OLM-Animation Studio/Netflix UK

Can you make a Pokémon with super-effective coverage against everything?

For as long as I’ve been gaming, I’ve been playing Pokémon – following the franchise from its highs to its (mostly recent) lows. I’ve had many teams of six creatures throughout my games, and I often tend towards my favourites and whatever catches my eye in the newer generations. I’m not a competitive player, but I still try to have balance among my six – a good mix of types, and a good mix of coverage moves ready for any eventuality. But do you need six? Pokémon are allowed to have four moves, and something I’ve often wondered is whether it’s possible to make a perfect moveset – that is, could you have a member on your team capable of doing super-effective damage against everything? Well, today, I decided to finally find out.

There are currently 18 types, and in order to have perfect coverage we’d need the four moves to hit all of them (just imagine any damaging move for the types I discuss). I’m going to ignore dual-type Pokémon for this thought experiment because it unnecessarily complicates things. We’ll also steer clear of abilities and items that mitigate weaknesses, etc. – if something says that it’s super-effective in the most recent type chart, that’ll do for me.

Immediately, certain decisions are forced upon us. On the offensive side, we have one type (Normal) that isn’t super-effective against anything, and so can be ruled out of this moveset. We also face a number of types (Normal once again, and also Electric) that only have a single weakness, meaning that two of our move slots are already predetermined. To do super-effective damage against Normal, I need a Fighting move, and tackling Electric requires a Ground attack.

That’s one of the joys of this franchise that will never go away

Both types are strong against five other types, but sadly overlap on two of them (Rock and Steel). That means that we need to cover ten types with the remaining two moves, which feels a tall order. The sensible approach was to look at which types had the fewest options to play with once Normal and Electric were eliminated, and try to work around that – that led me to Ghost, and its two weaknesses, of itself and Dark. However, both of these types can only deal super-effective damage to the same two types (Psychic and Ghost), and I can’t cover eight types in terms of super-effective damage with a single move left (Fighting and Ground actually have the most coverage with five).

So, game over? Not just yet, as we have one last card to play – Hawlucha’s signature move, Flying Press. The attack is unique in that its damage is calculated as a combination of both Fighting and Flying, and so its effectiveness differs from all other Fighting-type moves. Fighting is normally super-effective against Normal, Ice, Rock, Dark and Steel. But Flying Press instead offers super-effective coverage against Normal, Grass, Ice, Fighting and Dark. Pair this move with a Ground-type attack, and we’re now covering ten of the types, maximising their potential.

This time round, we have a different selection of eight types left to cover, so can it be done? Sadly not, as we come up against the same problem – as no other types cover five for super-effective damage, we need the remaining two attacks to cover four types, and we hit the Ghost problem again. If we want to cover Ghost, we have to use Ghost or Dark, and they just can’t hit enough other types to meet the criteria.

It’s a shame that the thought experiment ends this way, but it then begs another question – what selection of types gives us maximum coverage? We’ll keep Flying Press and a Ground-type move, as they’re maxed out. We’ve eight more types to do damage against, and it’s hard to produce any combinations that aren’t already largely covered elsewhere. By my reckoning, the best solution in terms of spread is to fill the remaining two move slots with an Ice-type move called Freeze-Dry (hitting Grass again, but also Ground, Flying, Dragon and, uniquely, Water) and, despite its status in ruining this challenge, Ghost for two super-effective hits. This leaves two types left over – Fairy, which only has two weaknesses, and Bug.

A Pokémon that can do super-effective damage against 16 of the 18 types is still a good result and, of course, you’ve a team of five other Pokémon to round out your squad. That’s one of the joys of this franchise that will never go away – being able to tinker with your team, their moves, abilities and items, making them ready for whatever challenge you face on your way to becoming a Pokémon Master.

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