GSC In-Game Tier List

Staryu being in D-Tier seems very off. You can catch it reasonably early (Olivine City, 10% with Good Rod, which you get there btw) and it has immediate access to Surf.

It gets both Thunder and Blizzard, neither of them are exactly priorities, so you can get them at your leisure, but I'd definitely go for Thunder first.
Icy Wind is a thing and Electric is just great in-game. Money isn't exactly a scarce resource anyway.
It can also tear the game apart with Rain Dance if you choose to do a slight detour to Azalea after getting Fly.

What really sets Staryu apart is how easily it gets to evolve and how powerful Starmie is. Surf off Starmie hits like a freight train and you can get a Water Stone with some manipulation right after Morty.
Depending on how you're spending money, you may even have enough for Thunder already, but if not, you can just whack the Rockets for some. Let's be real, you don't need much money after you get the Elemental Punches/Headbutt TM's you need.

Granted, it has its flaws, especially considering the Surf route to Cianwood and how it's not exactly doing anything against Poliwrath, but it's definitely not enough to pin it down to D.


Also supporting Chikorita to B btw. Reflect is great, it's very TM efficient, Razor Leaf/Body Slam is enough for most things and Body Slam's paralysis chance allows it to clutch some wins against more troublesome opponents.
 
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atsync

Where the "intelligence" of TRAINERS is put to the test!
is a Pokemon Researcheris a Contributor to Smogon
Agreeing with the last 2 posts about Snubbull and Staryu. Eeven in GS (because those posts seem to be talking about Crystal), I think they are better than the list gives them credit for.

I've been meaning to do another batch of write-ups since last year but only just found some motivation recently. I still have about 3 more runs I want to do before I consider this project of mine "complete", but it's possible these may not be completed for quite a while due to other priorities I have. In the meantime though, here's the current batch!

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Abra

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My decision to run Abra was less to do with seeing whether it was “good”, since it obviously is and you don’t need to run it to figure that out. When running Abra, the thing I was most interested in was whether trading availability made much of a difference. I have previously asserted that having trade vs. no trade be in separate tiers isn't necessary, but I felt like I should test it out again just to be fair.

The thing I can say is that every now and again, the power difference between Kadabra and Alakazam absolutely DOES matter. It's situational, but occasionally I found that Kadabra would barely fall short of a OHKO that Alakazam would have gotten, mostly on some random route Pokemon that was of little threat to my team anyway.

Of the gym leaders I tested Kadabra vs. Alakazam on (by which I mean I cloned the Kadabra I had at the time of challenging the leader and evolved the clone as a point to comparison), I found the following:
  • Found no significant difference against Whitney: my level 20 Kadabra and Alakazam seemed to hit the same benchmarks offensively and defensively, both can actually sweep Whitney but it depends on move selection luck
  • No difference whatsoever against Morty: Kadabra outspeeds and OHKOes his whole team
  • No significant difference against Chuck: level 30 Kadabra and Alakazam both 2HKOed Poliwrath
  • Jasmine was the only gym leader I tested where the difference seemed to matter: while neither level 32 Kadabra or Alakazam were able to land the OHKO with Fire Punch, Alakazam was able to survive Iron Tail from full health whereas Kadabra was OHKOed, Kadabra OHKOed the Magnemites though
  • Seems to be no difference against Pryce: Alakazam might be able to land a OHKO on Piloswine with a favourable roll, but otherwise Kadabra beats this chump
I stopped testing after this. My conclusion is that the stat increase Alakazam gets does matter sometimes, but not enough to justify the tier split that the list currently displays. As far as I’m concerned, Kadabra is still one of the best Pokemon in the game, having more power, Speed and coverage than most things not named Alakazam, and I think untraded Abra is still deserving of S-tier.

Farfetch'd

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I think (hope lol) this is the last of the Normal birds that I have on my list of things to run. Farfetch’d is a bit of an oddity because it arrives later than the other birdies (just before Morty) and has overall inferior stats. Its stats are perhaps tolerable when it is first obtained (and it actually has more Attack than Noctowl and Pidgeotto) but in the long run it is quite underpowered.

Much like in RBY, the main thing it has to distinguish itself as a Pokemon is its unique move pool. It gets Swords Dance at just level 25 and will learn Agility later as well, giving it an opportunity to boost on some stuff and sweep larger teams. In practice I found this to be fairly unhelpful though – Farfetch’d is generally too slow and weak to boost against stuff that it would need to boost against in the first place unless you shove healing items down its throat constantly. As per RBY, Farfetch’d also learn Cut and Fly, and is the only Pokemon available in-game to learn both moves aside from the Dragonite that you’ll never have until the very end of the game, if at all (Charizard also learns both but is obviously unavailable).

On its own merits it works fine for route things, but it’s an unremarkable Normal-type otherwise. I would say that it’s maybe on par with Noctowl AT BEST.

Ledyba

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I feel like Ledyba is seen as the poster child for terrible early route mons. Sadly, I think it lives up to this reputation, but I also think it's a little better than some might give it credit for, and at the very least it sits on a rung above Ditto tier.

I think its strengths lie in its move pool, which isn't exactly amazing, but is at least unique for a Pokemon of its typing and still fairly good in its own right. As far as offensive options go, its ability to learn Thunderpunch and Ice Punch grants it great neutral coverage and allows it to distinguish itself nicely from Butterfree and Venomoth. In fact, an elemental punch from Ledian does more damage against neutral targets than a Confusion from Butterfree or Venonat, so for a little while Ledian ends up being the strongest of the special attacking Bugs. It also learns Dig, which is a move that Scyther and co. would kill to have access to. The move is somewhat wasted on Ledyba due to its abysmal Attack, but it happens to hit Magnemite and Magneton (the only things that resist Electric/Ice coverage in GSC) super-effectively, and if Ledyba happens to find itself on a team where nothing else needs to learn Dig, you may as well give it to Ledyba to maximise coverage.

The other neat options it gets from its move pool are dual screens and Safeguard. Ledian learns all 3 moves at level 24, and while I didn't use dual screens for this particular run, I found its relatively fast Safeguard to be the best thing about it. It is so nice to be able to ignore the annoying Thunder Wave spam from Clair's Dragonair crew, and it can stop Poliwrath's Hypnosis also (Ledian with Safeguard and Thunderpunch happens to counter Poliwrath very well). It unfortunately works less well against Gengar since the ghost will outspeed Ledian and possibly sleep it before it can block Hypnosis, but it might miss and could be used there also (plus you can always set it up against Haunter instead).

It also happens to be in the Fast experience group and...that's about it. Otherwise, Ledyba is kind of bad. It is among the most underpowered things you can find it this game and it really doesn't do a great deal of damage to anything relevant, mostly limited to support with Safeguard/screens and attacking random stuff on routes. It is especially bad during the early game where it is unevolved and stuck using Tackle, Comet Punch and Swift for damage. The only thing it has during this time is a "good" match-up against Bellsprout, but that isn't unique to Ledyba and battles will still take ages because Tackle does so little damage. Otherwise, it requires significant babying until Goldenrod, and from there it can start to hold its own a little better.

I think E-tier is justified, but I think it has a few assets that would prevent it from dropping down to a hypthetical F-tier should that tier be split.

Lickitung

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All I’ll say about this is that I think it’s a case of "too little, too late". Lickitung has a great move pool and I could see it being decent if it were obtainable earlier, but instead it's locked away behind the 7-badges requirement with stuff with Tangela and Swinub. It gets very little time to contribute, and it ultimately very slow and not all that powerful, although it has moderate bulk. An easy E-tier.

Magikarp (Red Gyarados)

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I chose to use the Red Gyarados rather than catch a Magikarp and grind it up. While the latter option benefits from earlier availability, I don’t think the tedious grinding period is really justified. The Red Gyarados also benefits from guaranteed awesome DVs. Wherever Magikarp ends up being ranked, I think that its placement should reflect the Red Gyarados’ performance rather than that of a standard Magikarp.

Gyarados has overall great stats but a move pool that leaves something to be desired. It really only has Normal moves to use its fantastic Attack with, and its generous special move pool is wasted by its sucky Sp. Atk stat, although the STAB boost for Surf helps a bit.

Despite this flaw and its relatively “late” appearance, I actually think that the Red Gyarados is among the best Pokemon in the game. The reason(s) I think this is because it is a high level capture that will exceed or at least match the average level of your team (depending on when you go for it), and it is an encounter that is not only guaranteed, but mandatory for completion of the game (a distinction shared only with Sudowoodo, the starters and arguably Togepi). To me, the Red Gyarados is basically the mid-game equivalent to Lugia and Ho-oh that you HAVE to battle to win the game, and as far as I’m concerned it is just as destructive in practise (arguably more so than Lugia). Seriously, even with the lack of synchronicity between its stat distribution and its move pool, it is an excellent sweeper with just Thrash and Surf, and it can hold its own in match-ups too. It can also act as a HM slave with Strength/Surf/Whirlpool/Waterfall AND STILL be an excellent battling Pokemon.

I therefore think that can justifiably be called A-tier.

Nidoran-M

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I've already done Nidoran-F and this is basically identical to that. The fact that it learns Horn Attack when Nidoran-F doesn't was a significant difference in RBY, but with the Headbutt TM rendering this obsolete, the only important differences are Nidoran-M's slightly better stat distribution, their genders (relevant against Miltank and its Attract), and learning a different move at level 23 in their final forms (Thrash for the male, Body Slam for the female), assuming you can grab the Moon Stone in Tohjo Falls before reaching that level. The male is probably better overall, but the difference isn't enough to justify a tier difference between either.

Reiterating my points about the female, I think Nidoran-M is a solid option due to its good experience growth rate, versatile move pool and well-rounded stats. I think its main flaw is that its Johto match-ups are a bit hit-and-miss. Double Kick does allow it to contribute against Miltank (although you won't be beating it one-on-one) and it can do well against Jasmine, but it is completely useless against Morty and has to deal with its Water and Ice weaknesses against Chuck, Jasmine, Lance and Clair, not to mention Will's Psychic spam. It definitely needs a bit of support at times. Its lack of good STAB for much of Johto also presents a slight limitation to its sweeping power in the short term, and it relies on the precious Earthquake TM to finally obtain an adequate STAB option. Overall though, I think it can easily slide onto any team due to its wide selection of coverage moves, so I still consider it an above-average Pokemon, probably B-tier.

Psyduck

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I've spoken about Psyduck's merits in the past, but yes, I think it's one of the better mid-game Waters. Or rather, I think Golduck is one of the better mid-game Waters. Psyduck isn't all that strong and it takes a while to evolve, but you can just catch a wild Golduck instead and cut right to the chase, and I think it’s worth going for.

Golduck's niche among mid-game Waters is not so much related to its battling prowess - its stats are good but not outstanding, and its move pool is basically the default one that most Waters get with the mostly useless Confusion thrown in - but more due to sheer convenience. Golduck can be caught in the pond on Route 35, thus requiring less of a back-track than, say, Lapras, and arrives as high as level 24, with a good grinding opportunity in Wobbuffet's section of Dark Cave if needed. In addition, while stuff like Lapras and Tentacruel have to wait for a bit for their best moves to become available, Golduck can pretty much get its complete move set immediately, with Surf, Ice Punch and Headbutt/Strength being readily available. Also, while its stats aren't outstanding, its Sp Atk. is among the highest of the available Water-types, making it a great force on routes. Its ability to learn Waterfall may also be of note considering Feraligatr, Lapras, Tentacruel and Quagsire are all unable to learn it in this generation, although I consider this to be a minor point since there are numerous slaves that you can catch that can use that move.

Mostly it's good for the same reasons that other Waters are good. I'm not entirely sure that it should be ranked above stuff like Lapras as it is now just because I think those have genuine advantages over Golduck and which one is used comes down to preference, but it should be B-tier as an absolute minimum.

Shuckle

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This is another Pokemon that I think is a little better than it might seem at first glance, although not by much. I personally like to view it as a more extreme version of Umbreon. It has a stat distribution that is completely at odds with what is desired for the type of run we base these tiers on, but it can still beat things just by being unkillable, and at the very least makes for strong healing fodder.

I chose to use Shuckie, the gift Shuckle from Cianwood City, for this run, and the nice thing is that it has an easy time beating the wild Tentacool and Tentacruel nearby, so it actually grinds from its starting level 15 quite nicely (Supersonic and Poison chance are both hindrances; Safeguard can help out with those once learned). In terms of raw power, I think that Rollout basically provides it with its only remotely good source of damage. The 4th and 5th hits of Rollout do solid damage even with Shuckle's low Atk, and Shuckle definitely has the staying power to generate the turns needed to get to the final hits of Rollout. However, status and other annoyances will cause problems for Shuckle, as will Rollout's accuracy. Dig, Earthquake, Sludge Bomb and Strength round out the rest of its surprisingly good offensive move pool, although these won't do much damage even when hitting super-effectively.

As a Rock-type, it can hold its own against Team Rocket to an extent, although status will be a nuisance. Otherwise, Shuckle's usefulness outside of being heal fodder is limited. Even with its positives, I consider it to be one of the worst Pokemon available in Johto, but I'm also inclined to think that it is more in-line with something like Ledyba and Delibird in terms of tiering (i.e. bad, but not Smeargle-level bad).

Tauros

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Having talked crap about this thing all thread, I finally got around to trying it out on this batch of runs I’ve been doing for this thread. Obviously, its strong point is its stat distribution. It is fast and strong, and it has good defenses overall as well, with only its Sp. Atk being remotely bad. However, it still requires a grind. Its highest catch level is 15 and the average team will probably be at level 22-24. There are thankfully a few decent grinding spots for Tauros, although the experience yields aren’t great for most Pokemon it’ll be fighting against. I went with Route 37 since Stantler at least has good yields, although even then the grinding period felt slow. This is on top of the potential time lost looking for and catching Tauros, since it has a sub-5% encounter rate AND a low catch rate too. These issues have always been my main point of concern with Tauros, and they basically came to pass when I tried it in this run.

Tauros is able to learn Strength immediately, and that only will make it one of the most powerful Pokemon available once trained, assuming the Pokemon doesn’t resist Normal (it will get Return eventually for an upgrade). It is perhaps unfair to say that Tauros’ move pool is “bad” with that in mind, but it’s simply undeniable that Tauros’ move pool is smaller than a lot of other Pokemon when it first becomes available. Surf is useful for Steelix and the occasional Rock, but otherwise Tauros will just be a mono-attacker throughout Johto (Earthquake is available later but is a one-off TM that other things want to learn too). It lacks a good move to hits Ghosts in the meantime which sucks given that Morty is the first gym it can compete in, although it can at least slow Gengar down with Scary Face for support.

Overall, once it gets going, Tauros is a phenomenally powerful Pokemon. Mostly things not resistant to Normal die to it, and Surf (+ Earthquake if available) helps against the stuff that do resist Normal. I think out of Tauros, Stantler and Miltank, Tauros is the one with the strongest case for A-tier. However, I’m still not entirely unconvinced. It is a strong Pokemon stat-wise, but I think that its potential use on a team comes with a notable time-cost that hurts it as a choice for an efficient run, and overall I’m not sure if its strengths really make it superior to the early-route Normals or Miltank/Stantler. I think B-tier is more appropriate.

Teddiursa

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Another “post-7 badges” Pokemon, but this one has potential maybe. We know how strong it is from its performance in Crystal and so that needs to be said is that it has overall great stats outside of Speed and an equally great move pool. It should fit nicely onto teams that still happen to have an available slot and would benefit from some more power, but unfortunately being so late and under-leveled is as much as problem as it is for all the other late-Johto Pokemon and so a significant time-cost is incurred for using it. The fact that it’s a fleeing Pokemon doesn’t help its cause either.

It’s difficult to say where it should land in a tier list, but at the very least I would say that is more useful than Phanpy, Gligar, Skarmory, Delibird, Swinub, Lickitung, Doduo, Ponyta and Tangela, and so this should be reflected in the tier list probably.

Tyrogue

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Sorry, but this is borderline unusable for an efficient run. Hitmonlee/chan/top are all decently strong to varying extents (I consider lee to be the best of the lot by a significant margin) and Fighting is a solid typing for the Elite 4 and beyond, but in the end it is simply impractical to obtain a Pokemon at level 10 after getting all Johto badges and spending literally HOURS grinding it up to a point of usability. I have little else to say about it other than the fact that I think that it is among the 5 worst Johto Pokemon.

Venonat

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I like to think of Venonat as Caterpie and Weedle rolled into a single package. Its stats distribution and level-up move pool (containing status and Psychic-moves) is reminiscent of Butterfree, and yet it has STAB Sludge Bomb much like Beedrill.

As a choice for efficient in-game runs, the biggest problem it faces is that it takes a very long time to reach a point where it feels like a competent Pokemon. Venonat is definitely on the weaker side of things in its unevolved state, and having only Swift and Confusion (both without STAB) for damage in the short-term doesn’t help its cause. The one positive thing I can say about its early performance is that it comes at a reasonable level and can grind somewhat quickly against stuff like Drowzee.

It does improve quite a bit later on though. Venomoth isn’t an amazing Pokemon but its competent, and it has a distinct niche of being a Poison-type with access to Psychic moves, which is helpful against other Poison-types (Psybeam can be learned at level 33 by delaying evolution).

Its current placement in C-tier might be a bit generous to be honest. I think it is a bit burdensome to have on a team for much of its time, at least until evolution, and it only gets a brief stint in Johto and then the post-game to take advantage of it, and even during that time it is merely decent rather than being an over-powered monster that would justify the initial suck period.

Wobbuffet

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So back when I made this proposal for a potential splitting of E tier into separate E and F tiers, I decided to leave Wobbuffet in E tier rather than drop it down because I felt like it had enough redeeming qualities from its odd move pool/attacking style to put it ahead of stuff like Smeargle. However, having now used it, I’m actually not as convinced of this and would probably be more inclined to drop it down. In fact, I would sooner drop Wobbuffet than I would drop Shuckle and Yanma!

I found that Wobbuffet relies on a gimmicky form of offense that just doesn’t work 95% of the time. There are two critical problems with using Counter and Mirror Coat to beat flunkies. Firstly, it relies on the AI acting in the right way, and against trainers on routes the randomness of move selections is a huge liability to Wobbuffet. It is especially frustrating against “mixed” attackers that have, say, a Normal move and a special STAB move, and there were too many occasions where I kept picking the wrong move because the AI felt like using Bite when I tried Counter and similar. Even against purely physical or special attackers, Wobbuffet must contend with status moves that can disrupt it or at least extend the battle by another unnecessary turn – Safeguard can help against stuff like confusion at least, especially against stuff that Wobbuffet outspeeds.

Another problem is the fact that most route mons simply do too little damage to Wobbuffet to get a lot of millage out of CounterCoat. I found that I was getting 2HKOes at best on some stuff (on top of the randomness issue above) but sometimes it would require 3 or more successful reflections and battles would just drag on and on and on. OHKOes are very, VERY rare with Wobbuffet. Wobbuffet also gobbles up healing items like nothing else and I quickly became tired of having to recheck my stocks constantly so that I could keep of healthy for long routes.

The one thing that makes me hesitate to call Wobbuffet “Ditto tier” is the fact that Wobbuffet still has substantial value in more important/compulsory match-ups, where the opponents are stronger and less random. In some cases, Wobbuffet can be a “reliable” deletion button on a gym leaders anchor using CounterCoat or possibly even Destiny Bond spam. Some of these match-ups come with the condition of avoiding hax however – Steelix can beat Wobbuffet with a crit, Poliwrath can beat it with a long sleep, and so on.

For most Pokemon, I think that having a high catch level relative to joining time is an asset, but due to the unique way in which it battles, I think Wobbuffet is actually better off staying at lower levels. Wobbuffet can actually be caught as high as level 25 in Dark Cave (and it’s not too difficult to draw it out with the Repel Trick), a relatively high level for when surfing first becomes possible (a requirement for Wobbuffet in Gold/Silver), but mostly you’d be better off catching the lowest level Wobbuffet possible (level 20) and just going with it. In fact, you may as well not bother using it at all for routes, and instead it should just be pulled out in gyms/rival battles/etc and used to remove a particular Pokemon. I think Wobbuffet would still need a source of experience of some kind eventually though, for the higher-leveled late-game trainers, so I think even this approach will result in a significant time-drain.

Where Wobbuffet should end up in a hypothetical E-tier split is perhaps something that needs more discussion, but for the current tier list, there is simply no question that it belongs in E-tier.
 
Agreeing with the last 2 posts about Snubbull and Staryu. Eeven in GS (because those posts seem to be talking about Crystal), I think they are better than the list gives them credit for.

Tauros

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Having talked crap about this thing all thread, I finally got around to trying it out on this batch of runs I’ve been doing for this thread. Obviously, its strong point is its stat distribution. It is fast and strong, and it has good defenses overall as well, with only its Sp. Atk being remotely bad. However, it still requires a grind. Its highest catch level is 15 and the average team will probably be at level 22-24. There are thankfully a few decent grinding spots for Tauros, although the experience yields aren’t great for most Pokemon it’ll be fighting against. I went with Route 37 since Stantler at least has good yields, although even then the grinding period felt slow. This is on top of the potential time lost looking for and catching Tauros, since it has a sub-5% encounter rate AND a low catch rate too. These issues have always been my main point of concern with Tauros, and they basically came to pass when I tried it in this run.

Tauros is able to learn Strength immediately, and that only will make it one of the most powerful Pokemon available once trained, assuming the Pokemon doesn’t resist Normal (it will get Return eventually for an upgrade). It is perhaps unfair to say that Tauros’ move pool is “bad” with that in mind, but it’s simply undeniable that Tauros’ move pool is smaller than a lot of other Pokemon when it first becomes available. Surf is useful for Steelix and the occasional Rock, but otherwise Tauros will just be a mono-attacker throughout Johto (Earthquake is available later but is a one-off TM that other things want to learn too). It lacks a good move to hits Ghosts in the meantime which sucks given that Morty is the first gym it can compete in, although it can at least slow Gengar down with Scary Face for support.

Overall, once it gets going, Tauros is a phenomenally powerful Pokemon. Mostly things not resistant to Normal die to it, and Surf (+ Earthquake if available) helps against the stuff that do resist Normal. I think out of Tauros, Stantler and Miltank, Tauros is the one with the strongest case for A-tier. However, I’m still not entirely unconvinced. It is a strong Pokemon stat-wise, but I think that its potential use on a team comes with a notable time-cost that hurts it as a choice for an efficient run, and overall I’m not sure if its strengths really make it superior to the early-route Normals or Miltank/Stantler. I think B-tier is more appropriate.
I forgot to mention, I was talking about Crystal.

As for the points mentioned by Atsync, I agree that Tauros does take some noticeable time to be up to speed. It's also pretty useless against Jasmine and I wouldn't want to see it catch a stray Dynamicpunch from Chuck's mons either. Finding it is a remarkable pain as well. Catch rate does matter a bit when you take into account people trying to catch it with Friend Balls to get the buffed Return earlier.

If it wasn't so strong, I'd even say it should be dropped. To be honest, its issues and the fact it misses out two major battles like that already make it a bit shaky as an A-Tier mon for me. I'd call it A- at best.


Furthermore, Magikarp should either be on the bottom of the tier list, or not at all.
The Red Gyarados is an entirely different beast and it should be noted as such. It doesn't even have a Magikarp period.

As for Magikarp itself, either catch a Gyarados (Red or Blue) or just forget it. We're talking about a mid-game evolution here even if you catch it ASAP. It's not only an experience sink, it's completely useless for two gyms and you don't even have the luxury of just slapping an Exp. Share on it and just forgetting it exists until it evolves. You can't even find Wild Gyarados before Lake of Rage, and at that point, might as well catch the Red one with guaranteed decent DVs and a good level.
E-Tier at best, and I'd drop it to F in a heartbeat.
 
I forgot to mention, I was talking about Crystal.

Furthermore, Magikarp should either be on the bottom of the tier list, or not at all.
The Red Gyarados is an entirely different beast and it should be noted as such. It doesn't even have a Magikarp period.

As for Magikarp itself, either catch a Gyarados (Red or Blue) or just forget it. We're talking about a mid-game evolution here even if you catch it ASAP. It's not only an experience sink, it's completely useless for two gyms and you don't even have the luxury of just slapping an Exp. Share on it and just forgetting it exists until it evolves. You can't even find Wild Gyarados before Lake of Rage, and at that point, might as well catch the Red one with guaranteed decent DVs and a good level.
E-Tier at best, and I'd drop it to F in a heartbeat.

Agreed.

So I think the power difference between Typhlosion and Feraligatr is being exaggerated, and I also think the "weak mid game" is being understated by some users. That weak period can actually last for longer than you might think on some larger teams - I've actually had some playthroughs when I've arrived at Blackthorn City with an unevolved Quilava!
And in the same parallel, it is quite easy to get a Gyarados before Feraligatr (or qualiava) hit level 30, and use teleport back to cover/body the few actually bad matchups for Quilava. Not that I recommend it, but it is also another extreme of pathing options.
 
Can someone explain to me why Slowpoke is in B tier instead of A? I've used it several times in GSC playthroughs and I've found it to be a very useful mon that you can catch early and doesn't fall off in the later portions of the game like lots of other early game mons. Even though it has pretty weak stabs until you get Surf, it's still able to beat many of the same mons as other bulky waters. On top of that, it has lots of really good gym and elite four matchups. I feel like it's much better than a lot of the mons in B tier and probably better suited to A.
 
Can someone explain to me why Slowpoke is in B tier instead of A? I've used it several times in GSC playthroughs and I've found it to be a very useful mon that you can catch early and doesn't fall off in the later portions of the game like lots of other early game mons. Even though it has pretty weak stabs until you get Surf, it's still able to beat many of the same mons as other bulky waters. On top of that, it has lots of really good gym and elite four matchups. I feel like it's much better than a lot of the mons in B tier and probably better suited to A.
It's probably related to how slow it is (which makes it vulnerable to stray Confuse Rays and just eats more healing items than it should) and how it can't get Ice Punch like most of the other Water-Types that are in the higher ranks, limiting its coverage.
 

atsync

Where the "intelligence" of TRAINERS is put to the test!
is a Pokemon Researcheris a Contributor to Smogon
I manage to get these runs done quicker than I originally thought, so here are some more analyses I've done.

At this point I have completed all the run-throughs I'm intending to do of Gold and Silver. I think I have done everything at this point, except Totodile (I have used it during these tests, but I didn't see the need to write up anything for it), Ditto, Smeargle, Unown and the Kantomons. This will therefore be my final batch of write-ups most likely, unless I decide to do some runs of Crystal but I don't think I will any time soon.

At some point (perhaps sooner rather than later), I would like to construct my own tier list based on my experiences and post it here, since I think it would be a nice way to bring all these test runs that I've been doing on-and-off for the last 18 months to a close! In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoy these, and also that all the write-ups I've done will be useful for others if/when an on-site article with actual analyses is produced.

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Caterpie

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Caterpie is basically identical in function to its RBY performance: it provides early Confusion and status moves but is underpowered in the long run. Butterfree is at its best from the moment it evolves to roughly the end of the Azalea Town arc. There are plenty of Poison-types during this segment of the game and Butterfree deals with them easily. In fact, out of all the the early-route Bugs, I consider Butterfree to be the best of the lot during this very specific part of the game. Like all the bugs, Butterfree is also a solid early-game partner for Totodile during due to its good match-up against Grass-types. Of particular note is the fact that it happens to match up extremely well against Rival2 in Azalea - it beats Bayleef and has Confusion to deal with Gastly and Zubat.

The gloss starts to wear off by the time you reach Goldenrod, so much so that it's honestly more productive to box Butterfree at this point. It's stuck with Confusion as its best move for quite a while and it doesn't do much to things that aren't weak to it (although admittedly Poison-types are common). Other than that and some occasional use for Sleep Powder in some match-ups, which isn't entirely reliable to begin with anyway, Butterfree isn't really all that good in the long run. This is on top of the irritating initial grind to evolve Caterpie as well - I recommend catching a Caterpie on Route 31 and grinding it against wild Bellsprout and maybe some other Caterpie and Metapod for best results.

One thing that hasn't been discussed much at all in this thread is the version "exclusivity" of Caterpie and Weedle. They are available in both Gold and Silver, but Butterfree isn't obtainable in Silver until National Park, with Beedrill holding that position in Gold. I don't know how much of an impact that could have on tiering, but in Butterfree's case, given that using it in this way misses out on the parts of the game where it's most useful on Gold, it seems like Butterfree would be much less useful in Silver. In Beedrill's case it probably isn't as bad although Silver Beedrill gives it a low benchmark to match anyway.

In any case, Caterpie is D-tier at best in Gold - it has some use early on but drops off quickly.

Corsola

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Read this.

I personally don't think Corsola is a great Pokemon - not with those stats - but since it's a Good Rod Pokemon, it happens to have certain attributes that make it better than several other Pokemon by default (high catch level, instant access to good moves). Mirror Coat and its resistances to things like Poison, Normal and Flying are nice traits that distinguish itself from other Waters also. I don't think I would recommend using this over something like Chinchou, but it's not E-tier dreadful either.

Girafarig

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I think at this we have established that Psychic moves are strong in GSC, particularly due to the huge presence of Poison-types. Normal-types are also strong in GSC because of the large selection of strong STAB moves to pick from. Girafarig is the only Pokemon in the game that gets STAB on Psychic AND Normal, and that gives it a very distinct niche.

Overall, I was impressed by it. Girafarig has well distributed stats, and it has plenty of Normal STABs to pick from to use alongside Confusion. I know some people might note that "detour" required to get it in the first place, but I think this is overstated - with Repels, it literally takes less than 2 minutes to get to Route 43 from Ecruteak, and Girafarig isn't exactly rare. It really doesn't take much time to catch and it grinds amazingly well in the basement of Burned Tower with all those Koffing down there. Once you get it to the right level an amazing match-up with Morty's Gengar awaits - it's immune to Shadow Ball, resists Dream Eater, and it can set up Agility on one of the other Pokemon (preferably the level 23 Haunter if that's sent out since that lacks Curse) then Girafarig has the Speed advantage too.

My only gripe with Girafarig is that it doesn't get an upgrade from Confusion for ages. If it could Psybeam at level 25-30 and Psychic in the 40s or something it would've been amazing. But the role compression that Girafarig offers is incredible and to me it's yet another solid mid-game Normal.

Gligar

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Gligar is killed by its move pool unfortunately. Seriously, this thing gets almost nothing, but most importantly it has no STAB by TM or level-up whatsoever. Earthquake is apparently a Stadium 2 exclusive in this gen and Wing Attack is an egg move, and it doesn't learn Fly, Dig or even Mud-Slap either. That just leaves it with Iron Tail, Strength and Sludge Bomb, making it seem like a late-game Poison type without the STAB on Sludge Bomb or any actual reliable coverage moves.

The move pool problems are especially bad when considering what it could have been used for with that unique typing. It resists Poison, but against Team Rocket all it can do is hit them with Strength. Similarly, it can only do so much damage against Bruno, although I guess that is a winning match-up for it. Meanwhile a lot of its other late Johto match-ups aren't good for it - Clair especially just destroys it.

So ultimately this is just a late-Johto Pokemon with no moves and limited utility. It's one of the worst Pokemon in the game.

Ho-oh

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I'm inclined to say that this is a little better than Silver Lugia, although comparisons between the two seem pointless given the version exclusivity. Ho-oh has the superior stat distribution overall, with much better attacking stats in exchange for Speed and bulk, but Ho-oh is still "fast enough". Lugia has the better move pool arguably but Ho-oh is hardly lacking in options - aside from two nice STABs in Sacred Fire and Fly, it also gets Thunder, Earthquake, Psychic, Shadow Ball and whatever else you want to use.

In any case I would just group Gold Ho-oh and Silver Lugia together since they basically perform the same role of "late-Johto overleveled monster" for the Elite 4 and beyond.

Hoppip

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Bleagh, just another crappy Grass-type that has the added bonus of having no attacking moves when it's first caught. With that flaw on top of it just being a weak attacker in general, it's pretty easy to see why this isn't good.

Having said that, I don't consider it useless simply because its various powder moves and Leech Seed give it plenty of utility in match-ups. In particular, Leech Seed and Sleep Powder together work very well to nullify certain threats, and I was able to use it to stall Poliwrath, Kingdra and even Miltank to death (I deliberately delayed Hoppip's evolution for 2 levels to ensure Leech Seed would be ready in time for Whitney). For all its weakness, it is certainly capable for beat things with Headbutt spam especially with the flinch chance, although its limited PP will be tested repeatedly.

The issue with Hoppip isn't so much that it can't beat things, but rather that it can't beat things QUICKLY. With that on top of the tedious initial grind, Hoppip simply isn't a good options for the kinds of runs that this tier list is aiming for, and that should doom it to D/E tier.

Magmar

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This is excellent, arguably the best Fire-type in the game even with the availability issue. Cyndaquil can't even compare to this - Magmar has STAB Fire Punch and ThunderPunch immediately off of 100 Sp. Atk while Quilava is still using Ember and Flame Wheel from 80 Sp. Atk. You can argue that Typhlosion regains the advantage later since it's stronger and faster than Magmar, but guess what? Magmar learns Flamethrower at level 41 while Typhlosion isn't going to learn it at all during a "normal" playthrough of GSC, so Magmar is basically the strongest Fire-type during the time that it's available.

That last part about availability is important to stress though. Magmar has a bit of "Tauros syndrome" going on, although it isn't as bad as Tauros since level 16 is better than 13-15 while the grind is just as straight forward (wild Magnemites hate Fire Punch), and the encounter rate is higher too. So you could argue that Cyndaquil and Magmar are basically "equal" with different strengths and weakness. I think A-tier is justified for Magmar but at the very least Magmar should be equal in tiering to Cyndaquil.

Magnemite

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This plays very similarly to Voltorb (Electric spam and nothing else) so I'll be referencing that a bit in this write-up.

Magnemite has 2 key advantages over Voltorb (arguably 3 but I don't think the extra Sp. Atk is a huge deal). Firstly, Magnemite has an actual STAB option in its level-up move pool, with ThunderShock learned by default. This may seem very minor, but it's actually very useful because Magnemite's main (read: only) form of "strong" offense in GS is Rain Dance Thunder. Thunder is pretty costly, and while I have shown in the past that obtaining it by by the first Olivine visit is "possible", it requires an extreme amount of cash saving as well as thorough back-tracking to beat trainers for their prize money. For Voltorb, this is a slight problem because it literally has nothing else to use EXCEPT Thunder, but in Magnemite's case it can make do with ThunderShock as a temporary option and can then use Thunder later on once the money has been obtained. This happens to work very well simply because there's a Water-heavy set of routes coming up for the trip to Cianwood, so ThunderShock works fine in the meantime.

The other advantage Magnemite has over Voltorb is its Steel-typing, which is arguably a mixed blessing but tends to work out well for it more often than not with its numerous resistances. Seriously, a lot of the stuff you fight on Routes can't touch Magnemite to save themselves, and neither can most of the Rocket grunts nor a lot of the Gym leaders and Elite 4 Pokemon. While Steel does have a few downsides (including a Fighting weakness against Chuck and Bruno), for the most part Steel works out very well for Magnemite, and in fact I consider Magnemite to be the best Steel-type in the game (with respect to the fact that obtaining Scizor or Steelix during Johto is highly unrealistic if not impossible).

In exchange, Magnemite misses out on Voltorb's boosted experience and higher obtainable level (16 for Magnemite vs. 20 for Votorb as per wild Krabby's catch level), as well as its much better Speed. I'm inclined to think that Magnemite is the superior of the two, although I also think that they could probably go together in the same tier.

Marill

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Back when I did one of these write-ups for Dunsparce, I talked about the issue of using the DST trick to obtain it. In that situation, DST trick requires you to play through the game until the end of Union Cave to get the appropriate phone number and then back-track to New Bark Town to activate the swarm, and THEN catch and grind a level 4 Dunsparce. Not exactly a recipe for a successful quickrun through GSC.

Marill has a similar problem, except it's even worse. The trainer needed to activate Marill swarms isn't encountered until Route 45, after playing through most of Johto and obtaining 7 badges, and by the time you get it, it's extremely under-leveled (although at least Fly is available). For this reason, I consider Marill to be the only case where I would not use the DST trick and would simply just try to encounter one the regular way, outside of a swarm.

1% encounter rate is rough, but you can increase the odds slightly with the Repel trick. Marill is always at level 15 and the encounters in its area range from 14-16, so I just caught a level 15 Pidgey and used Repels to keep the level 14 encounters away. I was able to find my first Marill in about 3 minutes which was lucky, but then I didn't see another one for over 20 minutes. I don't know the exact odds of finding a non-swarming Marill with the Repel trick but I imagine it's probably still less than 5% which is not great.

Sadly Marill isn't all that good anyway, or at least it's not all that good of a Water-type, but it has have the default positive traits that most Waters carry (i.e. STAB Surf before gym 4 with some useful coverage to compliment it). It's in the Fast experience group and evolves quickly at least, but its stats are distributed poorly with a focus on bulk over Speed and power. Under different circumstances I could see Marill being an ok choice on its own merits, but I think the lousy stats combined with the inconvenience of obtaining it make it one of the worst Water-types, and possibly a good candidate for E-tier.

Sandshrew

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This is a shadow of its RBY-self, but it's still not too bad. Sandshrew comes pretty early in Gold and the Sandshrew in the basement area of Union Cave are as high as level 8. Give it Swift and Mud-Slap and it shouldn't have too much trouble grinding, and then when Dig comes along it'll take off nicely. It also evolves pretty early too.

It lacks 100BP Dig and 100% critting Slash from RBY, but it still has pretty good power with what it has, and STAB Dig is always a nice option in GSC, especially coming from something that isn't as slow as Geodude is. I'd say the main issue with Sandshrew is its TM dependency since it'll most likely be needed both the Dig and Earthquake TMs when they come around, and it also appreciates Swift and Mud-Slap for easy grinding at the start. If you can't give it those it probably isn't worth using. It's level-up movepool is actually kind of lacking - Slash at level 23/24 is neat but not really essential with Strength and the like existing.

This is probably a solid C-tier in Gold, arguably one of the better C-tiers that could even be justified as a B-tier if you consider its status as an early source of STAB Ground moves to be especially important.

Note: Sandshrew and Ekans have the same version "exclusivity" thing going on that Caterpie and Weedle have but it probably isn't as important.

Spinarak

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When using this, I noted pretty quickly that this shares a ton of similarities with Weedle, and yet I think Weedle is superior to it in many ways. Beedrill has much better Speed and evolves earlier, but most importantly it has better move options than Spinarak during the early game, with Fury Attack, Twineedle and Swift giving it decent attacks to use until Sludge Bomb comes along. Spinarak gets...Constrict and Night Shade. Spinarak is therefore atrocious during the early parts of the game. It can do well in Sprout Tower like all bugs and birds but beyond that it is terribly weak and slow, and is stuck like that for quite a while. Later on it hits much harder with STAB Sludge Bomb and is much more useful as a result, but Ariados is still slow as molasses which will slow battles down a bit.

One advantage Spinarak has over Weedle is access to Dig. It's not the most common move among the bugs and it offers nice coverage alongside its Poison STAB, although good luck killing Koffings and Weezings in one hit before they explode in your face! Options like Night Shade and Scary Face (at level 6) also provide it with some utility, with the latter being useful for slowing down stuff like Morty's Gengar if you're willing to risk Hypnosis hitting multiple times. So Weedle doesn't completely outclass it.

I still personally think that Weedle is better than Spinarak despite Dig access but I think the difference is small enough to just lump them together in the same tier.
 

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