“I want to be the very best, like no one ever was.” A line every Pokemon fan is familiar with from the original show’s first song lyrics. In order to be the best, though, you need the most powerful Pokemon. As much as weaker Pokemon may be our favorites, sometimes they just don’t cut it. A constant recurring theme in Pokemon that it’s not how strong the Pokemon is, but how much their trainer cares about them, that wins a battle. As any Magikarp can attest, that’s not entirely true, but from a different perspective, it’s not entirely wrong either…
Even the Pokemon most famous for being powerful can be outshined by weaker species of Pokemon by the way that they are raised. In that sense, putting more care into how you raise your Pokemon really does matter compared to just going by how strong a Pokemon inherently is. So if you want to know how to raise the best version of your Pokemon, look no further, my good trainer! Today, we will have an introduction into the key factors in raising your best Pokemon, including: effort values, individual values, natures, egg moves, and egg hatching. Let’s go!
Effort Values (EVs)
Effort Values, or “EVs” (not to be confused with Eevee, the Pokemon) in simple terms, are bonus stat increases that a Pokemon gains through battle. This means that a Pokemon is not born with any effort values: Pokemon are born as an effort value blank slate, and on their journey they need to put forth effort to gain these stats. The games don’t tell you much about gaining EVs, but it will help you greatly by learning more about how it all works.
HOW IT WORKS
Once in battle, a Pokemon needs to gain experience points from defeating another Pokemon. Hidden within these experience points are the effort values, which will be officially acquired by your Pokemon upon level up. This means that your Lv. 100 Mewtwo definitely has EVs, but cannot gain anymore because they are max level. The trick is that you acquire different kinds of EVs from different Pokemon. Seeing as certain Pokemon give off EVs that increase certain stats, this can give you a great advantage into customizing where you want these stat bonuses to go.
For example, do you want Attack effort values to increase the Attack stat on your Garchomp? Then you need to gain EXP from a Pokemon that gives off Attack EVs. One such Pokemon is, for example, Luxray. While you can find out which Pokemon gives off which EVs through online resources such as Serebii or Bulbapedia, an easy shortcut is by knowing that the EV a Pokemon gives you is the same as their highest base stat. Because Luxray’s highest stat is Attack, defeating it will give your Pokemon Attack EVs. Think of it as absorbing its greatest power!
As a side note, your Pokemon does not need to defeat the other for the EVs, it just needs to be present in battle against it. So, you could switch out of a Magikarp and let a Drampa faint the Pokemon instead, and both Magikarp and Drampa would get EVs.
Individual Values (IVs)
While effort values may have seemed complicated enough, IVs may be even moreso. Unlike effort values, individual values are stats that your Pokemon are born with. Before it’s born even, it has these stats even when it’s a mere egg. That’s why they’re called individual values: they are individual to each Pokemon, even within the same species, and further unlike effort values, cannot be changed along the way.
While it’s true that IVs cannot be changed, you can certainly manipulate them. It’s hard to tell which IVs exactly that a Pokemon will be born with, but you can sway things to better go in your favor of having the right IVs in the right stat on your Pokemon.
HOW IT WORKS
IVs range in value from 0 to 31 and are unique to each stat category. The higher the IV, the more powerful the Pokemon is in that stat, so a Pokemon with an IV of 29 in Speed is going to be a whole lot faster than a Pokemon with a Speed IV of 4.
So, how do you decide what a Pokemon’s IVs will be?
Well, like in real life, it all comes down to genetics. In real life, if you have a child with very tall parents, that child will likely grow to be very tall themselves, because their parents passed that gene down to them. Likewise, IVs are the genes of the Pokemon world. The more powerful IV of a Pokemon’s parents, the better chance a Pokemon will have those powerful IVs as well. So, knowing that a Pokemon’s parents are largely responsible for that Pokemon’s IVs, it is important to pick the right parents for your Pokemon. Offspring are also always the same species of the mother (unless the mother is a Ditto). This is also true in real life, incidentally (unless you’re a mule or a zebroid).
However, inherited IVs are not all guaranteed to be the same as the parent IVs. Like with real children, there is always a “luck” factor involved that you can’t control. This is the main theme of IVs because you may find yourself constantly hatching more and more eggs until you get one with the IVs you are looking for (which you can find out by checking in with your game’s IV Judge, a character who varies from game to game — in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, can be found in the Battle Tree after completing the main story). One tool you can use to help you acquire the most IVs possible from the parents is the Destiny Knot item. Equipping this to your Pokemon in the day care, where it will produce its eggs, will allow it to receive five IVs, guaranteed, from its parents. Also of use are the Power items (Power Belt, Bracer, Anklet, Weight, and Lens), which, when equipped by a parent Pokemon, will guarantee that it passes down its IV in the stat category that the specified Power item affects. This can be useful if you’re really trying to get an IV in one particular stat, such as a 31 Special Attack IV for a powerful Psychic blast from your Alakazam.
IVs are a complex mechanic and breeding for IVs is a practice of patience — even with the Destiny Knot and Power items, you can never quite guarantee having multiple IVs that you want from any particular egg hatch. It can take a very short time, or a very long time, to pass down the right IVs from parent to parent and to get the right combination of IVs on that one final Pokemon that you’ve been working toward. Try to enjoy the process as you hatch your way toward an unnaturally powerful Pichu, or a Snorlax who is much speedier than it has any right to be, if that’s what you want.
For every Pokemon its own personality — natures were introduced to the Pokemon series as long ago as Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire, and they play a much larger role than what your Pokemon’s personality apparently is.
HOW IT WORKS
Natures, in a nutshell, give your Pokemon a 10% boost to one of their stats and a 10% decrease to another (some natures do both to one stat, resulting in a 0% change). This is a very important trait of your Pokemon’s to nail down, because doing 10% more damage, or defending 10% more of a hit, or being 10% faster (or slower, if that’s the goal) could turn the tide of a battle. Likewise, being 10% lower in certain areas, the downside of the tradeoff, can be costly in certain situations.
To breed a specific nature onto your Pokemon, first find out which nature you want. For example, an Adamant nature increases Attack but decreases Special attack. Once you decide on a nature, you must find a Pokemon with that nature who is to be your Pokemon’s parent/ancestor. Next, have that Pokemon hold an Everstone item. Why? Well, the Everstone being equipped guarantees that the Pokemon will pass down its nature to its offspring. This is a fantastic way to save time and get the nature you want onto your Pokemon.
Additionally, you can hunt for a wild Pokemon with the nature you want by having a Pokemon of yours with that nature being the lead in the party and having the ability Synchronize. This will result in a 50% chance that the wild Pokemon’s nature will be the same as your leading party Pokemon’s nature.
It’s up to you to decide which nature your Pokemon will have, and which stat tradeoff from it that you’re okay with. There is no nature without its use, so find out how you want to use your Pokemon and which nature will benefit its role.
Another crucial part of bringing out the best in your Pokemon. For many Pokemon, some moves can only be learned through passing them down from a parent. This means that, no matter how strong that Pokemon grows up to be, if they didn’t learn these moves from their parents, they won’t learn them. With these egg-exclusive moves being something of a secret within the game (don’t make me call them easter eggs) if not for guides like this telling you about them, they are often very useful moves that make the Pokemon much more adaptable to a wider array of opponents. Infernape, for an example, has an egg move of Thunder Punch, covering its weakness to water-types. As you can see, egg moves can sometimes be a game changer.
HOW IT WORKS
The concept is simple: have a parent Pokemon know an egg move, and it will get passed down to the baby. The practice can be a little more laborious than all that. First, like with inheriting IVs, you have to make sure the Pokemon you want to learn the egg move has its mother Pokemon be of its same species. For example, a female Infernape mother, and a male Electabuzz (who knows Thunder Punch) as the father, resulting in a Chimchar with Thunder Punch.
In that instance, it is somewhat simple, but sometimes you’re going to have egg moves that require being descended down through multiple Pokemon, just to get onto your final Pokemon’s moveset. This can result in you having to go out and get several Pokemon you don’t have yet and make them learn new moves, and then breed them, and continue the process until you’re done.
In the end, it is worth it, just know that you might end up creating an entire family tree before you’re done!
With the right mental state, this whole process of training your best Pokemon can have a “zen” kind of quality to it. But perhaps the most tedious part… no, not perhaps, the most tedious part of all this is the egg hatching. Because eggs hatch after a certain amount of steps, and you can potentially go through many eggs to find the right IVs and to get those multi-generational egg moves, hatching each egg just to see if it’s the right stats can take nigh forever, and running around in countless circles to hatch eggs should be no one’s jam.
One way to expedite this and speed everything up, however — have a Pokemon with the ability Flame Body at the front of your party. Due to the heat coming off that Pokemon, the party egg(s) will hatch much faster. In fact, they will hatch 50% faster. This is a no-brainer and will greatly improve your journey toward your ultimate destroyer of worlds Pokemon.
Pokemon, as shown by these deep mechanics, is obviously a far more complex game series than may seem from surface glance, whether you’re playing on your 3DS or your Switch (or the rumored upcoming Switch Mini). Any Pokemon can be a champion in its own right, and if you have a team in mind that you want to create, then there is always a best version of the team you want. If you want to enjoy the game on its surface level, that’s great, but if you want to really bring out greatness in your Pokemon, there is a much deeper game underneath and knowing the basics is the first step to you becoming the very best. Good luck, happy training, and see you on the battlefield!