What are Damage Breakpoints in Pokémon GO?

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:

LevelIVDamage Increase
30.5153->4 (33.33%)
31.5143->4 (33.33%)
32.0133->4 (33.33%)
32.5123->4 (33.33%)
33.0113->4 (33.33%)
33.5103->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.

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