Raiding has been an integral component of Pokemon GO gameplay for more than 8 months. Over this period of time, the community has made substantial headway in demystifying raid mechanics.
One raid mechanic that has not been well researched is how individual and team damage contributions are determined. There have been anecdotal reports and casual experiments on the subject, but the comments in that Reddit thread indicate a lack of consensus on where the real damage cutoffs are. GamePress research team decided to carefully examine the mechanics behind.
This research was conducted by u/dondon151 (dondon151), u/biowpn (biowp) and u/comma0 (comma0). dondon151 was the principal researcher who designed and conducted experiments, interpreted data, analyzed screenshots and videos, and penned this article. biowp designed and conducted extra experiments to improve this article’s rigor. comma0 contributed a large set of raid results screens.
Over the last few months, when I completed a raid, if I was not in the top group for team contribution (which happens a lot since I’m Instinct), I saved a screenshot of the raid results screen. I collected 22 such screenshots over this period of time. comma0 was extremely helpful in this regard, sending me a folder of 242 usable raid results screens, of which I selected the 34 most useful ones.
At the end of 2017, biowp also conducted experiments in this area, recording videos of Magikarp raids in which damage dealt was tightly controlled and counted. After we discovered that his prior damage counting method was flawed, he recorded new videos of Tier 1 raids with an improved damage counting method to fine-tune the data.
First, an explanation on how the team contribution bars are drawn on the raid results screen. The top contributing team always gets a “full” bar regardless of their % damage dealt. The other teams have bars drawn proportional to their % damage dealt. For example, if Mystic does 55% and Instinct does 45% of total damage dealt, Mystic’s bar is drawn full length, while Instinct’s bar is drawn at 45% length, making it seem as if Mystic did over twice as much damage.
I had several important questions were in mind when designing this experiment and interpreting the data:
According to the raid results screen, what are the +1, +2, and +3 Premier Ball damage cutoffs for team contribution?
The data show that +1 Premier Ball is awarded at 20% team contribution, +2 Premier Balls are awarded at 33% team contribution, and +3 Premier Balls are awarded at 50% team contribution. Note that the +2 Premier Ball cutoff is at 33% exactly, not 33.3% or whatever other value.
A single data point seems to contradicts this conclusion: comma0’s IMG_6488 shows +0 Premier Balls for an estimated 20.08% team contribution. This discrepancy arises from the way the team contribution bar is drawn. When defining bar length, the right-most pixel regardless of its tint was counted. In that screenshot, the right-most pixel was faded, meaning that the bar may have represented <20.08% team contribution. Keep in mind that with comma0’s screen resolution, 1 pixel represents ~26 HP damage done in a legendary raid, which is the innate error that arises from estimating damage contribution through counting pixels.
What can the raid results screen tell us about the +1, +2, and +3 Premier Ball damage cutoffs for individual contribution?
The data show that +1 Premier Ball is awarded at 5% indv. contribution, +2 Premier Balls are awarded at 15% indv. contribution, and +3 Premier Balls are awarded at 20% indv. contribution.
biowp and I conducted tests by tightly controlling the amount of damage done by 2 players of different teams in Tier 1 raids. The amount of precision that we achieved cannot be adequately demonstrated by the team contribution bars.
To confirm the +1 Premier Ball cutoff, biowp conducted 2 Tier 1 raids: in the first, player A does 29/600 HP damage and gets +0 individual contribution; in the second, player A does 30/600 HP damage and gets +1 individual contribution. To prevent overkill, the boss was KO’d using Splash repeatedly.
To confirm the +2 Premier Ball cutoff, I conducted a Tier 1 raid in which player A does 90/601 HP damage and gets +1 individual contribution (see below regarding overkill damage). I did not do further testing, as biowp’s previous tests strongly suggested a 15% damage cutoff when the errors were accounted for.
Is the raid results screen accurate? If not, is it consistent?
This question arose after I attempted to verify my results with biowp’s previously collected data at the end of 2017. biowp concluded that team contribution cutoffs were 20%, 40%, and 50% - the +2 Premier Ball cutoff contradicted my results, so I investigated why this happened.
biowp’s experiments involved 2 players of different teams completing Magikarp raids. One player’s damage contribution was tightly controlled by counting the number of fast moves, while the other player would KO the Magikarp using an arbitrary combination of moves. Most of his videos demonstrated minor discrepancies between counted damage and reported damage, but 3 instances stood out.
In one recording (v10_A), player A did 233/600 HP damage and player B did the remaining damage with a Venusaur. Player A did 38.8% of the Magikarp’s HP in damage, but the raid results screen only credited player A with 30.0% of total damage contribution. Player A was credited +1 Premier Ball, appropriately conforming to the game’s rules, but biowp concluded from this that the +2 Premier Ball cutoff had to be 40% instead of the 33% as established above.
In a second recording (V11_A), biowp was testing what would happen if 2 players inflicted exactly 50% HP damage. Player A did 300/600 HP damage and player B did the remaining damage with a Raikou. However, the raid results screen only credited player A with 49.0% of total damage contribution, so he got +2 Premier Balls as a result.
In a third recording (v12_A), player A did 301/600 HP damage and player B did the remaining damage with a Raikou. Player A did 50.2% of the Magikarp’s HP in damage, but the raid results screen only credited player A with 49.7% of total damage contribution. Player A should’ve crossed the +3 Premier Ball threshold by doing >50% of total damage, but was not credited the full amount.
So what gives? I verified the counted damage myself and concluded that biowp didn’t make any counting errors. Did the game fail to arbitrarily count some amount of damage? Or does the game randomize a player’s damage contribution within a certain range? Both seemed like awful design flaws to me (although Niantic is known for design flaws).
A better explanation to account for these discrepancies is that total damage is not capped by the boss’s HP. What this means is, if you overkill a boss by some amount of HP (such as player B’s Venusaur KOing Magikarp with Solar Beam in v10_A), that amount is added to both a player’s and the total damage contribution! So if the Venusaur overkilled Magikarp by 177 HP, player B’s contribution is 544/777 = 70%, while player A’s contribution is 233/777 = 30%.
This also accounts for the discrepancies in v11_A and v12_A. In both instances, the game credited player A with less damage and player B with more damage because player B slightly overkilled Magikarp with Volt Switch.
Does overkill damage to the raid boss factor into calculating damage contribution?
While the above observations strongly support the overkill hypothesis, I needed a more rigorous test to confirm this. I asked biowp to conduct an experiment (v17_A and v17_B) in which player A does a small amount of damage, then waits to KO Magikarp with a last moment Solar Beam when it had 5 HP remaining. If 600 HP was the denominator, we would expect Player A to get +1 team ball for doing 23.3% HP damage.
With the full Solar Beam damage counted, player A was actually credited with 474 HP (50.7%) damage while player B inflicted 460 HP (49.3%) damage. The raid results screen appropriately awarded player A +3 team balls and player B +2 team balls, with player B’s team contribution bar estimated at 49.7% damage. This discrepancy again arises from the way the team contribution bar is drawn; I counted the faded right-most pixel.
The team damage contributions reported on the raid results screen are consistent with Premier Ball rewards. In theory, team damage contributions can be approximated with screenshot analysis apps such as CalcyIV (with accuracy to a fraction of 1%). The Premier Ball cutoffs for individual contributions and team contributions are:
|+1 Balls||+2 Balls||+3 Balls|
Damage done to the raid boss is not capped by the boss’s HP. Overkill damage is attributed to the player who inflicted it and added to the pool of total damage done to the boss.
As a bonus, it is possible for 2 teams to get +3 team balls each if they inflicted exactly equal damage:
For players who routinely nickel and dime to maximize raid rewards (such as myself), understanding these cutoffs can inform behavior in the following ways:
Assuming other raiders of similar or slightly lower average strength, raiding in groups of 5 or fewer ensures +3 balls from individual contribution.
If you get +3 balls from individual contribution, you are assured at least +1 ball from team contribution, even if you are the lone representative.
If you want +2 balls from team contribution as the sole representative, you need both a group of 3 or fewer and to at least pull your weight.
Try to finish off the last sliver of a raid boss’s HP with a charged move; the extra damage counts and can push you past a damage threshold.
Obviously, you can get away with larger groups if the average raider strength is significantly lower than yours. When teammates enter the equation, the calculus gets more complicated. If you are picky about raids and are faced with a large group that doesn’t want to split up, you can show them this study. Most likely they won’t listen, in which case you may seriously consider bailing on the raid, because trying to catch a legendary Pokemon with only 7 Premier Balls is awful.