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Here are some basic things to consider when deciding which attacks your Pokémon should know.


A Pokémon can know a maximum of four attacks at a time. If a Pokémon that knows four attacks tries to learn a new one, it must either forget an existing attack or give up learning the new attack.

A Pokémon cannot know the same attack more than once at any given time. That is, two attack slots cannot be filled with the same attack. Each known attack must be different from the other currently known attacks.

Natural Learning

All Pokémon know at least one attack when you get them. Pokémon can naturally learn more attacks as they gain levels. If a Pokémon already knows four attacks and its trainer doesn't want it to learn a new one, the Pokémon can abandon learning the new attack. In this case, it will now be unable to learn this attack naturally. Otherwise, an existing attack can be forgotten to make room for the new attack.

If a Pokémon gains several levels at a time (perhaps by Piggybacking), and the level at which an attack is normally learned is skipped, the Pokémon loses the opportunity to learn that attack naturally.

Technical Machines (TMs)

TMs are items numbered from 01 to 50 that allow you to teach a specific attack to your Pokémon. TMs are good for one use only and not all Pokémon can use a given TM. Some TMs are unique and others can be purchased at stores in any quantity you can afford.

Locations of each TM within the game, as well as which Pokémon are capable of using the TM, are noted at the bottom of the individual attack page for that TM.

Azure Heights provides a complete list of all TMs, from which you can get to any of the individual pages.

If a Pokémon that already knows four attacks attempts to learn a TM, it can either forget an existing attack to make room for the TM, or the trainer can decide to abandon teaching the TM at this point. The TM will be unaffected.

Hidden Machines (HMs)

HMs are items numbered from 01 to 05 that allow you to teach a specific attack to your Pokémon. HMs are unique, but can be used as many times as you like, although not all Pokémon can use a given HM.

Note that once an HM has been used on a Pokémon, the learned attack cannot be forgotten, barring the use of cheating device.

All HMs have a function outside of battle. For example, Surf allows your character to travel across bodies of water. Most are necessary to complete the game.

Locations of each HM within the game, as well as which Pokémon are capable of using the HM, are noted at the bottom of the individual attack page for that HM.

Azure Heights provides a complete list of all HMs, from which you can get to any of the individual pages.

If a Pokémon that already knows four attacks attempts to learn an HM, it can either forget an existing attack to make room for the HM, or the trainer can decide to abandon teaching the HM at this point.

Type Matching

Pokémon that use attacks that match their type (or just one of them) do 50% more damage with the same attack than Pokémon who aren't of the same type.

For instance, a Clefable will be more effective with Body Slam than an Electabuzz of equivalent Attack strength, because Body Slam is a Normal attack and Clefable's type is Normal. On the other hand, Electabuzz will be a lot more effective with Thunderbolt than an equally powerful Clefable.

Additionally, even though Ice Beam and Surf are of equivalent power, Blastoise will cause more damage with Surf.

Note that if a Pokémon has two types, it can gain the bonus for both attack types. For example, a Dodrio will be extra effective when using both Drill Peck and Hyper Beam.

Also note that certain species got screwed when it comes to this bonus. Butterfree, for instance, is a Bug/Flying Pokémon, but it can learn neither Bug, nor Flying attacks. Dragonite can learn Dragon Rage, but since Dragon Rage always causes 40 HP of damage, no matter what, it gains no benefit from using this attack.

Physical Attacks vs. Special Attacks

The damage caused by a Physical attack is based on the attacking Pokémon's Attack score and the victim's Defense score. Special attacks are based the Special score of both the attacker and the victim. (Check the Explanations page to see which attacks are based on which scores.) Because of this, most Pokémon are more effective using one sort of attack than the other. Sometimes they will even be more effective with an attack that doesn't match its type!

For example, Kingler's Attack score is significantly higher than its Special score, so it can be more effective using Body Slam than Surf, even though it's a Water Pokémon! Keep this in mind when your Arcanine doesn't seem to be kicking as much butt with Flamethrower as it ought to.

It is often considered important for a Pokémon to have access to both Physical and Special attacks, so that it can modify its style based on its opponent. In many cases this is true. In some cases, however, this is not necessary.

Mewtwo is a prime example. Its Special score is so high, that it is even very strong against other Pokémon with high Special scores. In a majority of cases, it will do just fine without a Physical attack.

Another consideration is that a majority of the extremely popular Pokémon (Mewtwo, Gengar, Zapdos, Alakazam, Jolteon, etc.) have much higher Special scores than Defense scores. For this reason, attacks such as Body Slam and Drill Peck can be much more effective than you might initially think.

Pokémon Statistics

You must also carefully consider your Pokémon's other statistics when selecting attacks.

Double Team is an immensely popular attack (and rightly so), and almost universally suggested for any Pokémon. However, if your Pokémon is not particularly sturdy and/or has no ability to heal itself, it might not be a wise choice.

Hitmonlee, for instance, is extremely powerful offensively, but can't withstand a lot of damage. If he Double Teams three times and gets hit 2 out of those 3 times, there's a good chance he won't be around to unleash a mighty barrage of kicking fury. Even with Rest, it's likely he won't survive long enough to make this strategy pay off. Double Team is still not a bad choice to fill in a spare attack slot if you are stumped for a fourth attack, as it's a good filler move for when you need to stall (eg, if the opponent is Biding or you think he's about to Fly or Dig), but fragile Pokémon shouldn't rely upon it as a primary means of defense.

For the same reason, Meditate does not really make sense for Lee. He'd be much better off just kicking away like a madman before going down to a strong Special attack. The Meditation will not pay off if Lee is out cold, so it makes more sense to use Lee's massive offense as his defense.

On the other hand, Chansey's huge amount of HP, along with its high Special give it some breathing room while Double Teaming (or Minimizing). Coupled with Softboiled, the mild-mannered Chansey can become a formidable opponent.

To give another example, Electrode is the fastest Pokémon in the game, even faster than Mewtwo, but, like Hitmonlee, he can't take a whole lot of abuse. In his case, his Speed can be taken advantage of by using him as a hit-and-run attacker.

Because of his Speed, if you start the battle with him, he is almost guaranteed to be able to get off a Thunder Wave before the opponent has a chance to protect himself from such an attack. (Only another Electrode will have a chance of going first.) He can then be switched out immediately. If the opponent is fully paralyzed or takes the first turn to power up, Trode will be completely fresh (minus one Thunder Wave PP) and ready to repeat this performance each time one of your Pokémon faints. If it looks like it's his last chance, he can Explode instead of Thunder Waving, still comfortable in the knowledge that he will almost certainly go first.

In this way, he'll probably never take down a Pokémon on his own (although you might consider letting him fight like a man against a low-Special Water Pokémon), but can be of tremendous help to the rest of your team.

Learning to play to an individual Pokémon's strengths is vital to maximizing your team's potential, and often leads to interesting and innovative strategies.

The Big Picture

It is very important to consider attacks in relation to each other.

For example, if you plan on using a Hypno to put enemy Pokémon to sleep (say, to set them up for Dream Eater, which is almost useless without a sleep-inducing attack), Body Slam would be a poor choice as a Physical attack. A paralyzed Pokémon cannot be put to sleep, so if your Hypno accidentally paralyzes an opponent, you've eliminated the effectiveness of half your Hypno's move set. In this case, Tri Attack is a better choice, if you are looking for a Normal attack.

Experimentation with the interaction of different attacks can sometimes yield unexpected results. For example, Toxic and Leech Seed are a deadly combination.

Generally, it is also a good idea to cover your Pokémon's attack type weaknesses. For instance, if your Snorlax is loaded up with Normal attacks, it would be totally ineffective against Ghost Pokémon. A perfect solution to this situation is Earthquake, as Ground attacks very nicely complement Normal attacks, leaving your Snorlax able to deal with anything that comes its way.

This is not always worthwhile, however. Unless your Electabuzz is nuts, for example, he's not going to try and slug it out with a Marowak, so it's not entirely necessary to plan for such a showdown. The wise trainer will switch Buzz out, if at all possible.

This leads to the larger concept of not only planning an individual Pokémon's move set, but building a cohesive team. Ice attacks are so useful, for example, that it's usually a good idea to have at least one Pokémon on your team capable of utilizing them.

Your team should be as versatile as possible (within reason) to deal with anything your opponent might throw at you. Pay attention to the whole selection of attacks your team has at its disposal and make sure you haven't left any gaping holes in your offense. You might also consider the usage of "support" Pokémon, such as the Electrode mentioned above.

If you find your team to be vulnerable to a particular Pokémon, say, Exeggutor, that might tip the balance in favor of adding something like Fire Blast or Pin Missile to one of your Pokémon's arsenal. This is the sort of thing that is not immediately evident if you're simply optimizing your team one member at a time.


As you can see, there's a lot more to selecting the proper attacks for your Pokémon than just picking the four strongest attacks it can learn. The more preparations you make, the better shape you'll be in on the battlefield.

A well-planned team can easily make the difference between victory and defeat, give you peace of mind, and prevent panicking when you're on the spot.

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