May 22, 2022

The Pokémon Competitive Community is Split on a Key New Mechanic

Pokémon Sword and Shield have had enough time for players to know certain elements inside and out. The most controversial new feature has already caused a rift in the community. Even Smogon has got involved.

The dust has finally settled on Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s release. There was a mixed bag of responses from the community. Some greeted the games with jubilation. Others with disappointment. Personally, I love it, but each to their own.

Most people buy the games to complete the main quest and hunt down the 150 400 weird and wonderful creatures on offer. However, a small but dedicated community of players spend their in-game time battling each other competitively.

Obviously, the same combat style would get boring after a while. (That’s not to say that Game Freak hasn’t milked the relatively simple turn-based mechanics for all they’re worth.) Anyway, Game Freak has experimented with fairly significant changes to the mechanics over the past few years.

The last couple of games have shifted the meta by adding Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves.

So What’s New?

This generation’s flagship addition to battling is Dynamaxing. This process increases your Pokémon to enormous size and gives them extra health and access to powerful new ‘max moves’.

Some Pokémon can also Gigantamax. This confers all the benefits of Dynamaxing but with unique character designs and access to a signature move.

Charizard has “G-Max Wildfire” as his signature move. Think the moves Flamethrower crossed with Fire Spin. Then throw in a tonne of Pokésteroids for good measure. It’s very much as cool as it sounds.

A Community Divided

Not all Pokéfans are impressed, however. Many in the competitive community have branded the Dynamaxing mechanic broken.

Smogon, an influential competitive community, organises tournaments which follow a separate set of rules from official guidelines dictated by The Pokémon Company. A number of prominent competitive players and metagame dignitaries have implemented a tier system according to the power of each Pokémon. The community bans any Pokémon, items, moves and mechanics that are unreasonably powerful.

Smogon recently took the decision to ban Dynamaxing from its battles. Their explanation contained the following statement:

“There is no true limit to how potent Dynamax moves can be given that each type provides different benefits that can potentially be game-changing; some of the most versatile Pokémon that are already great in the current metagame are made much stronger due to this, which makes finding reliable counterplay a virtual impossibility at times”.

Some People Like It Though

Official tournaments, dubbed Video Game Championships or VGCs, allow for 2-on-2 double battles. According to Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, this format mitigates the potential unbalanced aspects of Dynamaxing:

“Obviously, you can use it for the sole power of offense and getting just really powerful attacks off, but you can also use the defensively to obviously increase your own health. I think that’s really cool because it basically makes so many more Pokémon viable… the added effects from the moves are really cool too, and you can use them to boost your partner. I think there’s so many different ways that you can play with it”.

That’s more where I’d lean on the issue. Dynamaxing has stood out to me as a mechanic which adds another element of strategy and uncertainty to proceedings. And that can only be a good thing.

What do you think about Dynamaxing? Let us know in the comments.


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