This submission was originally intended to be posted here at The Silph Road but the submission filter was blocking all attempts and Dronpes has urged me to try posting again. I apologize that this ends up being a cross post, but as this is an analysis of game mechanics and potential improvements I believe it fits better here at TSR than in the general Pokemon Go subreddit. I have also made a few edits for clarity.
I realize that the highly anticipated impending gym update might make this a pointless proposal, but I would think some consideration might be in order for a possible alternative to the speculated
limitation of duplicate Pokémon in gyms as is hinted at from the data mine of the latest APK.
It is my hope that a different ranking method is implemented with the gym update, but Niantic has so far, through the various updates, stuck to the flawed CP system as their unifying metric. For the sake of argument, and the likely continued Niantic metric of choice, I am guessing that CP will continue to be the gym ranking system after the "big" update. Any adjustments to the gym system will have to fit within the unified CP framework and my proposal is an attempt to think outside that box to bring improvements in.
Before proposing my idea, let's look at how a strict "No Duplicate" rule impacts the game if implemented with the current CP ranking system.
Depending on any other gym changes Niantic might make, a No Duplicates rule could effectively lock out mid level (~30~) and lower players who's only hope of ranking above the bottom of the gym at all
with the CP system is by using their maxed out mid level "Big 7" to compete for ranking. Even if mid level players are able to add one of their Big 7 into the gym first, higher level players will continue to place Pokémon that rank higher and the mid level players will still
be at risk of shavers pruning them out of the lower gym ranks. Barring other changes to ranking, a No Duplicate policy would still perpetuate the flaws of the CP system.
Let's run through a few numbers to demonstrate.
A level 30 player with max powered up Pokémon at level 31.5 would have the following CP range for their Big 7 gym defenders [ the middle column being a reasonable approximate of powering up only those Pokémon with higher IVs to get into the upper end of the CP range ] :
|Pokémon ||0% IVs ||Good IVs ||100% IVs |
|Tyranitar ||2836 ||~3150~ ||3225 |
|Dragonite ||2760 ||~3075~ ||3147 |
|Snorlax ||2571 ||~2850~ ||2948 |
|Gyarados ||2516 ||~2775~ ||2883 |
|Rhydon ||2534 ||~2825~ ||2900 |
|Blissey ||2420 ||~2750~ ||2828 |
|Vaporeon ||2413 ||~2700~ ||2774 |
So, an effective mid level player's CP ranking range would be approximately 2700 - 3100 ( or 2900 without a Tyranitar or Dragonite slot open in a gym). High level players would only need to stay above this range to maintain higher ranking in the gyms.
High level players (level 35 - 40 with Pokémon at 36.5 - 39) will have a total CP range of:
|Pokémon ||0% IV ||100% IV |
|Tyranitar ||3067 ||3617 |
|Dragonite ||2985 ||3531 |
|Snorlax ||2780 ||3307 |
|Rhydon ||2740 ||3254 |
|Gyarados ||2721 ||3234 |
|Blissey ||2616 ||3173 |
|Vaporeon ||2609 ||3112 |
For high level players that are late to a particular gym, the likely candidates for the non-Big 7 spots in the new meta would consist of high IV Pokémon within the next highest CP ranges:
|Pokémon ||0% IV ||100% IV |
|Donphan ||2492 ||2979 |
|Espeon ||2459 ||2958 |
|Exeggutor ||2395 ||2876 |
|Golem ||2397 ||2875 |
|Flareon ||2377 ||2863 |
As we can see, level 30 players with good to great CP Big 7 defenders would just be getting into the CP range of high level player's POOR
IV Big 7 options. And most high level players aren't usually going to be using poor IV anything
for gym defenders unless they are out of better options. Higher level players are going to be more likely to have a Big 7 gym team with their CP levels starting at 3000+
and their "B" team starting at around 2800+
With this CP deficiency for mid/low level players and if gym shaving is not dealt with in the update, lower level players that manage to be the first player to place a particular Big 7 defender will still be shaved out of the gym as higher level players fill out the defense roster above them with their Big 7 or high CP B team, pushing them again to the bottom. This would actually encourage
the shaving of mid level players at the bottom of a gym as a shaver would now see a great opportunity to claim the only slot available for that particular Big 7 Pokémon.
I believe that a less heavy handed, deterrent system might accomplish the same goal of curbing duplicates while allowing mid level players to have a better opportunity to compete in and STAY
in a gym with less gym shaving. And it's actually a pretty simple fix.
First, I propose that once any particular Pokémon is placed in a gym, any duplicates of that Pokémon also placed into that gym would take a cumulative 20% penalty to its ranking score
. Since the penalty is cumulative, each duplicate would take an additional 20% ranking penalty over the last duplicate
. To be clear, as Niantic uses derived CP numbers as their ranking score
, the penalty would only be applied to the final rank score, not to the actual stats used to calculate the Pokémon's original CP number
For example (CP numbers are just an approximation used for illustration) :
Let's say a level 30 trainer, Player A, conquers a gym and places his CP 3000 Dragonite into it. A level 40 trainer, Player B decides to place his own Dragonite into the gym with a true CP of 3500, but as a duplicate takes the penalty, dropping its ranking CP to 2800 while retaining it's underlying stats. And let's say a third trainer, Player C with a CP 3400 Dragonite also places it into the gym. Player C's duplicate would take a 40% penalty since the 20% penalty is cumulative, dropping the CP from 3400 down to 2040.
As is evident, the ranking penalty would make most high level duplicates vulnerable to being out ranked by even mid level players with good Big 7 Pokémon or even other high level players with their good non Big 7. A ranking penalty would begin to reduce shaving since the whole point for shaving is to cull a low ranked Pokémon in order to place a new high CP one at the top. For shaving to be worthwhile, a shaver would need to place a non-duplicate high CP Pokémon in a high level gym. Good luck with that in a level 7 - 10 gym.
Let's take another look, with the best case Ranking CP scenario for a duplicate:
A max level 100% IV Tyranitar currently tops out at CP 3617, the highest CP ranked Pokémon available in the game at this time. The penalty to its Ranking score when placed as a duplicate in a gym would drop it to CP 2893 which leaves it vulnerable to being in 10th place behind the Big 7 and two of the "B" team Pokémon. Not exactly where a level 40 player would want a perfect maxed out Tyranitar. Aside from those of a sniping lvl 40 player, most Tyranitar are going to be variably less than perfect and less than the current max level of 39.
A 20% ranking penalty as the first duplicate, would leave the highest CP defenders (Tyranitar and Dragonite) vulnerable to being outranked by the other Big 7 defenders or a high level player's "B" team defenders. The same would apply to ANY of the Big 7 placed as first duplicates. A 40% penalty for a second duplicate would virtually guarantee any Pokémon a rank at the bottom of a gym. Obviously most players wouldn't want to "waste" their high CP gym defenders by taking a spot in the middle or bottom of a gym if all they are interested in is being at the top for coins or vanity.
Second, to further dissuade duplicates and shaving, I propose that the 20% cumulative penalty would have a hard counter
on it tied to the gym itself based on the total number of penalties previously applied, regardless
of how many duplicates remain in the gym. Meaning, as long as any of a particular Pokémon is in a gym, the penalty counter would not reset for future placed duplicates. Even if the first, non-penalized
Pokémon is removed, the penalty stays on any duplicates currently in the gym and the penalty counter continues to accumulate
. With a cumulative counter system the ranking penalty counter could potentially reach 100% ( i.e CP 0 ) after 5 Pokémon, the original and 4 duplicates at which point no additional duplicate Pokémon could be added (assuming CP 0 being unplacable). Niantic could allow for the cumulative gym penalty counter to be reset once all
of that particular Pokémon (the original and all duplicates
) are removed from the gym.
For example :
Two Snorlax are placed in a gym. One of the Snorlax (and the gym counter history for Snorlax) now has a 20% penalty. A shaver (or just a drive by rival) removes the lowest ranked Snorlax (whether or not it was the penalized Snorlax is irrelevant for the penalty counter). Since the gym continues to have at least one Snorlax, the gym retains the 20% penalty history counter, if another player adds a second Snorlax back into the gym, it's penalty (and the gym penalty counter for Snorlax) would then be 40%. Another drive by (or shave) again takes out the lowest ranked Snorlax and yet again a player adds another Snorlax taking a 60% penalty based on the gym history and continued presence of any Snorlax in the gym. Finally, someone battles the gym enough to remove all Snorlax. At that point, the penalty counter could be reset and a Snorlax could be added without a penalty to its ranking.
Or Niantic could simply apply the penalty counter to gyms without
the reset option. Meaning, after the first of a particular Pokémon is placed and regardless of removing all of a particular Pokémon, the duplicate penalty counter would remain until the gym changes team ownership. After a grand total of five duplicates, that particular Pokémon would be unplaceable within the gym. This option would effectively put an end to shaving as there would be no opportunities left to manipulate the system to get into a top position within the gym based on a Pokemon's CP.
As shown, a base 20% penalty makes any duplicate of one of the Big 7 high CP poor
defenders (Tyranitar, Dragonite, Gyarados or Rhydon) basically useless in a gym since it's only real benefit, CP ranking, is destroyed. BUT
, a high CP good
defender from the Big 7 (Blissey or Snorlax) would continue to benefit the gym regardless of its position. A penalized duplicate of a good defender would rank near the bottom of the gym but it would help create a defense buffer that would actually strengthen the gym on the low end. Either of the hard penalty counter options would prevent abuse of the tactic (i.e. walls of Blissey) as eventually drive-by rival team attacks would lock out any additional duplicates after a few replacement duplicates are added back in and then shaved back out.
The only real problem that I would see with the 20% penalty system is that it would be troublesome for the already flawed, current prestiging system.
I would suggest (even without the penalty system as this could work as a stand alone idea) that rather than equalizing trainer levels as the current prestiging system does, the entire gym roster either gets equalized to the lowest true CP within the gym or equalized to the gyms average CP of the current occupants. This would allow prestigers to lock in a series of 1/2 CP Pokémon and move through more than one or two Pokémon in the gym without having to worry about wildly variant CP battles. Both prestige options are predicated on the idea that the gym update will already be implementing some form of cheesy strat counter measures to prevent prestige abusing.
A CP 3000 Dragonite, a CP 2800 Flareon and a CP 3400 Dragonite penalized to third with rank score of 2720 sit in a gym. When a player chooses to prestige the gym, all Pokémon in the gym adjust their stats to be approximate to the lowest set by the Flareon, CP 2800, or to the gym average of CP 3067. The player could then choose all of his prestige team at CP 1400 for the low method option or CP 1533 for the averaged method to train through as many Pokémon in the gym as possible.
As I said at the beginning, this might be a pointless idea depending on what Niantic actually implements in the upcoming gym rework. Niantic might surprise us by dropping their CP ranking and going with a system that promotes strong defenders instead. But if they stick to the CP system as I suspect that they will, I believe a penalty system would best correct 3 big issues with gyms that the CP system promotes; duplicate Pokémon, mid level player lockouts, and shaving.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my long post. Any thoughts? Constructive criticisms? Am I missing a fatal flaw in my penalty system vs the speculated No Duplicate limit? Something else that's needs to be considered? Please, discuss!
Update: A companion piece I wrote for Gym Bonuses
included mock-up screenshots that included the duplicate penalty idea with the historic counter. This is a quoted section on the screenshots for reference:
- Here is a gym screen layout for displaying the Rank Score, any bonuses (or duplicate Penalties if implemented) and a couple of new icon buttons. One new button is for displaying the active bonuses (and any duplicate Pokémon penalties) and the other is a Help button that takes the player to that player's Team Leader for an explanation of gym mechanics.
- Here is an example screen for a Team Leader Help Screen after the player opens the Help icon. There should already have been an option like this and as such, a help screen should be considered a much needed stand alone idea for new players.
- Here is a Gym Bonus Screen displaying the active Gym Type Bonuses on a gym after the players opens the Bonus icon. As can be seen, there are two tabs; one for Bonuses and the other, Penalties, is where I've included my proposal for duplicate Pokémon penalties with the historic counter option.
- There would be a new gym only sort screen, here, that is available when choosing a defender for a gym. This screen would show what the Rank Score would be for the player's Pokémon if placed in the gym, along with the total adjustment for bonuses (and penalties if implemented). This would eliminate any confusion about what a player's Pokémon Rank Score would be if placed in the gym. The option to sort by Rank would only be available when interacting with a gym.
On the Rank sort screen there is also another stand alone idea; displayed beneath the Pokémon are the Move set Types and the visual bars of the Charge Attacks to aid in choosing a defender based on Move set Types.
- And last but not least, a pop-up Team Leader screen that warns the player about placing a duplicate Pokémon (if duplicate penalties are implemented) into the gym and what the penalty would be if the player chooses to continue.
A Pokémon "counter" for a particular Pokémon in a gym begins when the first is placed in the gym. Any duplicate Pokémon after the first would incur a penalty of 20% to its rank CP within the gym (but not to its stats). The 20% penalty for each duplicate would be cumulative, making the second duplicate take a 40% penalty, the third 60%, etc. High CP duplicates that are poor defenders would become useless in the gym meta. Shavers would have problems getting to high positions due to the penalties.
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