Wednesday, August 10, 2016

FifthStitch Plays: Pokemon Go - Selecting which Pokemon to Power Up

Pokemon Go has been out for a couple of days now in the Philippines, but it has been out for more than a month in other countries. Because of this, a lot of information has already been data mined from the game, some of which are hidden from the players. Information like move sets, IVs and others are now becoming public knowledge and could get very intimidating. It becomes quite difficult to decide which Pokemon to pour in all those hard earned candies, as there is just so many variables involved in deciding which Pokemon in your collection really is the best.

I want to try and remedy that. I'm not the best Pokemon Go player, nor am I the most experienced, but I think I've played enough of the game and made my own fair share of mistakes to know the core mechanics of the game. There are still things I do not know (for example, how much do IVs actually affect the performance of my Pokemon in battle), as information regarding these have not been completely confirmed or verified, but basing off of what I and most people who have played the game to a considerable degree know, I think I have come up with a good and relatively painless enough process to determine which Pokemon of a certain species is best to devote candies and stardust powering up.

Here are my 4 (relatively) simple steps to determining which Pokemon to transfer and which Pokemon to train.

Step 1: Evolve your Pokemon

Before you even select which Pokemon to power up, make sure you evolve your Pokemon completely first. This is alot easier for two-stage Pokemon than three-stage Pokemon which probably explains why, with the exception of a few cases (looking at you Dragonite), most Gyms right now are defended and defeated by second stage Pokemon evolutions.

Why do you want to evolve first? Apart from the fact that you won't really be using your lower stage evolution Pokemon in battle (and the game offers little to no incentive in doing so, unlike the core games), the moves of your Pokemon changes as they evolve. Currently, there is no way to predict what moves your Pokemon will have when they evolve as they seem to be completely randomized on evolution. This means that until you finally evolve your Pokemon, you will not know what moves they will have.

So why the focus on moves? So far, from data gathered by Reddit contributors, moves play a very significant role in determining the viability of Pokemon. The moves of a Pokemon massively contribute to the amount of damage a Pokemon can deal every second in a battle. So having a Pokemon with the perfect set of moves could mean more than a Pokemon that has the best IVs (this has yet to be confirmed, however).

Once you have evolved all of the Pokemon you wish to use...

Step 2: Arrange your Pokemon by Number

Sorting your Pokemon by number allows you to more easily see all of your Pokemon with the same species. Personally, I prefer sorting them alphabetically but this will only work if you did not give your Pokemon nicknames. This also conveniently sorts your Pokemon by CP. 

Let's talk about CP for a minute. CP is a very good measure of the strength of a Pokemon. If you just want to casually play the game, you can't go wrong with basing your Pokemon's strength on CP, and just always selecting the Pokemon with the highest CP. CP is roughly the total of your Pokemon's Level and its IVs; all of which are hidden from you. IVs correspond to your Pokemon's bonus ATK, DEF and Stamina. The formula is a lot more complicated than just adding the four values up (IV values + Level), but it more or less gives you a measure of how well the Pokemon will behave in battle compared to other Pokemon of the same species.

The trouble is, lower level Pokemon will naturally have lower CP than higher level Pokemon, even if the IVs of the lower level Pokemon are potentially better than the higher level Pokemon. Fortunately, IVs so far do not seem to have a massive effect in battle, but new research claims that it might have a greater effect than people previously thought.

In any case, another benefit of higher CP Pokemon is it will take less candies and stardust (and ultimately less effort on your end) to power them up to the maximum level possible. If you are particular about this (especially for rarer Pokemon), CP might as well be the way to go, but if you can be patient and persistent enough to catch more Pokemon of the same species no matter the rarity, then you may proceed with the rest of this guide.

Step 3: Determine which Pokemon has the right Move Set

As mentioned, from the information gathered so far, move set plays a bigger role in determining which Pokemon can deal the most damage every second. It is then best to pick the Pokemon with the best possible move set for its species. 

So how do we determine this? Nick from the YouTube channel Trainer Tips has made a video explaining how to do so (Side note, this channel has a lot of awesome tips and tricks for Pokemon Go players, and the way the videos are made is very easy to watch and lacks the unnecessary hype other YouTube channels put into their Pokemon Go videos. If you prefer listening to more grounded, straightforward and concise explanations over extremely energetic and excited presentations, do check out this channel!).

For those who couldn't watch the video, here's a very quick summary that will do for the purposes of this guide. First, go to this Google Sheets page. This spreadsheet contains data on moves and how much damage they deal every second. Next, go to column G (Name) and click on the little drop down button on the right of the column header. This will bring down some options, but we are only concerned with the sorting options. Sort the list either from A to Z or Z to A, up to you, we are only concerned with grouping the list by species. 

Afterwards, decide for what purpose are you going to use your Pokemon. Yes, in Pokemon Go, some move sets are better when you are trying to defeat a gym and others are better when you are trying to defend it. Some have multiple move sets that are pretty good for both attacking and defending a gym but for most, it's going to be different. If you are going to use your Pokemon to attack, look at the number in column B (Offense) but if you are going to use your Pokemon as a gym defender, look at the number in column D (Defense). A number 1 means that the corresponding moves in columns L and N (Basic Atk and Charge Atk) are the best moves for that role, a higher number means its less effective.

For example, let's look at Raticate, a Pokemon that most of you probably already have due to how common Rattatas are (no joke, De La Salle University might have a rat infestation problem; one time I spent about an hour Pokemon hunting there and I caught about a hundred Rattatas and a handful of Raticates). After sorting the spread sheet, here are the rows associated with Raticate:

I hid the other columns for clarity. Look at row 637, notice that it says 1 in column B. This means that, if you are attacking a Gym, a Raticate with Bite and Hyper Beam will give you the most potential damage per second. Now look at row 642, and notice that it says 1 in column D. This means that if you are leaving a Raticate as a Gym defender, the best move set for it is Quick Attack and Dig.

There are still other important information to be gleaned from the spreadsheet, and for that I urge you to watch the video (and perhaps Nick's other video on IVs) in full to know more about them (for example, always tapping versus weaving in Charge Atks with Basic Atks).

What I personally do is I go through each Pokemon of a particular species I have and favorite those whose move sets are good or good enough (for rarer Pokemon, this would be the case, as you probably would not have a lot of them). Depending on how rare the Pokemon, if you don't have one that has the best move set for offense or defense, I would suggest holding off on powering them up until you find one that is.

In case you did not know, you can actually swipe to the left or right when you are viewing a Pokemon to see the Pokemon next to or before it in your collection. This is great if you want to go through your Pokemon rapidly, which you will be doing a lot if you want to know which one of them is the best.

Once you have marked the Pokemon that have good move sets, it will be up to you if you want to keep the rest. For me, I transfer the ones that do not have good move sets if the Pokemon is common enough, but I tend to keep those of higher rarities just in case the IVs of the Pokemon with good  move sets are abysmal compared to those that do not have the best move sets. When in doubt, just keep catching more Pokemon in the hopes that they will have both good moves and good IVs!

Whatever is the case, once you have found the Pokemon that have the best move set, it's time to get more in-depth and check your Pokemon's IVs.

Step 4: Check for IVs

This is my final filter only because from what we currently know, IVs have less effect on damage than the actual moves of the Pokemon, but this could very well change in the future if it has been verified that IVs affect damage significantly.

There are a lot of handy IV calculators out there now for Pokemon Go. The one I personally use is in this link. It really is up to your preference, as almost all calculators display the same information anyway. The one I use just has a very easy to use layout.

So how do you use these calculators and how do you interpret their results? To use the calculator, select first the Pokemon species you wish to check. Then, input the CP and HP in the succeeding fields. For Dust, input the current amount of Stardust it would take to power up your Pokemon. This is indicated by the number beside the power up button when you view a Pokemon. Finally, select No in the final field if you have never powered up your Pokemon and Yes if you have. Usually, if you have only freshly caught a Pokemon or evolved it without powering it up, you will leave this field set to No.

Once you are done, click Find IVs. You will now see some percentages labelled Maximum, Average and Minimum. Maximum means what are the chances that your Pokemon has the best possible IV spread given the information you inputted, and you would more often than not base your decision on this percentage. Around 70-80% is good enough for me, but the higher the number, the best your Pokemon potentially is. Of course, 100% on Maximum means your Pokemon has perfect IVs (meaning maximum values for ATK, DEF and Stamina).

Do this for all your Pokemon, and unmark all those that do not make the cut. Once you are done, congrats! The ones that remain marked are the Pokemon you can spend your hard-earned candies and stardust on, at least until a better one arrives!

Have fun!

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