Many people think that just because the Pokemon franchise normally features cute and cuddly creatures, they are primarily targeted for kids. But for the most part, that holds true, given the rather simple premise of the games. Yes, there’s a story present in the main Pokemon games, but they’re usually very linear that simply involves traveling from one town to the next, beating available Gyms, and ultimately making it to the Pokemon League, which houses the five most decorated Trainers in-game – the Elite Four and the Pokemon League Champion.
Battles, at first glance, are rather simple, too: just pick one move out of a maximum of four to throw at opposing Pokemon. Although Pokemon Go simplifies battles by assigning all Pokemon only two moves and players execute them by either tapping or tap-and-holding on the screen, the goal remains the same: reduce your opponent’s Pokemon HP to zero. However, not everything is as it seems. First off, Pokemon are assigned one or two types from a possible 18 types – they’re sort of the elemental properties in the games. Moves or attacks carry types, too. Some attack types deal more damage to specific Pokemon types, while some deal less. It’s like a rock-paper-scissors game, only with 18 options to choose from.
And second, all Pokemon possess hidden stats that make them very unique. They are called Individual Values or IVs and they are the reason why two Pokemon of the same kind and of the same levels have varying strengths during combat. IVs are present in the main Pokemon games, and they are similarly present in Pokemon Go, although in a much simpler way. Types can easily be understood by kids, but IVs are a different thing. If you’ve never played any of the main Pokemon games, it would be wise to equip yourself with details on IVs and types.
Individual Values – what exactly are they?
Each Pokemon in Pokemon Go are assigned three hidden stats: Attack, Defense, and Stamina. These parameters are automatically assigned as soon as you catch a Pokemon or hatch a Pokemon egg, and they range from 0-15. (For comparison, the main games have them in six different stats and range from 0-31.) There is no way to manually change IVs, even in the main games – as soon as you first acquire a Pokemon, whatever the methods, the IVs will be set in stone. These hidden Individual Values affect a Pokemon’s Combat Power (CP), which would explain why two Dragonites of the same level would have different CP. Every time you use Stardust to power-up a Pokemon, the amount of boost they will receive depends on a Pokemon’s IVs.
Attack and Defense IVs are pretty much self-explanatory, directly affecting combat prowess. Stamina, on the other hand, affects a Pokemon’s HP, the other parameter that you can see. IVs must also be considered when choosing which Pokemon to evolve. Candies are time-consuming to farm, so it’s best to only evolve Pokemon with high IVs because their potential to become stronger is higher. But how do players know which Pokemon have a high set of IVs?
There are several websites that help you calculate IVs, like this one. And there are third-party apps that you can also use. IV calculators simply require you to input your Pokemon’s visible stats and they’ll give you a rough estimate on the numbers – of course they’re not 100% accurate. However, Niantic decided to help players determine their Pokemon’s IVs. Just recently, Niantic gave the leaders of each team in the game – Candela (Valor), Blanche (Mystic), and Spark (Instinct) – the ability to check out your Pokemon and assess their IVs. But they won’t tell you the exact numbers, only through specific lines of dialog. You don’t really need to go in-depth with the IVs, especially if you’re not into competitive battling. However, if you want to reign over a Gym for an extended amount of time, you would need to carefully choose the Pokemon you will evolve and power-up by monitoring IVs.
Pokemon Types 101
Unlike IVs, Pokemon types are way simpler to understand, although they do involve a bit of memorization. This is the area where people who’ve played the main Pokemon games have a clear advantage. There are 18 types overall, but there were only 15 originally. The second-gen games introduced the Dark and Steel types and the sixth-gen games introduced the Fairy type. However, the Dark type is not represented by any of the original 151 Pokemon because none of them were retroactively given said type, unlike Magnemite and Magneton that were both given the Steel subtype in addition to their original Electric type. Pokemon moves, on the other hand, are represented by all 18 types. You can check out the Pokemon Type Chart at Serebii to see how each type affects others.
In some cases, understanding which move types deal more damage to certain Pokemon types or which ones deal less is easy and obvious, like:
- Electric-type moves swiftly electrocuting Water-type Pokemon
- Rock-type and Fighting-type moves easily crushing Ice-type Pokemon
- Fire-type moves not being very effective against Water-type Pokemon (duh)
- Psychic-type Pokemon having clear advantage over Fighting-type Pokemon with their Psychic moves (apparently, they can read their next move)
And there are some that are a bit hard to put your head around, like:
- Dragon-type moves defeating…Dragon-type Pokemon
- Bug-type moves, uh, irritating the crap out of Psychic-type Pokemon
- Steel-type moves walloping Fairy-type Pokemon
The amount of damage boost or damage penalty isn’t the same with the main Pokemon games, although it’s quite hard to compare because Pokemon Go has different stats for each Pokemon. Furthermore, the type immunities in which certain Pokemon types receive zero damage from specific move types were completely removed in Pokemon Go. They are as follows:
- Flying immune to Ground-type moves
- Ground immune to Electric-type moves
- Psychic immune to Dark-type moves
- Steel immune to Poison-type moves
- Ghost immune to Normal-type and Fighting-type moves
- Normal and Fighting immune to Ghost-type moves
- Fairy immune to Dragon-type moves
Don’t be confused with all the bullet points and the linked type chart above – they’re not all that hard to familiarize with. Once you’ve engaged in a fair amount of battles, understanding them will come naturally to you. But don’t be shy with carrying around a small piece of paper as your type cheat sheet if you want; battles in Pokemon Go are not that much prevalent compared to the main games anyway, so nobody will be laughing at you for not being able to easily memorize all type strengths and weaknesses.