So you want to be a Pokémon master? That’s great, but if you think that all it takes is plain grinding to level 100, your Pokémon will not be the best that it can be. If you really want to battle competitively and have the strongest Pokémon around, you will need to learn how the invisible numbers called Effort Values and Individual Values work.
You’re probably thinking, “What the heck are those?” Well, no need to worry, because I’m here to help you understand and build the best team possible. The main points are bolded nicely for those that don’t feel like reading the whole thing. The following applies to Gen III games and up only. Gen I and II games have different formulas; more information is explained in sites such as Bulbapedia or Serebii.
Have you ever wondered how every Pokémon’s stats are calculated in the game? Though they may seem completely random, they actually follow a strict formula for their calculation. While you may not know what this formula is (yet), you can manipulate the system to your advantage and change the stats to your favor. Now, I don’t mean manipulate like go into the game and change its code, but I mean there are various ways that you can predict and change what a Pokémon’s stats will be.
First thing you need to know about EVs is that they are a number. Each stat (Attack, Defense, Special Attack/Defense, Speed) has one of these EVs. That number is labeled 0 the second you catch a Pokémon (all wild Pokémon have EVs of 0). What exactly does an EV do? It essentially determines how high a Pokémon’s stat is. For every 4 EVs there are in a stat, it will increase by 1 point upon leveling up. The EVs will not be applied all at once, rather, they’ll be spread out over levels. For example, a Pokémon with an attack stat of 15 will increase to 16 with 4 EVs.
Pretty cool, right? Now you probably want to increase your EVs and take advantage of this special system. There are a few ways that you can do this. One of the easiest is to use vitamins. Ever wonder what the 9800 poke items are for? Each one increases its respective stat’s EVs by 10. This is great if you are a lazy trainer, but the programmers thought ahead; you can only use each vitamin 10 times, meaning you can only get 100 EVs in this way. Still, that’s a pretty big boost in stats.
The other, longer way to gain EVs is by training. Now, before you venture out into the wild and start killing (sorry, fainting) random Pokémon, you should know that EVs don’t work randomly like that. Every Pokémon is assigned a value that tells the game what EVs it gives when fainted (we’ll call these Training Values). This number does not affect its own stats in any way. For instance, whenever you beat a Zubat, which has a TV of 1 Speed, it gives away 1 speed EV, eligible for your Pokémon’s training needs. All Pokémon, even legendaries, work in similar matters, with different TVs. The max any Pokémon can carry is 3 TVs in any one stat. Be aware that EVs are only given away in battles you earn EXP in.
So now would be a good time to think, “If I battled 3,996 Zubats, I would get 999 Speed correct?” Of course, the programmers again thought ahead. The EV cap is at 255 per stat. 255/4 is 64 with 3 left over. These 3 can, and should, be put towards another stat, since you won’t get a point increase without 4 EVs. Each Pokémon can carry 510 EVs at the most overall, so you’ll need to strategize which stats you want to max out and which you want to sacrifice.
Great, so now you know the basics of training Pokémon. So go out there, find 252 Zubats, and, at 30 seconds per battle, it’ll take you about 2 hours to max out that speed stat. What, you don’t want to train for that long? Luckily for you, there are ways to make that training go by faster. Besides using medicines, you can also equip the Macho Brace. If you haven’t gotten it yet, look up where you can find it because this will cut your training time in half. For the price of some speed, it doubles the EVs gained from a defeated Pokémon when your Pokémon is holding it. So, battle that Zubat again and suddenly you’ve received 2 EVs instead of 1 for your work. If you are still looking for shortcuts, you can try and find the famed Pokérus. This rare “disease” actually helps your Pokémon; it doubles the EVs you gain once again. With the Macho Brace and Pokérus, you can get 4x the EVs for the price of 1. But Pokérus can only be spread in 24 hours’ time, after which it will disappear. The effects will still last, but it cannot be spread in your party. However, keeping a Pokémon with “spreadable” Pokérus in the PC will make sure it retains the ability to spread the disease.
But wait, there’s more! In Gen IV, the Power items, found in Battle Park, can be held to increase your EVs. But they don’t work in the same way as the Macho Brace. Instead, they straight up add 4 to the EVs you gain, meaning you get 1 stat point for every battle. However, they only work for 1 stat at a time. For example, the Power Anklet works for speed. So that Zubat you defeated earlier will give you 5 EVs instead of 1. With Pokérus, that’s a whopping 10 EVs!
Most non-competitive battlers won’t think about removing EVs, but that’s what you might want to do if you’ve accidentally dumped EVs into the wrong stat, or you just happen to change your mind when training a Pokémon. If that’s the case, certain berries can be used to lower the EVs of a Pokémon. This only works for Emerald and onwards. If a berry description says “May lower base stat such and such,” then it will lower that stat to 100 EVs on the first use, then remove 10 EVs for each additional berry used. These berries also carry an additional effect: they increase a Pokémon’s happiness. So, hooray, it’s a win-win situation for you.
Logically, you want to start EV training a Pokémon right after you get it, so no stray EVs are wasted in the leveling process. But for hatched Pokémon, this presents a problem since they start at level 1 and are incredibly weak. That’s where the EXP share comes into play. This item was already useful for sharing EXP between two Pokémon, but it also shares the EVs. And, even though the EXP is split in half, the EVs gained are the same (makes sense since you can’t have half an EV). Pokérus and the Macho Brace, sadly, does not pass on to the Pokémon holding the EXP share. Though, if you had a Pokémon with EXP share and Pokérus, and it was the first to go out, then those EVs will be doubled due to the Pokérus.
In Slateport (RSE), Sunnyshore (DPPt), and Blackthorn (HG/SS), and Souryuu City (B/W) an NPC will tell you if you’ve maxed out your EVs or not. If you have, your Pokémon will receive the Effort Ribbon (except in B/W), indicating that it already has 510 EVs.
Last point on EVs: the infamous Rare Candies. These used to be thought as harmful because they were thought to not have taken EVs into account when leveling up. Well, good news, they do. So it appears that you can use them after all, instead of selling or discarding them.
(First of all, before reading this section, I suggest going out and playing around with EVs for a bit so you grasp how they work. Once you do, come back and see how they actually play in the game’s code using IVs.)
If you thought that the game’s depth ended at EVs, you have another thing coming. In reality, EVs are only just a part of the equation when dealing with stats. IVs are what deal with the rest of the equation.
So, what are IVs? Like EVs, they are also a number, but these are unique to each individual Pokémon. They deal with the nature of a Pokémon. Without getting into technical binary stuff, this number is randomly created with each Pokémon, and determines how it will grow throughout the course of its training. A Pokémon with high EVs but low IVs could do worse than a Pokémon with low EVs but high IVs. IVs control stats as well as Hidden Power effects (In Gen II, they also controlled gender and shiny status). For now, let’s focus on how it changes stats.
Coming up next is a whole lot of math. If you’re extremely competitive or just curious, then be sure to read and understand this section. It will tie in nearly everything you know about training Pokémon.
Ready? What follows is the equation that this section will be based on. It’s how to calculate, exactly, any Pokémon’s stat, except HP, at any time:
([([IV + (2 * Base Value) + (EV/4)] * Level) / 100] + 5) * Nature value
For HP it is:
([(IV + [2 * Base Value] + [EV/4]) * Level] / 100) + 10
Mind=Blown. Let’s see if we can’t break this down. Level is the easiest: it’s your Pokémon’s level. EV is the number of EVs it has in that stat. Notice how it’s divided by 4. That’s why you need 4 EVs to increase by 1 point. Base value is that stat’s “base.” (e.g. Mew’s base attack is 100) IV is determined at random, and it’s a number that can be anywhere from 0-31. Nature value has to do with a Pokémon’s nature. Look at a nature chart: if it benefits the stat, then its value is 1.1 (it will increase the stat by 10%). If it’s neutral, then the value will be 1.0 and if it hinders, it will be 0.9 (decrease by 10%).
Should you memorize these equations? Of course not. What you essentially need to grasp is that high IVs, high base stats, high EVs, and good natures equal yay. Unless you want a specific stat number (say, with Tyrogue), there’s no need to be exact with numbers. If you really must know, there are useful calculators for this purpose online. Make sure you know the value of each variable, though.
Like EVs, there is no easy way to tell exactly what IVs your Pokémon has. And even worse than EVs, you can’t keep track of IVs. There are a couple of vague ways that you can use to estimate your Pokémon’s IVs and train it to its max potential (or check that it can reach its highest stats). In Emerald, a man in the Battle Frontier’s Pokémon Center will tell you which stat has the highest IV for your Pokémon. What he won’t tell you is its actual value, which leaves you guessing. In D/P, each Pokémon’s summary comes with a tiny sentence under its nature. Each sentence corresponds to a set number of IVs that it could be for that stat. For instance, it might say “Likes to fight.” This means your Pokémon’s attack IV is the highest, and it can have a value of 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, or 28. Notice that it’s in multiples of 5. As you can see, the only way to know an IV for sure is with an IV calculator, which solves for the IV using the equations above.
To wrap up, in case it all blew over your head, know to keep your EVs high and natures beneficial. You can’t do anything about the IVs themselves, since they’re determined when you get the Pokémon, so constantly training a weak IV Pokémon will do nothing for you. Use an IV calculator if you’re not sure. The trick is patience, patience, and patience. The best way to get a good-IV Pokémon is through breeding, because you can hatch it and instantly check what its IVs are with a calculator (it will have 0 EVs).
So, now you know how to properly train your Pokémon and prepare them for competition. Of course, having great stats is only half the battle; you need a great moveset as well. That story is for another day. For now, play around with this info, and you’ll find that it helps greatly when formulating your team.
Questions, comments, or clarification? Leave a comment below or PM me (Someone70) on the forums. I’ll respond as best I can. Thanks and happy training!