Everything you need to know about Pokemon GO IV

So you want to get a leg up and learn about IV’s huh? Well, you’re in luck. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the topic, from what IV’s are, to how they work, and even which apps to use to narrow down your pokemon’s specific IV’s. With the new “appraisal” feature a lot more trainers are learning about how IV’s affect their pokemon. It’s not too difficult to learn but if you’re still confused by the end of it, that’s ok. It takes a little hands-on experience to get completely familiar with the topic, and I’ll be checking the comments regularly for any outlying questions. You can also just check out the “easy mode” summary at the end if this all proves too daunting. Let’s get started!

First, let’s define what an IV really is.

IV is short for “individual values”, but that’s just a fancy way of saying “bonus points”. Every pokemon in the world will have its own set of IV’s that are simply bonus points added to their standard base stats. These base stats, at least for Pokemon GO, are attack, defense, and stamina. Every member of a specific “species” (i.e. every single pidgey) will have the exact same base stats at a given level. Their IV’s could be completely different, but the base is always the same. When a pokemon spawns in to the world, it generates a random set of IV’s that attribute bonus points to that pokemon’s base stats. These can range from 0 to 15 for each of the 3 stats, a “perfect” IV pokemon having 15/15/15 for IV’s, or 15 bonus points to each of the base stats. We’ll show you a bit later how to find out these exact numbers.

It’s also worth noting that because pokemon generate their IV’s when they first appear in the world, anyone who catches a pokemon before it despawns will get the exact same IV’s for that pokemon. The CP of the pokemon could be completely different, but that’s just because the “level” of a pokemon is random for each player catching it. For example, I could catch a CP 10 poliwag and you could catch a CP 200 poliwag at the same time in the same spot. Our pokemon would have identical IV’s, mine is just a lower level.

How big of a difference do IV’s make?

This is an important thing to keep in mind before you start going in to this too hardcore. IV’s absolutely do make a difference. But some people make that difference out to be a lot more than it really is. You may have noticed by now that 2 of your pokemon that should be the same CP just…aren’t. That’s because of the difference in IV’s. CP is just an aggregate, or sort of rough guess at the overall stats of your pokemon. Higher CP equals higher stats, in general. But because the stats aren’t evenly distributed, some pokemon are more heavily weighted to defense and stamina (snorlax) while others are heavy hitters (arcanine). So because the IV’s of any 2 pokemon are almost definitely different, they will have different “totals” for their CP. The big question is, how much of a difference is there between a 100% perfect pokemon and a 50% perfect, or even a 0%? Well, frankly, NOT THAT MUCH. Let me show you.

These are 3 of my vaporeons maxed out at trainer level 28. The first is 84% (14/11/13), the second is 71% (15/3/14) and the third is 64% (15/2/12). So There’s about a 20% difference between the best and the worst, but that amounts to just a 52 point difference in CP. Granted, none of them are awful, but plenty of players won’t bother powering up anything under 80%, which is a bit ridiculous IMO. At the extreme end of things, a 0/0/0 vaporeon at level 40 will have a maximum CP of about 2400, while a 100% perfect IV vaporeon (15/15/15) could be as high as 2816. My 64% can expect to hit right around 2700 at level 40. So there can be a significant swing, but keep in mind — those are level 40 numbers.


Almost nobody in the world has achieved that level yet, and more casual players can’t expect to reach it for an extremely long time. Even if you did, a 2400 vaporeon is still strong enough to take down almost all of the bigger defenders out there. Sure it’d be nice to top out at 2816, but it’s definitely not worth holding out for only having 100% perfect pokemon.

In short (for this section) having 20% higher IV’s does not mean a pokemon is 20% stronger. Typically, the difference between absolute best and absolute worst IVs for a given pokemon at level 40 is about 10%. Top tier pokemon are still worth having even if their IV’s are less than ideal.


How to roughly estimate your pokemon’s IV’s

Niantic did us a pretty big solid by giving us the new “appraisal” tool. Using that, you can get a quick (albeit rough) idea of what range your pokemon’s IV’s are in. When you have the pokemon brought up, click the button in the bottom right of the screen and click “appraise”. Your team leader will pop up and give you a quick run-down of what your pokemon looks like IV-wise. Each trainer has different quotes that I’ll list below, but we’ll use Sparky with team Instinct as an example. The second thing he says is the most important piece of information. “Overall, your Vaporeon looks like it can really battle with the best of them!”. This statement from spark means his IV’s are 80% or better, and worth it to me to calculate further. The other statements you can see in my screenshots “…is really strong” and “…is pretty decent” mean that the pokemon is between 67%-79% and 51%-66% respectively. At 50% or lower, he would say “…has room for improvement as far as battling goes. If you get the best statement for your pokemon, you have a good one, and it’s probably worth looking in to a bit further, if only in hopes of identifying a 100%.

The next thing your team leader will point out is the pokemon’s best stat or stats (if there’s a tie), and then s/he will say something about the stats overall like “Its stats are the best I’ve seen! No doubt about it!” which gives an indication of what the highest stat is. That particular sentence means at least one IV is a 15. After that sometimes they’ll mention the pokemon’s physique (inconsequential) and sign off. If you’re happy with the appraisal but want more solid numbers, you’re gonna have to get an IV calculator.

Mystic Valor Instinct
80%+ “…Is a wonder! What a breathtaking pokemon!” “…simply amazes me! It can accomplish anything!” “…looks like it can really battle with the best of them!”
67%-79% “…has certainly caught my attention.” “…is a strong pokemon. You should be proud!” “…is really strong!”
51%-66% “…is above average.” “…is a decent pokemon.” “…is pretty decent.”
0%-50% “…is not likely to make much headway in battle.” “…may not be great in battle, but I still like it!” “…has room for improvement as far as battling goes.”


Getting and using an IV calculator

There are tons of IV calculators all over the internet and in the app store. Finding one that works best for you is largely preference, but some are better than others. You can find a pretty user friendly calculator at thesilphroad.com, but if you’re using a web based, I would recommend the one at https://pokemon.gameinfo.io/tools/iv-calculator . With that one, you can type in your trainer leader’s responses and it will give you a more accurate readout the first time, without having to power up to test numbers (more on this in a second). If you want a mobile calculator, there are tons to choose from. Some are standalone apps and others use an overlay and a floating button so you can bring it up in game. These are more convenient and are pretty accurate, depending on how often they update them, and pretty intuitive. I like “IV Calculator for Pokemon GO” by Vincent Tromeur in particular. There are similar ones, but of the ones I tested, this was the one that got closest to what I know the IV’s to be.

Which brings us to the meat of the issue. Using a calculator is pretty straightforward. But you may be displeased with the results. All you need to do is simply input the requested information (CP, HP, how much stardust to power up) and hit “calculate” or “results”. It’ll give you an output of what the possible IV combinations are for your pokemon. “Wait…combinationS?! PLURAL?!” Unfortunately, yes. Because the mobile calculators haven’t added the appraise functionality yet, and some of the other little things to narrow down results, often times you’ll be given a range of possibilities. Some will simply show you the range of possible IV combinations you could have, and others will give you an average. If you notice that the range has an upper limit of 100% and a lower range of 80% or better, you may want to power up your pokemon once to see if it’s actually a 100% pokemon, as this will narrow the results. Alternatively, you could just use the mobile apps to get a rough idea of the IVs, and if the pokemon has a good range, give it a favorite star and check it when you get to a web browser, as those are more accurate and have more features.

Remember, some of the deduction can be done on your own. If you were given the quote from your trainer that says your pokemon is 80% or better, and the calculator says the range is from 60%-90%, then you know that the ACTUAL range is more likely between 80% and 90%. This may seem confusing until you actually do it, but it really isn’t too difficult. And you’re not going to be checking every single pokemon you catch (or at least I hope not).

pokemon go IV Flareon 72

Let’s Simplify even further

I get it, this is a lot to take in all at once. But let me reiterate, tracking IV’s can be beneficial, but it definitely isn’t mandatory for having a good roster. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, and not spent a ton of effort tracking specific numbers, then the “appraise” feature is good enough for the time being. Just put a star on your 80%+ pokemon and make sure you focus on powering up those guys before your second stringers, and if you ever want to dig deeper, you know which ones to check out first. To be clear though, I don’t mean every single pokemon you have that’s 80%+, but the ones that are good for use in gyms, the top tier or “S” tier pokemon. Snorlax, dragonite, vaporeon, exeggutor, lapras, etc. are all ones to keep an eye on. BUT! Also keep in mind, that these kinds of top tier pokemon are awesome no matter what their IV’s. Those 3 vaporeons way up top there? Those are my top 3 gym attackers. Even with less than perfect IV’s the top tier pokemon are still awesome and will play pivotal roles in your battle strategy.

“So if it’s not that important, why is there so much emphasis on it?” you might ask. Honestly, there’s no perfect answer for this. Some people like to have the best of the best. Other people do it as a means of collecting rare pokemon (the odds of getting a 15/15/15 in the wild are about 1 in 4000). Also, if and when trading ever becomes a thing in Pokemon GO, those perfect top tier pokemon will be pretty highly sought after. There are all kinds of reasons to track IV’s and keep running after the perfect or near perfect pokemon, but keep in mind it isn’t an absolute necessity to play and enjoy the game.


One Last Thing

Hatched pokemon almost always have IV’s in the 75%+ range (if not 80%+, but there’s no perfect evidence yet). If you want a better shot at consistently stronger pokemon, get to steppin’!

Make sure you check out these:

15 tips for new pokemon trainers.

What happened when someone used incense in the middle of the ocean.

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About Ryan Ellis
Ryan Ellis is a student of geosciences at Penn State University and a hobbyist level writer. He spends his free time writing and playing video games, mostly Pokemon Go Rocket League and Mario Kart 64.

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