Damage Breakpoints are one of the recently emerged topics in the Pokémon GO community, although they were present as a core game mechanic since launch. As our collective understanding of countering particular Pokémon raises, it seems that the necessity to explain even the less important battle mechanics also grows.

So, without further ado, what are damage breakpoints?

Damage breakpoints explained

A damage breakpoint in Pokémon GO occurs when powering up a particular Pokémon. After the power up, that Pokémon’s quick attacks will deal 1 more DMG to a subset of targets.

This is a natural phenomena that stems from the core damage formula Pokémon GO uses:

Floor(0.5 * Power * Atk / Def * STAB * Effectiveness) + 1

We highlighted the important parts for this analysis:

  • the Floor function and
  • the attacker’s Atk / defenders Def coefficient

Both Atk and Def increase with Pokémon levels, which in turns increases with power ups. This increase is not direct though, but it is facilitated by another hidden factor: Combat Power Multiplier (CpM):

Attack = CpM * (Base Attack + Attack IV)
Defense = CpM *(Base Defense + Defense IV)

This formula has a few consequences on how the true move damage behaves:

  • The more you upgrade your Pokémon, the more damage it will deal
    • However, the Floor function pulls down the upgrade system and doesn’t allow a linear growth. In order to jump to a higher damage bracket you need to pay the full upgrade cost before the Floor function lets you move forward
  • You will deal less damage when attacking a higher level defender

This is how the Floor function pulls back linear values grouping them into a discrete rounded value.

Floor function graph

How does this influence my Pokémon?

It depends, there are various charts circulating the internets showing how upgrades can influence each Pokémon attacker vs defender matchup, but in a nutshell, it enables you to gain +1 more damage in a certain matchup if you upgrade your Pokémon to a certain level.

For example, here’s how Omastar vs Ho-Oh breakpoints look like when Omastar is using Water Gun against Ho-Oh:

Level IV Damage Increase
30.5 15 3->4 (33.33%)
31.5 14 3->4 (33.33%)
32.0 13 3->4 (33.33%)
32.5 12 3->4 (33.33%)
33.0 11 3->4 (33.33%)
33.5 10 3->4 (33.33%)

In order for your Water Gun to deal +1 damage, you need to upgrade your Omastar to the level noted in the first column, depending on his attack IV in the second column.

Wait, this is not simple!

No, it really is not. In order to take advantage over breakpoints, you need to take the defender’s level and IV, your attacker’s level and IV and your move damage into consideration.

Hence, we don’t talk a lot about this mechanic, as it doesn’t really make much sense to make a fuss about it. Sure, you can conserve Stardust in particular match ups by using it, but does it really pay off?

No, if you ask us. In essence, damage breakpoints are reserved for the most hardcore players out there, not for everyone. Similar to how perfect IVs give you an additional ~10% of performance, achieving a particular damage breakpoint can give you an additional 20-33% damage increase if you’re willing to dig deep.

It sounds a lot, but it’s actually equivalent to landing a few extra attacks in a fight. Rather than min maxing your match-up, we suggest you learn to dodge better. If you’re already doing everything perfectly, then it makes sense to invest time and calculate perfect damage breakpoints in a number of match ups.

  • Unforgiveness (Unforgiveness)

    This article is like half discussing what it should. You should actually give a table of the actual breakpoints for all the people who have no idea what they are.

    • We can’t. Each individual matchup has different set of breakpoints per iv and per move.

      That’s in total: 250*250*5*5 basic combinations for 5 moves and 5 IV values. Actual complete list would be absurdly big.

      • Unforgiveness (Unforgiveness)

        Yes there is a file share system. That’s not hard at all. Why even talk about it if you cant even show full tables instead of an irrelevant example.

        • WingedSupernova

          Then why don’t you do it instead if you have that much time to waste?

      • vriesk

        You could easily, however, provide a few for typical raid boss/attacker combination, since raid bosses have fixed stats.

    • Robdebobrob

      You did not read the article, did you?

      • Unforgiveness (Unforgiveness)

        I did have you?

        • Robdebobrob

          “In order to take advantage over breakpoints, you need to take the defender’s level and IV, your attacker’s level and IV and your move damage into consideration.”

          If you would have read it (and understood it) you would know from that line that there are ALOT of combinations. Too much to post…

  • Edwin Fung

    A typically complex machanic isn’t it? But with the battle system rework, it will be our concern once again.

    • Akbaalia Jones

      With this gym system, it doesn’t really matter. Everything is always dead and you can’t even get to use your charge attacks because they die so quickly. Take down a full gym with 1 pokemon

      • Robdebobrob

        Its more a thing for raids at the moment indeed.

      • Austin Tang

        Is it the gym system or just weak pokemon?

        • Akbaalia Jones

          It’s the gym system. Your pokemon become weak after a few hours.

          • peponzio

            The thing is the gym system is not rewarding enough for long stays. Most people pass a gym, leave a pokemon and go away to wait for its return.

            Defending a gym requires players to stay near or around the gym so that when it’s under attack or the pokemon defenders are weakening we feed them to replenish their stamina.

            If you feed two or three berries every hour you could potentially stay at max power forever. Until the gym is attacked of course. You could do this remotely as well but it’s about 2 berries every half hour and the stamina still decreases, unless you use golden razz berries.

            It’s not really the gym system as much as we don’t want to or can’t play it the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s not rewarding enough.

          • Błażej Szafarz

            It’s pointless to keeping pokemon in gym longer than time you need to receive 50 coins (about 8 hours).

          • peponzio

            It’s not pointless. It counts for the gym’s badges so we can get bronze, silver, and gold. But we can also get gold with raids, battles and feeding so defending is like the little extras.

            The thing is getting gold is not as rewarding as the time spent on it. So nobody wants to stay defending. Daily coins are more rewarding than gold badges so we want to be taken down instead of trying to defend the gyms.

            It’s not that the gym system is wrong, per se, but more like the rewards obtained are skewed to a gameplay we don’t like.

            Now what if the rewards were switched backwards? Let’s say that we get coins on defending and on gym badges levels. Let’s say we automatically got 1 coin for every silver badge and 2 (or 3) coins for every gold badge. To a total max of let’s say 20, for a daily income of 70 coins.

            We’d actually have to defend gyms to obtain the badges to get all the extra coins, at least 20 silver gyms, 10 gold gyms (or 6), or any combination in between.

            To make it tougher (seeing as most people should have at least 20 silver badges by now) it could be required to spin the gym’s stop to get that badge’s extra coins. Or having a pokemon return from a defending gym get its usual coins plus the extra for the gym’s badge level.

            Just some thoughts.

          • Ph. Win

            With the (planned?) reform of ex raid pass distributions, gym badges already have increased importance.
            I like your ideas, though!

          • peponzio

            Thank you.

            It is true, higher level badges mean more chances for EX raids. It even feels like some gyms are harder to defend now because of this. And I like that.

          • Błażej Szafarz

            This kind of system would be for hardcore (or let say most committed) players. I have wife, 2 kids and regular job, so not much time for defending gyms by continuous feeding pokemons. Current system is much better for me, while I can place some poks on my way to the work and when I come back.

          • peponzio

            Is it better for you in comparison to your performance or to other’s performance? Even with limited time, movement, and responsabilities, most players probably have a few silver badges, which could translate to a few extra coins. Coins that wouldn’t be available prior, so we would all get more coins.

            But more importantly we’d have motivation to stay commited to specific gyms and areas (the ones we frequent) instead of getting random gyms for the sake of coins. Motivation to try to defend with good pokemon, feed as often as possible, and reclaim as soon as we can.

            True, other (more commited) players will immediately have 10+ gold badges and extra 20 or so coins having an “advantage”. But they’d either choose not to battle anymore (they would be maxed already) or search for closer gyms to defend. Either way the gym system could become more interesting. Maybe. It could be a total disaster though, I can’t know for sure.

  • Robdebobrob

    I have a friend who worked on this with the Silph road, so i usually just ask him. Its not really something you really need to focus on, but its usefull if you want to do a raid with as small a group of people as possible.

  • Read the whole article, have no idea what I just read. Made no sense. Oh well, lol.

    • Chanderule

      Which part didnt you understand?
      Its simple, certain Pokemon will only increase damage against certain Pokemon at certain levels, look at the chart of Omastar vs Ho-oh again

  • Michal Hušák

    I am afraid it play role only in extreme situation – namely solo Vulpix or 2 people Tyranitar raid …

  • Joel Jensen

    Lol just a bunch of confusing mumbo jumbo to me

    • Chanderule

      Its simple, actually

      • peponzio

        Then its stat changes will be doubled.

        • Chanderule

          Cool reference

  • Spetsen

    Most people think that attack breakpoints are a thing for hardcore players just because it’s an advanced topic, but the real hardcore players have enough stardust income to just power Pokémon up to level 40 instead. Saving stardust is more important for casual players, but breakpoints are too advanced for them. So essentially breakpoints aren’t that useful for anyone really…

    • Robdebobrob

      No one ever has enough stardust.

  • Ellethor

    Very helpful. Thank you.