So You Want to Be a Pokémon Master? - Johto
Gold, Silver and their remakes present a unique challenge with access to two regions and 16 gyms. Here's my team to help you through the extended gameplay.
Next in the series of Pokémon games is the Johto based games, Gold and Silver. One major difference with these compared to other games in the Pokémon franchise is that there are sixteen badges to collect as after you finish your journey through Johto, you gain access to the Kanto region.
So not only has your team got to be able to beat the gym leaders, your rival, Team Rocket, the elite four and the champion once, it needs to be good enough to do that twice and then take on Pokémon trainer Red. For this article though, I'm going to be focused on the first eight gyms and first elite four run as beyond that point your team should be powerful enough to take on the Kanto gyms without too much bother and there are a lot fewer rival battles.
Now, the team I’ve come up with can be used for both the original games and the remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver, just with a little tinkering of the move-sets. Without further ado, let's get into it:
1 - Cyndaquil
So at the start of the game, Professor Elm offers you one of three Pokémon and you will want to pick Cyndaquil. There are a couple of reasons why this is better than the other two starters, starting with its earlier power spike.
Cyndaquil evolves into Quilava at level 14 which is the earliest second stage evolution of any starter in the Pokémon franchise. This means that by the time you are hitting the second gym, you’ll have an even more distinct advantage. The other reason is its varied move pool. The Cyndaquil evolutionary line is known for their superior special attack. This is especially good in the original games as you have access to the elemental punches as TMs. And all of them are special moves rather than physical, meaning you not only get a great STAB move relatively early, you also get a nice coverage move too.
Cyndaquil, Quilava and Typhlosion are great for taking on gym leaders Bugsy, Janine and Pryce, elite four Koga, Will’s pair of Xatu and Karen’s Vileplume. It also squares up well against gym leaders Falkner, Whitney, Morty and does a decent job of taking out Team Rocket.
Here’s what I reckon you should run for the moveset on a Typhlosion:
- Flamethrower. Possibly the best special fire type move available in the games. Its high power and 100 percent accuracy make it Typhlosion’s bread and butter.
- Thunder Punch. The first elemental punch and the one that provides great coverage against one of Typholosion’s biggest weaknesses; water.
- Fire Punch. This will be your best STAB move for a while if you are playing the original games. Decent power, 100 percent accuracy and a chance to burn the target. What’s not to love?
- Swift. While Typholosion is known for its special attack, its attack stat isn’t to be sniffed at. Swift is a reliable move that never misses so it is generally worth having.
Other moves you can consider are Lava Plume in HeartGold and SoulSilver (rather than Fire Punch). Hidden Power can be useful in certain situations, especially if it is ice type. Eruption and Focus Blast are incredibly powerful moves for HeartGold and SoulSilver too, just be wary of the lower accuracy.
2 - Zubat
In Dark Cave you will find one of the most annoying cave-dwellers in the game. Zubat was given a third evolutionary stage in Gold and Silver; Crobat. That is exactly what we want for our team. With its healthy attack stat and blistering speed, there isn’t much that can out-manoeuvre this big bat. Now, it is a slight pain to evolve because you need to maximise your Zubat/Golbat’s happiness for it to evolve into Crobat. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, this is easier as you can find the Soothe Bell in National Park.
Crobat doesn't have a great advantage over many of the gym leaders or elite four and tends to go even against your rival and Team Rocket. However, this doesn’t mean its worth any less. It can learn fly and can use its speed to really lay down damage against your opponents.
Here’s the sort of move-set you should go for:
- Fly. One of the strongest flying type moves available for Crobat and incredibly useful outside of battle too.
- Confuse Ray. One of the best status moves Crobat can learn with 100 percent accuracy in Gold and Silver.
- Toxic. Again, an incredibly useful status move with stacking damage over time which is great for the original games. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, I highly recommend Cross Poison.
- Steel Wing. This provides great coverage against rock and ice types; two of Crobat’s weaknesses.
There are some nice alternative moves for HeartGold and SoulSilver such as U-Turn which can be obtained just after the second gym. Pluck, Poison Fang and X-Scissor are all great moves to add to Crobat’s move-set if you wish.
3 - Onix
This one is a bit fiddly to get and even more fiddly to evolve but I promise it is worth it. You can get an Onix before the first gym by trading a Bellsprout for one with the trainer in the house to the left of the Pokémon Centre. You can find a Bellsprout just outside Violet City. This also means that the Onix will level up slightly quicker thanks to the boost it gets from being a trade Pokémon. Evolving it into a Steelix involves hunting Magnemite on Route 38 and 39, hitting them with thief until you find a metal coat, then giving that item to your Onix, trading it with someone and then trading back.
What you end up with after all that is a super-strong physical attacker with access to some of the most powerful moves in the games. Onix provides a lot of power and can learn very useful moves like rock smash which help deal with Whitney's Miltank. It's strong against gym leader Falkner, Bugsy, Whitney, Morty (thanks to the Dig TM), Janine and Pryce. It wrecks Team Rocket, does a good job against your rival, most of the elite four besides Bruno and the champion, Lance.
So what moves should you run on such a strong Pokémon? Well, here's a few ideas:
- Earthquake. The strongest move for an already strong Pokémon. As a side note, you can use the TM for Dig as suitable replacement for the early game.
- Rock Throw. One of the few downsides; Onix and Steelix don't learn Rock Slide in Gold and Silver. Rock Throw is your best replacement but it gets STAB. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, they learn Stone Edge and you can get the TM for Rock Slide at the Pewter City Gym.
- Iron Tail. The best Steel type move for Steelix in Gold and Silver. It only has 75 percent accuracy but the 100 power makes up for it and you get it after beating the Olivine City Gym.
- Rock Smash. It may seem a little strange but its worth it just for the coverage it provides for the Goldenrod City Gym. It can be replaced with Strength or Hyper Beam in Gold and Silver and Stone Edge or Crunch in HeartGold and SoulSilver once you are past that point in the game.
4 - Mareep
Depending on which generation of the game you are playing, you’ll either be able to find this adorable electric sheep before or immediately after Falkner’s Gym in Violet City. If you are playing HeartGold or SoulSilver then I have some good news; if you head just south from the PokéMart, there will be a small patch of grass in which you will have a chance of finding a Mareep. In the original games, you won’t be able to find it until you are slightly further down Route 32.
Mareep itself is one of my favourite electric type Pokémon. It doesn’t need a thunderstone to hit its fully evolved form and is capable of dishing out damage. It may be quite sluggish for an electric type but what it lacks in speed, it certainly makes up for in terms of bulk. It also has relatively low evolution levels, being level 15 for Flaaffy and level 30 for Ampharos.
In terms of key battles, the Mareep line really shines against gym leader Falkner, Bugsy's Scyther, Chuck's Poliwrath, Pryce's Dewgong, elite four Will, most of Team Rocket and champion Lance's Gyarados, Charizard and Aerodactyl. It goes pretty even everywhere else apart from the battles with gym leaders Janine and Clair.
For the move-set, try something like this:
- Thunder Wave. Possibly the most important move in that it negates Mareep's low speed stat.
- Thunderbolt. One of the best electric type moves available and will be well used. Gold and Silver players can teach their Flaaffy Thunder Punch with the TM from Goldenrod Dept. Store.
- Signal Beam. This is one of two moves more exclusive to HeartGold and SoulSilver. Great coverage for dark and psychic types.
- Power Gem. The second HeartGold and SoulSilver move. More coverage for flyers and great against ice types.
In the original games, the last two move slots can be filled with moves like Fire Punch, Attract or Hidden Power.
5 - Abra
A returning veteran of our Kanto team, Abra can be found in the grassy areas on either side of National Park. Even with the changes between generations one and two, including the addition of a special defence stat, this psychic type leviathan still proves to be incredible due in part to the access to the elemental punches.
With its sky-high special attack, the Abra line can make short work of most opponents. The only real downside is that dark types have an immunity to psychic type moves. Fortunately, there are other ways to handle them. It is yet another trade evolution, alongside Steelix but it is equally worth doing. That being said, you could do just as well with Kadabra.
The battles where this Pokémon came in useful is against Gym leaders Morty, Chuck and Clair, elite four Bruno, Koga and Karen, champion Lance, your rival's Gastly and all of the Team Rocket battles. The elemental punches are really what provide it with the high amount of coverage for the original games.
Speaking of moves, here's the set I would run:
- Psychic. The core move of most psychic types. High power and 100 accuracy.
- Recover. Since Alakazam isn't known for its defences, recover provides some much needed longevity.
- Ice Punch. Of the elemental punches available in Gold in Silver, ice punch provides the best coverage when considering the rest of the team we have.
- Shadow Ball. A great move for helping to handle other psychic types.
For HeartGold and SoulSilver especially, there are a ton of other options for coverage moves like Energy Ball, Focus Blast, Charge Beam or a status move like Thunder Wave or Toxic.
6 - Lapras
Our last team member is potentially more of a pain to catch than either an Alakazam or a Steelix. As off-putting as that sounds, Lapras is such a great Pokémon to have on your team as it is one of the few in Gold and Silver that can make use of surf in battle. Getting it is difficult as you will already need surf in order to reach it deep inside Union Cave and you will only be able to find it there on a Friday. Also, be aware that it doesn't exactly have the greatest catch rate so you will need to stock up on Great/Ultra balls before heading out to catch it.Having said that, Lapras is a fantastic Pokémon. It is pretty bulky and can tank a few shots while setting up status moves or while you heal your other team members. Plus, it learns ice beam at level 36 in Gold and Silver (it's level 32 in the remakes), making it super useful against Clair.
Now Lapras doesn't have many key battles where it has a massive advantage but it can be incredibly useful against gym leader Clair, elite four Will's pair of Xatu, Koga's Crobat, Bruno's Onix, Karen's Murkrow and is invaluable against champion Lance and his team of six flying type Pokémon.
Its move-set is a little different as it is a little more defensive:
- Surf. A neat STAB move that is infinitely useful outside of battle.
- Ice Beam. Lapras' other STAB move with the chance to freeze the opponent.
- Toxic. Very useful status move that can stack up some serious damage the longer a battle goes on.
- Body Slam. Possibly the best physical move Lapras can learn as its got decent power and has the chance to paralyze your opponent.
Other moves you could teach Lapras include Thunder Wave or Confuse Ray for heavier status effect focus. Dragon Pulse in the remakes for more Dragon type coverage. Perish Song to really annoy your opponent. You could even run a slightly cheesy move-set like Rain Dance and Thunder. The choice is yours.
Of course, while this is the team I've chosen, it's only my opinion and there are plenty of other Pokémon you can run in place of certain team members:
- Geodude could be used instead of Onix. It's easy to obtain, you can get it before the first gym and has a wider move pool to utilise.
- Machop. In Goldenrod City, you can trade a Drowzee for a Machop which would certainly be a benefit against Whitney's Gym.
- Togepi in HeartGold and SoulSilver has a third evolutionary stage; Togekiss. With serene grace as its ability, air slash can stop your opponent ever attacking.
Just remember; however you choose to build your team, if you are having fun, then you are doing it right.
Next time, I'll be traversing the wilds of the Hoenn reason. Until then, keep striving to be the very best.