Gary Oak’s Pokemon Training Tips: How to Be the Very Best Like No One Ever Was

Gary Oak here, a.k.a The Boss Man, a.k.a. The Best Pokemon Trainer on the Planet.

So you want to be the very best like no one ever was? Well, listen up because rather than that “you teaching me and me teaching you” stuff, you are just going to have to keep quiet and listen if you want to hear what makes every Pokemon Champion so awesome and how they got there. Because it’s all ultimately very simple. Here are the rules to follow.

And don’t worry about what region you’re in (what game you’re playing); these tips are universally applicable to make you masterfully good, rather than more dreadful than a Haunter in heat.

There are 8 badges in the region. I got 10 of them.

Basic Tips

Ash Ketchum is an idiot. Never take the mockumentary of his life (the Pokemon anime) seriously if you want to survive.

You might know it as the “Pokemon Anime”. I like to think of it as the sad diaries of an idiot who never grows up. Ash Ketchum is easily the worst Pokemon trainer of all time. Not only does he just let some of his best Pokemon just LEAVE (i.e., Butterfree and Charizard) but he’s been known to do things like send out Pikachu against an Onyx or an Oshawatt against a Blitzle. I don’t give a crap if Ash’s Oshawatt used its Scalchop to deflect the Electric attacks. It’s still a dumb move. And for those of you who might claim that Butterfree is hardly any good, then it shows how little you know. Have you ever had a level 10 Butterfree when your whole team is that level? It can plow through anything with Confusion, and it learns it RIGHT AWAY. Even though it quickly becomes obsolete, Butterfree is more than worth suffering through the Metapod levels.

If you watch the sad story of Ash Ketchum, please consider it an enduring account of what NOT to do as a Pokemon trainer. How he has gotten this far is beyond me. The only lesson you can learn from that program is how to suck Miltanks.

Like seriously, Ashy-hole. Evolve that damn Pikachu. Pokemon are not capable of having identity crises. Why does my grandpa like that fool so much? Especially when I’m so much awesomer…

Memorize a type chart.

Above and beyond the most basic and important thing to do when trying to become the very best is to memorize type charts. You need to know the ins and outs here because types are everything in Pokemon. At every single moment you want to be in a position of power where you have the effective type. Some type relationships are weird or surprising or even really drastic. You would think that Ice freezes water and does extra damage, right? Wrong. Water melts Ice. Dragons are strong against each other. Electric does NOTHING against Ground.

Luckily, most of the relationships are common sense: Grass absorbs Water, Fire burns Grass, Water douses Fire, etc. etc.

NOTE: Pokemon that use moves of their natural type get a damage boost. For example, it doesn’t necessarily matter if a Nidoking has killer Attack, a Charizard using Fire Punch will probably do more damage with the move just because he’s a Fire Pokemon using a Fire move. Get it? Good.

Still not sure WTF a Fairy Pokemon is…

Your starter is the cornerstone for your team. Choose it wisely.

Starting Pokemon are always worth keeping around. They have two evolutions and by the time they reach level 40 will have fully evolved into a beast to be reckoned with: great stats and move sets. Don’t let it lag behind the rest of your team in levels and don’t be daft enough to let your starter get more than 5 levels ahead of the rest of your team. Being a strong trainer is about striking a balance and making the best use of your ‘mons.

That being said, if you know that you want to be a genius and get a Gyarados, then do not pick a Water starter. If you know that your region has some great options for Fire or Grass, then avoid those as your starter. Avoid getting a Pokemon at all that is redundant with your starter. It’s a waste of time and space. All of the other Pokemon that you get along the way should slowly but surely fill in the weaknesses of and around that starter. He/she is your best friend, so act like it.

Watch out for subtypes.

Plenty of Pokemon, especially nowadays, have two types. In all cases this means a broader scope of moves that get the aforementioned damage bonus, but it also means more type weaknesses. A Water/Flying Gyarados is badass and learns some great moves, but it is 4x weak to Electric attacks. Recently, while battling a Flying-focused gym leader, she positively leveled my team with a stupid duck Pokemon that was Water-Flying. Why? Because my team included a Fire type, Ground-Steel type, my starter was straight Water, and my best Electric was half-Bug, which is weak to just about everything…ESPECIALLY Flying. Don’t let this happen to you.

“Know thy enemy.” – Hitmonchan

Author of “The Art of War”

Say you pony up to the Ice gym with your effing Bulbasaur starter, a Pidgey or some crap, your Diglett, and three other nerf herders. You. Will. Get. Creamed. Especially if some of those Ice-mons have subtypes that are also itching to pulverize your team (see #3).

Now if you’re like me, you’ll hit up that same gym toting all Fire, Fighting, Steel, and Rock Pokemon. And you’ll crush it like I did. But if you keep those Flying, Ground, or Grass Pokemon hanging around (I’m assuming you newbs don’t have any Dragons, who are also susceptible to Ice) then they will get demolished. If you know what you are fighting then why not play to your strengths? Beating an Ice gym can be as easy as wielding your Fire starter like a hot hammer of doom OR by having 4 or more different Pokemon each of the type that does well against Ice.

It’s never this easy. Which is why you need to work diligently with a type chart to develop a balanced team that covers the full spectrum defensively AND especially offensively. Which is when we get into the intermediate tips…

Intermediate Tips

Memorize a type chart.

This is the most important lesson at all levels, which is why you’re getting it again. If you take anything away from this article, it should be this. Memorize ALL of the types and how they interact. When you read, “Trainer is about to send in Joltik!” you shouldn’t hesitate. You should know to send in either your wickedly fast Flying type to go after the Bug, or a sturdy Rock/Ground type to go against the Electric.

Pay attention to the root words in Pokemon names.

“Char”mander. Burnt. Fire. “Squirt”le. Water. Most of the times it is obvious and they even convey subtypes. Joltik? Jolt + Tick = Electric + Bug. This isn’t always true but a majority of the Pokemon out there have these cues in their names. When you’re fighting another Trainer, it is essential to figure out what you’re up against before it even comes out so that you can send out the perfect Pokemon to take it out as soon as possible. And they’ll always tell you: “Trainer is about to send out Charmander”. You should say, “Perfect! I know that one.” and send out your badass Gyarados to Hydro Pump the crap out of it.

What do snakes do? They Poison you. Poison. Get it?

Learn all of the physical cues that might tell you what your opponent Pokemon’s type(s) are.

If you have no idea what the Pokemon is based on the name, then let it come out, or perhaps switch over to a tank Pokemon with high Defense, Special Defense, and/or HP. Take a look at the new beast facing you. Fish? Water. Switch to Electric or Grass. Yellow and spikey? Electric. Toss out your Rock or Ground. Are there flames ANYWHERE on its body?! FIRE. Water Gun it into oblivion. Or just have your Gyarados use a majestic Splash.

It’s not always easy, especially with sub-types, but make assumptions. You know what animals look like. You went to school. You’ve been to the zoo. You got this.

Make assumptions about the stats of your opponent Pokemon.

Not only do you have to contend with Pokemon types, but you really should pay attention to what the stats of your Pokemon and those of your opponents. Take note of some common correlations: Rock and Ground Pokemon almost always have all of their stats stacked into Attack, Defense, and potentially HP. They also tend to have low Speed. Take note of these and use them to your advantage. Water Special Attacks in those cases might work better than a regular Grass Attack even if both types are strong against Rock. It’s all in the subtleties folks.

Research what and where are the best Pokemon in your region for each type.

You can get by with a team of mediocre stats as long as you level them up at a good pace. Catch and train whatever Pokemon you like, but when it comes down to it, you need more than a balancing of types to be a champion. You need the best Pokemon around. You can waste time trying lots of different things out OR you can check out on the Interwebs what the best Pokemon are in your region.

Above and beyond the best resource I have found is at Smogon.com, who have developed In-Game tears for every region to tell you what your best options are: Smogon.com Resources

For the Hardcore

Have more than six Pokemon.

Your in-pocket team is limited to six Pokemon, but you have a crap ton of space in your boxes. Have a rotating set of absolutely no more than 10 Pokemon for much of the game. You’ll have to do this to cover all of the types for awhile with some mediocre Pokemon, but by the time you make it to the 6th or 7th gym, you’ll be able to collect a solid 6 Pokemon that you can keep for the rest of the game.

Might as well use more than 6. Aren’t there like 5,649 of them now?

Level up your team evenly.

Don’t let your starter get away from you. Keep all of your Pokemon as close in level as possible. Even if you think one of your overleveled Pokemon can sweep a gym, what happens when the Gym leader takes them out with his one ridiculously powerful ‘mon? He’ll plow through the rest of your team like a drunk college student eating a pizza.

Pay attention to the nature of your Pokemon.

Back in my time, training was a lot simpler. This is one of the relatively newfangled over complications in the system, but it means everything in some cases. To a high-end competitor, a good nature means everything. Because a nature will add 10% to one base stat and subtract 10% to another. This can help round out a Pokemon with polarized stats or accentuate the strengths of a ‘mon and sacrifice unnecessary stats, which is usually either Attack or Special Attack. Nothing else is really worth deliberately sacrificing unless you can help it.

What does this mean, in more practical terms? This means when you are out there catching that Caterpie, run like hell if its nature is Adamant or Impish, because that means you’ll take a hit to that very necessary Special Attack. Catch a billion Caterpies if you need to until you get a Modest one. Because that boost to Special Attack will be a boost and sacrifice in Attack is worth it. This can be especially helpful in Pokemon like Allakhazam who have incredible Speed and Special Attack. Seriously, the original 151 are the best. Why are there even more than 151 of these things?

If you want to hear some professionals break it down Nature by Nature, check out IGN.com: Natures – Pokemon X Wiki Guide – IGN

Never make a move before googling the Pokemon to find out its type.

Unfair? Excessive? Stop your whining. If you want to be the best, you gotta think like the best. If you were a REAL Pokemon trainer, you’d be whipping out that Pokedex to get some basic info on every new Pokemon you encounter. This is actually the one thing that JackAsh Ketchum does right. Too bad he never takes advantage of the info he finds out.

When battling a Trainer, as soon as you know what is coming out next, if you can’t identify it from memory, then look it up. Don’t move forward until you know what Pokemon you are going to send out. This is the surefire precaution that will make you a winner.

Love your Pokemon. Love your team.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Being a Pokemon trainer can be utterly badass when done right. If you follow all of the tips, use tools like Marriland.com has, and develop a strong, balanced team, then it’ll be awesome. You’ll win and you’ll love your Pokemon for it. You’ll be proud not only of yourself, but of your Pokemon too. That’s what this world is all about. Pride. And winning.

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