What are Physical and Special attacks in Pokemon?

One of the most overlooked mechanics of the series.

There are three types of moves in Pokemon games with two of them that deal damage. Status moves are special moves that don't deal damage but can turn the tide in battle. Physical and Special moves do damage but how do you tell the difference between them?

Physical Moves

Image via Nintendo

Physical moves can be identified by the orange symbol that the move is categorized by. This mechanic was first introduced in Generation IV and is important to keep in mind when choosing moves.

The physical attacks use a Pokemon's Attack stat when calculating damage. The same applies defensively as physical attacks on a Pokemon are mitigated using that Pokemon's Defense and HP stat. Examples of physical moves include Flare Blitz, Giga Impact, and Waterfall.

Special Moves

Image via Nintendo

Special moves can be identified by the blue symbol it is categorized by. Example moves include Flamethrower, Hyper Beam, and Surf.

These special attacks deal damage based on the Pokemon's Special Attack stat. The damage is then mitigated by the opposing Pokemon's Special Defense and HP stat.

Related: How to level up fast in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Status Moves

Image via Nintendo

Status moves are non damaging moves that can be identified by the grey icon it is categorized by. These can be stat increasing moves like Swords Dance, stat decreasing moves like Leer, or status inflicting moves like Thunder Wave.

Status moves do not use stats when calculating but there are some things to note.

  • Electric type Pokemon can't be paralyzed.
  • Poison type Pokemon can't be poisoned.
  • Stats can only be increased up to six stages in battle, with some stat raising moves able to increase a stat two or three stages each use.

There are many mechanics in the Pokemon series that aren't obvious or even explained properly in the games. Understanding the difference between moves allows players to better prioritize which moves their Pokemon learn.

For more guides on Pokemon, check out How to hatch eggs quickly in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl on Pro Game Guides.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, musician, and gamer from California. I love horror and challenges and seek them in any medium I can.

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