The Best Attacks: An Objective Review of the Top Attacks for Raids

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The other day, I was working on updating the Mega Venusaur Raid Guide for Gamepress, as Mega Venusaur has just recently made its return to raids. While I was doing so, I started entering the different recommended movesets for the different counters; Confusion/Psychic here, Fire Spin/Overheat there, all pretty standard stuff. That is, it was standard until I got to Mewtwo after adding Mega Blaziken. On these two Pokemon, the recommended moves were, obviously, Psystrike and Blast Burn respectively. However, for the first time, I started to really wonder about these moves;

Which move is objectively better?

This stupid question is easy to work out by just looking at their pages and pulling up a calculator or just looking at the DPE*DPS rating on every Charged Move that we have, but it started an entire thought-line about moves in Pokemon Go. Everyone who's been around for a while should already know which moves are the best, but how can we compare these moves more directly? And more importantly, Objectively speaking, what are the best moves in all of Pokemon Go? If we took away STAB and Super Effective damage, which would be the absolute best moves for a given Pokemon to wish that they could have in their moveset? Well, my mild obsession turned into an entire article highlighting the question, and now I'm going to subject you to all of my findings! So sit tight, because it's time to crunch some numbers!

Our Methodology

So how exactly do we go about ranking every single move in Pokemon Go? Right now we have 253 different moves available in-game, not including identical moves that show up in different types like Hidden PowerTechnoblastor Weather Ballso it's going to be a bear to compare every single one of them... right? Actually, no! As is usually the case with the stupidly complex complications that we occasionally subject ourselves to here at Gamepress, we've left the majority of this work to our very own Comprehensive DPS/TDO SpreadsheetHow exactly did we manage this task? Simple; we made a custom Pokemon on the sheet and used the following parameters to help us compare Applins-to-Appletuns, so to speak: 

  • A Pokemon with no types to keep the STAB bonus from skewing our results
  • 300 Attack
  • 300 Defense
  • 300 HP
  • Every single Fast and Charged Move in the game, barring identical moves with different types as outlined above.

We went with insanely high bulk for the initial experiment in order to get a more realistic view of the long-term theoretical performance of each move. Using this setup, the DPS/TDO sheet is capable of generating the rankings of every single move in the game without much bias (more on that point later), and give us the answers that we're hoping to get. 

Want to repeat this experiment yourself? Well, here's a handy text-string containing every single move in the game as outlined above so that you can give it a try yourself and so that I don't have to go insane from losing it in the event that I happen to need this list again in the future:

All Moves Text String

Acid, Air Slash, Astonish, Bite, Bubble, Bug Bite, Bullet Punch, Bullet Seed, Charge Beam, Charm, Confusion, Counter, Cut, Double Kick, Dragon Breath, Dragon Tail, Ember, Extrasensory, Fairy Wind, Feint Attack, Fire Spin, Fire Fang, Frost Breath, Fury Cutter, Gust, Hex, Hidden Power (Bug), Ice Fang, Ice Shard, Incinerate, Infestation, Iron Tail, Karate Chop, Lick, Lock On, Low Kick, Magical Leaf, Metal Claw, Mud Shot, Mud Slap, Peck, Poison Jab, Poison Sting, Pound, Powder Snow, Present, Psycho Cut, Quick Attack, Razor Leaf, Smash, Rock Throw, Rollout, Scratch, Shadow Claw, Smack Down, Snarl, Spark, Splash, Steel Wing, Struggle Bug, Sucker Punch, Tackle, Take Down, Thunder Fang, Thunder Shock, Vine Whip, Volt Switch, Water Gun, Waterfall, Wing Attack, Yawn, Zen Headbutt

Acid Spray, Acrobatics, Aerial Ace, Aeroblast, Air Cutter, Aeroblast+, Aeroblast++, Air Cutter, Ancient Power, Aqua Jet, Aqua Tail, Aura Sphere, Aurora Beam, Avalanche, Blast Burn, Blaze Kick, Blizzard, Body Slam, Bone Club, Boomburst, Brave Bird, Breaking Swipe, Brick Break, Brine, Brutal Swing, Bubble Beam, Bug Buzz, Bulldoze, Close Combat, Crabhammer, Cross Chop, Cross Poison, Crunch, Dark Pulse, Dazzling Gleam, Dig, Disarming Voice, Discharge, Doom Desire, Double Iron Bash, Draco Meteor, Dragon Claw, Dragon Pulse, Drain Punch, Draining Kiss, Drill Peck, Drill Run, Dynamic Punch, Earth Power, Earthquake, Energy Ball, Feather Dance, Fell Stinger, Fire Blast, Fire Punch, Flame Burst, Flame Charge, Flame Wheel, Flamethrower, Flash Cannon, Fly, Flying Press, Focus Blast, Foul Play, Frenzy Plant, Frustration, Fusion Bolt, Fusion Flare, Future Sight, Giga Drain, Giga Impact, Glaciate, Grass Knot, Gunk Shot, Gyro Ball, Heart Stamp, Heat wave, Heavy Slam, High Horsepower, Horn Attack, Hurricane, Hydro Cannon, Hydro Pump, Hyper Beam, Hyper Fang, Ice Bem, Ice Punch, Icicle Spear, Icy Wind, Iron Head, Last Resort, Leaf Blade, Leaf Storm, Leaf Tornado, Low Sweep, Lunge, Luster Purge, Magnet Bomb, Mega Drain, Megahorn, Meteor Beam, Meteor mash, Mirror Coat, Mirror Shot, Mist Ball, Moonblast, Mud Bomb, Muddy Water, Night Shade, Night Slas, Obstruct, Octazooka, Ominous Wind, Origin Pulse, Outrage, Overheat, Parabolic Charge, Payback, Petal Blizzard, Play Rough, Poison Fang, Poltergeist, Power Gem, Power Whip, Power-Up Punch, Precipice Blades, Psybeam, Psychic, Psychic Fangs, Psycho Boost, Psyshock, Psystrike, Razor Shell, Rest, Return, Rock Blast, Rock Slide, Rock Tomb, Rock Wrecker, Sacred Fire, Sacred Fire++, Sacred Sword, Sand Tomb, Scald, Seed Bomb, Seed Flare, Shadow Ball, Shadow Bone, Shadow Force, Shadow Punch, Shadow Sneak, Signal Beam, Silver Wind, Skull Bash, Sky Attack, Sludge, Sludge Bomb, Sludge Wave, Solar Beam, Stomp, Stone Edge, Struggle, Submission, Superpower, Surf,Swift, Synchronoise, Techno Blast (Burn), Thunder, Thunder Punch, Thunderbolt, Tri Attack, Twister, V-Create, Vise Grip, Water Pulse, Weather Ball Fire, Wild Charge, Wrap, X-Scissor, Zap Cannon

So stop right here and don't scroll down for a moment... okay, so saying that probably forced you to scroll down immediately, but hear me out; think about all of the top attackers in the game, future/current. What moves stand out in your mind as the best, and what do you think we're going to see in the upcoming section? Are you picturing Mega Mewtwo Y and its Psystrike? How about Primal Groudon or Primal Kyogre with Precipice Blades and Origin Pulse, respectively? How about Fast Moves? Hard-hitting attacks like Confusion and Charm are probably the first on your mind, but how about the quick-hitters that generate massive energy like Snarl? Take a second and make your guesses, then drop them in the Comments below, as I'd LOVE to see that you expected at this point in the article!

The Ultimate Moves: High Bulk

Have your moves in mind? Great, because it's time to unveil the absolute best possible moveset in all of Pokemon Go! 

The Best Possible Moveset - High Bulk
Fast Move Charged Move
Fury Cutter Aeroblast++


...yeah, these results are.... problematic. Fury Cutter showing up as the best Fast Move can definitely be a bit surprising for some, but the real problem is Aeroblast++For lack of a better term, this is a forbidden move in Pokemon Go. It's only usable by a Lugia that's been purified from an Apex Shadow Lugiabut Shadow Lugia is still objectively better than a Lugia packing Aeroblast++, meaning it will basically never be the better option.

But with that note out of the way, just how much better is Aeroblast++ when compared to the second-strongest Charged Move? Well, Aeroblast++ pairs up with the top 19 best Fast moves before we finally reach the second best Charged Move! Wow, Niantic shoved a lot of raw power into this move!

So now comes the real question of the day; what exactly are the other top moves in Pokemon Go? Well, let's take a look! 

Best Fast Moves
Ranking Move
1 Fury Cutter
2 Snarl
3-4 Bug Bite
3-4 Lick
5 Thunder Fang
6 Double Kick
7-8 Karate Chop
7-8 Quick Attack
9-10 Psycho Cut
9-10 Thunder Shock
11 Rollout
12 Magical Leaf
13 Spark
14-15 Pound
14-15 Vine Whip
16 Sucker Punch
17-18 Counter
17-18 Fire Fang
19 Infestation
20 Metal Claw

Paired Charged Move: Aeroblast++

Best Charged Moves
Ranking Move
1 Aeroblast++
2 Flying Press
3 Aeroblast+
4 Aura Sphere
5 Doom Desire
6 V-Create
7 Glaciate
8 Hydro Cannon
9 Aeroblast
10 Meteor Beam
11 Shadow Force
12 Sacred Fire++
13 Fusion Bolt
14 Sacred Sword
15 Giga Impact
16 Crabhammer
17-18 Frenzy Plant
17-18 Meteor Mash
19-20 Origin Pulse
19-20 Precipice Blades

Paired Fast Move: Fury Cutter

Some of these entries and the order that was revealed legitimately surprised me on a few points, in particular the fact that the big-name Fast Moves like Confusion and Charm didn't make the cut (more on those later, don't worry) while moves that are occasionally overlooked like Metal Claw, Karate Chop, and Crabhammer are waving at us as we scroll by

Overall, this is a really interesting set of data... but it feels a bit skewed, doesn't it? Well, that's because of the base stats that we gave our theoretical Pokemon: 300 Attack is fine, but 300 HP and Defense is downright absurd! Using that base-line, the only Pokemon in the game that beats our mutant Pokemon in terms of TDO is Eternamax Eternatuswhich was a boss-Pokemon that doesn't really exist for use outside of a single move cutscene in the main games due to just how stupidly broken it is! Because of this, the above list has a very strong bias towards long-term Charged moves and quick energy generation because that would be the ideal strategy if your Pokemon was fighting a punching-bag that would never faint, but also never attack. So let's take another look at our data after making one small yet important change....

The Ultimate Moves: Low Bulk

This time around, we're going to take the same stats outlined near the beginning of the article, and drop our theoretical Pokemon down to 100 base HP and Defense. This severely lowers its TDO/time on the field. So given these changes, what's our new best possible moveset?

The Best Possible Moveset - Low Bulk
Fast Move Charge Move
Fury Cutter Flying Press

The glorious move that is Fury Cutter retains the lead, but this time it's joined by Flying Presswhich was the #2 move on the high-bulk rankings. This is a perfect example of how having a lower energy requirement makes a much bigger difference for Pokemon who aren't on the field for as long a time. This is beacuase it's better to squeeze out as many hits as possible into their short lifespans rather than trying for risky big hits that they may only come out once or twice if they're lucky.

So what do our top attack lists look like given the new data? Take a look:

Best Fast Moves
Ranking Move
1 Fury Cutter
2 Snarl
3-4 Bug Bite
3-4 Lick
5 Double Kick
6 Thunder Fang
7-8 Karate Chop
7-8 Quick Attack
9-19 Psycho Cut
9-10 Thunder Shock
11-12 Pound
11-12 Vine Whip
13-14 Counter
13-14 Fire Fang
15 Magical Leaf
16 Rollout
17 Spark
18 Sucker Punch
19 Metal Claw
20 Shadow Claw

Paired Charged Move: Flying Press

Best Charged Moves
Ranking Move
1 Flying Press
2 Doom Desire
3 V-Create
4 Hydro Cannon
5 Sacred Sword
6 Double Iron Bash
7 Crabhammer
8 Frenzy Plant
9 Meteor Mash
10 Fly
11 Brutal Swing
12 Psystrike
13 Blast Burn
14 Glaciate
15 Sky Attack
16 Shadow Ball
17 Weather Ball
18 Meteor Beam
19 Grass Knot
20 Power Whip

Paired Fast Move: Fury Cutter

Two very interesting bits to point out here:

  • The Fast Move tables for both High Bulk and Low Bulk are identical
  • The Charged Move table has far fewer 1-bar moves on it

In our theoretical example above, it seems that the sim still prefers picking fast moves with high energy generation over damaging fast moves. Again; we'll definitely talk more about that in a second, but for now we can see a lot more 3-bar moves this time around, with the classical 2-bar moves still tending to rule, all while short attack windows tend to be in the forefront among both. This is because the difference in energy needed to reach a 2-bar move Vs. a 3-bar move is only 34%, which generally won't make a significant difference. Anyone remember 5-bar moves back when the game was young? Those were always fun...

Either way, this demonstrates just how variable attacks can be; the best possible choice can frequently depend on the Pokemon using it. Frequently, the best Charged Move for one Pokemon might not always be the best for another, even if they both have identical typing/moves to utilize.

Bias in the Data

So many of you are probably looking at the data outlined above and thinking "hold on, some of those rankings feel really suspicious...", and you'd be right to harbor some doubts! While these are the best moves on paper, they will generally shift quite a bit in practice, and here are a few of the reasons:

On Paper Vs. In Practice

What we did for our example is give the DPS/TDO Spreadsheet the ability to deal neutral damage to a theoretical raid boss with every move in the game while ignoring any form of STAB bonus. The ability to utilize STAB and deal Super Effective damage would have resulted in a large damage boost, which tends to greatly benefits some moves over others; namely those with higher base power. The prime example here is the fact that Psycho Cut made the top-20 while Confusion was left out in the dust, but all of our Raid Guides recommend Confusion over Psycho Cut when the target is weak to Psychic. This is because the boosts outlined above benefit Confusion far more than Psycho Cut due to the former's higher base power. Despite the fact that Psycho Cut will allow for more damage from super-charged Charged Moves due to its superior energy generation, the added damage on Confusion is significant enough to offset this difference in practice. 

To summarise: the main advantage of energy-generating Fast Moves is their energy generation, which is not boosted by SE/STAB/Weather/Mega boosts. The main advantage of damaging fast moves is their damage, which is boosted by SE/STAB/Weather/Mega boosts.

On top of that, we also have the additional bulk variables. We could change up the bulk total for our theoretical Pokemon that was featured in our experiments infinitely, ranging from making Eternamax Eternatus look weak, to wishing that it could be as bulky as Deoxys - Attack Forme. The ideal moveset will tend to change based on bulk, as outlined above, and every Pokemon may be best using a different attack, as we've already touched on. The best example of this is with Pokemon like Mega Gengar which is frequently called on to take on Pokemon utilizing attacks that it's weak to or conversely facing Fighting Type moves that it triple-resists. In this example, these artificial changes in relative bulk can, at times, shift which Fast Move is a better option between Lick and Shadow Claw, with the primary variable being if Lick's superior energy generation can allow for an additional use of Shadow Ball. though the former tends to pull ahead in this right, both remain completely viable regardless.

In the end, none of the moves that we've outlined above are bad by any stretch, but they're not necessarily the best within their given types in all situations either. This article is more a fun thought experiment than a resource that states "these are the objective overall best" like with our Attackers Tier List or Best Attackers by Type list, so take this data with a grain of salt.

What About The Worst?

Alright, so we've got the best moves out of the way, but this naturally raises the next question: What are the WORST moves? Well, we're only going to highlight them using our high-bulk metric this time, but here are the bottom-20 of our 13,032 possible movesets!

Worst Fast Moves
Ranking Move
53 Rollout
54 Scratch
55 Shadow Claw
56 Smack Down
57 Snarl
58 Spark
59 Steel Wing
60 Sucker Punch
61 Tackle
62 Take Down
63 Thunder Shock
64 Vine Whip
65 Water Gun
66 Waterfall
67 Wing Attack
68 Zen Headbutt
69 Present
70 Fairy Wind
71 Splash
72 Yawn

Paired Charged Move: Frustration

Worst Charged Moves
Ranking Move
161 Acrobatics
162 Sludge Wave
163 Payback
164 Leaf Tornado
165 Stone Edge
167 Close Combat
168 Poison Fang
169 Thunder
170 Flash Cannon
171 Vise Grip
172 Octozooka
173 Psychic Fangs
174 Struggle
175 Heat Wave
176 Giga Drain
177 Feather Dance
178 Obstruct
179 Mega Drain
180 Acid Spray
181 Frustration

Paired Fast Move: Yawn

So what the heck happened here?! Water Gun? Thunder Shock? Shadow Claw?!

Yeah, we have some objectively weird moves showing up in the "worst of the worst" section. I mean, the Charged Moves are pretty much what we were expecting, but the Fast Moves?! Why are objectively great moves showing up in the BOTTOM of the list?

Simple; because of what they're paired with!

In this case, our theoretical Pokemon is packing Frustration, meaning high-energy-generating fast moves are basically charging trash, while high-damage fast moves represent the bulk of the Pokemon's DPS. For this reason, having Frustration on a Pokemon massively skews the data in this light!

Ah, but I'm sure that we can all agree on this final point:

The Worst Possible Moveset in All of Pokemon Go
Fast Move Charged Move
Yawn Frustration

...I am totally going to drop an Elite TM on a Shadow Snorlax just so that I have a Pokemon with the objectively worst moveset in all of Pokemon Go.


So in the end, it turns out that a completely objective look at moves is interesting, but, ironically, not the best metric by which to come up with some sort of an objective rating. Looking at moves in this way can definitely give us an idea as to which moves are "good" and which ones are "bad", but there's a lot of gray area in between where the situation can really do a number on the data!

Either way, I hope that this was a fun little look at the best attacks in Pokemon Go. Don't forget to let me know what moves you were expecting to see in the top ratings for each of the headings, and also let me know which moves surprised you the most!

Now that I've written an entire article and halfway through explained away the actual utility of said article, I think that I'm going to go for a walk in the woods and proceed to scream at the top of my lungs until I pass out. I hope that you have a great day, too!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress Pokemon Go site lead with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization and a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.