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How the game decides what will hatch from Nidoran or Volbeat/Illumise Egg?
Pokémon breeding is a method of obtaining a new Pokémon by producing and hatching an Egg. In the anime, it also refers to Pokémon grooming and caretaking.
In the games
How to breed
Pokémon can be bred by leaving two compatible Pokémon at the Pokémon Day Care in Generation II and beyond, located on Route 34 in Johto, Route 117 or the Battle ResortORAS in Hoenn, Four Island in the Sevii Islands, Solaceon Town in Sinnoh, Route 3 in Unova, and Route 7 in Kalos.
Two Pokémon are compatible if they are of the same species (or share at least one Egg Group) and are of opposite genders; alternatively, breeding is usually still possible as long as one of them is Ditto, even if the other parent is genderless, and in fact, genderless Pokémon can breed only with Ditto. Pokémon in the Undiscovered egg group cannot breed whatsoever, and Ditto cannot breed with itself. In Generation II only, Pokémon with similar IVs cannot breed, due to the likelihood of familial relation.
The chance of any two Pokémon producing an Egg is determined by their species (two Bulbasaur are the same species, while Bulbasaur and Ivysaur are not) and their Original Trainers. In Generation III or later, the Day-Care Man will describe the two Pokémon's compatibility when the player speaks to him. In these games, an Egg may be generated after every 256 steps the player takes.
|| Original Trainer
|| Chance for Egg (...with Oval Charm)
|| "The two seem to get along very well!"
Man: "Those two seem to get along like a house on fire." / Lad: "They really seem to like hanging out!"ORAS
| 70% (88%)
|| "The two seem to get along."
Man: "Those two seem peaceable enough toward each other." / Lad: "The two seem to get along all right."ORAS
| 50% (80%)
|| "The two don't really seem to like each other very much."
Man: "But I have to say, those two don’t seem to like each other all that much." / Lad: "But they don’t seem to like each other very much..."ORAS
| 20% (40%)
| Different Egg Groups, same gender, or Undiscovered group
|| "The two prefer to play with other Pokémon more than with each other."
Man: "Those two would really rather play with other Pokémon, though, and not each other." / Lad: "Seems they’d rather play with other Pokémon—not so much with each other."ORAS
The chances of finding an Egg are different in Generation II, and the compatibility can be checked by interacting with the Pokémon themselves instead of with the Day-Care Man. In these games, there is a chance to generate an Egg after every step.
|| Original Trainer
||Chance for Egg per step|
(equivalent per 256 steps)
|| "It appears to care for <other Pokémon's nickname>."
|| 0.19% (39.1%)
|| "It's friendly with <other Pokémon's nickname>."
|| 0.14% (29.2%)
|| "It's friendly with <other Pokémon's nickname>."
|| 0.1% (22.1%)
|| "It shows interest in <other Pokémon's nickname>."
|| 0.04% (9.5%)
| Different Egg Groups, same gender,
or Undiscovered group
| "It has no interest in <other's Pokémon nickname>."
| Both Pokémon's Defense IVs are the same and
their Special IVs are different by either 0 or 8
| "It's brimming with energy."
Receiving the Egg
When there are two compatible Pokémon in the Day Care, the game will periodically decide whether the Day-Care Man has found an Egg, with the chances depending on the compatibility of the two Pokémon as detailed in the section above.
If an Egg was produced, the Day-Care Man will move from his default position so that the player can know he has an Egg.
- In Generation II, he will appear in the Day Care's yard.
- In Generation III, he will step out of line with the fence.
- In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, he will face the road instead of facing down.
- In HeartGold and SoulSilver, he will face left or right instead of down and call the player over the Pokégear.
- In Generation V, he will call out to the player when they are passing by on the road below.
- In Black and White, however, the Day-Care Man will not call out to the player if the player's party is full, even if he has found an Egg.
- In Generation VI, he will face the road instead of in towards the Day Care.
The Day-Care Man will hand the player an Egg if he or she replies that they want the Egg and if they have an empty slot in their party. If the player tells the Day-Care Man they do not want the Egg, he will permanently keep it. If the player says they want the Egg but does not have a spare slot, the Day-Care Man will keep it until the player returns, when he will offer it again; otherwise, there is no way to refuse the Egg and receive it later.
What will hatch
After taking enough steps, the Egg will hatch into a level 1 (Generation IV onward) or level 5 (Generation II and III) first-stage Pokémon of the female species's (or non-Ditto parent's) evolutionary chain.
There are two pairs of Pokémon families where the male and female are different species. In these cases, an Egg produced may hatch into either the male or female variant. The pairs are the following:
There are several Pokémon which can produce two different kinds of Eggs, dependent on whether or not a parent of the Egg held a specific incense when it was produced.
There is one special case, where a Pokémon can produce offspring that cannot evolve into it exclusively, and they are not gender counterparts.
The time it takes for an Egg to hatch depends on its species's required number of Egg cycles. Magikarp have the fewest Egg cycles, meaning they hatch the fastest. Some baby Pokémon in the Undiscovered Egg Group, such as Cleffa, Pichu, and Igglybuff, hatch quickly as well. Besides these, most Pokémon take considerable time to hatch. Rare and powerful Pokémon, like Dratini, Bagon, Beldum, Larvitar, Chansey, and more, start with a high number of Egg cycles and take a long time to hatch.
"Time" is actually determined by Egg cycle completion, which is determined by in-game steps or biking. An Egg cycle is a counted number of steps that activates breeding-related programs in the game. One Egg cycle lasts 256 steps in the second and third generations, 255 steps in the fourth generation, and 257 steps in later generations. When the game reaches the end of an Egg cycle, it does a few things: the step counter for the cycle is reset to zero, the game randomly decides if an Egg is to be found at the Day Care (if compatible Pokémon are present in the Day Care at the time), and all (or only a few) Eggs currently in the player's party have their Egg cycle count reduced by one. If the Egg cycle count for an Egg reaches zero after being reduced (in the second and in the fifth or later generations) or is zero when it would be reduced (in the third and fourth generations), the Egg will begin to hatch. Prior to the fifth generation, if an Egg hatches, the game will not subtract an Egg cycle count from the rest of the Eggs after it in the party, ensuring that no two Eggs can hatch at the same time. In the fifth generation and later, if more than one Egg reaches zero at the same time, the first Egg hatches immediately while the rest hatch in order each time the player takes another step.
In the third and fourth generations, the Egg cycle's step counter can be reset by receiving an Egg from the Day-Care Man or the Manaphy Egg from the Mystery Gift delivery man in the Poké Mart. When an Egg is received from one of these people, the game resets the Egg cycle step counter to one in the third generation and to zero in the fourth generation.
As an example, in Pokémon X and Y, a Misdreavus Egg starts with 25 Egg cycles, meaning it requires from 6169 to 6425 steps to hatch, depending on where the Egg cycle step counter is when the Egg is picked up. After each Egg cycle is completed, the Egg's Egg cycle count will drop by one, first to 24, then 23, then 22, and so on until the Egg cycle count hits zero, at which point the Egg will hatch into Misdreavus.
There are ways to speed up the time required to hatch an Egg. Riding a Bicycle reduces the time required simply by making it faster to complete steps. From Pokémon Emerald onward, if a Pokémon with Flame Body or Magma Armor is in a player's party, Egg cycles are reduced by two instead of one at the end of an Egg cycle, effectively halving the steps needed to hatch the Egg. In the Misdreavus example, the Egg would start at 25, and with Slugma in the party, the Egg would drop 2 Egg cycle counts after each Egg cycle, to 23 then 21 then 19 and so on, until it finally drops from 1 to 0 and hatches. Having multiple Pokémon with the Ability or one with each will not increase the Egg cycle reduction. Since the fifth generation, Hatching Powers can also be used (either from Pass Powers or O-Powers) to shorten the length of an Egg cycle, making Eggs hatch 1.25, 1.5, or 2× faster depending on the strength of the power used. In Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Secret Pals in the player's Secret Base can also use the skill "Take care of an Egg" to reduce an Egg's Egg cycle count by half of its base Egg cycles.
Passing moves down
The moves obtained by a Pokémon when hatching are as follows:
- By default, the baby Pokémon will start with any moves that it learns at level 1. (In Generation II and Generation III, they will know all moves that are level 5 and below in their learnset.)
- If both parents know a move that the baby can learn via leveling up, the Pokémon will inherit that move.
- Prior to Generation VI, if the father knows any TM or HM moves (and in Crystal, Move Tutor moves) that the baby is also compatible with, it will inherit the move. If a genderless Pokémon breeds with Ditto, the resultant baby will inherit any compatible TM or HM moves that the genderless non-Ditto Pokémon parent knows.
- If the father or (starting in Generation VI) the mother knows any specific Egg Moves that the baby can learn, the baby will inherit the move. If the parents both know different Egg Moves, the mother's Egg Moves are passed on first, then followed by the father's.
- From Pokémon Emerald onward, for a baby Pichu, if either parent is holding a Light Ball, the Pichu will know Volt Tackle. Volt Tackle cannot be passed down as a normal Egg Move.
If this would result in the baby possessing more than four moves, the moves take priority in the order listed: Volt Tackle, mother's Egg Moves, father's Egg Moves, TM and HM moves, inherited level-up moves, baby's default moveset. The moves passed down will be ordered on the baby Pokémon by the priority listed above.
In Generation VI, the Move Reminder can teach any Pokémon hatched in a Generation VI game any move that it knew when it hatched, if it has forgotten it. Moves that can be taught this way due to inheriting them appear at the top of the Move Reminder's list. However, even if a Pokémon meets the requirements for more than four inherited moves, only the moves it knew when it hatched can be taught by the Move Reminder.
A Pokémon's individual values are also passed down. This is determined differently between generations.
In Generation II games, the baby inherits its stats from the parent of the opposite gender, unless one parent is Ditto, and in that case it inherits the stats from Ditto. The Defense IV is passed, and also either the Special IV or the Special IV plus or minus 8 (plus for values in the 0-7 range; minus for values in the 8-15 range); the Special IV has a 50% chance of remaining the same. Attack and Speed IVs are determined entirely at random, whereas HP is determined by the IVs of the other four stats, using the same formula for wild Pokémon. The probability of a Pokémon having the same IVs as its opposite-gender parent is therefore 1/512.
If the Defense IVs of two partners are the same, and the Special IVs are either the same or differ by 8, the two Pokémon are incompatible. This is due to the high likelihood of a family relation, hence the inability to breed.
In Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed and LeafGreen, exactly three of the baby's IVs are inherited from its parents (e.g. if one parent contributes two IVs, its mate will contribute the third). The other three are determined at random, though it is possible that some of these may coincide with those of its parents without actually being inherited.
In Pokémon Emerald, the process is similar but more complicated. First, a random IV is passed from one of the parents to the baby. Afterwards, a random IV of any stat (other than HP) is passed from either parent to the baby; if it is the same stat (not necessarily the same IV value, depending on whether or not the same parent passed it on), it will override it. Finally, another random IV of any stat other than HP and Defense is passed from one of the parents to the baby; this IV will override any of the previous two if it is from the same stat. The remaining stats (a number ranging from 3 to 5) are determined at random, again with the possibility of one or more IVs coinciding with those of the parents.
Inheriting IVs in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl is determined in the same way as in Pokémon Emerald.
From Pokémon Platinum onward, the baby will inherit three IVs, each from a different stat and from a random parent.
From HeartGold and SoulSilver onward, if either parent holds an EV-enhancing item (excluding the Macho Brace), the baby will instead receive the IV of the corresponding stat from that parent, then inherit two other random IVs each from a random parent; if both parents hold an EV-enhancing item (excluding the Macho Brace), the baby will inherit the corresponding stat to their held item from one of those parents at random. For example, if a parent is holding the Power Anklet, the baby will inherit the Speed IV from that parent, and it will also inherit two other different IVs from its parents, such as Attack and Special Defense. As another example, if one parent holds a Power Anklet and the other parent holds a Power Weight, the baby will inherit either the Speed IV from the first parent or the HP IV from the second parent, and it will also inherit two different IVs from its parents other than Speed or HP (whichever was successfully inherited will be the one not chosen).
Inheriting IVs in Generation V is determined in the same way as in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
From Pokémon X and Y onward, if at least one parent holds a Destiny Knot, the baby will inherit five IVs instead of three.
This can be combined with an EV-enhancing item to ensure that one desired IV is always inherited; however, the offspring will still inherit only a total of five IVs from its parents (the EV-enhancing item simply guarantees which IV will be transferred for one of the five that the Destiny Knot allows).
In Pokémon Emerald, if the mother (in a male-female pair) or Ditto (in a pair that includes Ditto) is holding an Everstone, the baby has a 50% chance of inheriting that Pokémon's Nature.
In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, inheriting Natures remains the same as in Emerald, except that passing on Natures via an Everstone will not work if the Pokémon are from different real-world countries (e.g. Argentina and Germany).
In HeartGold and SoulSilver, whichever Pokémon is holding an Everstone will have a chance of passing down its Nature, regardless of gender, or whether it is breeding with a Ditto.
In Black and White, inheriting Natures remains the same as in HeartGold and SoulSilver, except that passing on Natures via an Everstone will now work even if the Pokémon are from different real-world countries.
From Black 2 and White 2 onward, if one parent holds an Everstone, its Nature will always be passed down. If both parents are holding an Everstone, a parent's Nature will still always be passed down, but which parent's Nature is passed down is randomly determined.
In Generations III and IV, Abilities could not be inherited by breeding. An Egg would simply randomly be born with one of its possible Abilities.
Since Generation V, it has been possible for female Pokémon to pass down their Ability in some form when breeding with a male Pokémon. In Black and White, it was only possible for a female Pokémon to pass down its Ability if it had a Hidden Ability, at a 60% chance. Starting in Black 2 and White 2, this mechanic was updated so that females had an 80% chance of passing down their Ability slot, period. In Black 2 and White 2, this same 80% chance does not apply if a female Pokémon is bred with a Ditto, but starting in Pokémon X and Y, it does.
Before Generation VI, it was not possible for male or genderless Pokémon to pass down their Ability in any way. Starting in Generation VI, however, if these Pokémon have their Hidden Ability and are bred with Ditto, they have a 20% chance to pass it down to their offspring. Ditto's Ability is always irrelevant to inheritance.
If an Egg does not inherit its Ability from a parent, it can only be born with one of its non-Hidden Abilities.
Inheriting Poké Balls
Prior to Generation VI, all hatched Pokémon are obtained in a standard red-and-white Poké Ball.
Starting in Generation VI, the Poké Ball of the female Pokémon (other than a Master Ball and Cherish Ball, which result in the default standard Poké Ball) will be passed down to its offspring. Male and genderless Pokémon (including Ditto) have no impact on the type of Poké Ball inherited; as such, when breeding a male or genderless Pokémon with Ditto (which is the only way to breed certain species), the offspring is always obtained in a standard Poké Ball.
Breeding for Shininess
In Generation II, due to Shininess being determined by IVs and the fact that IVs are passed down through breeding, it is possible for an Egg bred from a Shiny Pokémon to have a chance as high as 1/64 of being Shiny itself, but only if the offspring is of the opposite gender as the Shiny parent. This is not possible in any later generations due to Shininess no longer being related to IVs.
In Generation III, a bred Pokémon always has the same chance of being Shiny as any Pokémon met in the wild.
In Generation IV, there is now a 5/8192 (~1/1639) chance of hatching a Shiny Pokémon when the parents are from games from different countries, a five times increase of the usual rate. This mechanic is known as the Masuda method, after Junichi Masuda.
In Generation V, the Masuda method's success rate increased from 5/8192 (~1/1639) to 6/8192 (~1/1366).
In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the Shiny Charm was introduced, which if owned by the player will increase the chance of encountering or hatching a Shiny Pokémon by a flat 2/8192, to 3/8192 (~1/2731) for a regularly bred Pokémon, or 8/8192 (1/1024) if the parents are from games from different countries.
In Generation VI, the Masuda method's success rate when combined with the Shiny Charm is increased to 1/512.
In the anime
In the anime, Pokémon breeding refers to an entire line of work practiced by Pokémon Breeders, such as Brock. So far, the anime has shown and discussed little about the literal breeding of Pokémon to produce Eggs, but it is assumed this is part of a Pokémon Breeder's work. It has been shown that Professors get their starter Pokémon from breeders who specifically raise and breed them, like Old Man Swamp from A Mudkip Mission. There are also a few farm-like facilities that produce Pokémon Eggs of various species. Ash received his Eggs from such locations, as did May and her Egg.
Pokémon breeding in the anime focuses heavily on raising healthy Pokémon and keeping them in top condition by grooming them well and feeding them nutritious food.
- Some unusual pairings of Pokémon can be found within the Egg Groups, such as Seviper and Zangoose (which are even said to be mortal enemies), and the most famous pairing Skitty and Wailord. However, the characters in the game make special mention of the fact that no one has seen Pokémon breed.
- Nidorina and Nidoqueen cannot breed, despite the fact that the Nidoran♂ line and Nidoran♀ can.
- Although Legendary Pokémon except Manaphy (and debatably Phione) cannot breed in the core series games, Eggs containing Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres can be hatched in Pokémon Snap and a baby Lugia has been seen in the anime. Likewise, Manaphy can be hatched from a special Egg from Pokémon Ranger in the Generation IV games.
- When a Pokémon hatches from an Egg during both Generation II and Generation III, it is at level 5. However, many Pokémon from the wild can be found between levels 2 and 4, which is below the level of newly hatched Pokémon. This oddity had since been addressed from Generation IV onwards, where all hatched Pokémon start at level 1.
- The Pokémon Mansion journals (which predate Generation II's introduction of breeding) describe Mew giving birth as opposed to producing an Egg. These were not changed in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. It is unclear as to whether this is meant literally or metaphorically.