See that banner? That is made by the talented Pokemon Trainer Sarah. In fact, all banners that will be used in this review are made by her.
Today, we will start a new series dealing with Ice-types. One thing that got me into doing this is that it is one of the types with the least population, so it seems a lot more attractive to cover. This series will be biweekly, so expect to see articles on Tuesday and Friday. If you are ready, let’s go.
The Ice-type had been a traditional element in basically any RPG, along with Electric and Fire, and in Pokémon, it’s no exception. As such, it seems like an equal to the other two types. You can see this is the legendary trio of the Kanto birds and the Dragons of Unova, as well as attacks in the elemental punches and the high-powered Special attacks.
However, in terms of the support they have, it seems like they got less of it compared to the other two types. For one, Ice is one of the rarest types out there, only beating Ghost and Dragon. In fact, they got few introductions every Generation. While it’s true that either Fire or Electric aren’t the most common type either, at least Fire got a lot of introductions in Kanto and Unova, while Electric received a steady amount of additions each Generation. I guess that the seeming fragility of the type has something to do with its rarity, although I am not certain about this. Another reason has to do with battling, which we will go into later.
Now, let’s have a more in-depth look on the Ice-type as a whole.
What the Ice-type is
Ice is sometimes considered a physical thing which is a frozen form of water. Other times, it is a living thing that is cold. In other words, what represent the Ice-type are things that are all things cold. As for what temperature that would mean, it would likely be anything at zero Celsius or below, because that is the freezing point of water.
As said before, some Ice-types are based on solid, frozen water, and we have some Pokémon that fit this characteristic. Additionally, some of the Ice-types are Mineral-based, which fits the appearance of some of the Pokémon. One particularly famous example is the Vanillite line, for they are “ice cream”-based, with snow for cream and ice for bodies. Another example, although not as famous, is Regice, which is a golem made of ice. To a lesser extent, Glalie looks like a hailstone.
There are also Ice-types that are living things, so they are not based on real ice. They seem to be made of living things that could live in the cold. An example is Beartic, which is based on a polar bear, an animal that lives in the arctic. Abomasnow is based on a yeti and coniferous tree, which are stuff that represent things that live in cold places, which would explain its Ice-type.
Ice-types typically live in cold places, as evidenced with the colder areas in any region. In Sinnoh, for example, there are several Ice-types in Route 216, a snowy incline. Even Unova has Ice-types that only appear when it’s winter (or is near the Cold Storage). While Hoenn is largely devoid of Ice-types due to its tropical climate, there is the very obscure Icy Cave which is the home of Snorunt. Because of the lack of cold areas in a region, it’s little wonder we have very few Ice-types every Generation.
Even the Ice-type moves are based around anything cold, so it’s easy to see that Ice Beam and Sheer Cold are moves that will chill anybody. There are some moves that are not obviously based around coldness, such as Mist and Haze, but it is easy to draw a conclusion that they are related to Ice. The learners are varied. Usually, Water-types gain access to at least Ice-type move, probably because the designers decided that Ice and Water are related, so the Water-types will be able to learn them. Oddly, the Ice-types are not given the standard Water attacks the same way Water-types get the standard Ice attacks, so this relationship seems to be one-sided.
Abilities that fit the Ice-type are currently only restricted to the Ice-type. The abilities I am referring to are Snow Cloak, Ice Body and Snow Warning. If you look at the learners of each of these abilities, you will notice that the learners are Ice-types, except for Seel, which is only because its evolution is part-Ice.
An interesting thing to note is that Ice-types cannot be frozen, in the same way Fire-types cannot be burnt or Poison-types cannot be poisoned. This is interesting because it means that the frozen status ailment is more of the body freezing rather than the Pokémon themselves being encased in ice. It does have a bit of sense for those that are made out of ice crystal, but it sounds odd for anything that are animals because them seem to be equally likely to be frozen themselves.
So the basic conclusion I draw from what defines the Ice-type sums up with one thing: coldness. There’s not much to say about this, because that’s all there is to this.
There are some uses with Ice-types or the moves they possess, like every type out there. Ice is one of the most straightforward when it comes to their functions, so it’s not difficult to see what they are used for.
One such use is to cool things down. On a hot weather or perhaps a very hot environment, having an Ice-type to cool things down would be much appreciated. While the same could be done with water, if you want to have something that cools down faster, then ice is the way to go. This could work well if the water’s very hot in a pool too, or perhaps a drink needs to cool down (even if a cold drink would make the body hot thanks to the body thinking it is cold). Food preservation is something that an Ice-type could do, since making things cold will preserve them longer, such as meat, although it’s not certain that humans in the Pokémon world would want meat in the first place. That is something Rotom-Frost could do.
Ice isn’t necessarily restricted in cooling stuff, because they have other uses too. Ice could also be used to freeze parts of the water, so that people could easily cross them. This is demonstrated by Beartic’s PokéDex, stating that it uses its frosty breath to cross large bodies of water. This feature is not implemented in-game probably because the way anyone crosses ice, they might as well slip-slide into water as soon as they step on it. Speaking of friction issues, Ice is able to create a path to easily push heavy stuff since the ice will reduce the friction, making them easier to move around. Still, the mess made from the melted ice needs to be taken into account.
Another cool thing Ice-types could do is to provide freeze protection, because they are immune to freezing. They could be tasked to do things in harshly cold environments, since they are even immune to the damage of hail, such as Delibird’s gift-giving escapades.
So far, there isn’t any move that reliably freezes, because this move could give the Ice-type a function in freezing stuff so that they don’t escape. The freezing could also preserve some bacteria (if the Pokémon world has them) so that they last longer.
Even though the Ice-type is straightforward in its benefits, it is surprisingly difficult to generate ideas on how to use them. Another thing to note is how the Ice-type could be dangerous, as freezing people would give them a cold or put their lives in danger. Still, any type has downsides, and the Ice-type is not an exception.
Before the great Physical/Special split occurred, Ice was delegated as a Special type, so if a user attacks with the Ice-type, they will attack on the opponent’s Special Defence using their Special Attack. While Ice had been a traditional type, they are, in some ways, the least useful because of certain attributes that are not favourable to them.
It has been undisputed that Ice is a great offensive type, even for Physical attackers. This is because it hits certain crucial types for super-effective damage, most notably Dragon-types, who are not weak to anything else besides this type and Dragon themselves. There are other types affected by this as well, which are Grass, Flying and Ground. Ice is resisted by Fire, Water, Steel and Ice itself, which would mean there are plenty of resistors considering the population of Water-types. There are several Pokémon who learn Ice-type attacks, whether it’s in the form of Ice Punch or Ice Beam, and they very much appreciate that extra coverage for the aforementioned types. In fact, Water-types generally have Ice attacks as a privilege to their coverage, so any Grass-type needs to beware of the very type they are supposed to counter.
Even though Ice is a great offensive type, it is among the worst defensive types in the game, because it has a very high weakness to resistance ratio. The only thing Ice-types resist is Ice itself, but it is weak to four types, which are Fire, Rock, Fighting and Steel. The first three are common offensive types that often find a way in teams, but Steel is another thorn on their side, being found on the common Scizor. Because of this, it is rare to see Ice-types being used in battle, since they are difficult to maintain. Stealth Rock is also lethal to the average Ice-type, since their weakness compounds the damage taken from that entry hazard. It doesn’t help that other types use Ice attacks better than Ice-types since they are not weak to Stealth Rock and have generally better survivability, such as the Water-types themselves.
Hail is a weather condition that benefits Ice-types the most, due to its effect. First of all, only Ice-types are naturally immune to it, so it will eventually whittle down other types. It also improves the accuracy of the powerful Blizzard, which is a useful move in Doubles for its ability to hit more than one opponent. There are other Pokémon who could benefit from Hail due to their abilities, such as Snow Cloak and Ice Body, providing bonuses if Hail is active. Usually, the best way to set up Hail is through Snow Warning, because this ability grants Hail for the rest of the match, benefitting a stalling or offensive approach for the chip damage it does every turn.
It is interesting to note that in the TCG, Ice-types are classified as Water-types. To differentiate the two of them, Ice-types are typically weak to Metal-type (known as the Steel-type in video game terms). Because of this classification, some type interactions would seem strange for the video game player. For one, they now hit Fire super-effectively because Fire-types are typically weak to Water but resist Ice. Also, Grass-types resist Ice attacks since they typically have a Water resistance.
All in all, Ice-types are a double-edged sword, with the edge of disadvantage being sharper than the edge of advantage, so the Ice-types would appreciate any improvements that favour them in a big way.
In my opinion, the Ice-type is a type that received the least attention. In terms of quantity, Ice-types are among the lowest, with only 30 members available (this is not including Castform). This number beats both Ghost-types and Dragon-types by a small margin, but both of those types have at least more attention. Dragon-type have the advantage of being one of the best types in battling, as well as its prominence as version mascots since there are seven of them with this label so far. As for Ghost-types, they have more attention in a sense that it is improving since Generation 3, as well as being useful in battling. Still, there are some Ice-type fan favourites, such as Glaceon (for being an Eeveelution), Kyurem (a version mascot for two games) and Vanilluxe (it’s a cult favourite).
To me, the Ice-type feels special because of its general obscurity. There are a number of Pokémon early on with Ice as a type, but are not usually perceived as such, such as Sneasel and Lapras. Recent efforts are easier to identify, because you know that every Generation 5 Ice-types are, well, Ice-types. The Ice-type may not be my most favourite, but because there are very few members, it is easy to identify and investigate each family, as few of them have overlaps (an example of overlap is the Dewgong line and Walrein line). I even thought that Ice was a great type because I never saw a lot of them in past play-throughs, until I learned the type chart.
The Ice-type may not be the best nor are they the most populated them, nor do they have the most attention, but they are still important in Pokémon for their attributes and diversity. I have explained the importance of Ice-types earlier, but its diversity is one to look at.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.
Thanks for reading.