With Pokemon Gold and Silver being released to Virtual Console today, there will be many players out there that will look up teambuilding guides, considering that the Gold and Silver versions were hard.
Some would look up things like “Best Team For (Pokemon game or region)”. While these guides seem well-thought-out and comprehensive, they are flawed and are generally terrible for making in-game teams. The reason for this is because these guides usually suggest full teams of six pokemon with the idea being to be prepared for what the game throws at you, but these guides are terrible for the late game, when you face much higher-level opponents, and the EXP you get from battle doesn’t spread as well among six pokemon, leaving you underleveled and struggling against the later, more powerful opponents. This can be overcome with grinding, but it’s a serious chore to level up six pokemon one-at-a-time.
A better way to play the game is to focus on a core of three or four pokemon of different types, so you’ll have that balance of team diversity, and be on par with most opponents you face. The other two team members can be there for HMs so you can overcome the numerous obstacles that these games throw your way.
So, on to the team:
Your starter should be Cyndaquil. It’s hands-down the best Johto starter, and is well-equipped to take on many of the game’s challenges. It’s a fire type in a region where it’s great to be a fire type, having an advantage against gym leaders such as Bugsy and Jasmine, and against the common Grass and Bug types that you see many trainers use. Fire types are hard to come across in Johto, but this one is available to you at the start of the game.
Not only that, Typlosion rocks. It can learn Thunderpunch and Earthquake, which gives it excellent coverage against pokemon it would normally struggle against.
Cyndaquil can solo the game until you get to Goldenrod City, but it’s not a bad idea to get it a Pidgey companion until then. For one thing, Cyndaquil is weak to Mud Slap, which is spammed by Falkner, and lowers its accuracy. Pidgey is immune to the move, and gives you another pokemon to switch into to bring Cyndaquil’s accuracy back to normal. Also, later in the game, you can have Pidgey use Fly to get you around. You can instead get yourself a Hoothoot to do the same thing, if you think Pidgey is too mainstream. Also, Hoothoot can learn Flash, so it’s actually better in that regard.
Once you make it all the way to Route 34, you can catch yourself two pokemon that do your team big favors. One is Abra. Abra only knows Teleport, so catching it mostly involves chucking Pokeballs at it right off the bat and hoping they work. Once you catch an Abra, it doesn’t do much of anything until it reaches level 16. But when it does, it evolves to a superstrong Kadabra, and immediately gains a useful attack move. Not only that, Kadabra tends to learn strong moves sooner than it really needs to. Its defensive stats are low, but with the kind of speed and special attack stats it has, it might not matter very often. Glass cannon.
If you know someone else with Gold or Silver, you can evolve it to Alakazam through trading. This makes an already great pokemon even better, but still isn’t necessary because Kadabra can still get you through the game.
The second pokemon you want to catch on Route 34 is Drowzee. Not to raise, but to trade to someone in the Goldenrod Dept. Store for a Machop. Machop is great for a number of reasons. For one thing, it can just about solo Goldenrod’s Gym. Not only that, it can beat the many Normal and Rock types that you run into with ease. It learns strong moves that match its type by itself, has a high attack stat, and stays useful throughout the game. The fact that it levels up faster due to being a traded pokemon is the cherry on top.
Now, some might wonder about how to handle Whitney herself. She has a reputation for having a Miltank that’s so strong, that it brings many playthroughs to an end by discouraging players from continuing any further.
While Stomp and Milk Drink are moves to watch out for, the main concern with Miltank is its move Rollout, which starts out weak but gets to the point of wiping out teams as it’s used consecutively. However, this can be easily beaten by lowering Miltank’s accuracy. Cyndaquil might be weak to Rollout, but it starts out as a weak enough move that Cyndaquil might get a few uses of Smokescreen in. If Rollout can’t hit consecutively, it doesn’t gain in strength. After that, Machop can clean up with ease. With this strategy, Whitney will be crying away in no time. For those who never beat her, that literally happens. Be ready for it. Oh Whitney, why do you have to make things hard for us, every step of the way?
For your next team member, you have a pick between two equally-good choices. One is Gyarados from the Lake of Rage. It’s convenient in that you get it as part of a scripted event, so you can’t miss it (though you can fail to catch it, so save the game before battling it). Once you catch it, it can clear through most opponents just using Thrash, which it can use several times in a row with just one PP. It can also learn Surf, Waterfall, and Strength, which are good as attack moves or to use Gyarados as an HM slave. The drawback for Gyarados is that it doesn’t learn any moves that both match its type and utilizes its outstanding attack stat. All Water moves are special attacks in gen 2, and Gyarados doesn’t learn any Flying moves.
It’s more inconvenient, but Lapras is an excellent alternative. It can only be found in Union Cave on Friday after having beaten Morty (Surf is needed to get to it), but it’s well worth the effort. It’s a little on the slow side, but it has high HP and its stats are otherwise balanced, and it’s a Water/Ice type that can learn Ice Beam by itself. You’d have Surf at that point, so you’ll have a strong move for it already, and you can teach it Thunder if you want.
The other two pokemon on your team can be HM slaves, which can include things like Pidgey/Hoothoot to fly you around, something that can use Whirlpool if you prefer not to teach it to Lapras, or if you’re going with Lapras, you can still keep Gyarados around for HMs.
You can use either Lugia or Ho-oh on your team, depending on which version you’re playing. If so, it might be better to use it as a substitution for another pokemon on your team, if to avoid type redundancy. Lugia might make a good replacement for Lapras/Gyarados or Kadabra, to avoid having too many weaknesses to Electric or Dark. Players might be a little squeamish about subbing out their starter, but Ho-oh can replace Cyndaquil/Quilava/Typhlosion pretty well. It might add another weakness to electricity to your team, but Ho-oh’s special defense is very high, so Electric attacks might not do much damage, anyway.
So, there you have it. With this team, Pokemon Gold and Silver will be much easier. Certain opponents such as Lance and Red still won’t be a cakewalk, but this can get you through much of the game, without having to power-level too much. If you want a challenge, the Gold and Silver versions don’t have a Hard Mode. But you can go with Chikorita as your starter. That would make the game plenty hard.
Disagree with some of my team choices? Comments section.