Pokémon Go, A deeper look into Dodging
My first few Gym battles was myself mashing the screen doing what I soon learned was a quick move repeatedly. I eventually learned about the charged (special) moves and how much more powerful they were. Around the same time I discovered dodging, but was horrible at it. Any attempt to dodge took precious clicks away from my quick move, thus delaying the charge of my special move. I couldn’t find the perfect balance of dodging and fighting until I slowed down and researched the fight mechanics.
Note – As of August 19, Dodging has changed so information contained in this post may be outdated.
This post will be prefaced with the note that this information was discovered via internal research of the application. The first block of information we are examining is the following.
The bolded fields are what we will be looking into. There are tons more interesting fields above, but my understanding and research on them isn’t strong enough to talk about.
Understanding an Attack
First we must understand how either a quick or charged move works. A move has a duration, which is the time it takes from the instant you start it to the instant it completes. However, damage is not done during that entire duration of time. Each move has a damage phase within the timeline of the move duration. During that phase of time damage is equally distributed, the damage phase is always 200ms for quick moves and a variety of time for charged moves.
For example, let’s take the quick move – Wing Attack. My favorite friend Pidgeot has this move and it takes 750ms to complete. It however, like all quick attacks, only deals damage in the final 200ms. So if we created a timeline of the full duration of the move with the damage phase highlighted, it would look something like this.
So it seems a majority of this move is an animation. The first 550ms (half a second about) is the animation of the attack. If you dodged the instant the Pokémon moved, the time line might look something like this.
The yellow represents the dodge length (500ms), while the red is the damage phase of 200ms. Now I doubt any players are dodging on the exact same millisecond an attack is performed, but assuming they did, that would mean they dodged an animation and still took damage. Now by studying and understanding the moves of Pokémon you can learn how to dodge them correctly.
Slow down. What is Dodging?
We might have gotten ahead of ourselves, so let us take a step back and examine the dodge at the most basic form. During a gym battle, you can slide left or right causing your Pokémon to shuffle around the arena.
While recording this another trainer joined into the battle. You can see their Seadra in the background. As my Pidgeot shuffles right, the Seadra becomes hidden behind the Chansey. This shows that there are little yellow triangles you can pivot (dodge) to in the arena.
Timing this dodge correctly allows you to prevent taking some or all damage from an attack.
This is shown via a pop up message “Dodged!“.
Special Attacks are the damage dealers.
It wouldn’t make sense to continually dodge quick attacks. You can’t deal damage while dodging and you can’t dodge every quick move so you will naturally take damage. I reserve my dodging for special attacks. These attacks might have a damage phase longer than a dodge which makes dodging the entire move simply impossible as the game doesn’t update fast enough to string dodges together.
Let’s take a look at Vaporeon’s special moves. I always see this Pokémon defending gyms, so it makes sense to look into. Vaporeon has Aqua Tail, Hydro Pump and Water Pulse as a possibility.
We can see that Aqua Tail has the higher DPS (Damage Per Second), but you can skip the entire damage phase if timed correctly. This would prove to be difficult though as the phase is from 2050ms -> 2250ms during the entire 2.35 second move. This means with a 500ms dodge, you have to dodge somewhere between 1.7 and 2 seconds to effectively dodge this attack.
Hydro Pump on the other hand has an enormous damage phase of 2.1 seconds to complement the massive 3.8 second move. No human trainer can string dodges perfectly together during a damage phase that long. The application simply doesn’t react fast enough, so damage will be dealt regardless.
Finally we have Water Pulse which has a 1 second damage phase. The DPS this move provides is pretty low so you can dodge somewhere after the first 1.5 seconds and still dodge half of the attack.
This is too much to remember.
This can be far too overwhelming to remember during an attack. With currently 151 Pokémon and a variety of moves it simply is too much to ingest and/or memorize. Not to mention sometimes you have no idea which moves a Pokémon has until they use them.
There are also a few more variables at play while thinking about dodging. While using a Flying Pokémon and challenging a Pokémon weak against flying, it doesn’t make sense for me to waste time dodging. The attacks against me are so weak and wasting time dodging vs just pelting the enemy with my bonus damage due to type weakness is well worth it.
As the game evolves and Pokémon defending gyms get stronger and stronger, it will be worth it to start understanding how to counter attacks. All moves in our Pokedex were updated with the timelines shown above.