This team performed very well in a Nuzlocke I just completed, and it makes a very strong team for a casual playthrough as well. Very little grinding is needed, there are no version exclusives, Mega Evolutions or legendaries, and the coverage is superb. There are some strategies used in a Nuzlocke that aren’t necessarily helpful in a casual run, like equipping specific berries. In these cases, the more generally helpful item will be noted instead.
Swampert @ Soft Sand
- Water Gun (starting move) > Surf (HM obtained after defeating Norman)
- Mud-Slap (Level 9) > Dig (TM28 - Route 114) > Earthquake (TM26 - Seafloor Cavern)
- Tackle (starting move) > Rock Slide (Level 28)
- Growl (starting move) > Mud Shot (Level 16) > Brick Break (TM31 - Sootopolis City)
Swampert does well in Hoenn because there are very few required battles against Grass Pokémon. Surf is preferred over Waterfall because of its higher base power, and Waterfall works better on Gyarados anyways. It’s better to replace Growl with Mud Shot instead of Mud-Slap in case you need the accuracy drops the latter provides, but Marshtomp should start reliably KOing things by the time it gets Dig to no longer need Mud-Slap. Earthquake is the best STAB move available to it, but Dig and Mud Shot both work well before then. Brick Break’s primary use is to break the screens that Glacia’s Glalie #1 and Steven’s Claydol set up, should it be necessary. Rock Slide is a powerful coverage option that works as a good backup against Winona, should Manectric fall.
Gardevoir @ Miracle Seed / Rocky Helmet
- Confusion (Level 4) > Psychic (Level 30)
- Growl (starting move) > Disarming Voice (Level 11) > Draining Kiss (Level 23) > Dazzling Gleam (TM99 - Route 123)
- Double Team (Level 6) > Calm Mind (Level 24)
- Teleport (Level 9) > Magical Leaf (Level 17) > Shadow Ball (TM30 - Mt. Pyre)
With DexNav, walking outside the strip of grass on Route 102 closest to Petalburg City will eventually force a Ralts encounter. This is much more reliable than gambling on random encounters, and it’s often a large timesaver. Switch training Ralts may be necessary for a while, as it’s too weak to deal with Poochyena and Zigzagoon (even with Confusion). Once you get the EXP Share, however, levelling it up becomes trivial. Confusion works well until you get Psychic, which is able to OHKO or 2HKO most neutral targets. Dazzling Gleam is the strongest Fairy STAB move Gardevoir gets before the postgame, and its extra BP is typically more helpful than Draining Kiss’ HP recovery. Calm Mind was chiefly used to sweep Wallace for free, but because it’s also a TM, it can be swapped for things like Flash as the need arises. Magical Leaf was primarily used against Wallace’s Whiscash and Milotic, but it was also very helpful for dealing with Team Aqua’s Carvanha and Sharpedo, so Gardevoir wouldn’t take extra damage from Rough Skin. It was replaced with Shadow Ball once Wallace was defeated. The Ability doesn’t matter much, but it was fun to block Drake’s Flygons from using Ground moves after Levitate was Traced.
Hariyama @ Silk Scarf
- Fake Out (Level 10)
- Arm Thrust (starting move) > Force Palm (Level 13) > Wake-Up Slap (Level 38)
- Sand-Attack (starting move) > Knock Off (Level 19)
- Tackle (starting move) > Bulk Up (TM08 - Obtained after defeating Brawly) > Close Combat (Level 46)
Hariyama was a lot better than expected in this playthrough. Silk Scarf-boosted Fake Out does quite a lot of damage to neutral opponents, and free damage is excellent. Arm Thrust is fairly subpar, but Force Palm is quite a solid move that will last until the midgame. Wake-Up Slap’s extra 10 BP is better than Force Palm’s chance to paralyse, so it’s a good STAB upgrade. Knock Off is helpful so Hariyama doesn’t get completely walled by Ghosts types, but it should still be kept away from Psychic types. Bulk Up wasn’t particularly useful at any point during the game, so the extra power Close Combat provided is generally the better idea. It was more helpful in the Elite 4 than Wake-Up Slap was, as a PP Max gave it enough PP to reliably take out a few opponents. Pre-poisoning Hariyama with Guts makes it nigh unstoppable, especially if you’re playing on switch mode.
Gyarados @ Rocky Helmet
- Tackle (starting move) > Strength (HM04 - Route 112) > Dragon Dance (Level 47)
- Splash (starting move) > Leer (Level 26) > Aqua Tail (Level 35) > Waterfall (HM05 - Sootopolis Gym)
- Bite (Level 20) > Crunch (Level 41)
- Dragon Rage (Level 23) > Ice Fang (Level 32)
Gyarados is an exceptionally useful Pokémon ingame. Strength will be the main move used until Aqua Tail is learned. Crunch is very helpful against Ghost types, as the team doesn’t have any Pokémon with STAB Dark or Ghost moves. Ice Fang is a good defense against Winona and Drake. To get Dragon Dance, first reach the Pokémon League. Fly to the Move Deleter in Lilycove City to remove Strength, as it’s no longer useful. Fly to the Move Relearner in Fallarbor Town, and use a Heart Scale to relearn Dragon Dance, which will be crucial in setting up sweeps against Phoebe, Drake, and Steven. Rocky Helmet is a good generic item, but it needs a few specific berries against the Elite 4.
Crobat @ Soothe Bell > nothing
Ability: Inner Focus
- Leech Life (starting move) > Wing Attack (Level 13) > Acrobatics (Level 35)
- Supersonic (starting move) > Confuse Ray (Level 17) > Fly (HM02 - Route 119)
- Bite (starting move) > X-Scissor (TM80 - Victory Road)
- Astonish (starting move) > Poison Fang (Level 27)
Crobat doesn’t excel in any major battles, but it’s very good at picking off minor Trainers all over the region. Acrobatics is by far the strongest STAB move, with 110 BP per turn (provided Crobat isn’t holding anything). Fly is more for convenience than damage, but it could work well in combination with Swampert’s Surf in a Double Battle. Both Bite and X-Scissor are fairly useless for when they’re used, but there’s not much Crobat needs other than Acrobatics. Poison Fang is STAB, but Acrobatics will typically be more useful. The Soothe Bell should be used until Golbat evolves, after which point Acrobatics is more effective with no item.
Manectric @ Magnet / nothing
- Howl (starting move) > Spark (Level 13) > Discharge (Level 30)
- Leer (starting move) > Volt Switch (TM72 - Obtained after defeating Wattson)
- Thunder Wave (starting move) > Bite (Level 24) > Flamethrower (TM35 - Victory Road)
- Quick Attack (starting move)
Manectric was not brought onto the team until the 6th Gym, where it started to shine the most. It’s easily able to be incorporated earlier, however, and does well against the multitude of Water and Flying types in the game. Discharge is the best STAB move it gets (The sidequest for TM24 Thunderbolt comes too late and is a waste of time). Volt Switch is good for pivoting, but it’s less helpful if playing on switch mode. Flamethrower is helpful against Steven’s Steel types. Quick Attack is primarily used to conserve PP on more powerful moves, and to break Sturdy on specific Pokemon.
This is a list of major battles the team will have to contend with. Some other Pokemon were used for some of these battles, and those instances will be noted with alternatives.
Roxanne: Mudkip easily sweeps with Water Gun. Equip an Oran Berry or use Potions during the battle to survive Nosepass’ Rock Tombs.
Brawly: I used a Taillow with Wing Attack to sweep Brawly, with Beautifly as backup. If you don’t have either of these Pokemon, Disarming Voice Ralts and Wing Attack Zubat can easily take down the Gym.
Route 110 Rival: Slugma and Wailmer both fall to Marshtomp, but Grovyle is more of an issue. I used an Air Cutter Beautifly to cleanly KO it, but if you didn’t pick one up, Wing Attack Zubat should also make quick work of it.
Wattson: Marshtomp with Mud Shot easily solos this Gym. You can give it a Persim Berry to block Magneton’s confusion, but it should be a clean sweep.
Mt. Chimney Archie: I used a Beautifly with Silver Wind to safely take out Mightyena and Sharpedo, and Rock Slide Marshtomp for Golbat, but Manectric also works well. If you don’t have a Beautifly, Hariyama is good for Mightyena and Sharpedo.
Flannery: Marshtomp easily solos this Gym with Mud Shot as well. No backup should be needed, but Gyarados is a good fallback.
Norman: Marshtomp with Dig is very good for freely damaging the Slakings thanks to Truant. Hariyama is a good answer to Vigoroth and can work well against the Slakings too.
Route 119 Rival: Like before, Wailmer and Slugma should fall easily to Manectric and Marshtomp respectively. Grovyle is easily dealt with by Golbat/Crobat.
Winona: Manectric is a good answer to most of her team, but Gyarados may be necessary to Ice Fang her Altaria.
Lilycove City Rival: Swellow and Wailord fall to Manectric, and Magcargo goes down to Swampert. Sceptile is easily taken care of with Crobat’s Acrobatics.
Tate & Liza: Send out Swampert and Gyarados. Spam Surf on Swampert, which Gyarados resists, and use Crunch with Gyarados on either Pokemon. The battle should be over in one or two turns.
Seafloor Cavern Archie: Gardevoir handily deals with Archie’s entire team, but if you’re scared of Crobat outspeeding, switch to Manectric for Discharge.
Wallace: Set up a Calm Mind or two on Luvdisc with Gardevoir, then use Magical Leaf to cleave through it and Whiscash. Psychic is stronger on the remaining Pokemon, and the Special Defense boosts from Calm Mind will allow Gardevoir to live Milotic’s Hydro Pump and take down Wallace’s entire team.
Victory Road Wally: Gyarados’ Ice Fang takes care of Altaria. Hariyama easily removes Magneton and Delcatty, and Gardevoir can come in to clean up Roselia and Gallade.
Sidney: Give Gardevoir a Persim Berry and send it in against Mightyena to block Swagger and safely KO with Dazzling Gleam. It or Hariyama can deal with Sharpedo, and Gardevoir cleanly OHKOes the rest of Sidney’s team.
Phoebe: Give Gyarados a Persim Berry to block Dusclops’ Confuse Ray, and set up a Dragon Dance for free. This should be enough to OHKO every Pokemon with Crunch, but if it isn’t, the only threat is Dusknoir, who still can’t usually kill with Thunder Punch.
Glacia: Hariyama OHKOes both Glalie (and Walrein with Close Combat after a Fake Out), so the only annoyances are the Froslass. Gyarados can typically outspeed and OHKO both with Crunch, but Persim Berries might be a good idea anyways.
Drake: Gyarados can set up two Dragon Dances on Altaria and proceed to sweep Drake’s entire team. It can be given a Wacan Berry in case Salamence connects with a Thunder Punch, but it’s very difficult to lose this battle.
Steven: Lead Manectric into Skarmory, and Quick Attack to break Sturdy before KOing with Discharge. Break Aggron’s Sturdy with Quick Attack, and switch to Gyarados on an Earthquake to OHKO with Waterfall. Set up 3 Dragon Dances on either the Claydol or Cradily, healing as needed, and freely sweep the rest of Steven’s team.
This was probably longer than it needed to be, but this team worked very well for me, so I hope it helps someone. :)