Pokémon Special Attack vs. Attack: What Are the Differences?

pokemon special attack vs attack


This post was last updated on November 1, 2023

In the Pokémon core game and MOBA-style Pokémon games, such as Pokémon Unite, a Pokémon can be a physical attacker, a special attacker, or a combination of the two. If you are new to Pokémon Unite, you might find the battle system, statistics, and each Pokémon’s attack stat confusing.

In this guide, our team at That VideoGame Blog discusses the difference between a physical attack and a special attack.

If you’d like to learn about the best Pokémon fan games or other related topics, feel free to browse our blog.

Supernatural Strikes vs. Physical Attacks

Your Pokémon’s physical and special attack stats tell you how much damage it can do to an opposing Pokémon. The most significant difference between an attack and a special attack stat lies in the combat style.

An attack consists of physical moves or contact. Some physical attackers also throw objects. The Rock Slide and Karate Chop are examples of physical attacks.

A special move is a magical or supernatural attack that a Pokémon can launch at a target over a distance. Hydro Pump, Hyper Beam, and Thunder Wave are examples of special attack stats.

Each Pokémon Has a Unique Attack and Special Attack Stat

Each Pokémon’s attack type and stats are unique and essential when calculating damage. The higher a Pokémon’s attack stat, the more damage it inflicts during physical attacks. Similarly, the higher a Pokémon’s special attack stat, the more special damage it can dish out to an opponent.

Some Pokémon are effective during physical and special attacks. A Pokémon can also specialize in a physical or special attack type.

For example, Alakazam’s special stat is significantly higher than its attack stat. This Pokémon should only use special moves to maximize damage to another Pokémon during a battle.

Each Attack Type Has a Specific Defense

When playing Pokémon Unite, a defense stat defends against physical moves, while a special defense stat defends against special moves.

Large and bulky Pokémon, such as Steelix and Onix, sustain less damage during a basic attack. However, these Pokémon are more vulnerable to damaging moves from special attackers.

Generally, special attackers, such as Alcremie, have a high special defense. However, when defending against physical moves in battle, these Pokémon are more likely to suffer a critical hit.

Attack Stat Reduction Is Possible With the Intimidate Ability

Another significant difference between physical and special moves is that the Intimidate ability only applies to physical attackers in Pokémon Unite.

Upon entering the battle, a Pokémon with this ability intimidates all adjacent opponents, reducing their attack stats by one stage. However, no equivalent of this ability exists to reduce the damage of special moves during battle.

Pokémon that can raise the Intimidate ability include Tauros, Mawile, and Gyarados. The Intimidate ability is widespread, and you will likely encounter it in every Pokémon game.

Base Stats Are More Valuable Than Available Moves

How should you use your Pokémon in battle? To raise the damage your Pokémon inflicts, you need to consider its base stats rather than its available moves.

For example, Alakazam has a special attack stat of 135 and a movement speed stat of 120. While these stats are excellent, this Pokémon has a base attacks stat of only 50. In other words, even though Alakazam has effective available moves, such as Zen Headbutt, the Pokémon cannot use them optimally.

Effect of Status Moves on Attacks and Special Attacks

In addition to an attack and special attack, Pokémon games feature status moves. However, instead of direct damage, status moves cause various effects, including changes to your or your opponent’s attack or speed stats. 

For example, you can use status moves to boost your damage stats during a special attack. When launching basic attacks, you can use special moves, such as Burn, to reduce your opponent’s attack stat by 50%.

Notable Exceptions

Some moves ignore attack or special stats. For instance, Psyshock is a special attack in Pokémon games that requires a basic defense. If you use this move and your opponent employs a special defense, you will catch them off guard.

Some flat-damage moves, such as Night Shade and Dragon Rage, cause a specific amount of damage in all cases. Even though these moves have special attack labels, they ignore all stats.

Effects of Abilities and Items on Attack Stats

An ability is a passive effect of a Pokémon that increases your special and attack stats in a game. For instance, the Choice Band ability limits your Pokémon to one available move but increases your attack stat by 50%.

Items that you hold can also improve your stats. The Float Stone, Attack Weight, and Muscle Band are items that boost your Pokémon’s attack stat. On the other hand, the Wise Glasses and Shell Bell are items that increase your Pokémon’s special attack ability.

How Are Physical and Special Attacks Similar?

When it comes to physical and special moves, one attack type is not necessarily more potent than another. However, where a special attack can have a unique effect, an attack can cause more extensive damage.

While there are Pokémon that excel in both attack types, they are few and far between. When you put together a team, choose Pokémon specializing in each attack and defense type. With a well-rounded team, you will be more likely to win battles.

Some of the Pokémon attackers include:

  • Absol
  • Cinderace
  • Garchomp
  • Lucario
  • Snorlax
  • Zeraora

Special attackers in the Pokémon Unite game include:

  • Alolan Ninetails
  • Eldegoss
  • Gengar
  • Pikachu
  • Venusaur

That VideoGame Blog: Your Ultimate Source of Information on All Things Pokémon

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you have a better understanding of the differences between Pokémon special attacks and attacks.

At That VideoGame Blog, we are a leading source of Pokémon how-to guides, game lore, and posts, including the complete list of cat Pokémon. You can also browse our blog to find cheats, ROM hacks, tips, and more.