receives a moderate boost and retains its spot as the best Dragon attacker, but does not make out quite as well as the other top Dragons.
Losers: The Old Guard
It’s been awhile since Vaporeon and Rhydon were relevant (perhaps not since the pre-raid gym system) but this rebalance may be the final nail in the coffin. Already surpassed by the likes of Kyogre and Waterfall Gyarados, Vaporeon’s high HP and unbalanced defensive stats pull its post-rebalance TDO more in line with Swampert and Blastoise, which each have higher DPS, among B-tier Water-types.
Rhydon retains its position as the game’s second-best Ground-type behind Groudon due to lack of competition for now, but its decrease in bulk will be amplified for Rhyperior, which figured to enter the game as a bulkier (though slower) Ground attacker. Now, Rhyperior falls behind Groudon in TDO, making it strictly inferior in this role. Rhyperior also loses its advantage over a slightly buffed Tyranitar, which will still reign as the best Rock-type in the game even if Rhyperior gets Smack Down and Stone Edge, at least until Rampardos arrives.
For the most part, these Pokemon live in the shadow of another in their type. Alakazam and Espeon are strictly worse Psychic-types than Mewtwo, while Zapdos is outclassed by Raikou and Starmie by Kyogre and Gyarados among others. While there are better options, these four will get extra HP to go with their decent Attack stats and may be able to provide some variety if you don’t have a full team of superior counters.
It will never be a useful attacker, but with the highest Defense in the game (it won’t lose a bit of it due to the rebalance) and a huge increase in HP, Shuckle ascends from a fun gym troll to a defender with some actual bulk. It’s still not the best defender, but it might be the most fun.