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Explaining the October 2018 Stat Change

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Introduction

After being teased for about a week, Pokemon GO has finally updated their HP and Defense formulas! In this article, we'll go over why Pokemon CP changed so drastically, and what Niantic’s assumed intent is for with these changes.

Special shout out to u/Pikatrainer for figuring out both formula changes and u/TesMath for organizing the stat changes!

What Has Not Changed

First things first, the CP formula did not change: $$CP = Atk* \sqrt{Def} * \sqrt{Sta} * \frac{CPMultiplier^2}{10} $$ Base attack hasn't changed either. It remains: $$Base Attack = Round( Scaled Attack * SpeedMod ) $$ $$Scaled Attack = Round( 2 * (\frac{7}{8} Higher + \frac{1}{8} Lower) )$$ $$SpeedMod = 1 + \frac{Speed - 75}{500}$$ Where Higher and Lower refer to the species higher/lower stat between Attack and Special Attack from the Pokemon in the main series games. What did change, are Pokemon's Base Stamina and Defense. The formulas for converting stats from the main game series to Pokemon GO have been modified to benefit fragile Pokemon and effectively nerf highly defensive Pokemon. The assumption is Niantic is aiming to normalize bulk more in preparation for PvP.

Base Stamina Changes

Base Stamina in Pokemon GO was previously calculated as: $$BaseStamina = HP * 2$$ Base Stamina is now calculated as: $$ BaseStamina = Floor(HP * 1.75 + 50)$$ This change nerfs the few Pokemon (namely Blissey) who’s HP stat times 0.25 exceeds 50 and buffs all Pokemon with a flat 50. The higher the HP stat is in the main series games, the less of a buff the species receives. This change results in a normalization of the Stamina stat in Pokemon GO. As you can see in the graph below, the further you get from the “Wobbuffet” intersect point, the more Stamina rises.

While Blissey is one of a few Pokemon nerfed from the stamina change, -14 stamina is hardly noticeable. In this respect, it is safe to say that the stamina changes were meant as a global buff to viability of all Pokemon. The scales tip less favorably for some Pokemon with the Base Defense rebalance.

Base Defense Changes

Base Defense in Pokemon GO was previously calculated as: $$Base Defense = Round( Scaled Defense * SpeedMod ) $$ $$Scaled Defense = Round( 2 * (\frac{7}{8} Higher + \frac{1}{8} Lower) )$$ $$SpeedMod = 1 + \frac{Speed - 75}{500}$$ Base Defense is now calculated as: $$Base Defense = Round( Scaled Defense * SpeedMod ) $$ $$Scaled Defense = Round( 2 * (\frac{5}{8} Higher + \frac{3}{8} Lower) )$$

Where Higher is the higher of Defense and Special Defense, and Lower is the lower value between Defense and Special Defense from the main series games. If a Pokemon have equal Defense and Special Defense, ScaledDefense is simply 2x Defense.

This change can be seen as a compromise between Pokemon GO’s previous Base Defense and the original base defense Pokemon GO had on release. On release, Defense and Special Defense were weighted equally. With the 2017 update, the higher of these two stats for each species was given 7/8ths more weight than the lower, allowing Pokemon with more specialized defensive stats to excel in defense in Pokemon GO. While this weight change had a positive effect on the Base Attack stat, allowing Machamp and Alakazam to finally stand out as attackers, this change in Base Defense has played a heavy hand in making Blissey so insanely tanky.

This midway change only grants specialized defenders a 5/8ths weight opposed to a 7/8ths. This has resulted in nerfs in every Pokemon’s Base Defense unless both their Defense and Special Defense are balanced in the main series, in which case there is no change at all. Pokemon hit hardest by this are Physical Tanks such as Rhydon and Steelix and Special Tanks such as the infamous Blissey.

Base Defense Changes

It isn’t clear if the changes in the defense stat weights were meant by Niantic as a personal assault on Blissey or as a global nerf to most Pokemon to further normalize bulk. Even with these changes, Blissey remains the greatest gym defender in Pokemon GO but she holds significantly less weight as a high total damage output (TDO) attacker.

TDO & PvP Theory

On paper, Pokemon with a higher total damage output (TDO) have a natural advantage in PvP. To illustrate, Blissey, formerly the highest TDO Pokemon in Pokemon GO, had enough bulk to outlast any opponent in combat. This suggests that under most circumstances, Blissey would be able to beat any opponent before they could defeat her. Unless Niantic banned Blissey (or adopted a PvP system unlike any other combat in Pokemon GO) Blissey would centralize the meta-game: either you’d be winning with Blissey or losing against Blissey.

With these changes in place, Blissey’s comprehensive TDO is now only ~30 points above Dragonite, another solid TDO Pokemon, where before it was over 300 points higher. Should PvP be anything like raids or gym battles, this puts Blissey in a much more manageable position opposed to a dominating one. It is for this reason it is reasonable to assume that these changes which appear to aim towards normalizing bulk (and therefore TDO) in Pokemon GO may be in preparation for PvP.