Understanding the Pokemon Stats Update


From out of nowhere, Niantic dropped the biggest combat balance update for Pokemon GO to date! In this article, we'll go over why Pokemon CP changed so drastically, and what Niantic intent for with these changes.

What Has Not Changed
First things first, the CP formula did not change: $$CP = Atk* \sqrt{Def} * \sqrt{Sta} * \frac{CPMultiplier^2}{10} $$ Nor did the damage formula:

Damage =

$$Floor( ½ * Power * \frac{Atk}{Def} * STAB * Effective) + 1$$

Pokemon GO still only have three stats: Attack, Defense, Stamina (and their associated IV values). No, there is no Base Speed in Pokemon GO. Attack/Special Attack still fold into a single Base Attack, and likewise for Defense/Special Defense.

Base Stamina hasn't changed either. It remains:

$$Base Stamina = 2 * HP$$

Where HP is the Pokemon's HP stat in the main series.

Gym mechanics had not changed in this update either (Prestige calculation did change in Patch 0.45.0).

What did change, are Pokemon's Base Attack and Defense. The formulas for converting stats from the main game series to Pokemon GO have been modified to benefit speedy specialists.

New vs Old Base Stats

For a preliminary discussion on how these stat changes impact the gym metagame, click here.  

For the new base stats, check the updated Pokemon pages on GamePress, now fully up to date.  How the base stats have shifted are charted below, with the biggest buffs highlighted:  

base attack


base defense

For a complete spreadsheet, check out the data extracted by TheSilphRoad Research Team.

Old Base Attack and Defense

Base Attack in Pokemon GO are calculated based on Pokemon's Attack, Special Attack, and Speed stats from the main Pokemon series. The old formula was:

$$Base Attack = 2 Round(\sqrt{Atk * SpAtk} + \sqrt{Speed})$$

and likewise for Base Defense.

$$Base Defense = 2 Round(\sqrt{Def * SpDef} + \sqrt{Speed})$$

These formulas heavily penalize (1) specialists and (2) speedy Pokemon that tend to dominate the metagame in the main series. As a result, mainstays like Alakazam end up nothing more than Pokedex fillers in Pokemon GO. The biggest beneficiaries are Pokemon with a slow Pokemon with balanced stats, which was why Snorlax had reign undisputed since release.

Not anymore!

With this combat update, Niantic changed the conversion formula to favor Pokemon that specialize in either physical or special attack (or defense). They also gave a boost to fast Pokemon and a penalty to more lumbering Pokemon. These changes are basically in line with What Nick of TrainerTips advocated for several months back:

His video is definitely worth a watch, to help wrap your head around why these combat changes are necessary.

New Base Attack and Defense

The new Base Attack formula, credits to GamePress reader Peter Hatch for discovering the exact formula in the comments:

$$Base Attack = Round( Scaled Attack * SpeedMod ) $$

Scaled Attack is weighted heavily towards the higher of Attack and Special Attack:

$$Scaled Attack = Round( 2 * (\frac{7}{8} Higher + \frac{1}{8} Lower) )$$

Where Higher is the higher of Attack and Special Attack, and Lower is the lower value between Attack and Special Attack. If a Pokemon have equal Attack and Special Attack, ScaledAttack is simply 2x Attack.

SpeedMod is defined as the following:

$$SpeedMod = 1 + \frac{Speed - 75}{500}$$

In essence, medium speed Pokemon (75) has SpeedMod of 1. Fast Pokemon receives a 5% boost to its stats for every 25 Speed over 75. Slow Pokemon receives a 5% penalty to its Base Attack and Defense for every 25 Speed short of 75.

Base Defense can be calculated similarly:

$$Base Defense = Round( Scaled Defense * SpeedMod ) $$ $$Scaled Defense = Round( 2 * (\frac{7}{8} Higher + \frac{1}{8} Lower) )$$ $$SpeedMod = 1 + \frac{Speed - 75}{500}$$

How well these formulas match with new base stats:


The only outlier is Lapras, also the only Pokemon whose base attack and defense were not changed in this update. These formulas are otherwise perfectly predictive of the updated Base Attack and Defense.  

From these formulas, we can draw some inferences of Niantic's intent:

  • The higher stat holds 7 times more weight than the lower stat.  This really benefits special (ie Gengar) and physical specialists (ie Rhydon) with unbalanced stat. A Specialist Pokemon with 150/50 stats in the original series is 37.5% more powerful compared to a 100/100 generalist.
  • Speed is now a proportional buff/nerf to Base Attack and Defense, especially if the Pokemon is particularly quick or lumbering.  The fastest Pokemon in Gen 1, Electrode, saw a 13% increase to its base stats because of its swiftness. Snorlax saw a 9% penalty to its base stats as one of the slowest Pokemon ingame.

If Niantic is set out to buff Alakazam to appease TrainerTips and his legions of fans, they have succeeded with this update. How these stats change influence the Pokemon GO metagame though, remains to be seen.  

Whether this update would lead to a more balanced metagame is still up in the air. Expect a lot of activity around the Pokemon GO GamePress, as this update has the potential the change every aspect of what we know of Pokemon GO combat meta!

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