In sections 101 and 102 we covered the essentials of IVs, EVs, natures, and move pools as well as how to catch and breed pokemon that can grow up to be veritable fighting machines. However, with only an understanding and a collection, there’s still a great deal of work to do be done, namely the process of actually training your pokemon, or making steeled companions out of those adorable balls of putty!

From this... THIS!

With nature, IVs, and a move set already taken care of, the only two things remaining are leveling and EV training. However, there are a few prerequisite steps that I recommend taking before you get to any serious leveling or training, the first of which is procuring at least four pokemon with the coveted ability Pickup. Pickup is an ability that does nothing in battle, but outside of battle it allows that pokemon to end up holding an item after a successful fight (runaways don’t work), provided it wasn’t beforehand. The tables for exactly what items that pokemon can pick up vary between games and by level of the pokemon with Pickup, but one universal constant is that starting at level 41, a Pickup pokemon has a chance of getting a Rare Candy. With four 41+ Pickup pokemon in your party, I’ve found that there’s roughly a 5% chance to get a Rare Candy, a consumable item that gives you a free level. This boost in experience adds up.

With that in mind, you should find pokemon that can have pickup, acquire four of them, and get cracking on bringing them to level 41 or higher. The daycare is a great place to do this as you can either bike around for an hour or so or you can leave your game on overnight with something heavy on the d-pad walking you into a movement panel in the Fuego Ironworks. Either method will quickly get you a pair of level 41+ pokemon. You can level things manually, too, such as giving them an XP Share and running through the Elite Four repeatedly or fighting anywhere in the Battle Zone (routes 225-230 in DPP), but be warned that many Pickup pokemon lose it when they evolve. Be vigilant. Your options for pokemon that can have Pickup are as follows and only those in bold retain it upon evolution:

  • Phanpy*
  • Meowth
  • Aipom -> Ambipom
  • Zigzagoon -> Linoone
  • Teddiursa
  • Munchlax

*Phanpy is the only pokemon that always has Pickup: The rest have a 50% chance to have either Pickup or a different ability.

In all versions of the game, these pokemon are all somewhat uncommon or downright rare, but spending the time to acquire four and get them to 41 is the single best time investment that you can make towards leveling.

You're just using me for my eyes, aren't you?

So now you have your 4x 41+ Pickup leveling squad and you’re ready to level, right? Wrong. You need, and I do mean need, a Lucky Egg. The only way to acquire a lucky egg is to find one on a wild Chansey (routes 209, 210 and the trophy garden in DPP or routes 13, 14, and 15 in HG/SS). The only problem is that Chansey is rare AND it’s rare for a Chansey to be carrying a Lucky Egg. Fear not, there are always tricks! First and foremost, you need to snag a pokemon that has Compoundeyes as its ability. The options here are limited to Venonat, Butterfree, Nincada, and Yanma and odds are that Venonat is probably your most accessible choice. You see, when you lead your party with something that has Compoundeyes, wild pokemon have an obscenely high chance to be carrying items.

Like Synchronize, covered last session, the Compoundeyes slave can be fainted: it just needs to be leading.

I'm frisky!

The second step to easily getting items from wild pokemon is to either something with the move Thief or something with the ability Frisk, of which there are only two choices for the latter in Banette/Shuppet or Stantler. Thief is a damage-dealing move that steals the opponent’s item if the user isn’t holding anything, whereas Frisk is an ability that shows the opponent’s held item as the user enters or switches into battle (you’ll get a message that says something like, “[Your pokemon] frisked the [opponent] and found [item]!” if there’s something there and no message if the opponent isn’t holding anything). If you’re blindly using Thief, you just need to attack every wild pokemon once and be vigilant about taking the items from your own pokemon after battle. If you use Frisk, you either need to then use Thief to take the items you find, catch the wild pokemon, or use Trick to swap out a crappy item that you don’t want for the good one that the enemy is holding. Coincidentally, Banette can have Frisk and learns Trick naturally at level 66 (or as Shuppet at level 50) and is the only pokemon that can have both. Since Thief is a unique, irreplaceable TM and Banette is fairly easy to come by, I went with the latter. It’s almost as if Banette was designed exclusively for this purpose…

TL;DR: Get a Banette with Frisk and either give it Thief or level it up until it learns Trick.

Why haven't you extinguished me?! AGHH, F*&#!!!

The easiest way to run this Compoundeyes/Frisk/Trick(Thief) combination is to lead with your Compoundeyes pokemon, let it die, and have your Frisker in the second position, making it the first to come out. If Frisk shows you something good, take it and move on. If it doesn’t, you can quickly run away and look for something else that has what you want. This is by far the fastest way to find a Chansey with a lucky egg, even counting the fact that you had to catch and partially raise two new pokemon explicitly for this purpose. Hey, at least you can use this combo for other things like hoarding Everstones and Metal Coats from Iron Island or something, right?

Now that you have a 4 41+ Pickup pokemon squad, a lucky egg, and an XP Share (which you should’ve gotten at some point along the course of the main game, though DPP users can get extras from the Jubilife Lottery with a LOT of luck), you’re ready to get started. Time to level, right? Wrong again.

Before you do any real leveling, you need to EV train your pokemon. To assist you in this matter, there are six items that make life about four times easier: the Power Weight, Power Bracer, Power Belt, Power Lens, Power Band, and Power Anklet. Depending on your version of the game, you can earn these at either the Battle Tower or Battle Frontier, purchasable with Battle Points. Without an EV-trained endgame oriented pokemon, victories may be difficult, but eke out enough victories to buy at least your first two items (probably Power Bracer/Lens and Anklet) so you can at least get started on EV training something that can come back and more effectively earn you more battle points. Eventually, you will definitely want all six items.

As we covered in session 101, defeating a pokemon rewards your pokemon with EVs, predetermined by what you beat. For instance, defeating Starly earns you 1 EV in speed. What these items do is add to the EVs earned, regardless of what you fought. A Power Bracer, for example, gives you 4 EVs in attack after every battle no matter what you fought. Therefore fighting a Starly with a Power Bracer equipped will give you 4 EVs in attack and 1 EV in speed. As you can guess, using these items makes EV training MUCH faster.

If you want to speed up EV training even further, acquire the pokerus. However, since getting the pokerus is so incredibly rare without explicitly trading for it, it is not covered in this guide.

Before you actually go into the wild and start EV training, it’s a great idea to feed your pokemon some stat boosting vitamins (Iron, Protein, etc.) first, available for purchase in the Veilstone or Celadon Department Stores for 9800 each or in the Battle Frontier for 1 BP each. It’s kind of a waste to blow your battle points on vitamins unless you’re a Battle Frontier beast, so I recommend saving money by beating the E4 repeatedly with an Amulet Coin (doubles income from trainer battles) equipped on one of the pokemon you actually use in battle. You can use vitamins to boost any one stat by up to 100 EVs so you’ll usually be purchasing 20 vitamins to boost two stats by 100 EVs each before you get to EV training in battle.

As a helpful reminder, I recommend giving your pokemon a temporary mark using the box system to indicate that it’s been fed the appropriate vitamins and is ready for EV training through battles.

Now all you have to do to finish EV training is equip your EV-boosting item and either directly fight using that pokemon or switch out and let something else do the real fighting. Note all pokemon involved in a battle get EVs for anything defeated, but only pokemon equipped with EV-boosting item gets the bonus (e.g. A Luxray equipped with a Power Bracer enters battle with a Starly. He swaps out for Aerodactyl, who defeats Starly. Luxray receives 4 EVs in attack and 1 EV in speed while Aerodactyl receives 1 EV in speed). It may take some time to find a good EV training spot that offers many/all pokemon whose EVs you want and few/none that offer unwanted EVs (necessitating running away), but find a good location for your combination and get to work until you’ve obtained full EVs (510 total, maximum of 255 in any given stat) for the stats you want to boost. This is time consuming, tedious, and usually requires the use of a notepad or word processing document, but it’s a necessary evil.  If you’re keeping good track, you’ll know when you’re done, otherwise take your pokemon inside the market in Sunyshore City to the lady on the left (DPP) or to the house northeast of the pokecenter in Blackthorn City (HG/SS) where your lead pokemon will get an Effort Ribbon if their EVs are maxed out.

“Oh crap, I screwed up in my EV training!” or “My pokemon are maxed out on EVs, but not in what I want. Is there anything I can do?” If either of these is you, don’t fret: there is a way to reduce your EVs, too! There are six berries that do this (Pomeg for HP, Kelpsy for attack, Qualot for defense, Hondew for special attack, Grepa for special defense, and Tamato for speed). If your EVs in a stat are at 110 or more, the first berry consumed will reduce your EVs to 100. From there, each berry reduces your EVs in that stat by 10, meaning that the maximum number of berries required to drop one stat’s EVs to zero is 11. I do recommend planting/harvesting each of these berries as often as humanly possible even if you’re not actively using them, as you’ll never know when you’ll want to drop something’s EVs either because you 1) made a mistake, 2) traded for something that was already partially or fully EV trained but not how you wanted it, 3) decided to EV train something differently than your first attempt or 4) decided to EV train something that you leveled without regards to EVs. If you’ve reached zero, you’ll get a message that the berry had no effect.

Note: Make sure to take your Pickup team with you while you EV train! Every battle is a chance to pick up Rare Candy for later and it will help immensely in the long run!

When you’re done, you may want to give that pokemon a mark in the box system to remind yourself that it’s been EV trained. Make sure to use separate markers to mean “vitamin-fed” and “fully EV trained” if you’re trying to keep track of both.

Finally, you’re ready to grind out those last 70-80 levels to 100! The most popular way to do this is to slap a Lucky Egg on your most powerful pokemon that can battle most or all of the E4 and possibly an XP Share on something lower level and go to town fighting the E4 over and over again. However, because of the dialogue involved and the time it takes to restart the game after the E4 is beaten, this is by far NOT the fastest way to level. You gathered and raised those pickup pokemon for a reason, right? Now is the time to bust them out, as well as a 55+ or so pokemon and something <55 that you’d also like to train. Give the Lucky Egg to the stronger of the two and the XP Share to the other one, fill your other four team slots with your Pickup crew, find the place with the highest level wild pokemon (anywhere in the Battle Zone island in the northeast in DPP, for example), and start fighting things. Remember to keep your poketch application on the one that shows your party and whether or not they’re holding items, take items from your Pickup squad EVERY time they pick something up, and battle until you can’t battle anymore. Note that you should remove the XP Share from anything that can fight on its own, as you net more total experience without having one equipped on anyone.

Finally, make sure you save all of those Rare Candies that you pick up during EV training and leveling rather than gobbling them up right away. From level 1-80, including EV training and leveling, you should pick up 20 or more Rare Candies. What a coincidence, then, that you’ll have 20+ to instantly bypass that extremely time-consuming and boring 80-100 phase! I recommend leveling your whole team to 80, rather than 100, assessing how many Rare Candies you actually acquired, and then instantly boosting everyone to 100 to save immense amounts of time.The only downside to Rare Candy use is that a level from Rare Candy won’t be a level that you earned EVs from, but this isn’t important to us since we already EV trained early on. Theoretically, with enough Rare Candy you can instantly jump to level 100 after EV training with no downsides! Aren’t you glad you trained that Pickup squad?

There you have it; your training guide to get you from level 1-100 as quickly and effectively as possible, including EV training! Now you know how to create a pokemon with great potential AND how to turn it into a level 100 beast capable smashing some faces in. In our next session, the final training guide that I have planned, we’ll cover intermediate and advanced battle strategy. Thanks for reading!