As Pokémon fans know, the type chart has got a little convoluted and tough to remember now. There are 18 different types, and the interactions between them are many, varied, and sometimes nonsensical.
Many Pokémon are dual type, which further complicates the whole thing in terms of weaknesses and resistances. As a veteran Poké-player, I’ve adapted to the many twists and turns of the system. This means everything, including the fact that Gengar is weak to Ground again now (as a Poison type that recently lost its Levitate ability) and all of that good stuff. For newcomers and less experienced players, though, this is a surprisingly complex world to step into.
The important thing to remember is that the types are not all created equal. It’s a super tough thing to balance, like a fighting game with a huge and ridiculous roster, and Game Freak has made some… questionable decisions along the way. Ice and Rock, for instance, are superb types to use (hitting so much super effectively), but utterly craptacular types to be (weak to absolutely freaking everything ever). This, apparently, is called balance.
The Dragon type, on the other hand, has long been considered among the best. If not the best. Sporting some key resistances and excellent neutral coverage (only Steel resisted Dragon prior to Sun and Moon), Fairy was introduced mostly just to try and curb the type’s dominance. Some of the best Pokémon in the game are Dragons, but there are some awful ones too. Let’s take a look.
Charizard, as we know, is one of Pokémon’s fan favourites. Ever since Red and Blue were released back in 1998, and I first evolved my beloved Charmander, this thing captured my heart. And those of many others of my generation.
Because of this, when the Mega Evolution mechanic was introduced, Charizard was one of only two Pokémon to get a separate Mega X and Mega Y form. Some of us have long thought that Charizard deserves Fire/Dragon typing, and that’s exactly what you get with Mega Zard X.
It doesn’t get nearly as much use as the vicious sun sweeper that is Zard Y, but you sure as hell don’t want to sleep on this thing. With the perfect boosting move in Dragon Dance, powerful dual STAB in Flare Blitz and Outrage and an ability that boosts their power further, this thing is a huge physical threat.
Firstly, just look at this damn thing. What is that coloring? Was Druddigon designed by Lego? Is it made of freaking Lego? It looks like an odd Frankenstein-ish combination of body parts left over from things that didn’t suck. It’s alive! It’s alive!
Meeting Druddigon for the first time is like a disastrous blind date. You see him/her, they look like they’ve been pummelled in the face with the ugly stick after falling out of the ugly tree on the muddy, muddy, ugly ground, but they might have an awesome personality. You get to talking, and they pull you closer, whispering in your ear that they’re a serial killer and they’ve got a collection of decapitated heads in the trunk of their car.
In short: Druddigon looks like crap, and its stats are crapper. It has a reasonable attack and sees use in the lower tiers, but that’s as far as it goes.
Zygarde was utterly insignificant in its Pokémon X and Y debut, as you’ll see in the next entry. Sun and Moon threw the poor guy a bone, though, in the shape of that whole cell collecting mini game. If you were wondering why the Alola region was dotted with odd little green sparkling specks, Zygarde was the reason.
If you were able to collect all of the pieces, you could craft yourself (it’s all very scientific) a Zygarde with the Power Construct ability. When its health goes below 50% in battle, it will become its true ‘complete’ form. It’s not an offensive powerhouse, as such, but it’s really damn tanky. Its HP stat is titanic, way beyond even Blissey’s, and it looks like a Grade A badass.
Pokémon X and Y’s vanilla Zygarde, on the other hand, was all kinds of a disappointment. The third and final Dragon/Ground type in existence, this thing appeared near the end of the game. It arrived in tandem with the other members of its trio, Xerneas and Yveltal, but couldn’t hold a candle to them. Not even a sad little match, come to that.
Regular Zygarde’s issue is one that a lot of Pokémon have. Its stats aren’t bad at all, usable across the board and allowing it to perform a variety of roles, but they’re not specialized enough as a result. This means there’ll almost always be something that does what it’s currently doing much better, so it’s generally left on the sidelines. Poor guy.
Granted, Hydreigon’s taken quite a hit in the last couple years. The introduction of the Fairy type has sent it scurrying off into counseling, gibbering about Moonblasts and cutesy pink creatures who want to crush its face into spam. It is, after all, one of only two Dragon Pokémon with a secondary Dark typing, leaving it 4x weak to Fairy moves.
Its usage has taken a real hit, but don’t ever doubt Hydreigon’s ability to pose a threat. A very heavy hitter on the special side, Hydreigon has long specialized in hit-and-run nuking with Draco Meteor. Its speed is just a couple of points lower than the likes of Garchomp, which can be quickly fixed with a Choice Scarf, playing into Hydreigon’s in-and-out style. This thing’s got three heads, and they all hate you.
I really don’t quite know what to make of Turtonator. Another Fire/Dragon, alongside Mega Charizard X and the legendary Reshiram, this guy’s in stellar company. Sadly, though, there’s always someone who lets the side down.
Conceptually, Turtonator is quite a neat idea. Its name is a play on Terminator, and I can always appreciate a sly Arnold Schwarzenegger reference. Its design is a little shonky, but I guess we’ll have to let that slide. It’s interesting, at least. The real issue here is that it’s so statistically mediocre. It’s slower than grandma’s mobility scooter, and doesn’t have the raw power or the bulk to serve well as a Trick Room sweeper. Its physical defense is impressive, but it doesn’t have the HP to use it properly, and is weak to common, almost-exclusively-physical types like Ground and Rock. Suck-amundo.
Rayquaza was already a real powerhouse, banished to Ubers matches by competitive authority Smogon. There, it served as a glass cannon, lacking a little in defense but boasting great mixed offenses and neat and rare moves like Extreme Speed and V-Create. This wasn’t enough for Game Freak, though, who decided to dial it up to eleven by giving it a Mega form.
Mega Rayquaza’s attacking stats are among the highest in the entire game, but even that wasn’t enough. This is the only Mega that doesn’t have to hold a Mega Stone to transform; requiring only the move Dragon Ascent. This allows it to hold something to boost its damage output even further, when we were already talking Godzilla-in-Tokyo levels of motherfreakin’ rampage and destruction.
Don’t get me wrong. I do kind of dig Tyrantrum. As a lifelong dinosaur nerd, a Tyrannosaurus Rex Pokémon makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in my happy parts. I like what they did with its design, and I’m always a fan of unusual and exclusive new type combinations too. Rock Dragon? Sure, I can get on board with that.
This is one of my favorite Fossil Pokémon, there’s no doubt about that. The sad fact is, however, you’ll rarely see it in competitive play, because it can be so damn awkward to use. As a Rock type, Tyrantrum brings a lot of common weaknesses to the table which restricts its ability to perform. It’s also stuck in that utterly meh speed tier, which leaves it too fast for Trick Room and too slow without it.
As I say, I’m a huge fan of unusual type combinations. As such, this one was a real coin flip between Mega Sceptile and Alolan Exeggutor, the pair being Pokémon’s only Grass/Dragons. Alolan Exeggutor won the day, though, mostly on the strength of how beautifully ridiculous it looks. If you’ve ever used one in battle and laughed like hell when you saw that its head doesn’t even fit on the damn screen, you’ll understand.
While Mega Sceptile is a super fast, special-oriented sweeper, the 35 feet tall Alola form of Exeggutor is the inverse of that. It’s super slow, and relatively tanky, with decent offenses on both sides. It’s really fun to use, and its signature move Dragon Hammer has been amusing me far too much since I first saw it in action in that trailer.
The Ultra Beasts, stars of Sun and Moon’s endgame, are an odd bunch. Characterized by base stats that are all over the darn place, they tend to fit very specific roles perfectly and fail tremendously at everything else. The tiny and unassuming origami warrior Kartana, for instance, has huge Attack, but can barely take a neutral special attack.
Guzzlord is the exception to this, really. It has a stat spread similar to Hariyama’s, with HP out the wazzoo which is offset by really low defenses. It’s no great shakes when it comes to taking hits, but its slow speed means that it’ll have to. It isn’t all that powerful either, making it difficult to find a place for this thing in a team. Add in the problems that come with being a Dark/Dragon, and it’s not looking good for Guzzlord.
Like Garchomp, Salamence is one of the OG powerful Dragons that has dominated and defined standard play. It’s been around even longer, though, having been added to the roster the generation before the Gible line.
While the pair shares the same super high Attack stat, they’re quite different overall. Salamence is the slower –by a single base stat point—and it lacks a bit of the natural bulk that Garchomp has. Its typing, too, is different, being part Flying rather than Ground. In terms of weaknesses and resistances, this makes Salamence immune to Ground moves, at the cost of a weaknesses to Rock. Salamence does have the bonus of the ever-valuable Intimidate ability, not to mention a hugely strong Mega Evolution. Salamence’s vanilla form isn’t the threat it once was, but you never want to underestimate it.
What can I say about Garchomp? The land shark was introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, and established its dominance so quickly it made the heads of players worldwide spin.
This Ground/Dragon type is so effortlessly superior, it could embark on a worldwide tour and daintily wave its hand at the common folk from its royal carriage, like Good Queen Lizzie herself. This thing is fast, powerful, and pretty darn bulky too. It has just about everything, and has been the premier Dragon type of standard play for a decade now.
When the format doesn’t allow Landorus, Garchomp will be everywhere. It’s as popular as ever, Fairies or no darn Fairies. This thing is singlehandedly the reason why just about every team packs Ice Beam somewhere or other.
Next up, we have the poor man’s Garchomp. The Diet Coke of Garchomps. The online grocery order which was all out of Garchomps, so they substituted in a Flygon. The is Pepsi okay? Of Garchomps. The test you studied super hard for, hoping for a Garchomp grade, and you only got a Flygon.
No, Pepsi isn’t okay, and Flygon sucks.
Flygon is one of Pokémon’s few other Dragon/Ground types, and it’s essentially inferior in every possible way. Slower, weaker, and with lower defenses, there’s really no reason at all to use this thing. I guess it has certain niches, being immune to Ground moves with Levitate, but generally, screw Flygon.
If I really had to rack my brains to think of a plus, I do think its design is pretty darn cool.
Typically, Dragon type Pokémon are characterized by speed and power. They tend to favour one attacking stat over the other, and specialize in crushing their opponents into sad, sobbing hunks of spam with high base power STAB moves.
There are, of course, Dragons which just don’t fit into this mold at all. Noivern was introduced in Pokémon X and Y, and is a real oddity in terms of the type. It’s really fast, rivaling even the likes of Weavile, but that’s it’s only standout stat. It’s not especially frail, but its defenses are definitely just average. The same goes for its attack power, which makes me wonder just what exactly Noivern’s purpose is. What is it for? Would you really notice if this thing fell down the Well of Pure, Boring Mediocrity and was never seen again? Did you remember it existed at all?
Naturally, a lot of legendary Pokémon are Dragon type. It’s the most common type for one of these special ‘mon to be, which is one reason the typing is held in such high regard. I wanted to keep a lot of them off of this list, though; where’s the fun in monsters like Kyurem Black, Zekrom, and Reshiram flying around everywhere?
Restricting the legendary slots, I couldn’t help but reserve one for Giratina. The Renegade Pokémon sounds like a real terror, having been banished to the Distortion World for its cruelty and violence. In battle, it can take a couple of different roles. The typical Giratina is very defensive, making the most of its strengths and walling capabilities. By holding the Griseous Orb, though, it transforms into its Origin Forme, which is much more offensive.