Hey there battlers!
Welcome back to the Regionals Prep Guide series!
I hope that between the last article and now you have had the chance to take part in one of Mazer’s Regional Rumbles as you prepare for your tournaments. They’ve been a blast! (Or just have taken to GBL and it’s many rotating cups in Season 11!)
If you missed Part 1 (which you can find here) - we covered team building and how to approach selecting Pokémon for your party in a pick 3 or show 6 format. There is a ton of information available in that article thanks to help from the Mazer Main Team and Mazer Academy - who came through with some fantastic tips to consider as you build out your teams. At the end of Part 1, we reached some advanced topics that I mentioned would be flushed out in more detail in a later article. That time has come!
Welcome to Regional Prep Guide Part 2: Breakpoints and IV’s!
Now - the concept of breakpoints, bulkpoints and IV spreads is a dense and complicated topic. Many have tried to explain this area, much to the drool and eventual snoozing of their counterparts. This is why we can turn to one man and one man only to aid us in our understanding of behind-the-scenes, deep-dive, stat calculating goodness - RyanSwag.
If you haven’t met RyanSwag via his content on YouTube, GamePress or Twitter - he is the master of the IV deep dive in Pokémon GO. Known for his many detailed and incredibly useful overviews of species across all leagues, he was the obvious candidate for a guest brain to pick on the subject. You’ll find all of his quotes of infinite knowledge in red throughout the article!
He graciously accepted and we had a great conversation around how to approach this area in your team building process. In this article, with the help of the Swag Man, we will uncover the best way to maximize our Pokémon’s characteristics to pair with our skills in team building in Part 1.
Let’s jump into it!
Why study breakpoints and bulkpoints?
As we started off last article - it is best to define what the concept is and why we need to consider breakpoints and bulkpoints when building out a PvP roster. Ryan defined breakpoints and bulkpoints in this way:
”Breakpoints are the point where a Pokémon’s attack stat allows it to deal one more damage point per fast move. A bulkpoint is the opposite - where a Pokémon’s defense stat is such that it takes one less damage per fast move.”
While owning the #1 ranked PvP IV stats for every species we want to run is the most ideal case, the odds that any player is that lucky is very slim. With that, when utilizing a tool like pvpoke.com’s Battle feature in order to figure out a team composition like we follow in Part 1 of the Prep Guide series - it is one thing to use the default IV’s and look at coverages. It is another thing entirely to know how your specific Pokémon will perform in battle.
What happens if your attack stat is so low that your opponent only receives 11 damage from your Nidoqueen’s Poison Jab when it’s supposed to be doing 12 on your opponent’s Abomasnow?
Or what happens when every Dragon Breath from your opponent’s Altaria does 2 damage on your Azumarill instead of 1?
The likelihood is that the winning of a very playable matchup for your species begins to drop fast.
When asked about the weight of this concept in comparison to pure team composition, Ryan made this point:
“To me, I wish that folks would look at this concept a little more seriously than it often is - it may be overlooked because it is tough to parse through numbers, but you can find some real advantages by understand when you gain an extra point of damage in either direction.”
And he’s right - I started diving into a matchup example and it’s pretty astounding the difference IV spreads can make on a matchup.
Let’s take a look.
A Breakpoint and Bulkpoint Example: Nidoqueen vs. Pelipper
Now that we know a bit about the concept, let’s dive into RyanSwag’s method of breaking down breakpoints and bulkpoints. When he broke down his thought process, here’s what Ryan recommended:
“I usually hop into pvpoke.com’s Battle simulator. I would place the species I was considering powering up into the Matrix tool and run it against the Great League meta in order to see the variance in matchups based on the stats produced by the different IV spreads…”
A great way to approach it! Let’s practice this method with an example so that way you can run it back on your own time and follow the same principles:
Items you’ll need for practice:
- Your specific Pokémon’s species
- Your specific Pokémon’s IV’s
- pvpoke.com Battle tool (Matrix mode if you are testing multiple Pokémon of the same species at once)
Let’s take a meta-relevant Pokémon as our example for today: Nidoqueen. A very fast-move oriented species, relying heavily on Poison Jab and Poison Fang’s defense debuff in many matchups to deal damage, is a great one to look into the nuances of this analysis.
My best PvP Nidoqueen has an IV Spread of 3 attack, 14 defense and 12 HP. When plugged into the left side of the Battle tool on pvpoke.com, it looks like the following:
Seen in the top section, I have a base attack stat of 115.9, a base defense stat of 118.4 and a base HP stat of 138. These will be key values later on.
From there, let’s say I want to analyze the matchup against a Pelipper - a species I ran into in GO Battle League that gave me some trouble. We’ll use a one-on-one matchup here to keep it simple.
I’ll search for Pelipper in the opposite side of the page, open up the ‘Advanced Stats and IV’s’ portion and click ‘Maximize.’ This will give the Pelipper in the simulation the best possible IV set available (Rank #1) and allow me to see if my Nidoqueen can hang with the best opponent I could face.
I click ‘Battle’ and results section gives us this information:
Now, remember my base stats. (attack stat of 115.9, defense stat of 118.4) Armed with this simulation, I now see from the handy Breakpoints and Bulkpoints section that I land above the minimum defense required for a bulkpoint against every Wing Attack from Pelliper. Each fast move now only does 4 damage to my Nidoqueen each turn.
Additional information would tell you that this matchup can be flipped in 3 turns, which means this health saved over the length of the matchup could be key to my victory here.
Now, let’s say I catch a Nidoran and it is right around the level where I could evolve and build another Great League Nidoqueen. How would I know if this is a good investment?
Let’s test the with the same method using the new Nidoqueen’s IV’s - 3 attack, 8 defense and 12 HP with new base stats of 117.2 attack, 115.9 defense and 140 HP.
As we see from the output, I should stop right here and transfer this Nidoqueen before I waste stardust!
Unfortunately, if I had a Nidoqueen with this IV spread, it would now be in a simultaneous knockout with Pelipper in the one-shield scenario and an outright loss in the two-shield scenario.
Why is this? Because the base defense stat has shifted down with my new IV’s - I now miss the bulkpoint for Wing Attack damage and now take 5 damage for each fast move. As a result, I no longer win this matchup now as that damage adds up over the course of the battle. This is the power of breakpoints and bulk points. As IV’s change, close matchups can be won or lost in these details.
Now that we’ve applied the RyanSwag process and know how to breakdown our breakpoints and bulkpoints, where do we go from here to maximize on this information?
How to Harness Breakpoint/Bulkpoint Data to the Max
Let’s wrap up with a couple of tips from the Swag Man on how to utilize these concepts in your preparation:
1. Know when to upgrade and when to say no
“When working on my Diggersby content, I found 176HP was important to solidify a lot of its matchups. Unfortunately, a friend of mine’s already built Pokémon had 175HP. Although building a 176HP Diggersby would allow them to meet the bulkpoint, none of their 176HP options appeared to be a significant upgrade. He decided to accommodate for the lost matchups in other ways, saving his XL Candy and Stardust for a superior IV spread they could get in the future.”
The main idea for this tip - breakpoints and bulkpoints can be a tool to help you gauge when it’s time to upgrade your Pokémon for a newer version your team. In this story, the trainer decided against upgrading his Diggersby build and cover his losses in other ways.
In this and the reverse case where you find it is worth the stardust spend, you can clearly start to make better decisions about resource spending when armed with the right data about your matchups.
2. Know where your specific species’ gaps are
Like we mentioned in the Nidoqueen/Pelipper example above - when you plug in your IV spreads of the specific Pokémon you are testing, you will be able to see where your Pokémon wins and loses. This might be distinctly different from the default settings in PvPoke - giving you more advantages or disadvantages to consider based on your stats. It is key to understand where these gaps lie or you might end up like Ryan when he built his first Azumarill back in the olden PvP days:
“I learned the hard way when PvP first came out that IV’s matter. Azumarill was the all-around best PvP Pokémon and I needed to build one in order to compete well, right? So I built around the only Marill I had and it turned out I was losing constantly to every Altaria I saw even though I was supposed to win. Come to find out I had a ranked Azumarill in the thousands and I lost the bulkpoint on Altaria - making me drop matchups left and right.
If the Pokémon you’re considering is otherwise dropping common matchups it should win, you shouldn’t build it even if it the moves meet coverages for your team.”
This story says it all. Don’t build a Pokémon just to say you have that species. It might be more harmful than you think. Know where those gaps are and make good investments in response.
3. Compare using the Matrix tool
While our example above only covered a one-on-one matchup, you can also see your Pokémon in relationship to other options you want to build, as well as multiple opponents at once. Ryan explains:
“I like to utilize the Matrix tool in order compare across six or seven different Pokémon in the same species I’m considering building. I can place these seven into the left side of the Matrix tool and pull up the Great League meta on the other side and hit ‘Battle.’ This gives me the ability to compare all Azumarill matchups to my potential Nidoqueens, for example, and see which one gives me the best chance to win.”
This is a great strategy to save valuable resources by using breakpoints and bulkpoints. You can start to see the trend of where the IV spreads begin to help or harm you all within the matchup data. It’s a very sophisticated way to pick your battle-ready Pokémon.
With that, we wrap up Part 2! I want to thank RyanSwag for his partnership to make this article possible! Good luck out there battlers and go get those W’s!