Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald In-Game Tiers

By Fireburn. Art by Blue Frog.

Introduction

The best Pokémon is one who is obtained at the start of the game, can OHKO enemies off the bat, and only loses 1 HP when damaged. It also learns every HM, heals itself automatically, and has some neat ability to top it off. Such a Pokémon doesn't exist, of course, but this means that Pokémon closer to this ideal are the best.

The goal of this in-game tier list is to recommend a select group of Pokémon for an efficient run-through of the game. Those will be put in High tier. Very inefficient Pokémon will be put in Low tier. Pokémon who are neither efficient nor inefficient – for example, Pokémon who have an initial downside but can eventually perform as well as High tiered ones – are put in Middle tier. [the intent of this sentence was confusing but by skimming the list I came up with that description.

Pokémon are graded based on five factors: availability, raw stats, movepool, typing, and matchups against major in-game battles. Availability is a measure of how easy it is to obtain the Pokémon, and it ranges from very low (gift Pokémon) to very high (common "tall grass" Pokémon). It also takes into account the part of the game at which you are able to get the Pokémon. For example, a Pokémon could be extremely good, but he is worthless if you get him after every major battle. Raw stats affect the Pokémon's ability to KO others and to take hits in-game. Obviously, you want Pokémon with great stats, since that means they can easily KO many other Pokémon without fainting.

A Pokémon's movepool is the variety of attacks the Pokémon learns. Does it need a lot of TMs to have a good moveset? Can it learn a lot of HMs to help you navigate in the overworld? Does he learn powerful attacks of his own type? TMs are available but can only be used once. Giving items like Super Potions is fine because you can buy them and you have almost infinite money in the game. Giving a Pokémon a TM like the Dig TM in RBY cannot simply be assumed, as there is lots of competition for that TM. The less competition there is for a TM, the more likely it is that a Pokémon can get said TM. Pokémon with great movepools do not present much competition for TMs, allowing them to be used on other Pokémon (However, a buyable TM can always be assumed).

RSE In-Game Tiers

Typing and matchups go hand in hand. The optimal typing gives a Pokémon STAB on useful attack types while leaving it with few or no weaknesses. If a Pokémon is a dual type, his typing should complement it offensively and defensively. Typing also determines the major battles in which a Pokémon will be useful (major battles can range from Gym Leaders battles to Rival battles.) Therefore, it is useful to use Pokémon with good type combinations that give them an advantage in most of the game's major battles.

Don't confuse an efficient run with a speed run. Speed runs are often segmented and recorded while manipulating luck through resets; these aim for the absolute fastest on-screen time, but the real time spent on them is much, much more. If you want to play through the game in a relatively low time frame, then you're looking for an efficient run.

A team is actually the most efficient (in terms of utility per team member) if it only consists of a single member; however, this tier list will assume a team size of around three Pokémon. Otherwise, the list would be extremely centralized around starters and early-game Pokémon while everything else would be too crappy to use. Also note when reading through this guide that some of the moves and abilities listed for a Pokémon may only be obtained by their evolutions. Some Pokémon may be placed in higher tiers due to their evolutions capabilities as well.

High Tier

Abra

Abra

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: High
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Evolving him is somewhat difficult, but Alakazam's sheer strength and power makes it worth it.
Chinchou

Chinchou

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Lanturn has passable stats and Water/Electric is an awesome STAB combo.
Electrike

Electrike

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Fast and strong; Bite + Thunderbolt offers great neutral coverage.
Groudon

Groudon (Ruby Only)

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Comes late at a high level, but is incredibly strong and sweeps easily with Bulk Up + STAB Earthquake. Drought also removes its Water weakness and it has Fire Blast to crush Grass- and Ice-type Pokémon. In Emerald, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.
Kyogre

Kyogre (Sapphire Only)

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Comes late at a high level, but is incredibly strong and can sweep the Elite Four pretty much by itself with a moveset of Calm Mind / Ice Beam / Hydro Pump / Thunder (it comes with three of those moves). In Emerald, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.
Lotad

Lotad (Sapphire and Emerald only)

  • Availability: Very Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Dual STABs have great coverage without need for TMs, while his typing doesn't leave him with many weaknesses. It's easy to get as well.
Mudkip

Mudkip

  • Availability: Beginning
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Learns a lot of HMs, is bulky, and is strong. His dual STAB combo offers great coverage when coupled with Blizzard, which is an easily purchased TM.
Ralts

Ralts

  • Availability: Very Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Very strong, moderately fast, and has a pretty good movepool. Psychic + Thunderbolt is a good attacking combo to use, especially since Ralts gets Calm Mind as a level-up move.
Rayquaza

Rayquaza (Emerald only)

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Very Wide
  • Additional Comments: Hard to catch, but comes at a very high level and is extremely strong. Needs no TMs. In Ruby and Sapphire, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.
Shroomish

Shroomish

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Slow, but Breloom is very strong and has a good movepool.
Skarmory

Skarmory

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Excellent typing lets it take many hits, and it outright walls a lot of the game's more deadly Trainers, such as Norman, Winona, Steven, Sidney, and Phoebe. You should also have the Steel Wing TM as soon as you find it, meaning that it can pull its weight very quickly.
Staryu

Staryu

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Very Wide
  • Additional Comments: Very fast and strong with a great movepool. It comes a bit late, but training it is well worth it.
Taillow

Taillow

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Reliable STABs, great early movepool, and extremely fast.
Tentacool

Tentacool

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Good stats, but has a shallow level-up movepool. He's a great HM slave though. Tentacool and Tropius learn all of the game's HMs between each other.
Torchic

Torchic

  • Availability: Beginning
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Very strong with decent Speed; dual STAB upon evolution offers great coverage without need for a lot of TMs.
Treecko

Treecko

  • Availability: Beginning
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Very fast; a wide movepool coupled with decent offenses means it can take on most Pokémon. It learns a lot of useful moves through TMs.
Tropius

Tropius

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Best HM slave in the game.
Whismur

Whismur

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Very Wide
  • Additional Comments: Good attacking stats and can utilize lots of easily replaceable TMs such as Fire Blast, Blizzard, and Thunder for wide type coverage and power.
Wingull

Wingull

  • Availability: Very Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: He has decent power, and Water/Flying is a good STAB combo. He learns Shock Wave which rounds off coverage nicely.
Zangoose

Zangoose (Ruby only)

  • Availability: Mid-Game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Decent stats with a wide movepool; Swords Dance at level 10 is amazing.
Zigzagoon

Zigzagoon

  • Availability: Very Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Comes early, has a neat ability in Pickup, and is a great HM slave.

Middle Tier

Anorith

Anorith

  • Availability: Early Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Pretty strong and can take a few hits, but is slow.
Barboach

Barboach

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Not too hard to get; decent replacement for Swampert. However, it is slow and not overwhelmingly powerful.
Carvanha

Carvanha

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Very strong, but it is really frail and comes somewhat late.
Doduo

Doduo

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Taillow comes first, but Dodrio is pretty good too with reliable STABs.
Feebas

Feebas

  • Availability: Late-Mid game
  • Stats: Above Average (after evolution)
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Milotic is a very powerful Pokémon, but Feebas is tedious to evolve and is notoriously difficult to catch.
Geodude

Geodude

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Useful early game, but has too many weaknesses and is slow.
Heracross

Heracross

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: High
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Comes late but is strong and has a good movepool.
Machop

Machop

  • Availability: Early Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Needs TMs for move variety, but he is very strong.
Magikarp

Magikarp

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: High
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: A pain to train early on and it doesn't get a good STAB to use with its high Attack, but Gyarados gets Dragon Dance and has great stats.
Magnemite

Magnemite

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Slow with a shallow movepool, but has good typing. Magneton is pretty strong and its typing is very useful against the Elite Four.
Makuhita

Makuhita

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Needs TMs for move variety, but he is very strong. It also comes a earlier than Machop.
Marill

Marill

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Bulky and very, very strong with Huge Power. It also leans strong moves such as Double-Edge and Rollout and it's quite useful as an HM Slave. However, Marill is veryslow and doesn't receive any good Physical STAB.
Meditite

Meditite (Ruby and Sapphire only)

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Medicham is very strong, and his only drawback is that he comes late.
Numel

Numel

  • Availability: Early Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Good dual STAB combo, but is hindered by a lot of common weaknesses and relatively low bulk. However, it still the best available Fire-types outside of Torchic.
Oddish

Oddish

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: No good STAB until Petal Dance and Breloom is much better, but there aren't a lot of good Grass-types to choose from in this game.
Psyduck

Psyduck

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Decent stats; decent Water-type if you didn’t choose Mudkip.
Regice

Regice

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Difficult to get but it is very bulky and gets a nice BoltBeam combo. It can take on Drake pretty much by itself and is great against Wallace.
Slakoth

Slakoth

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Very Wide
  • Additional Comments: Truant is horrible, but Slaking has excellent stats and he can always employ a hit and run strategy.
Spheal

Spheal

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: He comes late, but Water/Ice is a good STAB combo and Walrein is very bulky with decent offensive capabilities.
Spoink

Spoink

  • Availability: Mid-Game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: He's slow and outclassed offensively by Gardevoir, but he's not a bad Pokémon by any means.
Vulpix

Vulpix

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Comes late, but Flamethrower at only level 29 is awesome and Ninetales is pretty strong. Aside from Flamethrower, its movepool is really bad.

Low Tier

Absol

Absol

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It's frail, comes late, and lacks a good STAB move.
Aron

Aron

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: It's very slow and has way too many crippling weaknesses.
Bagon

Bagon

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: It just comes far too late to be helpful in any capacity.
Cacnea

Cacnea

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Slow, has a lot of weaknesses, and is too frail to take repeated hits.
Castform

Castform

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Its stats just don't cut it.
Corphish

Corphish

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It has a horrible level movepool - no good STAB options to make use of its higher Attack...honestly, Sharpedo is superior in every way.
Duskull

Duskull

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It has good defenses and a good typing, but it's slow, has poor offenses, and a horrible level-up movepool.
Grimer

Grimer

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.
Gulpin

Gulpin

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.
Koffing

Koffing

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.
Lileep

Lileep

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It has an interesting type combination, but its offenses and level-up movepool just don't cut it.
Lunatone

Lunatone (Sapphire Only)

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Its stats are not terribly great and its typing isn't particularly useful.
Natu

Natu

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Its good moves come too late and it's basically completely inferior to all of the other Psychic-types in the game.
Pikachu

Pikachu

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its movepool is mediocre and it is outclassed by Manectric offensively, unless you get a Light Ball one. Even with a Light Ball, Pikachu will be KOed by a light breeze.
Pinsir

Pinsir

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It learns no good STAB moves and is totally outclassed by Heracross.
Poochyena

Poochyena

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Useful early game but is too weak later on when enemies start using more powerful Pokémon.
Regirock

Regirock

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It is very difficult to get and isn't useful in any of the later battles.
Registeel

Registeel

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It is very difficult to get and is too weak to cause much damage.
Relicanth

Relicanth

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It comes late and has a terrible type combination that saddles it with a ton of weaknesses. It's also too slow to make use of its decent Attack stat.
Rhyhorn

Rhyhorn

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It comes too late to be of much help against any of the final battles, and its slow and burdened with many weaknesses.
Sableye

Sableye (Sapphire and Emerald only)

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Although it is very useful against Brawly and Phoebe, it has bad stats and a bad level-up movepool, which means it will be useless most of the time.
Seedot

Seedot (Ruby and Emerald only)

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It relies too much on TMs to have an acceptable movepool, and its stats don't cut it until you get the needed evolution stone, which comes way too late.
Shuppet

Shuppet

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It is slow and has a terrible movepool.
Slugma

Slugma

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Suffers from horrible typing and bad Speed; Numel is better in every way.
Snorunt

Snorunt

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It's very rare and comes very late. Stats are too mediocre to get any real mileage out of it.
Solrock

Solrock (Ruby and Emerald Only)

  • Availability: Mid-Game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Its stats are not terribly great and its typing isn't particularly useful.
Swablu

Swablu

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It has good typing, but its very poor stats rather let it down.
Torkoal

Torkoal

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Pained by poor Speed and a shallow movepool; totally outclassed by Numel.
Trapinch

Trapinch

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Above Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Although Flygon is pretty good, its suffers from a horrible level-up movepool and generally subpar stats until it evolves for the final time.
Wailmer

Wailmer

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It is slow, not overly strong, and by time you can get it you have already seen too many other good options for a strong Water-type.
Wurmple

Wurmple

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Very Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Both of its evolutions are terrible and is only really useful for beating up Brawly.
Zubat

Zubat

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It's a pain to train early on thanks to its weak offensive options and is generally outclassed by Swellow.

Bottom Tier

Chimecho

Chimecho

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It's very hard to find, and its horrible stats mean the payoff isn't worth it.
Clamperl

Clamperl

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It requires trade evolutions to even become useful.
Goldeen

Goldeen

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: It has an alright movepool, but it suffers from bad stats.
Illumise

Illumise

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Both its stats and movepool are uninteresting.
Jigglypuff

Jigglypuff

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It comes too late and its movepool is terrible without TMs.
Luvdisc

Luvdisc

  • Availability: Don't
  • Stats: Use
  • Movepool: This
  • Additional Comments: Words cannot begin to describe how horrible this Pokémon is.
Mawile

Mawile

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its stats are absolutely horrible.
Minun

Minun

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It has terrible stats and a terrible movepool.
Nincada

Nincada

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Weak and frail - both possible evolutions fold to strong attacks.
Nosepass

Nosepass

  • Availability: Early-Mid game
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It's slow and has little offensive ability.
Plusle

Plusle

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It has terrible stats and a terrible movepool.
Roselia

Roselia (Ruby and Sapphire only)

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Decent movepool, but hindered by its low Speed and frailty.
Sandshrew

Sandshrew

  • Availability: Mid-Game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its level-up movepool is positively horrendous.
Seviper

Seviper (Sapphire and Emerald only)

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Has high offensive stats, but is slow, weak defensively, and needs TMs to compensate for its poor level-up movepool.
Skitty

Skitty

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its stats are nigh unusable.
Spinda

Spinda

  • Availability: Mid-game
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Decent
  • Additional Comments: Its stats are nigh unusable.
Surskit

Surskit

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its movepool and stats are both quite forgettable.
Volbeat

Volbeat

  • Availability: Early
  • Stats: Poor
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Both it's stats and movepool are uninteresting save Tail Glow.
Voltorb

Voltorb

  • Availability: Late-Mid game
  • Stats: Average
  • Movepool: Shallow
  • Additional Comments: Its very fast, but its also rather weak and easily walled.
Wobbuffet

Wobbuffet

  • Availability: Late
  • Stats: Below Average
  • Movepool: Very Shallow
  • Additional Comments: It can only do damage by taking damage first, which is terrible in-game.

Untiered

Beldum

Beldum

  • Availability: End
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.
Latias

Latias

  • Availability: End
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.
Latios

Latios

  • Availability: End
  • Stats: Excellent
  • Movepool: Wide
  • Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.