Monday, November 29, 2010

Black/White Ingame Tier List: The Physical types

Since Black and White's release, Smogon has been running a thread to determine an ingame tier list for Black/White to correspond with similar lists they have created for other generations. I've chipped in a few times, but after what is now my 6th playthrough of Black and White, I think I've furrowed out the best Pokemon of each type in the game.

The main factors for a good ingame Pokemon:
1) How faster am I getting through the game by using them? Higher offensive stats, or more move type variety, or learning awesome moves, means you rank higher.
2) How soon can I start using them in their final form? Happiness evolutions, evolving at ridiculous levels or trade evolving hurts their placement (though not as much as it would with the GTS being available).
3) As a type, are they useful for clearing Gyms/Elite 4 members? If you have access to Fighting, Ghost, or Dragon moves, it certainly helps.

This is strictly for getting to the end credits for the first time, and only ranks Pokemon that you are guaranteed to encounter ingame. So Zoroa and event Pokemon (read: Victini) are flat out. The same goes with the version mascots (since they last a whole 2 battles at most), and of course DQs the two Pokemon that can only be encountered legally postgame at L70/75 (Kyruem and Landorus).

Since this is going to be a long post, I'm splitting it into two entries - this one will be the pre-4th gen physical types (Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Bug, Rock, Ghost and Steel). In the case of dual-types, their stronger STAB gets priority, with the determination on the "however I feel like it" methodology.. The ranking is a simple 3 tier system: High, Mid or Low, unlike the Smogon system.
Normal
Lillipup/Herdier/Stoutland
Rating: High
Evolution path: Basic, evolves at L16 and L32
First obtained: Route 1
You should probably grab 2 early on, in fact - one for Pickup, one for battling since Pickup ones get an inferior ability (Sand Fence v Intimidate for the basic forms with Vital Spirit) at evolution. Starts on the first route and has access to stronger Bite and then Crunch, Take Down works OK until you get Strength. Kinda dies out at the endgame when additional variety is needed, but he's still great up until the lategame.

Patrat/Watchog
Rating: Mid
Evolution path: Basic, evolves at L20
First obtained: Route 1
I don't know what it is about this thing - maybe it bears too much of a resemblance to the King of Derp - but for some reason, I just don't have as much confidence in this one than I do with Lillipup. Its movepool (Super Fang, Hypnosis, Mean Look) points to it being a support Pokemon, but there's better Pokemon for that anyway. Which is why it's Mid.

Audino
Rating: Low
First obtained: Route 2 (any shaking grass patch)
When you catch this thing at the US release, nickname it "Rare Candy" since that's this thing's purpose in life - to prevent grinding. When you do catch it, it learns a lot of healing and support moves but its attacking movepool (that can't be used by other Normals) is kinda nil.

Minccino/Cinccino
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, evolves by use of Shiny Stone (found on Route 6, after 5th gym)
First obtained: Route 16 (accessible before badge 4)
OK, so it turns out Sweep Slap is a jacked-up Doubleslap (25 power instead of 15, 10 PP). Good to know. However, it's basically a gimmick that doesn't work well because it can't combine Technician with Skill Link (its Dream World ability) for a super ability that would give it any reason to exist with Stoutland (who you should either have or be getting when it can be evolved).

Bouffalant
Rating: Low
First obtained: Route 10
It comes on Route 10 (when as has been established, Normal types are useless), its trademark move is Double-Edge with a new name, and its abilities are useless. Of course it's Low. If you come immediately prior to the Elite 4, you have to have something that makes you stand out...

Fighting
Sawk
Rating: High
First obtained: Forest area before 2nd badge
Base 125 Attack, enough Speed to be dangerous, Fighting is a major type in the endgame (sweeps the final boss, for one thing), and it can survive fluke OHKOs with Sturdy and KO coming back. It even has Double Kick for screwing over Sturdy. White players, I apologize for the 20 Repels you'll have to buy to get this thing when it comes up right before a Normal gym - but it is damn worth it.

Scraggy/Scrafty
Rating: High
Dual-type: Dark
Evolution: Basic, L39
First obtained: Route 4
Spoilers: It's the 3rd best Pokemon you can catch on Route 4, which is like winning $250k on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. You have to check for the good ability (Overconfidence) to enhance its killing ability, but Fighting/Dark is shockingly versatile and it has access to Brick Break at L20/Hi Jump Kick at L31.

Throh
Rating: Mid
First obtained: Forest before 2nd badge
I personally prefer Throh because it has access to a 80 power Fighting move that ignores stat changes and gets this at L25 (don't be fooled with the base 40, it always criticals). However, it is slower and the Attack stat is lower, and the 10 base in each defense doesn't make up for the loss in Speed.

Timburr/Gurdurr/Conkledurr
Rating: Mid
Evolution path: Basic, L25, trade
First obtained: Forest before 2nd badge
If it wasn't for being a trade evo, this would be top - but I can't guarantee that you have access to trading. That and any Special move worth a damn brings it down. Still, natural Rock Slide before you have the TM... don't sleep on this one.

Terrakion
Rating: Mid
Dual type: Rock
Evolution path: Basic (legendary)
First obtained: Victory Road
By all rights, this should be high - two of the best physical types in a Pokemon that has base 129 Attack, and it comes with a 90 power/20 PP Fighting move that the rest of the type would kill to have. The only issue is that it a) comes in near the end of Victory Road, and b) it's probably 7-8 levels behind the rest of your team.

Cobalion/Virizion
Rating: Mid
Dual type: Steel/Grass, respectively
Evolution path: Basic (legendary)
First obtained: Cobalion in cave on Route 5 after 6th badge and Surf, Virizion in forest before Sky Arrow Bridge, Cobalion must be caught first.
You can take either one of these - Cobalion doesn't have to split its attack effort to get good STAB (comes with Iron Head instead of Giga Drain) and Steel has a boatload of resistances, while Virizion's STAB isn't completely redundant with Fighting. Both come at the same level (42) and can be accessed once you get Surf, but they're still Mid because Sawk and Zurugga are that awesome.

Mienfoo/Mienshao
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L50
First obtained: 7th badge city
You'd think something that can match Sawk's attack stat AND recover 30% of its health every time it switches out would be higher than low. However, look at the options you have, then consider that Mienfoo first shows up in the 7th gym city and kinda sucks until it evolves. Yeah, I'll stick with Sawk too.

Poison
Trubbish/Garbodor
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L36
First obtained: Route 16 (before 4th badge)
Pure Poison, on the whole, is a horrid typing. This thing does not help the types reputation - it's more Swalot than Weezing, with tricks better suited for competitive play. The fact that the next gym when you catch it is Ground doesn't help matters.

Ground
Sandile/Krokorok/Krookodile
Other type: Dark
Rating: High
Evolution path: Basic, L29, L40
First obtained: Route 4 (before 3rd badge)
Gators gonna gait. You'll know out of the gate if you got a defensive one (Intimidate) or offensive one (Overconfidence), and both of these types are handy. Especially when it's potentially giving you 50% attack boosts on every KO. At the final form, base 117 Attack and 92 Speed? Yes plz. Oh, and it's on Route 4. Someone check the sand in that joint. (Catch at L15 for massive damage.)

Drilbur/Excadrill
Other type: Steel
Rating: High
Evolution path: Basic, L31
First obtained: Waterway Cave (after 1st badge)
The Ground type wins in this game, let me tell ya. If you don't go for the gator, you get the epic mole. It learns Rock Slide before it should, has Claw Sharpen for any accuracy problems, and his relatively low defenses are boosted by the fact that it resists everything and its mother-in-law.

Golett/Golurk
Other type: Ghost
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L43
First obtained: Dragon Tower (after 7th badge)
It's too bad this one comes in so late - on paper, Ghost/Ground is an awesome type combination (three immunities, two useful STABs). It takes quite a bit for me to throw out one of the above two though, and base 55 Speed and its strongest other STAB being a Shadow Punch that may or may not be Iron Fist-boosted...

Flying
Archen/Archeops
Other type: Rock
Rating: High
Evolution path: Basic, L37
First obtained: Fossil available after 3rd badge, can be revived immediately
Yes, it takes more than 50% from anything and it loses its attack stats if it loses more than 50%. However, even the basic form is in the top 20% of new Pokemon in terms of base Attack, and we know how useful Rock/Flying is from Aerodactyl. And unlike previous fossils, it's at or above your level when you get it - and it levels at the same rate as everything else.

Pidove/Tranquill/Unfezant
Other type: Normal
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L21, L32
First obtained: Route 3
Senator, I served with Staraptor, I knew Staraptor, Staraptor was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Staraptor.

OK, the basic early Normal/Flying has a lot to live up to. However, the Pidove line's movepool is all wrong for its role - even with Super Luck. It learns Return and Fly - so does everything else in this type.

Rufflet/Braviary
Other type: Normal
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L54
First obtained: Route 10, White only, before 8th badge
I wanted to rank this higher than Low, I really did. Base 123 Attack, Encouraged Crush Claw and Superpower... it's the closest to Staraptor. Unfortunately, the double whammy of "Route 10" and "evolving at L54" doom it. Best thing to do in this case is to wait until the postgame and grab a Braviary out of the double grass on Route 11.

Vullaby/Mandibuzz
Other type: Dark
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L54
First obtained: Route 10, Black only, before 8th badge.
OK, so we have a Flying type... with a Dark dual, that's interesting... stuck it lategame? Made it focus on its defensive stats to the point where its best attacking stat is a 65? Uh, yeah. White wins this round.

Tornadus
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic (legendary)
First obtained: Begins roaming after 8th badge, Black only
So you run all over hell's half-acre trying to shove this thing in your Master Ball, and you catch the first pure-Flying Pokemon in history - then you realize that specially-focused Flying type without having access to Air Slash is a losing proposition. At that point it runs with Fly, but the rest of the movepool is Special, and largely limited to Psychic and Shadow Ball, and you probably have Shinpora at a higher level with STAB Psychic... and you stick it in the box.

Bug
Sewaddle/Swadloon/Leavanny
Other type: Grass
Rating: Mid
Evolution path: Basic, L20, happiness evolution
First obtained: Forest after 2nd badge
You know what happens when you give Parasect a usable Speed stat? This guy. Bug is actually a potent type in Black and White (Flying gym notwithstanding) especially later on, but the killer is that it's a happiness evolution. Once you hit L20, it's a race against the clock to get it to evolve before it gets Slash, and if not Leaf Blade/X-Scissor - and for some reason it can Shadow Claw too. Just keep it away from the fire monkey.

Venipede/Whirlipede/Scolipede
Other type: Poison
Rating: Mid
Evolution path: Basic, L22, L30
First obtained: Forest after 2nd badge
This may be my favourite Bug/Poison in history - and not because I managed to catch it shiny twice while chasing monkeys. It has decent attacking stats then takes several levels in badass at L30 when it becomes Scolipede and suddenly has 90/112 Atk/Speed and can get Megahorn for a Heart Scale. However, you can only do so much with a Bug/Poison typing which is why it's a Mid-tier.

Dwebble/Crustle
Other type: Rock
Rating: Mid
Evolution path: Basic, L34
First obtained: Resort Desert (after 3rd badge)
For the second time in history we have a Bug/Rock Pokemon who can attack. My main concerns with this Pokemon are twofold: 1) If you need something with STAB Rock moves, you get the fossils within about 20 feet, 2) It's slow. Slower than a speeding Gran Turismo 5 install. Also, I'm pretty sure Shell Smash was something you drank in Chrono Trigger and ended up losing your Gate Key. The big problem for any Bug type is that X-Scissor is a TM, so it can be thrown on a lot of things that need some extra coverage and you can SE the things weak to Bug with other Pokemon that can survive 2 hits.

Karrablast/Escavalier
Other type: Steel (Escavalier only)
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, trade (with Shelmet)
First obtained: Route 6
The concept of Karrablast and Shelmet's evolution? Awesome. The execution? Eh... not so much. When it evolves, the speed falls through the floor (grabbing a helmet will do that) and it's going to start getting 2-shot by a lot of things (even with extra Steel) or at the very least drain your Hyper Potion supply. Hey, maybe it'll get Bullet Punch in Gray?
  
Shelmet/Accelgor
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, trade (with Karrablast)
First obtained: Sekka City (before 7th badge)
Another Pokemon hurt by when you can get it (7th gym and the necessary trade means you won't see it for a long time). Sure, 145 speed is amazing and 100 base SA will put a lot of dents in things, but pure Bug means it has pretty much no variety and a lot of things resist Bug as a type.

Durant
Other type: Steel
Rating: Low
First obtained: Victory Road
Another victim of bad placement. In this case, it's even worse because if you're not careful in Victory Road where you've caught it, you'll go outside while leveling this thing up and run into Heatmor (the Fire-typed anteater with 45% appearance rate). Game over for the steel ant at this point. Also, any Special attack can probably 2HKO even through the resistances with 58/48 HP/Special Defense.

Rock
Roggenrola/Boldore/Gigalith
Rating: Med
Evolution path: Basic, L25, trade
First obtained: Waterway Cave (after 1st badge)
Ironically, the thing that helps it defensively (no Ground type = it may survive stray Water/Grass moves) hurts it offensively (no Ground type = no STAB on Dig/Level Ground/Earthquake).And of course, it's a trade evolution, so there's no guarantee you'll get the final form. Still, it's still quite powerful (if slow) and Sturdy will save your bacon more than once.

Ghost
Yamask/Cofagrigus
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L34
First obtained: Ancient Cave (after 3rd badge)
OK, so it'll survive a lot with its defense - but in case you've forgotten, this list is admittedly biased towards things that can kill stuff quickly. And Yamask isn't going to do that very much - sure, base 95 at the end is pretty good, but its Special moves are Ghost, Ghost and Ghost (which means you can't touch Normals) and the two elements of its movepool that may help it aren't available until postgame. And base 30 speed. Still, you'll laugh when you Mummy the Overconfident Waruvile.

Steel
Klink/Klang/Klinklang
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L38, L49
First obtained: Thunderstone Cave
Fact: Its abilities are fundamentally useless ingame because the last mandatory Double Battle is before you can first encounter them. Fact: Its movepool is Steel and Electric, which as Magnezone will tell you, needs Hidden Power help badly. Fact: What it can learn is largely Special when it has base 105 Attack. Fact: You need to bring a Fighting type to the end credit fights because N shows this twice.

Pawniard/Bisharp
Rating: Low
Evolution path: Basic, L52
First obtained: Route 9
Oh, how I wanted to love this thing. It's a friggin' Power Ranger (or at least looks like one) and it's hard to believe it took them 4 generations to combine the 2nd gen's new types. It's just not fast enough and there's too much Fighting (its quad weakness) flying around after you catch it for it to be worth a slot on your team. That and L52 evolution makes it dead weight.

The Special types

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