Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow In-Game Tiers - Reboot

Out of curiosity, are we assuming that every trainer in the game is being battled, or are we skipping trainers? What's the ruling on random encounters? I'm asking to do any test runs under these assumptions.
 

Ryota Mitarai

Shrektimus Prime
is a Smogon Media Contributor
Out of curiosity, are we assuming that every trainer in the game is being battled, or are we skipping trainers? What's the ruling on random encounters? I'm asking to do any test runs under these assumptions.
I generally fight all Trainers and avoid random encounters (unless I am using a starter or some Route 1 mon, in that case, I fight them for few levels) when I test for any game.
 
Try Snorlax at the least. If you don’t have any other reservations about what mons you want to run, try Mankey, Geodude, and Farfetch’d. (you can use a starter temporarily to get you by until Snorlax or so). HM Slaves are fine obviously. Do those choices work for you?

I can do Jigglypuff next run myself.
I won't use Geodude as I already used one in my Emerald run and would like to use some different Pokemon. I'll probably try Charmander as we have already discussed Bulbasaur in terms of starters and I want to see if it's worthy of A. I'll happily use the others though.
 
I can use Geodude. I'll probably end up testing Squirtle, Geodude, Machop and Jigglypuff. Unless of course, anything else warrants testing instead. Both Machamp and Golem will be used rather than Graveler and Machoke.
 
I won't use Geodude as I already used one in my Emerald run and would like to use some different Pokemon. I'll probably try Charmander as we have already discussed Bulbasaur in terms of starters and I want to see if it's worthy of A. I'll happily use the others though.
Charmander works fine with me, go for it!

I can use Geodude. I'll probably end up testing Squirtle, Geodude, Machop and Jigglypuff. Unless of course, anything else warrants testing instead. Both Machamp and Golem will be used rather than Graveler and Machoke.
That works fine Lemon. We're kinda just getting a feel for how everything is tiered at the moment, so a lot of stuff, if not everything, is fair game.

I generally train on trainers as long as there are no bosses around (example: when I got Sandshrew at level 10, I grinned on wilds to be at 17 to get Slash and be on par with Blue 3), though I do grind on wilds a fair bit to get my team on its feet early or when other team members come later (meaning Bulbasaur/Ivysaur was over leveled for a bit before I got Magikarp, though I saved some trainers on Route 3 for Magikarp). I sometimes grind on wilds to get my team to another level for boss battles if I am close to leveling up.
 
Team: Charmander Lv12

The tried and tested strat of spamming Ember to take advantage of his Pokemon's low Special works well here. The main thing to keep in mind here is to avoid attacking when Onix has Bide. Not a quick matchup like Squirtle, but Charmander can still get the job done much better than pretty much every other Pokemon at this point. And that's a bit sad.


Team: Charmeleon Lv19

An easy fight even with a Squirtle in his fight. Charmeleon can dispatch Abra and Rattata with little trouble, though it may need Mega Punch if it wants quick kills against Squirtle and Pidgeotto. Fortunately for it, Blue's AI is too stupid to reliably use Water Gun.


Team: Charmeleon Lv28/Mankey Lv12]

Charmeleon has no chance against Misty as soon as you arrive at Cerulean. It will need Dig if it wants a sporting chance against her. Even then, some luck might be involved to take her down. It can survive a Bubblebeam and even a couple of Water Guns, but Starmie's speed will allow it to crit often. I'd honestly wait until after the S.S Anne if you want to beat Misty reliably with him.

Mankey has no chance at its current level. It will need to wait until after it has been trained up in the Vermillion area if it wants to stand a chance. If trained, it may need to rely on the Dig TM or Karate Chop crits for a win.


Thoughts so far:

Charmeleon
The "hard mode" has a much easier time early game than people give it credit for. A good chunk of the opponents will spam Bugs that go down easily to Ember and even the odd Rock-type you come across has too low Special to resemble a threat. Another factor to its use is its high speed at this point in the game, meaning that it is able to score more crits against its matchups than other Pokemon at this point. Two factors that hinder its viability at this point are the infamous Misty roadblock, and its reliance on the heavily competitive Dig TM. While I wouldn't say it's S tier, I definitely believe A is appropriate right now. It has little difficulty contributing to most matchups so far and even the disadvantageous Brock and Misty have workarounds.

Mankey
I have little to say about it so far as I have only just caught it. Arriving with just Scratch is exactly ideal at this point in the game, but Karate Chop is thankfully just a couple of levels away. I'll have more to say about it as I get further into the game.
 
Writeups so far:
Squirtle: Bubble will 1-2HKO everything in the roster. Everyone should know by now that Squirtle makes Brock a complete joke.
Wartortle: If it doesn't have Mega Punch, which can be a competitive TM depending on the team members you have, then it can get past everything other than the Bulbasaur.
Wigglytuff: With Mega Punch, it can sweep the entire team without trouble. Pound will make for a longer fight overall.
Geodude: Like Wartortle, it can get beat everything other than the Bulbasaur. Not even Mega Punch will save the day for it here. If you started Bulbasaur, then this fight will be a joke; even if Pidgeotto managed to get in several Sand Attacks.
Wartortle: Whether it has Mega Punch or Seismic Toss, it can wall and fight back against the Staryu line without trouble.
Wigglytuff: Like Wartortle, having either Mega Punch or Seismic Toss will allow it to make short work of her.
Geodude: Even the Staryu will OHKO it with Water Gun before a single move on your end can get in.
 
I was thinking of running Spearow, Jigglypuff, Paras, and Snorlax. I know that's double coverage on Jigglypuff and Snorlax, but if people don't mind, I feel like I brought up the comparison so I have to bring it home.

Paras is another slowmon. It's probably the worst of the early-game physical Pokémon who can Dig (others being Sandshrew, Rattata, Geodude, Ekans), but who knows—Spore sounds useful and maybe the least critical Slash in the game will still be worth something. I suspect it will be better than E tier though maybe not by much.

I wanted to run Spearow early as kind of a control, to calibrate myself as I get back into the RBY flow. It looks like it'll provide consistent low B or high C performance throughout the game and I will be using it as a benchmark to compare the other Pokémon.

In my mind, I foresee it going Jigglypuff > Spearow > Snorlax > Paras, though the Spearow vs. Snorlax one will be harder to call since it cuts across different availabilities. Or maybe all those slow Pokémon will drive me nuts and I'll find Spearow the best.
 
I was thinking of running Spearow, Jigglypuff, Paras, and Snorlax. I know that's double coverage on Jigglypuff and Snorlax, but if people don't mind, I feel like I brought up the comparison so I have to bring it home.

Paras is another slowmon. It's probably the worst of the early-game physical Pokémon who can Dig (others being Sandshrew, Rattata, Geodude, Ekans), but who knows—Spore sounds useful and maybe the least critical Slash in the game will still be worth something. I suspect it will be better than E tier though maybe not by much.

I wanted to run Spearow early as kind of a control, to calibrate myself as I get back into the RBY flow. It looks like it'll provide consistent low B or high C performance throughout the game and I will be using it as a benchmark to compare the other Pokémon.

In my mind, I foresee it going Jigglypuff > Spearow > Snorlax > Paras, though the Spearow vs. Snorlax one will be harder to call since it cuts across different availabilities. Or maybe all those slow Pokémon will drive me nuts and I'll find Spearow the best.
The more tests on them the merrier I guess. A part of me wonders if Paras could be a decent Misty counter. I kind of doubt it though.
 
Alright these are my notes so far for Spearow, Jigglypuff, and Paras (Snorlax not yet caught):

spearow stats.png

Good stats, let's go!

Spearow trains itself effortlessly in Viridian Forest. You can actually get to Brock-beating levels with minimal grinding just by feeding every Bug Catcher to Spearow. I also made an inadvertent good choice when I chose Squirtle as my starter; my idea was to let Squirtle beat Brock if Spearow couldn't do the job, but actually the best part was that my rival was now using Bulbasaur, letting Spearow beat the Route 23 rival easily and get that early experiecne as well. I was able to beat Brock with a level 11 Spearow and a couple Potions.

Spearow's STAB Peck is pretty good even doing neutral damage; I had less trouble than I thought I might against the Youngster with the Rattata and Ekans (having the experience from Brock helped). I got very lucky when hunting for Jigglypuff:

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Level 7 (1% encounter!) with good stats. Hooray! At that level, "grinding" for Pound is very simple; if you teach Jigglypuff Water Gun, it can sweep the Mt. Moon Hiker, learning Pound and leveling all the way up to 10. At that point, Wigglytuff is already self-sufficient, especially with Mega Punch.

I thought through what I might have done with a level 3 Jigglypuff had I wanted to ensure it learns Pound before evolving. Jigglypuff needs about 250 exp. points to get from level 3 to level 7, whereupon you can go beat the Hiker with Water Gun. That's about two trainers' worth of switch-out training, which I think is trivially easy (even compared to, say, Abra, who already is a fairly fast grind). So I wouldn't have needed to worry about it either way.

I did give Wigglytuff Mega Punch in this test.

paras stats.png

I made sure to get at least a good attack stat after my other good catches. RBY Paras has 55 base special so that stat isn't very good, nor was HP, so I fed the Mt. Moon HP Up to Paras. Hopefully that will bring it closer to average bulk.

Unlike Jigglypuff, Paras needs to be carefully spoonfed its opponents. It also has a surprising, unique weakness: 4x weakness to Poison type. It might be the only Pokémon in the game worried about Weedle's Poison Sting (its 2x weakness to Zubat's Leech Life isn't fun either). It was able to beat Bug Catchers and at least make progress against the Route 3 trainers I had left for it, but it's not yet really doing anything at this part of the game.

If Misty is a little overrated in difficulty since you can save her for later, Rival 3 is underrated because you need to beat him immediately to progress, and a party that's already split three ways in experience is going to be underleveled.
Wigglytuff: can sweep simply with Mega Punch and with a little more effort with Sing and Pound if you didn't give it the TM. Pidgeotto accuracy luck can be annoying but Wigglytuff was still able to win pretty cleanly. Even underleveled, its bulk and power is impressive, about as high as you'll get from any Pokémon at this point in the game.
Paras: Can't beat anyone but Abra
Spearow: With Pidgeotto out of the way, it was able to sweep Abra, Rattata, and Bulbasaur. Maybe it would be harder with other rival starters.

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Note again that all three pokes have received about the same number of experience, so you can see what effect their exp. rate and join levels have had on their level. Spearow was level 15/16 when Jigglypuff and Paras were caught at levels 7 and 10 respectively; they have caught up somewhat, but not fully yet. This is one of the cool things you get to see happen if you give Pokémon equal experience and let their levels differ.

Anyway, I beat her before even doing Nugget Bridge! Surprisingly, Paras is helpful here; to say it "counters" Misty would be exaggerated, since it is still quite frail even when just targeted by Staryu and Starmie's Tackles, but it gets Stun Spore, which goes a long way in making the fight easier for Wigglytuff. I would imagine that Paras could play a more central role fighting Misty with Dig, though I didn't test it this time. Likewise, an evolved Fearow could have done something, but at this low level Spearow was useless. Wigglytuff fine either way though ;) I guess a write-up would be something like:</p><p></p><p>Paras: its level-up moves aren't enough to fight Misty on their own, though Stun Spore can make the fight much easier for its teammates and it tends to survive longer due to its typing. If you wait till after Nugget Bridge to teach Paras Dig before the fight, it can probably solo her (but that would remain to be tested).
Wigglytuff: like Clefable, its bulk and access to Mega Punch help make it a premier choice in the fight, especially if you don't have any Grass-type Pokémon. Depending on what level you fight Misty at, it can potentially sweep easily. Without Mega Punch, its chances alone are worse, but Pound, Sing, Seismic Toss, and Thunder Wave are all able to contribute heavily to the fight.
Spearow: if it has not yet evolved into Fearow, its weak Peck and Fury Attack are unlikely to do much in this fight.

Just wanted to note that Paras continues struggling until it gets Dig, whereupon it becomes quite decent, though the speed and Poison weakness continue to be issues. Notably, I got OHKOd by a Tentacool Acid. You hate to see it.

Jigglypuff's speed has started to bug me a bit; it usually doesn't move second as much as it has in this run, so I'm guessing my Speed DV was on the lower end of the range. In good speed news, Paras is not longer outsped by literally everything. I think it moved before some Machop on the S.S. Anne.

Incidentally, I decided not to give the Body Slam to either Jigglypuff or Paras. My reasoning here is that giving Paras both TMs in a normal run would definitely be favoritism, and I ran Bslam Jigglypuff in my last run so I wanted to see what it was like without. Ultimately, since Jigglypuff has already gotten Mega Punch and isn't far from Tri Attack, it doesn't make a big difference, but I didn't want to feel like I was favoring Puff.

The sorta easy version of the last Rival fight. Worthy of note is that now Paras is good! Not only does it have a real move in Dig, but its Leech Life (!!!) is good against Kadabra and Ivysaur. Spearow (who might have been Fearow at this point, I don't remember) is more capable this time around too.

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Not too much to say, he spams X Speed and bad moves a lot so I was able to get a lucky sweep even with Fearow.

Parasect has basically all caught up and at this point is better at clearing routes than Fearow, though Fearow isn't too far from Drill Peck by the time it reaches Lavender Town. Wigglytuff is still better than both, with its higher power and speed than Parasect even despite Dig.

You can save this fight for later but I felt like my team was getting quite comfortably leveled, so why not. Wigglytuff and Fearow could both sweep this one. Parasect couldn't due to being stuck on Scratch against Pidgeotto and Gyarados. With Body Slam it might have been able to sweep too.

I taught Jigglypuff Tri Attack and Psychic here. Fearow gets Swift (which will tide it over the couple levels before it gets Drill Peck). I'll be saving Ice Beam for Snorlax.

By the way, I was very close to having enough money to get a 1st Hyper Beam; I didn't keep track (and instead bought some Proteins), but I'm pretty sure that after Rocket Hideout I would have had more than enough money. This comes from fighting every available trainer before Celadon and selling most useless items (especially Nuggets and useless TMs like Whirlwind, Teleport, and Bide). I think there are two HP Ups that you could also sell if you really want the cash fast.

Pokemon Blue_04.png

Jigglypuff is starting to flex its fast exp. rate.

I also had realized by this point that there are a LOT of optional early- to mid-game trainers and that fighting all of them makes your whole team very comfortably leveled for this phase of the game. I hadn't yet even done Rocket Hideout in this screencap.

All three Pokémon basically 2HKO or 3HKO hers, not much more to say than that. Fearow is faster, which is nice. Parasect can spam Leech Life for the win, which is hilarious. Parasect also has Spore if you're worried about poison/wrap shenanigans or whatever.


More to come later. My general assessment so far is that Jigglytuff is consistently good top to bottom; Spearow has a fantastic beginning of the game but lags a little before evolution and before Drill Peck (I expect it to pick up quickly once it learns Drill Peck), and Paras is pretty bad until it gets Dig, where it immediately catches up. Paras also has some really wonky good and bad matchups due to the Bug typing.

If I had to put them into tiers so far based on this, I guess I'd say Jigglypuff A, Spearow B, Paras C? Jigglypuff A feels a bit high, but honestly Jigglypuff has done exactly what Clefairy would have done so far in the game, and I feel like something drastic would have to happen to Puff in the second half to justify a two-tier difference between it and Clefairy.
 
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Longfellow Which movesets are you using or going to use? I'm going to test Paras soon, too, and I'm thinking of Take Down, Reflect, Spore and Dig, but since you are not using other Swords Dance users like I do, you could give Swords Dance Parasect a try.
 
I was thinking of running SD so that works out well for our runs. Probably Dig/Slash/Spore/SD. Slash clashes with SD of course but I'm just really curious about what Slash feels like on the only poke that doesn't auto-crit wiith it; maybe I'll replace it with Double-Edge if I don't like it
 
More notes on Spearow, Jigglypuff, Paras, and Snorlax:

Pokémon Tower can be an annoying part of the game for some mons who don't have great ways to hit Ghosts, but the three Pokémon in my party were basically fine. Fearow was best; Wigglytuff sometimes missed out on OHKOs against Haunter and Parasect moving second was quite annoying.

snorlax stats.png

I wanted to catch a good Snorlax since the rest of my party also had good DVs, but I didn't expect to get a perfect attack Snorlax for the second time in a row. At level 34, when Snorlax learned Body Slam, it was pretty much set for the rest of the game with Body Slam, Amnesia, Ice Beam, and Rest.

The huge amount of trainers each of my Pokémon has fought has made the mid-game very easy. I'm remembering now why I used to say that being good at early- and late-game was so much more important than mid-game.

I forgot to take notes for Koga but I did make a few screenshots:

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Just to demonstrate that my whole team is at almost the exact same power level, and all able to sweep with some luck (Muk's Minimize and Weezing's Selfdestruct could be annoying). Parasect's Dig was nice but it is OHKOd by Sludge, womp womp.

Also, I forgot to write down where I could have afforded a second Hyper Beam had I saved the money for it, but it was around here.

Rival 6: Again, pretty easy to sweep. Parasect was the only one who failed to fully sweet, with Pidgeot's Wing Attack and Gyarados's bulk being just a little too much (it probably could sweep with just, like, 1 Super Potion).

Sabrina:
Pokemon Blue_08.png

Again, everyone has roughly the same attacking parameters and could sweep with some luck (depending a lot on how often Sabrina chooses Reflect or Psychic). Fearow was best because of its speed.

Rival 7:
Pokemon Blue_09.png

More of the same story; Parasect still doesn't like Wing Attack.

I think a third Hyper Beam is affordable here in the endgame, if you haven't been buying too much else.

Pokemon Blue_03.png
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Here's the team! Notice again the equal number of exp. points (actually, Snorlax should've been behind an extra level or two since it joined the team at a time when the other party members were in their mid- to late-30s and was about 10,000 exp. back from them at point of capture)

Pokemon Blue_15.png
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And another demonstration that their power levels are almost identical (this is after two uses each of their most powerful move).

Lorelei: the Ice attacks were too much for Fearow and Parasect; Fearow in particular suffers here. Parasect can set up Swords Dance on Slowbro and sweep the rest of the team, including outspeeding Jynx, probably due to the badge boost glitch. Wigglytuff and Snorlax were able to sweep.

Agatha: she's one of those opponents that almost nobody has a wonderful matchup against. All my Pokémon could sweep with luck, or get haxed by Confuse Ray/etc. and lose to like Golbat. I didn't teach Snorlax Earthquake this run; maybe it does better with it, I dunno.

Lance: all except Fearow had a small chance of sweeping, depending a lot on what move Lance picked and how often he missed or critted. I think Snorlax is the best here but it's hard to tell.

Rival: Fearow is again the only poke who doesn't really have a shot at sweeping; just a little too frail and a little too walled by Rhydon. The others can sweep with luck. Parasect still doesn't like Wing Attack but can sometimes catch Pidgeot trying to Mirror Move or Sky Attack on turn 1 and sleep it; if Parasect reaches Venusaur it is auto-win because of the 4x resistance to Grass, lol.


Overall assessment... see this is where I get indecisive, because, as I said before, I still don't know how I feel about tiering across different availabilities and also I'm an oldie who doesn't quite know my way around these lettered tiers. That said:

- Spearow is better than I remembered very early on
- Paras has a "Magikarp" period but is basically fine thereafter
- TM neediness has to knock Paras and at least slightly knock Jigglypuff... I'd be interested in seeing how Digless Paras feels
- mid-game is free
- low speed is not so bad when you're overleveled
- all four Pokémon performed very similarly in the mid-game and early late-game
- Fearow wasn't very good at the Elite Four

Jigglypuff: A-tier. It still feels a bit weird next to Kadabra and Diglett who are so much more dominant in mid-game. But mid-game is free, and Jigglypuff is present and excellent at a more critical, difficult time in the game. Also it just can't be two tiers below Clefairy.
Spearow: B-tier. Its frailty lets it down at the very end (its defenses are quite a bit worse even than Parasect's, let alone the tanky Jigglypuff and Snorlax), and Flying is not a good typing against the Elite Four. That said, it joins very early, puts in work at a couple key bottlenecks, and can contribute at least a little to every fight.
Snorlax: C-tier (maybe B?). I'm still not fully decided here; it does just join late without being really stunning against the Elite Four, though. A B-tier Pokémon should be at least a little distinguished during its part of the game, but if we compare Lax to other latish-game mons (like Staryu, Tentacool, Jynx, Jolteon, Dewgong), does it really stand out? Also, based on this run, it wasn't a full rank above Paras.
Paras: C-tier. It wasn't bad with Dig! Needing Dig loses it major points but it works when it has Dig and it has some surprise bonuses, too (good against Misty, against Grass-types). It has to be at least a tier below Spearow, but it is clearly better than the mons with dubious join levels, barren movepools, or terrible stats that should populate the bottom two tiers (Aerodactyl, Zubat, Lapras, Yellow Farfetch'd, etc.)
 
- Paras has a "Magikarp" period but is basically fine thereafter

Paras: C-tier. It wasn't bad with Dig! Needing Dig loses it major points but it works when it has Dig and it has some surprise bonuses, too (good against Misty, against Grass-types). It has to be at least a tier below Spearow, but it is clearly better than the mons with dubious join levels, barren movepools, or terrible stats that should populate the bottom two tiers (Aerodactyl, Zubat, Lapras, Yellow Farfetch'd, etc.)
I want to add that Paras starts with 70 Atk, which is quite high for a non-evolved Pokémon, and is in fact higher than any starter in second stage, for example, and Paras has access to Body Slam, which means that it should be inflicting a similar amount of damage. Even with Scratch it has been inflicting a decent amount of damage for the early-game. Paras can also get by faster enemies with the help of the early Stun Spore (it only needs one level). The impression that I have got with Paras, at least until the Pokémon Tower, is that when it gets Stun Spore is when it gets going, and it's at this point after the Rock Tunnel in the mid-game that its low speed is starting to weigh on me. It also makes me wonder if Spore is truly the best status move for Parasect and not Stun Spore, since I have felt a higher difficulty in using it when I replaced paralysis with sleep.
 
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Hopefully I can add some weight to Longfellow's Snorlax argument when I get round to using him.

Team: Charmeleon Lv30/Mankey Lv21/Farfetch'd Lv22

Charmeleon has a rather easy time here. Even if mine wasn't at level 30, I doubt the fight would've been much harder considering how low his levels are for that point in the game. Wartortle may be a bit more troublesome if you don't have Dig. Otherwise, its Water attacks aren't even that strong at this point in the game.

As Mankey's Karate Chop will almost always score a critical hit, a lot of the opponents will go down in 2-3 hits. The main obstacle preventing it from sweeping the whole fight is Kadabra, who will have a guaranteed KO if it actually decides to use Confusion.

Farfetch'd, like Charmeleon, has an easy time here. The boosted experience from the S.S Anne opponents should allow it to out level everything to a point where everything in Blue's team is a comfortable 2-3HKO.


Team: Charmeleon Lv30/Mankey Lv23/Farfetch'd Lv22

If Charmeleon has Dig for this fight, then it will have little trouble against his team. Everything will be a OHKO. If it doesn't, then Raichu might be bothersome for it if it decides to use Thunderbolt.

Mankey can deal with Voltorb and Pikachu just fine thanks to Karate Chop's critical hit chance. Though it doesn't stand a chance against Raichu if you didn't teach it Dig.

For a Flying-type, Farfetch'd is actually pretty serviceable against Surge. Voltorb doesn't know any Electric moves and Pikachu's are either too weak or he just straight up won't use them. Both Pokemon are easy 1-2HKOs. Obviously though, it has no chance against Raichu.


Thoughts so far:

Charmeleon
As I have been focusing on the newcomers to the team, it hasn't received as much attention right now. Needless to say though, now that Brock and Misty are out of the picture, it is an extremely dependable Pokemon for boss fights or tougher matchups that weaker team members can't manage against. For someone who has just finished an Emerald run where the Treecko line consistently let me down in that department, this is quite refreshing. It's definitely looking like an A as of this point in the game.

Mankey
To start things off, it is definitely worse here than it is in Yellow as it arrives a little later and it doesn't come with Low Kick. Once you get these negatives out of the way, it is a decent Pokemon in its own right. Thanks to the way how critical hits work in this game, Karate Chop will almost always net you one. This will allow it to 1-2HKO most trainers that are around its level. Sadly though, it doesn't quite have the same luck against bosses, with their signature Pokemon being far too strong and bulky for it to deal with right now. If things pick up for it as the game goes along, I may end up vouching for a B placement for it. As of right now, I'd argue it's somewhere in between B and C.

Farfetch'd
B seems about accurate right now. It lacks strong moves right now unless the player teaches it the highly competitive Body Slam, but the boosted experience allows it to get ahead of most matchups fairly quickly. This will eventually allow it to get consistent 2-3HKOs on a majority of the opponents right now. Its stats are at a similar calibre to everything else right now, but I have a feeling that this will decline later on. Hopefully, STAB Slash with RBY's crit mechanics will allow it to prosper.
 
I couldn't fall asleep last night so I went ahead and did another run to answer one of my favorite questions: who is the best late-game H2O-based Pokémon? Our contestants:

Articuno, with its huge stats and amazing join level: Ice Beam, Blizzard, Fly, Hyper Beam
Jynx, with its outsider bonus, sleep, and dual STABs: Psychic, Blizzard, Lovely Kiss, Body Slam
Seel, with its outsider bonus and ease of play: Surf, Ice Beam, Rest, Body Slam
Staryu, with its highly coveted Electric coverage: Surf, Thunderbolt, Ice Beam/Blizzard, Recover
Tentacool, with its great Special and setup potential: Surf, Ice Beam/Blizzard, Swords Dance, Hyper Beam

Sabrina: Jynx = Tentacruel > Dewgong > Starmie. I didn't bother to test Articuno, who I assume would be easily the best. Sabrina goes down mostly to spamming your strongest moves; she didn't punish Tentacruel's typing as much as I expected, whereas Dewgong's lower speed did get it confused/etc. against the Venomoth, which was annoying.

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Pre-E4 levels.

These Pokémon can mostly sweep the Elite Four, but some members slow down some Pokémon more than others.

Lorelei: Tentacruel > Starmie >= Jynx > Articuno > Dewgong. I expected Starmie to come out clearly ahead here but its lack of power (at least relative to the other hard hitters) does show here; its super-effective Thunderbolts were doing about the same damage as Jynx's neutral Psychics:

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(This isn't the first time Starmie will barely fail to KO; it had a pretty good Special IV and some Calciums, but just a little more would've meant a lot; I tried to bear that in mind in my assessments)

It was still better than Dewgong and Articuno, who had to resort to either NVE Surfs or weak physical coverage. Articuno resorting to Fly is kind of pathetic. Tentacruel, on the other hand, happily sets up on Dewgong and sweeps with Hyper Beam.

Agatha: Jynx > Articuno > Starmie >= Tentacruel/Dewgong. Jynx comes about as close as I've seen anything come to sweeping Agatha; I'm pretty sure it can OHKO the Gengars on high Psychic rolls, though in practice it usually came up just short. I find it hard to compare Pokémon against Agatha usually since it depends more on luck than on your Pokémon's strength.

Lance: Articuno > the others about equal. Gyarados and Aerodactyl are the troublemakers usually; they can decide to Hyper Beam (and crit!) and ruin your day. Usually they don't, and usually most of the team can sweep, though I had the least trouble with Articuno. Starmie had the best answer to Gyarados with its 4x Thunderbolt, but also sometimes barely failed to OHKO Gyarados and Dragonite.

Champion: Articuno = Jynx > Tentacruel > Dewgong > Starmie. Starmie doesn't quite have the Special power to break through Alakazam's Recovers, nor the power to beat Venusaur before Venusaur Razor Leafs it for the OHKO. Tentacruel is also afraid of Alakazam but has a free setup against either Pidgeot or Rhydon for its Swords Dances. Articuno again does it simplest; just spamming Ice Beam or Blizzard should work.
Articuno > Jynx > Tentacool > Staryu > Seel. But it was pretty hard to decide, and there are some factors that could swing it in other ways; Tentacool and Staryu both rely on some at least somewhat competitive TMs (and in Tentacool's case, an expensive and tedious one) to realize their full potential, Jynx starts a bit underleveled and also is limited without Psychic, and Articuno requires you to, well, catch Articuno. Staryu might be better if it gets Psychic, also.

As for tiering, I can see something like Articuno A and the rest B being reasonable (maybe Jynx in A too?). But I could also see the whole group moving a tier up, too. To me it kinda makes sense that these sort of best-of-their-kind Pokémon should be ranked A, even if they have poor availability, but I'm not confident they're *that* many tiers above where I put Snorlax. Maybe I was too hard on Snorlax.

I wanna run some badmons next to calibrate myself to what I think each tier should mean.
 
Not sure if this has been mentioned already or not, but a big reason for me why Nidoking is S is that it gets Thrash at Level 23. Whilst it locks you in, it's a strong move that helps with route cleaning. Nidoqueen gets Body Slam, isn't as fast and doesn't hit as hard. She's S, too, but I wouldn't complain at A.

It's been a while since I've played RBY but I'd definitely say Clefable is S tier too. Levels quickly, uncommon weakness and makes use of a lot of TMs.

Dugtrio (wild) for me is A tier. Isn't horribly uncommon and comes not only at a fantastic level but also just before a gym it murders. Doesn't do well against Erika, but that's the only gym it struggles with and doesn't rely on TMs. Fast, always crits with Slash and gets Dig and Earthquake naturally freeing them up for other team members.

Abra (no trade) is A, Abra (trade) is S in my humble opinion. Yeah, it's an absolute chore to evolve but then it hits like an absolute truck both as Kadabra and Alakazam.
 
Getting Horn Attack instead of Scratch is really nice for NidoranM as well. Thrash hits marginally harder than Body Slam and probably better for route clearing (in both PP and in just mindless effortlessness) but I'd rather have the 30% para for stuff like boss battles.

There's an argument to be made, especially if you don't want to privilege early mons too much, that any Pokémon that is the best in the game for some stretch of the game should be S tier. And Dugtrio and Kadabra (let alone Alakazam) definitely are. And then you'd have a fatter S tier with Nidos, Clefairy, Abra, Dugtrio, Articuno, Zapdos, and a few other plausible candidates (Squirtle, Mr. Mime, Jynx, umm.... Jigglypuff!?!?!?).

And then there's the argument that S tier should be early-game biased (or that Abra and Dugtrio dominate the least challenging part of the game and that doesn't count for as much), in which case Kadabra and especially Dugtrio taper off too much by the end of the game to be S tier. And then the question for Alakazam, in my eyes, is whether that extra 15 base Special is enough to make it an elite Pokémon for the Elite Four. Because it would be really hard to argue that a Pokémon that claims to be the best in the game from level 16 to the end of the game shouldn't be S tier, but maybe Alakazam will fail to distinguish itself against the Elite Four compared to, for instance, some of the Pokémon I talked about in my last post.
 
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Ryota Mitarai

Shrektimus Prime
is a Smogon Media Contributor
Just to put my two cents, S-tier Pokemon are consistent throughout the game, at least per my books. Being game breaker for the early-game, but being notoriously struggling against the Elite Four doesn't say "S" to me. Take for example Clefairy. As soon as you obtain it, you can teach it Mega Punch and possibly Water Gun, evolve it, and then you pretty much do well with it throughout the game. Other than Misty's Starmie, Clefable always manages to dent the opponent's team. As soon as you teach it Body Slam, it pretty much starts showing how good it is; sweeps Lt. Surge, sweeps Erika with Psychic/Ice Beam, Koga with Psychic, Sabrina with Body Slam (her team is so physically frail), Blaine is a great matchup too (I need to check my logs), and Giovanni is an easy matchup. Even the E4 is not bad, it did well against Lorelei in my experience, crushed Bruno and Agatha with Psychic and even did well against Lance with Ice Beam and dented Blue majorly in all rival fights. As you can see, Clefairy retains its strong performance throughout the game, wheres things like Diglett have issues at the E4 (due to Lorelei and Lance, also has a bad early matchup in Erika), not to mention Diglett is 3HKOed by all priority moves I've faced (and thus 2HKOed if they are crits), which is why I think Diglett at A is fine, it's not consistent enough to be S-tier.

As for Alakazam, I was always under the impression it's the single best Pokemon in the game, especially when it gets Psychic naturally thus it doesn't eat up your TM (although it does learn it at level 38, but I honestly think you are gonna be fine with Psybeam until then). I could do a test in the future, but I have to finish this run and I also test for two other lists, so that would take me a while
 
From my many experiences with Alakazam, literally the only drawback is the Abra phase, which is quickly over with after a few fights in Routes 24 and 25. I can't speak for Kadabra, but Alakazam is definitely S from memory. It along with Dugtrio are among the least most depend on TMs out of the most viable Pokemon and it consistently hits like a truck.
 
I would go as far as to say Clefairy is very good against Misty's Starmie too (where it and Wigglytuff are easily the best non-resisting choices, able to survive three Bubblebeams and 3HKO in return with Mega Punch or Seismic Toss and also ease the battle with TWave or Sing), but yeah, I'm probably being too hard on the Abra line here. I've usually run Kadabra and remember being a little underwhelmed by its Elite Four performance, but that was probably relative to its vaunted reputation. It's certainly not bad there; Alakazam could only be better.

Two other points in Abra's favor that I feel don't usually get said are (1) Teleport utility is great and (2) with Seismic Toss and Thunder Wave, Abra is able to contribute even before evolution, most notably in the Misty fight where it can probably beat Staryu and, if it gets lucky, para and chip Starmie enough to make it easy for the rest of your team. You do still have to curate its route fights and it might just be easier to switch train as normal, but it is an option and goes to show that the pre-level 16 part of Abra is really not that bad.
 
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There's an argument to be made, especially if you don't want to privilege early mons too much, that any Pokémon that is the best in the game for some stretch of the game should be S tier. And Dugtrio and Kadabra (let alone Alakazam) definitely are. And then you'd have a fatter S tier with Nidos, Clefairy, Abra, Dugtrio, Articuno, Zapdos, and a few other plausible candidates (Squirtle, Mr. Mime, Jynx, umm.... Jigglypuff!?!?!?).

And then there's the argument that S tier should be early-game biased (or that Abra and Dugtrio dominate the least challenging part of the game and that doesn't count for as much), in which case Kadabra and especially Dugtrio taper off too much by the end of the game to be S tier. And then the question for Alakazam, in my eyes, is whether that extra 15 base Special is enough to make it an elite Pokémon for the Elite Four. Because it would be really hard to argue that a Pokémon that claims to be the best in the game from level 16 to the end of the game shouldn't be S tier, but maybe Alakazam will fail to distinguish itself against the Elite Four compared to, for instance, some of the Pokémon I talked about in my last post.
I am going to address both of these points.

As for the first paragraph, in particular being good for "some stretch of the game": that's just...not an S to me. Similar to what Ryota said above, it should be extremely dominant throughout the entire game, with maybe one outright bad matchup, to be an S-tier, at least in my opinion.

As for a consistent S tier with a minor issue, I will bring up Darumaka from when we tiered Pokemon Black and White. Several derided Darumaka due to Hustle (actually a minor inconvenience at best with Eviolite), and for having one, debatably two outright bad matchups (Clay and to an extent Marshal). However, Darumaka's 90 Attack meant it OHKOed everything with Fire Punch as long as it hit, and upon evolving you get one of the most ludicrously efficient mons in the game, one even able to bypass stuff like the 8th Gym and Ghetsis with Belly Drum (and X Speed in the case of the latter). Regardless of Hustle, it was still good throughout the entire game.

Relatedly, like Ryota said, a mon struggling against the Elite Four can really hurt an potential S tier. Again in Black and White, several said Archen was S because it gets Acrobatics 3 levels after it is revived and really only struggles with Elesa and to an extent Clay. Truth was, when we tested it, we found Archeops struggled at the Elite 4 despite the insane offensive stats because Acrobatics simply does not OHKO everything anymore, which would often knock the prehistoric mon into Defeatist range. These two periods of slight mediocrity contributed to its A ranking (though most people who viewed the final list were in support of S).

What do I mean by this, and how does it relate to RBY? Well, S should be reserved for the cream of the crop. In BW1, this was only three Pokemon: Darumaka, Drilbur, and Scraggy. In RBY this might be a larger pool, but even in the original lists there were only eight Pokemon in top: Abra, Articuno, Clefairy, Diglett, Nidoran F, Nidoran M, Squirtle (RB) and Zapdos. While this might be warranted, I honestly think the list could be cut down a bit to four or five here in our list.

As for S-tier being early-game based...then why are Zapdos and Articuno there? Yes, level 50, but you have to go out of your way to catch them and they come post-Surf. A similarly late mon in Jynx makes up for this because traded EXP and the fact Psychic is virtually uncontested aside from maybe Gengar and Clefable. Even then, you can still Lovely Kiss and Ice Punch your way to victory because Ice is virtually unresisted outside Blaine and Lorelei.

I personally think a TM-less list and a non-TM-less list would go a long way in helping hash out which mons are self-sufficient the most, being friendly to both casual and advanced players. Your opinions are perfectly valid Longfellow. I just think we need to slow down on potentially putting everything in S so fast. Because when everyone's super...no one will be. Mons in A are still extremely good. I just think there needs to be a visible distinction between "extremely good" and "best in the game and borderline required for completing the game."
 

earl

Formerly leonard (from big bang theory)
is a Pre-Contributor
Mafia Champion
I am going to address both of these points.

As for the first paragraph, in particular being good for "some stretch of the game": that's just...not an S to me. Similar to what Ryota said above, it should be extremely dominant throughout the entire game, with maybe one outright bad matchup, to be an S-tier, at least in my opinion.

As for a consistent S tier with a minor issue, I will bring up Darumaka from when we tiered Pokemon Black and White. Several derided Darumaka due to Hustle (actually a minor inconvenience at best with Eviolite), and for having one, debatably two outright bad matchups (Clay and to an extent Marshal). However, Darumaka's 90 Attack meant it OHKOed everything with Fire Punch as long as it hit, and upon evolving you get one of the most ludicrously efficient mons in the game, one even able to bypass stuff like the 8th Gym and Ghetsis with Belly Drum (and X Speed in the case of the latter). Regardless of Hustle, it was still good throughout the entire game.

Relatedly, like Ryota said, a mon struggling against the Elite Four can really hurt an potential S tier. Again in Black and White, several said Archen was S because it gets Acrobatics 3 levels after it is revived and really only struggles with Elesa and to an extent Clay. Truth was, when we tested it, we found Archeops struggled at the Elite 4 despite the insane offensive stats because Acrobatics simply does not OHKO everything anymore, which would often knock the prehistoric mon into Defeatist range. These two periods of slight mediocrity contributed to its A ranking (though most people who viewed the final list were in support of S).

What do I mean by this, and how does it relate to RBY? Well, S should be reserved for the cream of the crop. In BW1, this was only three Pokemon: Darumaka, Drilbur, and Scraggy. In RBY this might be a larger pool, but even in the original lists there were only eight Pokemon in top: Abra, Articuno, Clefairy, Diglett, Nidoran F, Nidoran M, Squirtle (RB) and Zapdos. While this might be warranted, I honestly think the list could be cut down a bit to four or five here in our list.

As for S-tier being early-game based...then why are Zapdos and Articuno there? Yes, level 50, but you have to go out of your way to catch them and they come post-Surf. A similarly late mon in Jynx makes up for this because traded EXP and the fact Psychic is virtually uncontested aside from maybe Gengar and Clefable. Even then, you can still Lovely Kiss and Ice Punch your way to victory because Ice is virtually unresisted outside Blaine and Lorelei.

I personally think a TM-less list and a non-TM-less list would go a long way in helping hash out which mons are self-sufficient the most, being friendly to both casual and advanced players. Your opinions are perfectly valid Longfellow. I just think we need to slow down on potentially putting everything in S so fast. Because when everyone's super...no one will be. Mons in A are still extremely good. I just think there needs to be a visible distinction between "extremely good" and "best in the game and borderline required for completing the game."
Fire doesn’t resist ice in gen 1, so only Lorelei
 
It must be noted that is isn't very difficult to perform well in Red, Blue and Yellow because unlike newer entries, enemies lack passable movesets.
I wouldn't put Clefairy or the Nidos in S for example because they need a lot of TMs to function optimally, and they can do well without Thunderbolt/Blizzard, but you have to consider that a big part of their effectiveness comes from being able to hit enemies super effectively consistently with the help of their coverage, which circumvents their average Special. The only TMs that Clefable has guaranteed use are Strength, Mega Kick and Submission (and the Nidos have Surf).

If I was honest, I'd probably only put Abra in S, because it has everything: strong base stats really early (you can have Alakazam before you face Misty), stats that match the needs of an efficient playthrough, zero dependence on TMs.

A similarly late mon in Jynx makes up for this because traded EXP and the fact Psychic is virtually uncontested aside from maybe Gengar and Clefable. Even then, you can still Lovely Kiss and Ice Punch your way to victory because Ice is virtually unresisted outside Blaine and Lorelei.
Psychic is contested by Mr. Mime and Exeggutor, too, which they need to perform adequately. Also Butterfree and Venomoth really need it, and Electabuzz and Magmar benefit strongly from it since it's part of their niches, although all of them are in lower tiers.
 
Re: DrumstickGaming , points all taken, and I want to make it clear that to a large extent I was thinking out loud with that post, and thank you for your patience as I figure these things out.

I can get behind "extremely dominant throughout the entire game" as a benchmark, but then I return to my very first post in the thread, which is that I don't think any Pokémon (with the possible exception of Clefairy, and probably only then if it gets Thunderbolt and/or Ice Beam/Blizzard) can claim something close to this. "Dominates" is a big word. You take Abra, for instance, a great mon—dominates every route, yes. Dominates Erika and Koga, yes. Dominates Silph Rival, Sabrina, Lorelei, Lance, and Champion? Not really. It's fine against them, but not dominating, probably not even as Alakazam. And those are the key boss fights in the game. (The Nidorans struggle even more against those same bosses)

If you're fine with a Clefairy/Jynx S-tier, I am too, though that might not be what you had in mind for an S-tier (I would invite you to reconsider the birds though—at worst it's one Silph Co. and one Koga later, and then you take five minutes to grab them with the Master Ball, and you have a level 50 legendary bird with opponents like Sabrina still left to fight).
 

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