The plan for this week was to give a writeup on how to tackle the T4 raids of the day in ‘shortman’ variety. However, Niantic decided it was a cool idea to launch an unexpected event based around Valentine’s Day, which also changed out a number of the Raid Bosses present. I suppose in hindsight, an event based around a holiday is by no means unreasonable, though, so it is best to simply analyze what we have for raid bosses and decide how to prepare best.
The general train of thought remains the same: MCLA and most college campuses in general have small potential to have any serious ‘raid groups’ for a number of different reasons, so learning how to solo and two-man Raids is a good idea. Again, Tier 1 and 2s won’t be mentioned—they’re too easy to solo to be worthy of serious attention. So, let’s focus on soloing this event’s batch of T3s before they go away at the end of the event.
Solo difficulty: Extremely easy
Explanation: One of the most pathetically simple T3s ever devised. Also probably one of the most pointless to actually hit; neither Porygon or its evolutions have ever actually made a notable impact on this game’s meta at doing anything in particular. This is largely because of the bizarre movepool Niantic gave Porygon-2 and Porygon-Z, as both definitely have the stat builds to be useful, movepool aside. Anyway, Porygon can be beaten by the usual helping of Machamp, maybe with a side of Breloom, Hariyama, or whatever you’re in the mood to use. Seriously, this raid is that easy; joke teams exist that can solo this raid. A team of six frigging Blisseys can get it done. Whatever tickles your fancy.
Dodge strategy: Lol.
Counters: If what you’re using isn’t like, Weedle or Caterpie or Marowak or something, you’re probably fine.
Solo difficulty: Very Easy
Explanation: The untrained eye may see this raid and assume that an already bulky Chansey getting even bulkier could present a challenging raid. However, consider that the only actual buff to a Raid Boss’ bulk is an uptick in HP. Not bad, but then remember that Chansey already has the second highest HP stat in the game. While this does get jacked up in becoming a Raid Boss, the actual return on that benefit is significantly lessened because Chansey already had a really high HP stat to begin with. Its offenses still are really bad, and its Defense is left untouched as a raid boss. As a result, you really shouldn’t have much difficulty winning this fight.
Dodge strategy: You might think it’s a good idea for Fighting types to dodge all the Dazzling Gleams, Psychics and Hyper Beams this thing uses, and it sometimes can be, but consider that this thing does very little damage to begin with. This means your Charge moves charge significantly slower, even more so if you decide to dodge Chansey’s already weak Charge moves. Machamp cannot take endless Dazzling Gleams, and you may already have an easy pathway to soloing this and might not want to spend more resources than you were already, but if neither of these are the case, just tank Chansey’s attacks. This thing is not going to be one shotting you with anything.
Best Counters: Predictably, Fighting types are a failsafe counter for Chansey. Neutral DPS is a bit shaky, but can work pretty easily with a weather boost, or at a decently high level. Gengar with Focus Blast, while utterly useless just about anywhere else, can come in quite handy in this raid if you’re really scraping for options. The same applies to Focus Blast Alakazam and Mewtwo. The former takes practically no damage from Hyper Beam or Dazzling Gleam Chansey, while the latter two can practically live forever against Psychic Chansey.
Solo difficulty: Hard
Explanation: Finally, a challenging Normal type T3 Raid Boss! Too bad Miltank kinda sucks in this game, making the investment somewhat debatable aside from simply being able to claim you can do it. Oh well. This is what happens when a Normal type actually has good bulk AND good offenses! It also has a very versatile movepool, though the difficulty spike between its moves is quite minimal. At the end of it all, this is more of a race against the clock than it is a survivability check.
Dodge strategy: Don’t dodge Stomp. Don’t dodge Body Slam. Don’t dodge Gyro Ball unless the weather is snowy. Dodge Thunderbolt and Ice Beam when in good health, or all the time if they are getting weather boosted. Breloom needs to dodge Ice Beam all the time regardless.
Best counters: The above dodge strategy assumes using a team of Fighting types, which is the straightforward recommended way of fighting this boss. This thing is bulky enough where going for neutral DPS is fairly suboptimal, and when you consider that only Fighting hits Normal super effectively, this is the part where you just put six Machamps on your team and just mash buttons. Like you do for seemingly 95% of the raids in this game.
Solo difficulty: Very Easy
Explanation: Hey look, an Electric type with nothing to actually hit Ground types for neutral damage with. Gee, however do you think I should fight this thing? Unfortunately for the poor bah-bah pink sheep, Groudon raids just ran their course through this game, which means that an extremely large majority of the player base has a team of legendary Ground types which can shred this thing into pieces. The only thing stopping you from successfully soloing this raid would be if you have any dietary restrictions which prevent you from feasting on roasted lamb.
Dodge strategy: It would be an insult to your Groudon if you felt inclined in the slightest to dodge any of Flaaffy’s moves. It would also be an insult to, I dunno, your Rhyhorn too.
Best counters: Ground types use moves, 90 seconds later Flaaffy is dead. Groudon cuts that time to 60 seconds. Rhyperior makes that more like 65 or 70. I think Quagsire or even Wooper could make the cut too. Feel free to get creative here.
Solo difficulty: Extremely Hard
Explanation: Niantic has this weird thing with marketing their higher tier raids, where a lot of the harder ones yield Pokemon which are totally worthless, while the easier ones tend to give the best, most useful Pokemon. This is another one of those weird instances; Ninetales sucks very, very hard in this game, but it has just the right movepool and blend of stats to make it an incredibly challenging Raid boss. In this case, Ninetales has coverage necessary to hit every Pokemon in the game hard.
Like with most raids of this caliber, here’s an idea of how hard each moveset is relative to one another:
Fire Spin + Heat Wave = Easy
Feint Attack + Heat Wave = Easy
Fire Spin + Overheat = Hard
Feint Attack + Overheat = Hard
Fire Spin + Psyshock = Intermediate
Feint Attack + Psyshock = Intermediate
Fire Spin + Solar Beam = Extremely Hard
Feint Attack + Solar Beam = Extremely Hard
Here’s the deal: If you want to solo this raid, you need options. You need Waters to deal with its Fire sets, you need Ground types and Tyranitar to fight its Psyshock set, and you need a blend of all of these, and hell of a lot of luck or some really high level Pokemon to fight Solar Beam. Kyogre is generally a good place to start, since it has good bulk, a resistance to Fire, and the ability to hit Ninetales hard with Hydro Pump. The problem with Kyogre is that it’s a little slow and hard to dodge with. Ninetales will delete Kyogre with Solar Beam if it doesn’t dodge the move, which is problematic. Tyranitar suffers from largely the same problem, though it stands out more against Psyshock sets, especially Feint Attack + Psyshock, due to great bulk, resistances and strong Rock moves to hit back with. Groudon is somewhat of a middle ground approach: not quite as much trouble dodging, but much more trouble getting ahead of the clock and some increased issues with wasting energy as a result. Though niche and generally useless otherwise, Omastar and Kabutops are great options against Fire sets due to their quadruple resistances and ability to hit Ninetales back hard. In terms of best ways to approach the Solar Beam set, Gyarados can really come in handy thanks to its Flying typing, rendering it neutral to Grass. Empoleon is the same, only worse than Gyarados in every way. Rayquaza can be decent filler against Ninetales’ Fire sets or Solar Beam. Even though Ancient Power is extremely useless on Rayquaza otherwise, it could employ the move for this specific raid and become a fantastic overall choice for this raid. Try to avoid relying too much on Rhyperior or Golem unless you know it isn’t a Solar Beam Ninetales, in which case they can be excellent options. Although niche, Salamence with Hydro Pump (and maybe a weather boost to give it a hand) can be useful against any Ninetales raid. Also niche and generally useless otherwise, Palkia with Hydro Pump performs adequately with its neutrality to Solar Beam and quadruple resistance to Fire.
Dodge Strategy: You obviously want to dodge Solar Beam pretty much all the time, as you’re more likely than not using something weak to the move which can’t afford to tank it. Heat Wave and Overheat should usually be dodged, though Palkia can tank these hits without struggling. Tyranitar doesn’t need to dodge Psyshock, but should try to dodge Overheat and Heat Wave. Ninetales is rather bulky, though; remember to keep ahead of the clock while keeping survivability in mind.
The Valentine’s day lineup of T4s didn’t change too much. We still have Tyranitar, Togetic and Absol, though we now have a brand new T4: Typhlosion! Oh boy… Another useless Fire type…
Solo difficulty: Believed to be impossible, no documentation
Two man difficulty: Intermediate
Explanation: Togetic is unique amongst its T4 bretheren in that it is very, very weak. It doesn’t have a STAB fast move, and all of its charge moves are either really slow or really weak. Of course, this completes the cliched “Bulky pokemon with no offense” profile, because this thing is really bulky. A Fairy/Flying typing that is generally pretty hard to exploit along with stellar overall bulk is what stops this thing from being too easy. That said, players who took full advantage of the Cyndaquil Community Day back in November and got themselves a handful of Meteor Mash Metagrosses are going to have a breeze in the two man; Togetic is only capable of taking down, on average, 3 Metagrosses in a single raid, while Meteor Mash hits like a truck and is backed by a sizable Attack stat. Players who were not so fortunate, however, could be in for a rough ride.
Dodging Strategy: Don’t dodge a single thing unless you don’t have enough Metagrosses to finish the raid. You will generally want 3-4 Metagrosses for this raid in the two man. Even if you don’t have that number, dodging is still generally unnecessary due to how passive Togetic is. Still, if you happen to be using, say, Tyranitar, you’ll probably want to dodge Dazzling Gleam because it’s a super effective attack.
Counters: As previously listed, Meteor Mash Metagross is by far the best Togetic counter to exist, nearly doubling up the second best counter in both DPS and TDO. If you have six Meteor Mash Metagrosses, you’re totally set. Really, if you even have four, you’re good to go. If not, Tyranitar with Smack Down + Stone Edge is pretty solid, especially in partially cloudy weather. Raikou is pretty good in rainy weather as well. Heatran is somewhat interesting, either with its Fire Blast set (requires sunny weather), Iron Head (really, really wants snowy weather) or Stone Edge (practically mandates partially cloudy weather) because it can pretty much take hits endlessly from Togetic, and makes for pretty solid filler on a team full of Tyranitars going up against Dazzling Gleam. Just make sure to either always hit it super effectively or have an extremely powerful neutral attacker with weather advantage, and you should be okay for the two man. For the solo, while it is currently believed to be impossible, the only conceivable way one should consider trying the solo is with six maxed out Meteor Mash Metagrosses while in snowy weather. If these conditions are met, and the player still fails the raid, it will be confirmed impossible, though there is no official documentation of an attempt of that nature.
Solo difficulty: Outdated documentation proving it was once possible, believed to now be impossible
Two-man difficulty: Easy
Explanation: Absol used to be the go-to for adventurous solo players, being by far the most lenient T4 to solo and having the most variety in terms of what could be used to beat it in a solo. On Feb 2, this changed, as Absol’s HP was buffed by 15%, making many in the community believe the solo is now impossible. Still, it retains its positioning as the easiest T4 to two-man in the game, as it is still immensely frail and doesn’t have ways of hitting its best counters quite like its fellow T4s can.
Grading its movesets in relative difficulty:
Snarl/Psycho Cut + Megahorn- Easy
Snarl/Psycho Cut + Thunder- Intermediate
Snarl/Psycho Cut + Dark Pulse- Intermediate
As you can see, Absol’s fast move of choice is surprisingly inconsequential; both moves are extremely weak, and the slightly stronger one of the two is resisted by Fighting and easily countered. Psycho Cut is so weak that it doesn’t matter if it’s hitting for super effective damage, it still does little damage. Megahorn is resisted by Fighting as well as Scizor and Yanmega, making it practically elementary to beat. Thunder lacks STAB and is weak, but it isn’t resisted by any of Absol’s counters, hits Yanmega super effectively, and is nearly impossible to dodge. Meanwhile, Dark Pulse gets STAB, is a three bar charge move meaning Absol will use it practically all the time, and it is also very hard to dodge despite being resisted by Fighting.
Dodge strategy: Dodging Dark Pulse if you can is a good idea, especially with Scizor and Yanmega, and you’ll need to do this at least a handful of times in the raid or it will wipe you out. Megahorn should be situationally dodged, while Thunder can be tanked as long as you don’t have a full health Yanmega on the field.
Best Counters: This is yet another matchup in which Machamp runs wild; deploy against Megahorn sets and fervently mash buttons to victory. Breloom is actually really good against Thunder Absol thanks to how weak Thunder is combined with Breloom’s resistance to the move. Scizor and Yanmega pound the crap out of Megahorn, though Yanmega has a tough time with Thunder and they both dislike Dark Pulse. If you’re trying to see if a solo is possible, get six maxed out Machamps (perhaps a lead Breloom against Thunder Absol), make sure the weather outside is cloudy, and give it a whirl. I sincerely doubt you would get the DPS you’d need out of Scizor or Yanmega unless the weather was rainy, which would call into question their survivability against a buffed up Absol’s Thunder. In general, Fighting and Bug types which are even slightly decent should perform good enough for the two man, especially if they’re weather boosted.
Solo difficulty: Logically impossible
Two man difficulty: Logically Very Hard
Explanation: Another Solar Beam Fire type Raid boss. Seriously, there are nearly 500 Pokemon available in the game, and this is the ‘new’ raid boss? Really, I could just about copy and paste everything about the T3 Ninetales raid here, and the same stuff would apply. They even gave Typhlosion extremely similar fast moves! The only real difference is there’s no Psyshock for Tyranitar to take advantage of. Aside from that, imagine this as if Ninetales became a T4 raid.
Dodge strategy: Um… Dodge Solar Beam. Dodge Fire Blast. Dodge Overheat. You know the drill.
Best counters: Seriously, I don’t have the energy to go type this out again. Just go check out the notes on how to counter Ninetales, and in your head replace “Ninetales” with “Typhlosion” and ignore all the notes on Psyshock. I can almost envision Niantic tweeting out a Cyndaquil Community Day event where Typhlosion gets access to Psychic or Psyshock as a legacy move.