Movesets – An In-Depth Explanation

Pokémon GO Deoxys
Pokémon GO Deoxys

In Pokémon GO, the term “Movesets” refers to the available moves each monster can learn. These movesets directly impact how useful that Pokémon will be in the meta game. The goal of a moveset is to optimize a Pokémon’s Damage per Second (DPS) for its dedicated purpose, be it attacking rival gyms, defending gyms for the glory of your respective team, battling your friends in Train Battles, or defeating the fierce raid bosses! That being said, movesets break down into two parts: Fast moves and Charged moves.

Fast Moves

The most common move a Pokémon will use is its Fast move. The purpose of this skill is to deal consistent damage to a defender while generating energy quickly to deliver devastating blows with its Charged moves. A Pokémon’s Fast move can be changed by using a Fast TM item. These moves can be found in game on a Pokémon’s info page as the first move from the top.

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There are a couple things to keep in mind when selecting a Fast move for a Pokémon:

Damage Per Second (DPS)

The formula for calculating this in Pokémon Go is Floor(1/2 * Power *Atk/Def * Effective) +1 (see more at Damage Mechanics in Pokemon GO)

Energy Gain Per Second (EPS)

The formula for calculating this in Pokémon Go is Energy Gain = Energy of move/ Time (in seconds)

These calculations allow Trainers to determine which Fast moves do the most damage and generate the most energy the quickest.

Sceptile Damage Cast Time DPS Energy EPS
Bullet Seed Grass 8 1.10s 8.7 14 12.7
Fury Cutter Bug 3 0.40s 7.5 6 15

We can see in the above example that Sceptile has two viable Fast move options with Bullet Seed and Fury Cutter, and though they are very close in overall DPS, Fury Cutter generates more EPS which usually makes it the better option for this Pokémon.

Consideration should also be given to the fact that utilising Type Advantage will almost always result in more damage than any other factor, i.e. if you’re planning to mainly use your Sceptile against Water, Rock, or Ground type Pokémon, then the 1.6x damage multiplier could far outweigh a move’s lack of energy generation, particularly if the Charged move is also going to be Super Effective.

Charged Moves

Charged moves are much more powerful and are available once a Pokémon has generated enough energy from its Fast moves. Although, these moves are used less often than your Fast moves, they play a huge factor in how successful your Pokémon will be in battle. A Pokémon’s Charged move can be changed by using a Charged TM item. These moves can be found in game on a Pokémon’s info page below the Fast moves; these will have charge meters underneath them as well.

Since the introduction of Trainer Battles (PvP) you can also now unlock a second Charged move. This allows Pokémon to be much more diverse in their type coverage. One of the best examples of this is a Blastoise which is weak to Grass type moves, but can now deal super effective damage back to a grass type, by having it’s second charged move set to, the normally overlooked, Ice Beam.

There are a few calculations that assist Trainers to determine the optimal Charged move(s) for a Pokémon:

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Damage Per Second (DPS)

The formula for calculating this in Pokémon Go is Floor(1/2 * Power *Atk/Def * Effective) +1 (see more at Damage Mechanics in Pokemon GO)

Damage Per Energy (DPE)

The formula for calculating this in Pokémon Go is Damage * Number of Charge uses / 100

Casting Time

The formula for calculating this in Pokémon Go is Animation Time (in seconds) * Number of Charge Uses

Taking these calculations into account, we can now look at our example of Sceptile once again:

Sceptile Damage Cast Time DPS Energy DPE
Leaf Blade Grass 70 2.40s 35 -33 2.1
Earthquake Ground 120 3.60s 33 -100 1.2
Aerial Ace Flying 55 2.40s 22.9 -33 1.65

Sceptile has access to three very different Charged moves that can be used for different purposes, however, the highest DPS option is Leaf Blade. Although the use of all three of the Leaf Blade Charged moves takes a total 7.20 seconds, a single strike does comparable damage to Earthquake while benefitting from Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB), and uses substantially less energy.

Defending Movesets/Type Coverage:

Some Pokémon have found their place in the meta game as dedicated Gym Defenders. These Pokémon typically have dedicated movesets using the DPS formula with a focus on taking down the specific types to which they are weak. Blissey Normal, for example, is currently the best gym defender in the game. It has amazing stats and access to both a Fast and Charged move that are Super Effective against its only weakness, Fighting.

By becoming familiar with your Gym Defenders and their weaknesses you can optimize their movesets based on their available moves.

Related reading: Type Effectiveness

Versatility

In some cases, selecting a moveset is based specifically on the moves available and the potential use of that Pokémon. A great example is Kyorge with access to Thunder Electric, it is a decent option for battling against other Water type Pokémon.

By balancing a Pokémon’s typing with its move options, you can create interesting combinations that mean you take reduced damage from your opponent, while dealing Super Effective damage at the same time.


Legacy Moves in Pokémon GO

With meta changes, some Pokémon lost the ability to learn a particular move. These are called legacy moves. For many Pokémon, these were the best moves available for them to date. If you are lucky enough to have a Pokémon with one of these moves, you may want to think twice before changing it with a TM.

Pokémon Fast move Charged move
Alakazam Dazzling Gleam
Psychic
Arcanine Bite Bulldoze
Flamethrower
Beedrill Bug Bite
Blaziken Stone Edge
Butterfree Bug Bite
Chansey Psybeam
Charizard Ember
Wing Attack
Flamethrower
Charmeleon Scratch
Clefable Pound
Cleffa Psychic
Body Slam
Cloyster Blizzard
Icy Wind
Dewgong Ice Shard
Diglett Mud Shot
Dodrio Air Cutter
Doduo Swift
Dragonite Dragon Breath Dragon Claw
Dragon Pulse
Dugtrio Mud Shot
Eevee Body Slam
Ekans Gunk Shot
Electrode Tackle
Elekid Thunderbolt
Exeggutor Confusion

Zen Headbutt

Farfetch’d Cut
Fearow Twister
Feraligatr Water Gun
Flareon Heat Wave
Gastly Sucker Punch Ominous Wind
Gengar Shadow Claw Sludge Wave
Dark Pulse
Golbat Ominous Wind
Golem Mud Shot Ancient Power
Graveler Mud Shot
Grimer Acid
Gyarados Dragon Breath
Dragon Tail
Dragon Pulse
Twister
Haunter Lick Shadow Ball
Hitmonchan Rock Smash Brick Break
Hitmonlee Stomp
Brick Break
Hypno Psyshock
Shadow Ball
Igglybuff Body Slam
Jigglypuff Play Rough
Body Slam
Jynx Pound Ice Punch
Kabutops Fury Cutter
Kangaskhan Brick Break
Stomp
Kingdra Water Gun
Kingler Mud Shot
Koffing Acid
Kyogre Dragon Tail
Lapras Ice Shard Dragon Pulse
Ice Beam
Loudred Crunch
Machamp Karate Chop Cross Chop
Stone Edge
Submission
Machoke Cross Chop
Machop Low Kick
Magby Flamethrower
Magneton Thunder Shock Discharge
Meowth Body Slam
Mew Hurricane
Dragon Pulse
Milotic Water Gun
Moltres Ember
Omanyte Rock Tomb
Brine
Omastar Rock Throw Rock Slide
Onix Iron Head
Rock Slide
Parasect Bug Bite
Persian Night Slash
Pichu Quick Attack
Pidgeot Wing Attack Air Cutter
Pikachu Thunder
Pinsir Fury Cutter Submission
Politoed Earthquake
Poliwhirl Scald
Poliwrath Mud Shot Submission
Ponyta Fire Blast
Porygon Quick Attack
Tackle
Zen Headbutt
Discharge
Psybeam
Signal Beam
Primeape Karate Chop Cross Chop
Raichu Thunder Shock Thunder
Rapidash Ember
Rhydon Megahorn
Sandshrew Rock Tomb
Scyther Steel Wing Bug Buzz
Seadra Blizzard
Seaking Poison Jab Ice Wind
Drill Run
Seel Water Gun Aqua Jet
Smoochum Frost Breath
Snorlax Body Slam
Spearow Twister
Starmie Quick Attack
Tackle
Psybeam
Staryu Quick Attack
Suicune Hidden Power
Tangela Power Whip
Togepi Zen Headbutt
Togetic Steel Wing
Zen Headbutt
Venomoth Bug Bite Poison Fang
Voltorb Signal Beam
Weepinbell Razor Leaf
Weezing Acid
Zapdos Thunder Shock Discharge
Zubat Sludge Bomb
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