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Short question is: Why does Confusion make an Exeggutor an A grade defender, while Zen Headbutt makes it only a B grade defender?

I used to think that the most powerful charge move is the best defender and attacker move, but it turns out that while it is likely to be the best attacker move, it may not the best defender move.

The 50% or sometimes even the 33% charge move might be a better defender charge move than the 100% ones. From what I can tell, this is because if the attacker can dodge once for the 100% charge move, then the attacker has more time to do fast attacks without worrying about dodging, likely getting in at least one more charge move than the defender, which can probably finish it off.

So in this case, Psychic and Seed Bomb are probably better defending charge moves than Solar Beam. However, according to GamePress which states that 50% moves are usually better, it says if an Exeggutor has Confusion, then it is an A grade defender, regardless of its charge move, while if it has Zen Headbutt, then it is only B grade.

That same source stated that if an Exeggutor has Zen Headbutt + Solar Beam, then it is A grade attacker, but if it is Confusion + Solar Beam, then it will become a B grade attacker, which is the exact opposite of the defender case.

Do players with lots of battle experience know whether or not this is true and if so, why it is?

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The reason "low DPS" moves are better is not because they are low DPS. And in fact, not all low DPS fast moves are better for defending; it depends on the move.

It's because, with the attack speed penalty defenders suffer (as discussed in Venomous' answer), they are actually higher DPS. This is true both for fast moves and charge moves.

A generic example might be the following. (These numbers are taken from a calculator I have, and I'm not sure they're right, but they give the right idea anyway.)

Let's say we have a pair of Slowbros. One has Confusion, one has Water Gun. Water Gun does 6 damage every half second, for 12 DPS (ignoring STAB for now). Confusion does 15 damage every 1.5 seconds, for a 10 DPS (again ignoring STAB, and rounding).

Now add the 1.5 second delay. Water Gun now does 6 damage every two seconds, or 3 DPS, while Confusion does 15 damage every three seconds, or 5 DPS. Confusion is now clearly the superior attack for a defender.

Another consideration that some of the calculators take into account is energy. If a move generates more energy, it's better (since you get more charge attacks). But again, fast moves are penalized by the 1.5 second delay here too. So a move that gives higher EPS on offense will now give a lower EPS bonus on defense relative to the other attack; so if the DPS calculation you're looking at actually includes EPS as part of it, that may be relevant.


Now, the same for Charge Attacks, for completeness:

Let's say we have a pair of Blastoise. One has Hydro Pump, one has Flash Cannon. According to my calculator, Hydro Pump has a DMG of 90, DPS of 23.7, which means it takes around 4 seconds to fire. Flash Cannon has a DMG of 60, DPS of 15.4, meaning it takes around 4 seconds to fire. Both have Water Gun as their quick move, which has a DMG of 6, DPS of 12, so it takes 0.5 seconds to fire.

For a defender, though, these numbers are a bit different. Hydro Pump now takes 5.5 seconds to fire, as does Flash Cannon, and Water Gun takes a whopping 2 seconds! So now look at their stats:

Hydro Pump: 90/5.5 = 16.36
Flash Cannon: 60/5.5 = 10.91
Water Gun: 6/2 = 3.0

Hydro Pump is still better of course, but it is fired one time for every three times Flash Cannon is fired. That one time you get a +13 DPS, but Flash Cannon gives you +8 DPS three times. Thus, you're really comparing 13 to 24 (over 5.5 seconds of course).

On Offense, meanwhile, your Flash Cannon only had a tiny 3 DPS advantage over Water Gun, while Hydro Pump has a huge 11+ DPS advantage. So those three Flash Cannon firings give you +9 DPS while one Hydro Pump is over 11. Hence, hydro pump being the better move. (If you're a dodger, it's an even bigger advantage, as you have less time that you can't dodge, by the way.)

Now, I'm simplifying this some (ignoring STAB for one, which makes Hydro Pump better), but this gets the gist across: on defense, the DPS calculation is different due to the slower moves, and in particular the quick attack is very slow - so there is a significant advantage for the moves that charge more quickly.


One thing that's ignored here, by the way, is difficulty to dodge. That's something not taken into account by most calculators; but some charge attacks are much harder to dodge than others - think Body Slam versus Hyper Beam. Any idiot can dodge hyper beam, it's almost hard to dodge because it takes SO long to show up, but Body Slam is much harder as it has a very quick animation. See this thread on Reddit for example.

  • While this is a good, in-depth answer, it seems to be mostly discussing the charge moves, rather than the fast moves, which I think is what the OP was asking about. – Vemonus Nov 18 '16 at 2:47
  • @Vemonus Good point; i'll adjust it some. The answer is still the same, though slightly different details of course... – Joe Nov 18 '16 at 2:48
  • @Vemonus Fixed. – Joe Nov 18 '16 at 3:01
  • after analyzing, it also seemed like, if the Exeggutor is CP 2600, it probably requires an Arcanine with CP 1800 to defeat it, no matter what moveset the Exeggutor has, isn't that true? I suppose one important use is, when we use 6 Pokemons trying to take down the whole level 10 gym, and there are 2 Exeggutors, whether we can use 1 CP 2600 Arcanine to take down 2 Exeggutors (because if the gym has Lapras, Vaporeon, Dragonite, etc, we also need different Pokemons to beat them all). So if attacker cannot take down 2 Exeggutors using 1 Arcanine, then it is more difficult to take down the gym – nopole Nov 18 '16 at 13:06
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The reason that a lower DPS move would be more advantageous for a defending Pokemon in a gym is that defending Pokemon have a delayed attack speed. From this thread:

The attack cycle of moves like confusion will still be longer than water gun, but with a static 1.5 tacked on to both, a move that took 3x as long for the attacker takes only 1.5x as long for the defender. ( .5 vs 1.5s & 2 vs 3s respectively).

Basically, while Zen Headbutt has higher DPS in general, it likely has lower DPS for a defending Pokemon, due to the delay factor it has due to being a defender.

Thus, in the example you gave, Confusion has 15 base power, while Zen Headbutt has 12. Without the delay, Zen Headbutt is quicker and its DPS is actually slightly higher than Confusion. However, due to the delay, you are dividing by larger numbers. Since the factor is static regardless of what move you are calculating the DPS for, Confusion will end up with a higher DPS.

  • interesting... is this delay true only for Pokemon Go gym battle, or is it true for all Pokemon games that has battles? So what if Niantic tweak their AI slightly a month from now, then it make Zen Headbutt better than Confusion? – nopole Nov 16 '16 at 15:35
  • besides, it seems like which charge move it is does not matter at all... instead of 50% or 33% better than the 100% one – nopole Nov 16 '16 at 15:36
  • @太極者無極而生 no this is a delay specific to Pokemon Go. It's to prevent the gym defenders from spamming the fast move as quickly as an attacker. Since the player doesn't control the defending Pokemon, they made some tweaks to the way defenders work. From what I have read, defenders have 2x the health pool that they do normally, but they have this delay on their attacks. – Vemonus Nov 16 '16 at 15:36
  • @太極者無極而生 the reason a weaker charge move is advantageous for a defender is that the attacker has to either spend more time dodging (which lowers their damage output) or to tank the hits, which will cause them to faint quicker. A strong charge move (especially 100% ones) can be dodged once and then not worried about for a long time, giving the attacker plenty of time to put in a ton of hits. – Vemonus Nov 16 '16 at 15:37
  • with this delay, I still feel it is sort of "spamming" the attacks using Water Gun or Dragon Breath... feels very quick – nopole Nov 16 '16 at 15:43

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