Thanks to DavidKSA for the analysis and permission to use it for this article.
Legendaries are a topic that periodically comes up, and given the possibility (don’t jump on the hype train just yet) of an event this summer, I decided to look at how legendaries would affect the gym meta.
The four Legendary groups:
Lugia, Ho-Oh and Celebi
The Kanto Birds:
Zapdos – 3330CP: Att 253, Def 188, HP 180 Movepool: Charge Beam/Thunder, Zap Cannon, Thunderbolt
Of the trinity, Big Bird has the highest max CP in Pokemon Go. When Zapdos arrives, it will deal the most damage of any Generation 1 Electric type.
Its best moveset will be Charge Beam/Zap Cannon or Thunderbolt (if nothing changes). Zapdos, before the Generation 2 update, had Thunder Shock as its quick move. Had its movepool not changed, Thunder Shock/Thunderbolt would have been its best moveset, and as a result it would deal the most damage of any Electric type in Gen 1 or Gen 2.
Unfortunately, the game master was updated with Charge Beam as its only quick move (which sucks), and it will be ever so slightly out-DPS’d by Thunder Shock/Wild Charge Raikou (~3-4% difference in DPS). Damage-wise, Thunder Shock/Zap Cannon Zapdos is on par with Air Slash/Overheat Charizard.
In terms of gym defense
Zapdos is a significant addition to the game because it places above relevant defenders such as Rhydon (3300CP), Gyarados (3281CP), Blissey (3219CP), and Vaporeon (3157CP). However, acquiring a Zapdos isn’t going to break the current gym stratification. In terms of CP, it still ranks below Snorlax (3355CP), Dragonite (3581CP), and Tyranitar (3670CP).
Now while you may not have yet acquired any of those three, I can assure you they are easier to obtain than Zapdos right now. And for many high-level players, they already have multiples of those.
Zapdos has a decent defensive typing, having two weaknesses (Rock and Ice). As many Ice types are also Water, many of those Pokemon will be weak to Zapdos. As for Rock types, Rhydon learns Mud Slap (neutral to Zapdos) and Rock Smash (NVE to Zapdos). Omastar is weak to Electric attacks. Which leaves Golem as the best counter.
In terms of gym offense
Zapdos about a ~4-5% damage increase over Thunder Shock/Thunderbolt Jolteon. The advantage from using Zapdos over Jolteon comes from its durability. For comparison, Zapdos is about as tanky as Cloyster and Poliwrath. This added bulk elevates Zapdos above being a Gyarados-counter to a solid generalist attacker.
It attacks with either neutral or super effective damage into most of the common defenders, with Rhydon as a notable exception. Zapdos can survive long enough and beat Blissey with time to spare. But, Zapdos is still outclassed in terms of DPS and bulk by Dragonite which, although rare, is a Pokemon you can actually evolve to.
Articuno – 2933CP: Att 192, Def 249, HP 180 Movepool: Frost Breath/Blizzard, Ice Beam, Icy Wind
Articuno is the bulkiest of the Kanto birds. In terms of tankiness, Articuno is above Tyranitar and Rhydon, though below Lapras. Articuno’s best moveset will be Frost Breath/Blizzard, and will have a similar damage output to Frost Breath/Avalanche Cloyster.
Articuno, despite having good bulk, will be a terrible defender for two reasons. First, it suffers from a bad case of lower-CP-than-Vaporeon-itis, which is unfortunately incurable at present. Second, it is weak to many powerful attackers. It is weak to Electric (everyone has Jolteon), weak to Fire (everyone has Flareon), and has a crippling double weakness to Rock.
Articuno does not want to take 56% extra damage from Rock Throw/Stone Edge Golem or Rock Throw/Rock Slide Omastar (legacy). While Golem is not the most common attacker out there, Jolteon and Flareon still easily best Articuno. Articuno is of course also weak to Steel, but quality Steel type attackers are rarer than the other counters.
Articuno marries the bulk of Lapras and the DPS of Cloyster, and as a result will become the best Dragonite-counter in the game. This could be a game-changer for people plagued by Dragonites who do not have access to good Ice type counters.
Articuno also has the bulk to be able to withstand Blissey and damage output to narrowly win in time. Articuno will need to dodge quite a bit, and you will need Frost Breath/Blizzard to beat a Blissey around your level.
Moltres – 3272CP: Att 251, Def 184, HP 180 Movepool: Fire Spin/Overheat, Fire Blast, Heat Wave
The Fire Bird has the highest DPS of the flock. Fire Spin/Overheat Moltres ever so slightly outclasses Flareon, and has the highest damage output of any Fire type in Gen 1 or Gen 2 (yes, above Ho Oh). FS/OH Moltres is just shy of Dragon Tail/Outrage Dragonite for DPS.
Moltres, though it places above Vaporeon and Blissey, still ranks below Gyarados and Rhydon. But the real problem is Moltres has terrible typing. It is weak to Electric, double weak to Rock, but its fatal weakness is to Water.
Everyone has access to Vaporeon, and many long-time players will absolutely smoke Moltres with Rock Throw/Stone Edge Golem. If you are familiar with how easily Jolteon beats Gyarados, well Moltres isn’t as tanky as Gyarados and Golem resists all of Moltres’s moves…so…you can imagine how that will go.
Moltres has similar bulk to Zapdos, which means it has comparable advantages over Pokemon of its type. Moltres does more damage than Flareon, and doesn’t have the drawback of Flareon’s fragility. In fact, Moltres is tankier than Charizard and Arcanine, and has the same .64x resistance to Grass as Charizard.
Moltres is an upgrade to any of your current Fire types. However, Moltres does not make a particularly great attacker in the current meta. The Fire Bird’s usability as a generalist is somewhat hampered by Gyarados, Rhydon, Dragonite, and Tyranitar, which all resist Fire.
However, if you find yourself in need of a strong attacker against Blissey, Moltres is up to the task. It will take out Blissey faster than the other Birds, and as a result have more health to spare (it resists Dazzling Gleam).
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