Damage category

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Damage categories

The category (Japanese: 分類 classification) or kind[1] of a move is an element of said move that determines the kind of damage it deals.

In games prior to Generation IV, the type of a damaging move determines whether the move is physical (damage calculation is performed using the user's Attack and the target's Defense) or special (the user's Special Attack and the target's Special Defense).

It was first assigned to individual moves in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness for Shadow moves, and then applied to all moves starting in Generation IV. Among fans, this change is often known as the Physical/Special split.

Physical/Special split

The Physical/Special split allows Pokémon to use moves from a wider variety of types. For example, prior to Generation IV, Sneasel, which has a much greater Attack than Special Attack, was not effective at using moves with STAB, due to Ice-type moves and Dark-type moves both being special.

Several new moves were introduced to give more balance to formerly all-special and all-physical types, such as the physical Psychic-type moves Zen Headbutt and Psycho Cut; and the special Fighting-type moves Focus Blast, Vacuum Wave, and Aura Sphere. Other moves, such as Hyper Beam (which was physical prior to Generation IV but is now special), gained physical counterparts with the same characteristics (in this case, Giga Impact).

Type-based categories

The move categories used from Generations I to III are listed below.

The unused Bird type only exists in the first two generations and was defined as a physical type.

Category Types
Physical  Normal   Fighting   Flying   Poison   Ground   Rock   Bug   Ghost   Steel 
Special  Fire   Water   Grass   Electric   Psychic   Ice   Dragon   Dark 

Status moves

Main article: Status move

Status moves act differently from both the other move categories, as they don't do direct damage. They also typically ignore type immunities, but Thunder Wave and Glare (in Generations II and III) are notable exceptions.


Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum      
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver      
Generation V      
Generation VI and VII      
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!      
Pokémon Sword and Shield      
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl      
Pokémon Legends: Arceus      
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet      
Pokémon Masters EX      
Pokémon HOME      
Pokémon HOME      


  • Bite and Water Shuriken are the only moves to have changed damage categories outside of Generation IV and Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Bite was changed from physical to special in Generation II when it was changed to a Dark-type move, and Water Shuriken was changed from physical to special in Generation VII.
    • Bite is also the only move to have changed damage categories twice: once in Generation II when it turned from a Normal-type and thus physical move to a Dark-type and thus special move, and again in Generation IV when it was changed back to a physical move in the physical/special split.


In other languages

Language Title
Chinese Cantonese 分類 Fānleuih
Mandarin 分類 / 分类 Fēnlèi
  French Catégorie
  German Kategorie
  Italian Categoria
  Korean 분류 Bullyu
  Spanish Categoría

  This game mechanic article is part of Project Games, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon games.