Last time, I covered the basics of important endgame concepts in pokemon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver (also known as Generation IV). In this installment, I’ll cover how to procure those pokemon that will eventually become that unstoppable team that you want. In order to have a great team, you need to have great pokemon and this is the guide on how to get started.

First of all, you probably already know that there are two real methods to get pokemon (not counting trading): catching wild pokemon and breeding them. Both of these will be important to your quest to gather up that awesome team that you want, so don’t assume that you’ll ever reach a point where you don’t need to do one or the other.

Catching pokemon is a simple affair, but there are several tricks to make the process both easier and more productive. First and foremost, you want to make sure that you can weaken a pokemon without defeating it, so set aside something that you like that can learn False Swipe. Next, it’s a good idea to pack some status-inflicting moves on the same pokemon, preferably ones that debilitate without damaging, such as Spore, Hypnosis, and Thunder Wave. It’s totally optional, but if you want an all-in-one catcher, it’s also a good idea to include a trapping move like Mean Look so pokemon like Mesprit, Abra, and roaming legendaries can’t escape. If you have room for another move, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include a secondary attack (e.g. something to hit ghosts or something stronger than False Swipe to weaken powerful pokemon) or even a recovery move such as Rest, Roost, or Recover.

Bearing all of this in mind, two of the best “catcher” pokemon in the game are arguably Parasect and Gallade, the latter of which is my personal favorite. While Parasect can learn both False Swipe and the rare 100% chance to inflict sleep Spore, it’s possible (and relatively easy) to get a Gallade with False Swipe, Thunder Wave, Mean Look, and Psycho Cut, one of the most potent move sets for a catcher. While I recommend Gallade or Parasect, feel free to experiment with the above ideas and mind to see if maybe there’s an even better catcher setup out there.

Once you have a catcher, you can either go into the wild to catch whatever it is that you’re looking for or you can invest some time into something else useful first. As I mentioned in the last lesson, a pokemon’s nature is vital to its success in the endgame. It just so happens that there’s a way to manipulate wild pokemon into being the exact natures that you need! There is an ability called Synchronize and it’s only available on Espeon, Umbreon, Mew, Abra/Kadabra/Alakazam, Natu/Xatu, and Ralts/Kirlia, Gardevoir so far. Outside of its status effects in battle, when a pokemon with Synchronize is leading the party (regardless of if it has fainted), all wild pokemon encountered will have a 50% chance to have the same nature as the synchronizing leader. It doesn’t matter if your leader is fainted, level one, or if it only knows Teleport and Splash; a lead pokemon with Synchronize will always give a 50% chance to pass its nature to wild pokemon. This includes stationary legendaries (e.g. Giratina), roaming pokemon encountered for the first time (e.g. Mesprit), and some pokemon that are given to the player as gifts (e.g. Togepi). Since there are 25 natures, it’s easy to see that going from a 4% chance to have the nature you want to a whopping 50% is, like Ron Burgundy, kind of a big deal.

The easiest way to do this, in my experience, is to just toss a male and female Kirlia into the Day Care and just go nuts hatching eggs. Release everything that has Trace instead of Synchronize, release duplicates of natures that you already have, and keep hatching until you have either all of the natures you want or all 20 non-neutral natures. Now would also be a good time to mention that before you seriously start breeding and hatching eggs, you should definitely pick up a Magby/Magmar/Magmortar, a Slugma/Magcargo, or a Camerupt with Flame Body or Magma Armor and keep it in your party while hatching eggs; doing so reduces egg hatching time by up to 50%!

It’s worth noting that if your Ralts/Kirlia is male, don’t let it evolve into Gallade for any reason or else it will lose Synchronize.

Before we move on to talking about breeding for pokemon, I should mention an oft-overlooked small trick to capturing pokemon more easily: Use Dusk Balls. Buy them by the dozens, always stash way more than you need on your person, and use them at every opportunity you can. At night or in any “dark place” (read: every indoors area in the game) they get a 4x multiplier for success. A friend of mine caught Giratina with exactly two Dusk Balls. Dusk Balls are your friends.

Now, the other way to acquire new pokemon, and easily the more common in endgame territory, is by breeding. The first thing you should know about breeding is that females are responsible for passing on species and nature (with a trick that I’ll mention in a minute) and males are responsible for passing on moves and, in HeartGold and SoulSilver, one of their IVs with the appropriate item. If you give a female an Everstone to hold, all offspring will have a 50% chance to have the same nature as their mother, much like the effects of Synchronize on wild pokemon (Synchronize does NOT affect the nature of eggs). In HeartGold and SoulSilver, you can give the father one of the six EV-training items (that we’ll talk about in How to Pokemon 103) to guarantee that he’ll pass on the corresponding IV to the offspring (e.g. a father holding a Power Anklet will pass on his Speed IV 100% of the time). Finally, moves that the father knows (via leveling, breeding, or TM but not by tutoring) and that the offspring pokemon can learn in its hatched form are also passed along.

Much like having an army of Synchronize pokemon to capture specific natures in the wild is extremely useful, so is having an army of Dittos. See, Ditto is a special pokemon in that it can not only breed with any pokemon that is capable of having eggs, it can also fulfill either gender role. This means that you can breed pokemon where you only have males, too! Ditto is useless for passing on moves, but if breeding with a male, a Ditto holding an Everstone creates a 50% chance for offspring to have the same nature as Ditto. However, unlike the mindless Ralts breeding for Synchronize, Ditto itself cannot have eggs so you have to catch tons of them to get everything you want. It’s painful, but I can’t recommend enough that you take the time to at least get Dittos of all of the natures that you’ll eventually want. Suck it up, go to the Trophy Garden (in DPP), and save your game before talking to the dude. Ask him what’s in the garden for the day and if it’s not Ditto, reset. Repeat until you get Ditto. If you only want to catch a few, just bring those synchronizing Ralts that you’ve collected and use them to find those few natures more quickly, otherwise prepare to spend a good chunk of time mindlessly running away from dozens of Pikachu in order to catch Ditto that you’ll use for up to hundreds of hours later (saving you countless amounts of time, I promise).

Lastly, you should be thinking about what moves that you want your pokemon to have. We’ll cover battle strategy later, but Bulbapedia and Smogon are good places to start when looking for ideas on what your pokemon could or should have. When you’ve finally figured it out, find out what moves you can only (or more conveniently) get on your pokemon of choice via breeding and what you’ll need to acquire to get them (Bulbapedia is the best place for this as it lists moves only available via breeding and exactly what a pokemon can breed with to learn them). This is where you might have to do some hunting and subsequently level pokemon that you’ll never actually use, but a finely tuned move set is a beautiful thing and well worth the time investment when it works out.

Like every aspect of pokemon, there is also a trick for easy move breeding. There is a pokemon known as Smeargle that will be your best friend once you learn how to use and abuse him for breeding. In DPP, you can catch Smeargle on Route 212 (North) by using the pokeradar and in HG/SS you can find him in the Ruins of Alph or the Safari Zone. Whatever the case, you’re either going to want to catch several of these things (one female and the rest males). You see, Smeargle learns only one move, Sketch, but by using Sketch he can permanently learn damn near every move in the game. Take Smeargle into a double battle (there’s a really easy one south of Floarama Town in DPP accessible via the Vs Seeker against two low-level Pachirisus), have him use Sketch on your second pokemon, and BAM! he’ll permanently learn the last move that that pokemon used, easy as that. The new move replaces Sketch, but luckily the little bastard learns it at level 1, 11, 21, 31…and 91. Even better Smeargle is part of the Ground egg group, meaning he can breed with a ton of pokemon to pass on his lovely new move set. I tried breeding pokemon without Smeargle, but his ability to pass on singular TM moves (like Grass Knot or Flash Cannon) combined with his sheer versatility make breeding that much easier. Like Synchronize and Ditto, investing some time in Smeargles is an excellent idea.

Breeding for endgame pokemon can be a daunting task, so I’ve found that it’s often helpful to keep track of the steps you need to take each time and check them off as you go. Here’s a helpful checklist, pretty much in order.

1)   Stock up on Dusk Balls.

2)   Get a catcher pokemon, or at least something with False Swipe for starters.

3)   Capture something that has Flame Body or Magma Armor.

4)   Capture Ralts/Kirlia and breed the Synchronize pokemon you want.

5)   Capture at least one Ditto, ideally more so you have the natures you want

6)   Acquire the species that you’re looking to breed.

7)   Get a female of the species you want with the nature that you want, either via synchronized capture or everstone+Ditto breeding with a male of that species. If you don’t need to breed for moves, just skip this step if you have a male already.

8)   Get a male of a compatible species (such as Smeargle) that knows that moves you want your new pokemon to have.

9)   Breed the female of the appropriate nature with the male that knows the right moves until you get offspring with the nature, moves, and ability that you want.

10)  If desired, continue breeding ad nauseam until you have numerous pokemon that fit your nature/moves/ability criteria, then check their IVs and keep the best.

  • A brief note on checking IVs: It’s a good idea to save some Rare Candy so that you can save your game, quickly level a new pokemon, and use an IV calculator to get an idea of its IV range. Write it down, keep track of which pokemon’s IVs you’re writing down, and reset so you can check the next one
  • Another brief note on checking IVs: If you’re checking the IVs for lots of new pokemon, I recommend using the Mark tool (available as a box command when depositing/withdrawing/moving pokemon) to mark your pokemon. I just use the marks as binary bits to assign numbers and I’ve found that it works very well.

So there you have it; a fairly comprehensive guide to acquiring those pokemon that will become your team when they’re all grown up and trained. Next time: a guide on the ins, outs, tips, and tricks to training.