To succeed as a Pokémon trainer, you need to understand and exploit Type Match-Ups. This mechanic has existed since the very first pair of games–Red and Blue–and works like a more complicated version of Rocks, Papers and Scissors.
All 800+ Pokémon are assigned one or two Types (from a pool of 18 Types), which reflects their characteristics. For instance, a plant Pokémon is generally going to be a Grass-type. To add to this, every move has its own Type as well. For example, a move called Flamethrower is obviously going to be an Fire-type move.
Similar to real life, certain Types are strong against other Types or are weak against them. Like how water can put out fire, Water-type moves deal more damage to Fire-type Pokémon, etc. Meanwhile, looking at the reverse situation, fire struggles to evaporate water, so Fire-type moves deal much less damage to Water-type Pokémon.
That’s just a massive simplification though. For starters, not all Pokémon Types match real life. As far as we’re aware, dragons, ghosts and fairies don’t actually exist (or we just haven’t discovered them yet). Also some of the logic can be strange–like why are psychics afraid of bugs? However, you get the general idea.
Not all Types have an advantage or disadvantage against other Types–in over a half of all possible match-ups, the chosen Type is evenly-matched against the other Type and thus deals standard (or neutral) damage. On the far extreme, some Types are immune against certain Types and sustain zero damage from moves of that Type.
Our Handy Type Match-Up Table
After defeating a particular Pokémon species, the game will helpfully inform you how your moves fare against the same Pokémon species. “Effective” means it works, “Not very effective” means it deals half the damage (or less), while “Super effective” means it deals twice the damage (or more).
When facing a new and unidentified species, you won’t have this luxury though. In addition, it’s honestly a lot more satisfying if you learn the Type Match-Ups yourself. Which is where Our Handy Type Match-Up Table (TM) comes in!
When battling against a Pokémon that has two Types, things get a bit more complicated, but not by much. All that happens is that the damage multipliers for both Types are multiplied together.
For example, say, you’re facing off against , which is a Water and Flying type Pokémon. Grass moves normally do 2 times damage to Water-types, but is also a Flying type and Grass moves do 0.5 times damage against those. 2 times 0.5 is 1, which means Grass moves do neutral damage.
Likewise with Ice moves. They’re good against Flying, but sub-par against Water. Rock moves still do 2 times damage though, since they’re good against Flying and neutral against Water. The kicker is that Electric moves do 4 times damage since they’re super-effective against both Types!
For the majority of situations, you need only consult the Type Match-Up chart to plan your way to success. However, be warned that it’s not completely full-proof. You also need to pay attention to other things such as the Pokémon’s Abilities or held items.
The biggest thing to watch out for, especially if you love using Ground-type moves is the Levitate Ability, which confers full immunity to Ground-type moves. If a Pokémon doesn’t have wings, but seems to be floating, it may have Levitate, so watch out.
On the flip side, Normal and Fighting moves are normally useless against the sinister Ghost-type. But if a Pokémon has the Scrappy Ability, their Normal and Fighting types will successfully connect. The moves Foresight and Odour Sleuth have a similar effect as well.