- Increased Fire and Ice Type Pokemon in the wild (seems like spawns are NOT biome dependent, hooray!)
- 5x XP for hatching eggs.
- Lucky Eggs 50% off.
- 3x XP bonuses for successfully catching Pokémon with Nice, Great, and Excellent Throws, as well as Curveballs and First Throws.
Official press release here.
From June 13th until an unknown date, catch exp will be increased along with Fire and Ice-type Pokemon spawns in order to celebrate the Solstice. This event will present trainers with the opportunity to catch elusive Fire-type starter Pokemon and the rare Lapras, along with helping trainers finish off their Kindler and Skier badges. While a Gym rework is just beyond the horizon, we here are Gamepress feel it is important to highlight Pokemon and movesets that are currently relevant to the gym meta as they may be as relevant, if not more than they currently are, after the Gym overhaul.
The subject of “Which Ice-type is the best Dragonite counter” is actually a lot more dynamic than it appears. While many players rep Lapras as the premier Dragon-slayer and claim Cloyster is the “poor man’s Lapras”, Cloyster does present some benefits over the elusive Nessie. If speed is your prerogative, neither will get the job done as fast as Jynx will, and while Piloswine is the “worst” of the four in many ways, I feel a strong case can be made for the Mammoth in multi-battles, which may translate into an even larger boon with the hinted “emphasis on teamwork” in the Gym overhaul. At the end of the day, whichever counter you have or prefer is the one you’re going to use, but if you’re unfamiliar with the differences between the four, allow me to highlight them below.
- Optimal Attacking Movesets: Frost Breath + Ice Beam/Blizzard
- Optimal Defending Movesets: Frost Breath + Any
Out of all the Pokemon that would benefit from the removal of the CP sorting system from Gyms, Lapras is likely #1. While the nerf that came with Gen 2 dethroned the Queen of Gym Defense and cast her down to Tier 3, her current seat there is primarily a circumstance of CP, not performance. As rare and coveted as Lapras is, you definitely want to keep your eyes peeled for her during this event!
As an attacker, Lapras performs best while doing what she does best: countering Dragonite. With this, Frost Breath with either Ice Beam or Blizzard are your moves of choice. The advantage Lapras has over other Dragonite countering candidates is between all of them, Lapras takes the least percentage of damage. As a result, Lapras is more likely to power through multiple dragonites while other counters will get half that number. Due to Vaporeon’s extreme presence in the meta as a Water-type attacker, most movesets involving Water Gun or Hydro Pump have little relative use for Lapras as an attacker. A niche case can be made for using Lapras to take on a Rock or Ground-type in between fighting Dragonites with an Ice/Water split moveset, but you’re likely better off just swapping around Pokemon.
As a defender, Lapras is only limited by its CP and the exclusion of Ice Shard from its movepool. Due to Ice Shards nerf, Frost Breath isn’t too far behind and with it, Lapras’s performance as a defender is almost as high. When considering a charge move, all 3 have advantages over each other. Ice Beam is likely to proc more, Blizzard’s animation encompasses the whole screen often making it hard to dodge, and Hydro Pump packs a nasty surprise for Fire-type counters and any attacker anticipating its other, slower charge moves. Unfortunately, Water Gun is currently such a lackluster quick move for defense that I cannot suggest using it. That said, who knows what the next few weeks hold with the Gym rework! I would hang onto all Lapras caught!
- Optimal Attacking Movesets: Frost Breath + Avalanche
- Optimal Defending Movesets: Ice Shard + Any
Cloyster is known as the “poor man’s Lapras” as both an attacker and defender. While Cloyster does have value in both roles, it will likely exist in Lapras’s shadow from here until the end of time. That said, a recent article on r/TheSilphRoad suggests that if Niantic switch Gyms to a sorting system based on a Pokemon’s defensive stats rather than its attack (DP vs CP), it would likely have the 2nd highest “DP” in the game. Considering we are having a Gym overhaul in the next few weeks, Cloyster may jump from Gym zero to Gym hero!
As an attacker, Cloyster is constantly compared to Lapras, and rightfully so. They have roughly the same exact movesets and perform exactly the same job: countering Dragonite. While many highbrow players (dondon *cough*) argue Lapras is superior for the role due to its lower damage percentage (power), I have always held true to Cloyster, emphasizing its lower damage intake and “potion efficiency.” To clarify this: Lapras will take nearly twice the amount of damage than Cloyster will in a fight, but due to Lapras’s much higher HP pool the percent of damage it takes is much lower than Cloyster. While Frost Breath is the recommended quick move, Ice Shard may have superior DPS based on your dodging habits. Between Avalanche, Hydro Pump, and Aurora Beam as offensive charge moves, you’ll want to stick with the strictly superior Avalanche.
As a defender, Cloyster is exactly like and strictly inferior to Lapras. That said, Cloyster does still manage to rate in Tier 4. A non-CP based Gym sorting system or the fan-made, theoretical “DP” sorting system could easily bolster Cloyster’s ranking; I wouldn’t toss them just yet. While Ice Shard is better than Frost Breath on defense, Ice Shard’s nerf has closed the gap between the two moves considerably. As far as charge moves go, like Lapras, there are benefits to be had with both Avalanche and Hydro Pump. Aurora Beam is strictly inferior to Avalanche, but isn’t too far behind. Given how similar these two charge moves currently are, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume Niantic may buff one or nerf the other in the near future.
- Optimal Attacking Moveset: Frost Breath + Avalanche
If you’re using Jynx as an attacker, it’s likely to take down Dragonite faster than all other attackers. Jynx can take down a Dragonite so blindingly fast, its performance is comparable to Jolteon. So why does Jynx have the Jolteon vs Gyarados speed but not the reputation? Unlike Gyarados, Dragonite packs a heavy punch from every angle with heavy a STAB quick attack (Dragon Tail) and a super effective, heavy quick attack (Steel Wing). While this does put Jynx’s usage as a Dragonite counter below that of Lapras and Cloyster, if the gym only has 1 Dragonite and you want it gone fast, Jynx is your girl.
Jynx also has some niche use as a defender due to how powerful Confusion is on defense. Having faced a couple myself, she will go down fast, but any un-dodged confusions will hurt.
- Optimal Attacking Moveset: Powder Snow + Avalanche
When Gen 2 first dropped and all the quick attack speeds were effectively nerfed, Piloswine stood tall for roughly a week as the premier Dragonite counter. When things snapped back to “normal,” this mammoth quickly descended to a 2nd rate, “poor man’s” counter. That said, Powder Snow’s extreme Energy gain in concert with the powerful, multi-bar charge move Avalanche gives Piloswine a dynamic niche over all other Ice-type Pokemon in the multi-battle arena.
I personally participate in a lot of gym battles. The majority of my battles are done in a “raid” format with multiple teammates. In these battles I noticed a common theme in our performances against defenders: The more Pokemon used with powerful, multi-bar charge moves, the more likely defenders wouldn’t have time to get their charge moves off. While the argument could be made that this is due to “sloppy raiding” and if we called out and timed the usage of heavy, single bar charge moves, the fights would go as efficiently, the majority of these battles go so quickly that “calling out” moves becomes nebulous, that, and it doesn’t give you any significant advantage over the first defender. All this said, I also noticed that generating a charge move and unleashing it sooner also provided a huge boon over having heavier handed quick moves.
In and of that, I found Piloswine to be a niche all-star in the multi-battle format. Now, this doesn’t suggest gyms should be fought with all Pilowine; a powerful and diverse set up will serve you much better. However, if it is a Dragonite heavy gym, it could be to your team’s advantage to have someone on “Piloswine duty.” With the Gym rework coming up, this niche may further be emphasized. That, or the rework may come with moveset rebalances as well which may make or break Piloswine’s current niche.
When it comes to comparing Fire-type Pokemon as Fire-type Pokemon, unlike the aforementioned Ice-types, superiority is quite clear. If you have a Grass-type you need burnt down, an Ice or Steel-type you need melted, or a Fairy-type attack you need tanked, none will do it better than Flareon. That said, the fan favorite Charizard trails very closely behind. And while Houndoom and Arcanine are strictly inferior to these two, they do have their niche uses. While the current meta calls for little use of these attackers, who knows what the future Gym system may bring. And while Flareon stands tall as King of the Fire Pride, one change to either quick move dps or charge move dps could send it crashing down.
- Optimal Attacking Moveset: Fire Spin + Overheat/Flamethrower
Many players used to use Flareon as a “Gym Training” Pokemon, placing it at the bottom of a Gym for easy prestiging with a Water-type. This prestiging method was bolstered by Flareon’s high CP cap and relatively low damage output. Fire Spin has changed this significantly. The explosive power of this quick move is comparable to Counter and has quickly ascended Flareon to the upper crust of pure DPS rankings. This extreme role change was further bolstered by the superior charge move, Overheat. While Overheat is strictly superior to Fire Blast, Flamethrower is arguably just as good. Ember may serve you better for the aforementioned Gym prestiging style, if the Gym rework continues to handle prestiging the same way.
- Optimal Attacking Moveset: Fire Spin + Overheat
Charizard is like Flareon is nearly every way, the main differences being it has a Flying sub-typing and is strictly a worse attacker. That said, Charizard doesn’t lurk too far behind the beloved fire puff and may have a mega-evolution in the far future. Given Charizard’s rarity, popularity, and reputation, I highly doubt you’ll be tossing the “good ones” any time soon anyways.
For quick moves, Fire Spin is slightly superior to Air Slash. Air Slash isn’t that far behind and is another unique niche it has to Flareon, and could be an aspect of intrigue in the future. For charge moves, once again, Overheat is strictly superior to Fire Blast. Dragon Claw is far too poor to rate, right now. However, there are many trainers out there holding onto their Dragon Claw Charizards in hope of a new found superiority in the form of Mega-Charizard X, if/when that ever reaches this game.
- Optimal Attacking Movesets: Any + Foul Play
If you’re using Houndoom as an attacker, it’s likely for the advantage its rare Dark-typing brings over Psychic-type defenders. Against the Slowdudes, you’ll want Snarl as your quick move. Against all other Psychic-types, Fire Fang is as good if not better. The charge move of choice is Foul Play, being strictly superior to Crunch and Fire Blast.
- Optimal Attacking Movesets: Any + Wild Charge
Before the advent of Fire Spin, Arcanine was the top pick Fire-type Pokemon for offense and was even reputed by some to be an Ok defender. It just goes to show how a nerf and the replacement of several key attacks can remove a Pokemon from its seat of power. Arcanine’s current, most reputable moveset has its STAB quick attack (Fire Fang) on par with a non-STAB one (Snarl) along with an non-STAB charge move (Wild Charge). Ok, this is an odd one, I know, but bear with me here. Despite appearances and what all basic logic tells you, Arcanine is actually a pretty decent Gyarados counter. If for some reason you are without a Jolteon, Ampharos, Magneton, Dragonite, Tyranitar, or Golem, Arcanine will rule the day against it. Sorry buddy, maybe a future update or rebalance will help restore you to glory.
- Optimal Prestiging Moveset: Any with dual STAB
For those unfamiliar with gym meta, “prestigers” are the Pokemon you utilize to attack friendly gyms to increase their level. While this role may be eliminated with the Gym rework we have coming in a few weeks, I think it is safe to assume that prestiging won’t be removed entirely. Beyond Pokemon previously mentioned in this article, Magcargo, Ninetales, Sneasel, and Dewgong all make excellent attack fodder for prestiging. Using u/Celandro’s simulator and presting tool (www.Pokebattler.com/prestige), you’ll often find these four popping up as ideal prestigers against Grass, Bug, Steel, Psychic, Fire, and Dragon-type Pokemon, depending on the prestiger in question and their moveset. I would say of these four, Magcargo and Sneasel are the most useful and versatile, being able to prestige against a wider variety of Pokemon well due to their unique dual-typings.
While Gen 4 is far off in the future, it is worth noting that both Sneasel and Piloswine have relatively powerful 3rd stage evolutions. It could be worthwhile down the line to hang onto your high CP, high IV ones, even if they have un-optimal movesets, just to have a better shot at their final forms. That said, this will likely be far in the future, so hoard at your leisure.
I hope this article helps trainers get the most out of the Solstice event! I understand all of the recommendations are tenuous given that we have a confirmed Gym update in a little over a week from now, but I imagine most, if not all, recommendations will hold true. I hope everyone reaps the benefits from this event! Let’s find out if Niantic still insists on making it biome based or not! Lol.