Pokemon Black and White In-Game Tiers

Introduction

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

The goal of this in-game tier list is to recommend a select group of Pokemon for an efficient run-through of the game. Those will be put in the High tier. Very inefficient Pokemon will be put in the Low tier. Pokemon that are neither efficient nor inefficient—for example, Pokemon who have an initial downside but can eventually perform as well as High-tiered ones—are put in the Middle tier.

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

A Pokemon's movepool is the variety of attacks the Pokemon learns. Does he need a lot of TMs to have a good moveset? Can he learn a lot of HMs to help you navigate in the overworld? Does he learn powerful attacks of his own type? Although TMs are reusable in Black and White, having good TM compatibility and level-up moves are still of great importance.

Typing and match-ups go hand in hand. The optimal typing gives a Pokemon both STAB on useful attack types and leaves it with little to no weaknesses. If a Pokemon has a dual typing, it should complement him both important to offensively and defensively. Typing also determines the major battles in which a Pokemon will be useful. (Major battles can range from Gym Leaders battles to Rival battles.) Therefore, it is use Pokemon 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 greater. 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. This tier list will assume a team size of around three or four Pokemon, however, as otherwise the list would be extremely centralized around starters and early-game Pokemon—everything else wouldn't be worth the effort.

High Tier


Archen

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: High
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Available fairly early on, Archen has excellent offensive stats and a great movepool. Its evolution has insane Attack and Speed and will rip through most in-game opponents with STAB Acrobatics alone.


Cobalion

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Though it comes late, Cobalion is at the high level of 42, which should be slightly above your team average by that point. Its typing is excellent defensively, leaving it with many resistances and only a few weaknesses. It is fast, fairly strong, and learns Swords Dance not too long after you get it, backed by reliable STAB attacks. It is capable of tearing through most of the late-game fights by itself.


Darumaka

Availability: Early-Mid
Stats: High
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Darumaka comes early, and with the ability Hustle, which makes its physical attacks obscenely powerful. Couple this with its evolution's huge Attack stat and and Sheer Force, which boosts the power of its most powerful STAB attacks Fire Punch and Flare Blitz, and you have a complete monster on your hands. It has enough Speed to outpace most of the game's enemies, decent bulk afforded by its great HP, and a good movepool.


Drilbur

Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Excellent Attack and good Speed combined with a useful typing, Drilbur gets most, if not all, of its good moves (including Swords Dance) by level-up, and its evolution gains a ton of resistances. It is very useful versus the late-game bosses.


Joltik

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Although Joltik comes somewhat late, it grinds easily against the Gym that will soon follow. Great Speed, good Special Attack, a useful STAB combination, and Compoundeyes Thunder make it very helpful throughout the rest of the game.


Lillipup

Availability: Beginning
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Lillipup comes very early and is extremely good early game with good Attack and early access to STAB Take Down. It also learns Crunch and elemental Fangs for coverage, has fast evolutions, and is fairly bulky. Although it loses a bit of its luster near the end, it remains a very useful Pokemon throughout the entire game.


Oshawott

Availability: Starter
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Probably the best of the few obtainable Water-types, Oshawott has a great movepool, good stats, and does well against most of the Gyms. It is also a Starter Pokemon, so you do not have to worry about trying to catch it.


Petilil

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Although its coverage sucks, that doesn't matter for this Pokemon. Good Special Attack and decent Speed stats combined with Sleep Powder AND Quiver Dance make this thing a monster that can sweep through most opponents with great ease. It should be noted that there is a Petilil with good IVs and an excellent nature that can be obtained through an easy trade in Nacrene City fairly early on, although it is exclusive to Black (You will also need to cough up a Cottonee).


Sandile

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: It comes fairly early and possesses a useful STAB combination with just enough Attack and Speed to back it up. Perhaps its most useful trait is the ability Moxie—with it, Sandile's attack will be raised every time it KOes something, which makes it a deadly threat that can solo most trainers, particularly ones with fuller rosters such as the Elite Four.


Sawk

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It comes early on and stays useful throughout the entire game. Fighting is an excellent STAB to have in Black and White and Sawk has great Attack and good enough Speed to abuse it. It also gets the ability Sturdy, which stops all OHKOes, and decent TM compatibility. Getting one of these nearly guarantees victory against the second Gym. However, Sawk is hard to find in White due to being a shaking grass only Pokemon.


Scraggy

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Excellent typing leaves it with a sick STAB combination that will destroy most opponents. It is bulky, has decent Attack, and an excellent movepool, including some very high power STAB attacks such as Hi Jump Kick. It beats three out of the four Eilte Four members by virtue of its typing alone.


Sigilyph

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Sigilyph starts off strong and stays strong until the very end. It has a great movepool and is fast and powerful, with a surprisingly useful typing for countering the litany of Fighting-types in Black and White. It is also one of the few usable Pokemon that can also learn the useful HM Fly.


Tepig

Availability: Starter
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Fairly bulky and very strong, Tepig has a good combination of STABs and great TM compatibility, and is useful against most of the Gyms. It is available as a starter.


Timburr (with Trade Evolution)

Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Its level-up movepool is excellent and it has a very meaty Attack stat. Although it is slow, it has the bulk to survive most attacks. Fighting-types are generally very useful in Black and White, anyway.


Timburr (no Trade Evolution)

Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Gurdurr is still very bulky with Eviolite and still has a decent 105 base Attack stat to work with.


Throh

Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It is bulky enough to take almost any attack, and has both decent Attack and a good movepool. It is a very reliable tank that is useful throughout the entire game. However, Throh is hard to find in Black due to it being a shaking grass only Pokemon.


Tympole

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Available early on, it has a good movepool, decent stats, and excellent Water / Ground typing after evolution, leaving it with only one weakness. Tympole is probably the best Water-type aside from Oshawott.

Mid Tier


Axew

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has excellent stats, great typing, and learns both Swords Dance and Dragon Dance to make it capable of sweeping entire teams. Unfortunately, it comes late and has late evolutions, so it will need some babying.

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Basculin

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It stats are only average and it comes only about mid-game, but it learns a lot of powerful attacks. It is also available in a trade in Driftveil City with an ideal nature. (You'll need a Minccino.)


Blitzle

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Blitzle has very high Speed and has decent coverage, but it is very frail and only has modest offenses. While useful early game, it really loses its touch late game.


Cottonee

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Although Cottonee is a good annoyer with Prankster and a variety of status moves, it has poor type coverage, mediocre power, and no real way to sweep.


Deerling

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: It has a good movepool and decent stats, but it comes late and is a bit frail.


Druddigon

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Though powerful and possessing a wide movepool, Druddigon comes late and has a very low Speed stat.


Ducklett

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Ducklett is a useful HM mule and has decent stats and a good type combination, but HMs aren't as important in Black and White, and it's rather mediocre until it evolves. It also only comes around mid-game.


Durant

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Durant is fast and very powerful with Hustle, but it comes very late, will require some grinding, and isn't terribly bulky.


Dwebble

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It is extremely slow and burdened by many weaknesses, but it has a solid STAB combo, a great ability in Sturdy, and a useful sweeping tool in Shell Smash later on in the game.


Ferroseed

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Ferroseed has great defenses, but comes somewhat late and it is extremely slow.


Gothita

Availability: Early-Mid
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Gothita comes fairly early, but it is rather slow, has only modest power, and is outdone in most ways by Sigilyph.


Klink

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Gear Grind and Shift Gear are amazing moves, but Klink has late evolutions and comes somewhat late. It also lacks good physical moves to abuse Shift Gear aside from Gear Grind and Return.


Litwick

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Litwick is very strong and grinds easily against the seventh Gym, but it has late evolutions and also comes somewhat late.


Mienfoo

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Though it comes late and likely won't evolve until you are at the Elite Four's doorstep, Mienfoo has great Speed and offenses.


Mincinno

Availability: Early-Mid
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Though very fast, it is very frail, and its Attack is only modest.


Panpour

Availability: Beginning
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Panpour is useful to beat the first Gym and learns a lot of moves, but its stats leave something to be desired.


Pansage

Availability: Beginning
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Same as Panpour, pretty much.


Patrat

Availability: Beginning
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Good early game, with a fast evolution and good moves such as Hypnosis and Crunch, but its stats are mediocre and its usefulness will fade quickly.


Roggenrola (with trade evolution)

Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Roggenrola is very strong and comes early, but it is incredibly slow and has quite a few weaknesses.


Sewaddle

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Sewaddle comes early, learns pretty powerful moves, and has decent stats, but it has a bad type combination, and needing a friendship evolution is annoying.


Snivy

Availability: Starter
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Snivy comes very early because it's a starter. Though very fast and decently bulky, it has poor type coverage and mediocre offenses. However, it is saved somewhat lategame by Coil, which makes it pretty amazing against some of the last fights.


Solosis

Availability: Early-Mid
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Solosis comes fairly early. It is extremely powerful but very, very slow.


Terrakion

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Terrakion comes extremely late and needs grinding, but it is fast and incredibly potent with high Attack and an excellent combination of STABs that make it very useful against the final fights.


Tirtouga

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It is very slow and is riddled with weaknesses, but it comes fairly early at a good level and it pretty powerful offensively. Tirtouga makes a good HM mule and is a dangerous sweeping threat with Shell Smash.


Vanillite

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Vanillite comes mid-game and has very good Special Attack, but it has a lot of weaknesses and poor type coverage.


Venipede

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: A bit weak until its final evolution, Venipede doesn't have very good defenses, but Scolipede, its evolution, is fast and can hit very hard with STAB Megahorn.


Virizion

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Virizion comes late, but has great stats and a useful typing despite not being overly useful in the final battles.

Low Tier


Alomomola

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Alomomola has bad stats aside from HP and comes pretty late.


Audino

Availability: Kill it
Stats: Kill it
Movepool: Kill it
Additional Comments: Why bother to catch one of these when you can kill one for mountains of experience points? Honestly?


Bouffalant

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Despite having a very slick design and being pretty strong, it is horribly slow, comes late, and isn't useful in the final fights.


Cryogonal

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It is excruciatingly hard to find, has poor defenses, and has a mediocre movepool.


Cubchoo

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Cubchoo is slow, comes late, and possesses poor typing.


Deino

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Incredibly late evolutions ruin its usefulness, not to mention it comes late already.


Elgyem

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Elgyem comes somewhat late. It gets some good moves such as Calm Mind, but it is frail and is extremely slow.


Emolga

Availability: Early-Mid
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Despite being available mid-game and having good Speed, Emolga's other stats are mediocre.


Foongus

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Foongus has poor offenses and is very slow.


Frillish

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has a useful typing and good stats, but it comes too late to be of much use.


Golett

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Golett comes late and is very slow. It needs a lot of babying before it evolves and isn't overly useful against the last fights.


Heatmor

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has mediocre stats and comes late.


Karrablast

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Karrablast comes a bit late and is too bothersome to evolve. Its evolution is also very slow and has bad coverage.


Larvesta

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: You get it late from an Egg. This means it is going to be at Level 1. How useful do you think that is going to be?


Maractus

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Maractus comes early, but has mediocre stats and a terrible movepool.


Munna

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has a very sparse movepool and is horribly slow. Not very useful against most of the Gyms.


Pansear

Availability: Beginning
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Mediocre stats and weak STAB moves make for a pretty bad Pokemon.


Pawniard

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Pawniard evolves very late and also comes late. Most of its attacks aren't overly potent, either.


Pidove

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has mediocre stats, a poor movepool, and isn't really helpful anywhere.


Purrloin

Availability: Why
Stats: Does
Movepool: This Exist
Additional Comments: It can't take a hit at all and has a poor movepool with only modest offenses.


Roggenrola (no trade evolution)

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its stats just won't cut it late game.


Rufflet

Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It comes late and evolves too late to be of use.


Shelmet

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It comes late and is too bothersome to evolve.


Stunkfisk

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has average stats, is very slow, is not useful in any of the major fights, and looks like a...I don't even want to describe it.


Thundurus

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: It is a roamer and comes late, which makes it a huge pain to catch. Although a good Pokemon, Thundurus comes too late to be of real use.


Tornadus

Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Same issues as Thundurus.


Trubbish

Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has poor stats and coverage. This thing has no use against any of the gyms or Elite Four. It is literally a piece of trash.


Tynamo

Availability: Late-Mid
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Tynamo is very hard to find, comes late, and is stuck with a very poor movepool and stats for most of the game.


Vullaby

Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Vullaby has literally no offensive presence and comes too late to be of use.


Woobat

Availability: Early
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It is completely outclassed by Sigilyph in every way except Speed. That includes cuteness.


Yamask

Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Yamask comes fairly early, but it's incredibly slow and has poor type coverage. It also isn't overwhelmingly powerful, which is the final nail in the coffin.

Neutral Tier

The Pokemon in this tier are here because revealing more about them would spoil the story of the game.


Reshiram


Zekrom

Not Tiered

The Pokemon in this tier are those that can't be obtained in-game without using a special outside event.


Victini


Zorua


Zoroark


Kyurem


Landorus


Keldeo


Meloetta


Genesect