In almost every generation of Pokémon, Game Freak has added a new mechanic to the game. In generation six there were Mega Evolutions, then there were Z-Moves, and in Pokémon Sword and Shield there is Dynamaxing.
How Dynamaxing affects a Pokémon
For those who don’t know, Dynamaxing a Pokémon increases its size, gives it bonus HP, and upgrades its moves for three turns once per battle. It also makes the Pokémon immune to flinching and allows them to use all four of their moves if they are holding an item that would normally limit them to one move, such as Choice Scarf.
The main appeal of Dynamaxing is the upgrade that moves receive, as each type of move becomes a new “Max Move”. For example, a water-type move would become “Max Geyser” which will deal more damage than the move it upgraded from, as well as changing the weather to rain. Every Max Move has a special effect that either increases stats for ally Pokémon, decreases the stats of opponents, changes the weather, or sets a terrain.
There is also a form of Dynamaxing called Gigantamax that only certain Pokémon can do. Gigantamax grants the same benefits as Dynamax but further changes appearance and grants an additional unique move.
Dynamax as a mechanic has been under some heavy scrutiny since Pokémon Sword and Shield were released. There has been a lot of concern amongst the community about whether the mechanic is healthy for competitive play. Here’s a look at some of its pros and cons.
- It helps make certain Pokémon more viable.
Dynamax is great for Pokémon like Durant, who haven’t seen the most competitive play in the past. Now with Dynamax, it’s seeing plenty of tournament play. Durant’s ability, Hustle, boosts its attack at the expense of accuracy. Max Moves cannot miss, however, so it can now reap the full benefits of this ability. There are plenty of other Pokémon like Durant who get a huge strength boost by Dynamaxing.
- It offers a new level of strategy.
Just like Mega Evolution and Z-Moves in the past, Dynamaxing allows for new strategies. Players can only use it once per battle, so they have to think carefully about when to use it and who to use it on.
- Teams can be built around it.
There are certain strategies and teams that can be built around a specific Pokémon Dynamaxing. Since Max Moves can influence weather and stats, certain teams can make excellent use of their effects.
- It feels unbalanced outside of doubles battles.
This is one of the most common complaints about Dynamax. Certain Pokémon in singles battles can absolutely abuse it, like Mimikyu with its Disguise ability. The mechanic was banned on Pokémon Showdown‘s OU ladder shortly after the games were released.
- It replaced Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves.
There were plenty of cool strategies revolving around these older mechanics that got the boot when Dynamax came along. Mega Evolution was a solid mechanic that helped a lot of Pokémon out, and also came with some neat designs. As such, Game Freak didn’t win over too many fans when they removed it.
- Certain Pokémon benefit from it far more than others.
Mimikyu and Durant are both examples of Pokémon who benefit heavily from Dynamax. However, even though everyone can use it, not everyone gains the same benefits. Both Mimikyu and Durant have abilities to help it, but some Pokémon simply gain the moves and health advantage. This makes the mechanic slightly unbalanced and favors certain strategies.
Like it or not, Dynamax will be a part of competitive Pokémon for a while. It will be interesting to see which Pokémon this mechanic favors once new content becomes available.