What if Pokémon Go Introduced Move Specific TMs/TRs?

Pokemon GO PvP

For anyone familiar with the main series Pokémon games, chances are items like TMs (Technical Machine), HMs (Hidden Machine), and TRs (Technical Records), introduced in Pokémon Sword/Shield, sound familiar. TMs are available in Pokémon GO in the form of Fast and Charge TMs, but they work a little differently compared to the main series game.

It’s important to acknowledge that Pokémon GO is a very different experience compared to the main series, but when it comes to battling both games rely on having a squad with the most effective move sets.

Yes, Pokémon GO already offers this option in the form of Fast and Charge TM, but implementing TMs that function similarly to the main series game or adding TRs would add another competitive aspect to Pokémon GO PvP.

TMs and TRs 

From generations 1 through 5, TMs were a one-time-use item that taught specific Pokémon a new move. There are 99 different TMs that contain a specific move. Starting in Generation 6 and onward, TMs became reusable, giving Trainers the option to teach multiple Pokémon a certain move without having to trade or breed for it.

What made TMs in the main series so different from Pokémon GO is that every TM offered a specific move. As we all know, TMs in Pokémon GO changes a Pokémon’s move within their natural movepool. What makes TMs in the main series game so valuable is the ability to teach a Pokémon a move that is not a part of their natural movepool.

Typically Pokémon learn new moves from levelling them up or evolving in the main series, another way is to use a TM. So how does this differ from Pokémon GO and why does it matter? To put things into perspective, one of the most common charge move for Snorlax in Pokémon GO, Earthquake, is actually not a part of Snorlax’s natural movepool in the main series games. Snorlax learns the powerful Ground type attack with a TR in Pokémon Sword/Shield.

So what is the difference between TMs and TRs? TRs were introduced in Pokémon Sword/Shield, obtainable through raids or buying them from merchants. They work similarly to classic TMs from Generation 1 through 5, being a one-time-use item.

How could it work in Pokémon GO?

The right move set on a Pokémon is very important, especially if the Pokémon has multiple combinations of charge moves within their natural movepool. This means a Pokémon like Hypno with a massive move pool will threaten almost any opponent just by being on the field. This mind game aspect PvP is important and gives trainers an edge. It’s great how Niantic made charge TMs fairly available through participating in Go Battle League or completing a tier 4 raid. So what if there was a chance to obtain a Fast or Charge TR similar to the main series game from winning battles or doing raids?

Maybe instead of the random Pokémon encounter as a GBL reward, the trainer can earn a random TR as a reward instead? Let’s say for example you do your GBL set and receive a TR 7 – Earthquake, this means you can teach Earthquake to any Pokémon that can learn it in the main series game! Imagine teaching Poliwrath, Drapion, or Altaria Earthquake!? At first glance the addition of TRs sound busted, so how can this feature be implemented fairly?

I’m not suggesting TRs be hidden behind a pay-wall, but let’s face facts, micro-transactions are a part of mobile gaming.

With that said, there is definitely a way to make TRs obtainable fairly for both free-to-play and premium players. For example, let’s say going 5-0 on the free GBL track gives the trainer a chance to earn a random TR for the fifth win, and on the premium track, going 4-1 offers a chance to earn it on the fourth win. This eliminates the “pay-to-win” argument since you can’t tank to receive it and there is only a slight edge on the premium track compared to the free track. If the trainer goes 3-2 on either the free or premium track they’ll still have to play another set at a chance to earn a TR. This means it still comes down to skill. Also “chance” is italicized above because it’s not guaranteed. You might just end up with everyone’s favorite Sinnoh Stone as a reward instead. Not only will this incentivize winning in GBL, but this will also give hardcore battlers, both GBL and Silph, a reason to take GBL seriously. For Niantic, this is a win-win.

Another way would be similar to raids in Sword/Shield, where you earn a random TR from completing a raid. The TR earned in Pokémon GO can be related to the raid bosses typing. For example, a chance at earning a TR 6 – Blizzard from a tier 5 Kyurem Ice/Dragon type raid, TR 33 – Shadow Ball from a Giratina Origin Dragon/Ghost type raid, or TR 24 – Outrage from a Rayquaza Dragon/Flying raid. To eliminate another “pay-to-win” argument, let’s make TRs extremely rare and have a very low drop rate. Another kicker can be that they’re only obtainable through tier 5 raids to ensure these items remain rare. This means free-to-play players still have 1 free chance per day for a shot at earning a TR with their free pass. That’s pretty fair, and it means raiders and battlers can unite on raid days! More on that later.

What about Elite TMs?

Let’s remember that Pokémon GO is very different from the main series. Elite TMs do not exist in the main series game but they’re extremely valuable in Pokémon GO. In Pokémon GO, there are certain Pokémon that have legacy moves, or moves that were only available for a limited time during community day or exclusive to Pokémon caught during the early days of Pokémon GO, before the move shake-ups. So can TRs and Elite TMs exist in the same game? Sure, it’d be simple.

What makes Elite TMs so valuable is its ability to access legacy moves. A trainer is allowed to choose and teach a Pokémon any move within both their natural current and legacy movepool. TRs will function differently by teaching a Pokémon a move that is not a part of their natural movepool. Well, the argument of “then you can just use TR 33 – Shadow Ball on Mewtwo without using an Elite Charge TM, making Elite Charge TMs obsolete” can be made. There are two solutions to this. The first will be making TRs so rare that it might take upwards of 10-20 raids or 50 rounds of GBL to earn one random TR. Random as in the reward might be TR 7 – Low Kick. This will make players opt for the Elite TM to teach a legacy move to a Pokémon rather than using a precious TR. The second being the simple method; a Pokémon cannot learn a legacy move via TR. There can be a pop-up message that says something like “this item cannot be used on this Pokémon” if you try to use TR 33 on Mewtwo. Either solution will allow Elite TMs to retain their value and TRs can be rewarded to those who are actively seeking them.

Implications for Community Building

There are many different ways to enjoy Pokémon GO. Whether you are a hardcore raider, shiny hunter, or battler, everyone is playing the same game. This is the beauty of Pokémon GO. TRs can actually unite all these players and give battlers a reason to go join a raid group or give shiny hunters and raiders a reason to hold on to TRs just in case the rumor about trading items is true.

There is a possibility that trading items will be a part of Pokémon GO through a previous data mine. Whether this is true or not, including such a feature will be another great way to unite raiders and battlers. Imagine a battler joining a raid train and they meet a hardcore raider with so many TR 33s that they’re about to trash some. Maybe the hardcore raider values Golden Raspberries or Max Revives more than TRs and the battler was about to feed Golden Raspberries to a gym just to clear some bag space. At first, trading a rare item like a TR for some Golden Raspberries and Max Revives might not sound like a fair trade but the battler can always throw in a shiny Pokemon to sweeten the deal. This means the shiny hunters can also barter for a desired shiny Pokemon with their TRs and everyone makes a new friend!

Final Thoughts 

There are many critical discussions concerning the current state of Pokemon Go Pvp and Go Battle League on the server side of Niantic, but with that said Niantic is focusing heavily on PvP judging by the past few community days (Drill Run Beedrill, Shadow Punch Gengar, etc), the addition of Elite TMs, numerous move shake-ups, and balancing charge move damage. So why not add TRs to Pokémon GO and really put battlers to the test? We are currently 4 months into Go Battle League and the beginning of Silph League Arena Season 3 so by there are plenty of new battlers familiarizing themselves with good/bad matchups, counting fast moves, and practicing the very important sacrificial swap. The addition of TRs will enhance the PvP experience by giving trainers a personalized and methodical approach at team-building without being predictable.

If a trainers Gyrados nukes a Venusaur with an unexpected Fire Blast during a Championship Finals match it’d be sure to make the audience lose their minds! This can only happen if TR 15 – Fire Blast, and TRs in general, are added to Pokémon GO. So why not add another level of competitive gameplay and give trainers an opportunity to personalize their strategy by adding TRs (Technical Records) to Pokémon GO? What do you think, too spicy? Let me know in the comments!


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